While the wise and up-to-date observers declare the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine to be deader than dead, I continue to think that morally it is the best solution for this deeply difficult problem. However, one leading force in sending this solution into the grave is Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, who is up for reelection very shortly. He has for some time been pushing the situation towards a hard nationalist one state solution, with the current Trump admin supporting his worst impulses. But in the last few days as the election approaches, Netanyahu has made seriously disturbing moves that promise longer tern injustice and instability.
The first of those is his decision to ally with Otzma Jehudit, a political party descended from the terrorist Kahane group. Really, the Kahanists have been officially labeled a terrorist group by the US government and in the past have killed lots of people, including in the US. They are so bad that even AIPAC has criticized Netanyahu for allying with him in this tight election campaign, although I have no doubt that if he wins, they will be back supporting him big and full time.
The other development that I read on Juan Cole’s blog is potentially far more serious and dangerous. Within the last few days, supposedly spontaneous Israeli West Bank settler activists have halted Muslims from accessing the al-Aqsa mosque. This has involved both attacking people trying to get near it as well as illegally chaining the gate to the area around it. This has received in the US near zero coverage, but this could lead to World War III (or are we on IV?).
Mallik Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul-Rahman al-Sa’ud, the King of Saudi Arabia, whose most prestigious title is that he is the Protector of the Holy Sites (Mecca and Medina) could claim to be the Caliph of Islam if he controlled (as did the Ottoman Sultans) all three of the most holy sites of Islam. His father, the founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz (aka “Ibn Saud”), did not claim the Caliphate precisely because while had two of them under his control after he pushed the Hashemites out in 1924, he did not control the third, the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem (al-Quds in Arabic), then controlled by the British, That Netanyahu would allow keeping Muslims from visiting this third most holy site in all Islam threatens world religious war.
I (not alone) have long argued that the most hotly contest piece of land on this planet is a small square known in English in the US as the “Temple Mount,” following Jewish and Christian views of it, while it is known in Arabic as the Haram-es-Sharif, the Holy Place. The earliest Biblical reference to this site on its high spot is to when reportedly Abraham visited Jerusalem and had friendly dealings with then High Priest Melchizedek. His temple was reportedly on a more sensitive spot in that enclosure than the al-Aqsa mosque, the later central site of the Hebrew/Jewish temple, which the Romans destroyed in 70 CE after the locals up rose against their rule.
The building now on this long-revered spot is the Dome of the Rock, not quite as holy in Islam as the al-Aqsa mosque a few feet away from it, but the most beautiful building in Jerusalem. Not only does the gorgeous Dome of the Rock (al Aqsa and the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre not on this mount but not too far away, are both just ugly by comparison) it on the center of Melchizidek’s temple and the old Hebrew/Jewish temple, but in Islam it is where supposedly the Prophet Muhammed ascended into heaven for a major confab, as well as containing rock formations where the souls of those who die pass before going on to final judgment. Its interior art is fabulously beautiful. I saw it in 1997 when I first visited this contested site, then under the official jurisdiction of the late King Hussein of Jordan, although in 2017 when I took my wife, Marina, there non-Muslims were no longer allowed inside the Dome of the Rock, although we were able to wander around its exterior, taking photos.
But now Netanyahu is allowing settler activists to prevent Muslims from even entering the general site (directly above the Western “Wailing” Wall of the Jews on the lower west side of the former temple) to even get near either the officially more holy al-Aqsa mosque or its more beautiful neighbor, the Dome of the Rock. This act is completely unacceptable and threatens serious violence and war.
“When we first came to Washington in 1933,” FDR Labor Secretary Francis Perkins wrote in her memoir, The Roosevelt I Knew, “the Black bill was already before the Congress. Introduced by Senator Hugo L. Black, it had received support from many parts of the country and from many representatives and senators.”
The Black Bill was the Senate version of the Black-Connery Thirty-Hour Bill. On April 6, 1933, the Senate approved the measure by a vote of 53 to 30. Perkins was scheduled to appear before the House committee holding hearings on the Connery Bill:
Roosevelt had a problem. He was in favor of limiting the hours of labor for humanitarian and possibly for economic reasons and therefore did not want to oppose the bill. At the same time, he did not feel that it was sound to support it vigorously. But the agitation for the bill was strong. Its proponent insisted that it was a vital step toward licking the depression. I said, “Mr. President, we have to take a position. I’ll take the position, but I want to be sure that it is in harmony with your principles and policy.”
