Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Message to the African Political Scientist

Free The Land,

The United States empire made history on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first negro president. An unprecedented number of Africans, of all ages, entered the electoral process for first time with a level of excitement unheard of in the authors lifetime. But it must be remembered, the phenomena of elected officials of African descent in the United States began during the Reconstruction era. The most recent set of African elected officials began in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s on a wave Black Power politics in majority African cities, counties, and districts. To a large extent, this group of officials oversaw the rise of the modern slave system (i.e. prison industrial complex), erosion of a domestic manufacturing base, and the introduction of crack cocaine into African communities. At the same time, a large number of African students entered predominantly white college campuses and received degrees in political science. Similar to that generation, the current generation must examine the role of the African political scientists in the African Freedom Movement. Contrary to mainstream white opinion, the new president does not represent the end of “Black politics” but, i contend, he signals a need to develop an African anti-imperialist analysis for the 21st century.

Mack Jones was an African political scientist who set forth the meaning and responsibility of his colleagues. He believed the first job of the African political scientists is to articulate an African worldview that is distinct from their colonizers. Oppressed nationalities that live under colonial domination, such as Africans in the U.S., are imposed with a definition of reality that emanates from their colonizer. The acceptance of the colonizers worldview impedes Africans ability to think and act independently. Today, very few African political scientists have read the works of African intellectuals that extend to the 19th century which includes David Walker, Martin Delany, Edward Blyden, Henry Highland Garnett, Henry McNeal Turner, Mary Ann Shadd Carey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Marcus Garvey, Harry Haywood, and Claudia Jones. Even Obama, stated one of his greatest inspirations in political history is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is difficult to believe, as a lawyer, he did not know that in the 1930’s when Africans were being lynched at a rate of every other day, FDR said and did virtually nothing. It is imperative that African political scientists not succumb to blind faith Obama-ism that is prevalent among a large number of Africans but, instead, examine his cabinet appointments and foreign and domestic policy.

Obama’s foreign policy is a continuation of western imperialism. He supports the Department of Defense new Africa command (AFRICOM). Fifty-three African states excluding Liberia, have stated they do not want AFRICOM based in their countries. They view AFRICOM as an attempt by the U.S. empire to re-colonize the African continent in order to control its mineral resources particularly oil. In addition, he supports the redeployment of up to 30,000 troops to the war in Afghanistan. A year after the invasion of Afghanistan the newly U.S.-installed president signed a deal to build an oil pipeline through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Many Afghans and Pakistani people believe the real reason for the war is, not the so-called War on Terror but, to protect the new oil pipeline. Finally, Obama condemned the attacks on Mumbai, India in December but was silent when in a span of three weeks the Zionist regime that occupies Palestine killed over 1,300 Palestinians and injured over 5,000. This is because Obama has made more promises to the Zionist regime than the land of his father, Kenya, a neo-colonial state.

His domestic policy maintains the same colonial relationship between the U.S. empire and Africans in the U.S. During the course of his campaign Obama did not mention, let alone speak of abolishing, the modern slave system which has millions of African men and women enslaved. Moreover, when Africans like Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and Adolph Grimes were unjustly murdered by the police he was virtually silent. And as Martin Luther King Jr. stated “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Lastly, in December of 2007 he voted to give telecommunications companies immunity who illegally provided customers information to the U.S. government. This is extremely relevant to Africans in America who were victims of illegal surveillance during the Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro).

The author understands that the masses of Africans are feeling a great euphoria from the election of Barack Obama but we must remain vigilant. This path (being critical of Obama) is not popular but those of us who think it correct must follow it. As African political scientists, we must begin to dialogue with what Cedric Robinson calls the “Black Radical Tradition” which begins in the maroon communities of the 16th and 17th century and continues today. And remember, as Mack Jones asserted, African “political scientists bear the responsibility of clearly and brutally unraveling the devious ways in which the American political system serves to exploit the many for the benefit of the few.” Two organizations that can continue this tradition are the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the National Council for Black Studies. Both organizations emerged from the movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s therefore can offer a unique perspective on these issues. They could begin by writing organizational position papers on issues such as AFRICOM and Zionist aggression. Also, they could establish relationships with progressive and revolutionary African organizations. If African political scientists play their role correctly, they can be integral in the struggle for national liberation and self-determination.

Towards A Unified Africa and Liberated New Afrika….

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zionism, Palestinian Self-Determination, and Pan-Africanism

Free the Land,

Over the past five hundred years Europe has engaged in an expansive imperial project that has had an unprecedented impact upon indigenous cultures, the environment, and humanity in general. A central feature of the European imperial project has been the advent of settler-colonialism. Settler Colonialism is the conquering of a given territory then relocating a portion of the conquering nation to the newly colonized territory. In some instances, the goal of settler colonialism is to completely supplant the conquered population. A few examples are the United States, New Zealand, Australia, occupied Azania (South Africa), and occupied Palestine (Israel). This piece is a historical and contemporary examination of the Zionist regime that occupies Palestine. In this essay, I argue that the Zionist regime that occupies Palestine is a European settler-state which serves the geopolitical interest of and resource exploitation by Western imperial powers, such as the United States and Britain, in the Middle East region.

