To many Americans, but especially African-Americans, this time must feel like the worst case of Groundhog Day ever. Like waking up every day to witness yet another Black man or woman shot dead by the police. And each of those days would bring riots and mayhem to cities throughout the country. making you feel like you live in a shithole country, as Trump is wont to say about so-called dysfunctional African states.
That’s what the killing of George Floyd feels like to most Americans, whether Black or white. What makes this worse this time is that we have a president who’s not only an unreconstructed racist, but a white supremacist as well. A man who is incapable of empathy for anyone of any color, but even less so for Black people.
watching a stream of the union square protests to see this police officer throw up what looks to be a white power sign. stay safe out there, these cops are monsters. pic.twitter.com/IZreewn0Q1
— kiki (@kikimurphy_) May 31, 2020
In fact, it appears that a conspiracy of white supremacists may be deliberately infiltrating riots to foment further violence and provoke the police and National Guard to even more extreme responses. Experts have also noted that white supremacists are infiltrating law enforcement by joining local police forces. In fact, Derek Chauvin, the killer of George Floyd, is pictured on his social media account wearing a red Trump cap saying “Make Whites Great Again.”
The governor of Minnesota, who has said that he suspects white supremacists have done this, revealed this tantalizing information in a press conference earlier today:
Q: Governor, can you talk…about your conversation with secretary Esper and what we might expect in terms of federal military assistance?
Governor Tim Walz: Yeah. This is the second conversation in 24 hours with defense secretary Esper and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Milley…We’re looking at what are the resources they have, or is there a signal intelligence that we can get from them? Are there things that they can provide us? And then talking about the mechanisms that we use in the national guard.
I think it’s really important again, for folks to think about the uniqueness of our nation of protecting civil liberties is to make sure that civilian control of the military. And especially inside the United States is carried out by civilians, by citizen soldiers, by national guard…So I understand very clearly the militarization of a civilian population is a deep concern. That’s why we’re accessing and they’re helping us access all these assets through the national guard in our surrounding States. They also were able to provide their intelligence support of what they’re seeing, what their signal intercepting they have, obviously from NSA and others, massive support, to be able to see who these operators are.
After Trump explicitly blamed Antifa for the violence in cities throughout the country, Walz is contradicting him. Though the latter concedes outsiders are provoking the violence, he’s not blaming Antifa, but rather white supremacists. And Walz is saying that the NSA is providing intelligence information to the Minnesota National Guard about these conspirators.
During the Bush administration, Edward Snowden and others made the shocking revelation that the NSA violated U.S. law by spying on U.S. citizens. This statement confirms that the agency continues to do that. In this case, Walz implies that the NSA is spying on white supremacists.
But they could just as easily be doing Trump’s bidding and spying on so-called “far-left extremist groups,” which Attorney General Barr has claimed executed “their own separate, violent, and extremist agenda” in the protests. Note that the FBI itself has said that there is no evidence that Antifa or other so-called left-wing violence has been involved in the DC demonstrations.
Statistics compiled by federal law enforcement agencies show clearly that the main terror threat in this country is not Antifa and not al Qaeda. Instead, it is white supremacy. It has established networks both online and offline. It incites violence. It commits violence on a massive scale. Only it has sufficient hate, motivation and organization to wreak the damage it has. In addition, it enjoys both tacit and explicit support from the White House and Congress. In effect, there are white supremacist soldiers and well-dressed powerful politicians with complementing agendas.
Fascism and Fear
All far-right governments, whether in Israel, the U.S. or Europe, need bogeymen to blame and stoke fear. Just as Viktor Orban exploited Covid19 to abrogate basic rights and suspend parliamentary rule, fascists must distract people from their political machinations to destroy democracy and basic rights. Thus Israel uses Arabophobia and Islamophobia as a cudgel with which to beat public dissent into submission. This is one of the prime reasons, though not the only one, the Israeli left has become a hollow shell.
Here in the U.S., we’ve had many such bugaboos over the years. From the post-WWII era until 1989, there was the “Communist menace” that justified witch hunts in government and academia, the execution of spies, and U.S. intervention throughout the world including Vietnam, Chile, Iran, Guatemala and elsewhere. With the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the American right needed a new enemy.
The 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda in 2001 and the subsequent War on Terror offered fear of an Islamist Caliphate seeking to overthrow western democracy. This served as a catalyst for our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and our ongoing targeted killings of thousands of Muslims in the region via drone warfare. It also permitted the Bush administration to enact the USA Patriot Act (pdf), one of the most draconian anti-democratic laws enacted since the 1920 Palmer Raids.
Islamophobia is a related phenomenon, which American nativists like Trump have exploited, falsely claiming Islamist extremists were flooding this country with potential terrorists. Trump’s prohibition against foreign entry from Muslim countries enacted early in his administration highlights the exploitation of xenophobia as another far-right tactic.
