Monday, May 31, 2021

A Memorial Day Reflection

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States, and my friend Brian shared the following earlier this morning on Facebook. It sums up much of what I’m thinking today.

On this Memorial Day, I’m not only appreciative for those who died to keep us free, but I’m also thankful for a president who doesn’t call those who died suckers and losers. I may not always agree with Biden, but he at least truly appreciates the sacrifice so many made in the defense of freedom.

Related Off-site Links:
For Biden, a Deeply Personal Memorial Day Weekend Observance – Jonathan Lemire (Associated Press, May 31, 2021).
“Democracy Itself Is in Peril”: Biden Delivers Warning While Honoring Fallen Service Members on Memorial Day – Kate Sullivan (CNN Politics, May 31, 2021).
Report: Trump Disparaged U.S. War Dead as “Losers,” “Suckers” – James LaPorta (The Associated Press via Military Times, September 3, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Progressive Perspectives on Memorial Day

Image: Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Quote of the Day

We have the Senate, the House, and the Presidency.

Stop negotiating with a losing insurrectionist party who are trying to sabotage our demoracy, pass the infrastructure package through reconciliation, and abolish the filibuster.

– Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
via Twitter
May 28, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
“It’s the Filibuster or Democracy,” Say Progressives After GOP Tanks January 6 Commission – Claudia Grisales and Barbara Sprunt (NPR News, May 28, 2021).
Here’s How to End the Filibuster and Protect Democracy – Miles Mogulescu (Common Dreams, May 28, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sen. Tina Smith: The Filibuster Rule Is “Fundamentally Undemocratic”
Something to Think About – March 9, 2021
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – May 5, 2021
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”

Friday, May 28, 2021

Remembering Chadwick Boseman’s Life of Purpose

I’ve been honoring actor Chadwick Boseman at The Wild Reed on the 28th day of every month since his death last year on August 28. Chadwick died of colon cancer, and although he had been living with the disease since 2016, he never spoke of it publicly.

Today, nine months to the day since his passing, I honor Chad by sharing an excerpt from Soma Ghosh’s powerful tribute, “He Makes You Think He’s Lost When He’s Won: On Chadwick Boseman.”

Although published last Semptember, just a few days after Chadwick’s passing, I only recently came across Ghosh’s tribute, published by The Quietus. It is definitely worth reading in its entirety, and to give you a sense of why, I share today (with added images and links) an excerpt from Ghosh’s beautifully-written and insightful tribute to Chadwick Boseman.


I wanted him to linger. Time slowed down, when he spoke, dusted with his South Carolina drawl. His eyes shielded his vulnerability and power. The two were inextricable.

But Chadwick Boseman, Marvel’s Black Panther, is dead at 43, from colon cancer. He said he believed in purpose. I wanted a film whose artistic purpose was Chadwick Boseman – but a Black man carries the burden of working for his people. Boseman turned duty into art. He’s shown us that superheroes can be shy, goofy and human. “Purpose,” said Boseman, addressing students at his alma mater, Howard University, in 2018, “is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history." He may have been describing himself, an emblem of new Black masculinity.

Boseman pursued the smaller tics of big men, from footballer Floyd Little (The Express, 2008) and baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013) to Black rights lawyer Marshall Thurgood in Marshall (2017) and – my personal favourite – James Brown in Get On Up (2014). When pushed to command, Boseman coils inward. He is most watchable when listening, or withdrawing. In Spike Lee’s [. . .] film, Da 5 Bloods, he plays Norman, a Black saviour, as a man almost disintegrating with love as he preaches to his fellow soldiers.

[. . .] Boseman was a creator and an avid student. He wrote plays from a young age, often using hip-hop. He trained as a director at Howard. He was sponsored by Denzel Washington to attend Shakespearean summer school in Oxford. To play T’Challa in four Marvel movies, he traced in his veins the Krio and Limba blood of Sierra Leone, and the Yoruba blood of Nigeria, via DNA testing. He incorporated Afro-Brazilian Capoeira into his fighting moves. He drew on his jiu jitsu training to access a warrior’s spiritual mindset – then added To-Shin Do, Muay Thai and over four hours of body-building. He made Black Panther and other films while diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. He had a staggering work ethic and “a manifesto”. Fired from the popular soap All My Children, because he protested the stereotyping of his gang member character, he said, “I was like, ‘This is not part of my manifesto. This is not part of what I want to do. How can I make it work?’”

Perky and upright in person, this “work” bows Boseman’s spine, when he plays the Black hero. In 42, playing Jackie Robinson, he tells baseball executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), “It doesn’t matter what I believe. It matters what I do.” One of the things Boseman does, in leadership roles, is to tuck in his honed dancer’s physique. At 6 ft, he appears far slighter than the similarly-scaled Poitier, Elba or Washington. Puckish, he magnetizes one side of the frame, where directors place him, as a centripetal force. In 42, his main “work” is “to have the guts,” as Rickey demands, “to not fight back.” The drama, in this otherwise stolid film, builds by watching Boseman being sneered at by white racists, insulted and ostracised. With Harrison Ford licking his avuncular chops, Boseman resists the obvious move of playing an outraged ingenue. He contracts towards the thing he loves: his game, his uniform and the team-mates he wins over. His inwardness redirects our eyes – much like the kinetic rebound powers of the Black Panther’s suit – towards the antagonists. Boseman negotiates white spaces the way we must: sideways.

