Wednesday, August 31, 2005
blogger day - YO Sabbah!
It seemed like such a good idea at the time! Mention five blogs...especially ones that aren't our mirrors.
It is hard, Sabbah, and I'm gonna have to slug you! But I thought about it and came up with some stuff:
Everyone knows Umkahlil's blog is my fave blog. So, I won't mention it, and if you haven't been there, go. Now.
Then, after that, there are so many I like.
A Screamer in the Matrix I have mentioned before, but can't recommend it highly enough. Great prose, incredible and thought provoking posts from Erlenda. We differ on a lot of things, and I found this blog while trying to see what progressive voices were saying about Terry Schiavo. It was the best argumentation I had ever read which was opposite of my opinion. This person has an amazing mind.
Semitism is a fantastic blog, unfortunately it seems to be unaccessible for a few days because of bandwith being exceeded. But, if you haven't been, you must try some time, because Andrew has set up so many features, RSS feed of other blogs, a vocal section, headlines... He is an amazing person, and we differ in that he is a Two Stater. If all two Staters were like him, I think conversation would always be fruitful.
Under the Same Sun... a classic. Probably the first blog I was hooked on!
Syria Looks is a beautiful blog that has pictures, interesting blurbs of daily life and is just a site that makes me smile, when I need something positive.
Winds of Change in the Middle East? is a blog I just adore. Every time he writes "Israel", I laugh out loud. If only I could play chess well....
There are so many others I like, Free Iraq is amazing, probably the best Iraq blog I have seen. I also enjoy Angry White Kid, Critical Montages, which hasn't been updated in centuries, and Sam Smith's Undernews. I LOVE so many Italian bloggers, MIRUMIR is a goddess, Kelebek is wisdom and gentleness itself, Salemelik is an amazing writer and artist.... All of these and others are in my sidebar, so take a look now and then. I wish I could have added more, Catcus 48, Palestine Blogs, Unfair Witness, Simon Jones... I love them all.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
see no evil - reframing Israel
Kathleen Christison has once again written an outstanding piece for Counterpunch, which I reprint in my Peacepalestine Documents blog, so that it can be of easy reference.
It basically addresses the serious issue of telling the story of Palestinians, when faced with an absolutely total "frame" of the media in presenting everything as being about the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. This may sound strange.... By now, everyone seems to know that Israel is "willing to concede something" (as if that something was hers to concede) and that somehow there is a level of support for Palestinians, and therefore the issue is a little less schematic than what has always been presented. But, this reframing takes many years, and in the meantime, Palestinians are being oppressed and destroyed as well as continuing to lose their land.
Christison discusses the media bias, and in general, her conclusions are far from optimistic. Here are some brief excerpts of an article that should be read in its entirety:
"Israel is terrorizing an entire people, clearly intending to disperse this people as a unified national entity and prevent them from ever becoming a viable nation state. But virtually no one lights the pervasive darkness in the media and in public discourse. Palestine is being slowly done to death by Israel -- and death is not too strong a word. It is death through ethnic cleansing. It is death through theft of life-giving land; through murder and intimidation of its people; through the removal even of Arabic road signs pointing to Palestinian towns, as if they no longer exist; through destruction of Palestine's agricultural base, its economic potential, its transportation system, its water, its infrastructure, its people's very homes. And hardly anyone in the world knows."
"Like the Republican elephant and the conservative frame of reference, the sacrosanct notion of Israel as a Jewish state and the fact that every reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict revolves around guaranteeing Israel's continued existence, overwhelms and fills public thinking in the United States so that all other possibilities are secondary and are judged in relation to how they might somewhere, somehow affect Israel's security and survival. The point of a reframing would be to open public thinking to other possibilities, such as recognition that Palestinian rights in Palestine -- the right to genuine independence, to the sanctity of homes and personal property, to a life free of human rights abuses by an occupying power -- are as important in a just world as Israel's right to exist."
