Skip to content

The 1795 Third Partition of Poland – Watershed for Eastern European Jewish History

October 25, 2021

On October 24, 1795, Austrian, Prussian, and Russian representatives met to dissolve the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, known as the Third Partition of Poland, which ended the existence of an independent Polish and Lithuanian state for the next 123 years.

If you’re Jewish and your family comes from Eastern Europe… this is a part of YOUR history… as well as that of Poland and the areas surrounding it in general.

This might not sound like “news” … but this partition of Poland in 1795, the third in some twenty years or so changed the map of Europe… with Russia, the then Austro-Hungarian Empire and Prussia globbling up the spoils and creating from it a complex fractured geographic cloth of Poland and Lithuania…for all the peoples living there… Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Rutherians, and others… a fractured soul that frankly has never been put together again as it was.

Until that time, Jews – including all of my family’s ancesters – who come from places with names like Bialystok, Grodno, Prienai and Vilnius – this was the beginning of the long end that would lead to two world wars in the 20th century with their well known unspeakably painful results and an end to Eastern European Jewry as we know it. Jews living in the different zones – Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Prussian controlled areas had quite different experiences from this time on as their realities varied significantly according to which of the three powers was in charge.

Prior to the three partitions ending the Polish-Lithuanian state in 1795, Jews were generally welcomed and protected in eastern Europe, many of them having fled from England, France, Germany, etc driven out by extremes of both Catholicism and just as virulent Lutheranism. They, the Jews were welcomed and found refuge for half a milleneum, maybe more, in Poland-Lithuania..

And then the skies darkened … slowly at first

An fine little volume on this subject which deals with Jews during the inter-war period (1919-1939) but also gives good historical background going back to the above mentioned partitions of Poland: The Jews of East Central Europe Between the Wars by Ezra Mendelsohn. For those wanting more in depth history: Norman Davis’ two volume God’s Playground: A History of Poland.

On this Day, in 1795: the Third Partition of Poland was concluded – It’s worth reading the whole article on this subject…

International Month of Action Against AFRICOM: demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa, the demilitarization of the African continent, and the closure of U.S. bases throughout the world

October 15, 2021

Saharan Rock Art. It dates from the period before the Sahara became a desert when herding and farming peoples lived throughout the region. No specifid dates but sometime both before and after 10,000 years ago is the approximate period

_________________________________________________________________

(AFRICOM – the U.S. Africa Command – has been in existence now for thirteen years. Hardly noticed in either the mainstream or “alternative” left media with a few notable exceptions, AFRICOM’s presence in Africa “formalizes the [U.S. military]presence in Africa with better coordination and strategic focus for realizing the long term geopolitical goals of U.S. Imperialism in Africa. Those goals are essentially two: 

  1. For the United States to control and dominate the extraction of the continent’s wealth of mineral and other natural resources
  2. To intefer with and undermine the growing Chinese presence in and cooperation with African countries.

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be posting several articles to honor International Month of Action against AFRICOM, supporting its call for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from African and the demilitarization of the African continuent. The first of these is an interview with Tunde Osazua, the Coordinator of the U.S. Out of Africa Network, a member of the Black Alliance for Peace’s Africa Team, and a member of the team that produces the AFRICOM Watch Bulletin.) – RJP

_________________________________________________________________

October 1, 2021 marked 13 years since the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established. Please join us in our International Month of Action Against AFRICOM to demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Africa, the demilitarization of the African continent, and the closure of U.S. bases throughout the world. We urge the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to oppose AFRICOM and support hearings on AFRICOM’s impact on the African continent.

The U.S. Out of Africa Network (USOAN) is the organizational arm of the Black Alliance for Peace’s U.S. Out of Africa: Shut Down AFRICOM campaign which is designed to educate the public about the destructive U.S. hybrid war and imperialist policies perpetrated by AFRICOM. The USOAN aims to raise the public’s awareness about the U.S. military’s existence in Africa, and how the presence of U.S. forces exacerbates violence and instability throughout the continent.

BAP and the USOAN take a resolute anti-colonial, anti-imperialist position that links the international role of the U.S. empire, which is an empire based on war, aggression and exploitation, to the domestic war against poor and working class Black people in the United States. This Month of Action is a contribution to the effort to build a popular movement for demilitarization and anti-imperialism in Africa. Visit the Black Alliance for Peace website for additional resources, like a Toolkit to Shut Down AFRICOM, and to learn more about how to get involved.