But as Al Qaeda fades and becomes a more manageable phenomenon, the American right sought a new enemy and found it in the Antifa movement. The supposed violence its followers employ to confront white supremacists serves as a perfect foil onto which to project public fear of social chaos. And the average American, fearing disorder, will presumably turn to the Party which offers stability through force. That’s why Trump and Barr, desperate to distract the public from their failures to manage the Covid19 epidemic, have latched onto it as Public Enemy Number 1.
Israel-U.S.: Violence as Tool of Racial Supremacy
Israel, like the U.S., suffers from the same plague of police violence fueled by racism, inherent in its apartheid society. A few days after Floyd’s death, two Border Police patrolling East Jerusalem were alerted that a Palestinian man in the vicinity might be a terrorist. They located the man, Iyad al-Hallaq, and later said he had what appeared to be a gun. They also made the preposterous claim that his wearing gloves made them even more convinced he was ready to commit an act of terror. When they called on the man, who turned out to be not only unarmed, but a non-verbal autistic individual with the cognitive abilities of a six-year-old, he ran from them. He hid behind a dumpster. When the police came upon him they pumped him full of six bullets. The senior officer of the two ordered his subordinate to stop. But he didn’t until he was sure he was dead.
Hallaq was 32 years-old. When he was murdered he was making his way from him home to the school for students with special needs which he attended and where he worked. The Border Police, well-known for their brutality, offered vague statements about an investigation. They also claimed that they arrested their colleagues, the killers. But they were later released. The police have secured a judicial gag order which prevents their identities from being reported.
.PGP או IMמבקשים מידע כדי לזהות את שוטרי מג”ב שרצחו את איאד אל-חלאק. תתקשר אתי ב
أسعى للحصول على معلومات للتعرف على شرطة الحدود الإسرائيلية التي قتلت إياد الحلاق، حيث تخضع هوياتهم لحظر تداول إسرائيلي. يرجى التواصل بي على الخاص إذا كنت تستطيع المساعدة.”
In the past, I have been able to secure such information about similar crimes and published it here. But law enforcement sources are sealed like a drum. If any reader has any information about this please be in touch. Gag orders protect perpetrators of state violence. They protect the apartheid system in which this violence thrives.
There is a danger in seeing this murder, as tragic as it is, as a singular event. But so many Iyad al-Hallaqs have died at the hands of Israeli soldiers and police that this systemic violence is an integral part of the regime of suppression maintained by the Israeli Jewish majority over the Palestinian minority. As with the U.S., where white supremacists and the GOP have formed a tacit alliance to maintain power and control, Israel uses its military and police to enforce a racist apartheid regime. Israel’s political parties serve as a parallel political force legislating and encoding the repression in law. H. Rap Brown once said that violence is as American as cherry pie. In Israel, state-sanctioned violence is as Israeli as hummus and pita (which aren’t really “Israeli” foods at all!).
After yesterday’s display of the imperial presidency with Trump proferring the Bible as a talisman to ward off the protesting Satanists, and hundreds of mounted police, low-swooping helicopters, and heavily-armed troops standing like Centurions before the people’s Lincoln Memorial, America feels more and more like the garrison state Israel has been for decades.
In the past, leaders of Black Lives Matter have made common cause with Palestinian activists. They are doing so again in this instance. The same violence Blacks face in the U.S. afflicts Palestinians. While minorities in this country may not face a formal Occupation as Palestinians do, they are under assault and criminalized in precisely the same way that Palestinians are.
One of the more disturbing responses of police to anti-racist protests is the systematic assault on journalists. Over the past few days, they have been arrested, blinded, shot by rubber bullets, and tear-gassed in multiple U.S. cities. None of these incidents were accidents. Law enforcement deliberately targeted them. And Donald Trump, with his own personal assault on U.S. media has fueled this attack on a free press, a pillar of U.S. democracy.
This too is a target adopted by Israel, which bombed the offices of foreign news media in Gaza during the 2014 War. Israel has fired tank rounds at Palestinian journalists, killing them. There used to be red lines in U.S. law enforcement, which respected the rights and role of the press in covering demonstrations. But taking a page from the Israeli playbook, such lines have been erased.
It is no accident that Israeli security forces invite U.S. police agencies on training tours in which Israelis impart their methods of suppressing civil unrest. Israeli weapons dealers sell their equipment to U.S. agencies which seek to militarize their arsenals as Israel has done. In response, Jewish Voice for Peace has mounted a Deadly Exchange campaign to stop this collaboration which encourages the militarization and lethality of domestic law enforcement’s response to civil unrest.
Israel is desperate to counter the solidarity between BLM and Palestinians. It uses claims of anti-Semitism against the leaders fighting against police violence and tries to link the BDS movement to claims it is anti-Semitic or even a supporter of terrorism. But the murders of Floyd and al-Hallaq show once again that this is, and must be an intersectional fight that joins both movements in struggle to uproot such hatred and violence from both our societies.