"Although the media in the U.S. and in Europe have gone silent about Palestine's death throes, they seldom miss an opportunity to lecture the Palestinians: Israel is taking a step of surpassing courage in Gaza ("the most significant and painful steps toward peace ever made in the Middle East" trumpeted one newspaper with spectacular hyperbole), and the future now depends entirely on whether the Palestinians behave. "Behaving" means not disturbing the Israelis, not disturbing the media's sense that peace is just around the corner if only the Palestinians cooperate. "Behaving" means not mentioning, certainly not complaining about, Israel's massive consolidation and expansion across the West Bank while the world watches Gaza. "Behaving" means, essentially, surrendering."
Saturday, August 27, 2005
The Great Settler Removal Drama - Elaine Washburn Shiber
The Great Settler Removal Drama
by Elaine Washburn Shiber
For those who got teary-eyed over the drama of Israeli settlers being removed from Gaza (luring some 4,000 reporters), I’d like to offer some perspective.
The settlers were illegally there, and most knew it. If not, the Israeli government surely did. It violates international law for an occupier (in this case Israel) to allow its own population to settle in land it occupies (Palestine). Why should Israel be exempt from this law?
Furthermore, the settlers will be well-compensated. Families will get between one and four hundred thousand dollars ($250,000 on average) for leaving Gaza, plus living quarters until permanent homes are built. Will Mr. Bush use our taxpayer dollars to foot this bill too?
In shocking contrast, Palestinians get absolutely nothing when they are forcibly removed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from the homes they and their families have lived in (legally) for hundreds of centuries before Israel’s 1948 creation. Collective eviction & transferring that smacks of ethnic cleansing, bombings and bulldozing of homes, buildings, farmland, and olive/citrus groves (using the same American-made ‘Caterpillars’ that crushed to death American peace activist Rachel Corrie in 2003) are routine tragedies for average Palestinians, and they don’t have to be related to suicide bombers, either. Few, if any, American reporters cover these events.
In the case of the Israeli destruction of the Palestinian town of Jenin, Prime Minister Sharon wouldn’t let anyone in, not even medical workers or UN officials, for two weeks after the offensive. Evidently, they had to ‘clean up’ first. When reports finally did come out, how many of us shed tears for those poor families who were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, mourning their dead who were bulldozed into mass graves?
No temporary living quarters… no new homes… not one ‘red cent’ have Palestinians ever received in compensation for their losses at the hands of underground Zionist terrorists of the past, whose leaders have been governing Israel ever since, and now the IDF. Furthermore, those native Palestinians who fled for their lives to neighboring countries have never been allowed to return, while Jews of various nationalities can move there anytime they want.
The Gaza settlers comprise a tiny percentage of Israeli squatters in Palestine. In the West Bank, around 400,000 Israelis have settled illegally, occupying the choicest properties and stealing the larger part of Palestine’s underground potable water. Thousands of them were born, bred and brainwashed in the U.S., which explains the Yankee accent we often hear among them. According to a recent article in Barron’s, Israel offers tempting incentives to potential Jewish immigrants, especially married American couples, to whom they’ve been giving $30,000 (cash) to become Israeli citizens.
There is a grander purpose for this ‘great settler removal drama’, as I like to call it, other than returning a molecule of land to Palestinians and giving the world a false sense of hope that peace is at finally at hand. Don’t be fooled. Israeli forces will still be entrenched along the border of Gaza and Egypt, as well as have a presence on their own borders with Gaza, ready to re-occupy at the drop of a hat.
More significantly, the theatrical Gaza withdrawal is distracting the world (including those 4,000 reporters!) from what’s going on in the West Bank, where Israel is increasing its stranglehold on Palestinian land. With Sharon’s approval, the construction of the ‘wall/fence’ that was flatly condemned by international law continues cutting deeply into Palestinian territory, separating families from each other, their land, and, thus, their livelihoods. Palestinian East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank are being quietly annexed through various constructions and settlements. It’s been widely publicized that some settlements will be removed (‘outposts’ are not settlements, incidentally), but we hear little about the new ones being created in blatant defiance of Bush’s ‘Road Map’, in locations that better align with Israel’s long-term plans.
