Friday, October 27, 2006
Squaring-off on Zionism: Four Perspectives
Exclusively for the Spanish newspaper Diagonal, two heavyweights of pro-Palestine intellectual activism, Khalid Amayreh and Gilad Atzmon, enter the polemic between the Spanish thinkers Santiago Alba-Rico and Raúl Sánchez-Cedillo about the State of Israel’s historical responsibility in the Middle East tragedy
Illustration by Ben Heine for Tlaxcala
Introduction: Nailing the Nail, by Manuel Talens
As I am one of those who thinks that Zionism is a form of racism and I refuse to accept the false deduction that any attack against the institutional apparatuses of the State of Israel has something to do with anti-Semitism (but with politics indeed), I usually like Alba-Rico’s materialistic texts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and not only due to the limpid and beautiful writing that characterizes his style, but also for ideological correlation. I liked therefore his piece “Israel is the Danger” (Diagonal, N.º 35, 19-07-2006). Several weeks later, I read with uneasiness Raúl Sánchez-Cedillo’s replica, “The danger is infinite war and fanaticism” (Diagonal, N.º 38, 14-09-2006), a compendium of crypto-Zionist same-old-stories usually repeated by decaffeinated left-wingers to turn things to their sophisms’ advantage. The dialectical confrontation of both thinkers deserved a dignified debate, I told to myself, and without thinking twice I requested the collaboration of two important writers of the Palestinian resistance’s theoretical environment: one of them is Gilad Atzmon –– an ex-Jew, a musician, a novelist and a ferocious enemy of Zionism from a non-Marxist stand –– and the other is Khalid Amayreh, a respected Palestinian writer and journalist who regularly collaborates with Middle East International and Al-Ahram. Both gladly accepted the challenge so I started the motor of Tlaxcala –– the network of translators for linguistic diversity, to which I belong –– and translated both Alba-Rico’s and Sánchez-Cedillo’s texts into English in order to make them accessible to my guests. Later I translated into Spanish for Diagonal the reflections they remitted me. As well, other Tlaxcalans are translating the whole group of essays into French, Italian and German (other languages will follow) so that in a few days the multilingual versions can be consulted on www.tlaxcala.es as well as on other alternative websites. Readers can find below “Israel is the Danger” and “The danger is infinite war and fanaticism”. Afterwards I give the floor to Khalid Amayreh’s “Zionism must be Dissolved for Peace” and to Gilad Atzmon’s “Spin is the Danger” so that both authors keep nailing the nail of an unconditional and necessary defence of Palestinians totally devoid of any Zionist (i.e. racist) obstacles. The debate is served. Come and inform yourself, friendly reader, and participate in it if you wish.
Israel is the Danger By Santiago Alba-Rico
For at least 60 years the West has been making an unprecedented investment in weapons, dollars and words to hide two simple and terrible ideas that put together, should make us tremble: The first one is that Palestine constitutes the moral crack of the globalised world, the vertebral point at which mankind is already breaking apart. The second is that Israel constitutes the greatest threat not only to both the life and dignity of Palestinians but for any hope of peace and stability on our planet.
Perhaps Palestinians are not the most punished people on earth, but they are indeed the most openly punished people on earth; perhaps they are not the people who have suffered the most but they are the people whose sufferings are the most uninterruptedly visible. Paradoxically, this visibility (beyond the lies) makes the victims even more vulnerable; it confers a kind of biblical dimension to the aggression: the boisterous authority of a divine intervention, and in front of it, the objects of God’s anger, are demeaned both morally and ontologically. The result of this effort is the paradox that the more brutal Israeli aggressions are, the guiltier we find their victims. The more openly contrary to Law the Israelis are, the more unjust and condemnable the Resistance and the very existence of Palestinians appear to be.
To the eyes of the world the legitimate capture of an invader soldier in fact appears to be at once a monstrous crime and the very origin of the monstrous Israeli answer: The answer that threatens to kill 1,200,000 people and to destroy two sovereign countries; Zionism’s religious source of legitimisation is this euphemistic concept that cowards call “disproportionate use of force”: any defence against Occupation is responded to with a plague, and the very “disproportion” of such a punishment proves at the same time, both the existence of Yahweh and the victim’s abjection.
No Auschwitz ever housed 1,200,000 prisoners; but Gaza does just that. No Auschwitz was openly celebrated nor accepted; Gaza is. What the Nazis hid, making their victims sacred this way, Israelis exhibits without shame, making their aggression sacred this way. The crime’s publicity feeds the religious, extralegal sources in the heart of Zionism, offering the world its twisted justification. Perhaps the world can support this aggression against Palestinians without stopping it for now. But it will not be able to indefinitely support this religious aggression in the public eye without fostering rebellion, breaking apart, or both.
Perhaps Israel is not the most unjust and criminal State in History, but it is the one that has been at it for a longer period of time and with greater impunity. It was born with a crime and every minute of its citizens’ “normality” is contemporary to a new crime. It permanently has its origin before its eyes and permanently lives in the enlarged violence of that origin, like in a Greek curse. During an interview back in 1984 Ariel Sharon said he was willing to kill one or two million Arabs if it meant that later on Israel could become a “normal country” with an immoral past but a clean and decent present. By that he meant that Palestinians are our “Indians”, our “Moorish”, our “Jews.” But no, as long as your Palestinian “Jews” resist, you will be condemned to permanently living in your criminal past (and to balance those origins against the “mythological”: the Holocaust). In doing so, you will have to continue to violate all laws, to kill children in their beds, to demolish houses, to pull up orchards, to build walls, to kidnap women, to bomb mosques, to lock millions of people to survive in ghettos and languish in the open, to kill thousands of people of hunger and thirst, to go mad by this hubris of Yahweh ... and to send your plagues into Lebanon, Syria and perhaps Iran. Your law necessarily implies this mortal dilemma: either Dominion or Apocalypse.
Israel gathers in its forge Al-Qaeda’s scorn for life, Iran’s “fundamentalism”, South Africa’s former racism, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, old Belgium’s colonial nationalism and China’s military force. This unparalleled concentration of dangers, encrusted in the planet’s most fragile and coveted area, is economically, militarily and politically supported by the US –an unleashed imperialist superpower. It is also consented to by both the EU and most of the world’s governments, including the tyrannical and worthless Arab regimes. Those who do not see the danger of it are loudly calling for the Exterminating Angel.
This paper appeared originally on the Spanish bi-weekly newspaper Diagonal, No. 35 (19 July, 2006).
The danger is infinite war and fanaticism By Raúl Sánchez Cedillo
We published “Israel is the danger”, by Santiago Alba-Rico, in DIAGONAL No. 35 (p. 5). This author states that “at least for the last 60 years the West is making an unprecedented investment […] to hide two ideas: […] that Palestine constitutes the moral crack of the globalised world. The second is that Israel constitutes the greatest threat […] for any hope of peace and stability on our planet.” This is an answer to such a text.
In spite of the difficulty of this question I want to go straight to the point: Alba-Rico’s thesis, exposed in the title and riveted throughout the text, is well known to us, because it is part of the war of statements that since the beginning of the 20th Century constantly has accompanied the territorial dispute between Palestinian Arabs and Jews (who became Israelis after 1948). But the disturbing thing is that this contribution by a Westerner – sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and, therefore, pan-Arabist – does not add any ideas, arguments, proposals or new approaches to the problems. Instead, it helps to consolidate (in our ethical willingness as well as in our indignation before the infinite war where the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is nowadays inserted, and in our desperation before the Middle East populations’ continuous suffering) - both the hate and fanaticism that will prevent us from saying or doing anything valuable as Westerners, anything different from adding both our longing for vengeance and our blindness to a conflict that ceased to be regional a long time ago. One that, as Alba-Rico points out, is heading towards a catastrophe that will destroy our capacity of a rational and collective resistance and will certainly make us share our quota of horror and death. Nevertheless, it seems that this mad “anti-imperialism” considers some catastrophes more acceptable than others.
On his allegation Alba-Rico spares no rhetorical resources to deepen the wound of suffering and transform it into an incentive to anti-Israeli rage. However, up until now only in revisionist texts we had found the heuristic virtues of comparison taken to the extreme of putting side by side both Gaza and Auschwitz’s respective capacities to house prisoners – and of course [according to Alba-Rico] the first “camp” is much worse. Let’s ask ourselves the following question without even considering what the famous revisionist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could think about it: what cause might have led left-wing writers to scorn both the Shoah’s historical and ethical meaning and that human invention called Vernichtungslager, i.e., extermination camp? What cause might have led to such an outrageous comparison which is just the opposite of exercising both the memory and thinking of contemporary history’s most terrible thing? A thing that, as Primo Levi wrote, has indelibly printed in our skin “the shame of being men.” Part of the Western left which considers itself “anti-imperialist” has fallen ill of fanaticism and imposture in front of a reality it no longer understands and keeps clinging to some myths that are neither based upon real human beings nor upon the causes of their incommensurable suffering.
A new account
Nothing will impede that the (numerous) Israeli hawks take their country to disaster, nor that the Jihad apostles of various confessions sink forever both the cause and the existence of the Palestinian people as a collective subject if we are not capable right away to do a da capo, i.e., a new account of both the Middle East problem and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which allows us to think and practice a resistance leading to peace in the region (and in the world) as well as to achieve a justice that doesn’t mean the annihilation of the other radical enemy. But it will be necessary to subject to criticism all narratives fixing the terms of a war between peoples and States. There can’t be any historical justification either of the conquest – the “great Israel” – or of the “great vengeance” encoded from the foundation of the State of Israel in the motto “throwing the Jews to the sea.”
To achieve that we need rigor, the reverse and distortion of perspective – that Umkehrung in which the best Nietzsche focused his solitary battle against rabies nationalis, i.e., the “feelings of vengeance and resentment” that were already concentrated at the end of the 20th Century on the apostles of a then recent coinage, “anti-Semitism.” The reviled “Zionism” was a son of rabies nationalis which devastated the first half of the 20th Century and brought the greatest suffering to the European Jews in all their history as a community. Zionism is nationalism, the collective will to have a State held by the ones who never had one since the Diaspora. Is Zionism worse than any other nationalism, especially after the disappearance of the progressive content of “national liberation” (with its corollary in both Lenin and others’ extraordinary conjecture): the socialist revolution? From this point of view, it carries out as much violence as it does inevitably any nation building. However, it is accused of a “crime”: the fact of having been constituted as a State in 1948, after the UN washed its hands with a resolution establishing the partition of the colonial territory of Palestine that both responsible Arab and Palestinian politicians didn’t accept, declaring war against the newly born State of Israel. Or perhaps the crime was the gradual migration of Jewish pioneers from the beginning of the 20th Century to settle in Palestine, to buy lands and to build a political community, and a future Jewish State? The Palestinian Nakba [catastrophe] began then, when the rejection by pan-Arabist elites of what was irreversibly conveyed a political and military defeat that has been deepening since then. That is the permanent tragedy, marked by war, resistance and the countless political and diplomatic disasters of both the Palestinian leadership and the pan-Arabist States from the Six Days War to PLO’s self-annihilation after Oslo. Nobody can hide the State of Israel’s terrible present and past crimes, the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by both the Irgun and Haganah during the 1948 war known nowadays thanks to “new Israeli historians” nor the madness embodied by the Israeli elites from some time ago. Nevertheless, Israel’s existence cannot be put into question, at least as the starting point of a perspective of peace and justice. In 1968 Jean-Paul Sartre considered “insane” to attribute the “aggressor’s role” to the State of Israel in the 1948 war. The intoxicating use of the “Zionist and imperialistic plot’s” old story on Israel’s foundation has from then on contributed to make impossible Palestinian people’s historical objective, that is, a viable and democratic State in the area.
This paper appeared originally on the Spanish bi-weekly newspaper Diagonal, No. 38 (14-27 September, 2006).
Zionism must be Dissolved for Peace By Khalid Amayreh (Al-Khalil, occupied Palestine)
As a Palestinian who has been living under the yoke of Israeli military occupation for over 39 years and who lost three innocent uncles to the occupation’s bullets, I should have no problems comparing Israel with Nazi Germany.
It is true that Israel has not introduced gas chambers into Palestinian towns and villages. However, Israel has been killing and tormenting Palestinians non-stop in a variety of ways which, in their brutality and sheer evil, don’t really differ in substance from Nazi behaviour.
Moreover, it is paramount to remember that the German holocaust didn’t start with Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, but rather with an idea, with a book and with a Kristalnacht, the sort of things that are so rampant in Israel’s collective thinking these days as the Israeli Jewish society continues to drift toward religious and jingoistic fascism.
This is not liberal Zionism giving way to religious Zionism as some pro-Israeli apologists would argue. There is no such a thing as liberal Zionism or democratic Zionism. These are contradictions in terms.
Zionism, we are told, is about “building a national homeland for the Jews.” However, for millions of its victims, Zionism is about the extirpation, expulsion and dispersion of the bulk of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland to the four corners of the world by way of organised terror and violence. This is the ugly side of Zionism that much of the West doesn’t want to see.
Indeed, from the very inception, Zionism viewed Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land. This arrogant denial of my people’s very existence didn’t originate in ignorance of reality. It was rather an expression of virulent and violent racism, very much like those white European barbarians who exterminated six million native American Indians and called the genocide “Manifest Destiny.”
The Zionists did know that Palestine was populated by hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims. In 1898, a Zionist delegation visiting Palestine to assess the feasibility of making it a Jewish State, sent a pithy telegram summing up the situation. “The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man.” Yet, the Zionist movement insisted with unflinching determination on wresting the bride from her lawful husband.
That was a sheer act of rape, it still is an act of rape and will always be an act of rape, no matter how much the mythmakers are celebrated and their myths are glorified.
In fact, despite the passage of fifty years of “Jewish Statehood,” Israel’s undeclared but ultimate goal remains the expulsion of most or all of Palestinians from the area extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.
Indeed, any casual observer of the Israeli media these days will be affronted, nearly on a daily basis, by remarks and statements by Israeli officials, including Knesset members and cabinet ministers, calling for “transferring” the Palestinians, not only from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, but also from Israel proper.
“Transfer” is not an innocent term. It is no less than a euphemism for genocide, at least a partial genocide, since it is almost impossible to effect the wholesale removal and ethnic cleansing of millions of people from their motherland without resorting to mass murder and mass terror.
Well, was not this the method used quite liberally by the legions of Zionism to force the bulk of the Palestinian people to flee their hometowns and villages in 1948? Didn’t Menachem Begin, in his book The Revolt refer to the Deir Yassin Massacre as a miracle because it made hundreds of thousands of terror-stricken Palestinians flee in fear.
It is imperative that we call the spade a spade, especially when in the hands of our gravediggers. The Zionists are comparable to Nazis because their actions and behaviour are comparable and similar to Nazi actions and behaviour.
For as the Nazis sought to obliterate Jews as a people, the Zionists have been seeking to obliterate the Palestinians as a people. This is more than Golda Meir saying dismissively “what Palestinians?” or some Israeli officials referring to us contemptuously as “Never-landers.” The systematic destruction of some 460 Palestinian towns and villages by Israel (1948-52) was a Nazi act of the highest order. It embodied total disregard and total denial of “the other” on no ground other than the victims being non-Jewish. (The relics of some of these towns can still be seen even today and are meticulously documented in Walid Khalidi’s monumental work All That Remains).
Unfortunately, this modus operandi of hateful racism and terror remains Israel’s central policy toward the Palestinian people. There is no clearer proof of Israel’s malicious intent than the intensive building of hundreds of Jewish-only settlements on occupied land. Yes, everything here is “Jewish-only.” Jewish-only settlements, Jewish-only roads, Jewish-only pools, even Jewish-only rights, since non-Jews are viewed by a growing segment of Israeli Jews as children of a lesser God or even outright animals.
And now we have this evil gigantic wall whose stated goal is to prevent Palestinian guerrillas from infiltrating into Israel whereas its real purpose is to carve and steal as much Palestinian land as possible.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in Hague ruled that the Wall was illegal and ought to be dismantled. However, Israel, backed by its guardian-ally, the United States, arrogantly defied the ruling and implicitly accused the court and its judges of anti-Semitism.
In addition to the settlements, inhabited by the most violent and racist-minded Jews anywhere in the world, Israel has always sought to make Palestinian lives so unbearable in order to coerce them to emigrate.
To effect this evil goal, successive Israeli governments (Labor and Likud alike) employed every conceivable legal trick, including the introduction of dual justice systems, a liberal one for Jews and a harsh one for non-Jews.
One expression of this judicial apartheid is the open-ended incarceration of thousands of Palestinian activists, students, professionals and college professors as well as politicians, including lawmakers and cabinet ministers, without charge or trial. (Since 1967, Israel has arrested over 800,000 Palestinians).
When the notoriously insidious system of institutionalised repression failed to make significant numbers of Palestinians emigrate, Israel resorted to brazen physical harm in the form of terrorising and killing the Palestinians at the slightest “provocation”, very much like Hitler’s forces did throughout Nazi-occupied Europe more than sixty years ago.
Needless to say, Israeli “pacification” raids and incursions would leave many children and women killed, homes destroyed, farms pulverized, furniture vandalized and roads and infrastructures thoroughly bulldozed. In short, everything, every conceivable crime is committed by this Nazi-like entity, all under the rubric of fighting terror. And then much of the Western media would just parrot the Israeli narrative as if the Israeli army spokesmen were the paragons of veracity and honesty.
In the final analysis, when Jews (or anybody else) behave like Nazis, they should be compared to Nazis. Indeed, a country that sends its F-16 fighter-bombers to drop one-tonne bombs on apartment buildings in the middle of the night, where children and women are asleep, is not morally that far from the Gestapo mentality.
Moreover, an army whose soldiers blithely and gleefully murder children on their way to school and then verify the killing by emptying twenty more bullets into the child’s head, as happened with Iman al Hamas in Rafah nearly three years ago, and then the soldier is exonerated and given financial compensation, is not really an army of professional soldiers, but an army of thugs, gangsters and common criminals. It is an army that differs very little from the Wehrmacht.
Yes, Palestinian suicide bombers carried out attacks against Israeli civilians and killed scores of innocent Israelis, often in retaliation for the killing of Palestinian children by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish settlers. I totally and unhesitatingly condemn these suicidal crimes against innocent Israelis.
Nonetheless, Israel can’t push the Palestinians to the edge of physical extermination and national demise and at the same time shout “Hamas, terror, suicide bombings.”
The American poet Auden wrote:
I and the public know,
What all school children learn,
Those to whom evil is done,
Do evil in return.
Indeed, what would any people do after 59 years of Nazi-like oppression that transcends reality? What would any people do when forced to choose between death at the Jewish slaughterhouse and death as suicide bombers?
Israel claims it doesn’t kill Palestinian children and civilian deliberately. This is a cardinal lie. Mistakes happen once, twice, ten times. But when the killing of civilians happens nearly on a daily basis, it means it is policy. In the final analysis, killing knowingly is killing deliberately.