U.S. Out of Africa: Voices from the Struggle

AFRICOM Watch Bulletin speaks with Tunde Osazua, the Coordinator of the U.S. Out of Africa Network, a member of the Black Alliance for Peace’s Africa Team, and a member of the team that produces the AFRICOM Watch Bulletin.

AFRICOM Watch Bulletin: How has U.S. military involvement on the African continent changed with AFRICOM?

Tunde Osazua: U.S. military presence in Africa did not begin with AFRICOM. However, AFRICOM now formalizes that presence with better coordination and strategic focus for realizing the long term geopolitical goals of U.S. imperialism in Africa. According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service Study published in November 2010, Washington has dispatched anywhere between hundreds and several thousand combat troops, dozens of fighter planes and warships to buttress client dictatorships or to unseat adversarial regimes in dozens of countries, almost on a yearly basis. The record shows U.S. armed forces intervened in Africa forty-eight times. The countries receiving one or more U.S. military intervention include both Congos, Libya, Chad, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea.

Read more…

The Bogus “Uyghur Tribunal”: Washington’s Buildup to call for a global boycott of the Beijing Olympics?

October 10, 2021

This 41 years ago: Coloradans in Denver pposing the U.S. led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Demonstrating with this group, members of the U.S. Olympic Volleyball team at the time who had trained in Colorado Springs. Might need to get out our marching shoes again against what is shaping up to U.S. calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics, using the bogus “Uyghur Tribunal” as its pretext. (Rob Prince photo – 1980)

During the height of the U.S. conducted Vietnam War, in 1966, an international informal tribunal – the Russell Tribunal – headed up by British philosopher, Bertrand Russell was set up and functioned in Stockholm. Among those leading figures who participated in its deliberations were French philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre, along with Lelio BassoSimone de BeauvoirVladimir DedijerRalph SchoenmanIsaac Deutscher and several others. It’s revelations concerning U.S. war crimes in Vietnam – the use of chemical weapons (napalm, phospherous, Agent Orange) plus revelations of U.S. sponsored torture (Tiger cages, other obscene practices) came to light, damaging the U.S. image as some kind of benign exporter of “democracy” in the world, some say forever. All that is documented in Russell’s little volume, War Crimes in Vietnam, a volume which had considerable worldwide impact but which was largely ignored – for obvious reasons – in the USA.

The Swedish Prime Minister who supported holding these hearings in Sweden, Olaf Palme, was soon after assassinated twenty years later, in 1986, (a few weeks before out family arrived in nearby Helsinki for a five year stay). The assassins were never found – of course – although there was speculation that the Palme murder was revenge for the Vietnam hearings in specific and for Sweden’s then more independent foreign policy, independent from both Washington and Moscow at the time.  It certainly discouraged other western nations from holding hearings on U.S. war crimes afterwards.

It’s reputation might have been damaged, but it’s not true that Washington has not appreciated the power of such hearing and of using such a mechanism to turn public opinion against its adversaries.

So we shouldn’t be surprised, that now, a year before the 2022 Peking Olympics – that “an independent” tribunal – but with ample funding from Washington – should be set up, “the Ugyhur Tribunal.” Washington denies that the said tribunal is government funded, but as this article below details, these denials do not hold much water. Washington’s finger prints and government financing are all over it. Besides being used as a pretext to boycott the Peking Olympics, as Brian Berletic notes (see link below) it “may serve to help pressure nations around the globe to roll back ties with China and aid the US in imposing additional sanctions and boycotts.”

Nor should we be surprised that the Tribunal’s final “ruling” will be read in December 2021,a few months prior to the start of February, 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Besides destabilizing the Olympics, the Biden Administration would like to limit the global exposure to the progress China has made in the past decade, having taken an independent development path unsettling to Washinton precisely because it has been so successful.

As the photo above indicates, there was a similar campaign back in 1980 for the United States to boycott the Moscow Olympics (as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan). That one was largely successful but U.S. global prestige was more pronounced at the time. I am willing to bet that Washington’s current attempt to wreck the Beijing Olympics will be an all-round failure, a complete dud with only a few countries worried about the U.S. withdrawing funding getting onboard the boycott train, you know, the same ones who vote against Cuba and Palestine in the United Nations General Assembly.

Read more…

CFJ – Colorado Interviews local Palestinian scholar and activist, Nadine Ibrahim.

