Chomsky: Republicans Are Willing To Destroy Democracy To Retake Power

Noam Chomsky

Today’s Republican Party is an extremist force that no longer qualifies as a mainstream political party and is surely not interested in participating in “normal” politics. In fact, today’s GOP is so wrapped around extreme and irrational beliefs that even Europe’s far-right parties and movements, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, seem conventional in comparison.

The GOP’s political identity has been dramatically shaped by former President Donald Trump, but these recent shifts would not have been possible if there weren’t already an array of groups across U.S. society and culture (including white supremacists, right-wing Evangelical Christians and Second Amendment activists, to name just a few) that have long embraced extremist and “proto-fascist” views about the way the country should be governed and the values that it should hold. For them, Trump was and remains America’s “great white hope.” In this context, Trump’s voting base — which continues to believe in the idea of a stolen election and to support Trump-led GOP efforts to stamp critical race theory out of schools and restrict voting rights — speaks volumes about the anti-democratic and threatening nature of today’s GOP.

In the interview that follows, world-renowned scholar and activist Noam Chomsky explains what has happened to the Republican Party and why even more than democracy is at stake if the “proto-fascist” forces inspired by Trump return to power.

C.J. Polychroniou: Over the course of the past few decades, the Republican Party has gone through a series of ideological transformations — from traditional conservatism to reactionism and finally to what we may define as “proto-fascism” where the irrational has become the driving force. How do we explain what has happened to the GOP?

Noam Chomsky: Your term “neoliberal proto-fascism” seems to me quite an accurate characterization of the current Republican organization — I’m hesitant to call them a “Party” because that might suggest that they have some interest in participating honestly in normal parliamentary politics. More fitting, I think, is the judgment of American Enterprise Institute political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein that the modern Republican Party has transformed to a “radical insurgency” with disdain for democratic participation. That was before the Trump-McConnell hammer blows of the past few years, which drove the conclusion home more forcefully.

The term “neoliberal proto-fascism” captures well both the features of the current party and the distinction from the fascism of the past. The commitment to the most brutal form of neoliberalism is apparent in the legislative record, crucially the subordination of the party to private capital, the inverse of classic fascism. But the fascist symptoms are there, including extreme racism, violence, worship of the leader (sent by God, according to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), immersion in a world of “alternative facts” and a frenzy of irrationality. Also in other ways, such as the extraordinary efforts in Republican-run states to suppress teaching in schools that doesn’t conform to their white supremacist doctrines. Legislation is being enacted to ban instruction in “critical race theory,” the new demon, replacing Communism and Islamic terror as the plague of the modern age. “Critical race theory” is the scare-phrase used for the study of the systematic structural and cultural factors in the hideous 400-year history of slavery and enduring racist repression. Proper indoctrination in schools and universities must ban this heresy. What actually happened for 400 years and is very much alive today must be presented to students as a deviation from the real America, pure and innocent, much as in well-run totalitarian states.

What’s missing from “proto-fascism” is the ideology: state control of the social order, including the business classes, and party control of the state with the maximal leader in charge. That could change. German industry and finance at first thought they could use the Nazis as their instrument in beating down labor and the left while remaining in charge. They learned otherwise. The current split between the more traditional corporate leadership and the Trump-led party is suggestive of something similar, but only remotely. We are far from the conditions that led to Mussolini, Hitler, and their cohorts.

On the driving force of irrationality, the facts are inescapable and should be of deep concern. Though we can’t credit Trump entirely with the achievement, he certainly has shown great skill in carrying out a challenging assignment: implementing policies for the benefit of his primary constituency of great wealth and corporate power while conning the victims into worshipping him as their savior. That’s no mean achievement, and inducing an atmosphere of utter irrationality has been a primary instrument, a virtual prerequisite.

We should distinguish the voting base, now pretty much owned by Trump, from the political echelon (Congress) — and distinguish both from a more shadowy elite that really runs the Party, McConnell and associates.

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John O’Mill en de macaronische traditie

Er is een tijd geweest, lang vóór de Ryam- en de Beyoncé-agenda de klassen vrolijk kleurden, dat de agenda voor het nieuwe schooljaar door de school zelf werd verstrekt. Andere modellen waren uit den boze. Het waren dan ook saaie, grijzige notitieboekjes, zonder opsmuk.

De enige frivoliteit die de ontwerpers zich veroorloofden, waren korte, lichtvoetige versjes, gewoonlijk rechtsonder op de zaterdag. Populair waren bijvoorbeeld C. Buddingh’, Daan Zonderland en Kees Stip; volwassenen kunnen dankzij die saaie agenda’s vaak nog klassieke regels uit het hoofd reciteren als

Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Mijn vader was een porgel,
Mijn moeder was een porulan

van Buddingh’, of

Er zijn hier heel wat maden bij
die made zijn in Germanij

van Kees Stip, in de gedaante van Trijntje Fop.

Favoriet waren de rijmpjes van John O’Mill, het pseudoniem van de Brabantse docent Engels Jan van der Meulen (1915-2005). Ze waren grappig, eenvoudig te onthouden en dus altijd makkelijk te citeren. Een voorbeeld:

Rot young
A terrible infant, called Peter
sprinkled his bed with a gheter.
His father got woost,
took hold of a cnoost
and gave him a pack on his meter.

Of

Drents adrift
A hot headed Drent in Ter Apel
who always ran too hard from staple
forsplintered his plate
when the waitress was late
and gave her a lell with the laple.

Ze verschenen, behalve in die sombere agenda’s, in kleine boekjes met olijke titels als Lyrical Laria of Rollicky Rhymes, Bonny Ballads, an O’Mill medley of Verse & Worse, Curious Couplets, in Waals en Koeterwaals of – de mooiste – Popsy Poems. Pre-Popsylated Poetry. Rispe Rijmen in Dutch and double Dutch.
(Korte taalles: double Dutch is Engels voor “onzin uitkramen”. Risp komt niet voor in het Nederlands en lijkt vooral door de dichter gekozen vanwege de mooie alliteratie met “rijmen”.

Pre-Popsylated wordt in een inleiding door de dichter zelf als volgt toegelicht: “All the verse in this bundle has been carefully and critically pre-popsylated by the author himself, so that any resemblance to art or poetry is purely accidental”. Het zal geen verbazing wekken, dat popsylated niet in de Engelse woordenschat voorkomt. Met wat goede wil kan nog gedacht worden aan een woordspeling met preposterous, volgens het woordenboek te vertalen met “ongerijmd”.)

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To Address Increasing Inequality And Global Poverty, We Must Cancel Debt

Éric Toussaint – Photo: cadtm.org

Massive debt levels are a feature of contemporary capitalism that cannot be eradicated without radical change, says political scientist Éric Toussaint.

“The indebtedness of the working classes is directly connected to the widening poverty gap and increasing inequality, and to the demolition of the welfare state that most governments have been working at since the 1980s,” says Toussaint in this exclusive interview for Truthout.

 

Toussaint — a historian and international spokesperson for the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM), and author of several books on debt, development and globalization — shares his thoughts on debt, inequality and contemporary socialist movements in the conversation that follows.

C.J. Polychroniou: Over the past few decades, inequality is rising in many countries around the world, both across the Global North and the Global South, creating what UN Chief António Guterres called in his foreword to the World Social Report 2020 “a deeply unequal global landscape.” Moreover, the top 1 percent of the population are the big winners in the globalized capitalist economy of the 21st century. Is inequality an inevitable development in the face of globalization, or the outcome of politics and policies at the level of individual countries?

Éric Toussaint: Rising inequality is not inevitable. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the explosion of inequality is consubstantial with the phase that the world capitalist system entered into in the 1970s. The evolution of inequality in the capitalist system is directly related to the balance of power between the fundamental social classes, between capital and labor. When I use the term “labor,” that means urban wage-earners as well as rural workers and small-scale farming producers.

The evolution of capitalism can be divided into broad periods according to the evolution of inequality and the social balance of power. Inequality increased between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the first half of the 19th century and the policies implemented by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States in the 1930s, and then decreased up to the early 1980s. In Europe, the turn towards lower inequality lagged 10 years behind the United States. It was not until the end of World War II and the final defeat of Nazism that inequality-reducing policies were put in place, whether in Western Europe or Moscow-led Eastern Europe. In the major economies of Latin America, there was a reduction in inequality from the 1930s to the 1970s, notably during the presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico and Juan D. Perón in Argentina. In the period from the 1930s to the 1970s, there were massive social struggles. In many capitalist countries, capital had to make concessions to labor in order to stabilize the system. In some cases, the radical nature of social struggles led to revolutions, as in China in 1949 and Cuba in 1959.

The return to policies that strongly aggravated inequality began in the 1970s in Latin America and part of Asia. From 1973 onward, the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet (advised by the “Chicago Boys,” the Chilean economists who had studied laissez-faire economics at the University of Chicago with Milton Friedman), the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and the dictatorships in Argentina and Uruguay are just a few examples of countries where neoliberal policies were first put into practice.

These neoliberal policies, which produced a sharp increase in inequality, became widespread from 1979 in Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher, from 1980 in the United States under the Reagan administration, from 1982 in Germany under the Kohl government, and in 1982-1983 in France after François Mitterrand’s turn to the right.

Inequality increased sharply with the capitalist restoration in the countries of the former Soviet bloc in Central and Eastern Europe. In China from the second half of the 1980s onward, the policies dictated by Deng Xiaoping also led to a gradual restoration of capitalism and a rise in inequality.

It is also quite clear that for the ideologues of the capitalist system and for many international organizations, a rise in inequality is a necessary condition for economic growth.

It should be noted that the World Bank does not consider a rising level of inequality as negative. Indeed, it adopts the theory developed in the 1950s by the economist Simon Kuznets, according to which a country whose economy takes off and progresses must necessarily go through a phase of increasing inequality. According to this dogma, inequality will start to fall as soon as the country has reached a higher threshold of development. It is a version of pie in the sky used by the ruling classes to placate the oppressed on whom they impose a life of suffering.

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Extended Statehood In The Caribbean ~ Paradoxes Of Quasi Colonialism, Local Autonomy And Extended Statehood In The USA, French, Dutch & British Caribbean

Extended

2021 – PDF-file of the complete book: https://rozenbergquarterly.com/lammert-de-jong-dirk-kruijt-eds-extended-statehood-in-the-caribbean-paradoxes-of-quasi-colonialism-local-autonomy-and-extended-statehood-in-the-usa-french-dutch-and-british-caribbean/

2008 ~ Quite a number of islands in the Caribbean region have not yet gained independent status. They still have constitutional relationships with former colonial mother countries, be it Puerto Rico with the USA, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba with the Netherlands, Martinique and Guadeloupe with the French Republic or the Caribbean Overseas Territories with Britain.
The status of the non-independent Caribbean remains ambiguous. None of the islands wish to stand on their own as sovereign states. A range of complexes is attributed to this (quasi) colonial status. They have sacrificed their cultural and political identities for a well-being that – by definition – cannot be fulfilled. The islands’ citizenry suffers from racial discrimination, not only at home, but also on the metropolitan mainland. And instead of exhausting every possibility to achieve sustainable development, a welfare mentality has overwhelmed the dynamics of the islands’ econonomies. Better off, yes, but at what price?
In this book, the islands’ connections with American and European metropolitan centers are considered lifelines which must be strengthened. The constitutional arrangement is defined as extended statehood, a form of government that is meant to supplement the island government. As de-colonization is not an option, it makes no sense to use alternative concepts such as dependency or re-colonization. These terms are biased and outdated. Circumstances have changed and require a format of analysis that goes beyond the old landscape of ‘colonies’ and ‘independent states’. The objective of this book is to promote a new look at extended statehood in the Caribbean while raising a number of questions relating to the operation of the different extended statehood systems across the region. What are their objectives? What is their mission? How are they organized? How do they operate? What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages? Are there any Gordian knots that cannot be solved?

The contributors to this book present a medley of interests in the Caribbean. Jorge Duany and Emilio Pantojas-Garica, University of Puerto Rico, describe the contradictions of Free Associated Statehood in Puerto Rico. Justin Daniel, University of the French Antilles and French Guiana (Martinique), contributed the part on the French Departement d’Outre mer (DOM)(Martinique and Guadeloupe). Peter Clegg, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, delineates the United Kingdom’s relations with Caribbean Overseas Territories (COT). The chapter on the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean is by Lammert de Jong, a former resident-representative of the Netherlands in the Netherlands Antilles. Francio Guadeloupe, University of Amsterdam, provided the introduction to anti-national pragmatism. Dirk Kruijt, Utrecht University, assisted in editing the volume.

Extended Statehood In The Caribbean ~ Paradoxes Of Quasi Colonialism, Local Autonomy And Extended Statehood In The USA, French, Dutch & British Caribbean. Lammert de Jong & Dirk Kruijt (Ed.). Rozenberg Publishers, Amsterdam 2005. ISBN 978-9051706864

Table of Contents
1. Lammert de Jong – Extended Statehood in the Caribbean: Definition and Focus.
2. Jorge Duany & Emilio Pantojas-Garcia – Fifty Years of Commonwealth. The Contradictions of Free Associated Statehood in Puerto Rico.
3. Justin Daniel – The French Departements d’outre mer. Guadeloupe and Martinique.
4. Lammert de Jong – The Kingdom of the Netherlands. A Not So Perfect Union with the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
5. Peter Clegg – The UK Caribbean Overseas Territories. Extended Statehood and the Process of Policy Convergence.
6. Francio Guadeloupe – Introducing an Anti-National Pragmatist on Saint Martin & Sint Maarten.
7. Lammert de Jong – Comparing Notes on Extended Statehood in the Caribbean.
About the authors

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Religiously Based Political Parties In Democracies. The Case Of The Netherlands

Foto: tweedekamer.nl

Since the Netherlands became a full-fledged democracy in 1848 political parties of diverse ideological backgrounds competed for the vote of the electorate, be they Christian parties, liberal parties, socialist parties, and more recently populist parties. Religions claim that their values are God given and therefore immutable. In a democracy with several ideological streams seeking representation in Parliament, it is in most cases difficult if not impossible for one party to obtain more than 50% of the votes, and that poses a challenge to those religious parties that claim to base themselves on ‘universal’ God given values[i]. They have either the choice to stay in an oppositional role in Parliament and continue giving voice to their opinions. The other option is that they seek alliances with parties to which they resemble in order to form a government. But that last strategy implies that they must be prepared to reach compromises with other parties, thus possibly renouncing in cases the ‘eternal’ values the parties claim to represent. The preparedness to compromise goes by the way as well for secular parties that claim ‘universal truths’, but the difference between religious parties and secular parties is of course that religious parties claim that their values are of a higher nature, i.e. coming from God.

This article treats how the mechanisms of compromise work in the Dutch political system, focusing in particular on religious, in the Dutch case, mostly Christian political parties that enter coalition governments with other -often- secular parties. The article first presents a description of the Dutch political system and its Constitution, and the coming to being of the Dutch Nation State. Then it goes into the subject of how governments are formed in the Kingdom. Following, the article treats the specific case of how the 2017 Dutch coalition government was formed and how it treated the highly sensitive issue of euthanasia law in its coalition agreement, where an orthodox Christian party and a secular party had to come to terms on this issue. I use this case as to show how a religious party can function in a democracy with, in the Dutch case, mostly non-religious parties.

1 The Dutch Political System and Constitution
The Netherlands form since 1848 a constitutional Monarchy in which the King functions as a symbol of the unity of the people of the Netherlands but he does not hold any political power. The government, consisting of the Prime Minister and the Ministers, exercise power and are held responsible for their acts in Parliament. The Dutch Parliament consists of two Chambers. The Second Chamber is elected directly by the people and consists of 150 seats. The electoral system is of a representative nature, implying that the total number of valid votes in elections is divided by 150. The Netherlands does not have constituencies like the United Kingdom and France have. The First Chamber consists of 75 seats and is elected indirectly by the representatives of the 12 provinces the country counts. The country has a tradition that in elections no party ever obtained an absolute majority in Parliament and therefore coalition governments always ruled the country[ii].

The first article of the Dutch Constitution reads as follows[iii]:
‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted’.

This first article stipulates that all persons that live in the Netherlands are to be treated equally in equal circumstances. The fact that one is a man or a woman, that a person has Dutch roots or German, Chinese or any other root, that a person has conservative political opinions or progressive opinions, that a person is heterosexual, homosexual or transgender and that a person is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or an atheist, does not make a difference in their treatment.

Article 6 of the Constitution concerns the freedom of religion or belief and it is formulated as follows, in two parts[iv]:

– Everyone shall have the right to profess freely his religion or belief, either individually or in community with others, without prejudice to his responsibility under the law.
– Rules concerning the exercise of this right other than in buildings and enclosed places may be laid down by Act of Parliament for the protection of health, in the interest of traffic and to combat or prevent disorders.

Interesting in article 6 is that it mentions not only the right to profess freely one’s religion, but also one’s conviction (my italics). Conviction explicitly refers to non-religious beliefs, not necessarily religious ones. So, people with religious and non-religious, or secular, convictions have the right to profess these in Dutch society.

The present Constitution of the Netherlands is based on its first draft that dates to 1848.

2 The genesis of the Dutch nation state
In 1789 the French revolution took place. The world would soon learn to know the new French regime based as it was on the principles of the Enlightenment. The French revolution would be the cradle of modern democracy and France would soon spread the revolution over Europe. French revolutionary troops occupied the Netherlands in 1795 causing the ruling prince Willem V to flee to Germany[v]. In the Netherlands there were at that time already citizens, referred to as ‘patriots’, who supported the principles of the Enlightenment, opposing the prince and the nobles that wanted to stick to the old rule. The Netherlands knew until 1795 a decentralized government in which the several provinces enjoyed great autonomy. With the French and patriots taking over, the country formed a National Assembly that set itself in making a Constitution based on the principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. This was though no so simple. The Netherlands was until 1795 basically a country where the Protestant church was dominant and where the two other religious denominations, i.e. the Catholics and the Jews, were second rang citizens that never got positions in the local and provincial boards. The 80-year war against Spain (from 1568-1648) led to throwing of the yoke of the Spanish (and Catholic) occupier and although the Dutch Republic was at that time a relatively tolerant power in Europe when it comes to religious freedom, the Protestant church was dominant, and all other religions were subordinate to it. And now the new State had to develop a constitution that would guarantee liberty and equality to all citizens, including the Catholics and the Jews. It took a long time before the debates in the National Assembly led to a Constitution and laws that foresaw in the principle of equality for all but in the end, it managed to do so[vi][vii].

The French occupation ended in 1813. The French troops left the country to assist Emperor Napoleon in the last battles he fought and which he ultimately lost. The country looked back at 18 years of French presence. From 1806-1810 Napoleon had changed the country into a Kingdom with his own brother Louis Napoleon on the throne. Louis Napoleon was not a bad king. He tried to develop the country as much as possible in the spirit of the French revolutionary principles. When the French left, the country had a constitution that foresaw in the equality of all its citizens. The paradox of the period after the French left is that the Dutch nation state remained built on the principles of Enlightenment. There were voices in society that called for a retour to the situation before 1795 but the enlightenment ideology was stronger than the conservative forces. The Netherlands kept a constitution based on the enlightenment. The son of the late prince Willem V came back to the country to become the future King Willem I, and he as well submitted to the new order. The country wet itself in developing as a modern nation state, centrally governed, investing a lot in infrastructure and education.

In 1848 a reform of the constitution took place making the country more democratic than before. One of the major changes was that the King lost the political power he still had. A government that was democratically elected without any interference of a hereditary sovereign should rule the country. The King protested but accepted his limited role as head of state only.  The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity had in the end led to a society, which not only legally foresaw in equal chances for all, but also in reality[viii].

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The Current Hardships Facing Palestinian Refugees


The United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—known as the main international relief and human development organization for Palestinian refugees—defined Palestinian refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” However, most notably, Palestinians displaced because of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are not referred to or registered as refugees by the Agency, but they are eligible to receive services by UNRWA. Despite this fact, within segments of the international community, Palestinians who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1967 war, and subsequent hostilities, are also regarded as refugees.

In the five areas where UNRWA is in operation, namely, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the hardships faced by the Palestinian refugees has worsened in recent history.

Most recently, with respect to the coronavirus pandemic, the Palestinian refugee population is increasingly in a vulnerable position with little-to-no access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Within the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, COVID-19 cases are surging with more than 2,236 fatalities and 16,000 active cases in these areas (including East Jerusalem). Meanwhile, Israel has been internationally lauded for carrying out the world’s speediest vaccination drive, with over 90 percent of Israelis above the age of 50 having been fully vaccinated as of February 2021. However, Israel has denied Palestinians living within the occupied territories significant access to the vaccines as Israel argues that the Oslo Accords places responsibility on the Palestinian Authority regarding issues of public health. But even under the Oslo Accords, Israel does have a commitment to help Palestinians living in the occupied territories fight the pandemic. Article 17, stipulation 6 of the Accord states: “Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”

Moreover, given that Israel is the occupying power—under international law, namely, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Israel has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of the population which it is occupying—namely, the Palestinian people in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The West Bank remains occupied by Israel which “controls entrance and egress, much of the infrastructure, the roads, the currency…in short, all the means of Palestinian independence”—as pointed out by Mitchell Plitnick, the former US director of the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem. In the case of Gaza, Israel since 2007 has imposed a land, air, and sea blockade of Gaza. Most notably, the effects of Israel’s blockade, coupled with Israel’s routine bombing of Gaza, has crumbled its infrastructure, led to massive poverty, food insecurity, and resulted in less than 4% of the water in that territory, consisting of nearly 2 million people, being fit for human consumption. Israel thus, in addition to the West Bank, also continues to occupy the Palestinians living within the Gaza Strip, and therefore, Israel as their occupier has a responsibility to vaccinate Gazans. In February 2021, Palestinian officials condemned Israel for blocking the entry of 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses into Gaza to assist its health workers. Despite evidence to the contrary, even if Israeli claims with respect to the Oslo Accords is valid, this is irrelevant, as stated by scholar Yara M.Asi, “the [Geneva] convention specifies that no agreement between the parties supersedes its protections while occupation continues. This would include the Oslo Accords, signed in 1995 as an interim agreement.” Furthermore, Israel, instead of firs seeking to vaccinate Palestinians in the occupied territories, pledged to provide its spare vaccines to foreign allies such as Honduras and the Czech Republic.

In areas outside of the occupied territories, such as Lebanon which is home to an estimated 207,000 Palestinian refugees, according to UN figures, it has been reported that “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are three times more likely to die with COVID-19 than the population as a whole.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), responsible for providing healthcare and education to millions of Palestinians living both inside and outside the occupied territories, was “recognized as a major contributor to the containment of the COVID-19 virus”—having quickly adapted its provision of services in compliance with the World Health Organization recommendations. UNRWA implemented remote education curriculum practices, adopted door-to-door delivery of food and medicines, as well as innovative health and psychosocial support hotlines which have been regarded as a significant lifeline to the refugee population during the pandemic. Moreover, UNRWA is also responsible for waste disposal and sanitation services to Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East — “this includes disinfectant treatments to roads and installations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
However, due to the United States’ complete termination of funding to UNRWA under President Trump in 2018, the operations of the Agency were almost brought to a complete halt.
When the pandemic broke out, UNRWA was operating on a shoestring budget with Elizabeth Campbell, UNRWA’s director in Washington, stating in May 2020 that due to America’s termination of funding, “We are basically operating on a month-to-month basis. Right now, we have funding to pay our 30,000 health care workers until the end of this month.”

Even once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, it does not appear that there will be any end in sight to the suffering faced by Palestinian refugees. The hardships faced by Palestinian refugees will continue until the central issues of contention are fully addressed within a final settlement to the conflict. The central issues of contention as it pertains to Palestinian refugees is, firstly, the right of return, secondly, the right of Palestinians for compensation from Israel due to the destruction of Palestinians’ homes, and their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 war, the 1967 war, as well as further hostilities, and the third issue of contention is the assimilation and resettlement of refugees in different countries. Most significantly on the first two points, there is serious doubt as to whether right of return and compensation (both issues which are notably embodied within United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194) is politically feasible and there is doubt as to whether there are legitimate frameworks within international law that firmly allows stateless Palestinians to successfully advocate for the right of return and compensation.

The Taba Summit is widely regarded as perhaps the closest instance that a final settlement to end the longstanding conflict was almost reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians. At the time of the Taba Summit, the Israelis expressed an understanding on the issue of compensation, with Israel advocating that an international commission be created to gather, verify, and pay individual compensation claims. However, at that time, you had a government in Israel that, at least, gave the public impression that it was willing to negotiate on key issues required to reach a permanent settlement to the conflict. Presently, however, the center-left parties in Israel, such as the Labour Party, are a shell of its former self and a significant segment of the population in Israel strongly supports Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud Party, which has been expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, further jeopardizing any viable solution to the conflict. There is also disunity among the Palestinians with friction between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Lastly, unless the United States is willing to apply meaningful pressure on Israel to seriously negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians, an end to the protracted refugee crisis will not be possible.

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Max Brod On Franz Kafka (English Subtitles)

This is an interview with Max Brod, Kafka’s longtime friend and literary executor.

After Kafka’s death, Brod refused to comply with Kafka’s instructions to burn most of his work, instead seeing many of Kafka’s texts to first publication.

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