Ayman

Ayman is a co-founder of Existence is Resistance, an organization that recently traveled to besieged Gaza and the West Bank and links progressive hip hop artist from the US with those in Palestine to raise awareness against the occupation. Growing up in both New York and war-torn Lebanon shaped his outlook on the world. Over the past ten years he has been an anti-war activist and a supporter of freeing political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal. He has also organized against police brutality and cuts to CUNY.

Oct 062014
 

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Political prisoner, activist, journalist and author Mumia Abu Jamal gave a very powerful commencement speech to the graduates of Goddard College.

Mumia, a graduate of the university himself was selected to give the speech even though it sparked outrage amongst the police and their supporters who refuse to accept that Mumia is an innocent man convicted of a crime he did not commit.

You can read the full speech below:

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Oct 022014
 

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By Marcel Cartier

Ah, the good old Occupy movement. A part of me will always have a subjective emotional attachment it. No, not because it’s actually an abysmal and indefensible name for what was supposedly a progressive protest movement in the belly of the beast, given that the territory that now makes up the United States has been occupied by white settlers for hundreds of years and the U.S. imperialists are the primary occupiers of oppressed people the world over.

When the Occupy Wall Street movement was announced in 2011, many comrades including myself simply brushed it off as a white liberal, petit-bourgeois circus that revolutionaries needn’t have anything to do with. As one veteran comrade laid down when a younger one asked if it was worth socialists participating: “those aren’t our people down there”. In other words, it wasn’t really a rebellion of the poorest, most downtrodden segments of U.S. society. Still, as weeks went by and the movement gained substantial momentum, it seemed it would have been foolish not to insert ourselves in the struggle in some way.

We used the space that was created by Occupy to launch Marxist agitation and to attempt to push the movement in a revolutionary direction. Needless to say, the outcome was not in our favor, nor even in the favor of those anarcho-liberal elements who attempted to lead the movement, but in the interests of the state. Despite the political struggle taking on a rather low-level of militancy, the full repressive wrath of the state was very quickly laid down on the protesters from New York to Oakland. Paired with endless internal contradictions, the movement was but a shell of itself within a few months.

However, across the world the inspiration of Occupy Wall Street has manifested itself in demonstrations and protest camps. I had personally spent time covering the events of Occupy Gezi in Taksim Square last summer, which was characterized by a sea of red flags from every possible leftist sect in Turkey.

In recent days, another protest movement claiming the banner of Occupy has been gaining unprecedented momentum, and the American occupiers seem more than pleased with themselves that their supposed legacy is sprouting up half way across the world. Worryingly, however, is the fact that the primary American occupiers — in other words, the U.S. government and its media platforms – also seem mighty pleased with these events! Yes, we’re talking about Hong Kong and its “Occupy Central” protest movement.

Is it not a massive contradiction that the United States would clamp down with harsh measures against its own voices of dissent on the streets of Manhattan, but is cheerleading the actions of activists in Hong Kong (dare we mention Tripoli, Damascus and Kyiv here?). What does it say about the leadership (yes, there was one despite their claims of “horizontalism”) of OWS that they now find themselves — and not for the first time — on the same side as the government that they were waging struggle against just a few years back?

The above should alone underscore one of the most fundamental defects of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. It never broke with liberalism, and therefore never became a serious challenge to the structures that facilitate the kind of oppression the movement claimed to be against. It suffered from serious political shortcomings and lack of understanding of the basics of capitalism and what the state entails. Perhaps that’s the fault of Marxists (myself included) for not bringing this theory from without. Maybe, though, our initial assertion that “those aren’t are people down there” was a bit closer to the reality of it. After all, what material basis do thousands of middle class white folks have to be revolutionaries and internationalists in the United States?

The most glaring indication of the backwardness of the OWS leadership was its celebratory tweets in the aftermath of the U.S. and NATO murder of Muammar Gaddafi. OWS celebrated the victory of the “Libyan revolution” as if it was on par with the fall of Wall Street and the storming of the Congress, failing in its liberalness to do the most basic research that would reveal that Muammar Gaddafi had in fact given endless ideological and material support to real U.S. revolutionaries, including the occupied indigenous people. OWS revealed its overriding class character and backwardness at that disturbing and disgraceful moment.

