Sunday, April 29, 2007
Sarah Gillespie - Suspected of Being Terrifying
Guantánamo has become the first human zoo of the 21st century. These days inmates can look forward to being gazed upon by tourists who consider ‘Gitmo watching’ to be the perfect way to kick back with some Ruben Gonzales tunes and chilled mojito. Unsurprisingly the telescopes designed to magnify the spectacle of ‘real life’ terrorists were manufactured in the US, though the tour guides are English-speaking Cubans working for the State-run tourist industry. Culturally, Guantánamo Bay has now become a throwback to the freak shows of the Victorian era where middle class families would spend quality time scrutinizing the deformed, the genetically mutated, the excessively tattooed & the dwarfed. This latest rendition of the freak show, however exhibits the ethically impaired, the spiritually disabled, the religiously overwhelmed. Castigated into a jurisdiction ‘wasteland’ they are sent to perish without human rights, biologically alive but legally dead.
This is far from being the only draconian tradition resurrected in the name of Liberty. Last week both Britain and America, allies in the WOT (War On Terror) boasted breakthrough Terror Suspect arrests: the US captured Bin Laden’s ‘global deputy’ Abdul Hadi al Iraqi while the Brits swooped in on the imminently less prestigious Abu Izzadeen whose danger credentials were tempered somewhat by the well publicized fact that he used to be an electrician called Trevor.
Nonetheless, both men personify a symbolic victory for the West, providing the spectacle of savage renegade whose potential plots for global kaffir-killing are curtailed by a civilizing alliance. While Abdul Hadi al Iraqi and Abu Izzadeen are betrothed to the transcendental jihad of their mujahideen brethren, the post enlightenment West insists that a subject must commit primarily to the interests of the nation state of his birth. Subsequently, Scotland Yard is preparing to take these dissidents to trial for treason, using a law initially drafted in 1351. In order to preserve a vision of modernity, Britain finds itself resorting to laws written in the Middle Ages in Norman French.
Similarly, America has resurrected their Wild West tradition of erecting ‘wanted posters’ to hunt down those who jeopardise the colonial project. Despite the announcement of last week’s capture, the US Government body, Rewards For Justice is still advertising a $1 million cash prize for information leading to the arrest of ‘veteran jihadist’ Abdul Hadi al Iraqi. Their website provides a 24 hour free-phone hotline and reveals that funds supplied for suspected potential hijackers is kindly donated by the US Civil Aviation Association of America.
So what is going on here? Britain is returning to the legal landscape of the Norman Conquests and the US is back in the age of Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, asking ‘normal citizens’ to become 21st century bounty hunters. Indeed if the West is prepared to jettison the practice of modernity in order to preserve the illusion of modernity, the dialectic of being complicit in your own delusion necessitates painting the Other as Medieval in order to stave off a cataclysmic shattering of the self.
Thus we are reminded over and over that both ‘suspects’ are possessed of an ideology so toxic and insidious it can transform your average handyman (Trevor) into a blood-thirsty fiend (Izzabeen) who after a few Arabic lessons and a couple of jaunts to Afghanistan, made a metamorphosis at age 17 into a rage-filled Caliphate campaigner clad in a hooded galabiyya, telling anyone who’d listen to behead British servicemen.
Crucially the canonisation of super-villain terrorists like Muhammad Omar, Muqtada al-Sadr, Abu Hamza, betrays the Western dependency upon ‘I’ centricity. This not only underpins a mutual incomprehension at play in Islamic/Western relations but also points to why, despite military might, the West is destined to lose against a collective spiritual mass. Mistakenly, Westerners seek to locate, pin down and claim the origin point of Jihad and thus manufacture the notion that it resides, not in the hearts, prayers and bereaved souls of millions of abused Muslim civilians but in the flesh and blood parameters of individual suspects; jihad is appropriated into a threat that lurks beneath turbans, beards and niqabs with the potential to spill out and contaminate established knowledge and meaning. By incarcerating individuals we not only reinforce the myth of our own freedom, but also satisfy the illusion that a destabilizing ideology can be physically quarantined.
Thus, as the West looks down the telescope at caged men in orange jumpsuits, our scopophilic power is undercut by the barely repressed anxiety that it is we who have jettisoned humanity, not the legally discarded exhibits captured in our gaze.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Israeli politicians accuse Azmi Bishara of Treason
"The suspicions against Bishara prove that Trojan horses, a fifth column, have infiltrated the Knesset. He must be captured, wherever he hides, and brought to justice in Israel," said the Israeli National Religious Party chairman and member of the Knesset, Zevulun Orlev, on Thursday, according to reports on the website of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
The extreme right-wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu, which is headed by Avigdor Lieberman, accused the state of Israel of burying its head in the sand.
"Azmi Bishara is only a window on the problem and not the problem itself. Bishara and his friends crossed the line a long time ago, but the state buried its head in the sand," a Yisrael Beiteinu statement said on Thursday.
"Yisrael Beiteinu had tried, in the past, to prevent this Trojan horse from entering the Knesset, and we can only imagine what damage to the state could have been avoided had our view point been accepted," the statement read.
Charges of treason
Members of the right-wing Likud party and Prime Minister Olmert's Kadima party have also accused Bishara of being a traitor to Israel and a criminal.
Right-wing Likud Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan stated: "Bishara was never loyal to the State of Israel. He should be treated like an escaped criminal." Another Likud member of the Knesset, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel TV that Bishara should be brought to Israel and sued for high treason.
Otniel Schneller, a Kadima member of the Knesset, said: "The Knesset can only blame itself for allowing itself to sleep with the enemy and enabling a traitor like Bishara serve as a representative of the public."
Bishara, who left Israel nearly three weeks ago, is under Israeli investigation for suspected "collaboration with the enemy" during the war on Lebanon last summer. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, he is also accused of money laundering. He submitted his resignation from the Israeli Knesset in the Israeli embassy in Cairo last week.
Victim of persecution
Bishara has said that he is the victim of Israeli political persecution, accusing the Shin Bet intelligence service and the Israeli media of waging a smear campaign against him.
According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Bishara told Nazareth's Radio Shams that "we do not believe that in this atmosphere of incitement ... we will have a fair trial."
Haaretz reported that, unless Bishara returns to Israel for a police interview "within a reasonable period of time," he may be declared a "fugitive from justice," according to Israeli police sources on Thursday.
A 'second war of independence'
Meanwhile, the Yisrael Beiteinu member of Knesset, Israel Hasson, told Yedioth Ahronoth that in a "normal" country Azmi Bishara would already be behind bars. Hasson also warned of a "second war of independence" against the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Hasson told Ynet: “If we don’t wake up now, we will have to fight for our independence again very soon. It will be a second war for independence against Israel’s Arabs who will be supported by Hamas."
“Under the auspices of democracy … we are responding passively and facing the process of growing agitation amongst Israel’s Arabs who are not willing to accept the fact the country is a Jewish one," Hasson warned.
Plan to transfer the 'Triangle' to the PA
In a related report, the Kadima member of Knesset, Otinel Schneller has suggested a plan of transferring three villages in the so-called 'Triangle' area to the Palestinian Authority. The 'Triangle' refers to the area around Umm al-Fahm, west of the most north-easterly point of the occupied West Bank.
In exchange for the 'Triangle', the three largest settlement blocs in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, Ariel, Gush Etzion and Modi'in, all illegal under international law, will remain, and will be formally annexed into Israel.
In this so-called 'Hong Kong initiative', named after Britain's gradual handover of control of Hong King to China, the residents of the 'Triangle' will maintain their Israeli citizenship, including health and national insurance benefits, but will be banned from moving to other areas of Israel. They will also have to obtain special permits to work inside Israel.
"I want a true demographic line," Schneller told Ynet. "If for 20 years we give the triangle area economic incentives, the Arabs will have the motivation to become economic and national leaders of the Palestinian people," he suggested.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Ramy Zurayk - Lebanon: France Moves To Incite Civil Unrest
The current perception of the Lebanese Opposition is that this Tribunal cannot be neutral nor objective (the UN being a surrogate of the US administration); and that its main purpose is to end resistance to US (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East. In simpler terms, phony International Justice will be used as the weapon to accomplish what neither diplomacy (UN resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of the Resistance) nor violence…
For this reason, many Lebanese are very hostile to an UN-sponsored International Tribunal.