Today, Israel, like the Gestapo did to the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, is barring millions of Palestinians from accessing food and work. In Gaza, Israel, under the pretext of freeing a captured Israeli soldier, has bombed or destroyed the bulk of civilian infrastructure there, including schools, colleges, streets, bridges, charities as well as thousands of homes. Israel has also destroyed the only power station in Gaza, forcing 1.4 million Gazans to live in total or partial darkness.
This is the same Israel whose army has just destroyed much of Lebanon and dropped 1.5 million cluster bombs throughout southern Lebanon.Well, 1.5 million bombs can kill at least 1.5 million children.
I know that pro-Israeli apologists, including some who claim to be followers of the lofty leftist traditions of standing up against oppression, are tempted to create a certain moral symmetry between Israel and the Palestinians.
But, in all honesty, one might ask what symmetry is there between the rapist and his victim, between the occupier and the occupied, between the armed fanatical settler and the terrified Palestinian peasant who has to rely on Western peace volunteers for protection from settler vandalism and savagery?
Is there hope for a peaceful solution to this enduring bitter conflict? Certainly there is, and it lies in dismantling Zionism and the creation of a unitary, civic and democratic State in Palestine-Israel whereby Jews and Arabs live equally as citizens as many Jews and Arabs are living in Europe today.
I say Zionism ought to be dissolved because the concept of “Jewish State” necessarily implies intrinsic racism against non-Jews.
Fortunately, there are Jews of conscience and good will who would agree with this solution. These are our natural partners for peace.
Spin is the Danger By Gilad Atzmon
Along the years I have learned that while intellectual debates and ideological disputes are supposed to be an enlightening event, in most cases they just happen to be boring like hell. Yet, one way to spice up a dead debate is to expose the different methods and tactics employed by the debaters. In other words, rather than trying to evaluate or grasp a given argument based on what it is there to reveal, one may try to expose what a given argument is there to conceal.
In a recent piece published by Diagonal (“Israel is the Danger”), Santiago Alba-Rico maintains that Israel is the greatest threat for world peace. Alba-Rico appears to draw an ethical insight out of the late phase of Israeli brutality. Indeed, considering the level of aggression Israel performed in Lebanon and in Gaza this past summer, not much room is left for doubt. Israel is morally bankrupt.
Though Alba-Rico is presenting a proper argument, consistent, sharp, short and neat, his entire premise is somehow obvious. He simply charges the broad daylight murderer with murder. Yet, this is Alba-Rico’s greatest strength. Remarkable thinkers make complexity look simple in retrospective. They are there to shout that the king is naked before anyone else does. Great philosophers do not need any historical reasoning. They manage well without forensic evidence. They live happily without bibliographic references and endless quotes. They just communicate with reason applying reasoning. Philosophers who happen to engage in moral questions tend to correspond with the free ethical mind. This is exactly what Alba-Rico is doing with great success.
Alba-Rico is not a politician, he is not trying to suggest a solution to the conflict, he doesn’t make a call to ‘throw the Jews to the sea’. He just points out that Israel is leading us all towards an immanent catastrophe.
Alba-Rico’s task appears to be an easy one; he basically indicts the broad daylight slaughterer with murderer. Sánchez Cedillo on the other hand, is aiming at the impossible. In a piece published in Diagonal (“The Danger is Infinite War and Fanaticism”), Sánchez Cedillo tries to refute Alba-Rico by defending the case of Israel.
Indeed, Sánchez Cedillo chooses an incredibly difficult task; he set himself on a path that even Zionists have been trying to avoid for more than a while. In fact Zionists do not make a ‘discourse of justification’ anymore. With American backing and hundreds of nuclear bombs at their disposal, Israel’s right to exist is maintained by the sword or if to be more specific, by millions of American cluster bombs ready to be launched.
Sánchez Cedillo’s decision to present an argument for the right of existence of the ‘Jews Only State’, should be seen as a heroic task. After Jenin, Gaza and Beirut it is rather difficult to grant Israel a moral defence. Sánchez Cedillo does his best and this is why a thorough scrutiny of his argument is rather important. It serves as a glimpse into what is left out of the Zionist ‘discourse of justification’.
It is rather an established fact that within the post-war liberal democratic discourse the one who dominates the ‘meanings’ is the one who shapes reality. In other words, if you want to win you better learn how to spin. To spin is to dictate meanings. To spin is to help people stop thinking independently and ethically. To spin is to divert people’s attention, to detach people from reality, to detach people from themselves, to make one blind to one’s primal intuitions.
1. Code name ‘Israel’
Zionists tend to conceal the fact that Israel is just a code name for an expansionist and racially motivated national State. Israel is basically a code name for the ‘Jews Only State’. Israel isn’t just an innocent national State as Sánchez Cedillo tries to portray it, it is rather a racially orientated State with discriminating laws that as Hanna Arendt spotted already in the early 1960’s, are not categorically different from the infamous Nuremberg Laws.
Once we grasp that Israel ‘the signifier’ is not more than a ‘spin’ that is there to conceal the sinister Zionist racist agenda, we are then entitled to replace the so-called innocent word ‘Israel’ with its real meaning i.e., ‘The Jews Only State’.
In his commentary, Sánchez Cedillo suggests that “Israel’s existence cannot be put into question, at least as the starting point of a perspective of peace and justice.” At first glance, this quote appears as an innocent legitimate statement. However, once we replace the word ‘Israel’ with its real ideological meaning we end up with: “The Jews Only State’s existence cannot be put into question, at least as the starting point of a perspective of peace and justice.”
Clearly, from an ethical point of view, the altered quote is a self-revealing flaw. Obviously, the concept of ‘Jews Only State’ must be put into question prior to any discussion concerning ‘peace’ or ‘justice’. Worryingly enough, Sánchez Cedillo knows it all pretty well, yet rather than reasoning with his readers he prefers to spin, to divert their attention, to win a debate while concealing the truth.
2. There’s no business like Shoah business
In his rebuttal Sánchez Cedillo dismisses any comparison between Auschwitz and Gaza. His argument looks valid at first glance: While Auschwitz is a ‘death camp’ Gaza is ‘just’ a giant Jail with over a million starved prisoners who are indeed daily shelled and blitzed by the almighty army of the ‘Jews Only State’, yet, let’s face it, the prisoners still breathe. One may happen to admit that this is indeed a wining argument as long as one is mentally, intellectually, emotionally or physically circumcised. Indeed, Zionists and their apologists fail to understand why the above argument doesn’t manage to break through the walls of the Jewish ghetto and the Zio-centric discourse.
I will try to help them out. Since it is the Zionists and their apologists who categorically block any possible re-thinking and revisionism process to do with WW2 and the Nazi Judeocide, the Shoah itself is rapidly becoming a political spin rather than a vivid and genuine ethical enlightenment. Rather than confronting the holocaust critically, Europeans are now subject to laws that determine the truth of Auschwitz. Rather than confronting Auschwitz ethically as free beings, Europeans are doomed to accept a singular strict narrative with a precise moral and political implication, not to say interpretation. In other words, it is the Zionist hegemony over the historical discourse that transformed Auschwitz into an isolated dry fact that loses its relevance as I write these lines.
On the other hand, the truth of Gaza, Jenin, Bint Jabel and Southern Beirut is the outcome of a genuine ethical reaction evolving within the free mind and the free spirit. To feel for the Palestinian is the direct outcome of merely being in the world. This is why it takes so many shapes and forms. While Auschwitz has become an integral part of contemporary Western politics and is intrinsically associated with everything we detest in the Western political discourse, to feel for the Palestinians is to reclaim humanism, to join David defeating Goliath.
At the end of his rebuttal Sánchez Cedillo insists that “Israel’s existence cannot be put into question”. In case one asks oneself why exactly, Sánchez Cedillo is quick to come up with the answer. “In 1968 Jean-Paul Sartre considered ‘insane’ to attribute the ‘aggressor’s role’ to the State of Israel in the 1948 war”. So, you think to yourself, “the ‘Jews Only State’ should be granted an unconditional and unlimited right to exist just because the great Jean-Paul Sartre was either misinformed or just intellectually lame in 1968.”
I would allow myself to suggest that if this is the best spin the defenders of Israel manage to come up with, Israel and Zionism better count on the sword alone. At least intellectually, the right to exist of the ‘Jews Only State’ seems to be insupportable.
The Spanish philosopher Santiago Alba-Rico has written numerous essays and books on Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics. He has been living in the Arab world for the last eighteen years and has translated into Spanish the Egyptian poet Naguib Surur and the Iraqi writer Mohamed Judayr.
Raúl Sánchez Cedillo is a member of the Universidad Nómada (Spain)
Gilad Atzmon is a well-known jazzman, writer and activist. His website is http://www.gilad.co.uk/
Khalid Amayreh is a Palestinian writer and journalist.
Mary Rizzo is a US-born writer and translator living in Italy. Her blog is http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/
Les Blough is an US writer and editor of www.axisoflogic.com
Manuel Talens is a Spanish writer and translator. His website is http://manueltalens.com/
All Spanish texts translated into English by Manuel Talens and revised by Les Blough and Mary Rizzo. Talens and Rizzo are members of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity (www.tlaxcala.es). This text can be fully reproduced as long as its contents are respected and its authors and source are mentioned.
Long live the Palestinian people!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Italo-German Palestinian Summit is a SUCCESS!
On a more social note (for our friends and readers), we had the most marvelous time in the world, with great food and drink, beautiful surroundings, wonderful people with us and the promise to do it sometime again. I had no idea Germany was this beautiful and interesting, even though I'd been before and even studied the language for a long time.
To those who don't know Umka, she is the most wonderful human being in the world. She is the utimate in wisdom, talent, humour and kindness. She appreciates the important things in life and her smile is as warm as the sun itself. She is a great friend and I truly adore her.
Friday, October 20, 2006
UMKAHLIL and THE CUTTER JOIN FORCES!!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Gilad Atzmon's Zionist Turn - Artie Fishel and the Promised Band
Yeah, sooner or later, it had to happen. Gilad Atzmon would make an album of Jewish music. What is that supposed to mean? I knew you'd ask that. Well, according to Artie Fishel, the Zionist Alter-ego of Gilad Atzmon, it means that this is Jazz music taken back to its origins, in the Ghettos of Siberia, in the Jewish Diaspora. What does it sound like? Well, I'd hate to argue with Artie, but I think he limits his description a bit too much. What it actually is is a panorama of modern music from Classical (Dvorak), to Broadway (Rogers and Hammerstein), to Swing (Ellington), to Klezmer, to Drums and Bass, to cool Jazz (Hancock). There is quite a mix there, and even more interesting, it flows and meshes in a way that defies many of the rules of genre: at times it is comical, at others is jarring and electric. It never smashes one over the head with a "message", but it works as a surprise musical box, always entertaining, and sometimes truly breathtaking.
Anyone who has seen Atzmon play can easily state that he shifts in and out of themes and rhythm like a lysergic dream, roaming the wilderness of an enormous songbook where anything is there for the taking. Whatever thread his mind is following is anyone's guess, as in the same piece one is taken along on a jet stream, where the energy and creativity are pushing him to dig for even stranger and more appealing juxtapositions than we've been accustomed to hearing ordinarily. This is precisely what happens in the latest album under the guise of Artie Fishel and the Promised Band. The universe of melody and rhythm meets spoken word, there are moments of "novelty record" comicity, but they are soon standing face to face with the most raving and riotous improvisations, where serious talent and research for the "new" take the driver's seat. In essence, it is quite an exhilarating trip.
And, this time, it seems Atzmon moves further into delving at the core of his own essence, as a person who grew up surrounded by the Foundational Myth of Israel, which is the meaning of Zionism: that Israel belongs to the Jews and that others are usurpers. He has chosen to create a figure that represents a paradigm of Zionism, and a situation that hints at how this philosophy is not grounded in reality, but in wishful thinking. Without blatantly stating it (Artie is an Israeli Fighter Pilot, He Loves his People and his People Love him), Artie adamantly insists upon claiming ownership of something as exclusively his, that the form of music that can generally be called Jazz belongs to his people and that he is bringing it back home. Making the analogy between a form of art and a piece of land, there is something more than slightly absurd in claiming exclusive ownership of something that objectively has a very different history.
Yet, those who aren't open to this message, and they are many, may still be able to appreciate the deep understanding that Atzmon and his band seem to have for the complexity of the musical melting pot. This is outstanding playing, brave and exciting and extremely fun.
For a limited time, the album is available (through his site, see the LINK at the sidebar) with an additional CD, including an interview with BBC Radio 7, Artie Fishel meets George W. Bush, a reminiscence by Lt. Col Israel Israeli and some tracks that can't be found on the album. Also, play the Artie Fishel Game at the site, and check out the live dates.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
"GAZA: INEXPLICABLE WOUNDS AND NEW WEAPONS"
RAINEWS 24 (ITALY)
The investigative report ensued from the alarm that was launched in the second part of last July by some doctors of Gaza’s hospitals who had treated for the first time some inexplicable wounds that had provoked the amputation of legs in at least 62 cases. On many occasions, the doctors asked for the international community’s help in order to understand the cause of these strange wounds, which presented fragments that were little and often invisible to X-rays and unaccountable cuts that were provoked by heat within the lower limbs.
Several articles appeared in the national and international press.
After lengthy research, RaiNews24’s investigative branch has detected the plausible cause of these effects: it seems that they are related to a new weapon that is dropped by drones (unmanned fighter planes) and then precisely remote-controlled to strike against the established target.
The weapon, according to the military magazine "Defence Tech", is called DIME, that is "Dense Inert Metal Explosive". It is a carbon-encased missile that, at the moment of explosion, shatters in minuscule splinters and, at the same time, sets off an explosive that shoots blade of energy-charged, tungsten powder, thus burning and destroying through a very precise angulation all that it encounters within a four meter range.
This technology is comprised in the new class of "low-lethality" weapons that minimise the collateral damage and reduce the lethal effects to a restricted space.
http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchieste/10102006_gaza.asp with video
In these pictures—taken last July and August at Gaza hospital—the bodies of persons who are likely to have been struck with DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) bombs are shown. As the images seem to prove, the explosion of these bombs is thought to cause a shock wave with an angulation such that it hits the victims at their lower limbs and in the genital area.
According to doctor Joma Al-Saqaa from Al-Shifa Hospital, in Gaza, in the images one should be able to see the metallic powder that would make the wounds photographed consistent with the supposed effects of tungsten DIME bombs.
Translated from Italian by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of Tlaxcala (www.tlaxcala.es) the network of translators for linguistic diversity. The video is Copyright RAI Corporation (Italy).
Haaretz article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/772933.html A MUST READ!!!!
http://www.misna.org/news.asp?IDLingua=2&id=170405 Missionary Service News Agency writes:
GAZA, After the RAI NEWS 24 Investigation, new elements on the "New" Weapons
"The data that is certain is that between the months of June and August, Israeli Aviation has used different or new weapons in the Gaza Strip, which have provoked wounds that have never before been seen. We have documented dozens of cases of injured persons who have lost one or two inferior limbs for reasons that are inexplicable," thus says to MISNA, Doctor Massinen Mouawia, the General Director of Emergency Room services in the Gaza Strip in care of the Health Ministry of the Palestinian Authority.
It has been several hours now that the new investigative report by RAI NEWS 24 has been circulating. (RAI NEWS 24 is the satellite channel of Italian State Television). According to this report, in the past months, it is claimed that the Israeli forces have utilised a new type of weapon with shrapnel of carbonium and tungsten powder. "In the main hospitals of Gaza, such as the Shifa Hospital, our medical colleagues have treated wounds that present small holes, especially at the legs; in some other cases, within the body itself metallic fragments of various dimensions have been found, which are actually larger than the small wounds," Doctor Mouawia explains. He is a cardio-vascular surgeon. "Personally I have collected in a CD the documentation relative to 86 cases that I am ready to show in Italy or anywhere else so that people can know what has happened here in the past months, when the public opinion was directed especially at the war in Lebanon."
"In our opinion, Israel has also used chemical weapons, such as numerous cases demonstrate, documented cases, with persons having extremely serious burns to their internal organs in the absence of external wounds," Doctor Mouawia explains further to MISNA, in a telephone call between Italy and Gaza City. According to the report of RAI NEWS 24, the "new" weapon used in Gaza seems to be very similar to the explosive DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive), created by the United States weapons industry and defined on the Internet site from a United States Aeronautics laboratory as a weapon with "focused lethality" ("targeted mortality"), in other words, capable of destroying its target causing minimal damage to the surrounding area. According to the evidence gathered in the report, those wounded from this weapon have had damage leading to the amputation of the inferior limbs that were all at precisely the same position (just below the genitals) and with identical modalities. "In the Gazan hospitals," Doctor Mouawia adds, "the doctors are facing a situation that is truly difficult, worsened by the state of seige that we in the Gaza Strip are forced to live under. It is like an open-air prison: many of those wounded have died due to the seriousness of the wounds provoked by these weapons that are "different" from the traditional ones up to this moment used by the Israeli Aviation." Speaking to MISNA, he added that no new cases had been recorded following the month of August. According to the Director, since the capture of the Israeli soldier last 25 June by Palestinian extremists, until now in the Gaza Strip 286 Palestinians have been killed and more than 4,200 have been wounded. [EB]
(translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo, member of Tlaxcala www.tlaxcala.es, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation is on copyleft. It may be reprinted citing the source and altering nothing.)
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Sam Bahour - We Can't Go Home
THIRTEEN years ago, I left a comfortable life in the United States for an uncertain future in the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization had just signed the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I saw an opportunity for Palestinians to finally build a society and economy that would lead to freedom — to a thriving Palestine alongside Israel.
As a Palestinian-American businessman, I was determined to do my part. So I moved to the West Bank city of El Bireh, where my family has lived for centuries. There I helped create a $100 million telecommunications company, which today employs more than 2,000 Palestinians. I earned an M.B.A. through Tel Aviv University. Then I developed a $10 million shopping center — the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories, employing more than 220 Palestinians. I married and had two beautiful daughters.
Now the Israeli authorities have decided that my life here has come to an end.
Even after the Oslo Accords were signed and the Palestinian Authority established, Israel retained control of all borders and of the Palestinian Population Registry. Nothing or no one gets into or out of the West Bank and Gaza without Israeli permission. For a dozen years I have waited for Israel to approve my application for Palestinian residency.
American Jews, indeed Jews from anywhere in the world, can come to Israel and be granted automatic citizenship. Thousands of American Jews freely enter and exit Israel to live in illegal Israeli settlements in the middle of the West Bank. But Palestinians whose families have lived here continually for centuries do not enjoy the same right. I need a residency card from Israel to live with my Palestinian family in my grandfather's home in the Palestinian West Bank.
For 13 years, I've lived here by renewing my tourist visa every three months. Last month, an Israeli soldier stamped my American passport with a one-month visa and wrote "last permit" on it in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
Now I am faced with a terrible choice. I can leave, uprooting my family and abandoning the businesses I've worked hard to build. I can leave alone and be separated from my wife and daughters. Or I can remain here "illegally," risking deportation at any time.
My situation is not unique. Thousands of Palestinians are in a similar limbo. Most have less desirable options than mine. My children are American citizens. We can return to the United States. But I came here with a vision, and I remain determined to play a role in developing an economy, nonviolently ending Israel's military occupation and building a Palestinian state.
Israeli policies effectively discourage people like me. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, it has been official Israeli policy since 1983 to "reduce, as much as possible, the approval of requests for family unification" of Palestinians. B'Tselem reports that in the last six years alone, more than 70,000 people have applied for permission to immigrate to the West Bank and Gaza to join family. Their applications have either been denied or, like mine, languish.
Each Palestinian who leaves lessens what Israelis openly call the"demographic threat" of a growing Palestinian population. But Israel needs to understand that the real threat comes not from demographics. It comes from controlling an entire population, breaking families apart and placing obstacles in the path of economic development.
Israelis and Palestinians are destined to be neighbors. One neighbor cannot ensure its security by condemning the other to hardship and despair. Many people like me — business owners, educators, artists and others — whom Israel is denying entry came to build bridges, not walls. We came to invest in a better life to follow this occupation — a bright, joint future for Palestinian and Israeli children alike.
Sam Bahour is a co-editor of "Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine andPalestinians."
Monday, October 2, 2006
Pentagon uses MySpace to recruit... cyberstalking? by Nick Turse
Congressman Mark Foley (R. Florida), who co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and billed himself as an enemy of pedophiles and online predators everywhere, just resigned over emails and instant messages sent to underage male congressional pages who "said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts." Moreover, the Washington Post and the New York Times Sunday report that this information was known to the Republican leadership in late 2005 and widely available to top Republicans by last Spring.
It's already clear that they were far more eager to retain Foley's House seat than do a thing about his gross dereliction of duty. They didn't even bother to remove him from his caucus on children. In fact, they were so eager to keep the matter under wraps that they didn't even inform Michigan's Rep. Dale E. Kildee, the sole Democrat on the House Page Board, set up to protect the congressional pages from just such advances, about the matter (though Republicans on the Board were informed). It's a remarkable, still-unfolding little tale of political hypocrisy that might even endanger House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert on the eve of the mid-term elections.
In recent times, Congress, while not policing its own, has put much energy into the matter of the possible cyberspace stalking of the young by sexual predators at sites like MySpace.com, home to a zillion young "friends" and "friends of friends." As it turns out, these days there are predators of all sorts roaming the Internet looking to lure young bodies their way. In the case of the Pentagon, which, Nick Turse reports, has only recently made its "friendly" debut at the wildly popular MySpace website, the interest in those bodies isn't sexual, but -- given the state of George Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the phrase "e-cannon fodder" certainly comes to mind. If you want to know more, check out Turse's latest below and then consider the deeper recruitment desperation of the Pentagon and the way it's transforming our military in his previous Tomdispatch piece, "Dirty Dozen, The Pentagon's 12-Step Program to Create a Military of Misfits." Tom
With Friends Like These. The Militarization of MySpace By Nick Turse
Those young years can be hard ones. The acne, the awkwardness, the angst. That may be one reason why, if you're between your early teens and your mid-twenties, you may already be making "friends" in the cozy cyber-confines of MySpace.com, the social networking website which bills itself as "an online community that lets you meet your friends' friends." At MySpace, each user can create a customized webpage or "profile," upload photos (only from your best angle and then photo-shopped to the hilt), blog around the clock, and -- most important of all -- court those "friends."
In an eerie reflection of the very world many MySpace scenesters undoubtedly plunge into cyberspace to avoid, the measure of success at the site is how much you can increase your page's popularity. You do this by posting attention-grabbing content, breathlessly soliciting other users, putting up provocative pictures to attract attention, sending out "bulletins" to your existing "friends," and asking them to "whore" you out to their list of friends. With its multimillions of "friends" to garner, the site is wildly popular -- and not just for insecure teens either.
MySpace has become a magnet for those that want, for one reason or another, to draw young eyeballs (and often young pocketbooks). Colleges, corporate products like Toyota's Yaris and the Honda Element, even fictional characters like Ricky Bobby. from the movie Talladega Nights or fast-food outlet Wendy's minimalist cartoon pitchman Smart have already gotten into the MySpace act.
Early this August, the site hit a major milestone -- 100 million profiles. Even including those corporate-sponsored sites and fictional pages, that's still a whole lot of would-be friends.
Recently, Fortune magazine reported that MySpace, bought up by Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch in 2005 as part of a $580 million deal, "passed Google in terms of traffic" and now ranks second only to Yahoo in page views with one billion daily. Already "home to 2.2 million bands, 8,000 comedians, thousands of filmmakers, and millions of striving, attention-starved wannabes," the magazine reported that, on a "typical day," it signs up 230,000 new users. While the site's meteoric growth might be slowing of late, it has shown special skill in recruiting people since its launch in 2003. In the same years that MySpace has become an Internet superpower, the U.S. Armed Forces have sustained substantial losses. Bogged down in unpopular occupations of two countries with no sign of victory in sight, the military has lowered its standards and now recruits, writes Brad Knickerbocker in the Christian Science Monitor, "more soldiers from the 'lowest acceptable' category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability." Little wonder then, with 80% of MySpace users reporting they're over 18 years old, that the military has set its sights on occupying some virginal virtual territory in its search for fresh-faced recruits who might be thrown into the Afghan and Iraqi breaches.
In February 2006, the Marine Corps launched its MySpace profile. A thoroughly predictable page, it boasts a streaming video that might best be termed boot-camp-on-speed -- complete with clips of a stereotypical drill instructor barking out commands and a bullet-cam speeding toward a target on the rifle range. The site even offers downloadable desktop wallpapers, mainly Marine Corps "anchor and globe" emblems or photos of World War II vintage Marines. Conspicuously, there isn't a modern image in sight in any way evocative of the war in Iraq (deployment pressure from which recently caused the Corps to announce that it would force reservists to return involuntarily to duty due to a lack of volunteers).
By July, according to an Associated Press report, "430 people ha[d] asked to contact a Marine recruiter through the site. including some 170 who are considered 'leads' or prospective Marine recruits." With Iraq sapping its strength, even those modest figures must be music to Marine Corps ears. By mid-September, the Marines already had close to 21,000 MySpace "friends" endorsing their page, just below the 22,000 garnered by the "unauthorized" Noam Chomsky page and way below Yaris's 70,000. But a respectable number nonetheless.
In August, not to be left out, the Air Force launched its own page. Along with the already requisite downloadable wallpapers, the Air Force offered youthful visitors the opportunity to click to chat with an Air Force "advisor." Col. Brian Madtes, the Air Force Recruiting Service's Strategic Communications director, was blunt about the reasons in an "interview" with the Air Force's own news agency: "In order to reach young men and women today, we need to be in tune and engaged in their circles. MySpace.com is a great way to get the word out to the public about the amazing things people are doing in the Air Force."
One-upping the Marines, the Air Force also launched a cross-promotional effort with the Fox network television show "Prison Break." Visitors to its MySpace profile page were offered five slick "rough cuts" of Air Force commercials on which to vote their preferences. The winning ad ran during the September 18 episode of the prison-escape drama. The next day, in an abrupt about-face, the Air Force shut down its MySpace page over "concerns that association with inappropriate content might damage the service's reputation." As Madtes, told the Air Force Times, "The danger with MySpace is we got to the point where we weren't real comfortable with the potential for inappropriate content to be posted [on the page of] a friend of a friend. We didn't want to be associated with that and tarnish our reputation."
In February of this year, the Army also expressed reservations over MySpace, and canceled an advertising contract with the site after just one month, due to reports of "child predators approaching youths via the site." In fact, MySpace is entangled in a $30 million lawsuit brought by a "14-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by another user of MySpace.com." In a recent speech, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales called attention to an incident in which a man "used 'MySpace.com' to lure an 11-year-old girl into having illicit sexual relations" and the House of Representatives passed a measure to ban MySpace.com and other social networking sites from schools and libraries, by a lopsided 410 to 15.
This summer, an Army sergeant, based in Fort Drum, New York, was caught in a sting operation soliciting a sheriff's detective, posing as a 15-year-old girl on MySpace, for sex. He pleaded guilty to "criminal solicitation and attempted rape in the third degree." Despite these developments and the Air Force's hasty withdrawal, the Army has decided to embrace MySpace in a bigger way. In early November, it's slated to launch a profile, according to Louise W. Eaton, the service's advertising media and web chief. The change of heart occurred, she said, when they received "a lot of assurances from MySpace that they're taking a more proactive approach to controlling the environment. and protecting the privacy of people under eighteen."
In a phone interview with Tomdispatch, Eaton said that MySpace production teams are working with Army web designers and a team from McCann Erickson, the Army's ad agency, to create an interactive site complete with downloads, videos, access to blogs, an RSS feed, and "several ways to contact a recruiter." While the Army's designers are primarily after the eyeballs of 17-24 year old "enlistment prospects," she recognizes that a younger set may also be taking a look. "It's alright for younger people to see it, it's not propaganda," she commented.
According to Eaton, the Army's MySpace.com profile page is entirely devoted to shuttling people to its official GoArmy website. Taking a page from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's book, she defines success -- in this case on-line, not in Iraq -- in terms of "metrics." For her, three are key: page views, people who contact the Army for "more information," and traffic to GoArmy.com. "We'll be very interested to see how many people register as our friend," she confesses, suggesting that she expects them to be "very, very, very many in number."
MySpace proved impossible to contact on their work with the military, refusing to respond to multiple messages, but Eaton was expansive when it came to what was on the Army's future online drawing board. Her service, she assured me, was "not just interested in the enlistment prospects, the young people. We're also interested in their parents." Unlike the military's debut on MySpace, this isn't in itself news. After all, the Army already had parents in its online sights last year through Today'sMilitary.com, a slick website that professes to "to educate parents and other adults about the opportunities and benefits available to young people in the Military today" with nary a mention of war, injury, or death. What is news is the Army's coming venture in targeting grown-ups through America Online, where it will launch "a social networking site for parents." The Army's eyes are also on "the blogosphere." Eaton notes that "many, many military people unofficially participate and we're studying that and trying to figure out where to go with that." And don't forget about YouTube.com, a video-posting site that bills itself as "a consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos worldwide through a Web experience." "YouTube is doing some cool things," says Eaton. "We don't know where it's going to go, but we're watching it closely."
Even while meeting its current recruiting goals this year, the military is feeling the heat and pulling out all the stops to attract potential recruits and fill the ranks. Like their sponsorships of the Professional Bull Riders, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association, and NASCAR, their use of specially engineered video games, and snazzy television commercials, the Pentagon's new focus on finding "friends" on social-networking sites is a symptom of how hard-pressed its officials really are. Increasingly desperate to recruit and retain bodies, the military continues to invade new media territory, from text-messaging to Pentagon podcasting.
Today, sexual predators aren't the only ones trolling the internet for young bodies. MySpace claims to be taking steps to safeguard children from a certain type of cyber-stalker, while, at the same time, facilitating the efforts of another group just as interested in putting those young bodies in truly uncomfortable situations. With MySpace "friends" like these, who needs enemies? After all, what kind of "friend" looks to enlist you in a potentially life-threatening enterprise already considered a catastrophe by most Americans?
The militarization of MySpace is just the latest Pentagon effort to occupy a new realm that will put the military product in front of ever more young eyes. The role of "friendly" MySpace.com, taking a desperate military's money to target their hordes of young friends searching for popularity online, is troubling. But it's also typical of the business-side of the military-corporate complex, because it's the civilian firms -- producing everything from weapons to websites -- that allow the military to function as it does. In the case of MySpace, the friendly firm is deeply involved in producing the Army's page and will, says Eaton, be "doing the daily maintenance" on it.
If bios at the site are to be believed, there are young Iraqis on MySpace. What if you, an American kid with an Iraqi MySpace "friend," check in with that friendly Marine Corps recruiter, enlist, and are sent to Iraq by your MySpace military "friend," and the latter "friend" calls on you to kill the former? Does MySpace have any reservations about setting up a system where such a scenario could become a reality?
Nick Turse is the Associate Editor and Research Director of TomDispatch.com. He has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch. He has recently co-authored a Los Angeles Times series, The War Crimes Files. An adaptation of his last TomDispatch article was just published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Copyright 2006 Nick Turse