Soma Ghosh
Excerpted from “He Makes You Think He’s Lost
When He’s Won: On Chadwick Boseman

The Quietus
September 4, 2020

NEXT: The Poltical Legacy
of Chadwick Boseman

Related Off-site Links:
Howard University Names Newly Re-Established College of Fine Arts for Chadwick Boseman – Angelique Jackson (Variety, May 26, 2021).
Black Panther Fans “Nervous” About Sequel Without Chadwick BosemanShowbiz Cheat Sheet (May 25, 2021).
MTV Awards 2021: Chadwick Boseman Posthumously Wins Best Performance in a Movie; Receives Standing Ovation – Pamela Avila, Cydney Henderson, Anika Reed (USA Today, May 17, 2021).
Black Panther II “So Respectful” of Chadwick Boseman Loss, Lupita Nyong’o Says – Akhil Arora (Gadgets 360, May 3, 2021).
Marvel Reveals Black Panther Sequel's Title and Release Date in Nostalgic Mega-Trailer – Jenna Ryu (USA Today, May 3, 2021).

For The Wild Reed’s series that remembers and celebrates Chadwick Boseman, see:
Remembering Chadwick Boseman
Honoring An Icon
Chadwick Boseman’s Timeless Message to Young Voters: “You Can Turn Our Nation Around”
Chadwick Boseman’s Final Film Role: “A Reed Instrument for Every Painful Emotion”
Celebrating a Special Day
Boseman on Wilson
Chadwick Boseman and That “Heavenly Light”
In This Time of Grief
A Bittersweet Accolade
Chadwick Boseman Receives Posthumous NAACP Image Award
“He Was Just Interested In the Work”

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
“Avengers Assemble!”
Jason Johnson on Stan Lee’s Revolutionary Legacy
Another First for Black Panther
“Something Special,” Indeed!
Queer Black Panther

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Wondrous Sight

I’ve always loved ferns.

Growing up in Gunnedah, Australia, both my grandmothers had them growing in pots on the front and/or back verandahs of their homes. Nanna Smith had them in hanging pots, I remember. And I particularly liked the look of the “fishbone ferns” that Nanna Sparkes had in her little house on the Naomi River flood plain.

It’s been hit and miss for me in terms of growing ferns of my own. They usually start well but then quickly decline and die. Currently, I have two established potted ferns that are doing really well, and have been for some time. So that’s good!

About two weeks ago, while walking through my neighborhood in the cool of the evening, I came across some garden cuttings on the sidewalk. They had clearly been placed there for anyone to take. I claimed two rather wilted ferns.

Back home in my attic abode, I potted and watered them, but they soon started to wither away. I cut them back to soil level, hoping for new growth. I’m happy to say that over the last few days, new growth is exactly what I’ve been witnessing, as spring-green colored fronds have been reaching upwards and unfurling more and more each day.

It’s a wondrous sight to behold!

Related Off-site Links:
How to Grow and Care For Ferns – Gretchen Heber (Gardner’s Path, February 17, 2019).
Tips for Growing Fern Plants – Marie Iannotti (The Spruce, July 7, 2020).
Growing Ferns Indoors – Heather Rhoades (Gardening Know How, September 9, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – May 23, 2021
Photo of the Day – May 14, 2020
Photo of the Day – May 27, 2010

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Remembering George Floyd on the First Anniversary of His Murder

Above: A woman stands on the roof of the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis, beneath a billboard remembering George Floyd.

Earlier this evening my friends Calvin and Joseph and I joined several hundred others to mark the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020). We gathered at the site of Floyd’s death, not far from my home in south Minneapolis.

George Floyd was an African American man murdered by police during an arrest after a store clerk suspected he may have used a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods at the intersection of 38th St. and Chicago Ave. Derek Chauvin, one of four police officers who arrived on the scene, knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

After Floyd’s death, protests against police brutality, especially towards Black people, and systemic racism erupted in Minneapolis and St. Paul and quickly spread across the United States and the world. As he was dying, Floyd was heard to say, “I Can’t Breathe.” This became a rallying cry during the subsequent protests.

Chauvin was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter on April 20, 2021. The trial of the other three officers at the scene of Floyd’s death is scheduled to begin August 23, 2021.

George Floyd was a catalyst, for as Charity Croft has said:

The moment that the world saw [George Floyd’s] neck being kneeled on is the moment that we decided enough is enough. It is the moment when we said that we will no longer tolerate the suffering and oppression and execution of marginalized people. His death was the moment that we as a community said, No more!

Following are some pictures I took earlier this evening at the intersection of 38th St. and Chicago Ave. in south Minneapolis, an area now known as George Floyd Square.

Above: My friend Calvin being interviewed by a German film crew.

