Breaking Point: The 1979 Iranian Revolution

Breaking Point

Press TV (2019)

Film Review

Since Google (which owns Youtube) has banned Press TV’s YouTube channel, Iran’s national broadcaster has started their own documentary channel.

I’ve just watched an excellent two-hour documentary on the Iranian Revolution. Up to this point, my only exposure to the 1979 revolution overthrowing Shah Reza Pahlavi came from a handful of CIA-scripted Hollywood films and a book by former Israeli agent Ronen Bergman.

The documentary begins with the 1953 US/UK coup against democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh, following his nationalization of Iran’s oil industry. Four years after the CIA  reinstated Pahlavi as Shah, they worked with Israel to help him create the Savak, a massive intelligence/police force that was even more intrusive and brutal than the East German Stasi.

In 1963, fearful of growing popular discontent, the US pressured the Shah to undertake a series of reforms, including land reform, forest nationalization, electoral reform (including voting rights for women), and and a scheme granting company shares to factory workers. His error was putting corrupt family members and military officers in charge, who pocketing most of the funding allocations for their personal use.

As of 1975, 60% of Iranians still lived in rural villages, where only 1% had access to electricity or clean drinking water. In fact, extreme rural poverty led to the steady migration of landless farmworkers to Iran’s cities, where they became peddlers, beggars, and prostitutes.

The Shah’s decision not to participate in the 1973 oil embargo* led to a massive increase in Iran’s oil export income – from $4 billion to $20 billion. The Shah would use a substantial portion of these funds to industrialize Iran and create an educated Iranian middle class. However he squandered most of it on a network of nuclear power plants and advanced military hardware that even European NATO members couldn’t afford.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the so-called Gandhi of the Iranian Revolution, first came to prominence in June 1963, when he was arrested for a speech publicly denouncing the Shah, the US, and Israel. The mass uprising following his arrest was quashed after the Shah declared martial law. Fearful of further unrest, the Shah, who originally intended to execute Khomeini, merely exiled him (first to Turkey, then Iraq).

For years, tapes of Khomeini’s speeches were smuggled into Iran, where they became extremely popular among students. In 1969, Khomeini (from Iraq) called for the Shah’s overthrow and establishment of an Islamic Republic. By the mid-1970s, nearly all Iranian opposition groups had united behind Khomeini,** including many ex-communists and the secular National Front (founded by Mosaddegh supporters).

When Carter became president in 1977, he again pressured Iran to undertake political and social reforms. The filmmakers believe the reforms (including greater press freedoms, release of political prisoners, and withdrawal of troops from the universities) merely emboldened the resistance movement, resulting in a wave of mass protests and general strikes. By late December, a prolonged general strike brought the economy to a standstill, with Iranian troops refusing orders to fire on strikers or protestors.

In January 1979, the Shah fled the country, and on February 1, three million Iranians turned out to hail Khomeini’s triumphant return from Paris (he was expelled from Iraq in October 1978).


*The embargo instituted by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries was aimed at nations supporting Israel is the 1973 Yum Kippur War.

**Unlike Sunni Islam, the Shi’a religion has a long history of rebellion against authority.

Although the video can’t be embedded, it can be view free at Breaking Point or at Press TV’s Facebook page (for now): https://www.facebook.com/PressTVdocumentaries

 

The Deep State vs Jeremy Corbyn

This film (released about a week ago) is about the collusion between British intelligence and the mainstream media to block Corbyn from becoming prime minister on December 12 – despite overwhelming public support.

The film begins with vignettes from prominent British and international prominent Jews, such as Noam Chomsky, Bernie Saunders and Norman Finkelstein shredding the outrageous smear (repeatedly echoed by every media outlet, including the BBC) that Corbyn and the Labour Party are viciously antisemitic. As with Bernie Sanders the radical policies Corbyn promotes pose a grave threat to a powerful elite that includes the British banking and arms industry, as well as the pro-Israel lobby abetting the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of Israel.

British intelligence has been using the mainstream media to peddle disinformation about the Labour Party since 1948, when MI5 faked a document linking them to the Communist Party.