Anyone closely following the Israel/Palestine situation knows that the biggest obstacle to peace, aside from the military occupation itself, is the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. Realistically, there can never be a cohesive Palestinian state with them in place. We can blame suicide bombers all we want, but they wouldn’t have emerged were it not for the incredibly inhumane occupation and the presence of all those settlers that wreaks havoc on Palestinians’ daily lives. If Israel truly wants peace, therefore, why is it continuing on this provocative path of expansionism in the West Bank, and, just as important, why is Mr. Bush turning a blind eye to it all and calling Mr. Sharon “a man of peace”?
Elaine Washburn Shiber is an active member of Amnesty International and a free-lance writer. She lives in Van Lear, KY
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Gaza "Disengagement" = West Bank Engagement Map
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
news flash!! A settler finds his conscience!
A settler actually “empathising” with the fate of a Palestinian after having experienced being made to leave his home?! Pah! Nothing doing. Perhaps empathy requires having a shared experience, not a similar one. Compassion means, “to suffer with”, from a late Latin root. It is perhaps the most noble of human sentiments, because it means to feel pain for the suffering of another feeling living creature. I have read for days the stories of families who have cried and wailed about their own suffering, the suffering of their people, the tragic feeling they had of being uprooted. Yet, I have not read a single word, a single utterance expressing a compassion for Palestinians who have been uprooted from 1948 to this very day.
So, with the magic of fantasy, I will invent A Settler’s Tale. He is on the first step towards compassion, empathy. Maybe there is hope if there is someone like him out there... But, remember, it’s just fiction.
“My name is not important. Let it suffice that I changed it when I made Aliyah, and the people back in Chicago know me as Alfred, but here, I have a proper Hebrew name. I changed the last name too, and with that, I uprooted myself permanently from the Windy City. I was pretty young when I made the move. In fact, the rest of my family didn’t come with me, since my experience was only supposed to be a year on a Kibbutz. I ended up staying, marrying an Israeli woman and raising our family here. We believe very firmly in the values of family, work, land, religion. We are peace loving and never had any contact with Palestinians at all. They were out of sight, out of mind.
My kids are all grown now, two of them are married with children of their own, and I am for the first time in my life feeling lost like a child. We knew we were going to have to leave, but we didn’t believe it would really be happening to us. People came from all over Israel to encourage us, to give us the strength to believe in our task of keeping the promised land Jewish. They helped us through many doubtful moments, but when push came to shove, there was no way we could stay. It was like a sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, and one of our sons was more resistant than the others, and he even joined some people to defend the temple, but, when something is inevititable it is inevitable. We packed our things and waited for the eviction notice.
It was hard to say goodbye to our neighbours. It was hard to say goodbye to our garden, which we really spent a lot of time tending to. It was terrible to leave our threshold. Memories of our lives raced in front of my eyes, and I knew that never again would I touch that soil I loved, walk into the fresh rooms on a hot day and smell the scents of the sea on a windy day. We were going to be moved to the Negev.
My wife was more upset than I was. She wondered how she could handle the climate, since she is getting up there in years. She will miss her friends, since they are being settled someplace farther. I try to comfort her as best as I can, but I am only a man, I don’t have the words to tell her to make her stop fearing about the desolation of the future.
Yet, in all of this, I started to feel a sense of guilt. I was thinking of how our people have always been pushed and shoved around. How we were forced to flee, a wandering people without a home to call our own. I thought of my ancestors, and I asked them to give me some comfort in this terrible moment. But, I also thought of something else. None of them were compensated for their losses. They weren’t given a check six times what their homes were worth. They weren’t escorted in air conditioned busses to hotels awaiting their brand new homes to be finished up. They weren’t televised in their suffering. They suffered like dogs and without anyone caring.