Therefore, how surprising can it actually be that the remnants of the Wall Street protest organizers from three years back are once again unable to distinguish between events the world over that take on a revolutionary character and those that take on a counter-revolutionary character? The “We Are the 99 Percent” slogan was of course never scientifically correct, but it did make for effective agitation. The problem is perhaps that there was never any admission of the U.S. “99 percent” still being the “1 percent” globally.

Conversations about colonialism, imperialism and white supremacy had little space within the official confines of the Occupy movement. Activists at Occupy would talk in their idealist ways of “Global Revolution” — but that’s something that differs profoundly from the revolutionary concept of “world proletarian revolution”.

It may sound quite good on the surface, but if you don’t analyze the character of each state in question and just peddle empty phrases such as “direct democracy everywhere”, you will find that you end up doing the dirty work of the intelligence services who got you under surveillance for talking shit about their beloved institutions! Is an uprising against a government of the workers’ and peasants the same as an uprising against a bourgeois, imperialist government?

Let’s imagine that manifests in an “Occupy Cuba”. I can almost guarantee that some of these “occupiers” would be all over it talking of overthrowing the “repressive Castro government”, and in that way filling the shoes of their occupier forefathers. They would become the progressive face of the U.S. ruling class’ attempts to fervent what would actually be a counter-revolutionary setback on that island.

If I have little hope for Occupy when it comes to understanding something that should be as basic as the class character of the Cuban state, then I really shouldn’t for a second even have given thought to them perhaps getting it at least a bit correct when it comes to Hong Kong. For those on the left, events in Hong Kong should be farcical by now if they weren’t at the beginning. It’s not just the BBC News interview with the guy who is billed as an “activist and Hedge Fund manager”. It’s not even the fact that substantial amounts of the protesters are carrying the colonial British flag of Hong Kong and ironically decrying Chinese (!) colonialism. It’s that there is a very clear agenda at play on behalf of the United States in its “pivot to Asia” to destablize the Chinese state.

After all, the rise of a multi-polar world is a flashing red light for the forces situated in D.C., London and across the European capitals built upon colonial plunder. It was sinful enough that the Chinese broke form under the yoke of world imperialism 65 years ago. Through every twist and turn in the road to 2014, there can be no doubt that the empire has never forgiven China for standing up. Of course, the bourgeoisie in the U.S. says they would like to help the Chinese “stand up” again in the face of what the term a “repressive dictatorship” and (insert other empty phrase referring to human rights here). Some have likened events in Hong Kong to the Tiananmen Square protests of 25 years ago, and some of the protesters have made such comparisons themselves. On this point, I have to say I agree with them. However, I do so not on the basis that they are both characterized as “pro-democracy” (unless we scientifically define this as bourgeois democracy, and hence as a desire for what would actually amount to a bourgeois dictatorship!), but on the basis that because of that scientific definition both share a desire for what can only objectively be called counter-revolution [see the PSL’s analysis of China here:

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?id=12205&news_iv_ctrl=1261

Yet, one doesn’t really have to be the greatest admirer of the Chinese state (class it as capitalist or revisionist if you like) to see that the game plan of the U.S. and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has set its sights squarely on Hong Kong. It’s not that every activist in the streets is a “hedge fund manager” or a paid agent of the empire. There are always just grievances that people have in any country in the world, whether the state is proletarian or capitalist. As always, however, the decisive factor is in the class character of the demonstrations and the leadership behind it. As was the case with my comrade’s initial assessment of Occupy in the United States, the phrase “those aren’t our people down there” applies aptly.

Rebellions of rich students in Venezuela, of the petit-bourgeois layers in Ukraine, and now students who would likely identify more with London than Beijing. The fact that all three can be called “revolutions” in popular discourse shows just how much work the true revolutionary elements the world over have to do.