French President Jacques Chirac is set on starting a new bout of civil fighting in Lebanon. For months, his ambassador to Lebanon, Bernard Emié has been pumping steroids into the muscles of the US supported Lebanese Government. The French are conniving with the US administration to block all possible avenues for compromise between the Lebanese Government and the Opposition. This is effectively paralyzing the country and creating an environment conducive to civil strife.
Last week, while the Lebanese were commemorating the start of the 1975 war with chants of “never again”, France was submitting a strongly worded motion to the UN Security Council. The text openly referred to the Lebanese Resistance as a “militia” (a term still rejected by the Lebanese state) and called for its disarmament. It also drew explicit connections between Iran’s nuclear aspirations and the resistance to Israel. The motion is so extreme in its support of Israeli ambitions that it is being opposed by China, Russia, South Africa, Ghana, Congo, Panama, and Qatar, all currently members of the UN Security Council.
What does Chirac want? Not much: an International Tribunal empowered by the UN Security Council. The Tribunal will exact revenge for the murder of his friend and benefactor, Rafic Hariri, the Lebanese (born) Saudi magnate who was Lebanon’s prime minister for over a decade.
What’s wrong with a UN sponsored International Tribunal? A lot has been written about this supra-judiciary tool. Besides the intricacies related to national sovereignty and legal minutiae, the main issue lies in the use of the Tribunal as a political tool. The current perception of the Lebanese Opposition is that this Tribunal cannot be neutral nor objective (the UN being a surrogate of the US administration); and that its main purpose is to end resistance to US (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East. In simpler terms, phony International Justice will be used as the weapon to accomplish what neither diplomacy (UN resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of the Resistance) nor violence (33 days of relentless Israeli bombing, mayhem and destruction of Lebanon in July-August 2006) could achieve. Disarming the resistance will facilitate the physical elimination of its leadership and remove the last bastion of opposition to Bush’s New Middle East.
Lebanon is a nation hopelessly divided into self-serving sects. Weakening one sect will automatically strengthen the others. Hizbullah and the Resistance represent today the Shi’a sect of Lebanon. Eliminating their leadership will automatically relegate the Shi’a back to their traditional low caste status.
For this reason, many Lebanese are very hostile to an UN-sponsored International Tribunal. For this same reason, many Lebanese want the International Tribunal. The US-supported Lebanese Government has sent a draft approval of the International Tribunal to the Security Council. To become legal, this draft has to be approved by the Lebanese Parliament and countersigned by the Lebanese President. This is where the stalemate lies.
Negotiations to find a compromise between the International Tribunal and the protection of the Lebanese Resistance from US and Israeli vindication have been going on, but very slowly. Chirac, however, is in a hurry. He wants a tribunal before the end of his term in May 2007. He has been unremittingly lobbying for the Tribunal to be approved by special UN Security Council resolution under the 7th Article of the UN Charter. This would effectively declare Lebanon a non-state, and place it under the control of the UN. This is also the best way to start a civil war. The Opposition has repeatedly warned that forcing the International Tribunal through the Security Council will lead to “chaos”, a euphemism for unbridled civil violence. But what does Chirac get out of that? After all he opposed the US sponsored invasion and destruction of Iraq, and has bragged plenty about it. Could it be that the alligator actually has a heart? That he really misses his friend Rafic Hariri? That the insurmountable loss has turned him into a political vigilante? This is the story being peddled by the Hariri-controlled media in the Arab World, with regular news items about the emotional bonds that tie the Elysée Palace with the Hariri Dynasty.
In reality, the Chirac-Hariri relationship has to be viewed from a different perspective. As soon as he leaves office in a few weeks time, Chirac will be investigated by the French judiciary on charges of corruption and undeclared personal and political “funding” during his tenure as mayor of Paris. Many of his senior aides have already received prison sentences.
It is very likely that Chirac has received “funding” from his Saudi-Lebanese billionaire friend. It is very likely that Chirac did not declare this money. Chirac needed funds. Hariri needed credibility. And Chirac has no shame when it comes to selling French credibility. A few weeks ago, he bestowed the French Honor Legion onto Saad Hariri, son of the late Rafic Hariri. Saad’s achievements in the political arena before his dad’s death are well known: he was spending his dad’s money between Riyadh, Paris, Monte Carlo and Washington. Well worthy of the honor legion.
The Hariris still need President Chirac, a powerful ally with permanent membership on the UN Security Council. Chirac may still need the Hariris, one of the biggest fortunes on earth, with tentacular connections to help him in his legal predicament. This may well be the dark side of this friendship.
In his efforts to restart the Lebanese civil war, Chirac is supported by the US and Britain. They’re happy to lead him down the path they have cleared in their Iraqi adventure, and to teach him one last lesson before he goes: never say “I told you so” when you are a corrupt politician. Lebanon could well become Chirac’s Iraq.
Rami Zurayk is a Professor of Ecosystem Management Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut. You can view more of Rami Zurayk's work at www.landandpeople.blogspot.com
Friday, April 20, 2007
Thinking Blogger Awards
First off, this award requires the chosen blogger to select five bloggers that make us think. Since I got two noms, I will take my ten choices! (since it’s not being monitored by anyone, I believe I can!) One of the choices is divided in three parts, since I consider Italian blogging a different thing altogether, and the public is different.
I was nominated by the blog that I consider one of the greatest, Umkahlil. I adore the blog and its author (so of course, this blog is beyond the category. I consider it my sister blog). I was also nominated by Crazy Composer, whose blog I’ve recently discovered. I like his humour, openness, talent and honesty.
So, in no particular order:
1) Michael in Australia gets one for his two out of this world blogs – Dishonest Reporting and Israel Forum Watch. He deconstructs the racist talk of the people who participate in a Zionist forum and a Zionist Media Watchdog in his blogs. BRILLIANT!
2) Erlenda in Iceland has also got two great blogs, Peace by Truth and Screamer in the Matrix. She is what I would call a deep thinker. She is unique in this world.
3) Wake up from your Slumber is a blog that is also an aggregator. I really like it and have no idea who does it. It is one of the American blogs I follow.
4) Ben Heine is a brilliant cartoonist from Belgium and friend who collaborates with Tlaxcala and whenever I ask him to illustrate something, he comes up with the goods. His work is getting so widely disseminated, it’s almost not necessary to check in on his blog. Yet, when I do, I am always surprised by something special and interesting!
5) French blogger, and another good friend who collaborates with Tlaxcala (that word "collaborates" is an understatement… he gives a pint of blood a day to it!) is Fausto, better known to me as Hurricane, who has a few blogs that reflect his multiform personality. Basta! Which is a French version (more or less, but with a much wider range of topics) of Peacepalestine, and a satirical and poetic blog that he has asked me to keep anonymous, but some might be able to find it, and Chronique de Guantanamo. Not to mention his contributions to Quibla, the Francophone site on the world of Islam and beyond, and who knows what else he has! How can one simply not admire a person who speaks so many languages and is active and creative in so many things? We’ve had a lot of fights, Fausto and I, but we always get over it, just like some old married couple. But I think our admiration for one another and our fundamental pacific personalities make us chuckle at those storms once they are past. And, no one else in the world can start an email to me in Italian, do the middle section in French and end in English. He runs through languages like breathing.
6) Italian bloggers are important to me, and I have to list the three who are friends and whose blogs are state of the art and brilliant to the point of tears. Miguel Martinez is a very dear friend who is involved in a lot of the same projects as I am, Tlaxcala and Al-Awda to name two – but, besides that, I consider him one of Italy’s foremost thinkers. His blog is Kelebek, and if there is something important on the national or international scene, he has an original and penetrating reflection on it. Mirumir is another dear friend (and Tlaxcalian) whose blog is sometimes so funny, but usually very informative, and her readers are really cool. Salam(e)lik (formerly Sharif’s blog) is a top blog in every way. Great illustrator, great writer, and very very on top of things.
7) Gilad turned me on to Outside the Gates by Les in th e UK. A really great person, whose posts are almost too rich and full of thought! Maybe that’s why he doesn’t update as much as I’d like!
8) And Dena, in the US had one of the most entertaining blogs ever, Twisted Tongues. It’s about life as a translator, and as a translator, I can tell you that it was a playground. OH, how I wish she would update it!!!! I really miss it. You don’t need to be a translator, though, to get something from that blog.
9) Stan Goff’s Feral Scholar talks about Gender politics and militarism like no other. I haven’t visited it as much as I used to, but when I do, I usually have to stop navigating and reflect for a while.
10) The last one is the nostalgic choice. When I first started blogging, this blog was IT. It was my inspiration. It hasn’t been updated much, so I stopped checking in, but it looks like it’s getting back on track there…. Under the Same Sun. The first blog I really liked!
So, tagged bloggers… you now have to do this same game! Rules from The Crazy Composer:
The “rules” regarding the “tagging” and propagation of this award.For those of you who have been tagged, should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are honouring (tagging): I am including here, as part of this post, along with the meme. (what’s a meme?? PePa)
The participation rules are quite simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).
Now my problem...how do I contact these blogs and let them know???? ahah, life as a blogger is tough!
This is what Palestinians request! Summary of Ramallah meeting of NGOs
National and Islamic forces
Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
National Committee for the Commemoration of the 59th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba
National Coalition for defending the rights of Palestinian in Jerusalem
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)
Union of Arab community Based Organizations (Ittijah)
It was decided that the above will take responsibility for unifying and contextualizing national and popular activities related to::
* Commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
* Activation of popular resistance against Jewish colonies and the Wall;
* Defending Jerusalem against Israeli measures aimed at the “Judaization” of the holy city and its isolation from the surrounding Palestinian areas;
* Preparation and coordination of the commemorations of the 59th anniversary of the Nakba.
In this context, participants stressed:
First: The need for a firm stand on Palestinian national principles and UN resolutions, foremost the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and properties in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which is the essence and the center of the Palestinian cause and a sacred right which must not be prejudiced.
Second: That bilateral meetings between Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas achieve nothing on the ground, and the positions and policy of double-standards of the U.S. administration are completely rejected. Hence, the situation requires united pressure on the international community to convene an international conference and ensure that the Israeli government complies with international law and UN resolutions.
Third: Their call upon the international community in general, and Arab states in particular, to break the unjust sanctions imposed on the Palestinian people, work for the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons, and develop suitable mechanisms for unconditional support of the Palestinian people. We refuse all conditions on the release of Palestinian prisoners and call upon the Palestinian leadership to ensure that any prisoners exchange includes all ill, women and children prisoners, as well as Palestinian leaders who have spent many years in Israeli detention.
Fourth: A warning of the danger involved in engaging with Israeli demands and conditions for dealing with the Arab Summit initiative. Any agreement must end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, provide for Palestinian sovereignty over the 1967 OPT, including the capitol of Jerusalem, and guarantee the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes.
Fifth: The need to provide protection for Palestinian refugees who face extreme forms of persecution, including arbitrary killings and expulsions, at the hands of corrupted militia in Iraq.
Sixth: Sincere gratitude to the British National Union of Journalists for their decision to boycott Israeli products in response to the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people. Participants stressed the need to activate the boycott worldwide and hold Israel to account for the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people and the peoples in the region.
Seventh: The dire need to address and resolve the state of chaos and lawlessness in the occupied Palestinian territories and ensure the rule of law, and to expedite the release of the abducted British journalist Alan Johnson.
Eighth: Solidarity and support of Azmi Bishara: the need to organize a broad popular campaign in Palestine and abroad to stand in solidarity with Bishara versus Israel's malicious campaign aimed at strangling him, his fellow activists and our people in 1948 Palestine.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Mazin Qumsiyeh - Violence and Racism
Two issues jumped at me in the media coverage of violent events recently: the terminology and lack of context on violence. Imagine if a student who happens to be a Muslim and/or Arab carried out the attack at Virginia Tech. Imagine the media frenzy that would have ensued to serve Zionist interests. The religion of the killer in this case was not mentioned. While it was mentioned that he is Asian/Korean no one used terms like Korean Terrorist or Asian Terrorist, let alone Christian Fascist or Christian Terrorist. But such language as Islamofascist or Arab Terrorist is now so common and no talk show (let alone government official) is censored or fired for using them.
Does anyone doubt that the interview with the gun dealer would have been very different had the killer been an Arab or even Middle Eastern looking? This is part and parcel of the same mentality that holds that elevates certain victims while dehumanizing others.* The hypocrisy is astounding. While few mumbled things about gun control, few dared to challenge the culture of violence that is promoted at the highest levels of this government, in the media, in Hollywood, and in just about every segment of public discourse in America. To the detriment of our economic and physical well being as taxpayers and citizens, the racism that begets violence is increasing thanks to the influence of those who unabashedly work to make America into the image of racist Zionist Israel.
The largest single donor to the Democratic Party is an Israeli by the name of Haim Saban who became a billionaire peddling violent video games (e.g. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers**) and promoting violence in his ever-growing media empire. I think people will begin to see that this horrific violence at Virginia Tech cannot be separated from the violent and racist lifestyles that many lead without even knowing it (games they play, videos they watch, talk show they listen to, movies they attend). It is this normalization of violence and racism that allows people to ignore the role of our government in the violence that resulted in the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestine (70%) of Palestinians are now refugees or displaced people) and the violence unleashed on Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the same ideology of racial superiority that informed US and Israeli collaboration for decades with Apartheid South Africa and the US war on Vietnam. Why is there little in our media bout the hundreds killed at Universities in Iraq** or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed thanks to a war of choice built on lies and deception?
Most US discretionary spending goes to the military (not even counting supplementals to pay for current wars on Iraq and Afghanistan). The US makes 70% of all the weapons in the world and is by far the largest weapon exporter. The so-called criminal justice system imprisons the largest number and percentage of any industrialized nation (nearly 7 million on parole/jail/probation) and employs 2% of the US workforce. Yet crime rates in America are higher than most countries. The toll this past week for these failed policies: 32 innocent lives lost in VA, hundreds of Americans murdered in inner cities, more young soldiers killed in Iraq, and hundreds of Iraqi civilians massacred. When do we say enough is enough: that racism promotes violence and that, as MLK said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A world without America... would be a world without Israel
(Editor's note: This no kidding is a press release that was sent to the Defense Tech offices.)
18DoughtyStreet.com, Britain’s first political web tv station, has launched a two minute viral campaign to combat growing anti-Americanism across Britain and Europe.
The two minute campaign that has been posted on YouTube and is being distributed across Britain via email paints a world that would be less free, less healthy and less prosperous if America had never existed.
Through five fictional news reports from the 1950s onwards it portrays a world dominated by Soviet Russia and warns that much of the world’s prosperity and medical advances would have been lost.
18DoughtyStreet.com is the initiative of internet entrepreneur Stephan Shakespeare and a number of Britain’s most-read bloggers who have come together to challenge the biases of establishment broadcasters and mainstream parties.
Tim Montgomerie, Director of 18DoughtyStreet.com, said, “For much of the last fifty years Europe has benefited from America’s security umbrella and from the dynamism of American enterprise and science. The advert ends by suggesting that if the US-led coalition had not intervened in Iraq the world could now be being held to ransom by a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein.”
The text of the advertisement is here:
Opening caption: “Imagine a world without America.”
SCENE 1: 1950s STUDIO WITH MAN IN DINNER SUIT
“You are watching the News from London. General Secretary Stalin was in France today to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Paris by the Red Army. Organised crowds of young people sang the Soviet anthem as troops marched down the Champs Elysees . . .”
Caption: A World Without America . . . Would Be A World With Less Freedom
SCENE 2: 1960s STUDIO WITH SAME PRESENTER IN FLOWER POWER SUIT
“Latest data from the British Department of Health show that deaths from polio rose again last year. The hunt for a vaccine continues. . .”
Caption: A World Without America… Would Be A World Without Many Medical Advances
SCENE 3: 1970s STUDIO WITH SAME PRESENTER IN LARGE LAPELED BROWN SUIT
“Tonight the Mediterranean Sea is full of boats of Jewish refugees fleeing for their lives. Earlier in the day the poorly-equipped and under-funded Israeli army was finally defeated and Arab combined forces – with Soviet air cover - entered Tel Aviv. . .”