October 4, 2021

Nadeen Ibrahim

______________________________________________
______________________________________________

I’d like to start with my name. From the moment that I was born, it was the moment that started that spirit, that fiery activism that is largely driven by my Palestinian identity. I like to remind people about where I come from, and who I am because those factors are intrinsic to the passion and motivation that I have for my age.

My name is Nadeen Muaatasem Mamoun Ibrahim Karaja

The reason that I share that name is because that name shares my lineage and it shows my connection with Filistine (Palestine in Arabic), a family connection that has been documented gong back 700 years. In fac the very structures of where my Dad’s tribe, the “Karaj” comes from is right outside of Ramallah. The land has been ours for more than 700 years. My dad is in the process of restoring a lot of those old structures to maintain their integrity.

The second part of my name, al Qassem, is my Dad’s name. Being Palestinian, your name often tells who you are, which family you are a part of,, but also because families come from certain geographic areas, from their names you can tell from where they come in Filistine.

Nadeen Ibrahim will discuss her organizing work and activism, as well as her master’s thesis on how the Israeli government weaponized a variety of land policies to increase and fund settlement construction as a means to change the demographics on Palestinian lands.
Nadeen M. Ibrahim is a seasoned community organizer with more than 7 years of experience in Colorado. She has largely and intersectionally organized for the Palestinian, Muslim, immigrant, and refugee communities, given her identities. Some of her flagship projects include co-founding the Colorado Muslim Leadership Council, Denver Day of Dignity, and Muslim Youth Empowerment Conference.
Her unwavering commitment to advocating for Palestine and Palestinians is driven by her identity. She was born in the city of Jerusalem during the Oslo Accords and maintains deep connections with her family and land in Palestine. Nadeen most recently completed her Master’s of Public Policy at the University of Oxford, England.

Palestinian opposing be expelled from their homes in Sheik Jaffar Neighborhood of Jerusalem

Audio: Israel’s Targeted Assassinations of Iranian Nuclear Scientists: Tactically Brilliant, Strategically Irrelevant with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

September 30, 2021

US military bases surrounding Iran. The bases in Afghanistan are being eliminated

audio

KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, September 28, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

This week on Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues Kazerooni and Prince discuss the Israeli targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Effective Israeli deterrent, or strategic waste of time?

Why have some Israeli assassinations of incipient Middle Eastern nuclear programs “worked”, ie, the programs were eliminated, (Egupt, Iraq, Libya, Syria) but the Iranian program is going ahead full steam despite repeated efforts to neutralize it militarily?

Recently the New York Times ran a major piece on the Israeli targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists program entitled “The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Controll Killing Machines“. In fact, since WWII, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world, be they nuclear scientists or not. In many cases in the past, it could be said that “they work” but more recently, with Iran, they have not worked at all to derail Teheran’s nuclear energy program. Why did these assassinations – nothing short of political murders – work in the past but seem to fail in their objective today?
That and more – KGNU, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues – Stay tuned.

Israel’s Targeted Assassinations of Iranian Nuclear Scientists: Tactically Brilliant, Strategically Irrelevant with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, September 28, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

September 26, 2021

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iranian nuclear scientist administrator. Assassinated by Israel on November 28, 2021

This week on Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues Kazerooni and Prince discuss the Israeli targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Effective Israeli deterrent, or strategic waste of time?

Recently the New York Times ran a major piece on the Israeli targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists program entitled “The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Controll Killing Machines“. In fact, since WWII, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world, be they nuclear scientists or not. In many cases in the past, it could be said that “they work” but more recently, with Iran, they have not worked at all to derail Teheran’s nuclear energy program. Why did these assassinations – nothing short of political murders – work in the past but seem to fail in their objective today?
That and more – KGNU, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues – Stay tuned.

Are Colorado’s Ethiopians Stampeding from the Democratic Party? What’s the Deal? – Part Two

September 23, 2021

Ethiopian and Eritrean Communities celebrating the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as new Ethiopian Prime Minister. Aurora High School. Aurora, Colorado. July 22, 2018

1.

Six weeks ago I wrote a blog “Are Colorado Ethiopians Stampeding from the Democratic Party? What’s The Deal?” in response to the Biden Administration’s blatant support for the Ethiopian separatist group, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a group trying to overthrow the current Ethiopian government of President Abiy Ahmed. The details, explanation of Ethiopians bolting from the Dems is described therein for those interested in digging deeper.  At the time, the insight into this tendency came from a series of discussions with of Colorado’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Communities here in the state; that is to say, while I was convinced that the trend exists, the evidence was anecdotal.