On the anniversary of his death, I want to remind all of us that we’re still searching for justice for George Floyd. Convicting his killer isn’t enough. True justice can only come from dismantling the systems that allowed him to die.

We are still fighting to remake our criminal justice system – and especially the people who enforce it. But I see a future where no one has to fear police violence. A future where everyone is safe.

A future with justice for George. Rest in power.

– Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
May 25, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
Moment of Silence Marks Year Since George Floyd’s Death – The Associated Press, Jon Collins, and Matt Sepic (MPR News, May 25, 2021).
What George Floyd’s Death Has Done for Americans’ Ability to Feel Empathy – Bill Chappell (MPR News, May 25, 2021).
Campaigns to Defund Police Have Seen Major Wins – and They’re Not Stopping
– Asha Ransby-Sporn (TruthOut, May 25, 2021).

UPDATES: Investigation Shows Minneapolis Police Show Pattern of Violating Rights, Attorney General Merrick Garland Says – Steve Karnowski and Jim Salter (PBS NewsHour, June 16, 2023).
Department of Justice Finds Minneapolis Police Had a Pattern of “Unconstitutional Policing” – Martin Kaste and Don Gonyea (NPR News, June 17, 2023).
8 Takeaways From the Justice Department Probe of Minneapolis PoliceMPR News (June 17, 2023).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“I Can’t Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Mayor Melvin Carter: “The Anger Is Real, and I Share It With You”
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
“An Abolitionist Demand”: Progressive Perspectives on Transforming Policing in the U.S.
Out and About – Spring 2020
A Very Intentional First Day of the Year
Bearing Witness
“And Still and All, It Continues”
The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz: “We Need to Make Systemic Changes”
“Let This Be a Turning Point”

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Quote of the Day

It is a sad indictment of our current political reality that news that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will come out against a 1/6 Commission is treated as unsurprising. It is a stance born from a fear of where this commission’s findings will likely lead – a wholesale indictment of a cult to which McConnell and his compatriots in the House and Senate have pledged servile fealty.

Let’s boil this down to one simple question, and let me paraphrase that famous line from the film A Few Good Men. Can the Republican Party handle the truth? And what is this truth? It’s not complicated. Joe Biden won the presidential election in 2020. It wasn’t close. It was a fair and free election. But let’s not kid ourselves, many Republicans have been allergic to the truth for a long time – on climate change, on guns, on racial justice, on the pandemic, on a whole host of issues.

These people go every night to the Ayn Rand Disneyland of Fox News. They bathe in the conspiracy-theory swamp of Facebook. They pick fights with straw men. But the rest of the country, the rest of the world, has no choice but to live in reality.

I want to live in a democratic republic guided by the rule of law. And the truth. I want a government that tackles our big challenges and doesn’t play footsie with white supremacists. I can handle the truth. I want my country to handle the truth – even, and especially, when it’s ugly. We have no choice but to do that if we want to continue to thrive as a nation. I think some Republicans are starting to realize that. We will see how many oppose the leadership on this. This could split the party. Just look at the fate of Liz Cheney, for example. So be it. I’m more worried about splitting apart the country.

Faced with Republican complicity and cowardice, those who still want to live in reality have no choice but to push forward. Democrats control both houses of Congress and can hold high-profile Congressional hearings, even if a commission isn’t created. They can follow the evidence and create a record for history. The Republicans will undoubtedly frame these as partisan witch hunts. But once there are public hearings and deep investigations there is no telling what will come out.

Dan Rather
Excerpted from “Can Republicans Handle The Truth?
May 19, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
U.S. House Passes Bill to Investigate Capitol Insurrection, But Its Fate in the Senate Is Unclear – Claudia Grisales and Barbara Sprunt (NPR News, May 19, 2021).
Mitch McConnell Turns Senate Republicans Against January 6 Commission – Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett (Politico, May 19, 2021).
Mitch McConnell Is Still Hiding From the Capitol Mob – Jim Newell (Slate, May 19, 2021).

UPDATES: “Despicable”: McConnell Begs GOP Senators to Vote Against January 6 Commission as “Personal Favor” – John Wight (AlterNet, May 27, 2021).
Most Americans Think the GOP Is Working Against Democracy and Want January 6 Commission, Polls Find – Andrew Solender (Forbes, May 27, 2021).
Senate Republicans Block a Plan for An Independent Commission on January 6 Capitol Riot – Brian Naylor (NPR News, May 28, 2021).
Senate Republicans Block January 6 Commission With First Filibuster of Biden PresidencyAxios (May 28, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
Two Conservative Voices of Integrity
Bernie Sanders: Quote of the Day – May 5, 2021
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”
Refuting Surface Level Comparisons Between the Insurrection at the Capitol and Black Lives Matter Protests
David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 6, 2021
Insurrection at the United States Capitol

Image: Kristen Solberg.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Progressive Perspectives on the Ongoing Israeli-Palestinian “Nightmare”

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Oregon. He maintains a blog entitled In the Human Interest: Critical Appraisals of Foreign Affairs and Politics from a Global-citizen Perspective. Gurtov’s latest post focuses on the situation in Israel and Gaza. It’s a very worthwhile read as, for one thing, he offers an idea for achieving peace with justice.