There are other articles that point out some of the more evident points that should be made in much more detail, whether it’s the specifics related to Hong Kong’s subjugation under the jackboot of the British Empire or that the appearance of what could only be termed the first semblance of democratic rights didn’t occur until Hong Kong was transferred back to China in 1997. Nor if this really the place I wish to espouse upon the massive pro-Beijing rallies that have taken place in Hong Kong recently, as well (led by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions) that also led a workers’ (read: not well to do comprador people) uprising in 1967 in which up to 40 people were killed by the colonial authorities.

This is simply space I want to utilise to assert that the primary demand of progressive people in the west should be to UNOCCUPY. I don’t mean that simply as a means of negating the “Occupy” movement. I mean that the primary contradiction in the world remains that between oppressor and oppressed nations, between the colonialists and imperialists of yesteryear and those who are rising to a position of dignity today. In that context, and with all of its shortcomings, contradictions and problems, I stand with the People’s Republic of China.

Oct 012014
 

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My Two Weeks in Palestine
By Alex Antioco

​“Shalom, Welcome to Israel” says the flight attendant as a plane full of Zionist starts to clap and cheer as if they were finally home. I sat back in my seat and looked around in disdain at the thought of being surrounded by occupiers, settlers and quite possibly members of the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). They were celebrating coming home to a land not theirs but one that was forcefully and brutally taken away from the Palestinians. This was my first time in the region and prior to this trip I had only done research on the conflict as well as hear personal accounts from people who lived under the occupation. But I was here now and getting a first hand experience of an occupied Palestine as well as seeing the decimation my tax dollars being an American citizen helps fund.

​As soon as I landed there was no time wasted when my friend came to pick me up and took me straight to Qalandiya checkpoint, this checkpoint takes you from Jerusalem to Ramallah in the West Bank and is controlled by the Israeli military to oversee and or subjugate Palestinians coming into Israel. On our drive to Qalandiya I couldn’t help but stare out the window in awe, as I couldn’t believe I was finally here. It was a mix sentiment of wonder taking in all the beauty of Palestine as well as indignation once we got closer to the West Bank and you could start to see Israeli military trucks, watch towers, soldiers, settlements and the wall. The large grim Apartheid Wall is a continuous reminder that Palestine in all its natural beauty is still a prison.

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Driving through Qalandiya wasn’t a problem, but upon looking to the opposite side of the checkpoint where Palestinians leave the West Bank is jam-packed traffic. The Israeli military makes it very difficult for Palestinians to leave the West Bank and those who do leave must have permits to pass. Palestinians can wait hours in traffic to get through this checkpoint and all they want is to get to work, school and maybe even see a doctor. Driving through Qalandiya you can see the streets and apartheid wall look charred and this was due to the huge demonstration held at Qalandiya checkpoint on July 24th, 2014. This demonstration hardly got media coverage but it was one of the largest since the last Intifada with 48 thousand Palestinians demonstrating against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. That night Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition on protestors.

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​Walking through the Qalandiya checkpoint is no different in terms of the wait except the conditions are far worse. As I would later see for myself, Palestinians walking through Qalandiya checkpoint are detained and caged in a single file before they are allowed to pass through to Jerusalem. Upon first entering Qalandiya the first thing that comes to mind is they’re treating human beings like caged animals. Imagine having to wake up hours before your supposed to get up for work, only to be met by hundreds of people literally caged in a narrow single file line getting ID’d and frisked, bombarded with questions and maybe even turned back if that soldier feels like it that day. The same goes for the over 500 flyby checkpoints in the West Bank that can be easily compared to what Blacks and Latinos go through with stop and frisk in the United States.

On numerous occasions we were stopped by Israeli soldiers, without any provocation from us just the fact that there were Arabs in the car. Instead of Israeli soldiers asking to check your bags or car the first question aside from seeing identification is let me get your cell phone. Which is odd because if you stopped someone because you feared they were a threat to security wouldn’t you check the person, the car and their belongings first. Why go into their cell phones first? This just shows that the checkpoints are a means of controlling and degrading Palestinians more so than they are about a security check.