Filmmakers go on to castigate the British media for failing to confront the outright lies expounded by Corbyn’s Conservative and Liberal Democratic opponents. This section includes a clip of one of Boris Johnson’s ministers calling for the UK to replace the National Health Service (NHS) with a US-style system of private insurance. Another clip depicts Corbyn displaying leaked documents from Johnson-Trump trade negotiations that include the  the right of the US to bid on private contracts to run specific NHS services currently run by the British government.*

The film ends by reminding us of the true purpose of rigged political polls (currently showing Johnson with a strong lead) – namely to demoralize Labour supporters and discourage them from coming out to vote. They point to 2017, when Conservatives ended up with a minority government, despite all the polls predicting a strong Tory majority.

*In the week since the film was released, the mainstream media (based on an anonymous source on Reddit) is blaming the Russians for leaking the documents to Corbyn.

 

 

 

White Supremacy and the Obama Legacy

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

One World (2017)

Book Review

This remarkable book is a collection of essays about white privilege, Obama’s inability to live up to his campaign promises, and the role of his presidency in setting the stage for Donald Trump.

Coates’ approach to the topic of white privilege is largely historical. He traces the brutal reversal of Reconstruction reforms and re-institution of de facto slavery with Jim Crow laws; the Great Migration north of 6 million African Americans during the early 20th century; the deliberate exclusion of African Americans from New Deal programs such as Social Security, Aid to Families with Dependent Children and FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgage insurance; as well as the War on Drugs and mass incarceration of African Americans.

Coates has the best definition of white supremacy I have seen anywhere. In his words, white privilege is “banditry.”

“To be black in America is to be plundered. To be white is to execute and benefit from it.”

Coates gives numerous examples to justify this view: the exclusion of African Americans from wealth creation programs such as FHA and VA (Veterans Administration) mortgage loans, long time job discrimination and wage suppression, the recurrent decimation of prosperous Black communities via white race riots, predatory owner “contract” financing of home purchases, and predatory targeting of Blacks for subprime mortgagae they can’t repay.

My favorite essay is the one advocating for African American reparations, based on the argument that systematic exploitation of Blacks didn’t end with slavery but continues to the present day. As a precedent Coates cites the $7 billion (in today’s dollars) West Germany paid Israel in 1953 in compensation for Germany’s genocidal treatment of European Jews during World War II.

 

Hidden History: Israel’s Persecution of Jordan Valley Bedouins

The Last Shepherds of the Jordan Valley

Al Jazeera (2012)

Film Review

This documentary depicts the systematic persecution of Bedouin shepherds in the Jordan Valley by the Israeli government. Although their ancestors have farmed the occupied West Bank for thousands of years, Israel is determined to drive these Palestinians from their homeland because the Jordan River is the main source of much of Israel’s water. Since 1997, the Israel Defense Force has routinely demolished their homes, shot their sheep and/or arrested them without charge.

The majority of Palestinians fled the Jordan Valley during the 1967 war. Israel prohibits those who left from returning. Ten thousand remained. Although many of their descendants have been driven out, at present the Jordan Valley is home to 60,000 Palestinians.

The Israeli government has illegally confiscated most of the shepherds’ lands for a military firing range. They have also allowed Israeli settlers to build illegal settlements.

Local families are forbidden to draw water from their own well, which is now deemed the property of the Israeli military.

Instead they must travel 27 km and pay $7 per cubic meter to buy water from Israel.

Since the documentary was first released in 2012, Israel has arrested one of the women for participating in its filming.

Colonization: Deciding It’s OK to Steal Someone Else’s Land (and/or Body)

In the following presentation, Native American activist Ward Churchill offers ones of the most fascinating explorations of colonization I have ever encountered.

He maintains that indigenous people have an inherent right both to self-determination and to fulfill their duty to manage land and habitat to guarantee the survival of their descendants for seven generations into the future.

With colonization, colonists dispossess a native population of their land for some alternative use.

He explains the concept of “settler colonialism” – giving the Nazi occupation of Europe as the prime example (along with the Israeli colonization of Palestine, the European colonization of North and South America and the English colonization of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).

He also introduces the concept of “false colonization,” which occurs when settlers continue to deprive native peoples of  their land and rights despite breaking away from the mother country.