It should not be surprising that Washington’s offensive against the Ethiopian government has provoked strong negative reactions among Ethiopia’s American citizens, 95% of which stand with the Abiy government. Of late, Ethiopians here in the USA, have alternated between criticism of Republican and Democratic administrations. Concerning Ethiopia, Washington has pursued an essentially bipartisan policy resulting in constantly shifting voting patterns. As short-sighted and misguided as Biden’s current Ethiopia policy is, in its broader dimension, frankly, there is no difference between that of the Biden Administration from that of the Trump Admininistration. It should be recalled, that Donald Trump in his own inimical manner referred to all Africa as “shithole countries” in one breath and a few breaths later, openly threatened Ethiopia by encouraging Egypt to bomb the nearly completed Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Biden Administration’s full court press against the Abiy government, that has already included some cuts in aid the beginning of a sanctions program against Ethiopians and Eritreans. One could say with justification that Biden is simply deepening a campaign initiated by Trump and that Washington’s Ethiopia policy is essentially bipartisan. Switching parties, bouncing back and forth between the Dems and Republicans is akin to replacing rotten meat with rotten fish and thinking the switch is a way to address the problem.  No solution in the end.  None.

Whatever, Ethiopian-Americans, like so many other immigrant communities, fixated on events “back home” in a time of crisis, are responding by jumping ship from the Dems to the Republicans. A shortsighted, labile response to the crisis that requires a qualitatively different approach (from where I am sitting), but is common enough.

In the same vein, a new on-line poll, announced on an Ethiopian-American email list, discussion group, People-to-People,(1) concluded that a large percentage of Ethiopian-Americans are indeed changing political horses, switching their voting registration from Democratic to Republican.

If an accurate, Democrats have their work cut out for them, especially in swing states with large Ethiopian populations that tend to vote in high numbers. No? Read more…

Guest Blogger: Denton Collins. Food Aid as a Weapon in Ethiopia, the Death of US Diplomacy and the Power of Brain Washing for State Destruction. Denton Collins. September 19, 2021

September 22, 2021

(A good piece on the misuses of food aid in Ethiopia currently. Like other aspects of “humanitarian aid” it has been so largely weaponized as another tool in the arsenal of U.S. foreign policy as to be essentially the opposite of what it appears to be. It is long and detailed. Worth the read… take the time. RJP)

  • **Please forward this article and findings on these links for USAID and White House, and request comment . Contact your US House Representative and Senator and share this article — a false pretense for supporting TPLF similar to Iraq’s fake WMD is being peddled while we don’t know “Where are the US taxpayers’ billions stolen from Ethiopia?”
  • ∙ The US Embassy in Addis can be reached at ConsAddis@state.gov OR PASAddis@state.gov The US Mission to the African Union can be reached at usau@state.gov

I am old enough to intimately remember Emperor Haile Selassie as the first among world leaders at the side of JFK’s casket in on 25 November 1963. Front. And. Center.

Yesterday, 17 September 2021, will go down in history as the death of this historic relationship dating from 1903. This compelled me to put pen to paper on a foreign policy topic for the first time in years. To my Ethiopian friends, I am with you.

How does one even begin to apologies for the Biden Administration’s humiliating foreign policy record so far? (Within the last 48 hours America has lost historic allies in Ethiopia and France. How poetic that de Gaulle and Haile Selassie are standing side by side above.)

Look at this picture and take a moment for it to sink in. Ethiopians like to say gold in your hand feels like a piece of bronze.

Yesterday, President Biden issued an executive order imposing sanctions on warring parties in Ethiopia — which in reality is targeting the Government of Ethiopia- the most democratically elected in the history of the ancient nation.

It is not the first time that Ethiopia, a nation that has sent diplomatic mission abroad since before the United States existed, has been thrown under the bus by the West. Recall when Ethiopia — one of only a handful of African nations in the League of Nations — was allowed to be overran by the same League that it was member of AND by another League member. Double standards and colonialism have never been part of your vocabulary. Read more…

U.S – Israeli Targeted Assassinations – Pyrrhic Victories, Strategic Losses.

