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“We should not give up on Germany”

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe on 75 years Nakba, the new Israeli protest movement, and discussing Palestine in Germany


Questions: Phil Butland, Emily Baumgartner and Gregory Baumgartner

Hello, Ilan, thanks for speaking to us. Could you start by briefly introducing yourself?

My name is Ilan Pappe. I’m a professor at the University of Exeter in Britain, where I’m the director of the European Centre for Palestine studies. I’m also a historian, and a social and political activist.

The main reason we are talking today is that this year the 75th anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel. One of your books called the event, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Could you explain what you meant by this?

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is actually the project of the settler colonial Zionist movement to take over the Palestinian homeland. At the right historical moment, from its perspective, it was able to take over much of the land and expel many of the native people from their land.

Before 1948, the Zionist movement did not have the power to implement such a massive expulsion of people. But once the British mandate was over, and they had built an adequate military capacity, they used the particular circumstances of the end of the British mandate to implement a huge operation of mass expulsion, or ethnic cleansing.

People were expelled in huge numbers because of who they were – Palestinians – not because of what they did. By the end of that operation, half of the Palestinian population became refugees. Half of their villages were demolished, and most of their towns were destroyed. In my understanding of the definition of ethnic cleansing, whether it’s a scholarly, legal, or moral definition, the planning, execution and ideology all justify describing the Israeli action in 1948 as ethnic cleansing.

In many ways, as I point out in the book, this has never ended, because the ethnic cleansing of 1948 was incomplete. And in many ways, it continues until this very day, if not on the same magnitude as the 1940s. But it still very much informs the Israeli actions against the Palestinians until today, wherever they are.

One of the tragedies for me about the Nakba is that the people who were doing the ethnic cleansing and creating refugees, were themselves refugees. People fleeing Nazi Germany, obviously didn’t want to stay in Germany, but they were also being largely denied access to the UK or the US. Did European Jews have any alternative to fleeing to Palestine?

The people who devised and oversaw the ethnic cleansing arrived in Palestine, much earlier – before the Holocaust. And when they arrived in Palestine in the 1920s, they still had options to go elsewhere.

It is absolutely true that since the rise of Nazism and fascism, Britain and the United States closed their doors, and quite a lot of the Jews who came from Central Europe and from areas that the Nazis occupied, had very few options. Palestine was one of the only places they could go to, but they were not the main force that decided on, and or perpetrated the ethnic cleansing. Most of the crimes committed in 1948 were committed by Zionists, many of whom, such as Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Alon or Moshe Dayan, had been born in Palestine.

But definitely, one of the reasons that Jews came in large numbers in the 1930s to Palestine was that the West closed its gates for Jews who escaped from Europe. But I don’t think that most of the people who perpetrated this ethnic cleansing, were themselves victims of Nazi or fascist oppression.

Who were the people coming to Palestine? The Left was excited about communal Kibbutzim. After the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize Israel, many felt that there was something socialist about young Israel. How accurate was that belief?

The early Zionists were people came from Eastern Europe. And some of them were definitely inspired not only by the ideas of nationalism and colonialism, but also by the ideas of socialism and communism.

We know for example about the most important group that came to Palestine in the 1920s. This core group went on to grow the leadership of the Zionist community until the 1970s, and they were part of a more international socialist movement. Some of them even took part in the 1905 attempt to overthrow the Tsarist regime in Russia.

So yes, it was a fusion of three or four elements. One was socialism. The second was a nationalism which defined Judaism not as a religion but as a national identity. Thirdly, modernism. It was very important for them to build the idea of the modern Jew. No less important was colonialism – the idea that you are entitled to take any part of the world outside of Europe, regardless of who lives there.

But most of the Zionist settlers preferred not to live in socialist Kibbutzim, and therefore moved to the cities. By 1948, only a very small percentage of the Jewish settlers lived in those communes. But they were very powerful societies in terms of defining Zionist policies and strategy.

I think the most important thing was that they really believed–albeit wrongly–was that universal ideologies such as communism, and socialism, did not contradict settler colonialism. But of course, these two perspectives on life do not go together. One cannot be a socialist colonizer. Albert Memmi used to call it the Leftist Coloniser. And actually, you’re much worse in your criminal attitude because you are trying to use enlightened ideas to justify the actions on the ground.

How do you think they were able to square the circle? How could they justify to themselves this mixture of socialism and colonialism?

They still do it, it’s what we call the Zionist Left – which is not a force any more in Israeli politics, but used to be. This group squares not only socialism with colonialism, but also liberalism. The way you do it is by asking for exceptionalism. You say that in any other case, colonizing people, displacing them, and ethnically cleansing them is a crime. But in your case, there is a justification.

Whatever the justification is, you have to understand that there was no other way of doing it. At first, I am sure they found it difficult. But with inertia, and the educational system and indoctrination, they began to believe in it themselves.

No less important is the international reaction. Israelis might have felt differently, had the international socialist movement in Europe said to them: “wait a minute, that doesn’t work. In the age of decolonization, you cannot do what you’re doing”. Or if liberal Americans had said to them: “I’m sorry, but what you’re doing is against our moral values”.

However, they were lucky that the West decided that to accept this idea that you can have this exceptionalism when it comes to Israel and to Jews.

We are talking about a time when India and parts of Africa were being liberated. The Left stood firmly on the side of the anti-colonial movement. And yet–as you say–many of the same people turned a blind eye or even put Israel forward as a socialist paradigm. How did this happen?

In 1975, the United Nation finally had a huge membership of decolonized people. This was unlike the United Nations of 1947, which did not have one representative from the colonized world and legitimized the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine.

In 1975, the decolonized people were the majority in the United Nations. And one of the first things that they did was to pass a resolution which said, Zionism is racism. You cannot be a liberal or socialist Zionist. If you are a Zionist, then you’re not different from someone who supports apartheid in South Africa. That was the message of the United Nation resolution in 1975.

The big question was not what would African and Arab states do–instead focused on–how would the members of the United Nations coming from the West do vis-a-vis such an imposition? And, for whatever reason, Britain and France, and West Germany and later the EU, accepted the Israeli position. This position meant that you cannot treat Israel as a colonialist power, and therefore you cannot treat the Palestinian liberation movement as an anti-colonialist movement.

They accepted the Israeli framing of the Palestinian movement as a terrorist organization, and Israel as a democracy that defends itself. This changed the whole discourse about Israel and Palestine. And it extended the period in which the Left in Israel could think that it had found this amazing way of squaring the circle.

What is really interesting is what happened inside Israel. From 1977 onwards, the Israeli Jewish electorate says, “no, it doesn’t work. You really can’t be both democratic and Jewish”. And we see the result in the November 2022 election [which saw significant gains by the far right – editor’s note].

Israeli voters said: “no, you can either be a democratic state or the Jewish state. This whole idea that comes from Tel Aviv, or the Kibbutzim, that you can be both democratic and Jewish is nonsense.” Unfortunately for everyone concerned, their conclusion was “since we think that there are only two options, either you’re Jewish or democratic, we prefer to be Jewish one”.

That is, Jewish in the way that they understand Judaism, not the way I understand it. Their Jewish state is a theocratic, non-democratic, racist, apartheid state that needs all the power it has, because it still has a problem with the indigenous people of Palestine and those in the neighbourhood who support them.

This is something that leaders of the Left Zionist Movement never anticipated. They could not believe that their own electorate would say: “come on, it doesn’t work, stop, stop lying to yourself and to others. There’s nothing wrong in not being democratic. There’s nothing wrong with occupying someone else’s land and claiming it as yours. And there’s nothing wrong with using violent means in order to sustain your control.”

Do you think that the recent elections, and the new government, represent a qualitative shift in what’s happening in Israel?

It is a culmination of a qualitative shift that already started in 2000. There was a political force which was quite hegemonic in Israel until the late 1970s. They could come to the Social Democratic parties in Europe and say: “we are another social democratic country, no different from you”. And they were the hegemonic power in Israel until the 1970s.

But then the electorate said: “No, we don’t accept you”. Also, Arab Jews said that “because you are European Jews who are treating us in a very racist way, so we don’t want to be part of your version of a European country”. It seems that they are content with a more religious, traditional and racist state. This began in the late 1970s and took time to mature. Losing, or never winning, this Arab Jewish electorate (still 50% of the population) was the biggest failure of the Israeli Left.

From 2000 onwards, there was no social democratic power in Israel to talk about. There are parties who define themselves social democratic, but they don’t have any sizeable electorate behind them. And they have no influence in Israeli politics.

Since 2000, all the governments were either centre-right or right-right. If you look at the Knesset today, there are four members out 120, who define themselves as social democrats. There are more members who define themselves as Palestinian or anti-Zionist, but the vast majority define themselves as Zionists, and nationalist and religious. This is the face of Israel in 2022.

This is not an accident of history. It is an inevitable result of the whole idea of the settler colonial project.

One reaction to this lack of representation in parliament is the demonstrations in Israel which are barely precedented in terms of the size of mobilization against the government. At the same time, these demos clearly have nothing to say about the Palestinians. Do you think that they should be supported? And will they lead anywhere?

My Palestinian friends who are citizens of Israel discussed whether they should join the demonstrations. When consulted, my position was very clear. I said: “first of all, these demonstrators don’t want you there. They prefer not to see any Palestinian-Israeli citizen there. Secondly, the demonstrations are based on the idea that there is no connection between the occupation and the destruction of what is left of the Israeli democracy.”

This assumption of the demonstrators is totally wrong, of course. The two are connected and linked. The changes in the judicial system are meant to enable expansion of settlements and taking more severe actions against the Palestinian. This is the same package. It will take a bit longer for Israelis in Tel Aviv, and the high tech elite, who are worried about the way Israel is going, to see this. Hopefully they might see that there is a connection, but I’m not sure that they will. This is an internal Jewish debate that will have an impact on the Palestinians, but the Palestinians cannot impact that debate.

There is a misconception among some of the critics of Israel, that most of Israel’s money comes from the security services. That is not true. The most important income for Israel comes from high tech. Of course, some of that high tech is connected to security. But the high tech elite in Israel pays a sizeable percentage of the taxes and patriotically retains tens of billions of dollars in Israeli banks, as a statement of confidence in the Israeli economy. Since November 2022, they have begun to take the money out of Israel, and started to look for jobs outside of Israel.

This will undermine the Israeli economy very seriously, because it is a capitalist liberal economy which is based on such flow of money and human capital. It will be very interesting to see the impact on people who usually vote for the right wing, when their socio-economic conditions are affected.

The Israeli Central Bank has already increased interest rates eight times. This means that most Israelis who have mortgages are now paying three times more than they paid a few years ago. For many of them, three times more is half of their salary, and they have no chance of buying these houses.

So they will find it very difficult to pay their huge rent. And this government doesn’t have anyone there who has any capacity to deal with an economic crisis, which hasn’t happened yet, but will happen eventually.

How is the government justifying people having to pay these higher mortgages?

It is very difficult to answer this question logically. Today, the Knesset passed a law that allows Netanyahu to spend huge sums of money on renovating his house and his private aeroplane on the same day that people were told that their mortgage is being tripled. The people whose mortgages are being tripled, are generally people who vote for Netanyahu.

The people who don’t vote for Netanyahu are very well off. This change in the economy doesn’t bother them. But there is a certain psychology here which is not that easy to explain, and is not unique to Israel. Why do the electorate that suffer most from the economic and social policies of the government, continue to support the government?

So far one of the reasons that this occurs in Israel, is due to the government’s ability to tell its supporters that this is the necessary sacrifice for keeping the tribe and the nation together. This togetherness is necessary because we’re facing enemies from within and from without. That’s why they have to blow the Iranian danger out of proportion in order to cement support and divert attention from the socio-economic problems of the society.

So far, it has worked. Every time that they are overdoing these oppressive economic measures, we say to ourselves, okay, now it will burst out. We thought it burst out in 2011, with the social protest movement of half a million people demonstrating in Tel Aviv against the government’s policies on education and housing.

It was mesmerising to see how it petered out. A year later in 2012, Israel went to war in Gaza in order to make sure that the demonstrators will go to the army and go to the war and forget about the social protest. The government has no economic solution for the current crisis. It will try to find a way of diverting the attention–whether it’s a war or a crisis–it is hard to predict, but it is very worrying.

If you talk to the younger generation, they were educated in a particularly indoctrinated educational system. It is very difficult to change their perspective. And Israel de-Arabized many of the Arab Jews (the Mizrahim), giving them the sense that being not Arab is the ticket to be part of the new Israel, and something which will help to distinguish them from the “Arabs” of Israel, who were depicted as lesser persons or human beings, and therefore made them second-rate citizens. There is so much work to be done there, for anyone carving for a change from within Israel.

Some things are logical. We understand why some of the North African Jews moved to the settlements from the poor neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. That was understandable. They lived in a slum, and were offered a villa in the West Bank. So they went with the government’s support. The settlements for the Arab Jews in Jerusalem were built near Jerusalem, not inside the West Bank.