I’ve chosen to use an excerpt from Gurtov’s post to begin today's compilation of “progressive perspectives” on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. And what exactly is a “progressive perspective”? Well, the short answer is that it’s an informed viewpoint that is highly unlikely to be heard on Fox News. Of course, such viewpoints are also not often shared by mainstream corporate media outlets, which as journalist Norman Solomon reminds us, are the ruling oligarchy’s biggest and strongest arm.

Along with Mal Gurtov, others whose perspectives I share below include author Seraj Assi, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, writer Abby Zimet, journalist and political commentator Emma Vigeland; Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, writer Shenaz Kermalli, writer, activist, and political commentator Phyllis Bennis, and artist Nikkolas Smith.


The latest violence comes on the heels of two auspicious events: [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu’s inability to form a new government, and a Human Rights Watch report that calls Israeli treatment of Palestinians “crimes against humanity.”

Netanyahu may only be a caretaker, but he is promising an intense military campaign while a raging extremist nationalist mob is attacking Palestinians in city streets. To some observers, the unfolding tragedy is a terrible twist on the story of Germany before the Holocaust.

We can argue all day, as children do, about who started this latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But assigning responsibility is futile: the root causes are what deserve attention, not the proximate causes. And those root causes are well known: the conflict between two nationalisms, the equally legitimate claims of Israeli Jews and Palestinians to territory; the violence of Israel’s superior military might that has led to an oppressive occupation; and the one-sided policies of US presidents in favor of legitimating the occupation with military aid and political support that every Israeli government has manipulated to keep the Palestinians down.

Yes, both sides have resorted to terrorism over the years, but the overall contest for control has never been in doubt – not with Israel having received about $4 billion annually in US military aid since 2016, far more than any other US security partner. Those “bunker busters” you see being dropped by the Israeli air force on Hamas apartment buildings tell the story of disproportionate violence.

. . . The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often called intractable, when in fact there are plenty of ideas for achieving peace with justice. I cited one such idea in my book, Engaging Adversaries:

In 2011 a virtual who’s-who of the US foreign policy establishment endorsed . . . [the following] proposal that would be the basis for an Israel-Palestine settlement that the US could support. The essence of each point is: first, creation of a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, subject only to minor land swaps; second, resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem on the basis of two states, two peoples, with assistance for their resettlement; third, support for a nonmilitarized, sovereign, and secure Palestine and a secure Israel, with a US-led multinational presence to oversee mutual security; fourth, division of Jerusalem into two sovereign neighborhoods, each controlling holy places that are accessible to both . . .

If political will were in good supply, we would witness two states living in peace and security. But equally necessary is revisiting, and dealing with, the root causes of this unending conflict.

Mel Gurtov
Excerpted from “Getting Back to Basics in Policy on Israel
Common Dreams
May 15, 2021

It has been a brutal week for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

As hard-line Israeli settlers prepared a provocative parade through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, Israeli security forces turned their guns on peaceful Palestinian protesters and worshipers performing Ramadan prayers at the Aqsa mosque, injuring hundreds in yet another brutal crackdown. Videos circulating on social media in recent days have shown Israeli police officers throwing stun grenades and shooting rubber bullets at Palestinians inside the mosque, attacking Palestinian worshippers with tear gas bombs, and viciously beating a Palestinian man in the mosque compound. On Monday, Israeli strikes in Gaza killed twenty Palestinians, including ten children.

Once again, Israel has turned its celebrations of Jerusalem Day, an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City, into an occasion to repress Palestinians and remind the world that it is in fact, as a Human Rights Watch report acknowledged last week, an apartheid state.

. . . What is happening in Jerusalem, then, are not “clashes” between Israelis and Palestinians, as mainstream outlets would have you to believe. What is happening is the brutal daily reality of an occupying power, emboldened by unconditional US support and international apathy, exercising its military might against a stateless people living under its control, stripped of their basic human and civil rights.

Seraj Assi
Excerpted from “Call Israel What It Is: An Apartheid State
Jacobin via In These Times
May 12, 2021

Above: Palestinians evacuate a building targeted by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City. (Photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP via Getty Images)

We have to recognize that there are both long term and immediate reasons for the level of escalation in violence that we’re seeing. One long term reason is to do with [Palestinian] families being evicted from their homes where they’ve lived for more than 60 years in some cases; homes that they built in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly in the neighborhood known as Sheikh Jarrah. In that neighborhood, Israeli settlers have claimed that they have the right to evict the Palestinian families, many with children; the right to throw them out of their homes, in many cases quite violently. [This has] been challenged in the Israeli courts and the courts have so far upheld the [actions] of the settlers to displace the Palestinians from their homes and take over the area.

The other part of East Jerusalem where there’s been an onging crisis involves Palestinian families’ homes being demolished. In some cases they are given only hours to move out what they want and then they have to leave. In some cases they’re even charged money for the cost of demolition of their own homes.