September 19, 2021

Ghassan Suliemani and with former Iranian foreign secretary (and University of Denver, Korbel School of International Studies, phd.) Javad Zarif. Suliemani was assassinated by the Trump Administration. Most Americans have no idea how destructive that murder was to U.S. Middle East policy…

__________________________________________________________________

Washington has a long history of exaggerating its victories – political or military – as well as minimizing or simply denying its setbacks or defeats. It also has a long history of face saving damage control when it comes to defeats or just “fuck ups” – like the recent drone killing of an Afghan family of ten that has been in the news. This New York Times article celebrating targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists fits nicely into that pattern. Washington and Tel Aviv might have their hands tied with Iranian shipments of oil to Lebanon (a strategic set back) but at least “we’re” still killing Iranian nuclear scientists! Sick logic, but what else is new?

__________________________________________________________________

1.

Recently the New York Times ran a detailed story about the Israeli  high tech targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhizadeh on November 27, 2020, a murder carried out by a remote-controlled machine gun “equipped with an intelligent satellite system” using artificial intelligence.

Although the article gave the appearance of being a breakthrough in investigative reporting, actually it was nothing of the kind. Most of the information therein had appeared days after the attack in the Iranian press with follow up articles all over the Middle East and beyond. Only in the United States were the details of the event as well as Israel’s long-standing targeted assassination program against Iranian nuclear scientists – was more muted (although there have been articles, especially in the alternative media). What is “new” about the piece is that finally the information is now appearing in an authoritative mainstream media source that remains a kind of unofficial flagship of U.S. foreign policy, the New York Times.

The article is curious in a demented sort of way.

Israeli (and U.S.) bragging that it can assassinate (which means politically murder) anyone in Iran from Fakhizadeh to the five other nuclear scientists it has killed since the program began in 2004 (this according to the article). The normalization of cold blooded murder? The evidence that these assassinations are essentially U.S.-Israel joint operations appears frequently throughout. Israel could not engage in such programs without the green light from Washington. The article claims that in the aftermath of assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Qassim Suleimani that Iran’s response was “tepid.” Tepid? Almost immediately thereafter, Iran bombed two U.S. military bases in Iraq, the major one be the Al Asad Base in Western Iraq. In so doing it showed to the world, but especially to Washington and Tel Aviv, that it has accurate long range missile capability with missiles that could strike basically undetected over a distance of 800 miles. The other response to the Suliemani murder was that it has resulted in a region-wide campaign to close the network of U.S. military bases enveloping Iran that has included a steady flow of missile attacks against the bases.

Tepid?

Read more…

Mussolini, the “nice” fascist” – Not Quite

September 17, 2021

Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory Over Mussolini’s Invasion, 1935-1941
by Jeff Pearce, Professor Richard Pankhurst (Foreword by)

Growing up in a New York City Jewish family as I did at the end of World War II (November 6, 1944 is when I first came into the world), it is not surprising that I heard some about WW2. Much of our extended family, both on the Prensky and Magaziner side were exterminated in places like Bialystok, Grodno, Prienai and Vilnius from whence my grandparents originated.

A number of my uncles (six by my unofficial count – Ira, Joe, Leo, Sam, Willie and family friend “Uncle Frank”) fought in “the War”. My father, then named “Herb Prensky”, did too. My father signed a waiver that permitted him to enter the military despite poor eyesight. His response as to why he signed up was simple, direct: “I wanted to kill Nazis” – an honorable goal, then and now.

He didn’t get to do so, as he spent most of the war stateside working directly under one Robert McNamarra is a special “statistical control” unit, the purpose of which was to stop the theft of fuel, weapons and other materials from U.S. military bases from where these items were being stolen, mostly with the connivance of commanding officers at the base.

No doubt my father’s finest moment – throwing criminal generals in jail for putting their personal greed before the national interest. “Of course” (sic!) these things no longer happen!! My father’s opposition to Nazism continued after the War had ended. He once told me that he contributed to Jewish hitman who combed South America for SS types hiding in places like Bolivia and Argentina. Although well traveled, he never visted Germany. He was upset not only that I did on many occasions, but worse, sincerely respected post war German youth of my own age who were active in their country’s peace movement, many of whom told me stories of questioning their Nazi parents… “How could you have?” I heard repeatedly. Postwar German youth, those who had to study and in many cases visit, concentration camps, had learned “history’s lessons” – and much better I would add, than the children of Americans who fought in Vietnam.

But if my father never believed that the children of Nazis could be that much different from their parents, his attitude towards Mussolini and his ilk, towards Italy was more generous, more forgiving. If he wouldn’t step foot in Germany, Italy was one of his favorite countries; he visited it frequently and spoke about how he enjoyed much of anything that is “Italian” – the people, their rich history, their food, you name it. That I grew up in a neighborhood where my early friends had surnames like Frabrizzi, Corragio, Macalusco, Napolitano might have something to do with it. But then it was only later that I learned that other than Frank Sinatra (who was an Italian anti-fascist) a large percentage of Italian Americans loved Mussolini and supported him repeatedly in hugh rallies throughout the 1930s.)