Then I started to ask myself for the first time ever, how did the Arabs feel when they were made to leave? They didn’t have the busses either, or the checks, or even the eviction notice. They had no chance to kiss their walls, to cry over their gardens, to say goodbye to friends and neighbours. They just were pushed out, further out.
And, for the first time, I felt more guilt than before. I still think this land is Jewish, belongs to us because it was promised to us from the beginning of history. Yet, I feel bad somehow. I feel a pain that I didn’t know could be so acute, and I am looking at a picture of an Arab and asking myself if I have the right to feel so bad. I am one of the lucky ones. Maybe it’s been promised to us, and maybe we have to really fight to keep it. But, why didn’t we compensate the people who lost their homes who G-d didn’t promise the same thing to? Don’t they at least have the right to some compensation? Can’t we start to show some mercy? Maybe then G-d will feel like we have earned the right to have that land, even if earning it isn’t a criterion. Perhaps this is some secret we have hidden to ourselves."
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Rami Khouri - Israel's withdrawal is historic and deceptive
In an article for the Daily Star published also in Palestine Monitor, Rami G. Khouri writes that the disengagement is an expedient to only settler further into the West Bank. He writes:
Just as there is a virtually unanimous international consensus on the illegal nature of the Israeli settler-colonies, so is there also global agreement that Israel must leave the territories occupied in 1967, negotiate a fair settlement of the refugee issue, share Jerusalem and coexist in peace alongside a sovereign, viable Palestinian state. The deep skepticism about both the impetus and the impact of the Gaza withdrawal reflects the perception - rooted in historical experience - that Israel is behaving only according to its sense of how to ensure its security through the use of its force, rather than through compliance with international law and the will of the community of nations. There is something slightly politically devious about Israel's withdrawal. It does not have the compelling ring of authenticity and honesty that characterized the white South Africans' coming to terms with black majority rule, or Mikhael Gorbachev's coming to grips with his people's right to freedom and democracy. It seems to be an expedient, grudging, defensive, reluctant endeavor. It is the enterprise of a thief who decides to stop stealing in one part of town, only to steal more efficiently in other neighborhoods.
Nevertheless, its deceptive morality aside, Israel's realities of the day suggest that its unilateral withdrawal does have the potential to advance the long-stalled peace-making process. This move is significant in part because Israel is unilaterally withdrawing from occupied Arab lands, ending some of its settler-colonial excesses, and defining part of its border. These trends need to be encouraged on other fronts where Israel is occupying and colonizing Arab lands, and this is where the next steps to come will be so important.
If all concerned Arab, Israeli and international parties work harder than before to make it clear that peace and security can only be achieved for all through a peaceful political process, rather than force of arms, we might see progress towards a fair, permanent peace accord. This requires that Israelis and Palestinians both abide by global law, rather than defy it with guns. The key to this is not a racist, colonial-era demand that the occupied, dispersed and blockaded Palestinians behave like nice children before they can hope to enjoy their human and national rights; the key is rather that Israelis and Palestinians who both respect the law and UN resolutions can expect simultaneously to live in peace and security.
Simultaneity is critically important for peace, because only if both sides feel they are achieving their rights will they continue with peaceful means of conflict resolution. The Gaza withdrawal must be a sign that Israel is forsaking occupation as an instrument to ensure its own security, not that it is returning some Palestinian lands in order to hold on to others.
Rami G. Khouri writes a regular commentary for The Daily Star.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Oriana Fallaci rants again
Today I took a look to see what they had to say on the Gaza Disengagement, and I found this little tidbit. Another Italian disaster, Oriana Fallaci interviewed for Polish Television and reprinted by Libero. I am only going to translate the first segment. I can’t say “paragraph”, because this rant looks graphically like a few pages of Finnegan’s Wake, where it’s all one long, endless, torrential paragraph. Take a look yourselves (better yet if you read Italian and can get the effect of raising a manhole to a sewer yourself. You soon enough will swim knee deep in it and rubber boots aren’t enough). here it is.