So the situation of what even the Israelis acknowledge is the effort to Judaize the land of Jerusalem and make sure there’s always a majority of Jews means that a Jew like me who has no family ties to the area has the right to arrive and claim immediate citizenship and the right to live wherever I want. Palestinians [on the other hand] can be thrown out of ther homes and have no right to return to visit, let alone return [to live], as they are guaranteed [to do so] under international law.

Phyllis Bennis
From her appearance on The World Tonight
May 10, 2021

We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents. Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence. It is inhumane and the U.S. must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians.

They talk to us about Israel and Palestine like it’s two countries with a border in the middle that’s getting argued about. That’s not what’s happening.

Israel is systematically land grabbing, making up laws and practices (legal or not) that forcibly and all too often violently displace people from their homeland.

It’s ethnic cleansing, y’all. It’s apartheid. It’s racist. It’s settler colonialism. Oh yeah, and it’s a violation of international human rights law (criminal and immoral).

And knowing it requires us to actually do something about it.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson
via Facebook
May 15, 2021

Let’s be clear. No one is arguing that Israel, or any government, does not have the right to self-defense or to protect its people. [But] why is the question almost never asked: “What are the rights of the Palestinian people?” And why do we only seem to take notice of the violence in Israel and Palestine when rockets are falling on Israel?

In this moment of crisis, the United States should be urging an immediate cease-fire. We should also understand that, while Hamas firing rockets into Israeli communities is absolutely unacceptable, today’s conflict did not begin with those rockets.

Palestinian families in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah have been living under the threat of eviction for many years, navigating a legal system designed to facilitate their forced displacement. And over the past weeks, extremist settlers have intensified their efforts to evict them.

And, tragically, those evictions are just one part of a broader system of political and economic oppression. For years we have seen a deepening Israeli occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a continuing blockade on Gaza that make life increasingly intolerable for Palestinians. In Gaza, which has about two million inhabitants, 70 percent of young people are unemployed and have little hope for the future.

Further, we have seen Benjamin Netanyahu’s government work to marginalize and demonize Palestinian citizens of Israel, pursue settlement policies designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution and pass laws that entrench systemic inequality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

None of this excuses the attacks by Hamas, which were an attempt to exploit the unrest in Jerusalem, or the failures of the corrupt and ineffective Palestinian Authority, which recently postponed long-overdue elections. But the fact of the matter is that Israel remains the one sovereign authority in the land of Israel and Palestine, and rather than preparing for peace and justice, it has been entrenching its unequal and undemocratic control.

Over more than a decade of his right-wing rule in Israel, Mr. Netanyahu has cultivated an increasingly intolerant and authoritarian type of racist nationalism. In his frantic effort to stay in power and avoid prosecution for corruption, Mr. Netanyahu has legitimized these forces, including Itamar Ben Gvir and his extremist Jewish Power party, by bringing them into the government. It is shocking and saddening that racist mobs that attack Palestinians on the streets of Jerusalem now have representation in its Knesset.

These dangerous trends are not unique to Israel. Around the world, in Europe, in Asia, in South America and here in the United States, we have seen the rise of similar authoritarian nationalist movements. These movements exploit ethnic and racial hatreds in order to build power for a corrupt few rather than prosperity, justice and peace for the many. For the last four years, these movements had a friend in the White House.

At the same time, we are seeing the rise of a new generation of activists who want to build societies based on human needs and political equality. We saw these activists in American streets last summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. We see them in Israel. We see them in the Palestinian territories.

With a new president, the United States now has the opportunity to develop a new approach to the world – one based on justice and democracy. Whether it is helping poor countries get the vaccines they need, leading the world to combat climate change or fighting for democracy and human rights around the globe, the United States must lead by promoting cooperation over conflict.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt)
Excerpted from “The U.S. Must Stop Being
An Apologist for the Netanyahu Government

The New York Times
May 14, 2021

Above: Gaza residents gather at the site of homes destroyed by Israeli air and artillery attacks on May 14, 2015. (Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Israel’s slaughter goes on.

Marking Eid, the holiest day of the holiest month in the Islamic calender, at least 87 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 18 children; over 530 have been wounded, and hundreds have been left homeless after Israeli missiles targeted 17 homes and the 13-stoery al-Hanadi apartment building, which also housed business, medical and media offices.

“Gaza will burn,” vowed right-wing, blood-soaked Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in an explicit threat to commit war crimes, pledging to exceed the savagery of his 2014 Operation Protective Edge that killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children. Today, Gantz is the norm in an apartheid Israel no longer shy about declaring, “This is a Jewish country”: A Netanyahu spokesperson posted an old video from Syria to accuse Hamas of using “human shields,” an Israeli lawmaker urged the military to “flatten the Strip,” a Justice Minister supports destroying Palestinian homes because, “Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.” With Israeli troops reportedly massing for a possible ground assault, Gaza is already a hellscape where “the sounds of children screaming are louder than the missiles.”