Roosevelt had another problem. The National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce were adamantly opposed to the Thirty-Hour Bill. Perkins offered amendments to the Connery Bill, the American Federation of Labor offered other amendments and business representatives “proposed crippling amendments that would have destroyed the purpose of the measure.”
On May 1, the administration withdrew its support for the Connery Bill. Roosevelt had concluded that organized business would not support the recovery program if the Black-Connery Bill were to become law. In its place, the collective bargaining provisions of Section 7(a) and wage, hour and labor standard provisions were added to the National Industrial Recovery Act through, in Leon Keyserling’s account, “a series of haphazard accidents reflecting the desire to get rid of the Black bill and to put something in to satisfy labor.”
The Supreme Court ruled the Recovery Act unconstitutional on May 27, 1935. In its place, the “Second New Deal” consisted of a variety of policies, including, most notably, the National Labor Relations Act, the Works Progress Administration and Social Security.
The moral to the story is that “the” New Deal was improvised, it evolved, was not unitary and its original impetus came from a fundamentally different policy proposal that was anathema to the business lobby. The Thirty-Hour Bill was conceived as a solution to a problem that is no longer polite in policy circles to consider as a problem — “over-production.”
I am sympathetic to the intentions and ambition of the Green New Deal resolution proposed by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. What I find especially compelling is the inclusion of social and economic justice and equality in the program goals. The vision isn’t just a proposal for “sustainable” business-as-usual, powered by wind and solar.
The day before Ocasio-Cortez and Markey announced their resolution, Kate Aronoff and co-authors presented a “Five Freedoms” statement of principles for a Green New Deal, modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms.from 1941. My favorite, of course, is number two: Freedom From Toil:
We can’t escape work altogether, and there’s a lot of work we need to do, immediately and in the long term. But work doesn’t need to rule our lives.
The great nineteenth-century English socialist William Morris made a distinction between useful work and useless toil: we need the former but should free ourselves from the latter. We can escape the crushing toll of working long hours for low wages to make something that someone else owns.
At present, there’s a lot of work that’s worse than useless — it’s toil that’s harmful to the people doing it and to the world in which we live. But even useful work should be distributed more widely so that we can all do less of it — and spend more time enjoying its fruits.
I suppose there always has been work that is “worse than useless” — bullshit jobs and all that. But there is cruel irony in the fact that the ultimate solution to the 1930s problem of over-production was perpetual creation of useless toil through credit, fashion, advertising, and government stimulus and subsidies. The original proposal had been… shorter working time!
Which brings me back to the peregrinations of the FDR New Deal. The 12-year deadline posited by the I.P.C.C. for keeping within the 1.5 degree centigrade limit brings us to the 100th anniversary of Keynes’s “Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren.” Time has run out on his caveat:
But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.
We have been pretending long enough now for foul to become worse than useless and to convince ourselves that fair really would be foul. It is past time to stop pretending.
In an editorial, the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden Alabama confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday that he authored the Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of a white supremacist hate group.
In a conversation, Goodloe Sutton added to the editorial.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off.”
Asked to elaborate what he meant by cleaning up D.C., Sutton suggested lynching.
“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.
(Finally, someone who know what hemp is used for besides medicinal. As an 18 year old, I would help my dad rig rope-scaffolds on the buildings in Chicago. I can still splice Manila – hemp ropes up to 1 inch as my hands have growth weaker over the years.)
When asked if he felt it was appropriate for the publisher of a newspaper to call for the lynching of Americans, Sutton doubled down on his position.
“It’s not calling for the lynching of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?” Sutton asked.
Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown
Update:, February 23, 2019: In a, I do not give a damn – Melissa moment, Goodloe Sutton, decided he had had enough as did his family with Goodloe.
“Lady, I don’t give a shit. I’m quitting. You can tell everybody you ran me out of the newspaper business.”
The Sutton family: “Effective February 21, 2019, Elecia R. Dexter will be the Publisher and Editor of the newspaper going forward.” Elecia is a Black woman and it is hinted she may now be the owner.
Montgomery Advertiser reporter Melissa Brown
So much for white-trash.