And without further ado, the first segment of the “interview”.
Padre Andrzej Majewski, director of Poland’s public television network Telewizja Polska: Those responsible for the terrorist attacks on London were Muslims born in Great Britain or English citizens They can therefore be considered Europeans. Do you believe that in order to defend our continent and western society we should banish all the Muslims of Europe?
Oriana Fallaci: To begin with, they are not Europeans at all. They can’t be considered Europeans. Or not more than how we could be considered Islamic if we lived in Morocco or Saudi Arabia or in Pakistan taking advantage of residence or citizenship. Citizenship has nothing to do with nationality, and it takes a good deal more than a piece of paper on which it is written English or French or German or Spanish or Italian or Polish citizen to make us English or French or German or Italians or Poles. That is, an integral part of a history and a culture. In my opinion, even those with citizenship are guests and that’s that. Or rather, privileged invaders. Then, it’s one thing to expel the terrorist students or aspirant terrorists, the illegal aliens, the vagabonds who live by robbing or selling drugs, or better yet, the Imams who preach the Holy War inciting their faithful to massacre us. It’s one thing to indiscriminately throw out an entire religious community. Forced exile is a punishment that already in the 1800s in Europe was applied with circumspection, and only for certain individuals. In our times it is applied only to kings and the royal families who have lost the game. In other words, it is no longer fitting for our civilisation. To our ethics, to our culture. And the idea of paradoxically transforming ourselves from victims to tyrants, from persecuted to persecutors, is unconceivable for me. It makes me think of the three hundred thousand Jews who were thrown out of Spain in 1492, to the pogroms in which the Jews have been victim of in the entire course of their history. Naturally, if they want to go of their own free will, I wouldn’t cry over it. Quite the contrary, I would light a candle to the Madonna. In the essay published a few days ago by the Corriere della Sera, “We are treating the enemy like a friend”, I even suggest they do so. “If we are so ugly, so bad, so disgusting and sinful,” I say, “”if you hate us and despise us so much, why don’t you just go back to your own homes?” The fact is that they would do anything but. It’s the furthest thought from their minds. And even if they were to think about it, how could such a thing take place? Through an exodus equivalent to that in which Moses brought the Jews from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea? They are too many, by now. Calculating only those who are in the European Union, as the most recent data suggests, they are around 25 million. Calculating even those who are in countries outside the European Union and in the Ex Soviet Union, around 60 million. That is their Promised Land, do you understand me? Respect, tolerance. Public aid, freedom aplenty. Labour unions, ham, the much detested ham, wine and beer, the much detested wine and the much detested beer. Blue jeans, license to exert in every sense assertive acts that are neither punished nor retorted or condemned. (Including the right to throw crucifixes from windows). Protectors of the collaborationists always ready to defend them in the papers and to impede their expulsion in the courts. Dear Father Andrzej, it is by now too late to ask them to go back home. We should have, you should have, asked that of them twenty years ago. That is, when I was already saying, “But don’t any of you understand that this is an invasion that has been well calculated, and if we don’t stop them we will never be free of them again?” ................... and on she rants for another several hundred lines.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Christian Zionism - enlightening interview with Michael Prior
Michael Prior: ......Zionism is a 19th-century political project that has wreaked enormous havoc on the indigenous population of Palestine. Not only do I think it is legitimate to protest against this project, but I think it is a moral imperative to do so – as I would think it a moral imperative to protest against the policy of apartheid. And incidentally, I consider Zionism to be an evil of far greater profundity than apartheid.
The Witness: Why do you say that?