The victims are random, innocent, beloved: Awad Abuselmya, who was his family’s only survivor when Israeli bombs killed his parents and six siblings in 2006; Munther Abd al-Karim Baraka, 21, and his sister Manar Abd al-Karim Baraka, 18, who were working on their family’s chicken farm; Lina Iyad Shrir, 15, and both her parents; Bashar Ahmad Samour, 17, a farmer who was harvesting parsely with two relatives; a family of six, including four children and their pregnant mother; many in their cars, some in their stores, one in a park; Reema Saad, a 30-year-old journalist, killed in an Israeli airstrike with her 3-year-old daughter, 5-year-old son, and husband Muhammed. She was four months pregnant. She is not a number. None of them are.

“Here is what I want you to understand,” writes one resident of untenable life in the long-besieged Gaza. “We are bleeding here, anyway. Bleeding silently, all the time. Regardless of this or that war. Why do I, why do we, have to choose between a quick death during a time of war, or a silent death under blockade?”

Complicit in the Gazan nightmare, lest we forget, is the U.S. and its almost four billion dollars in military aid to support David Ben-Gurion’s merciless edict for the Zionist project of “maximum territory, minimum Arabs.” That goal is reflected in today’s turmoil in occupied East Jerusalem, most notably in Sheikh Jarrah, where Israeli settlers intent on “Judaizing” the city are seizing homes where Palestinians have lived for decades – an effort funded significantly by American Jews.

President Biden, who’s long supported Israel, has stuck to his narrative: Israel, he says, “has a right to defend itself.” (Against small children and pregnant women?). Many have had enough: “Biden has a right to go fuck himself until he stops funding apartheid and state terrorism. #FreePalestine.” Over 100 Democrats share the sentiment, arguing in a scorching open letter to Biden that, rather than send “hollow Eid greetings . . . we must not allow U.S. tax dollars to be the currency for ethnic cleansing for Israeli apartheid.” They urge Biden to slash a defense budget that now provides more money to Israel than climate change, and above all to “demonstrate actual leadership on human rights instead of turning a blind eye to the suffering of our brothers and sisters.” Their charge: “Hold the missiles, drones, bombs, cages, interrogations, detentions, incarceration, deportations, CIA covert missions, economic sanctions, torture, humiliation, forced evictions, land theft, broken promises, lies, empty gestures, hostilities, and, most recently, the vaccine apartheid.”

The bottom line: “You don’t need to be Muslim to stand for GAZA. You just need to be HUMAN.”

The call to an indifferent world is echoed by one small, ferocious Gazan boy: “All you nations sleeping through our pain – children are dying.”

Abby Zimet
All You Nations Sleeping
Common Dreams
May 12, 2021

Above: Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip on Monday, May 10, 2021. (Photo: Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

Even as airstrikes continue to strike the already crippled Gaza Strip, Israel still, according to U.S President Joe Biden, “has a right to defend itself” against rockets fired from the coastal Palestinian territory.

Even as mobs of far-right Israelis smash Arab-owned businesses and drag a man who they believe is Arab from his car and beat him unconscious, Israel “has a right to defend itself.”

Even as the UN warns of an all-out war breaking out – a war, that is, between a state-backed by the world’s largest arms supplier and a dispossessed population – Israel still “has the right to defend itself.”

It’s a line we’ve heard over and over from Israeli leaders and their allies. But the death toll tells a different story, as it did after Israel’s last brutal offensive in Gaza in 2014. On the Palestinian side according to a 2015 UN report, 2,251 people, of whom 1,462 were civilians, were killed. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed along with six civilians.

As of Sunday morning, at least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded. Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier.

“The right to defend itself” argument makes little sense in the context of current realities on the ground. Palestinians living in the occupied territories are not at war with Israel, they live at the mercy of their occupiers. In his book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes how the foundations of Israel are rooted in a colonial project that continues to subject its Indigenous Palestinian population to military occupation, land dispossession and unequal rights.

Destroy, displace and kill. It’s been the (arguably unofficial) policy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government since he was elected 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, has fired over 1,000 rockets from Gaza towards Israel over the last week, of which 200 have actually landed (most have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system). While death and suffering inflicted on Israeli civilians is as troubling as it is on the Palestinian side, any violent retaliation has to be viewed in context: Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF) is supported with billions of dollars of American aid, a powerful air force and intelligence-gathering system.

It’s also hard to believe that the IDF is on a mission to rid the Gaza Strip solely of “violent attackers and terrorists” when they try to use international media to provoke insurgency. Leading Israeli news outlets began reporting on Saturday that an earlier IDF proclamation about Israeli ground troops entering Gaza on Friday – news that made headlines worldwide – was an elaborate ploy to dupe Hamas into thinking that an invasion had begun so they could respond with even more lethal attacks on Palestinians. In fact, no invasion had taken place.

In response, Israel’s military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, insisted it was an honest mistake during the fog of war. Was it an honest mistake too, then, when media offices belonging to the Associated Press and Al Jazeera were destroyed Saturday afternoon?

How are we, in a year of racial awakening, still not able to recognize Israel’s half-century military occupation and deepening grip over Palestinian life? Why does a culture of impunity exist when it comes to Israeli aggression?