The whole system is racist. When they stop you, you are met by sarcasm, aggression and at times mocking. In one incident at a checkpoint they came to the window guns in their hands shouting at us, when asked why we were being yelled at in such an aggressive manner the two soldiers who looked no more than 18 years of age shouted even louder and proceeded to tell my friend that he was in charge not her. When she told him he was treating her like she wasn’t human, he began to mock her and laugh with the other soldier. Their behavior was not only racist and demeaning but also that of a child with a big gun in his hand. That’s who was in charge that night.

Being in the Old City in Jerusalem was one of the first times I truly felt the intensity of the conflict. The Old City is beautiful and quaint with narrow streets lined with vendors and crowded with tourist as well as those who live there. One of the most important things to take note of while in the Old City is how freely the settlers walk around with their rifles as if it were a bag. These are not men in uniform, these are average civilians walking around with guns who get away with not only stealing land from Palestinians but from constantly harassing and abusing them. They walk around the streets of Jerusalem as if they are patrolling the streets, meanwhile there are soldiers at every corner staring down everyone who passed by.

As you walk the streets of the Old City you see settlers coming out of homes that used to belong to Palestinians. It makes you angry to see them get away with this and walk around arrogantly. Walking down these streets as much as you enjoy meeting the people and sight seeing, the reality is that there are rifles all around you. Settlers and soldiers are not to be trusted with them, much like its hard to trust police officers in the United States. It’s so intense they walk very close to your back with rifles as if to remind you of their presence, they did this to my friend and I.

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Hebron 2 or H2, which is the Israeli controlled part of Hebron (H1 or Hebron 1 is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and surrounds H2), was the most tumultuous city I went to because this is where Palestinians live side by side with the most violent of settlers. The checkpoint at H2 wasn’t crowded or as tedious as the others have been but the soldiers were much more short tempered. As we walked down the street in H2 you can see all the empty homes that used to belong to Palestinian families but were pushed out by Israelis, it was a ghost town. As you reach the end of the block a group of settler kids start to group up arms crossed as if to convey the message that no one is allowed any further if they are not Israeli, these kids were also protected by another soldier carrying a rifle. Tensions were so high you could cut a knife through the air. As we made a turn to the more Palestinian part of H2 we met up with a Palestinian family who have gone through so much and truly felt the repercussions of this occupation.

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As we sat in their homes drinking coffee they told us about the constant abuse they face under the occupation. It was heartbreaking to hear a father’s account of how his children get beat up and bullied on a weekly basis by settler children and then if he tries to defend his children he is met by aggression from adult settlers who hold more power than soldiers. Settlers are like vigilantes, and they answer to no one. One can only imagine the shame and embarrassment a parent must feel trying to defend their child only to be brutally attacked by the same aggressor in front of their child, it’s inhumane and deplorable. In H2, Palestinians live in what looks like a city below a city where they are covered with tents because settlers who live up top throw anything they can at Palestinians living below even their own feces and live snakes at children. As we walked further to another families house, settler children proceeded to throw glass at us from up top, thankfully nothing hit us but unfortunately for Palestinians living there this is an everyday struggle.

Bil’in is a village that has fought long and hard against the construction of the Apartheid wall in the West Bank. Israel keeps attempting to push the wall further into Bil’in, but the people always resist and every Friday they hold demonstrations against this construction in which Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas canisters at them.

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The day my friend and I went to Bil’in it was not a Friday and we were not going to a demonstration, to the contrary we were attending a picnic for a friends birthday that lives there. As we drove to the picnic area close to the apartheid wall you can see Tel Aviv right over the wall. As we started to walk around the picnic area my friend and I started to collect all the old (some still looked fresh) tear gas canisters that were shot by Israeli soldiers on protesters from over the wall. As we continued to gather tear gas canisters, all I had on my mind was that these tear gas canisters were manufactured in the United States and paid for by myself and every other tax paying U.S. citizen.

As we sat down with our friend to have the picnic, everyone hears something pop. No one says anything immediately but the expression on everyone’s face showed that something was up and that’s when smoke started to release itself. The IDF continued to shoot several tear gas canisters even after we let them know that this was a picnic not a demonstration and showing them that we had a baby with us. They didn’t care; shooting at us was fun for them. Our tax dollars (3.1 billion every year) are spent for the violent if not deadly recreational use of Israeli soldiers rather than building or investing in schools and hospitals. Instead the U.S. invests billions of dollars into funding Israel’s military, which in turn is used to murder and try to dehumanize Palestinians.

