The Green Blues Show – Edition 29


In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: the impact of oil spills on shipwreck microbiomes, Canadian peacekeepers head to Mali, and the nexus between the global arms trade and the global flood of refugees.


The comparison may seem premature: Palestine’s teen-aged freedom fighter Ahed Tamimi – released this past Sunday from an Israeli jail – and the venerable Nelson Mandela.

Or perhaps now’s the time to make it. Just like Mandiba, Ahed is an iconic figure in the struggle against racialized oppression and violence. She was just eleven when a photographer captured her shaking her fist at an Israeli soldier twice her size. Young Ahed’s village, Nabi Saleh, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, had had its land and ancestral spring colonized by a Jewish settlement. Each Friday, Ahed and her neighbors marched down to their spring in protest – or attempted to. Israeli police routinely greeted them with teargas, sound bombs and a stinking fluid called “skunk.”

And bullets. Two members of Ahed’s family were shot dead in the course of Nabi Saleh’s weekly protests, but Ahed and her neighbors kept protesting. With her blue eyes and wild mane of hair, head held high, Ahed became a magnet for photographers. Images of her biting the hand of an Israeli soldier circulated around the world.

Direct engagement (David Kattenburg)

Last December, after learning that her 15-year-old cousin had been shot in the face, Ahed slapped, kicked and punched a pair of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who refused to leave her family’s property. Her mother Nariman live-streamed the encounter on Facebook. In response to Israeli public outrage, police seized Ahed in the middle of the night. Sixteen years-old at this point, Tamimi was charged with assault, tried by a military court behind closed doors, and jailed for eight months. Her father and mother have been jailed on multiple occasions.

Almost 7000 Palestinians – including hundreds of kids – currently languish in Israeli jails. Some Israeli politicians called for Ahed to be jailed for life. One Israeli journalist suggested she be sexually assaulted. Ahed Tamimi may just be a teenager, but Israelis and their government consider her to be a huge threat.

Ahed Tamimi was released from jail on July 29.

Now, let’s look at Nelson Mandela. He became politicized in his mid-twenties and would be repeatedly arrested for sedition and treason. He became a resistance icon. Initially a supporter of non-violent protest, Mandela would later change his mind. He and his ANC were terrorists, the South African government said. The US government agreed. Still, aside from Reagan, Thatcher and the State of Israel, no one sympathized with white South African racists, back in 1990, when Mandiba was released from Robben Island, after 27 years. No one denied the repugnance of the system South Africa had invented (reportedly with Israeli assistance). Faced by an immensely skilled, largely united, politically and racially diverse coalition, South African apartheid was bound to fall.

Ahed Tamimi (David Kattenburg)

Israel has much less to fear. Activists and academics around the world, including many Israelis, can argue that Israel practices apartheid. But the US, Canada and European Union have Israel’s back, no matter how brutally it oppresses the Palestinian people.

And, in contrast to South Africa’s rainbow coalition, Palestine’s male, geriatric leadership is divided and co-opted, and have no coherent liberation strategy. Certainly not an effective one. Indeed, Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority police the West Bank on Israel’s behalf. Young Ahed Tamimi symbolizes the “Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence,” says 82-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who talks a great talk. Perhaps he should retire and let young,  courageous Palestinians like Ahed Tamimi lead their people to freedom and independence — or equality within the single bi-national state that’s sure to come. Comparisons between her and Nelson Mandela may end up proving to be apt.


Macrobiota on steam yacht Anona (courtesy Leila Hamdan)

When ships sink, they inevitably become artificial reefs, home to a wide range of creatures big and small. The tiniest of these – Bacteria and Archaeans – are the least understood. American microbiologist Leila Hamdan, a microbial ecologist at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, has been studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in the Gulf of Mexico, on microbial communities associated with shipwrecks sitting on the bottom of the Gulf. Listen to our conversation at the SoundCloud link above.


Three hundred Canadian aircrew, soldiers and police have begun assembling in the sand-blown west African nation of Mali, part of a UN peacekeeping mission aimed at getting anti-government Touareg rebels and Islamic militants to lay down their arms.

Canada has every reason to help broker peace in Mali. The northern two-thirds of the country are now rebel-occupied and awash in arms in the wake of US/EU-engineered regime change in Libya, back in 2011, an intervention former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported.

Malian rebels have killed 170 peacekeepers to date, but they may pose less of a threat to Canadians and their half dozen helicopters than sand.

Peggy Mason is the President of the Rideau Institute, an independent, progressive think tank focusing on research, public engagement and advocacy in foreign, defence and national security policy. A former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, Peggy Mason has twenty years of experience in UN peacekeeping training. I spoke with Mason about the Mali mission.


And, a conversation with Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director of the Canadian disarmament group Project Ploughshares, about the connection between the global arms trade and the global refugee crisis. Listen to us at the link above.

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Flora Molton, Ali Farka Touré and John Lee (“Sonny Boy”) Williamson.

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