Unfortunately, most people who reside in the United States are not provided the historical background to the Arab-Israeli conflict by their educational institutions and media outlets. The Zionist regime is a product of the Zionist movement. The Zionist Movement contends that the only way Jews can be protected from persecution is the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The modern Zionist movement begins with the publication of The Jewish State in 1896 by Theodore Herzl, a secular Hungarian Jew. Prior to the end of World War I, Palestine was under the dominion of the Ottoman empire. Following the defeat and dismantling of the Ottoman empire after the war, Palestine became a British protectorate. Due to Zionist advocacy from individuals like Herzl, the British government wrote the Balfour Declaration in 1917. The Declaration was a letter sent by Foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, of the Banking dynasty family, stating “His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” At this time, over 90% of residents of Palestine were Arabs. But the increase in anti-Judaism during the interwar years in Europe sent hundreds of thousands Jews to colonize Palestine in order to escape persecution. Then, in 1948, the Zionist regime declared itself an independent state. The Zionist regime executed a massive expulsion program that instantly turned over 700,000 Palestinians into refugees. Palestinians refer to this event as al-Nakba (“the catastrophe” in Arabic). A large portion of their descendants currently live in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states have consistently resisted the Zionist regime culminating in several wars. A turning point in the ongoing struggle was the “Six Day War” in 1967. The war included Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Following a so called “preemptive attack” upon Egypt’s air force, the Zionist regime delivered a resounding defeat to the Arab states solidifying their position as a regional superpower. That same year, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 242 which called for “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." But over forty years later, the Zionist regime still occupies one part of the territory, the West Bank. In fact, the Zionist regime continues to break international law by expanding settlements in the West Bank. According to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, since 1967 over 19,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished due to the expansion of Zionist settlements. Later, in 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Zionist regime agreed to a peace agreement called the Oslo Accords. While this event was portrayed as part of the process to create a Palestinian state, the truth is, the accords left power in the hands of the Zionist regime in crucial areas such as security (Article VII). Throughout most of the Arab world, the PLO is now viewed as collaborators with Zionism.

From about 1987-1993 and 2000-2006 the Palestinian movement for national liberation and self-determination reached a peak in a period called the First and Second Intifada (“Shaking Off” in Arabic), respectively. Though originating in the Egypt, Hamas emerged from the peaks of resistance as a major force for Palestinian liberation. Eventually, Hamas gained a parliamentary majority in free and fair elections in 2006 but the Zionist regime does not recognize Hamas as a legitimate government. Hamas continues to uncompromisingly fight for Palestinian self-determination. But because of the disproportionate military power of the Zionist regime, Hamas can only fire short and medium range rockets at the settlements and military compounds. Also, several Palestinians have engaged in a practice referred to as ‘suicide bombing.’ Therefore, the Zionist regime has placed security restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. In addition, though the Zionist regime abandoned its settlements in the Gaza Strip, it still controls the land, sea, and air space. For all intents and purposes Gaza is an open air prison.

Finally, on December 27th the Zionist regime began air assaults and ground raids on the Gaza strip. As of this writing, 680 Palestinians have been killed and over 3,500 wounded but only ten Israelis have died. The United Nations has reported that at least one in four murdered Palestinians are civilians, not armed combatants. Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, asserts the current crisis was instigated by Zionist armed forces entering the Gaza strip. International observers condemn the actions of the Zionist regime but the United States consistently uses its veto power to block UN resolutions critical of the them. They are rarely subjected to sanctions for breaking international law. Desmond Tutu, the revered anti-apartheid activist, has said the situation in Palestine is reminiscent of occupied Azania during the apartheid era.

How does the Zionist regime, continue the complete political, economic, and military domination of Palestine? The United States empire is one of their most ardent supporters. According to a report issued by the Congressional Research Service called “Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance”, since 1976 the Zionist regime has been the largest benefactor of U.S. aid receiving $3 billion dollars a year. In addition, they receive billions of dollars more in military assistance including tanks, missiles, and fighter jets. This assistance has allowed the Zionist regime to build one of the top ten arms industries in the world. Several of the arms are used in conflicts in Africa and other parts of the so called Global South. Moreover, in a great expose in the Guardian called “Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria” Chris McGreal reported that the Zionist regime supplied the South African government with arms during apartheid and helped them to develop nuclear technology. These arms were used to terrorize Africans during the liberation movement in occupied Azania. Furthermore, the Christian Science Monitor reported, in a piece called “Inside Israel’s Diamond Trade: A Family Affair”, about 50% of the worlds diamonds are cut and polished in the Zionist state then exported primarily to Europe and North America. A large portion of these diamonds originate from conflicts in poor countries like Sierra Leone and the DRC. Therefore, the Zionist regime is an exploiter of Africa and Palestine.

The first step for African progressives and revolutionaries is to form an African Anti-Zionist Front organization. The front should be composed of individuals and organizations opposed to Zionist occupation of Palestine and exploitation of the African continent. This formation can serve a strategic role in the Palestinian and Pan-African movements for national liberation and self-determination.

Towards a Unified Africa and Liberated New Afrika….