But nowadays, I’m not sure how far the Israeli government can go with this. They have no economic solution to the gap between those who have and those who haven’t. This is a situation that they themselves created. And frankly, they don’t even have the wizards of the liberal economy any more.

What you’re saying, indirectly at least, means that Israeli high tech workers and Palestinians have got a common enemy in Israeli capital. Does that mean that there’s a possibility of them coming together against the same enemy?

Not in the near future, because unfortunately, these high tech people are also indoctrinated by the racist Zionist view that the Palestinians are non-Europeans, and not equal partners. But it may shift. I don’t want to sound overly optimistic. but people who work in the Israeli medical system know that 50% of the physicians in Israel are Palestinians, and that many of the heads of the departments in hospitals are Palestinians. Maybe it will help to re-humanize the Palestinians in the eyes of the Ashkenazi elite of Israel. But we have to wait and see, as it has not happened yet.

The real hope for change lies elsewhere. There is a need, which now seems utopian, for an alliance between the Jews who came from Arab and Muslim countries and the Palestinians all over historical Palestine. I know this is not going to happen very soon, and I’m not sure if it’s going to happen at all. But I would invest most of my efforts there.

How can the Palestinians avoid taking the same path as South Africa? As a supporter of the Initiative for the One Democratic State, how would a single democratic state under capitalist conditions avoid just continuing the old power relationships in a different way?

The Initiative is trying to find bridges between the Left and some of the political forces that emerged in Palestine after the 1970s, including the political Islamic forces. We see that there is a lot of common ground, not only to liberate a place from colonization, but to build a new one, which is based on egalitarian social and economic policies.

What we don’t want, is the compromise that Mandela made in South Africa. In order to see the end of apartheid, Mandela was willing to allow the capitalist interests in South Africa to remain powerful in a way that did not solve the most fundamental problems of South African society and economy. It’s better than having apartheid, but it creates new issues.

The way to avoid this post-apartheid reality is to make sure that while you discuss the means for decolonization, you also develop a social and economic post-colonial vision. Applying the means used to decolonize, you might be able to build a more just society. Namely, just not only in terms of the of the relationship between Jews and Palestinians–which is the main aim–but also between classes, between the rural areas within the periphery and the centre, and so on.

It really behoves the Palestinian Left to redefine its identity and goals, and to openly and critically look at the mistakes it made in the 1970s. This is where this energy can come from. On the Left we believe in intellectual, organic intellectuals, and profoundly looking at the problems and finding solutions. But we also need to be in contact with movements and receive the support of the people themselves.

Who do you think has the agency to enforce change? I agree with you that the Palestinian Left needs a better vision. But Palestinians are largely excluded from the Israeli economy and merely going on demonstrations mean you run the risk of being shot by Israeli soldiers. What will it take to change the balance of power?

A lot of people know what needs to be done. But we all are very bad in knowing how to do this. We need to take into account that Palestinian society is the youngest in the world. 50% of the Palestinians are under 18. And this younger generation has some clear ideas of who they are and where they want to go.

Unlike the politics from above, whether inside Israel or in the Palestinian occupied territories where people are divided ideologically and politically, the younger generation is far more unified in its analysis of the reality and its vision for the future. These energies need to find their way into the structures of representation and leadership that can move all of us in the right direction.

We experienced this both in the West in 2008, and during the so called Arab Spring in 2011-2. People were very hesitant to put their energies into organizational issues. They felt that organization creates bureaucracies, and bureaucracies tame down the energy and become corrupt. This is what they see around them in the Arab world, and also in the West.

So there needs to be a fusion of the revolutionary energies that are there. I think the Left always realized that you need organization and representation. You may be influenced by anarchism, but it doesn’t always work as a transformative force on the ground. We can agree that knowing exactly how to transform things is not easy.

One of the most interesting initiatives, which I hope it will include the Palestinians in Israel, is either to re-organize the PLO, or to find a substitute. It is necessary for all of us to have a more accepted representative, democratic Palestinian leadership that will push us all in the right direction. This is easier said than done, of course.

How could a new State be forged, ideally with economic relations which are divorced from the last century of Zionist war-making? How would it function economically, if there’s no war to constantly generate profits?

That goes together with the whole decolonization process. First of all, you dismantle the racist colonialist institutions. These institutions are based in capitalism. The main problem is not so much the militarized high tech, but the question of decolonization.

The energy that would be needed would be in such a different direction to security, that I don’t think you have to worry about it too much. Because either people will go along with this, or they won’t. And if they do, the high tech community would also have to contribute its share for building a post-colonial state and prioritise for instance, projects of absorbing the Palestinian refugees (since the implementation of the right of return would be crucial for a just solution) and be part of the effort for redistributing land and property and working out a credible mechanism of compensation.

The entry point is really the dismantling of colonialist institutions. These institutions are now so closely connected to the capitalist system, that the very dismantling or weakening of them may also begin with changes to the economic nature of the state.

The 2011 protest movements in Israel showed both the potential and limitations. The movement was huge, but it fell apart as soon as anyone mentioned Palestine. It happened at roughly the same time as the Arab Spring, but there seemed to be zero connections made with what was happening in North Africa. Was this inevitable?

Let me put it this way. In order to change the reality on the ground, our greatest hopes are not for change from within the Israeli society. If someone wants to see a change in Palestine, it would not come from within the Jewish society, but from the ability of the Palestinians to be more unified, and for the Muslim and Arab world to stand behind them.

People or governments in the West standing behind the Palestinian Liberation cause can bring a change. But anyone that waits for change from within Israel as an important component in transforming the situation–will, unfortunately, be disappointed.

Having said this, things are more dialectical. If we see all these things that I talked about–a change in the Muslim world, and in the way that Western governments are acting–this can have an influence on the ability of Israelis to be more assertive and maybe contribute to the change.

I would be very surprised if the current movement will do this. It’s an impressive movement. 100,000 people surrounding the Israeli Knesset on Monday is a show of force. But these people will make sure that the Palestine issue is not connected to their agenda. They will make sure that Palestinian Israelis are not part of this protest movement. And that’s why they will fail.

Maybe one day they will realize that if you want to change the Israeli political system from within, it needs to be done through Arab-Jewish cooperation. You cannot do it without the Palestinians in Israel. But Israel has grown up to be such a racist society, that for the vast majority of Jews, this is an unthinkable scenario.

Who should socialists in Germany and elsewhere be making links with? You don’t see much hope in Israel, and Fatah and Hamas are falling apart with corruption. Who are our partners in the region?

There is a thriving civil society which needs the support from people from the outside. It is very well organized in the West Bank. Even under the Hamas in Gaza, it has enough freedom to act. The same is true about the Palestinian society inside Israel.

And there is a positive development. Jews are no longer creating their own civil societies. They understand the limitation of the power. So if you are an anti-Zionist Jew, you are now joining a Palestinian NGO instead of creating your own. Some of the Palestinian national movements inside Israel used to say: “let the Jews develop their own critical mass and we will develop ours.” Now there is an understanding that it has to go together.

You can see it in Balad, the most important national party inside Israel. Although it never prohibited Israeli Jewish citizens from joining now they’re actively recruiting Israeli Jews, both for the party and also through a network of civil society organizations that is connected with the party.

There is also a call from 150 Palestinian NGOs inside Israel and the occupied territories for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign, It is a very important call, and something that socialist and progressive forces in Europe are ready contribute towards. I know how difficult it is in Germany, because of the legislation and the declaration in the Bundestag. But nonetheless, that should not deter us.

There is also an interesting new initiative. The PLO has started international anti-Israel apartheid committees everywhere in the world. This can form a new energy for the BDS movement or enhance the BDS movement even further. I think these initiatives are very important. You cannot rest. They need to be maintained.

One last question. You will be speaking in Berlin again in May at the Marxismuss conference. The subject is 75 years Nakba, but it’s also an opportunity to addressing some of the problems that we have in Germany. Our problem is not just the Bundestag resolution, but a self-censorship and lack of self confidence amongst the German Left regarding Palestine. How important you think is it to talk raise the issue of Palestine with a German audience?

Very, very important. Germany plays a very important role in this whole question. Germany’s justified guilt is manipulated in order to immunise Israel. Germany is an extremely critical political force in Europe. But it does not dare to take any bold actions as a political system, that would benefit the Palestinians and alleviate their suffering under Israeli oppression.

It’s very important to find a way of convincing the German public that they should not be intimidated. I come from a German Jewish family. I know very well what happened in Germany. We should not be intimidated by that particular chapter in history. On the contrary, that chapter means the Germans should be even more sensitive to the suffering of the Palestinians.

Germany should not deny the past, but instead say that this past requires a moral position on Palestine, not just on Israel. The Palestinians are a link in the victimisation chain that began in 1933. People in Germany who produce knowledge about Palestine–academics, journalists pundits, and definitely politicians–cannot act like they are part of the Israeli propaganda.

I know they are intelligent scholars, journalists, and politicians. It really breaks my heart to see them saying things that they know are not correct. The only reason they’re saying it is because of political, academic, or journalistic utility. They don’t want to be condemned as antisemites. This is more important in Germany than in any other country.

We have a great assignment of convincing them that, supporting the Palestinians is being anti-racist and anti-colonialist, and therefore cannot be an antisemitic act based on the mistaken belief that antisemitism is racism. This is easier said than done. But I think that academics should play a very important role here–in being accurate, in being accurate professional, in not abusing what they do as academics.

Germany always respected its academics, journalists, writers, intellectuals–but when it comes to Palestine, they behave like people with no backbone avoiding the desire to seek out the truth. And this is something that I think they should contemplate. Hopefully we can help them in this process.

We’re nearly out of time. Is there anything you’d like to say before we finish?

We should not give up on Germany. I’m beginning to give up on on the chances of changing Israeli society, but I’m not giving up on the younger German generation. We should still look at Germany as a place where there are processes that have not yet matured. And Germany’s is building itself all the time.

Merciless defence against refugees at the Gates of the Empire

Lethal Border Regime. The sealing off of Europe shows its most brutal side in the case of the Spanish exclaves Ceuta und Melilla


It was the most recent in a long row of incidents, which receive little more attention than the weather report: people die on the border. Again and again this is followed by – nothing. Or, worse, the victims are mocked.

It happened on 24th June: hundreds of victims, of which at least 37 died. According to the Spanish interior ministry, they died as 1,700  attempted to cross the border fence in Melilla.

What does Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the Spanish interior minister from the social democratic PSOE say, three months later? There was a “timely and proportionate use of violence by the Spanish and Moroccan security forces”. He accused the migrants of “trying to enter illegally”, and of showing “extremely violent behaviour”.

Merciless Repression

But an unexpected party said: “470 people were sent back, without observing national and international legislation”. So said the Spanish ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) Ángel Gabilondo on 14th October, after reviewing documents of the Spanish ministry of the interior and the ministry for integration, social safety and migration.

Gabilondo is not entirely independent: he was an education minister of the PSOE and also an election candidate for the Madrid region. He was appointed to his post (a constitutional monitor of the Spanish authorities) after his crushing defeat at the local election.

He concluded nevertheless: “The constitutional court has ruled that before people are turned back from the border, every individual must be checked and compliance with international obligations for full judicial control is guaranteed.”

The ombudsman demanded that “the foreign ministry provide the embassies and consulates with material and human resources, so that people who require international protection can visit them and are able to apply for asylum without risking their life or having to enter the country using irregular methods.”

Junge Welt reported that the NGO Spanish Commission for Refugee Help (CEAR) had already described prior statements about the tragedy of 24th June, from the interior minister and prime minister Pedro Sánchez – as “fully unacceptable, when you remember that this joint action caused the death of dozens of people.”

CEAR, founded in 1979, wrote the government tries to particularly emphasize “violence” from the migrants, so that it does not have to speak about the “deep desperation suffered by people like those who tried to cross the fence in order to find protection”.

On 21st September, Enrique Santiago, head of the Spanish Communist Party and Unidas Podemos MP, stated in parliament that Spain must finally enable possible asylum applications, in particular for people from Africa. The justifications by the interior minister reminded him of the discourse of the extreme right.

CEAR also noted that “access to legal assistance and translators” as well as “identifying people who find themselves in a precarious situation and could be advised to apply for asylum” – could not take place.  Since every person was “automatically sent back without having the possibility of identifying themself”.

Estrella Galán, general director of CEAR said: “people from countries South of the Sahara are thus systematically prevented from applying for asylum at the borders.” She asks: “what else can they do but jump over fences or risk their lives on the sea?”

We will see whether the tragedy of 24th June will be atoned. Until now, the Moroccan public prosecutor’s office has simply turned the tables and accused the migrants. This criminalisation again shows the dubious partnership between Morocco one one side, and Spain and the European Union on the other.

Resources flowing from Brussels to Morocco – around 500 million Euros until 2027 – are barely used to integrate asylum seekers, and much more for the ruthless repression of refugees. The relationship between Madrid and Rabat is such that, the weakest party – the migrants – suffer the most.

Strategic Places

Located on the African Mediterranean coast and surrounded by Moroccan territory, Ceuta and Melilla are the only “European” cities with a land border with Africa. Therefore they are a favourite destination for those  fleeing war, dictatorship, famine and climate change, aiming for a better and safer life in Europe.

Since the 17th Century, the Exclave Ceuta has belonged to the kingdom of Spain. The city numbering 85,000 inhabitants, was conquered in the 15th Century by Portugal under John I, following a battle during the Reconquista. In 1668, it was taken over by Spain, after Portugal lost the so called “restoration war”.

Melilla has been owned by Spain since 1497, and numbering 86,500 people, it is a similar size to Ceuta. Neither city are in the Schengen area, posing a big problem for arriving refugees, who find themselves, often for years without a decision on their asylum status. Their legal limbo leaves them neither knowing if they will be deported, or if they will be allowed European entry.

Morocco, a Spanish-French protectorate between 1912 and 1956, considers both cities to be part of its territory. But the Spanish state claims the historic right over the cities for Spain. They are among the poorest places under the Spanish flag. Unemployment has been for decades around 25%. Apart from fishing and shipbuilding, others survive in Melilla through money transfer.

According to Spanish polls, the majority of the population wants to remains in Spain. Not surprising considering the composition of the population. Most people who live in Ceuta were born there, and thus are Spanish citizens. In 2017, this was around 65% of the inhabitants. The remaining 35% includes many Spaniards from other regions.

The second largest ethnic group are people from African countries, in particular from Morocco, which provides 9,500 inhabitants. Melilla’s population distribution is very similar. It remains unclear whether the Spanish government wants to invest part of the EU Reconstruction Fund in both cities because of the conflict with Morocco.

But Morocco uses every opportunity to pursue its claims. In a letter addressed to the UN human rights council, in which Rabat discusses the event on 24th June, the government said that Morocco has “no mutual land border with Spain.” As reported by the news agency Europa Press, you “cannot speak of borders, but merely of a passage” between Melilla and the rest of the country.

Moreover the Moroccan population of both cities has been traditionally disadvantaged. In the early, 1980s, in the course of the Transición after Franco’s death, the Muslim population fought for their rights as Spanish citizens. Until then, the only identification document available to even third generation Muslim inhabitants was a so-called “statistical card” (Tarjeta estadística). Buying a flat was prohibited, neither a general work permit nor health insurance was available. Every journey to the Iberian peninsula, required application for permission. This discrimination was only removed in 1987 after protests.

Both places, in which different cultures have lived together for decades, have a high strategic value for Spain. Sánchez expects that they will be secured by NATO, as he told the summit of the Western war alliance in June in Madrid. This message was unambiguously aimed at Rabat, although Sánchez said, he is eager to pursue a “good partnership” in keeping migrants from reaching Spain, however much it costs.

Shortly after his visit to the Moroccan king Mohammed VI on 7th April this year, the Spanish premier announced a new Western Sahara policy in a letter. This led to a resumption of official diplomatic relations between the two States. With an eye on the autonomy plan for Western Sahara suggested by Morocco, the social democrat spoke in the letter of the “most solid, realistic and credible basis” for a solution of the conflict between Rabat and the Sahrawi independence movement.” This caused great outrage in Spain.

Many including the Spanish Left, regarded these statements as a betrayal of the former Spanish colony Western Sahara. Sánchez’s plans also provoked considerable annoyance from one energy provider. Algeria, which supports the government of Western Sahara in the war against Morocco, suspended relations with Spain.

For decades, Morocco and Western Sahara were at war since Spain withdrew its colonial troops in 1975/76. Morocco, and initially also Mauritania, largely occupied this territory. This was interrupted by a UN-negotiated ceasefire, which offered the Sahrawis a false hope of an independence referendum.

The Spanish press examined events of 17th March 2021 and the following days, when Morocco was not guarding the border to Ceuta. Their judgement Spain was being punished for allowing Brahim Ghali, head of the independence movement Frente Polisario to enter the country, for COVID treatment in a Spanish hospital. Within 48 hours, around 12,000 people crossed the border, mainly young Moroccans looking for work, including quire a few minors.

According to El Periódico de España, Morocco was apparently pursuing a new migration strategy  for Melilla. With the renewed opening of the iron ore mines in the mountains of Uixán/Iksane on the border with Melilla, the caves in which migrants had stayed in the past were cleared out.

The paper affirmed that in September, Moroccan armed forces had burned the tents of migrants. Reports from migrants and NGOs show that this is not a new approach, which includes regular baton attacks.

Fatalities again and again

Spain was shamefully, a European pioneer in the isolation of migrants. Already in the 1990s, Madrid had no other answer to refugees than militarisation. The root causes of this “problem” lie in the West.

In 1996, the Spanish army built an approximately 8 kilometre long wall around Ceuta. One year before, it put up barbed wire, to prevent migrants entering Spain and Europe. Three years later, the enclosure was extended. The Tageszeitung and El Pais reported then, the European Union subsidized the project with three million Euros.

Ten metres high and with three protective walls, the bulwark was equipped with NATO barbed wire. This is furnished with sharp blades, which led to many serious injuries. After persistent protests, the incumbent government dismantled the NATO barbed wire in 2019.

The fence around Melilla was erected by the government of José María Aznar in 1998. The social democratic government under Luis Rodríguez Zapatero augmented the barbed wire with sharp blades. While these were removed in 2003, they were re-fitted in 2017, before they disappeared in 2019. The twelve kilometre long double protective wall has cameras and motion detectors.

In the last quarter century, both facilities experienced “accidents” and “incidents”, euphemistically called. In September 2005, several hundred people in Ceuta tried to cross the fence. Five died, two from gunshots. More than one hundred were injured. At the time, El Mundo reported that an autopsy on Spanish soil revealed that the ammunition used was not officially used by the Spanish police.

In October of the same year, hundreds of people tried to cross the fence – this time in Melilla. Once more, they were shot at, and six died, said El País. The authorities spoke of self-defence, against the migrants carrying sticks and throwing stones at police.

According to victim statements, following this the Moroccan police packed 700 people into buses, and left them in the desert South of the city of Oujda – without food or water. Around 70 people were deported to Morocco, which was previously Spanish territory.

El País wrote: “The first migrants, who after crossing the fence in Melilla, had to return to Morocco, were 70 people from the Sahel state Mali.. afflicted by a plague of locusts in 2004.” An illegal deportation into a third country. One year later, both Amnesty International and Doctors of the World sharply criticized the Moroccan government for this “deportation into the desert”. In 2010 three more people died trying to cross the fence in Melilla.

On 6th February 2014, the man made “tragedy” reached a new peak: at least 15 migrants died and dozens were injured on the El Tarajal beach in Ceuta. They had been  attacked in the water by the paramilitary Guardia Civil with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets. The Guardia Civil denied this.

Around 400 people attempted to swim to Spanish territory. Twenty-three refugees were returned to Morocco without any examination. The human rights organisation European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) supports the victims of this pushback. “The behaviour of the Guardia civil was unlawful according to both Spanish and European law”, wrote ECCHR.

Nevertheless, investigations were stopped at least three times, and no survivor was called as a witness. Moreover the investigation magistrate ordered “a hearing for the Guardia civil servants about deaths by gross negligence and failure to render assistance.” This hearing still has not taken place.

The construction of the border fortifications in Ceuta and Melilla has substantially increased the number of refugees drowning in the Straits of Gibraltar, and not stopped migration. Until 2017, the Spanish interior ministry has spent 258 million Euros to militarise the border. A further 742 million Euros flowed to Spain from Frontex, the European agency for protecting borders and coasts. Large corporations like Indra and Ferrovial have also been paid to build bulwarks.

But the work of the Guardia Civil has “not been made any easier” by the fence from Ceuta and Melilla, as a worker for the NGO Fundación por Causa wrote  for El Salto. Officials were in a quandary: the lack of legal paths for migrants on the one hand, and the desperation of those trying to cross the fence, led to violent situations. Many were haunted by depression.

Even the former foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo conceded that ultimately, they are witnesses and actors at one of the most heavily guarded and unjust borders of the world.

Anonymous Graves

The border between Morocco and the European Union is the deadliest border for refugees on the entire planet. The fences were only the first measure, control of the waters followed. This means that those desperately fleeing misery dare the even more dangerous route across the Atlantic.

It is estimated that in every year since 2014, around 4,00 people have drowned during transit. In 2021, according to the NGO Caminando Fronteras, it was 4,404 people. The numbers are so exact because the NGO has set up a telephone for people in distress. Among the dead from 21 different countries, were 205 children last year.

The sheer horror tales place again and again. In May 2021, a boat was on the high seas for up to 22 days, when found 500 kilometres from the island El Hierro. On board were 17 dead, starved and dehydrated. Two children and one woman survived.

The media portal El Diaria reported the funeral. The dead were buried in the cemetery San Francisco de Igueste on Tenerife. On the burial niches were written three-digit numbers, no names. The burial was attended by two graveyard workers and a young man from Senegal who a few months earlier had arrived in a similar boat. The dead were not buried for a month because the local mortuary was overflowing. It is unclear whether family members know their fate. A project by the Red Cross attempts to find the names of the dead since last year.

Caminando Fronteras reports that after the events of 24th June in Melilla, the dead were buried in mass graves on the Moroccan side. Helena Maleno Garzón, the chairwoman of the NGO, who has worked for a long time in Morocco and been harassed by the Spanish and Moroccan authorities, has spent years denouncing the inhumane isolationist policy. Both Spanish officials and Frontex workers handed over a dossier about her to Moroccan judiciary. The helper is criminalized just as much as the refugees.

Until June this year, a verifiable number of 978 people have died trying to reach Spanish territory. It is estimated that around five die every day, including those who try to reach the Canary Islands. In 2017, the NGO Fondación Pro Causa calculated deaths on the flight to Spain via Morocco up until the late 1990s. For a good 20 years since the Transición, this came to less than 200 people.

Most migrants who now die, and whose corpses are found are not identified, their families are not informed, there is no burial ceremony. They are buried anonymously, in the cemeteries of Ceuta and Melilla, or in Andalusia and the Canaries, which contains the largest cemeteries for the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. They are given the reference “immigrant from Morocco” or “died on the run.” The corpses of more than 80 per cent of the dead are not found.

Clearly they count for little. This death toll does not result in a change of course – quite the reverse. The EU continues to adorn itself with its Nobel Peace Prize, transfer more money to its doorman Morocco and militarise the border even more strongly.

Meanwhile, those who are threatened with persecution and poverty do not receive the slightest chance of an asylum procedure. The doors remain shut to all those whose mistake is that they were born in the wrong part of the world.

This article first appeared in German in the junge Welt. Translation: Phil Butland. Reproduced with permission

Why the Two State Solution for Palestine is Impossible

Only a Single Democratic Secular State can guarantee equality for everyone living in Israel/Palestine


A significant number of the German Left believes that Two States is the only possible solution for Israel/Palestine. So, for example, on 13 May, 2021, leaders of die LINKE, Susanne Hennig-Wellsow und Janine Wissler, issued a statement saying that we “further believe that only a Two State Solution between Israel and Palestine will bring a life in safety for the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

A briefing paper of the parliamentary fraction of die LINKE proudly states that: “all parties represented in the Bundestag stand for a Two State settlement”.

Many liberal international forces also make the same demands.

For example, President Obama said in 2011: “the ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.”

Earlier this year, new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Jerusalem and called for a Two State Solution, saying: “people on both sides have the right to live in safety and dignity”.

Donald Trump also called for a “realistic Two State Solution for the middle East” in 2020. Admittedly, Trump’s opinion on Palestine remains unclear, and follows the same incoherent, contradictory pattern he exercised on most topics throughout his presidency.

In Palestine

Just as many western perspectives collectively promote the Two State Solution, a large part of the political leadership in Palestine make the same demands.

As far back as 1947, the Palestinian Communist Party accepted the partition that took place in 1948, which then led to the Nakba.

Following the 1967 war, Nayif Hawatmeh, leader of the Marxist-Leninist DFLP called for a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories.

In 1988, PLO and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat accepted UNO Resolution 242 and UNGA Resolution 181, otherwise known as the Partition Plan. He attempted to implement this partition in the Oslo Accords of 1993 and afterwards.

In 2000, Abu Ali Mustafa, der the new leader of the left wing PFLP implicitly supported the Fatah model. This led to a split in the Palestinian Left and in 2010, the PFLP called on the PLO to break off negotiations with Israel, to enable a One State Solution.

And in 2017, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal also accepted a Palestinian state inside the 1967 borders. In the same year, a representative of the PLO dismissed any alternative to a Two State Solution as “painful bloodshed”.

With such resounding support for the Two-State Solution from what appears to be all sides, what’s left to discuss? I believe that there are many issues with the Two-State Solution that are often glossed over, which fosters misinformation and hinders progress for a realistic solution.

What’s it all about?

In order to approach the Two-State Solution, I want to put forward 3 main arguments:

  1. The Two State Solution was never a solution for ordinary Palestinians.

  2. Even if the Two State Solution was once possible, the extensive building of settlements in the last two decades means that it is no longer an option.

  3. Even if a Two State Solution was the only possible solution, it is not the job of the white German Left to tell the Palestinian resistance what form their resistance must take.

I would also like to address three of the most common arguments used in favour of a Two State Solution:

  • Argument 1: A state with a Jewish majority is necessary to protect Jewish people from antisemitism.

  • Argument 2: Two States is the only realistic solution. Everything else is utopian.

  • Argument 3: Two States may not solve everything, but something is better than nothing, and Two States offers an interim solution for the beleaguered Palestinians.

Once I’ve tried to address these arguments, I would like to make my contribution towards the discussion about how the problem should be solved.

Argument 1: A state with a Jewish majority is necessary to protect Jewish people from antisemitism

The Two State Solution concerns itself predominately with the need for a Jewish State. After the Holocaust, pogroms [the organised massacre of Jews, particularly in pre-Soviet Russia] and other known cases of antisemitism, a Jewish State is the only way in which Jewish people can live in safety. So goes the argument.

Let’s examine the reality of this logic. Is it really so, that Jews who live in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem are safer than those in New York or Berlin?

Despite the alarming rise of antisemitism in the US and Europe, Jewish people in these countries can still coexist in relative peace with others. In contrast, the State of Israel also continues in its present form by encouraging its inhabitants to live in a state of permanent fear.

Jewish people in Israel are treated as occupiers. The relationship between Jews and non-Jews in an occupied country means that Jews in Israel can never feel safe. There will always be some people who live on stolen land and others who want their land and property back.

Is Israel a democratic State?

The basic laws of Israel state that Israel is “a Jewish and democratic state”. Similarly, in the 1970s, the Israeli High Court ruled that “there is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation”. [White, pp.12-13]

But can a state be Jewish and democratic? If Israel’s claims of democracy are true, then how can this democracy function if Jews inherently carry special rights?

Israeli politicians have clearly stated how they understand a “democratic” Jewish State to function. Former president Netanyahu made his position clear when he spoke out against migrants and refugees from Africa because they threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Interior minister Eli Yishai offered an even clearer position, stating in 2012 thatMuslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, the white man.

Many Israeli right wingers express concerns regarding the “demographic time bomb” – pointing to the statistical fact that poorer populations tend to have more children. This could result in Palestinians being a majority in Israel.

The former Israeli President Golda Meir, for example verified this fear, expressing: her sleep was often disturbed at the thought of how many Arab babies had been born in the night.“[Hirst, p369]

Where does such state racism lead? Here just one example from Ali Abunimah:

There are also credible allegations that Israel may have engaged in the most noxious methods of ethno-racial population control. In 2012, a number of Ethiopian women said that they had been forced to take the long-acting injectable birth-control Depo-Provera before they were allowed to emigrate to Israel. The matter came to light when an Israeli journalist began to investigate an astonishing 50-percent drop in births among Ethiopian women over a mere 10 year period.“
[Abunimah, p34]

How are Palestinians excluded?

In the State of Israel, a distinction is made between citizenship and nationality. Civil and political rights are issued determined to nationality. Possible Nationalities are, for example, Jewish, Arab and Druze, and the nationality with the most privileges is Jewish.

Let’s examine some statistics from the Equality Index of Jewish and Arab Citizens in Israel. Just in Israel – that is the area which does not include the West Bank and Gaza – Jews live on average 4 years longer.

Child mortality is 7.7 per 1000 for Palestinians, around 3 per 1000 for Jews. In 2009, 17% of Israeli Jews lived in poverty, against 54% of Arabs. The poverty level for Palestinian children is 63%.

From 2014-2021, 77 percent of all indictments for incitement claims of violence and racism were filed against Palestinians, despite Palestinians accounting for only 20% of the entire population. 99% of the Palestinians facing convictions faced jail service, in stark contrast to only 46% of Israelis facing jail time.

Additionally, examples of systematic discrimination are peppered into Israel’s legal system.

In 2003, Israel introduced “temporary” laws, which deny residency or citizenship to Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza who marry Israeli citizens. By 2007, this law was extended to include people from Iraq, Syria or Lebanon. [White, pp. 12-13]

In 2008, Israeli medical schools raised the age of accepting new students from 18 to 20. That posed no problems for Israelis who must serve 2 years military service after leaving school. The decision disadvantaged Palestinian students who were forced either to move to a different country or to choose a different career. [Pappé, 2011, p166]

These are just a few of the many micro-aggressions which demonstrate that Palestinians are not welcome in their own country.

Jewish National Fund

Let’s now explore the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a non-profit organization which provides funding for land purchase and development in Palestine.

A Human Rights Watch report Discrimination in Land Allocation and Access declares the following: “Unlike most industrialized countries, which have widespread private land ownership and a free real estate market, in Israel the state controls 93 percent of the land. This land is owned either directly by the state or by quasi-governmental bodies that the state has authorized to develop the land, such as the Development Authority and the Jewish National Fund.”

A free real estate market may not be our first demand, but this imbalanced distribution portrays the qualities of a racist state. JNF housing and land are exclusively rented to Jews. This systematic discrimination leaves denies Arabs access to 80% of all public land.

Many of the houses and land which the JNF has expropriated once belonged to Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes and land during the Nakba. In other words, the JNF is an instrument facilitated by the State of Israel to acquire stolen Palestinian land and sell it to Israelis.

Bedouins, indigenous people which originate from the Negev desert are particularly affected by the rigid land ownership laws. Their indigenous land represents a quarter of the population in the Negev desert, yet Bedouin municipalities of jurisdiction of only 1.9% of the land in the region.

Why are these arguments important?

It is critical to showcase the depth and breadth of areas which reflect the true nature of the undemocratic Jewish state. The lifeblood of the State of Israel is the persistent exclusion of Palestinians and the robbery and reclaiming of property.

A Two State Solution does nothing to challenge these inhumane inequalities. It simply states that the inequality should continue to persist within different borders. If we believe that the State of Israel discriminates systematically against Palestinians, forming a Palestinian state next to Israel is no counterweight against this discrimination.

Argument 2: Two States is the only realistic solution. Everything else is utopian

Some liberal Zionists argue that one state could be nice in theory, but it would be impossible to implement such a solution in reality.

For example, Zach Beauchamp says: “As far away as it may seem, the two-state solution is still the best possible option available for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s in large part because the alternatives are even less plausible.”

But let us look at exactly how plausible Two States are in 2022. As said, I believe that Two States was never a sustainable solution, but if you propose a Two State Solution, you must explain how this would be possible under the current conditions, including the settlement of the West Bank.

The Settlements

According to Ilan Pappe:large parts of the West Bank are already settled. It is physically impossible to set up a state there”.

The One Democratic State Campaign explains why:

“Israel governments going back to 1967 have rejected the notion of a viable, genuinely sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel, together with the very fact of occupation. Instead, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, has moved 700,000 settlers into the territory that would have been a Palestinian state, and confined 95% of the Palestinians to the tiny islands of Areas A and B in the West Bank, and a besieged Gaza.”

“In January 2020,Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel would annex the Jordan Valley “and all the settlements,” in accord with Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” Nor is there any will on the part of the international community to sanction Israel or force it to withdraw from the Occupied Territory.”

The liberal Zionist Peter Beinart noted that the proposal from Trump and Netanyahu required the annexation of up to 30% of the West Bank. As a reparation, the Palestinians were offered half as much land in Israel – and most of this was uninhabitable desert land.

As a reminder, the West Bank and Gaza only account for 22% of historic Palestine. What is being offered here is around 15%, and this is before we talk about the land which has been gobbled up by the Apartheid wall and the excessive barriers surrounding it.

According to an Amnesty report“more than 80 per cent of the fence/wall is located on occupied Palestinian land inside the West Bank, rather than along the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank. The route of the fence/wall has been planned in such a way that it prevents access by Palestinian to areas of the West Bank which include some of the best access to water, notably the Western Aquifer.”

Additionally, there is land claimed for usage as the so-called “bypass roads” which only settlers are allowed to use, and the barracks for the soldiers who protect the settlers. Until now, no-one has suggested that these remnants of Apartheid should be eliminated under the Two State Solution.

That means that even less land is available for Palestinians.

Tanya Reinhart makes the following estimation: “if the settlements stay, of course, the Israeli army will stay as well to protect them, and thus the situation will remain as it is now – namely the Palestinian ‘state’ will consist of 42 per cent of the West Bank.”

In other words, this means just 10% of historic Palestine will be left for the Palestinians.

Access to Water

This brings us to the next problem for a viable Palestinian state. It is common knowledge that Israelis enjoy all of the luxuries of access to plentiful amounts of water such as swimming pools and lawn care, while Palestinians cannot drink or cook with their tap water.

Israelis consume at least four times as much water as Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians in the West Bank use 80 litres of water per person per day, an amount which falls below the WHO recommendation of 100 litres of daily consumption.

Israelis reap major economic benefits with subsidies by US tax money. But the fact that they also control access to the most critical water sources means that even without these massive subsidies, they have material advantages over the Palestinians.

This is not just because the Israeli economy is subsidised by US tax money, making Israeli citizens better off. Israel also controls access to water sources.

According to a 2009 Amnesty report, 180,000-200,000 Palestinians in rural communities in the West Bank have no access to running water. Israel has deliberately destroyed water tanks.

Although the West Bank and Gaza formally have their own governments, Israel passed monumental Military Orders in 1967 and 1968 which granted the Israeli army full authority over “all water-related issues” in both region.

Palestinians are prohibited from building any new water installations or drill wells without permission from the Israeli army.

In Gaza conditions are even worse than in the West Bank, even though Israel formally withdrew from the area in 2005. The Israeli blockade of Gaza means that people have little access to water or electricity. Over 90% of water extracted from the one aquifer in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

In 2009, the UNRWA reported that: “Watery diarrhoea as well as acute bloody diarrhoea remain the major causes of morbidity among reportable infectious diseases in the refugee population of the Gaza Strip”

The only reliable source of clean water for people in Gaza is for them to buy it from Israel. But Israel’s protracted war with the people of Gaza means that it is not always prepared to even sell the water that is necessary to avoid such dangers to people’s health.

Argument 3: Two States may not solve everything, but something is better than nothing, and Two States offers an interim solution for the beleaguered Palestinians

There is still the argument that the current situation in the West Bank is so hopeless that the Palestinians can’t afford to wait for a utopian One State Solution. Something must be done now.

To see exactly how bad things are, let’s look at an Amnesty report, which says the following:

Israel’s military rule disrupts every aspect of daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It continues to affect whether, when and how Palestinians can travel to work or school, go abroad, visit their relatives, earn a living, attend a protest, access their farmland, or even access electricity or a clean water supply. It means daily humiliation, fear and oppression. People’s entire lives are effectively held hostage by Israel.”

Things are similar in Gaza. A recent report says that “since 2007, nearly 850 patients in Gaza have died after their permits to access hospitals in the West Bank and Israel were denied or delayed.”

There is a strong argument that Palestinians need more control in order to save lives. This argument does not say that Two States will necessary solve all problems, but will at least avoid the worst. And something is better than nothing.

The most convincing version of this argument comes from Tanya Reinhart, a historian and supporter of the Palestinians who I rate very highly. In 2002, Reinhart called for 2 States as an interim solution as follows:

I believe it would be a great oversight to give up the concrete chance to get back much of the Palestinian lands now, in the hope that in the future one could get more. Whatever solution the two peoples arrive at in the future, it must be based on the Palestinians having land, resources, and the freedom to develop anyway. So the process of acquiring these basics should start now, regardless of the final vision.” [Reinhart, pp 228-9]

But will a Palestinian State really solve these problems?

The Amnesty report referenced above details the daily weight of occupation for Palestinians who can’t go abroad and have no access to electricity or clean water supplies.

But this is an exact description of the current situation in Gaza. And this situation will not significantly change if Gaza becomes an independent state. Ultimately Israel will continue to control the borders and access to clean water.

Haider Eid sees it as follows: What we have ended up with in the Gaza Strip is an open-air, maximum security prison separated from the other prison in the West Bank. These two prisons cannot make a “sovereign, independent state”, unless one calls ‘la la land’ a state, or what the late revolutionary intellectual and freedom fighter Amilcar Cabral derided as ‘flag independence.’”

Edward Said has the following to say about such ‘flag independence’: “Israel and the United States are at bottom delighted to give us symbols of sovereignty, such as a flag, while withholding real sovereignty, the right of return for all refugees, economic self-sufficiency, and relative independence. I have always felt that the meaning of Palestine is something more substantial than that.” [Said, page xx]

Said notes that the Palestinian National Council also declared an independent state in 1988, although this declaration did not provide any meaningful change for the daily lives of Palestinians.


Gaza could be immediately declared as a State, but this would not change the facts on the ground. A Gazan State under the current conditions would be equivalent to a Bantustan in Apartheid South Africa.

Black South Africans, born in Johannesburg or Pretoria, were suddenly informed that they were citizens of Tranket or Ciskei – artificial states, which had never been visited by many of their citizens. The Apartheid government even attempted to gain UN recognition for these “independent states”.

Bantustans had their own elections and parliaments. But Human rights, including safety, natural resources and control, were left out of the equation.

After the Oslo Accords, Tanya Reinhart noted: “To solve the water shortage in Gaza, the Palestinians will be allowed to buy water from Israel. Hence, the starting point for Gaza is worse than a Bantustan: neither water nor land.” [Reinhart, p238]

Before Israel’s prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, he stated his vision for a future Palestine as “an entity less than a state”. Rabin is now feted as being one of Israel’s most progressive leaders. The current government is offering even less.

Right of Return – What will happen to the Refugees?

Ilan Pappe says: “The Two State Solution reduces Palestine to 22 per cent of historic Palestine, and the Palestinians to only those who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. As long as not all Palestinians and the whole of historic Palestine are included in a future solution, there is no chance for a viable and real reconciliation”.

We have already seen that the Two State Solution which has been offered so far actually reduces Palestine to 10% of historic Palestine, and says very little about the refugees who had to flee Israel in 1948 and after.

There are now at least 7 Million Palestinian refugees. Many live in refugee camps in Israel’s neighbours like Jordan and Lebanon. This includes grandchildren and great grandchildren of people who fled their homes during the Nakba in 1948 – nearly 75 years ago.

UN Resolution 194 states that: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return.”

You might say that this is just a worthless paper resolution, but if UN resolutions can be ignored, who seriously believes that the Israelis will accept other solutions?

The refugees must go somewhere. But, based on the facts given earlier in this article, it is apparent that a future Palestinians state is barely viable even under the Two State Solution.

Additionally, many of the refugees are from 1948 Palestine, not from the West Bank or Gaza. Will these people will really be allowed to return to their homes?

What will happen to the Palestinians who live in “Israel”?

This brings us to the question of the 1.9 Million Palestinians who currently live in “Israel”. Will they be allowed to stay? And if so, with which rights?

There is a large danger that Two States will lead to a partition like in India in 1947-8. This was when 15 million people had to leave their homes, and travel either from India to the new state of Pakistan, or in the other direction. In the ensuing massacres, between 1 and 2 million people were murdered.

Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal called partition the central historical event in twentieth century South Asia.” She went on: “A defining moment that has neither beginning nor end, Partition continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future.”


And what will happen to the Palestinians who currently live in East Jerusalem? Many versions of the Two State Solution envisage East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. But the devil is in the detail.

If you’ve ever been to Jerusalem, you will know East Jerusalem, also known as Al-Quds, as the liveliest part of town, the part with the old city and the Al-Aqsa mosque. Al-Aqsa is considered to be the third-holiest site in Islam.

The Website Islam ist describes Al-Quds as follows: “before Mecca became Muslim, the first direction of prayer was in no less than Jerusalem. This, and other important reasons, make Jerusalem an outstanding place for Muslims until today.”

But If we look at any discussions of a possible Two State Solution by either the Israeli or US government, if they mention East Jerusalem at all, they are not referring to Al-Quds. Instead, they propose taking the village of Abu Dis and renaming this as East Jerusalem.

Abu Dis lies outside the city limits of Jerusalem, and was described by Reuters Journalist Stephen Farrell as: “a relatively featureless urban sprawl on the old road to Jericho, it has little of the religious or cultural resonance of the historic city centre, which contains sites sacred to the three great monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

The offer of Abu Dis instead of Al-Quds was already clear in the Camp David agreement of 2000. According to Phyllis Bennis: “the Palestinians would be offered some modicum of authority over the villages, one of which, Abu Dis, would be declared the “capital” of a Palestinian statelet. Palestinians would be “allowed” to call the dusty hillside village “Jerusalem.” Only problem is, everyone knows that Abu Dis is not Jerusalem. Redrawing municipal borders doesn’t make it so.”

In decades of negotiations, the Israelis mentioned Abu Dis as one possibility among others. Trump and Netanyahu’s “Deal of the Century” went even further. Al-Jazeera reports: “Trump has formalized the question of Abu Dis as the only possible PA capital in the future. Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was meant to remove any hope for the reopening of negotiations on this question.”

One important question is rarely addressed. What will happen to the 372,000 Palestinians who live in Jerusalem? Will they also be expelled – to a village without infrastructure, without resources, without industry?“


So, what is the solution?

What will a democratic state look like?

Unfortunately, I can say very little to this question. The decisions about what a democratic state should look like should be made exclusively by the people who will live there.

Nevertheless, I can share some thoughts of Ilan Pappé. In an Interview with the German newspaper neues deutschland, Pappe spoke of: “a democratic state which accepts the Palestinian refugees who want to return, with equal rights for all, without discrimination based on religion, nationality, race, ethnicity or gender. One which distributes the country’s wealth according to the principles of social justices, compensation and equal opportunities for everyone. One which respects collective identity, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic conditions of “live and let live”, without any group using the state to enforce any supremacist ideologies.”

That’s not a bad start.

Comparison with South Africa

South Africa provides us with 2 examples – one positive, one negative, which show us what a joint state could look like.

Positively, there is the successful fight of a movement, which according to Haider Eid “mobilised international civil society around the idea of one person, one vote and the establishment of a secular democratic, non-racial, non-sectarian state.”

Eid sees the ANC’s fight in South Africa as something quite different, and much better, to the endless compromises of the PLO in negotiations with Israel.

The ANC’s victory was unexpected by many. In 1989, South Africa’s President de Klerk said that the ANC’s demands for equality were “unjust”. de Klerk “unequivocally rejected” the possibility of majority rule. Nonetheless, by the beginning of 1990, Nelson Mandela was free, and the negotiations for the end of Apartheid had already begun.

Those who say that a state for Palestine would be impossible because of settlers prepared to use violence, should think of Apartheid South Africa and the armed paramilitaries of the fascist AWB. The AWB was no fringe organisation. In 1986 alone their membership trebled to 100,000 people [Abunimah, p51]

And yet, when push came to shove, and white South Africans saw no alternative to peaceful coexistence, they accepted the inevitable.

The negative example of South Africa is the fact that Apartheid was overcome, but exploitation, oppression and capitalism remain. This year sees the tenth anniversary of the Marikana massacre when police controlled by the ANC massacred striking miners.

There is no space in this article to carry on this debate, but it does raise one important question: One State is the necessary solution, but is it sufficient?

Will Israelis and Palestinians accept a One State Solution?

One argument against a One State Solution is that Israelis would not accept it. For example, Zach Beauchamp argues that “The Israeli commitment to Zionism creates an insuperable political problem for a one-state solution.”

My first answer is “so what?” Apartheid was overcome in South Africa despite the commitment of white South Africans to racism, colonialism was beaten in India and Algeria against the will of the Britons and French occupiers.

It is much more important to ask whether Palestinians would oppose the idea. As I have already argued, it is not the job of the European Left to dictate to Palestinians how they should liberate themselves. This is true for Europeans who will only support Palestinians who support the Two State “Solution” but it also applies to us. Ultimately, this is not our decision.

There is an argument that says that after so many years of oppression and exclusion, the Palestinians will inevitably seek revenge. The example of South Africa demonstrates that this is not necessarily the case.

It is also true, that for a long time, the majority of Palestinians supported the Two State Solution, at the very least as an interim solution. I remember conversations in 2014 during the bombardment of Gaza with many Palestinians who had illusions – or let’s say hope” in Two States.

But the figures are changing. Gala Golan reports that Palestinian support for 2 States dropped from 71% in 2010 to 43% in December 2018. The reason was: “frustration and failures of Fatah’s preference for negotiations and compromise, under both Arafat and Abbas.”

Tanya Reinhart’s statistic are not identical – she says that at the high point, Palestinian support for Two States was 80%. [Reinhart, p53]. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that a majority of Palestinians are no longer convinced in the Two State Solution, not even as an interim solution.

Peter Beinart, who calls himself a liberal Zionist, and has advocated a Two State Solution for a long time, now says that it’s Two States which is an illusion. He goes on: The right question is not which vision is more fanciful at this moment, but which can generate a movement powerful enough to bring fundamental change … A struggle for equality could elevate Palestinian leaders who possess the moral authority that Abbas and Hamas lack.

So it is not just that One State is more practical. It is a demand which is more likely to raise a fighting opposition to the “same old same old”.

Who has the power to enforce change?

The last question is probably the most important, as if you wrongly identify the motor of change, you look for changes which are either impossible or unwanted.

The starting point for too many people – both Left and Right – is to ask what the Israelis (either the State or the people) are prepared to accept. Some push the question further by making their proposals dependent on what US Imperialism is prepared to allow.

Our starting point should be different. We want to build a mass movement in the whole region that overcomes the system of colonialism and exploitation. That means that what the settlers want, or what they are prepared to accept are irrelevant to us.

The USA and the EU are part of the problem. We should not appeal to them for justice. This March, the US House of Representatives approved a further $1 million for Israeli “defence aid”. This is on top of the $3.8 Million, which the USA donates Israel every year. This money financed the last bombing of Gaza – either directly or indirectly.

If the US government – any US government – were serious about peace in the Middle East, they could withdraw all financial support for Israel until Israel at least agreed to accept existing UN resolutions.

Israel – and the Israelis – are also part of the problem. Because of the tremendous amount of US financial support, there are material reasons for Israelis to support the occupation. Just as under Apartheid South Africa, individual occupiers may support decolonisation, but any effective movement for change must come from the Palestinians themselves.

A movement under Palestinian leadership which fights against all colonialism and imperialism does not have to stay with a solution which allows an unviable state next door to a state with much more wealth and resources, where the old exploitation continues.

If we want to build a movement that is strong enough to confront Israel and US Imperialism, why should we accept the crumbs of Two States, when we can take over the whole bakery?



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Lying Whore, Lying Whore, Lying Whore, Lying Whores: Amber Heard and Women’s Right to Bear Witness

Why Were People so Ready to Believe that Heard was Lying – About Everything?


In Autumn 2018, when my youngest son was still a toddler, I walked into the little cubby hole where we kept our washing machine (known in German as a Waschküche!). There I saw him, bent mischievously over a packet of washing powder, eating it out of it with his hand, like a tiny, naughty, but kind of polite kitten. I guess the washing powder itself didn’t taste delicious enough for him to get all hungry puppy about it, lol. I scooped him into my arms, googled the sentence “my toddler just ate washing powder – what should I do?”, phoned the poisons hotline, and, eventually, took him down the A&E, known in Germany as Notaufnahme.

I told the people at A&E that I wasn’t sure how much he had eaten. Had I caught him at the beginning of his washing powder feast, in the middle, or at the end? I told them what type of washing powder it was – Weiße Riese. I had melodramatic ideas about them pumping out his stomach, but in the end, they just gave him an injection – they had to call another nurse in to hold him down so the doctor could inject him, that’s how strong my little boy was, and how much he hates injections. They told me, delightfully, to let him sleep in my bed that night. We got in a taxi and got home at about one in the morning.

It was a long time ago now, and to be quite honest, I am no longer sure about the following details:

(1) Was it Autumn – or was, it possibly, late Summer? I know I didn’t have a coat on, and on the way home, started shivering, and just, like, popped myself into a taxi.

(2) Did I ring the poison hotline? I think I did, but it might have been the Bereitschaftsdienst. Or even, possibly, just 112. I also can’t remember if I spoke to a woman or a man. I think it was a man, but I can’t be sure.

(3) Was the washing powder Weiße Riese? I know it was one of those big boxes and when I think of the moment, I remember – or maybe the truth is, imagine – him over a BIG box? And I know it wasn’t Persil or Ariel. I never buy Ariel, and I only buy Persil in tabs. I am really almost 100% certain it wasn’t Persil or Ariel or anyone super famous like that, but you know what? It may well have been…..Spree? I dunno.

NONE OF THESE DETAILS, WHICH I HAVE RELATED TO YOU, AND MAY BE UNTRUE, ARE LIES. They do not mean I am making it up that my son ate washing powder. This is not what the word “lie” means. The story I have told you is still basically, essentially, ultimately true – but some of the details are now, because much time has passed, slightly hazy. This doesn’t mean I am a “lying whore.” That’s just how the human brain works, how human memory works, when people remember anything. Boring stories, important stories, silly stories. And in fact, sometimes, when you remember a sad, scary, horrific story, you might be more likely to get unimportant details wrong. This is because your brain tries to protect you from the trauma, from the memory, and so suppresses some of your memories.

Another thing the brain might so to protect you from trauma is it might focus on some of the tiny, insignificant details of the event. This coping mechanism is your brain’s attempt to protect you from the trauma lodged in your memory.

Did Amber Heard lie?

“She lied,” my friend says. My friend Katja is a German woman I have known for a few years. We met when our kids – my youngest and her oldest – were born. She is a Spielplatz friend, but also just like me – a feminist and a socialist, a socialist feminist and a feminist socialist. I have seen her at pro-choice rallies and I’ve seen her post angry, angry things about the Mietendeckel. We have a lot in common. I like her a lot. This is the first thing she has ever said to me which I have found to be particularly stupid, or wrong, or evil.

“She lied, and lied, and lied. She lied about everything. She did so much damage to domestic violence victims and rape victims with her continuous lying. It disgusts me, the damage she has done to real victims.”

“What did she lie about?” I ask innocently. I can feel my stomach tensing, my throat closing up, my bile rising. I have felt this a lot in the past few months, since John Depp forced his ex-wife, the young actress Amber Heard, to give testimony about her rape and sexual assault in front of running cameras.

“She lied about everything,” she says.

John Depp’s problem with women

In 2009, when Amber Heard was just 22 years old, she met the actor John Depp, known throughout the world as Johnny Depp, as if he were a toddler, or one of our friends. They met on the film set of the film The Rum Diaries. As one of the producers of the film, he was, strictly speaking, her boss. He was also some twenty-three years older than her. Despite the age gap, or perhaps, considering Depp has never started a relationship with a woman over 25, because of it, they hit it off. However, they were both in relationships and didn’t start dating until, Heard says, some point “around the end of 2011 or 2012.”

Depp and his long-term partner, with whom he had children, Vanessa Paradis, split in 2012. In 2015, Heard and Depp married. Their relationship was obviously volatile and it didn’t last long. On May 23rd, 2016, Heard filed for divorce. Four days later, she obtained a temporary restraining order, because she claimed that Depp had been physically abusing her. To back up her statement, she provided photographic evidence, which was accepted by the legal authorities.

In 2017, Depp and Heard finalized their divorce. They released a statement which read:

“Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

They agreed to never speak ill of each other, but Depp broke this agreement in October 2018, in a viciously bitter interview which is very open about his contempt for and dislike of Amber Heard. One telling paragraph reads:

“Why didn’t that person speak to the police?” continues Depp. “I mean, they spoke to the police, but the police saw nothing and they offered her an emergency medical technician. She said no. Police see nothing on her. Police see nothing broken in the place, no marks, and then they offer her an EMT to have a look at her and she says no and I don’t know if it was the next day or a couple of days later, but then there was a bruise. There was a red mark and then there was a brown bruise.”

As the journalist who wrote the article so rightly says:

“To suggest that a woman, a man or anyone might have made up such a serious allegation is a tremendously dangerous and damaging thing to do.”

It certainly sounds, to be honest, pretty defamatory – and downright malicious – to me.

Amber Heard’s Opinion Piece

In December 2018, months after Depp had broken the agreement to not disparage the other party, Amber Heard published an opinion piece for the Washington Post. Not only did she not mention John Depp by name, she also did not refer to herself, in the article, as a victim.

Three sentences of the article were considered defamatory. That is to say, the jury in Fairfax Virginia, in June 2022 found that they were untrue, and also written with malicious intent, and ordered Heard to pay $10million in damages.

The first sentence was the headline, which Heard didn’t even write herself:

I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.

It might boggle the mind to wonder how Heard could be found liable for a sentence she didn’t even write herself. The jury in Fairfax decided that her tweeting this article means she was responsible for the words expressed in the headline itself. And at first, you might feel some sympathy for Depp – an article about sexual violence? Where he is referenced? She might as well have tweeted “Johnny raped me!”

However, the really perverse thing is that the sexual violence referred to in the headline is, for anyone who reads the article, referring to a sexual assault Heard experienced at college. Since then Depp has forced her to recount her rape testimony. He has encouraged his lawyer to use misogynist victim-blaming language to shame Heard for talking about the rape. He has encouraged his many fans with their rape mindset memes and rape glorifying TikToks by referring to the misogynist abuse that Heard suffered over the course of the trial as “love” for him. After all this, we hear the words “sexual violence” and we think of Depp. But this is because he sued her and forced the sexual assault allegations to be made public.

The second sentence she was sued over is perfectly reasonable, totally fair, and should really be completely unproblematic for anyone who thinks abuse is a problem in our society. It’s also an objectively true one, something that was public knowledge at the time:

“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.”

The only untrue thing about this sentence is that Heard, although a passionate feminist, had somewhat underestimated just how full the force of our culture’s wrath could be.

And the third sentence, ironically, was proven to be, by the jury’s decision, truer than ever, lol:

“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”

Heard walked into a court building past demonstrators screaming at her that she was a liar and a whore and deserved to be killed and burnt alive. One of them actually dressed herself up as a poo. You can’t help thinking whether this person will ever feel any regret for her despicable behaviour or if she will die thinking that was a humane, dignified way to show solidarity with an actor you admire who has been accused of violence.

Amber Heard walked into a courtroom where the judge allowed her ex-husband to laugh and joke his way through the trial. She sat in the courtroom where the court stenographer openly admitted to being totally enamoured of Depp, she listened as Depp’s lawyer told her that she was lying about the rape because she didn’t take photographs of her bleeding vagina afterwards – and was found guilty by a jury.

This jury contained someone who was not the person who they said they were. Jurors were not protected from the social media hate campaign and openly admit that one of the reasons they found Heard to be unconvincing was because the way she testified made them feel “uncomfortable.” Imagine feeling surprise at finding someone describing being raped and abused by their partner “uncomfortable.” We all had the vantage point of seeing how institutions protect men accused of abuse – but it must be said that in the courthouse in Virginia really went above and beyond.

Malicious defamation?

Intelligent people may find themselves wondering how it can be that objectively true facts are malicious defamation. Three objectively true facts. It is puzzling, to put it mildly.

Amber Heard spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. This is, as any internet research or YouTube browsing will show you, objectively true. From the moment she filed for divorce and got her a restraining order, the internet has been full of comments from Depp fans in particular (and, it has to be said, sadly, the general public in general) accusing Heard of being a liar and a whore and a lying whore.

The sentiment that we should improve the way we treat rape and domestic violence victims, is, surely, one that only a sociopath could agree with? I don’t see how anyone can dispute the fact that in 2016, two years before Amber Heard wrote her feminist think-piece, she became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out.

I don’t see how this sentence defamed Depp, and I seriously fail to see how the misogynist abuse she has had to endure in 2022 has cleared his name.

It’s ironic that people are obsessed with the idea that Amber Heard is a liar, and yet the three sentences she was found liable for could not be truer than if she had been sued for saying the earth orbits around The Sun. And I don’t know if “ironic” is the right word.

Did Amber Heard lie?

“She lied and lied and lied and lied!” Katja says. “She lied about everything. Even things you think aren’t that important, she lied about them! She claimed she used a make-up palette from Milani which hadn’t been brought out yet. She said she had given money to charity and she hadn’t given them anything! She even said she couldn’t play the guitar – and what turns up? A video of her playing the guitar!”

She lied and lied and lied and lied. The idea that Heard lied about everything is so ingrained in the Heard/Depp narrative, so ingrained, and so unfair. If Heard had, while giving testimony about one of the most traumatic things that had ever happened to her, in front of rolling cameras, in front of a room full of enemies, having just walked past a mob of people holding up signs saying burn the witch and Go Johnny, got the name of the brand of make-up she had used to conceal bruises wrong, that wouldn’t have been a lie. It would have been a mistake, a tiny insignificant detail, the most normal thing in the world, to forget a tiny detail like that so many years after the event. Or, of course, maybe due to the nature of the trauma, her memory surrounding the events was extra hazy and confused – a normal, natural, typical coping mechanism.

But the thing is, she never even mentioned the make-up company, Milani cosmetics, by name. Her lawyer held up an example concealer kit, to show the jury how Heard hid the bruises and marks she got from being beaten by Depp so much. Milani decided to profit off of the misogynist feeding frenzy and released an upbeat TikTok, comparing Amber Heard’s testimony with images of their intern jauntily walking down the corridor and looking up their back catalogue in a computer database. You can hear a song in the background, merrily singing about how the said intern is an international superspy. It’s a funny, cute, sweet, quirky true crime type short video, designed to go viral and paint Amber Heard as a liar and deliberately untruthful, duplicitous. Even if Heard had got the name wrong, it would not have been a lie. But she didn’t. In fact, her exact words in court, when under cross examination, were:

“This is what I’m talking about, a colour correction kit. This is not, obviously, the exact one I used to carry. But I used to carry it with me all the time.”

Intelligent, reasonable people might find themselves wondering how, exactly, Heard’s legal team were expected to go and buy themselves the exact colour concealer kit Heard used over the course of her volatile relationship with Depp? Do the Depp supporters and truth-seekers and social media PR people at Milani cosmetics seriously think her lawyer should have built a time machine so she could go back in time and buy the exact same make-up kit used during her marriage?

My mother was born in 1955 and always called Tippex “Snopake.” It would never have occurred to me to accuse my mother of lying? But where Heard and Depp are concerned, it seems to me that Heard really cannot be believed – every word she says is twisted and distrusted – whereas Depp himself, well. His words are basically Gospel!

If the Milani “lie” seems ridiculous enough, the other lies Heard is accused of are little better. She promised to donate $7million to charity and pledged to pay it in instalments, a totally normal process when paying large sums to good causes. She has already donated $1.3 million – a huge sum, huger still if you think of how much money she has in comparison to Depp – this would probably be the equivalent of his selling half his properties and giving them to children in need.

But due to the post separation legal abuse she has suffered at the hands of her vindictive vengeful ex-husband, she has been unable to pay it in full. (I wonder how much, if any, of the $8million Depp is going to get from her for the “defamation” he has “suffered” will be given to charity?) If you google the words pledge and donation it becomes quickly clear that many people, including Amber Heard, use the words interchangeably.

And what about the guitar? As proof that she is a hideous liar, a lying whore and an all-round dishonest, untruthful, slippery person, people often claim that she lied about being able to play the guitar. Their evidence? A clip of her pretending to play the guitar in a film. People who love Depp and hate Heard sneer at her for getting the words pledge and donate mixed up, seem, however, to have never heard of the word “acting.” One of the many, many click-baity YouTube videos “exposing” Amber as a liar for this actually had as the first comment on the video the following sentence: “Wow, if she can lie about that what else could she possibly be lying about?”

Did John Depp lie?

Amber’s words, Amber’s testimony is immediately mistrusted. Tiny inconsistencies are seen as deliberate lies, and these deliberate lies are painted as “evidence” that she lied, and, even, abused him. If Depp was judged the way people judge her, they would claim that his defence would be seen as an outright lie. He fantasized about drowning her, burning her, and then raping her burnt corpse to check if she was dead, because he liked Monty Python films,

There are no rape jokes in Monty Python. There are no necrophilia jokes in Monty Python. It was shocking for its time and place – which was the BBC in the 1970s. The sketch Depp is referencing, however, should be seen by some, or preferably all, of his supporters. It has nothing to do with his violent murderous fantasies about his young fiancée, and everything to do with how easy it is for stupid people to gang together and become evil – evilly joining together and murdering an innocent woman because it is easy and enjoyable.

But Depp, as well as having the same inconsistencies in his own testimony as Heard has, has also been caught lying. In the UK trial, he denied ever having headbutted her. When played the audio where he admits to having headbutted her “in the fucking forehead”, he quickly changes his tune and says that he did headbutt her – but it was an accident. Anthony Bridgerton voice: Ah.

Probably one of the most interesting things though, is that Depp’s voice is heard, Depp’s words are believed, almost automatically. Amber Heard is treated with great distrust and bad faith – whereas people project onto Depp a believability a trustworthiness which isn’t even there. Yes, guys, let’s do it. Let’s discuss the dog poo stuff.

One of the main reasons people hate Amber Heard is because Depp says she pooed in his bed. Wait, stop. It wasn’t his bed. It was THEIR bed. It was her bed. One of the main reasons people hate Amber Heard is because Depp says she pooed in her own bed.

Wait, stop. He says he THINKS she pooed in her own bed. He never got the poo checked for DNA. It is literally just an idea HE has in his head. A paranoid idea, to be honest.

Wait, stop. Her dog had had diarrhoea and Depp, upon first finding the shit in their bed, didn’t even blame her for it anyways.

WAIT STOP! There is even SMS evidence that a few years before this event took place (inside Depp’s head), he sent his assistant a message, saying he should leave a human poo outside the bedroom door, so Amber would think it was dog poo and clear it up. Depp thought that would be funny.

“I mean, how can you trust someone who pooed the bed to get revenge on their partner?” Katja asks me.

“But there’s no evidence she did it?” I reply.

“Depp swore it under oath!” Katja says.

I could go on like this all day. Depp’s words, his paranoid fantasies, his bitter, vindictive misogynist delusions become the truth. Amber’s truth – even when backed up by evidence and probability – is twisted into lies and proof that she is an evil person, deliberately evil, particularly calculating.

Did Amber Heard commit perjury?

Two other “lies” of hers, become, when examined properly, merely more examples of woman-hating propaganda. The first one is the “perjury in Australia.” Any amount of time spent on social media trying to debunk DV and rape victim-blaming myths will inevitably end up with you being told that Heard is guilty of “perjury in Australia” and hopefully will go to prison for it. Perjury in Australia is just another example of her conniving, lying ways.

But the truth is that both Heard and Depp owned those dogs, and mistakenly took them into Australia without filling in the customs forms properly. It is an arrogant, vandalistic act, and it is naughty as fuck. But it isn’t evil, and it doesn’t mean she is more likely to lie about rape or abuse. It’s the kind of selfish, thoughtless, reckless behaviour Hollywood celebrities are always getting in trouble for – and Depp is as much to blame as she is.

We should condemn them for it – if Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or Paris Hilton behaved this way, we would condemn them for it. What we wouldn’t do is think it means anything about whether or not Depp raped and beat Amber. It’s completely and utterly irrelevant to the case at hand.

Depp, however, after he allowed his fifteen-year-old daughter to “date” a 23-year-old man, lied to the police to protect his daughter’s partner. I can’t help thinking that lying to the police about the statutory rape of your own daughter has more relevance to the story than ticking the wrong box on a dog visa form. It shows he is prepared to lie to the authorities to protect men who may get in trouble for sexual crimes. If he is prepared to do this for his daughter’s partner, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he would expect his friends and employees to do the same for him?

But Depp’s lies are unimportant.

Did Amber Heard steal a story about sexual assault?

And what about the ex-assistant’s sexual assault story? “She lied about the rape; she stole her assistant’s sexual assault story!” Katja says viciously.

Amber Heard’s ex-assistant, Katie James, was also once, like many women the world over, the victim of rape. However, she was raped at knifepoint, and by a stranger. Heard in contrast was raped by her own partner, in her own home. It’s not clear what made James so certain her rape by a stranger at knifepoint was the inspiration needed for Amber to make up a story about being raped with a bottle as a weapon by her life partner. Especially since James had not even read Amber’s sexual assault testimony when she came out with her paranoid delusion conspiracy theory.

It says something about how much we hate women, distrust their stories, and despise victims, that even fairly intelligent people like Katja think it is more probable that a woman would need to steal details about a rape from an ex-employee than that admit that rape and sexual assaults are commonplace ordeals which affect many women, some of whom will know each other.

“Believe Women” has been ever so subtly twisted into “Believe all Women” – and then misrepresented by victim-blaming misogynists to mean “Women never lie”. But it does not mean that every time a woman says she has been raped or attacked by someone, that person should be thrown in jail. What it means is that we should believe women – like we do men. We should listen to what they are saying. We should give their words weight, let their version of events exist. We should stop hating them, and stop fantasizing about them being liars and whores.

According to Roman law, women were not allowed to give evidence in court., This was because although women were considered Roman citizens, they obtained their position only through their husbands. They were not allowed to be judges, lawyers, politicians – or witnesses. “The woman is incapable of being a witness in any form of jurisprudence where witnesses are required. “

In first century Judea, women were not even considered reliable witnesses. The Jewish historian Josephus said:

“Let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex.”

How much has changed? Google “Are women liars?”, and what do you get? An article in The Scotsman claiming that “96% of women are liars, honest!” Or Vanguard News explaining: “Why women re such good liars!” Go on YouTube, and you find a stand-up set from the comedian Chris Rock, who, by the way, is 100% convinced that Heard shat the bed, where he says men lie the most, but women tell the biggest lies:

“Who’s the biggest liars, men or women? Men lie the most, women tell the biggest lie. Men lie all the time…. (…)….Man, we lie all the time! We lie all the time! You know what a man’s lie is like? A man’s lie is like I was at Tony’s house…(..)….THAT’S a man’s lie! A woman’s lie is like: it’s your baby!”

Isn’t it ironic?

She lied and lied and lied and lied, people say, intelligent people, even, sometimes. Even feminist socialists and socialist feminists believe that Amber Heard is a liar. They say she’s lying about the make-up, so what else would she lie about? They say she’s lying about the dog poo. Camille Vasquez said in court: If she lied about being raped, what else would she lie about? It’s a gut-wrenching moment, and I don’t understand how anyone can watch it and not cry.

Meanwhile, people think everything Depp says is true. If Depp speaks, his words become truth, he is almost like God in that way. They think John Depp is telling the truth when he says that Amber Heard, like some kind of supernaturally skilled ninja assassin, threw a liquor bottle across the room, spinning through the air, to land on his hand, perfectly severing part of his finger. His word becomes truth, he owns his own story.

Amber Heard, meanwhile, is guilty of malicious defamation, because of three objectively true sentences, one of which she never even wrote herself. Her words are twisted, her tongue is inherently evil. The hatred you feel for Amber is the same hatred you felt for Eve, when she got Adam to eat the apple, or all the witches you burnt. It’s an old hatred. Your distrust of her is a distrust of all women. Of all whores, all lying whores. You think she is lying because you think women shouldn’t be allowed to speak the truth in public.

#NeverFearTruth is the hashtag that Incels, liberal feminists, Johnny Depp and Kevin Federline are all using to tear women apart and to paint all women, all victims, as liars. The misogynist backlash towards #metoo, Amber Heard and all victims, male or female, is as duplicitous as it is evil.

The irony is, the world calls her a liar, but in fact, she is being punished and humiliated for speaking truth to power. One day, one day soon, Alanis Morrisette is going to have to bring out an updated version of that song.



Putinisher Beobachter – Documenting How Nazis and far-right journalists in Russia Engage in War Propaganda

New Research from Russia shows the extent of Nazi Influence on State Media


President of Russia Vladimir Putin declared denazification was the aim of the war in Ukraine or, the liberation of Ukraine from Nazi-minded people and Nazi ideology. Many Nazis and far-right media work for state propaganda to promote Russian antifascism, which was just a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine. Antifascist Europereported five such Russian far-right journalists and two media outlets.

The term denazificationhas practically disappeared from Russian TV channels. Russian media outlet Proekt says that this is because, surveys showed that Russian citizens do not understand the meaning of the word denazification. However, Russian authorities and officials continue to use the term Ukrainian Nazis, and Russian official media and pro-government Telegram channels call Russian soldiers antifascists. This term is promoted even by those who even recently openly embraced National Socialism.

Gleb Ervier – A neo-Nazi journalist with a fascist tattoo on a head

In May, Ukrainian journalists discovered among war correspondents of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti this outspoken neo-Nazi. Examining his photos they concluded that he has at least three neo-Nazi tattoos on his body: the fascist fascia (bundles) on the back of his head, the rune Algiz on his arm and the inscription Jedem das Seine“ on his chest.

Gleb Ervier is a far-right tattooist from Tomsk, the investigation alleges. There, he was noted for participating in the Occupy Pedophiliaproject of the Restructmovement, created by Russia’s most notorious white power skinhead Maxim Tesak“ Martsinkevich. A video of Ervier’s involvement in catching a pedophilewas published online.

Gleb Ervier moved to Moscow in 2016 and, together with Andrei Dedov (nicknamed Ded, of the Tesak gang), opened Studio 18, a tattoo parlour at the hipster Flacon art factory. Ervier also propagandised far-right views through his Citadel project, which produced three documentaries under the general title The European Viewwith himself as a host. The title is from a book of the same name by the odious SS officer Leon Degrelle. Gleb Ervier has removed his film from the Citadel channel, but it is easily found on YouTube.

In 2020, a big investigation into the Tesak gang murders came out, suggesting that Ded might have been involved in three murders including beheading of a Russian prostitute. Tesak testified against him and his associates and died in prison. Ded sold his share of the tattoo parlour and fled to Ukraine to avoid life imprisonment. In 2021, a public campaign was launched to shut down the Studio 18 tattoo parlour of Gleb Ervier and Ded. A TV report was published about the Nazis’ activities at Flakon, and a petition reached municipal deputies and was sent to the prosecutor’s office. However, Russian authorities have not responded to the demand to close the neo-Nazi tattoo parlour in the centre of Moscow bearing Adolf Hitler’s name in the title. The studio still exists today, but under a different name.

In February 2022, Gleb Ervier suddenly changed his profession from far-right tattooist to war correspondent, becoming a propagandist for the Kremlin. The ‘RIA Novosti’ (current name Russia Today) is one of the largest state-run news agencies in Russia. The website RIA.RU is one of the leaders of the ‘Runet’ among online information resources, and the most quoted Russian media on social networks since April 2022. Although Gleb Ervier had not previously engaged in professional journalism or collaborated with the media,,four days after the war began, his first report on the shelling of Donetsk came out on 28 February.

Ervier stressed on radio RT: This is not the first time the scandal surrounding my tattoos has come up and each time it fades quickly because there is no substance to it. It’s clear to everyone that I come from a certain subculture. Yes, indeed, I was far-right, I was a near-football fan with all that entails. That was for a long time, while I had my adolescent maximalism. Then it all ended. The whole story is on the internet, I came out of it publicly, levelled up, changed my views. Do I repent of that story? No. Simply because it was an experience a very unusual one. We don’t have many correspondents who have that experience. This experience helps to find interesting details, stories.

Ross Marsov – A leading Russian Identitarian

One of Gleb Ervier’s closest comrades is the young far-right activist and former white power skinhead Ross Marsow. In November 2020, Ervier interviewed him for his Citadel project. One month later they visited Armenia together to cover the mass protests, where they gained their first experience as correspondents.

Ross Marsow founded Identitarians of Russiain 2017, after the example of the European Generation Identitymovement. In itsfour years of existence, the movement has firmly established itself as a new right-wing movement of Russia with dozens of direct actions, rallies, lectures, trainings and debates. It published its book Generation Identityand organised a public lecture by the British far-right politician, co-founder and former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson in 2020. Identitarian of Russia was dissolved in 2021 due to an internal crisis.

Ross Marsow stresses that he has supported ‘Novorossiya’ (Russian expansionism) since 2014. Therefore, he had no question in principle whose side to take in the war. In April 2022 he went to the Donbass as a military correspondent. However, unlike Gleb Ervier, who received his journalist credentials from a state agency, Ross Marsov works for the small projects Ledorub, Urgent Now and Your News, which are in fact Telegram channels. Already in early May Ross Marsov reported from Mariupol, where he covered the siege of the Azovstal plant, he then went to the front line in the town of Popasna. In July he returned to Russia, where he began to speak about The New Right in War”.

Dmitriy Steshin – The BORN identity

One of the most prominent far-right Russian journalists working for state propaganda is Dmitry Steshin, a war correspondent of the yellow newspaper ‘Komsomolskaya Pravda’. This newspaper is part of the publishing house of the same name, one of the largest in the country, and KP.RU has a monthly traffic of about 100 million people.

Dmitry Steshin has covered the war in Ukraine since 2013. When Putin announced a special military operation, Steshin was already in Donetsk and warmly welcomed the president’s decision. Steshin is well acquainted with the militias of the unrecognised Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, as he has travelled with them to the front lines on more than one occasion. Steshin also published a series of reports from Mariupol during the siege of the Azovstal plant, where one of Ukraine’s most notorious far-right units, Azov, was entrenched. The Nazis are going to Valhalla first class,Steshin mockingly wrote in his text, which sounds extremely ambiguous in the context of his biography.

Steshin openly calls himself a nationalist: Liberals have usurped journalism, decided that light comes only from their ideas and they are right by birth. According to them, a person with nationalist views should be a dumb jew-eater with a snaggletoothed handwriting. I don’t fit that standard, I’m tearing up the template. But in addition Steshin has befriended Russian Nazis from one of the most dangerous groups ‘BORN’ (2008-2011), and wrote texts for the far-right magazine ‘Russian Image’ – a front for underground terrorists.

Steshin was a witness in the BORN case, but miraculously escaped prosecution, although there were direct indications that he helped the killers to obtain firearms and then to escape. BORN conducted a dozen particularly serious crimes, including killing Eduard Chuvashov, (judge of the Moscow City Court), Stanislav Markelov (lawyer), Anastasia Baburova (journalist), and the antifascists Alexander Ryukhin, Fedor Filatov, Ilya Dzhaparidze and Ivan Khutorskoy.

Dmitry Steshin was an old friend of BORN leader Nikita Tikhonov. Steshin testified during interrogations, he met the neo-Nazi Tikhonov at the editorial board meeting of the ‘Russian Image’. Started by Nikita Tikhonov, the magazine grew into the political organization of the same name. Nikita Tikhonov said he had been hiding in Steshin’s flat when he was put on the wanted list for the murder of antifascist Aleksandr Ryukhin in 2006 and went on the run. With Dmitry Steshin we had a common interest in trekking. As an enthusiastic military archaeologist, he suggested that I travel to World War II battlefields for research and outdoor recreation. We became friends,Tikhonov said in his testimony.

It was Steshin, according to Tikhonov, who introduced him to arms dealers. Using Steshin’s friendly feelings, I begged him to help me get something to shoot,the BORN leader recalled. Steshin introduced him to a trader, from whom Tikhonov purchased a Suomi submachine gun, a rifle Mosin round and ammunition. Thus the neo-Nazi gang got an arsenal of weapons. Through these acquaintances of Steshin, Nikita Tikhonov also purchased the Browning revolver with which Markelov and Baburova were shot. During the search of Steshin’s house some of Tikhonov’s things were found, including Tikhonov’s real passport – as the neo-Nazi himself lived with forged documents.

Nikita Tikhonov was convicted of murder and weapons possession in April 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment in May 2011. Steshin was not the only journalist among the friends of BORN to get away with it.