He blames the plight of African Americans on “black colonies,” which he defines as “internal colonial constructions.”

Churchill believes Europeans themselves have been colonized, which he traces back to Charlemagne (737-814 AD), when early European tribal groups (“barbarians”) were dispossessed of their land and right of self-governance in the formation of nation states.

Hidden History: The 1973 Arab-Israeli War

The War in October

Al Jazeera (2013)

Film Review

The War in October is a three-part documentary series about the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War – aka the Yom Kippur War. What struck me most about the series is how markedly it differs from what we read in the Western media (which was embedded with Israeli troops) and what Americans are taught in school.

Part I provides the background of the war – an agreement by Syrian ruler Hafez al-Assad’s (Bashar’s father) agreement with Egyptian ruler Anwar Sadat to simultaneously attack Israel to reclaim territory each had lost to Israel (the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula) in the 1967 war.

Part 1 reveals that both Syria and Egypt came close to reconquering their lost territory within the first 24 hours of their attack. They both failed, mainly owing to Assad’s and Sadat’s refusals to follow their generals’ advice.

Part 2 covers the major reversals Syria and Egypt experienced following the full mobilization of Israeli reserves. Israeli troops seized territory within Egypt to within 100 km of Cairo. Their tanks also penetrated deeply into Syria, until they were beaten back by reinforcements from Iraq and Jordan.

Part 3 is the most interesting, as it covers the role Henry Kissinger played, not only in providing Israel with critical military hardware, but in encouraging them to disregard two ceasefires ordered by the UN Security Council.

After the Soviet Union threatened to enforce the second ceasefire militarily, Kissinger (and Israel) eventually capitulated.

However the most effective tool in the 1973 war was the oil embargo launched by all Arab oil producing nations. International pressure forced Israel to withdraw from Egyptian and Syrian territory and accep deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in buffer zones east of the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights.

In a side agreement, Sadat agreed to release 230 Israeli prisoners of war in return for Kissinger’s pledge to negotiate a treaty leading to Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai. Signed in 1979, the treaty resulted in full withdrawal of Israeli troops in 1982 – a year after Sadat’s assassination.

Israel Independence and the Forced Eviction of 700,000 Palestinians

Al-Naqba: The Palestinian Catastrophe Part 4

Al Jazeera (2013)

Film Review

Zionist leaders proclaimed the independent state of Israel on May 14, 1948, the day British occupation of Palestine ended (see Brits Look On as Jewish Terrorists Ransack Palestinian Villages). By July, more than 400,000 Palestinians had been forcibly evicted from their homes. This final episode of the Al-Nakba documentary includes poignant testimony from Palestinian refugees whose families lived in the open for months without access to food or water. One man describes his mother feeding the family a mixture of hay, oil and onions.

The Swedish mediator the UN appointed to negotiate a peace settlement called the plight of Palestinian refugees a humanitarian disaster. He also put forward a peace proposal granting Palestinian refugees the right of return and was promptly assassinated by the Stern Gang.*

By the end of 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians had been driven from their homes. Despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for Israel to guarantee their right to return to their villages, Ralph Bunche, the new UN mediator omitted this requirement from the separate peace agreements he negotiated between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in early 1949.

Based on these peace accords, the West Bank of the Jordan River was annexed to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt. In this way, Israel succeeded in their goal of totally erasing Palestine from history. The European and US media fully colluded in this endeavor.

In the end, only 15% of Palestine’s 1.3 million Arabs were allowed to remain within Israel’s borders. Owing to its strong link with the Vatican, the Arab population of Nazareth was allowed to remain.

Israel offered Christian and Druze Arabs the right to remain in Galilee. Instead, standing in  solidarity with Muslim neighbors who had been evicted, they opted to emigrate.

At present six million Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) live outside Israel. Two million if them still reside in desperate conditions in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Approximately 8.3 million live in Israel proper (1.8 million) or the Israeli occupied West Bank (4.5 million ) and Gaza (2 million).


*The Stern Gang was a prominent Jewish terrorist/paramilitary organization formed during the British occupation of Palestine. See1947: British Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine