On June 30, 2021, I was honored to be among the speakers on a panel for educators called “Say Palestine”. The entire panel, which was moderated by the wonderful Javier Davila (who I address directly at the beginning of the talk), is available on YouTube. I talk about the dilemmas faced by educators who want to teach about Palestine and who want to #SayPalestine.
The focus on Hamas is a product of the rolling amnesia of empire, as if the history of Israeli attacks on Palestinians can be narrowed to the last few decades, then distorted further. Against this tendency, this episode reviews the basic historical and geographic background to this crisis, showing the place of Palestine and the Gaza Strip in the history of imperial expansion, and placing the current horrors in their essential context.
Episode 2 of a mini-series on Israel/Palestine by Dan Freeman-Maloy.
Sometimes the connections are obvious. The American-Israeli Meir Kahane, for example, worked as a white-backlash activist in the United States, targeting Black-led social movements, before moving to Palestine and coaching settlers to kill Palestinians, with what Jewish organizations across the world then denounced as racist hate and violence.
More generally, the Scramble for Africa — that is, the classical period of white colonization of the African continent — was part and parcel of the same imperial expansion that swept across Palestine during World War I. It was then that Britain extended its reach across Palestine and that the road to Israeli statehood was paved. Theme by theme, European settler colonial politics that had been crafted in the Americas and in Africa were applied to Palestine. The association of the Zionist movement with British settler polities (the “Dominions”) was once proud.
The connections are manifold. European colonization in Africa and West Asia (or the Middle East) shared key patterns and was shaped by some of the same personnel, just as national liberation movements in both areas have a rich history of exchanges. In this episode, we focus on some of the shared patterns of deception that empire developed as it told moralizing tales about its righteousness in different parts of the world.
As Malcolm X phrased it: “if you study how they do it here, then you’ll know how they do it over here. It’s the same game going all the time.”
By 1885, the Indian Act was in place, most Indigenous people were forced onto reserves, and the nadir of Canadian colonialism (so far) was set. Part 3 of 3 our series on Canada takes us through the residential school system and the racialist ideologies openly expressed throughout this phase of Canadian history.
Organizing an academic panel or a public meeting is something many people can do: it just takes energy and experience, an interest in the matter being discussed and some consideration for the people attending. If it is a matter of public interest, of injustice and oppression, and the meeting itself is part of a struggle for justice – now there are fewer people who can do it. Now, make the topic Palestine, where saying obvious truths in public brings counter-demonstrations, threats, and condemnation from the major media all the way to the parliaments of the country, and the people who can enable education in this context are just a few rare gems. We just lost one of those gems in Mary Jo (“MJ”) Nadeau.
For me MJ is the perfect example of the Lao Tzu proverb.
“A leader is best
When people barely know she exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When her work is done, her aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”
In 2010, Studies in Political Economy published an article by MJ (with co-author Alan Sears) called The Palestine Test: Countering the Silencing Campaign. The article was about this element of MJ’s life’s work. MJ and Alan argued “the Palestine test is becoming a crucial measure of commitment to freedom of expression, social justice, and academic freedom on North American campuses in the context of a silencing campaign to shut down Palestine solidarity work.” The following decade, the silencing they outlined in the article has positively roared.
It is not easy to define what an organizer is. For activists, it’s an exalted title. I can try to put it this way: Much writing, speaking, marching, and demonstrating goes on. Whether anything changes, whether there is a chance to struggle another day – that effort succeeds or fails based on what organizers do. To put it another way: what’s the difference between a mailing list and an organization? The difference, in at least one case I know of, is whether there is an organizer – in this case, MJ. Often those who know appear arrogant or unapproachable in proportion to their experience of knowledge – MJ proved the opposite to be true, with vast knowledge and vast humility.
Around when the article was published I had to call MJ about some organizing problem. When she picked up, I said, “I’m ready.” “For what?” “To take the Palestine test. I think I’m ready to take it.”
The silencing campaign MJ warned about is pervasive and now involves the tech giants and social media platforms that promised to make communication easier. Amid the ever-intensifying silencing, it seemed that less and less was possible to do. But if you wanted to know what was possible, and what people were doing, you could find out by going to MJ.
Carman teaches martial arts in New Jersey. He has been in the Nation of Islam, the Communist Party, has studied Buddhism and Western Philosophy.
We talk about different approaches to thinking, teaching, and techniques and approaches in martial arts, and what it means to be an intellectual in the good and bad sense, using ideas from Noam Chomsky to Malcolm X to Amos Wilson.
A different angle this episode: my guest is my martial arts instructor, Shawn Zirger, who teaches Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do and other martial arts at the Zirger Academy. We talk about Bruce Lee’s approach to knowledge, how martial artists think about cultural appropriation, the problem of trying to “find geniuses” when teaching, our own martial arts journeys, and quite a bit more.
Why do Indian boys love Jordan Peterson? If war is hell, as Jocko Willink says, why do they keep doing it? And is it unfair to consider Joe Rogan conservative?
To debate these questions, I’m joined by screenwriter and comedian Amish Patel, who analyzes fake gurus on the coffeezilla podcast. This episode is kind of a continuation of the episode 57 discussion with Dan about “super wealth through the right mindset”.
We cover the Industrial Revolution in England, from a few angles. Justin inserts his usual colonial determinism notes, as well as some environmental history about fossil fuels and energy sources for imperialism; Dave takes us through the revolution and what it meant; we talk about the rise of the working class, reveal that the Luddites pretty much had it right, and conclude with the early socialists: Robert Owen, and Marx and Engels.
The global economy was forged in the 18th century under European empires that committed genocides in the Americas and Africa, instituted mass slavery, and colonialism. This is the story.