I have heard that “good cop, bad cop” comparison of Italian and German fascism most of my life, and not just from my father. I have long been more than a little suspicous. Yes, Italian fascism has a somewhat different trajectory than German Nazism. Yet all that “crap” – and that is all it is – about how benign, how “peace loving” the Italians fascists were compared to the Nazis – the kind of de-militarized military spirit that comes through in the Italian film “Mediterraneo” is the stuff of which propaganda is made. Italian fascism was as “benign” as the Chilean variety under Pinochet, or Franco’s Spain and in many ways far worse.

For anyone wanting to get a more accurate picture of the true face of Italian fascism, two words suffice: Libya and Ethiopia. Very little is written about either, although there is a fine film starring Anthony Quinn, “The Lion in the Desert” which gives a hint of Italy’s seething brutality in its conquest of Libya. A few books documenting the horrors of it’s 1935-1941 conquest and occupation of Ethiopia have appeared in recent years, among them, Jeff Pearce’s fine “Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia’s Victory over Mussolini’s Invasion” and Ian Campbell’s “The Addis Ababa Massacre” detailing the three day orgy in which Italian occupation troops slaughtered tens of thousands.

Tying the two events together – the Libyan and Ethiopian Conquests – is the person of Rodolpho Graziani “Butcher of Fezzan” (Libya) and architect of the 1935 Addis massacre. Graziani – every bit as brutal as any Nazi SS officer, as Pinochet, Franco, is still celebrated as a great Italian patriot in the town of his birth, Affile, Italy.

I will be writing about Italy in Libya and Ethiopia over the next weeks.

I Campi Fascisti

Italian concentration camps in Ethiopia (in red). 1935-1941

California Governor Gavin Newsom in dialogue with the Ethiopian-Eritrean Community of California. September 9, 2021

September 9, 2021

Yebeg siga alitcha at Messob | Photo by Bill Esparza

The 100,000 + strong combined Ethiopian-Eritrean Community of California, that could be a swing vote in favor of defeating the recall election targeting California Governor Gavin Newsom, met with the governor. Supporting a program of universal healthcare, immigration rights, as strong stand against racism and expressing their concern for the Biden Administration’s hostility towards the Ethiopian government of Abiy Ahmed, the Community pledged they would work for the defeat of the recall election. Its spokespeople, both Ethiopian and Eritrean Americans, called on the governor to use his influence to press the national Democratic Party leadership to end their support for the outlawed terrorist group, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Governor Newsom’s remarks mostly centered around the effort to defeat the recall, detailing the right-wing racist, anti-immigrant agenda of the recall initiative’s sponsors, one of whom called for putting computer chips in the bodies of all immigrants because “it works well on animals.”

Although Newsom is concentrating on the recall, he took note of the comments and said he’d look more carefully into the issue after the recall election is over. There were 325 participants on the Zoom conference, the overwhelming percentage of which were from California’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Communities.

The sound the first three minutes is a bit muffled, but improves after that. It is Governor Newsom who is speaking at the beginning, mentioning that his sound had been muted..

Labor Day, Louisville, Colorado. September 6, 2021

September 6, 2021

Teamster’ Union participants in Louisville Colorado Labor Day Parade. September 6, 2021

Nancy, David Fey and I went to the Labor Day Parade in Louisville today. Nancy and I had gone before about ten years ago, when she was active in the state employees union, Colorado WINS. Before that we attended many a Labor Day Parade in Denver but these have stopped and Labor Day in Denver – like so many other progressive holidays doesn’t exist anymore. All that remains is an annual “pig out” where people stuff their faces with overpriced food, and buy crap they don’t need. Whether it’s Labor Day, the People’s Fair – which really used to be a “people’s fair”, Cinco de Mayo – all have been coopted, commercialized stripped of their historical and radical content and made into yet another toothless commercial venture – buy and sell.

The Louisville Labor Day Parade is the vestigial parade that retains a modicum – actually a rather shrunken modicum – of the old, more militant celebration where Colorado labor struts its stuff to remind the state’s residences that this the state of the Sand Creek Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre and the Coors Boycott. And the Louisville area – well the Louisville-Lafayette-Erie area a bit north and west of Denver itself was the site of some of the meanest labor struggles in the early 20th century with full scale armed confrontation between company goons and the State Militia on the one hand and striking miners on the other. Before Louis Tikas, Greek organizer for the miners was murdered by the State Militia at Ludlow, his head blown off at point blank range, Tikas had worked these northern coal fields, organizing miners into the Unted Mineworkers Federation as he would further south along the Front Range north of Trinidad.

So Louisville has its labor history and the children and grand children of those miners who fought for their rights, some dying, still live in the area and come out to celebrate their ancestors on Labor Day.

Still, although we were pleased to find a Labor Day Parade somewhere in the state, and we did enjoy it, this year’s Louisville march wasn’t the same. Gentrification has taken its toll, not just on Denver and Boulder where its impact is more noticable but also on smaller towns like Louisville and Lafayette. In the past the march started on the northside of the Main Street and marched south through the center if town. Main Street has been turned into a walking-shopping mall and is closed off to cars… and parades. As we were temporarily disoriented by the venue change I started asking people in the downtown  center where the parade was starting from. A half dozen or so people had not the slightest idea even that there was a parade, no less what route it would follow. Finally a couple who described themselves as “old timers” pointed up in the right direction. The only remnant of the town’s history of class struggle on Main Street is a statue to its miners., seemingly ignored by Louisville’s newcomers.

The march itself started on the west side of town and marched down Pine St. towards the center, but never leaving the western suburb.

Tribute to Louisville’s history as a mining center

In many ways it was a nice parade, tame – too tame – in comparison with past Labor Day events, but still…

Hundreds, maybe more, turned up to watch it along the route. It included delegations of a couple of high schools with their marching bands, a number of political hopefuls. U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse marched with his wife and daughter, the Daughter of the American Revolution were cancelled out (in our book) by a delegation of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), that included long-time democratic socialist and journalist, Dave Andeson. A bunch of realtors, never known to pass up a chance to advertise their ware along with a local church, the float of which included someone who looked like Mr. Rogers, also made their appearance as did three fleets of old cars, Thunderbirds, Cadillacs and some shiny cars and pick up trucks from the 1930s, 40s, Many of the paraders threw candy and ice cream to the kids (and one 76 year old unnamed adult).

But few unions showed and participated. The IBEW, Teamsters and Iron Workers all marched with their banners but there was not a trace of the miners whose spirits hover over Louisville, Unions that participated a decade ago when Nancy and I last participated – the AFT, Colorado WINS (the state employee’s union), ASCME, and many others, were nowhere to be seen. Besides, rather than leading the parade, the unions were placed at the very end, which we found degrading. Nor was there any militancy – other than from the Teamster float pictured above, no speeches reminding the participants of labor’s struggles, its sacrifices, why it is that Americans have an eight hour work day with two days off for the weekend.

Labor Day itself, as a social media friend of mine noted was instituted to peel off Labor-USA from May Day, with its more radical significance. And now Labor Day is being gutted, coopted, although not quite in Louisville. Although we wondered on the way home, what it meant to all those young families in attendance. Wsa it just another parade or something special, a reminder, that we just didn’t “get here”, that there is no such thing as “self-made” men and women., and that we are – as the commonly repeated expression puts it – “standing on the shoulders of those who came before” – amidst their blood, sweat and tears. Maybe the participants got it, maybe not.

Labor Day. Denver, Colorado. 1979. A very different feel from today.

September 1, 1939

September 1, 2021

_________________________________________________________

“September 1, 1939” is undoubtedly one of the great poems of the 20th century, one that marks the beginning of the Second World War and which readers have returned to at times of national and personal crisis. It is also a work that Auden came to despise. “The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts,” wrote Auden, “is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. I do not know if such increased awareness makes us more moral or more efficient. I hope not. I think it makes us more human, and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive.”

“September 1, 1939”
~W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

KGNU – Hemispheres Interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community. Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August 31, 2021

Taste of Ethiopia. Aurora, Colorado. August 3, 2021

__________________________________________________________________________

Colorado and the Horn of Africa – KGNU Special Series

Listen to Nebiyu Asfaw, of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community

“The Tigray People’s Liberation Front is Ethiopia’s version of the Nicaraguan Contras”

Hemispheres: Colorado and the Horn of Africa

This Tuesday evening (August 31, 2021) on Hemispheres, Rob Prince hosta a program called “Colorado and the Horn of Africa”. On tonight’s program Prince interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, a community based organizer in the Ethiopian Community in Aurora, Colorado, and he’s also a founder of the “Annual Taste of Ethiopia”. Rob Prince and Nebiyu Asfaw will start off discussing the current situation of the Ethiopian Community in Colorado and the annual “Taste of Ethiopia” gala event. Then in the second half of program Prince and Asfaw will discuss the current political sitution in Ethiopia. All that and more on Hemispheres at 6:00pm.

 

KGNU Hemispheres interviews Nebiyu Asfaw, Community based organizer, Ethiopian Community in Colorado; Founder of the Annual Taste of Ethiopia. Tuesday, August 31, 2021 @ 6-7 pm Mountain States Time

August 29, 2021

Ethiopians and Eritreans in Colorado celebrate the selection of Abiy Ahmed as the country’s prime minister, late July, 2018 This “unity event” was held at Aurara High School in Aurora, Colorado. 7,000-10,000 people, mostly from Ethiopia and Eritrea were in attendance. It was a moment of hope and national unity. (R. Prince photo)

This coming Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 6 pm Mountain States Time, KGNU Hemispheres will interview Nebiyu Asfaw, live. Asfaw works with the Ethiopians in Coloradans (a community based organization)  and a founder of “Taste of Ethiopia” – an annual festival in Aurora that introduces the heritage to Ethiopians in Coloradans. The festival brings together, literally, tens of thousands of people to the richness that is Colorado’s Horn of Africa population. Asfaw will discuss the situation of his community, the second largest immigrant community in the state after Latinos.  and one that has become increasingly political active. The program will also probe how Colorado’s Ethiopian Community views the crisis “back home” in Ethiopia which continues to be increasingly charged.

In Colorado, the program can be heard live at 88.5 FM (in Denver) and 1390 AM. It can also be heard live “streaming” at http://www.kgnu.org from anywhere in the world. It lasts one hour.

The program is produced by KGNU Hemispheres’ producer, Jim Nelson and program commentator, Rob Prince. This is the second in a series produced by Prince: Colorado and the Horn of Africa. Other programs will follow over the next year.

___________________________________________________________________

Nebiyu Asfaw – a leader of Colorado’s Ethiopian Community

Nebiyu Asfaw’s Bio:

Nebiyu Asfaw is a native of Ethiopia and a proud Coloradan who is passionate about community service. Nebiyu is considered a thought leader in Colorado’s Ethiopian community where he has served in different capacities for over 15 years. Nebiyu advocates for his community locally and globally through organizing and civic engagement to improve conditions for Ethiopians and underserved minority groups.

As a native of Ethiopia, Nebiyu emphasizes the rich cultural landscape of his community as the co-founder of Colorado’s Taste of Ethiopia Festival; one of Denver’s largest summer festival. Operating under the motto “Once a Year Colorado Goes Ethiopian”, the Taste of Ethiopia has been a great success in mainstreaming the Food, Culture and Arts of the Ethiopian community in the Denver metro area.

Nebiyu is also co-founder and Vice President of the Board at the East Colfax Community Collective; an advocacy organization fighting to protect low and moderate-income residents and locally-owned businesses from displacement by urban revitalization efforts. East Colfax holds a special significance for Nebiyu and many in the Ethiopian and Eritreans communities, a neighborhood that celebrates diversity and welcomes thousands of new immigrants and refugees as the first place of settlement in Colorado since the 1970s.

Nebiyu is also a proud member of Denver’s “100 Men Who Cook” where he volunteers as a Chef to help raise education funds for local African-American students. Through this program; Nebiyu works on promoting plant-based Ethiopian food to the greater African-American community in the metro area. Nebiyu is also co-founder of the Ethiopian American Development council that works to advance the human rights, political, and economic interests of Ethiopian Americans and Ethiopians. Nebiyu also serves in several community advisory roles, including Governor Jared Polis’ Community Engagement Team, Congressman Joe Neguse’s Immigration Stakeholders team and the Community Police Advisory Team (CPAT) for Aurora Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson; where he contributes to the effort to improve police-community relations.

For his contribution to the community; Nebiyu was awarded the “African Americans Who Make a Difference” award in 2019 from the Denver Urban Spectrum; a Congressional Recognition from the United States Congress in 2018, and a “Life Time Achievement” award in 2017 from the East Colfax St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Nebiyu Asfaw interviewed at ETV (Ethiopian Television) recently

Background Article: The GrayZone Interviews Eritrean Journalist Elias Amare on the current conflict in Ethiopia