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My time in Palestine was a great learning experience, as I witnessed and encountered the effects of the occupation, but aside from this I long to go back. I have met so many of the most strongest and resilient people, people that have lost their businesses, many loved ones and most of their childhood and continue to find the strength to keep going, fighting and resisting. It was so hurtful leaving Ramallah to go to Haifa and being smacked with the reality that your friends in Ramallah can’t come with you to the beach in Haifa. It’s heartbreaking to know I get to go as I please and they are still stifled by this occupation. There is so much life and beauty in Palestine and the people truly showed me an amazing time through laughter, dancing, music and tears. They made me feel at home in a distant land, I am grateful.

Sep 302014
 

#World4Palestine

While we may spend our days fighting individual or group struggles, in a global system, our causes and campaigns are very much interconnected.

Join Existence is Resistance and The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home for a night of music, poetry and discussion, as we link the lives of everyday people, building bridges of solidarity from Palestine to Puerto Rico to Ferguson, discussing the plight of political prisoners at home and abroad, victims of police brutality and murder, U.S. imperialism, war and occupation.

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Speakers:

Bassem Tamimi
(Head of Popular Resistance in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh)

Ramona Africa
(MOVE Organization)

Nancy Mansour
(Existence Is Resistance)

Glen Ford
(Black Agenda Report)

Hamde Abu Rahma
(Palestinian Photo Journalist/Activist Photography by hamde abu rahma)

Yasser Quos
(Director of the African Community Society of Jerusalem)

Nerdeen Mohsen
(President of Students for Justice in Palestine at College of Staten Island)

Michael Madormo
(Teacher at Friend’s School in Ramallah)

Carlio Rovira
(Former Young Lord, Puerto Rican Independence Movement)

Gabi Lazaro
(Existence Is Resistance)

Johanna Fernandez
(The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home)

with a special guest call from

Mumia Abu Jamal

Performances By:

Tahani Salah
Remi Kanazi
Bomba Yo (Puerto Rican Folklore)
Rebel Diaz
Mazzi
M-1

Moderated by:

Robyn Spencer & Ayman El-Sayed

Date: October 11th, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Location:  The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial & Educational Center (3940 Broadway, New York, NY 10032)

Facebook Event Page

Delicious Palestinian Food donated by FalaFull Catering thanks to Maysoon Zayid.

Flyer Designed by Mohammad Hamza of Intifada Street

www.intifadastreet.com

 

 Posted by at 12:34 pm
Sep 262014
 

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Hip Hop artist, activist and independent journalist Marcel Cartier teams up with the people’s producer Agent of Change releasing a part 3 of their Hands Off Syria tracks this time addressing US intentions in bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

They argue that the bombing of ISIS is being used as a pretext to eventually bring down or target the Syrian government.

In the description for the video Marcel writes:

“Let’s not be confused by Obama’s assertion that ISIS is the third largest threat to humanity (after Ebola and Russia, apparently). Granted, ISIS very much is a threat to the resistant peoples of the region, but one that the the Syrian state — in alliance with Hezbollah and Iran — has been relentlessly fighting against for the past three plus years while all the countries in the coalition airstrikes have helped to foster and facilitate ISIS’ growth.

After a series of failures to bring the government of Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath Party to its knees through both proxy and direct means (including funding of rebel groups and the chemical weapons propaganda [YouTube video evidence] last year in the hope of launching airstrikes on government targets [which could have created somewhat of a "Libyan scenario" of bombing the rebels a path to victory]), the most sellable option now (despite it still being absurd to anyone really paying attention) is that the boogey-man in the form of the Islamic State has to be combated, and hence, Syria must be bombed.

It is no coincidence that the decision to bomb targets in Syria has been paired with the announcement that the coalition will train 5,000 “moderate” rebels at bases in Saudi Arabia.”

Listen to the song and watch the full video below: