Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
December 2, 2023
This issue: Toward the light
In the northern hemisphere, the approach of the Winter Solstice brings the darkest days of the year. This year, we are experiencing not only the long nights associated with the earth’s annual dance with the sun, but a deeper and more tragic darkness arising from the inhuman actions of some of our fellow humans. We live in a world where the most powerful states not only refuse to condemn genocide, but actively condone it.
The dark days of the Solstice have been a time of festivals and celebrations for thousands of years. Our ancestors knew that the darkness would be followed by the return of the light. The days would get longer, the icy days of winter would run their course, spring would come, plants would bloom. And so there were celebrations: Yule, Yalda Night, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Dongzhi, Inti Raymi, Saturnalia. The date for Christmas was chosen in part to align with existing Solstice festivals. The celebrations, whatever they called, were an occasion to come together and collectively assert our joy in knowing that the sun would return and bring with it the light that would nurture future life.
Most of us no longer celebrate the ancient festivals, but many of us – countless thousands – have been asserting our own desire and determination to create light in the darkness by going out into the streets and making our voices heard.
This issue of Other Voices looks at challenges we face, asks questions about what we should do, and looks to the past, as well as what is happening now, for ideas about how to move forward.
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Activating the Genocide Convention
Former British diplomat Craig Murray explains the provisions of the Genocide Convention, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and ratified by by 149 states. Murray goes on to say that
“There is no doubt that Israel's actions amount to genocide. Numerous international law experts have said so and genocidal intent has been directly expressed by numerous Israeli ministers, generals and public officials. I can see no room to doubt whatsoever that Israel's current campaign of bombing of civilians and of the deprivation of food, water and other necessities of life to Palestinians amounts to genocide.”
Based on the evidence, says Murray, the International Court of Justice should make a determination that genocide is taking place. He points out that the Genocide Convention was invoked against Serbia in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The reason it has not been invoked against Israel, says Murray, is that “the truth is that no state cares sufficiently about the thousands of Palestinian children already killed and thousands more who will shortly be killed.”
Keywords: Genocide - Crimes Against Humanity
Does Fossil Fuel Divestment Work?
As it hits its 10th year, Ted Franklin writes, the divestment movement claims many moral victories, yet fossil fuel companies keep booming and carbon keeps rising. Divestment, it seems, fails to turn off the taps. After 10 years of divestment activities having consumed large amounts of activist energy and funding, it is fair to ask whether these moral appeals have run their course. Targeting private entities like corporations and shareholders actually distracts from the struggle that must be waged, Franklin says. “Indeed, doing so buys into the neoliberal logic that government can do nothing when, in fact, only government can shut down the fossil fuel industry.”
Keywords: Climate Change - Fossil Fuels
The Slow Motion Execution of Julian Assange
Let's Back Up A Sec And Ask Why Free Speech Actually Matters
Free speech matters, says Cailtin Johnstone, “because dissent from the status quo is how the status quo gets changed. If voices which oppose the status quo are consistently denied access to mainstream platforms and are aggressively suppressed online, they’re unable to change the status quo. They don’t have free speech in any meaningful sense, because they’re actively obstructed from using free speech to do what free speech is supposed to do: challenge existing consensus, norms, systems, and power structures.” It doesn’t matter, she says, “what you’re free to say if nobody hears you say it. If those who support the status quo are loudly amplified on all media while those who oppose it are denied access to mainstream audiences and algorithmically censored, dissenting views have no effect. They might as well not exist. An environment where everyone has “free speech” but only those who support the status quo get heard is functionally indistinguishable from an environment where no one has free speech and only authorized state propaganda gets heard.”
Keywords: Free Speech - Dissent
Mondoweiss is an independent website, founded in 2006, devoted to informing readers about developments in Israel/Palestine and related US foreign policy. It provides news and analysis unavailable through the mainstream media regarding the struggle for Palestinian human rights.
Find them here.
Keywords: Palestine - Israel
I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get To It!
By Norman Finkelstein
Finkelstein takes aim at both “cancel culture” and “identity politics”. Critiquing everyone from Robin DiAngelo to Barack Obama, Finkelstein delivers a rigorous argument for free expression along with a death blow to leftist hypocrisy. One reviewer comments “Finkelstein’s takedowns of works of Zionist propaganda have always been entertaining; but his eviscerations of iconic works of “wokery” reveal a vein of playful, zany exuberance that is new. His previous books have tended to be meticulously cool and logical on the surface but driven by underlying passionate outrage; here we find almost the reverse. Though Finkelstein expresses scorn for “postmodernist claptrap” (page 20, n. 25), Part 1 has the feel almost of a post-modernist novel”.
Keywords: Identity Politics - Pseudoradicalism
Inside a Mound in Hiroshima
In the northwestern corner of the Peace Park in Hiroshima, amid a quiet grove of trees, the earth suddenly swells. It is not much of a mound — only about ten feet high and sixty feet across. Unlike most mounds, however, this one is hollow, and within it rests the greatest concentration of human residue in the world.
Keywords: Hiroshima - Military/Violence Against Civilians
People’s Archive of Rural Ontario
A freely accessible online project, PARO aims to present stories that showcase the diversity of rural Ontario people, and to repair the gaps in our knowledge about rural experiences.
Keywords: Ontario History - Rural Living
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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here.
This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
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