Andrei Gulutin – a neo-Nazi drummer and a head of the Kremlin media

Andrei Gulutin, nicknamed Most, is another journalist implicated in the BORN case. Andrei Gulutin is mentioned in the materials of the murder case of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, as a friend of Nikita Tikhonov. In particular, he was mentioned in testimony by the leader of the neo-Nazi group Right Hook.

Gulutin started as a drummer in the neo-Nazi Band of Moskow, in early 2000. They played Oi!/R.A.C. with Ska elements. Their first song titles were Street Fight, Let the Blood Spill, Nazi-ska, Aryan Legion, White Struggle. The Federal List of Extremist Materialsincludes several Band of Moscow songs banned in Russia, including More and More of Us, Three Bright Colours, NS Squads, Race War, Vivat; 1488th After That You Talk About Tolerance.

Gulutin moved on to play drums in the neo-Nazi band Right hook (2006-2010), which declared itself the voice of the ‘Russian Image’ organisation. Despite a flamboyant musical career and a Nazi past, Gulutin achieved success in the corridors of Kremlin.

By 2010, the ‘Russian Image’ came under Kremlin control, having direct supervisors from the Presidential Administration. In 2011, under the pseudonym of Andrei Osipov, Gulutin became head of the United Russia’s Young GuardInternet page, for the ruling party’s youth organization. After the BORN trial, nationalists from the Russian Image tried to disassociate themselves from the murderers, renamed themselves into right-wing conservativesand created a new website Modus Agendi, which Gulutin also led. Then former neo-Nazi musician came to success.

On 1 April 2013, the initially liberal on-line media outlet Ridus underwent an ownership change. Andrei Gulutin became deputy editor-in-chief, in 2015 editor-in-chief. He began to pursue an orthodox-statist editorial policy. Gulutin still leads Ridus. While his subordinates talk about the Nazis in Ukraine, their leader writes caustic columns about antifa, who are given license to hate and violence. Now Ridus has dropped off the top of the online statistics having lost popularity. According to open counters, its average day attendance is 150,000 people.

Gulutin admitted to participating in neo-Nazi music groups, but claims it means nothing: Andrei Gulutin is not an ‘adherent of ultra-right views’ – i.e. an ideology of degrading one group of people by others based on race, nationality, or any other grounds. Andrei Gulutin is not a politician to impose any views at all on the public or even his inner circle. Gulutin is, as any philistine is, what they call for all that is good against all that is bad… The story of Gulutin’s fights at concerts in his youth is a complete joke, you have either to point out the specific victims or don’t embarrass yourself. The only thing Gulutin is ready to admit is his participation in the Band of Moscow and Right hook when he was young. Participation in these musical groups, however, in no way showed Gulutin’s adherence to any political views.

Vladislav Maltsev – a white patriot with a two-bedroom flat

Vladislav Maltsev (real surname Noskov) describes himself as an expert on the far-right at, one of the main Russian state-owned online media outlets about Ukraine, created in 2014 by the news agency Russia Today. Yet Maltsev glosses over the fact that he himself was recently a far-right and a very prominent one at that.

In the 2000s Maltsev became known as the author of the Nazi blogs white_patriot and nebo_ slavyan. He joined the National Socialist Society(NSO), established in 2004, and promoted it among the far-right on, which was then the main social network in Russia. The NSO attracted radical Nazis who tried to come to power through street terror, but things did not go according to plan.

The NSO split and the NSO-North terrorist group was formed. In 2008, thirteen gang members were arrested on charges of 28 murders mostly of migrants, as well as the antifascist Alexei Krylov and the gang member Nikolai Melnik. Melnik was suspected of treason and beheaded on a video. In addition, the gang was accused of robbery, illegal arms and explosives trafficking, explosions, arson, and preparation for a terrorist attack on a power station. NSO-North leader Maksim Bazylev killed himself during interrogation. In 2011, five members of the gang received life sentences, while others were sentenced to long terms of 10 to 23 years. One of the NSO leaders, Sergey Korotkikh, nicknamed Botsman, fled to Ukraine, where he made a career in the ranks of Azov and bought a plane.

In January 2008, Vladislav Maltsev was beaten in Kiev by antifascists, and already in October by former comrades. Maltsev moved away from radical Nazis, shut down his blogs and became a journalist. In 2009, he began to publish in the Religion section of ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’. As a professional Islamophobe he made headlines around the construction of mosques in the Russian hinterland and the establishment of Sharia courts in Moscow. In 2014, he became a contributor to Svobodnaya Pressa and switched to the topic of Ukrainian nationalism. In 2017 Maltsev moved to the government-affiliated scandalous on-line outlet Life, where he continued to write about the persecution of Orthodoxy in Ukraine and Ukrainian nazis.

In a conflict with an antifascist journalist on Facebook, Maltsev boasted that he had bought a two-bedroom flat in Moscow with Italian tiles, German appliances and porcelainusing the royalties for his articles. This message became a popular meme, after which the owner of the Life mocked him on itsmain page and fired Maltsev. Maltsev started publishing his texts about Ukrainian Nazis in the state-owned publication, as well as in the government-affiliated publication and in the openly ultra-right-wing outlets Zavtra and Tsargrad. These are large Russian media outlets with a combined readership of millions daily.

Tsargrad – First Russian Fox News owned by Konstantin Malofeev

Speaking of far-right journalists in Russia, it is impossible to ignore the ultra-conservative media outlet Tsargrad, owned by Orthodox businessman Konstantin Malofeev (check Аntifascist Europe database for details). Tsargrad launched in 2015 as a cable TV channel backed by American conservative Fox News channel director Jack Hanik. We want to create a network on Orthodox principles, similar to the way Fox News channel was created,Malofeev said. The editor-in-chief of Tsargrad TV was the far-right philosopher Alexander Dugin. The channel was named Tsargrad, referring to the Old Slavic name of Constantinople, the capital of the former Byzantine Empire and Orthodoxy. Its slogan is First Russian.

The launch was unsuccessful and by the end of 2017, Tsargrad TV switched to a broadcast on YouTube. However, on 28 July 2020, YouTube, a video service owned by Google, blocked Tsargrad’s account due to the sanctions law. The US Department of Justice identified Malofeev as one of the main sources of funding for separatists in Crimea and the Donetsk people’s republic, imposed sanctions against him and confiscated millions of dollars in his accounts.

In April 2021, the Moscow Arbitration Court ordered Google to reinstate the TV channel on YouTube under threat of fines, thus applying for the first time the priority of Russian law over international law. A year later, Tsargrad announced that it had received 1 billion rubles from Google – the money in the company’s accounts was seized by Russian authorities and then seized in favour of the TV channel. Tsargrad donated the funds to support the special military operation“ in Ukraine.

Konstantin Malofeev is an unusual businessman. He lost all his assets in a dispute with VTB bank, after which he switched to public activities. In the West, Malofeev is described as a key link in Russia’s control of Donbass. Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Malofeev has been suspected of the coordination and financing of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Donbass, in particular the allocation of money for the purchase of weapons for the militia. The Ukrainian media referred to him as a sponsor of the Russian Spring. The orthodox businessman himself repeatedly denied such accusations, calling the multi-million dollar assistance of his foundation to Crimea and Donbass solely a humanitarian activity. At the same time, Malofeev’s former PR consultant Alexander Boroday became the first head of the self-proclaimed Donestk Peoples Republic (DNR) in 2014. Another acquaintance, Igor Girkin (Strelkov) – described as the businessman’s former security chief – became defense minister of the self-proclaimed republic. For these two appointments, the nickname separatist sponsorstuck to Malofeyev.

Malofeev maintains contacts with European far-right politicians. At the end of May 2014, he organized and moderated a meeting of Russian and European far-right politicians in Vienna. In April 2014, he assisted Jean-Marie Le Pen to obtain a 2 million euro loan from a Russian-owned company. In March 2019, the orthodox businessman joined the party A Just Russia—For Truthto create a conceptually new social-patriotic party with elements of monarchist ideologyon the basis of the party Rodina.

Tsargrad now represents the far-right pole on the Russian media scene. Before the war, it published texts about the dominance of migrants, the harm of vaccinations, abortions and LGBTQ+, attacks on the Orthodox faith and the advantages of monarchy. After the invasion of Ukraine, Tsargrad turned the propaganda knob to maximum and switched to total support for Putin’s actions and the army. Even publishing absurdly patriotic pieces, such as the display of the face of the Virgin Mary on glass in the hospital where Russian soldiers are treated.

Tsargrad is part of the Tsargrad group of companies, which included more than a dozen online media outlets like OkoloKremlia, Segodnya,, as well as Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya, RIA Katyusha, Russia Forever and SM-News. These sites are engaged in mutual promotion, with a combined audience of several tens of millions of readers.

Readovka. A tiny urban forum became a mouthpiece of xenophobia

The online media outlet Readovka was founded in 2011 in Smolensk as a typical urban public forum in Russia’s main social network VKontakte. In 2014, its owner Alexey Kostylev created the Readovka website, specialising on regional news. In 2017, a federal website appeared, covering events in Russia and the world. The name Readovka comes from Readovka Park in Smolensk and from the English word read. In November 2020, the head office of the holding company was moved to Moscow.

Readovka’s main platform is itsTelegram channel, founded in 2018. In April 2022, it reached the one-million-subscriber mark and is one of the five most quoted media outlets in the country. In March 2022, the team created a new Telegram channel, Readovka Explains, where its’ experts briefly answer questions about current events, including in Ukraine and world responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

At the end of 2021, the liberal outlets Novaya Gazeta and Important Stories analyzed what pro-government media write about migrants. It came to the conclusion that Readovka purposefully creates a negative image of migrants by reporting on ethnic crime.

Alexey Kostylev insists that he receives no money from the Kremlin or other authorities, has no outside funding, and has built his own infrastructure for the past seven years. Kostylev justifies the abundance of overtly xenophobic publications by saying that there has been a huge response to the news about the rampages of non-Russians… We must be expressing the unconscious, you know, of a typical Russian. A Russkiy, I would even say,Kostylev noted.

In February Readovka unequivocally supported Putin and the military invasion of Ukraine. However, two days after the war began, the site was blocked by the state censor Roskomnadzor. The agency added the site to the register of banned sites because of a week-old post about the crimes of migrants in Kaluga Oblast.

The publication’s staff expressed their indignation at the censors decision because they did not oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: After spending two days on uninterrupted on-line, probably remaining the only major media outlet that does not flirt with anti-war rhetoric, we were thanked for such support. Roskomnadzor has blocked our site, and it is now inaccessible in Russia.

Access to the site was restored, and the publication continued to whip up patriotic hysteria, joining the war party. In April, Readovka even declared a boycott of Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov after his positive remarks about TV host Ivan Urgant. The latter had left Russia after Russia invaded Ukraine. Readovka urged other patriotic media outlets against publishing Peskov’s comments.

Conclusion – Soldiers of a different war

The presence of the far-right in the Russian media field is noticeable. The war will only increase their influence on the audience, as the demand for nationalism in society will naturally grow. The greatest concern is not the editors sitting in the office – like Gulutin and Maltsev. Rather it is the war correspondents journalists who work directly on the front lines, like Gleb Ervier, Ross Marsov and Dmitriy Steshin. They see the war with their own eyes and report first-hand experience of the military conflict. They quickly find common ground with the soldiers in the trenches, because they are also soldiers, but of a different war an information one. Like soldiers, journalists suffer bombings and explosions and the loss of comrades, and war cripples them just as much and toughens their views on the other side.

Communities of like-minded people have already been built around war correspondents, to raise money for humanitarian needs for the population of Donbass and equipment for military units; and also share a common ideology. War correspondents are new points of attraction and opinion leaders for a society at war. Audiences trust war correspondents, so far-right journalists can easily use the situation to promote their own narratives.

Meanwhile, far-right journalists are not ashamed of their views in Russia, and often openly declare them, emphasising themselves as experts on the far-right. As Gleb Ervier writes in his Telegram channel And since someone has taken to rewarding me with expertise on Nazism, here is my expert opinion in Ukraine we are not dealing with innocent nationalism and the struggle for independence. Europe, both directly and indirectly, spiced up with regional features, is breeding a new Reich for itself and the world. And it must be fought.

In the 1990s and 2000s with the Chechen campaigns, the Russian media promoted hatred towards persons of Caucasian nationality. In the USA, the root term ‘Caucasian’ is a synonym for white, but in Russia it is derogatory term, but became the most characteristic newspaper cliché of the time. We should now expect an increase in hostility towards Ukrainians.

These trends are most pronounced on Telegram the most politicised segment of Runet. Russians who consume information through traditional media (television and print) are more amorphous and passive and do not share radical views. This is best illustrated by the failed launch of Tsargrad on television networks, which degenerated into a niche Internet product. Meanwhile the successful launch of Readovka on Telegram, earned an audience on a clickbait about migrant rampages.

Admittedly, Russia has developed a community of ultra-conservative journalists and publicists who serve the interests of the authorities and influence public opinion by shifting it to the right. However, on the whole, nationalism in Russia is weak and the authorities are not yet mobilising the population for a full-fledged people’s war, as demanded by Igor Strelkov, the far-right leader of the social movement Novorossiya the man who launched the flywheel of war in 2014.