Michael Prior: Well, first of all, even though the apartheid regime did all kinds of injustices to the indigenous population of South Africa, it didn’t expel 80 percent of them. The Zionist project is much more severe – the Zionists wanted, simply, ethnic cleansing. I’m sure there are many people in Israel today who regard the Zionist project as having made their first major blunder in not getting rid of all of the Arabs in 1948. They got rid of 750,000, leaving behind approximately 150,000. That 150,000 has grown to a million. And there are very strong voices in Israel now that say the only way forward is to expel all the Arabs.
And, of course, we’re now in a situation where we could have a very, very serious war. We’ve had a whole pile of wars in the region, many of them related to the existence of the state of Israel, its policies of expansion and its militarism. I think it’s very easy to demonstrate that a lot of the militancy and the expenditure of the resources of the surrounding countries on arms has got to do with the fact that Israel is so well-armed. So it has brought a great sense of belligerence to the whole culture and it has seriously undermined the credibility of the United States’ foreign policy. Something like one-third of all American foreign aid goes to the state of Israel.
Gaza Disengagement brings about Natural Disasters!!
America’s Role In Dividing Israel Has Brought Judgment
WASH—Aug 16—KIN— The role of America in the eviction of Jews from the covenant land has been pivotal in bringing political disruption, natural disasters, economic disaster and violence against the United States.
Every President since Jimmy Carter has tried to broker peace by putting Israel on a path to give up its land. President George W. Bush is the first President to ever advocate a Palestinian state and apply constant and forceful pressure for Israel to give up its land.
And since this pressure has become so intense during the Bush Administration, Islam has prosecuted the war on terror ferociously against America; fuel prices have more than doubled; the direct nuclear threat against the U.S. has increased; temperatures, droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes have increased; and America lives in constant vigilance against attacks on its own soil.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Avigail Abarbanel - No Healing without Equality
Healing is not possible without equality
I completely agree with the analogy of child abuse and find it very appropriate in this context. I have been aware of many attempts by well-meaning people and organisations inside and outside Israel to initiate 'dialogue' or a process of 'reconciliation' between Israelis and Palestinians. As a psychotherapist and a former Israeli I am deeply suspicious of such attempts. Although I do appreciate the good intentions behind them, I believe that they are grossly misguided and unfortunately, support the problem rather than the solution.
From the fields of family and relationship therapy we know that true dialogue and reconciliation are only possible between two equal parties. Where there is a clear imbalance of power any attempt at dialogue risks deepening the trauma of the wounded party and strengthening the position of the more powerful abuser. In cases of domestic violence for instance, in Australia we always offer separate therapy to the partners involved. Only after the two have been through a process that makes them feel truly equal to each other, some kind of dialogue or negotiation may be possible. When well-meaning people talk about dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians they are operating under the wrong assumption that these are two equal parties who just seem to have some kind of a disagreement that can be handled with a bit of good will and conflict resolution skills. As if it is just a difference of culture, beliefs or of perception. While Palestinians are an occupied people living at the whim of Israel and under its complete control, this assumption has little to do with reality. It is like trying to initiate reconciliation between a jailer and a detainee while the detainee is still behind bars, or between a wife and a violent husband while he is still bashing her up every day, between an individual employee in the Third World or anywhere and a multinational, or indeed between a child and an adult abuser. What is wrong with all these cases is the imbalance of power and the fact that the more powerful party has abused his power in some way, and is refusing to own up. Abusers usually try to portray themselves as the victim. It is not uncommon for a child molester to sit with a therapist and say how miserable they are and that they really have suffered, or for a violent man to behave as if he is the victim in the relationship! Abusers often do not even understand what is wrong with their behaviour, they don't want to or cannot empathise with the pain and trauma they are inflicting and are seeing their victim as if he or she is somehow responsible for their own pain; even worse they behave as if they are justified in what they are doing because they have suffered in the past or because somehow it is their god given right. We, therapists, don't buy into it. When someone has abused their power it changes the rules. Abusers can no longer ask to be treated with understanding of their own wounds or pain until they are absolutely committed to changing their ways and own up to their behaviour and their abuse of their power. Israel has done what all abusers do, and everyone still seems to buy into it and allows them to get away with it.