Caption: A World Without America… Would Be A World Without Israel
SCENE 4: 1980s STUDIO WITH SAME PRESENTER IN SHOULDER-PADDED POWER SUIT
“Arriving at today’s hunger summit in her ministerial Lady Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher vowed to work with Austrian President Arnold Schwarzenegger in fighting increasing hunger across Asia. . .”
Caption: A World Without America. . . Would Be A Poorer World
SCENE 5: TURN-OF-THE CENTURY STUDIO WITH SAME PRESENTER IN NEWSROUND-TYPE OPEN SHIRT AND JEANS
“At a Downing Street press conference earlier today the British Prime Minister said that President Saddam Hussein was a man he could do business with. He was speaking after it was confirmed that the Revolutionary Republic of Iraq and Kuwait had acquired nuclear weapons. . .”
Caption: A World Without America. . . Would Be A World Held To Ransom By Tyrants
In the final sequence a whole series of words and phrases appear on the screen and then disappear. . . at first slowly and then fast. . .
A free Afghanistan
40 percent of the world’s R&D
A free Japan
Protection of world trading routes
50 percent of the world food programme
The liberation of the Falklands
$15bn HIV/AIDS programme
26 percent of global aid spending
Final message on screen with atlas of world without USA as image:
A WORLD WITHOUT AMERICA
A world with more disease, more poverty, more danger.
Sponsored by BritainAndAmerica.com
Monday, April 16, 2007
Ali Abunimah - What the persecution of Azmi Bishara means for Palestine
Bishara is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, one of more than one million who live inside the Jewish state, who are survivors or their descendants of the Zionist ethnic cleansing that forced most Palestinians to leave in 1947-48. Elected to the Knesset in 1996, Bishara is a founder of the National Democratic Assembly, a party which calls for Israel to be transformed from a sectarian ethnocracy into a democratic state of all its citizens.
On Sunday, Bishara appeared on Al-Jazeera, after weeks of press speculation that he had gone into exile and would resign from the Knesset. He revealed that in fact he is the target of a very high level probe by Israeli state security services who apparently plan to bring serious "security" related charges against him. Censorship on this matter is so tight in "democratic" Israel that until a few days ago Israeli newspapers were prohibited from even mentioning the existence of the probe. They are still forbidden from reporting anything about the substance of the investigation, and Ha'aretz admitted that due to official censorship it could not even reprint much of what Bishara said to millions of viewers on television.
Bishara himself was vague about the allegations. If he even knows all the details, he could place himself in greater jeopardy by talking about them. He said he is still thinking about his options, including when to return to Israel. While he questioned the value of spending years proving his innocence of things he does not consider illegal, such as maintaining broad contacts with the Arab world of which he feels a part, he poignantly reflected that ultimately he faced a choice between prison, exile or martyrdom. These indeed are the only choices Israel has ever placed before Palestinians who refuse to submit to the racist rule of Zionism.
What he was clear about was that he is the target of a campaign, coordinated at the highest levels of the Israeli state to destroy him and his movement politically. He is undoubtedly right about this and there is long precedent. In 2001, Israel's attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein charged Bishara with "endangering the state" because of comments he made during a visit to Syria, and the Knesset voted for the first time in its history to lift the immunity of one of its members so Bishara could be prosecuted. In 2003, the Israeli Central Elections Committee attempted to disqualify Bishara and his party from standing in national elections, on the grounds that the party did not adhere to the dogma that Israel must remain a "Jewish state." Under Israeli law all parties are required to espouse the dogma that Israel must always grant special and better rights to Jews, meaning truly democratic parties are always flirting with illegality. That decision was eventually overturned by the courts. (Though it should be noted that the ban was supported by former attorney general Rubinstein, who is now a Supreme Court judge!). Such persecution against Palestinians in Israel has been the norm since the state was founded. Until 1966, they lived under "military government," a form of internal military occupation similar to that experienced by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza today. Laws, practices and policies that continue to deny their fundamental human rights are well described in Jonathan Cook's recent book Blood and Religion: Unmasking the Jewish and Democratic State. In recent years opinion polls show that a majority of Israeli Jews consistently support government efforts to force Palestinians citizens out of the country. (In recent weeks, former Israeli prime minister and current Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu declared that it would be best if Bishara never returned).Bishara sees Israel's latest gambit as signalling a change in the "rules of the game." If he, an elected official, a well-known public figure can face such tactics, what will the rest of the community face? Indeed, the recent publication by leading Palestinians in Israel of a report calling for mild reforms to the Israeli state prompted Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet (which operates torture and death squads in the occupied territories) to warn that it would "disrupt the activities of any groups that seek to change the Jewish or democratic character of Israel, even if they use democratic means" ("Arab leaders air public relations campaign against Shin Bet," Ha'aretz, 6 April 2007). (There is precedent for such disruption not only against Palestinians, but even against Israel's Mizrahi Jews whose attempts to organize against Ashkenazi discrimination were destroyed by the Shin Bet -- see Joseph Massad's book The Persistence of the Palestinian Question.)Palestinian solidarity activists must understand and act on the signal Israel is sending by persecuting Bishara. For years, the mainstream Palestinian movement and its allies have buried their heads in the slogan "end the occupation." If it ever was, this vision is no longer broad enough. We must recognize that Israel's war against Palestinians does not discriminate among Palestinians, sparing some and condemning others. It does however take different forms, depending on where Palestinians are. Those in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under an extreme form of military tyranny now often called "apartheid," though it is increasingly apparent that it is something even worse. Palestinians inside Israel's 1948 borders live under a system of laws, policies and practices that exclude them politically and oppress them economically and socially. Millions of Palestinians outside the country are victimized by racist laws that forbid their return for the sole reason that they are not Jews.
In practice this means that the Palestinian solidarity movement needs to fashion a new message that breaks with the failed fantasy of hermetic separation in nationalist states. It means we have to focus on fighting Israeli racism and colonialism in all its forms against those under occupation, against those inside, and against those in exile. We need to educate ourselves about what is happening all over Palestine, not just in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We need to stand and act in solidarity with Azmi Bishara and all Palestinians inside the 1948 lines who have for too long been marginalized and abandoned by mainstream Palestinian politics. Support for the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions is particularly urgent (see http://www.pacbi.org/). In practice we need to start building a vision of life after Israeli apartheid, an inclusive life in which Israelis and Palestinians can live in equality sharing the whole country. If Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and hardline Northern Ireland Unionist leader Ian Paisley can sit down to form a government together, as they are, and if Nelson Mandela and apartheid's National Party could do the same, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility in Palestine if we imagine it and work for it.
Azmi Bishara is the only Palestinian leader of international stature expressing a vision and strategy that is relevant to all Palestinians and can effectively challenge Zionism. That is why he is in fear for his life, safety and future while the quisling "president" Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah receives money and weapons from the United States and tea and cakes from Ehud Olmert.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006)
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Gilad Atzmon - Jazz and Jihad: the discourse of solidarity
For many years I considered America as my promised land. As a young Jazz musician I was pretty convinced that sooner or later I would end up living in NYC. My Jerusalem was Downtown Manhattan and of course my holy scriptures were the old Blue Note vinyls. My Rabbis were named Coltrane, Bird, Miles, Duke, Dizzy, Bill Evans and naturally, there were many others. I was convinced of this reality for a while, and in fact, it took time before I realised that Jazz was far more than mere music. It took a while before I gathered that Jazz was something else, that it was actually a form of resistance. Nowadays I realise that Jazz is no different from Jihad, accordingly, playing Jazz is my personal Jihad. I do grasp that some people in this room may already find my ideas nostalgic, some may even be convinced that I am either totally deluded or just out of my mind. I can live with it. I do realise that ‘things have changed’, they’ve changed for you as much as they’ve changed for me. I do realise that Jazz is not exactly a form of resistance anymore. May I mention that America isn’t my promised land either. In fact, at the time of writing this talk, I wasn’t even sure whether I would be allowed entry into your country. As much as Jazz, the classical music of America, has been a call for freedom, America is not a free place anymore. I often argue that before liberating others, it is the American people who should first liberate themselves. I am pretty sure that sooner or later they will.
Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine
I have been participating in some public debates lately concerning the common denominator between Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m glad to mention that it is rather noticeable that more and more people are now happy to admit what some of us realised years ago. The Palestinians, the Iraqis and the Afghanis are paying a very dear price for the Ziocentric shift within the Anglo-American decision-makers circuit. Seemingly, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are just the aperitif for an endless feast. The Ziocons have some big appetite to satisfy. The same lobbies that led America towards this disastrous invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan are now doing whatever they can to push America towards intervention in Iran and Syria. For those few who still fail to realise it, America has been operating officially as an Israeli mission force. It currently fights the last sovereign pockets of Muslim resistance.
Often enough, the true aim of the Zionist lobbies is concealed. Instead the Zionist lobbies promote some righteous phoney humanitarian alternatives. The American Jewish Committee (AJC), for instance, is aggressively lobbying against human rights abuse in Iran and Darfur. Since human rights issues are really close to my heart, I find myself wondering whether the Jewish organisation shouldn’t rather be concentrating on the colossal war crimes that are daily repeated by Israel in Palestine. Rather occasionally we read about AIPAC equating Iran and Syria with Nazi Germany. Again, someone should remind the Zionist lobbyists that actually it is Israel, the “Jews Only State”, that happens to be the one and only ideological remnant of racist nationalism.
Three weeks ago the Palestine Chronicle made an on-line poll (http://www.palestinechronicle.com/). It asked the following question.
‘Does the Israel Lobby control US policy on the Middle East?’
Needless to mention, no one would even have dared raising such a question five years ago. Now this question is asked repeatedly and as it seems, people aren’t shying off from telling what they really think. 80% said yes, 15% said no, and 4% were not sure. Looking at these results points to the reality many want us to deny. The vast majority of English-speaking Palestinians, Palestinian solidarity campaigners and anti-war activists are now ready to admit that the Israel Lobby controls US policy in the Middle East. We are ready to accept the fact that America operates as an Israeli mission force. America straightens the line with Israeli interests and sacrifices its sons and daughters maintaining Israeli regional hegemony.
But here is an interesting twist. I do not intend to talk to you about Zionised America. I want to believe that the majority of Palestinian supporters and anti-war activists in this room know far more about it than me. I would like to try taking the discussion further. I would like to elaborate on the notion of solidarity and empathy.
Those who are familiar with my writings know that I am not exactly a political scientist. I am not interested in politics and I am even far less interested in politicians who, generally speaking, evoke nothing but a strong sense of repulsion in me.
Rather than politics per se, it is humanity and the notion of humanism that I am interested in. Often I find myself wondering what being in the world may entail. And I better admit it; I am puzzled by the fact that as a society, as a collective bunch of individuals, we have managed to continuously fail to act for the people of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. I think that this very collective failure is in itself an alarming message. Thus, rather than looking into the crimes committed by Blair, Bush and the Ziocons, I am becoming gradually interested in the general Western apathy. To be more precise, I would argue that the common denominator between Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine is our collective indifference to a crime that is committed on our behalf and in our names.
As some of us may remember, in the days leading to the doomed illegal invasion of Iraq, the anti-war movement was extremely successful in mobilizing millions of people into protest. We saw them in every capital. They were calling Blair and Bush to withdraw their military plans. Millions of people questioned the sickening Anglo-American intelligence hoax. We could all see through the lies, we could all foresee the emerging crime, we were outraged, and we were convinced that we were doing the right thing. Yet, strangely enough, just four years later, with hundreds of thousands dead, with millions of casualties, with many millions of displaced people, when it is clear that everything went as wrong as it possibly could, when it is openly established that “the danger of Iraq’s WMDs” was nothing but a lie, not very many care about it all anymore. Now when the grim prophecy turns into reality of genocide with no end, we are collectively sinking into apathy. What are the logos behind this collective indifference, why did we lose interest? Why don’t we fight? Why aren’t we a mass movement?
I am not so sure whether I have the exact answers at my disposal, yet, I may be able to throw some light on the issue.
I am inclined to admit that the notion of Cultural Clash has indeed some deep meanings especially when it comes to the discourse of solidarity. Naturally, we tend to expect the subject of our solidarity to endorse our views while dumping his own. As much as Blair and Bush insist upon democratising the Muslim world, we, the so-called left humanists have our own various agendas for the region and its people. In Europe some archaic Marxists are convinced that ‘working class politics’ is the only viable outlook of the conflict and its solution. Some other deluded socialists and egalitarians are talking about liberating the Muslims of their religious traits. The cosmopolitans within the solidarity movement would suggest to Palestinians that nationalism and national identity belongs to the past. Noticeably, many of us love Muslim and Arabs as long as they act as white, post-enlightenment Europeans. In other words, we love Muslims as long as they stop being Muslims.
For those who fail to realise, I may as well mentioned that ‘working class politics’ has nothing to do with Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan. For those who fail to see the obvious truth, I may as well mention that the industrial revolution has never made it to Gaza. Furthermore, the landslide victory of the Hamas proves beyond doubt that Palestinians are not exactly on the verge of dropping Islam. The million Shias that protested in Najaf last Monday were not exactly secular Arabs either. It is crucial to mention that the Palestinian struggle is a national struggle. The million Iraqi Shias who followed their Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr last Monday were overtly burning American flags while raising their own Iraqi ones as high as they could. In other words, we have good reason to believe that they may hold a consistent and genuine nationalist vision of their conflict and its resolution. Again, to expect Palestinians or Iraqis to become secular, cosmopolitan and working class ideologists is to expect Arabs and Muslims to act as European Marxists. It has noting to do with solidarity; it is actually nothing but projection. We project our solipsistic worldviews on others.
In Lacanian terminology, love means loving oneself through the other. At large, our notion of solidarity is not much different: we run a constant risk of performing solidarity with ourselves through the suffering of Palestinians and Iraqis. We are at risk of using Palestinians and Iraqis as an approval of our greatness. Alternatively I would suggest that to support the other means to accept otherness, to accept that which you may never grasp. To accept otherness is to let in the unknown and the unfamiliar. To support Palestine is to back the Hamas and to support Iraq is to back the Iraqi resistance and liberation struggle. Simply speaking, to show solidarity is to support and accept other people and their will.
But somehow, instead of doing just that, in most cases we happen to transform our subject of solidarity into a fetish. We self indulge with peace ideologies at the expense of other people’s pain. We instrumentally use the cry of the other as a reassurance of our own goodness. This may explain why so many of us have lost interest in Iraq and Palestine. If all we are interested in is just making love to ourselves, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria are more than replaceable. As it happens, once in a while we may show up in mass demonstrations and then just fade away into apathy for a decade or so.
Why do we fade away? Because we get away with it. Legally speaking, America and Britain are responsible for the colossal carnage in Iraq. Bearing in mind the fact that America and Britain are democracies and adding the embarrassing fact that the people of these two ‘great democracies’ have re-elected war criminals, leaves no other option but admitting a collective guilt. To a certain extent, every American and British citizen is liable for the crimes in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Yet this state of criminality means very little to most of us. Americans and Brits at least for the time being simply get away with it.
America has lost 3,000 of its sons and daughters in the Iraqi war. As much as I feel sorry for those who lost their beloved, for a superpower the size of America, such a scale of loss is nothing but a negligible casualty rate. In comparison, on D-Day, America lost more or less the same number of combatants in a few hours. In modern warfare, superpowers are mainly engaged in killing innocent people from afar. America doesn’t risk its soldiers. It doesn’t provide occupied Iraq and Afghanistan with even elementary security. Seemingly, the American Generals realise that this would cost lives of their troops. How come the Americans fail to provide security? They simply get away with it. Why are we sinking into apathy? More or less because of the same reason, we get away with it.
A bridge too far
As I am getting to the end of my talk, I may conclude that supporting Muslims and Jihad is probably a bridge too far for most Westerners. The typical Westerner doesn’t know how to bridge the gap between ‘materialism’ and ‘Jihad’ or between ‘self-loving’ and ‘martyrdom’. We happen to regard our lives as a precious gift with an immense value. We submitted to the post-enlightenment notion of individuality and individualism. Succumbing to the school of orthodox rationalism we believe in the ultimate power of reason. We adore science and admire technology. We are libidinally aroused by electronic gadgets.
Seemingly, spirit and beauty means very little to us unless attached to a commodity. In our Americanised reality, existence means market value. Yet, spirit of resistance and beauty are invaluable. I may suggest that we will never be able to fully understand what the Palestinian and Iraqi struggle means to its people unless we liberate ourselves from our narrow material vision of reality. We can never grasp people who sacrifice the ultimate unless we acknowledge that there is far more to life than just life. We can never understand Iraqi insurgency and the Palestinian liberation struggle unless we try to understand what soil may mean to people who refuse to get drunk on Coca-Cola.
The search for the meaning of solidarity is a personal issue. I believe that the meaning of solidarity is probably a very dynamic notion. I am starting to realise that within the current structure of affairs, the left who was pretty effective in mobilizing anti-imperial campaigns for years, may not provide anything for Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. The left, being a rational, post-enlightenment outlook, has its problem to solve with Islam and religious devotion. I hope that I am wrong here. I can see some isolated islands of left dialectic thinkers are ready to acknowledge that Muslim resistance may as well convey an alternative vision of reality and resistance.
I can speak for myself. For me, Jihad and Jazz are very similar forms of commitment. For me, the generations of Black Americans who sacrificed everything for the sake of beauty and resistance were actually engaged in a holy war. For me it was Bird, Max Roach, Dizzy, Coltrane and others who went far beyond the American dream of materialism and market value. Jazz was their voice of freedom. Jazz was their call for a change. Jazz was an ideology, a spirit, and a way of living as well as dying. To be a Jazz musician is to fight for beauty, to create and recreate, to construct and deconstruct, to question while knowing that answers may not be available for a while. To play Jazz is to get lost deliberately. To play Jazz is to leave the self behind.
Speech given at Denver, 13 April 2007 (Illustration of Gilad Atzmon by Ben Heine)
Nahida Izzat - About Anti-Semitism
People talk with liberty about Muslim extremists, and Christian fundamentalists; but they stop short of uttering the forbidden word "Jewish extremists".
We as people who desire justice, and long for peace; and we as human race can never achieve equality without applying the same criteria and standards for ALL; and that should also include any other ideology, not only religious one, but also we must acknowledge that there are secular extremists, and atheists fundamentalists, Marxist extremists… etc.
The other important point that should be recognized is the way the holocaust was "hijacked" by the Zionists, and became almost like an exclusive Jewish property, which we all know is not a true presentation of history or the truth of WW2.
Not only that it became exclusively Jewish, but there is an aura of holiness and sacredness that surrounds the whole subject, and shrouded it with reverence.
This can lead to some serious problematic issues; as it might appear to a non-Jewish observer as favouritism: "Jewish people get a special treatment, as they insist on demanding that the world must acknowledge their suffering as being unique, sacred, and special".
All humanity had suffered through history, recent, past, and ancient times.
No one could claim that the suffering of one group is more special, unique, or sacred than the suffering of others.
If Jewish people keep insisting that the world must see their suffering as "special", "unique" and "above the suffering of all others", It can only confirm the views of some people who perceive the Jewish people view themselves as "special", "unique" or "chosen".
You see, my dear friend; people could freely criticise and disapprove of Islam and the Muslims, and that is their right. People could pass judgment on Christianity and Christians without fear of any allegation, and that is their right. People could freely disapprove of Communists, Marxists, and Anarchists… etc, and that is their right. But if you try to voice the faintest criticism of Jewish people or Judaism you are in deep deep trouble. The label "anti-Semitic" would haunt you forever.
People could also say –without fear of any accusation, blame, or criminalisation- that they don't like Islamic extremists, or Hamas, Hezbollah or Christian fundamentalists. But if you dare say that about Jewish fundamentalists, you risk being charged with anti-Semitism.
The Jewish left don't mind criticising Zionism, but they would have fits if you referred to Zionists as Jewish fundamentalists, Jewish terrorist, Jewish fascists, Jewish extremists – which, unfortunately - they are.
Why is that so?
What is it that makes people so extra sensitive, with a real blind spot when it comes to this issue? Why can't people feel free to examine and disagree with some aspect of Jewish life or Judaism like they do with all other ideologies? (Of course, as long as it is all done in an intellectual, academic mannerism, not in an abusive, insulting or ridiculing way).
Making these issues a taboo would force people to start questioning: With freedom of thought people doubt/question God, which for many is the Most Holy of all.
Why is it then that Judaism, the Jewish people and the holocaust –unlike anything else in the world- are so sacred and holy that no one is allowed to doubt, examine, or criticise? If people try to include the suffering of other groups during holocaust memorials, or if they attempted to compare the suffering of other groups to the suffering of Jewish people there would be uproar.
Can you see, dear friend, that there is so much hypocrisy and double standards in this?
My worry is that ignoring these issues by the Jewish left are very counter productive, and it would only raise other people's suspicion and discomfort –to say the least- with the special treatment that the Jewish people are demanding for themselves.
If Jewish people want to eradicate / minimize anti Semitism, they must firstly accept to be treated equally like the rest of humanity:
1) They must accept with tolerance any intellectual criticism of Israel as a Jewish state, to Zionism as a Jewish extremist ideology, to Judaism as religion. For this is what freedom of expression is all about, and all should be included; as long as this freedom is not used to abuse, insult, lie about, slander, or ridicule the other.
2) They must stop the claim of the exclusiveness of their "suffering" whether historical or more recent (the holocaust); for all humanity suffered through the ages and during WW2.
3) They must stop divining the holocaust making it exclusively Jewish, untouchable and beyond any scholarly studies, converting it into a sacred religion.
4) They must accept to live under the same umbrella of principles that apply to the rest of humanity.
Double standards and hypocrisy makes people angry. Having a set of rules for the world and another for Jewish people makes people suspicious and paranoid, for why don't Jewish people refuse to be treated like the rest of the world.
The Jewish extremists (Zionists) believe/want the world to believe that the Jewish people are chosen, special, unique, light onto the nations.
The people of the world have the right to not believe that the Jewish people are chosen, unique, or light onto the nations, for ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.
The Jewish left believe / wants the world to believe that the suffering of, and the racism against the Jewish people is unique; but all people suffered and still are, all people face racism and still are. The people of the world have the right to believe that the suffering of the Jewish people is not unique. Acknowledging the fact that anti-Semitism is one form of racism, and not a unique form of racism is very important too.
Therefore it is vital that the progressive Jewish voices do acknowledge that Jewish people are no better or worse than other humans, and that their suffering is no better or worse than the suffering of others.
The sooner the Jewish people acknowledge these issues, the better. The sooner they accept to be treated exactly like everyone else, and not as a unique case in everything, the better; for the Jewish people first and for our world.
With all my love
this is Nahida's beautiful site
Tariq Shadid - Nakba-Deniers: Eyes Wide Shut
It is difficult to disagree with this, but what has really been achieved? Basically it only means that Westerners seem to have discovered that Palestine was, after all, not a land without a people. What now seems like a painfully overdue observation, must have been a real eye-opener for them somewhere in the recent past.
I can imagine that recovering any bit of eyesight after having been completely blind, must feel like an absolute revelation. But does it also mean the person who has partially recovered his eyesight is now fit to engage in the busy traffic of rush hour? Even if this person is convinced he can?
As a Palestinian living in the West, I can assure you that there are many here who believe their eyes are already open, while in reality they have deviated much less away from the ‘land without people’ formula than they think. They believe they are sufficiently informed in order to have an opinion. And there we have it: the invisible deadlock that permeates the societies of the West, when it comes to Palestine.
This deadlock is caused for the most part by the fact that people in the West have been conditioned on a large scale to feel deeply guilty about any criticism of Israel. And therein lies the main reason for the attractiveness to Westerners to take the position of blaming both sides equally. The fact that the Zionists are the actual invaders, land confiscators, oppressors and occupiers, is brushed aside, basically because it causes these conflicting loyalties. The media aids this by the skilful dosing of information, and by the use of language, branding all Palestinian violence as terrorism, and all Israeli violence as retaliation. It is not so difficult anymore these days to convince people that Palestinians are suffering heavily, and unjustly. What seems to be the biggest problem, however, is for these same people to see Israel as the cause of this suffering, despite the overwhelming historical facts that prove this. This, of course, includes those facts provided by the Israeli New Historians in the nineties. They deny none of the 1948 crimes against the Palestinians, but simply assert that they should have been carried out more thoroughly (Benny Morris).
A mistake often made by those who advocate the Palestinian cause in the West, is to fail to exert pressure on these highly essential issues.
Nakba-denial is one of the biggest problems that cause the failure of people to perceive the Zionist crime for what it really was, namely a vicious and well-planned act of ethnic cleansing, that displaced around 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and their country in 1948. Also, the over 400 villages they were expelled from, were destroyed, and wiped off the map.The majority of people in the West still don’t know these hard and brutal facts.
What’s the use of having a discussion, for instance about the Israeli Apartheid wall, with a Nakba-denier?
The axiom of cause and effect is reversed in his brain. A Nakba-denier sees Israel as the beginning, and the Palestinians as the attackers, and no matter how historically ludicrous this formula is, in the mind of the Nakba-denier it is a reality. The only useful thing to talk to him about, is the Nakba-Arabic for ‘catastrophe’- in order to try and open his eyes, that obviously are ‘wide shut’.
Since the Oslo-period, we also have a new, but quite strong presence of so-called Palestinian rights defenders in the West, who nevertheless hit the brakes when one mentions Zionism. They often have similar ideas to those of many who were active in the Israeli ‘Peace Now’ movement, that rapidly diminished in adherence over the last years – which also says something in itself. As European or American self-proclaimed promoters of the Palestinian cause, these people are of no use to the Palestinians, in fact they even constitute a significant problem, if not one of the main problems faced in creating awareness in the West, since they act as barriers and gatekeepers against progress.
How can a supporter of the Palestinian cause regard anyone who defends Zionist ideology, which is national-socialist in origin (this should ring a bell), and infested with concepts of racial superiority, without suspicion? The presently very active Christian form of Zionism is at least as destructive - and I mean this in the most literal sense - and uncompromising to the Palestinian people as its Jewish counterpart. It is of great importance, to keep Zionism at the center of the political discourse about Israel, and to mention it in any discussion about the subject.
Oslo-style thinking has indeed weakened this practice on a large scale, but there is a simple way to reverse this very rapidly: talk about it. Always talk about the Nakba, and always talk about Zionism, when talking about Palestine in the West. Without these two issues on the table, what are we really talking about? And whose purposes are we serving, by being caught in those fruitless dialogues about the issues that are only symptoms of these other two?
One thing is certain: awareness of the Nakba is at avery low level in the West. Yet I firmly believe that as long as this does not change, the apathy of Westerners will remain exactly as it is, and they will look on while Israel continues to encroach upon Palestine acre by acre, and continues to turn life into a living hell for each and every Palestinian inhabitant, person by person. And all they will do, is shake their heads, and repeat the eternal ‘why on earth can’t these people stop fighting each other?’ A statement of despair, as much as it is one of ignorance.
If only these people knew about the Nakba of 1948, and that it never stopped but is still going on today …Nakba is not a difficult word to educate people about, so let us be wise and make people talk about it, before Israel gets a chance to complete it.
-The writer is a Dutch-Palestinian activist.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Kidnap of BBC reporter Alan Johnston is a crime against the Palestinians
The kidnapping of the BBC’s Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, has seriously harmed Palestinian interests and has only one beneficiary, Israel.
On 12 March 2007 Alan Johnston, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s correspondent in the occupied Gaza Strip, went missing. According to a BBC report, Alan Johnston's car was found abandoned in Gaza City shortly after he left his office to drive home. It quoted a Palestinian police source as saying that four gunmen were seen in the vicinity of where Johnston's car was found.
Although to date no one has claimed responsibility for Alan Johnston’s disappearance, and no conditions have been set or random demanded for his release, we have little doubt that he has been kidnapped. We give no credence to a report published in the Saudi-financed, London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on 4 April which said that Johnston may have staged his own kidnapping after he had received notice of his dismissal from the BBC. That report, widely quoted by the Israeli press, is highly suspect and does not deserve further comment.
We are no champions of the BBC whose coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is and has always been deeply flawed - superficial, Judaeo-centric and lacking context and historical perspective. In fact, an independent review commissioned by the corporation's own board of governors in 2005 concluded that BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "incomplete" and "misleading", and fails to adequately report the hardships of Palestinians living under occupation.
But that is not to say that the BBC always gets it wrong or that all BBC reporters are ignorant or biased. Indeed, one of the few areas where the BBC has faired better than its Western competitors is in its reporting of the plight of the Palestinian people in occupied Gaza where, for three years, Alan Johnston has done a heroic job in bringing the misery of Gazans to the eyes and ears of the world.
Alan Johnston has been one of a handful of Western reporters who have given the English-speaking world a taste of what it is like to live under the shadow of the racist, Zionist entity. His kidnapping is a crime in every sense of that word. It is a crime against an honest and courageous reporter, and it is a crime against the oppressed people of Palestine.
We cannot even begin to understand why Alan Johnston has been kidnapped. But there is only one beneficiary of this crime: Israel. Alan Johnston’s kidnapping has diverted attention away from Israel’s continuing settlement activities and human rights abuses in the occupied territories, and it has been a public relations disaster for the Palstinians.
Without a doubt, whoever kidnapped Alan Johnson is, in effect if not in actual fact, an agent or a collaborator of Israel. Whoever kidnapped him and an enemy of the Palestinian people.
Copyright © 2002-2005 Interestudio.
All rights reserved.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Discussion on the Israel Lobby: Jeff Blankfort and Matan Kaminer
Thanks for the prompt reply and the family update.
One of the most critical failings in your analysis and of those who downplay the influence of the lobby, most notably Noam Chomsky, was expressed when you wrote:
"The one undeniable empirical fact is that for three decades and more American government policy and the Israel lobby's demands have been very close. Not always identical - there have been crises - but certainly very close, in an almost unprecedented way."
Chomsky and others have postulated this as proof that the lobby only appears to be powerful because its interests are in line with Washington's imperial interests whereas the lobby's critics, among them myself, question whether support for Israel has, in fact, been in keeping with the US global interests and take the position advanced by Stephen Green in "Taking Sides," that Israel and its supporters in the US define the limits of action that a US president may take in issues relating to Israel and it is left to the president to set policy within those limits. Any honest examination of the history of US-Israel relations shows this to have been the case.
What is not generally known since Chomsky and those who agree with him tend to ignore it, is that as Uri Avnery pointed out more than 20 years ago, every US president beginning with Nixon has attempted to get Israel to withdraw from lands it occupied in 1967 and with the exception of Carter forcing a withdrawal from the Sinai, they have been forced to pull back when Israel called on its US lobby to rally Congress on its behalf. Neither Israel nor its US lobby have ever forgiven Carter for Camp David despite it having removed Egypt as a military threat since, as I am sure you aware, as Ben-Gurion pointed out (in Sharett's diary), Israel requires external enemies in order to maintain a sufficiently high state of vigilance, not to mention diaspora support. These presidents were not seeking an end to Israeli occupation to benefit the Palestinians or the Syrians, but to eliminate an ongoing source of friction with the Arab and Muslim world which brings no strategic benefits to the United States.
Moreover, I have yet to see any argument of substance that demonstrates what strategic benefits the US gains from Israel's occupation and continuing theft of Palestinian land, while it should be obvious that a truncated Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza would not only be of no threat to the US, it would most likely and quickly, out of economic necessity, fall right into the US orbit along with Jordan or face economic strangulation as it is experiencing today. Arafat certainly made it clear that he was ready to jump into the lap of any US president and Abbas and his pathetic spokesperson Erekat are even more eager to do so.It was the late general Matti Peled who pointed out that the explanation that Israel receives support from the US because it is a "strategic asset" was invented to justify the continuing support of Israel by the US after Begin's election thirty years ago and the recirculation in the US press of the accusations made by Einstein, Arendt, and other prominent Jews in 1948 that Begin was a fascist in the Nazi mould.
This is not to say that in the absence of Israel that the US would be any less imperialistic, but its activities in the Middle East would have been markedly different. It would, I am sure, not have launched or have been able to launch the current war against Iraq without the public and hidden orchestration of a score of mostly Jewish neocons and the support of the lobby (of which the neocons are a key part !) that even as Madeline Albright recently admitted, is the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and which was opposed from the start by the old line US establishment represented by the senior George Bush, by his former Sec of State, James Baker and their National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, none of whom were considered friendly to either Israel or American Jewry, and all of whom have far greater connections to the oil industry than anyone in the current administration, including Dick Cheney. And those divisions in the US ruling class over America's unconditional support for Israel run quite deep, a reality of which the ideologically encapsulated American left is totally ignorant and apparently wishes to remain so. I am not one to quote Lenin, but he is alleged to have said, or written, "Be as real as reality." I have yet to meet a self-styled Leninist today who meets that standard nor a Trotskyist, for that matter.
Now, I can well understand that given the censorship that is exists within the international left on the subject, that you would know very little about the lobby's history and its role in making Israel a country to which American politicians of both political parties routinely pledge their allegiance (more often than they do to the US) and why many of these same politicians who have no problem criticizing the president of the United States, or the head of state of any other country (but one), on the floor of Congress are literally afraid to criticize a prime minister of Israel, any prime minister, knowing that to do so would be a career threatening, if not career ending decision.
Whether or not the lobby represents the majority of American Jews is irrelevant when one considers that that it is made up of the entire organized Jewish establishment which includes more than 60 organizations, 150 community relations councils and federations, thousands of synagogues, and Washington's major think tanks.If there is a single thread that holds them all together it is their support of continued US political, military and economic assistance to Israel and their universal opposition to the Palestinian right of return. I am not aware of a single organization of any significance among American Jews that does not subscribe to these positions and I have studied the subject quite thoroughly for a number of years.
As a group, moreover, Jews have long dominated the major donor list of the Democratic Party and by giving sums to key players in the Republican Party, assured their compliance with the lobby's wishes long before the Christian Zionists appeared on the scene. To pretend that their being Jewish is less significant than the fact that they are also wealthy capitalists may be comforting but will fool no one, least of all the politicians who are on the receiving end of their largesse.To get an understanding of how the lobby works and how it shapes US Middle East policy, I recommend that you purchase over the internet the following books: Edward Tivnan's "The Lobby," Stephen Green's "Talking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel," former Congressman Paul Findley's "They Dare to Speak Out," JJ Goldberg's (the editor of the Jewish weekly Forward) "Jewish Power" and most recently, Jim Petras's "The Power of Israel in the US."Also, you may be interested in three articles of mine:
Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict: http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html
Matan Kaminer’s response:
An article I wrote entitled "The Colonial Drama of Israel and Palestine" has ignited an intense online debate. The thesis of my article was that the Israeli-Palestinian struggle must be seen as a colonial conflict with a strong anomaly, that anomaly being the Jewish-Israeli colonialists, who differ in many respects from other populations of colonialists we know from history.
However, the virtual debate around the article has not been on this topic, but rather on a seemingly tangential subject, the power of the " Israel lobby" in the US. Now, this is a subject on which much debate has already raged. I doubt that I have anything of substance to add to it, as I have not done any empirical research in this rather complicated field. My article certainly did not attempt to address this issue. At the time it seemed to me that my reference to it was of little consequence. Of course, I now realize I was wrong about that.
As I wrote to Jeff Blankfort, I think that no reasonable person would deny the close correspondence between the demands of the "Israel lobby" and US foreign policy in the Middle East in the last thirty years. This correspondence, while meriting further investigation, does not imply any simple causal relationship. Mr. Blankfort's explanation, that the Israel lobby directly controls US foreign policy in this field, is certainly the simplest possible such explanation, but it does raise a host of other questions. Let me outline some of these.
First, what does the "Israel lobby" advocate, and on whose behalf? Blankfort approvingly quotes Edward Said, who characterized the lobby's views "as in some ways more extreme than those of Likud itself" , that is, far to the right of the views of the majority of Israelis. That in the terms of Israeli politics the Bush administration has been more "right-wing" than the Olmert government is well-known, at least in Israel; pressure from Washington is widely recognized as the reason for Israel's total rejection of Syrian peace overtures in the past year. How does the "Israel lobby" fit in here? Also, how do we explain the confusion that overtook this lobby as regards Ariel Sharon's "disengagement" project in 2005?
Second, in what sense is this group, which is often termed the "Jewish lobby", at all Jewish? An undeniably important component of it – the Christian fundamentalist movement – is not Jewish at all. Indeed, its ideology has a strong anti-Semitic flavor. On the other hand, the lobby does not answer to any representative body of American Jewry. Opinion polls of American Jews suggest that the views of the majority among them tend to left-wing Zionism; while being far from desirable, this is certainly not reflected in the politics of the lobby.
Third, how else can we characterize the lobby, other than in terms of its Jewishness? Well, like all lobbies, it is rich; that is one characteristic. In addition, as Mr. Blankfort has not failed to mention, it is interested in the furtherance of American imperial designs in the wider Middle East and the entire world. That "Israel" or "the Jews" have a vested interest in this imperial expansion may strike some readers as obvious and in need of no explanation; I certainly do not agree.There are many other possible questions. I will not go into them here, as I think the ones I have raised are enough to look for additional explanations, other than the most simple one.
However, I would like to clarify that I do not subscribe to the opposite, similarly simple explanation, which sees the lobby as nothing but an empty front, an excuse or a scapegoat for US politicians who do not dare own up to their own true affiliations. I do not want to make any outright claims here; but I strongly suspect that the truth must be more complicated than either of these polar opposites. Social life is full of complex relations between groups, real and imagined.
One example (of no immediate concern to the issue at hand) of a worthy debate that has not yet been settled is that over the true actors behind the new, globalized imperialism. What is the role of the US? Of Europe? Of the new third world "superpowers"? Of the hypothetical post-national Empire proposed by Hardt and Negri in their influential book of that name?
As I mentioned above, I have no intention of solving any of these problems in this ad-hoc essay. But I would like to emphasize the importance of the perspective through which we address the problem of the Israeli lobby and other similar ones. This perspective is in large part determined by our vision of the future. It is one thing if we can only envision the creation of a Palestinian state which will be immediately subsumed under the imperialist-capitalist heel, as East Timor has been since its independence was gained. If we do so that means the best we can hope for Palestine is a grinding subservience and poverty like that suffered by the rest of the global South. We do not see any necessary connection between the liberation of Palestinians from occupation and apartheid and the liberation of the world from imperialism and capitalism.
This kind of perspective, as far as the Palestine solidarity movement is concerned, disconnects the movement from the burgeoning global anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement. Once this happens, it is only logical to begin looking for a rapprochement with those circles inside the imperialist elite which may find it useful to create a Palestinian state. We begin to make strange bedfellows; while we ourselves are not anti-Semitic, it becomes legitimate to hook up with Ivy League paleo-conservatives whose anti-Zionism may have such a tinge.
The alternative perspective, which is my perspective, is an anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist stance. In this vision, Palestinian freedom is at once much harder to achieve and much more meaningful: it is a vision of Palestinians returning to their homeland to live together with Jews and others as part of a Middle East free of capitalist exploitation.
For this vision we will find no partners in the ruling elites, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim. No powerful corporations or lobbies will stand by our side - the elite will close ranks against us. Whatever its exact ethnic and religious composition, the "Israel lobby" is an organic part of this elite. If we remember this, and the fact that this lobby does not represent the interests of Israeli citizens or of American Jewry, than the question of the exact relations between the lobby and the rest of the American establishment will become somewhat academic.
For a Palestine solidarity movement that is firmly aligned to anti-imperialism (as it indeed has been throughout its history) the important question is not who our enemies are – this is rather clear – but who our potential allies are. We should look for these not in oil corporation headquarters or on the Beltway but in the fields, factories, tenements and refugee camps of the global South, which is of course also present in the countries of the North, and even in Israel.
Quoted here: http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html