Shenaz Kermalli
Palestinian Families and Children
Are Being Killed. Why Is It So Quiet?

Common Dreams
May 16, 2021

Saying “but Hamas” or “but what Palestinians did” in this situation is the equivalent of saying “all lives matter.” You’re reflexively obscuring the power dynamics and systemic racism at play, and equating state violence with the retaliation of the powerless.

Emma Vigeland
via Twitter
May 12, 2021

Sheikh Jarrah is a predominantly Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, whose residents are under constant threat of colonialism and state sanctioned violence. Fact.

40 percent of Palestinians killed in Israeli air strikes are women and children. Fact.

This week's violence has killed over 120 Palestinians, including 31 children, 19 women, and wounded over 900 people. Fact.

Israel is an apartheid state. Fact.

My anti-oppression piece “The Day Freedom Fell” was originally created to highlight America’s violent air strikes overseas, and sadly it didn’t take much to make a quick color edit to mirror almost exactly the recent injustice in Sheikh Jarrah.

Nikkolas Smith
via Facebook
May 16, 2021

Beloved community, a plea from my broken heart:

When I express concern and love for my Israeli loved ones who are sleeping in bomb shelters because of rockets being fired from Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon, I am not diminishing the pain and suffering of Palestinians; I am expressing love and care for people I love and care about, for human beings whose lives are forever entangled in my own.

When I express concern and love for Palestinian loved ones in the West Bank or Gaza whose suffering is enormous and grotesque and unconscionable, I am not challenging Israel’s right to exist or be safe and secure; I am expressing love and care for the people I love and care about, for human beings whose lives are forever entangled in my own.

My broken heart has enough space for loving Israelis and loving Palestinians, for loving Jews and loving Muslims, for holding them accountable, for holding myself and my community and the American Jewish Community accountable, for trying to respond to this violent quagmire with more compassion and more love and the expansion of my heart – not the diminishment of it. When has withholding love ever resulted in good for you? For people you love? For the planet?

Shouting at me, correcting me, belittling me, admonishing me for trying to hold more love, more complexity, more humanity, more absurd hope for peace in the face of despair does not invite me in to your pain, your anguish, your rage, your shake, your despair, your hope, your moral commitments. It simply closes an opportunity for us to connect deeply, humanely, lovingly in a world that is desperate for people who see each other’s humanity and love each other, fiercely.

What if, instead of doing what we’ve done to each other for the past generation or two that has not yielded more dignity, more peace, more security, or more human rights, instead of belittling or shaming or blaming or screaming at one another or posturing about the rightness of our position, we instead weep together – LOUDLY, BRAVELY, HOPEFULLY, WITH GENTLENESS AND TENDERNESS – and just see what might happen if we let our hearts open and hold each other as we tremble and try – IMPOSSIBLY – to be better humans together?

Shabbat Shalom and All My Love

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz
via Facebook
May 14, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
Israel/Palestine Coverage Presents False Equivalency Between Occupied and Occupier – Gregory Shupak (FAIR, May 18, 2021).
Palestinian Civilian Death Toll Mounts as Israel Pounds Gaza with Airstrikes and Heavy ArtilleryDemocracy Now! (May 14, 2021).
Israeli Bombs Destroy Gaza Media Center; Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, and Others Taken OutCommon Dreams (May 16, 2021).
“Shocking and Horrifying”: Israel Destroys Associated Press Office in Gaza – Josef Federman (AP News, May 15, 2021).
Eight Killed in Israel by Palestinian Rocket Fire as Military Chief Threatens “Gaza Will Burn”Democracy Now! (May 14, 2021).
100+ Groups Condemn Israeli Violence in East Jerusalem and Gaza – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, May 14, 2021).
Against the Horror, Palestinians Are Still Rising – Amjad Iraqi (+972 Magazine, May 13, 2021).
Palestinian Youth Are Leading a Popular Uprising to End Israeli Apartheid – Dima Khalidi (TruthOut, May 17, 2021).
Israel’s Top Newspapers Aren’t Concerned With the Killing of Palestinian Kids – Edo Konrad (+972 Magazine, May 11, 2021).
Bernie Sanders: U.S. Must Recognize That “Palestinian Rights Matter” – Shawna Chen (Axios, May 14, 2021).
The Israel-Palestine Conflict Isn’t a “Clash of Cultures.” It’s About Colonialism – Bernard Porter (Jacobin, April 28, 2020).
125 Democrats Say Military Aid to Israel Shouldn’t Depend on Human Rights Record Stephen Zunes – (TruthOut, May 5, 2021).
The Israel-Palestine Conflict Isn’t a “Clash of Cultures.” It’s About Colonialism – Bernard Porter (Jacobin, April 28, 2020).
Nathan Thrall on the Historic Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Control from the River to the SeaDemocracy Now! (May 13, 2021).
Nathan Thrall on “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama” and Reality of Palestinian Life Under Israeli RuleDemocracy Now! (May 13, 2021).
The Present – A Painful Short Film Tells the Whole Story of What It Means to Be Palestinian – Miko Peled (Mint Press News, April 21, 2021). Normalizing Ethnic Supremacy in Israel/Palestine – Jim Naureckas (FAIR, December 8, 2017).
No, Israel Is Not a Democracy – Ilan Pappe (Jacobin, May 5, 2017).
When Does Israel/Palestine Violence Start? – Peter Hart (FAIR, November 15, 2012).
Hannah Arendt: Born in Conflict, Israel Will Degenerate Into Sparta, and American Jews Will Need to Back Away – Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss, January 1, 2012).
Mixed Views of Hamas and Hezbollah in Largely Muslim Nations – Pew Research Center (February 4, 2010).
Muslim Views on Extremist Groups and Conflict – Pew Research Center (February 4, 2010).
Ratng Muslim Leaders – Pew Research Center (February 4, 2010).
Muslim Views of Religious Groups – Pew Research Center (February 4, 2010).

UPDATES: Global Solidarity Protests Against Israeli Apartheid as Palestinians Stage General Strike – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, May 18, 2021).
Gaza Physician: “Israel Is Targeting Doctors and Health Facilities to Overwhelm Our Crumbling System”Democracy Now! (May 18, 2021).
“Genocide”: Palestinian Lawmaker Dr. Mustafa Barghouti Condemns Netanyahu for Bombing Gaza to Stay in Power and Avoid ChargesDemocracy Now! (May 18, 2021).
Israel: Is This the Beginning of the End of Apartheid? – Richard Falk (Middle East Eye, May 18, 2021).
Rep. Ilhan Omar Leads Call to Stop “Appalling” $735 Million U.S. Weapons Sale to Israel Amid Gaza Carnage – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, May 18, 2021).
Gaza Lives Erased: Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose – Amira Hass (Haaretz, May 18, 2021).
State Terrorism as Public Relations – Robert C. Koehler (Common Dreams, May 20, 2021).
Why Israel Blows Up Media Offices and Targets Journalists – Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, May 20, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Introduces Resolution Blocking $735m Weapons Sale to Israel – Joan E. Greve (The Guardian, May 20, 2021).
Israel and Hamas Agree to Ceasefire in Gaza Strip After 11-day Conflict Leaves Hundreds Dead – Associated Press via ABC News (May 20, 2021).
The Biggest Threat to Israel Is the Occupation – Michael Winship and Angela Godfrey-Goldstein (Common Dreams, May 22, 2021).
Amid Gaza Ceasefire, Israel Arrests Hundreds and Continues “Colonial Violence” in Occupied PalestineDemocracy Now! (May 24, 2021).
Israel and Palestine: The Tragedy of Unprocessed Trauma – Marianne Williamson (Newsweek, May 24, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – July 29, 2018
Noura Erakat: Quote of the Day – May 15, 2018
For Some Jews, Israel’s Treatment of Palestinians is Yet Another Jewish Tragedy
Remembering the Six-Day War and Its Ongoing Aftermath
David Norris: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2014
Something to Think About – July 18, 2014
“We Will Come Together in Our Pain”
Thoughts on Prayer in a “Summer of Strife”

Opening image: Smoke and flames rise after the Israeli military conducts an airstrike west of Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, May 11, 2021. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Spirit Dreams

For “music night” this evening at The Wild Reed I share a track from Spirit Dreams, a rather mysterious CD I found this past Friday in the Australia/South Pacific section at the Cheapo Discs store in Blaine, MN.

I say “mysterious” because there is no artist identified on either the front or back of the CD, and no year of release noted in the liner notes or on the disc itself.

Of course, none of this stopped me from purchasing it. I guess I just found it intriguing, and as something that connected me to my “bone country” (always on the lookout for that!) . . . Plus it was only $5.00.

Subtitled “a soundscape of unsurpassed beauty,” Spirit Dance, I discovered after an Internet search, is a 1999 release by the Indigenous Australia label, founded by Gene Pierson.

The album features Ash Dargan (right) of the Larrikia tribe or “Saltwater People” of the Northern Territory, who provides vocals, didjeridu, wooden flutes and percussion.

Pierson and Mark Doyle are the composers of the album’s haunting music, which is reminiscent of the ambient backing provided by Claus Zundel on the 1994 release, Sacred Spirit: Chants and Dances of the Native Americans and its follow-up, Sacred Spirit II.

Following is Spirit Dreams’ third track, “Ancient Legends (Rawal Woggheegui).” It’s music that, as one reviewer notes of the entire album, is a “sound experience that empowers the listener to harmonize with the natural world and the spirits that dwell there.” Enjoy!

NOTE: To hear all four tracks of Spirit Dreams (each around 12 minutes in duration), click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Celebrating Mabo
Recognising and Honoring Australia's First Naturalists
Jojo Zaho: “Let Your Faboriginality Shine Through”
Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019: On Sacred Ground
Australian Sojourn – Winter 2017: Return to Guruk
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012

Musicians previously spotlighted at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Seckou Keita | Rahsaan Patterson | Black