Annexation, Antisemitism, Atrocity

Sudan embraces Israel’s annexation of Palestine, Chile to change constitution, Labour Party suspends Corbyn, Greenwald censored, Black Lives Matter has a PAC, etc.

Housekeeping: The Stinger Newsletter. New editions are sent out at 6:35 am PT on Mondays.

In this edition: (1). Sudan embraces Israel’s annexation of Palestine; (2). Chile to change its constitution; (3). The UK Labour Party suspended Corbyn, following accusations of antisemitism; (4). Greenwald quits the Intercept after alleging censorship on a Hunter Biden piece; (5). Black Lives Matter starts a PAC; (6). Sean Connery fades to black.


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Sudan-Israel: Fresh off the announcement from the Trump administration that it would be struck from the state sponsors of terror list, Sudan embraced the Israeli right. The junta in charge of Sudan has retained control through clenched teeth after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir during a wave of popular uprising. The removal of Sudan from the U.S. list has been expected for some time; indeed, U.S. Charge d’affaires in Khartoum, Steven Koutis, had as much as advertised it a couple of years ago, although Trump only gave the official announcement about two weeks ago. This will likely reinforce the regime’s hold on power. Notably, Sudan has since signed a peace agreement with Israel, bowing to U.S. pressure to bolster Israeli annexations of the West Bank and their control in East Jerusalem.

The turn feels dramatic, since Khartoum was the place the 1967 Arab League summit embraced the “Three No’s”, which admitted no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation with Israel, as Patrick Gathara reminds us in Al Jazeera. But it is mostly the result of U.S. pressure. “Sudan’s transitional government has been arm-twisted by the US into abandoning its moral principles for the sake of national survival,” Gathara writes. And the U.S. is pressuring other countries, like Kenya, to abandon Palestine, too.

This recognition may lead to Sudanese exiles in Israel being returned to a hostile home-country to face repression, or worse. The recent move to acknowledge Israel’s annexation of Palestine also signals two things.

First, that Saudi influence in the region will likely go through Sudan, or that Sudan will at least support it. This latest update is a direct result of Trump's announcement that he would strike them from the state sponsors of terror list. That in itself, it seems, was a result of Sudan's efforts to aid Saudi Arabia in committing atrocities in Yemen. As I have previously written, Sudan’s image had been Islamist under al-Bashir but has shifted to more of an African regional power with Islamic sympathies in recent years. I follow the author Gerard Prunier’s analysis which holds that this Islamic identity was one of the causal factors for the Darfur genocide years ago. That shift in image, I would speculate— though that is what this is— opened up space for a tighter relationship with Saudi Arabia. So long as they presented themselves as an Islamic power, there would have been some tension there. If they are an Islamic-friendly power in Africa, then there is potential to allow Saudi Arabia a foothold in the region. The U.S.-Saudi connection, and the U.S.-Israeli connection, explains the rest.

Second, the acknowledgment signals a dim future for the Palestinian cause. It has seemed for a while as though the two-state solution is dead and decomposing. Even American Jewish groups which profess support for the two-state solution— AIPAC, ADL, AJC, JFNA— have said very little as the Trump administration has allowed its possibility to collapse into nothingness over the past couple of years.

As my former professor Deborah Shushan, who now works at J Street, noted in September, Israel’s existential conflict is with Palestine and so its real peace deal is on that front.

Change imminent in Chile: Chile’s constitution will get a re-write, which will be subject to a vote. This update comes on the back of a lot of courageous popular protest, but the actual process looks to be a messy and time-crunched affair. The current constitution stretches back to the Augusto Pinochet regime. (The constitution was implemented in March 1981.) Pinochet came to power in 1973 in a U.S.-backed coup, in one of the more shameful of the U.S. obliterations of popular sovereignty on the continent. Pinochet’s constitution pushed Milton Friedman austerity and privatized much of the country’s services, a direct imposition given that President Salvador Allende had been a socialist. Torture and repression were the tools of Pinochet’s regime, which entailed the “disappearing” of critics. Pinochet himself would remain in office of some sort, thwarting attempts at moral reckoning, until he was detained in Britain in 1998 at the request of the Spanish government, although he ultimately escaped a full legal reckoning.