Rules that apply to situations where parties are equal are very different to situations where parties are not. This has to be cleared once and for all in relation to Palestine/Israel. There is no confusion and it is not very complicated. But there is a lot of spin out there usually generated by the more powerful side (Israel itself, pro-Zionist lobby etc). Abusers such as Israel often try to use the 'negotiation', 'dialogue' or 'reconciliation' process to deepen their control, to help blur the truth and to justify their own position. In relation to this conflict the efforts must be directed at eliminating the imbalance of power, that is to strip away Israel's power over the Palestinian people (i.e. end the occupation and Israel's control and stop allowing Israel to have control over the parameters of discussions and negotiations), and to help the Palestinians become an empowered people. Ideally that must involve some kind of recognition by Israel of its history and the injustice that Zionism perpetrated against the Palestinians. While the Palestinian people are still in the position of a 'battered wife' they have nothing and no one to negotiate with. Asking them to do it is not only a sham but deepens their abuse. One only has to look at the history of the 'peace process' between Israel and the Palestinians to see many example of this point. It never worked because the process has been between two grossly unequal parties and therefore a complete farce.
Monday, August 15, 2005
who's to blame for the pain?
Recently, I have witnessed a lot of attempts to find a middle ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of these have as the basis the "mutual recognition of fault".
See for instance this text from The Parents Circle, an organisation that seeks to establish dialogue between bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families.
"The long-term goals of the Families Forum are to promote reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian societies.
The Families Forum aims to play a crucial role in spearheading a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. Such a process will allow both sides to come to terms with past suffering. The reconciliation process will provide a firm basis for the difficult measures a future agreement will include, by recognizing responsibility of both sides for the past. By allowing both Israelis and Palestinians to come to terms with the consequences of the escalating violence, both sides will begin to change their beliefs, which are at the root of the conflict. Currently the parties are too immersed in their own pain to be willing to acknowledge the other’s suffering. By acknowledging the personal narratives of victims of both sides, a new chapter in the relations between the sides may, at last, begin.
Past activities of the Families Forum have generated empathy for bereaved families of the opposing side, by gradually exposing both societies to each other loss. Palestinians and Israelis have so far avoided recognizing the pain of the other side. A reconciliation process initiated by the Families Forum can put victims, who refuse to revenge their loss and choose to reconcile at the forefront of public awareness. In doing so it will humanize both sides and will act as an example to the Israeli and Palestinian people."
Now, I am all in favour of reconciliation. But, let's try to see what that means. First, it is to realise there is a deep conflict that is difficult to transcend just with good will alone. One must recognise that which is "right" and where the "other" has been violated and not treated in a way that is "right". It doesn't mean that BOTH parties are "wrong". When both parties feel justified, the reconciliation is much more difficult.
Take the situation of child abuse. It is simple to realise precisely who is responsible for the pain, even if the abuser him or herself has some level of suffering due to the consequences of his actions. It is evident that the child whose parent had hurt him is not responsible for the acts done against him. He has absolutely NO need to apologise or to change his beliefs. Rather, he must learn to live with himself in a safe mental environment, and often separated from the adult who has hurt him, even if he loves him and needs him.
Why should the child come to terms with the legitimacy of the suffering his parent has? The child is the weak party, needs and must have protection, and his life and safety has been violated. This is simply the truth. It might be useful for the parent to eliminate some of his own responsibility, but it is not the task of the victim to acknowledge that in order to make reconciliation happen.
I see the situation between the Israeli and Palestinian people as analogous. The Israelis enjoy a rich western lifestyle at the expense of the Palestians. They have destroyed the social, economic and national structure of this people, and maintain the iron fist in order to do so. Their military, their checkpoints, their prisons are instruments to maintain this status quo, to keep the power firmly in their own hands. It is clear that the Palestinians have nothing of the sort to pit against the Israelis. At best, or at worst, they have rudimentary resistance, children who throw rocks at tanks, Qassam short range missiles and the suicide bomber. The equilibrium is so ridiculously pointed towards Israel in terms of force, power and aggression, so how can they maintain a victim narrative that is remotely realistic?
