Monthly Archives: July 2010

Detailing The Unspoken Truths Of A Deadly Relationship

In 1975 South African defence minister PW Botha requested a sale of nuclear warheads from Israel. Shimon Peres (centre), then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them in three sizes.

Recently the British newspaper the Guardian revealed that secret South African documents show that Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to the Apartheid state. The minutes of meetings between the two countries in 1975 showed that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes.” The papers also constitute the first documentary evidence that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Israel is universally believed to have around 200 nuclear warheads, but the state has never confirmed or denied this under a policy of what it calls “nuclear ambiguity.”

The documents were uncovered by the American academic Sasha Polakow-Suransky for a brand new book that reveals a deep relationship between Israel and the Apartheid regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Here Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of Solidarity Divided, reviews the book. This first appeared on ZNet.

Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance:  Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (New York:  Pantheon Books, 2010).  324 pps. $27.95 hardcover

I could hardly contain my excitement after reading Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s The Unspoken Alliance:  Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.  So, I got on the phone and called a long-time friend who had been active in the solidarity movements against white colonial/minority rule in Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.  He responded:  “Well, didn’t we already know about the connection between apartheid South Africa and Israel?”

What is striking about The Unspoken Alliance is not that it contains the revelation of a complete secret.  My friend was correct.  Bits and pieces of this story had been public for years, at least in some circles.  What makes this book different is both the level of detail and factual disclosure combined with its blunt recognition of a strategic unity between Israel and apartheid South Africa based on a common colonial/settler framework.

Polakow-Suransky provides historical background that may surprise many readers in pointing out that the dominant political forces in Israel, up through the late 1960s, saw themselves as operating within an anti-colonial framework.  Israel reached out to many newly independent African states, for example, providing a wide range of types of assistance.  While this ‘solidarity’ may not have been driven completely by the noble aims that Polakow-Suransky suggests, it is nevertheless noteworthy.  David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, for instance, saw no inconsistency between advancing a settler project in the Palestine Mandate (the territory occupied by Britain until 1948) aimed at displacing the Palestinian people, on the one hand, and positioning Israel as an ally in the struggle for independence on the part of African states.  Interestingly, they suggested that they were an outpost not only for the anti-colonial struggle, but also one in the struggle against reactionary Arab regimes. Read the rest of this entry

Voices of the Voiceless: El Vuh

This is the second of my now weekly Sunday Morning music-oriented posts. With these posts my goal is to help promote the words and sounds of various political artists, of all musical genres. This week’s post takes a look at the music of Mexicano-indigenous hip-hop trio El Vuh. Last week’s inaugural post featured British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey.

Meaning “the book,” El Vuh is a hip-hop trio from occupied California. Eemcees Zero, Victor-E and E-Rise have often been called lyrical medicine men by those who have heard their music, using their songs as a vehicle for expressing personal views on today’s environmental, socio-economic and political climates of the modern world.

The trio first met in 2002 after open mic night at the legendary Tia Chu Chas Café in the San Fernando Valley. There a young artist named E-Rise impacted host Victor so much that he decided he and friend Zero had to meet. “Victor called me up and asked me to come and meet him Keep in mind I live an hour away – but somehow I agreed. When I got there, E-Rise was just about to leave. We met and really vibed. It felt like we had known each other for a long time,” recalls Zero. The meeting sparked something magical and soon after the trio recorded their first release, “Jaguar Prophecies”, at a studio in Zero’s house, reportedly only in the space of one weekend.

During live performances, they incorporate the hue hue drum and wooden-slit drum – ancient Mexican instruments that replicate the sounds of nature – into their performances and include a visual interpretation through ‘danzantes’ (Aztec dancers) and projected images of temples and hieroglyphs, recreating their ancestor’s mystical atmosphere within the contemporary sounds of hip-hop rhythms.

Read the rest of this entry

“To Have and To Be”: Building a Socialist-Feminist Economy in Venezuela

An interview with Lidice Navas, by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber. This appeared in The Bullet, the e-bulletin of the Toronto-based Socialist Project.

A long-time revolutionary activist, Lidice Navas is an important socialist-feminist leader within the PSUV and a candidate for the Latin American parliament, among her many other responsibilities. We met her at the Women’s Development Bank in Caracas on June 18, 2010 to talk about her vision of socialism, the accomplishments of the Bolivarian process so far, and what remains to be done.

Susan Spronk teaches in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa. She is a research associate with Municipal Services Project and has published several articles on class formation and water politics in Bolivia.

Jeffery R. Webber teaches politics at the University of Regina. He is the author of Red October: Left-Indigenous Struggles in Modern Bolivia (Brill, 2010), and Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia: Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation and the Politics of Evo Morales (Haymarket, 2011).

What is your political history?

I am a candidate for the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) in Caracas. I am also a member of the Political Bureau of the Region of Caracas and a candidate for the Latin American parliament. I also have some responsibilities in the Women’s Development Bank (Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer, BanMujer) and am also active as a coordinator in the parroquia [parish] El Valle, where we are trying to construct socialism from the level of the community.

I have been a revolutionary activist for a long time. In the 1960s, I was a militant of the revolutionary movement in Venezuela. I was militant and founder of the Bandera Roja guerrilla movement in 1976, and when that divided I joined the Bandera Roja Marxista-Leninista. I was active in that organization until it, too, disappeared. These were difficult years. I was imprisoned many times and subject to political persecution. In the 1980s, for example, I was part of a simulated execution.

I sought exile in El Salvador, where I went with my husband, and we were militants with the FMLN revolutionary guerrilla movement. I lost both my husband and my eldest son in that struggle. I was part of the Truth Commission in El Salvador in 1992, and trained human rights workers until my return to Venezuela in 1995.

It was a new phase in the struggle when I returned. I first met Hugo [Chávez] in 1994 and worked on his electoral campaign in 1998. Read the rest of this entry