UK’s Labour Party suspends Corbyn: After Jeremy Corbyn said the accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party made in the Equality and Human Rights Commission report were exaggerations, a complaint was filed by groups like the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and Corbyn has now been suspended. The Jerusalem Post, praising the suspension as “right, just and long overdue,” argued that Corbyn had shunted the party down an antisemitic hole. Jacobin Magazine has insisted that the “inquiry itself is a political weapon” aimed against the left. The Atlantic praised it as a rare moment of reflection. This seems to be, from the outside, as much a consequence of Corbyn’s embarrassing defeat in 2019 as anything else. The legacy of Corbyn in the U.K. and Sanders in the U.S. are not entirely written in stone. They are areas of major contention, and the movements they helped to build remain somewhat untested. Now, Corbyn, who was attracting thousands to rallies for his brand of leftism, as Helen Lewis comments in that Atlantic piece, is potentially facing a “king in exile” scenario.

Glenn Greenwald leaves the Intercept after alleging they censored him: Few journalists on the political left rank as impactful and engaging and provocative as Glenn Greenwald over the last couple of decades. Greenwald came to international attention after helping to break the Edward Snowden leaks. In 2014, Greenwald co-founded The Intercept, an investigative publication of the oppositional left in the United States funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar; Greenwald has commented that it was founded “with the purpose of guaranteeing editorial independence”, adding irony to this situation, according to attributed quotes. The experiences of investigative journalists during the Iraq War was a large motivating factor in the publication’s creation; censorship was supposed to become limited by the very structure of the it. This week, Greenwald exited the publication after, he claims, he was censored by it. Greenwald claims The Intercept refused to publish a piece on the Hunter Biden accusations in the New York Post story without first purging the critical elements, which you can read in Matt Taibbi’s account of the scandal. You can read the draft the editors refused on Greenwald’s Substack page. Consensus happens just as easily by a gaggle of journos as it does from a “private chat” with the boss. It can be much harder to speak against effectively, and can be much more nasty, in group think situations, too. Journalists often have herd instincts.

Black Lives Matter has a PAC: The protests over the killing of George Floyd put Black Lives Matter, already well-known, to a more intense international attention. The waves of murders and slayings since has kept them there, and apparently the group is planning to move from outside agitators to political power-brokers.

“We must make change at the ballot box, replacing white supremacists with those who will dismantle systemic racism brick by brick. That's why we've launched Black Lives Matter PAC,” the group said in an email drive for donations, announcing the political action committee.

Given the relative success in capturing public sympathy that BLM has gained, the shift to a PAC seems to reinforce the point that in America money is king. Outside agitation only goes so far. American politics is dirty. Money rules, and groups on the left-wing and right-wing are embracing the structural rot, left with little choice. Many progressive candidates have shrugged off big dollar donations, not that they were likely to get them. The Sanders campaign, notably, received mostly small donations from small donors. For a serious national campaign that is unheard of. In the absence of serious structural reform, the U.S. political system is headed for a long walk down a short, dark alley.

Sean Connery rolls credits: The Scottish actor who catapulted James Bond into consciousness of international film viewers shuffled off screen in the Bahamas at age 90. Sir Sean Connery was not the first to adapt Bond, the character from Ian Fleming’s novels which had been based, allegedly, on a composite of British special operatives from Fleming’s service during WWII. There had been a radio adaptation and a tv version before 1962’s Dr. No. However, Connery was memorable, charisma-defined, and his performance led the series to take off. Connery played Bond in seven of the twenty-four films in the franchise.

The smart-ass, gambling, alcoholic, sex-addict, not-so-secret spy changed not only the spy story but also the culture in general. Through this role, perhaps lamentably, Connery defined masculinity for many American males of a certain age. Here’s an enjoyably trashy article from 2012 on the amount of times the Bond character should have died. Connery also featured in other culturally significant roles such as Highlander (1986), The Name of the Rose (1986), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Finding Forrester (2000), and so on.

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