What are these groups such as the Parents Circle calling for? For Palestinians and others to abandon their support for the basic and legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. Of tilting the scales towards balance, in a situation where there really is no balance. This is whitewashing, it is not justice or redress. It will only serve to buy Zionists time and to promote their image of themselves as a peaceseeking people.
The Vatican has a very interesting article on reconiliation. I copy a segment here:
"Careful observers, studying the elements that cause division, discover reasons of the most widely differing kinds: from the growing disproportion between groups, social classes and-countries, to ideological rivalries that are far from dead; from the opposition between economic interests to political polarization; from tribal differences to discrimination for social and religious reasons. Moreover, certain facts that are obvious to all constitute as it were the pitiful face of the division of which they are the fruit and demonstrate its seriousness in an inescapably concrete way. Among the many other painful social phenomena of our times one can noted.
The trampling upon the basic rights of the human person, the first of these being the right to life and to a worthy quality of life, which is all the more scandalous in that it coexists with a rhetoric never before known on these same rights.
Hidden attacks and pressures against the freedom of individuals and groups, not excluding the freedom which is most offended against and threatened: the freedom to have, profess and practice one's own faith.
The various forms of discrimination: racial, cultural, religious, etc.
Violence and terrorism.
The use of torture and unjust and unlawful methods of repression.
The stockpiling of conventional or atomic weapons, the arms race with the spending on military purposes of sums which could be used to alleviate the undeserved misery of peoples that are socially and economically depressed.
An unfair distribution of the world's resources and of the assets of civilization, which reaches its highest point in a type of social organization whereby the distance between the human conditions of the rich and the poor becomes ever greater. The overwhelming power of this division makes the world in which we live a world shattered to its very foundations.
However disturbing these divisions may seem at first sight, it is only by a careful examination that one can detect their root: It is to be found in a wound in man's inmost self. In the light of faith we call it sin: beginning with original sin, which all of us bear from birth as an inheritance from our first parents, to the sin which each one of us commits when we abuse our own freedom. "
Yes, upon reading this, we see that the Vatican suggests that there are concrete reasons why there is conflict and why there is an impossibility to overcome them. To do so requires the offender to recognise his "sin", his "fault", to ask forgiveness, and not to expect that the other renounces his beliefs or accepts that the aggressor is in the right or somehow justified.
Unless Israel and its people recognise that reconciliation CAN happen if they want it to, and it is IN THEIR HANDS because they hold the power, anything else will just be putting a false facelift on a situation where a different solution is called for.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
As a conclusion to this post, I remembered an extremely important paper on child abuse, paedophilia and internet that Pete Townshend wrote. I think it is worthwhile reading, and it can be found here on a pdf file.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Map of Israeli land conquest in 1948
Al Nakba 1948 (map not including Occupied Territories)
By military conquest, expulsion and massacres, the conquered land became 20,500 sq. km (78% of Palestine)
Now the remaining 22% is under the longest occupation in the world
This map is part of a complete presentation on the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine compiled by the great Salman Abu Sitta of the Palestine Land Society. http://www.plands.org/
We must not forget, this land was inhabited by another people. It was not empty, they had their own society, agriculture, language, customs.
It was a land that was ethnically cleansed of its people. That ethnic cleansing is still going on to this day. Are we going to sit here and let it continue as if we don't know about it?
Friday, August 12, 2005
Even Escape is an Art – Fabio Mini*
Fabio Mini is a General of the Italian Armed Forces and former Commandant of the Multinational Force in Kossovo
If the USA were to withdraw from Iraq, it would be chaos. Because the Iraqi troops can’t be counted upon. And the Pentagon is even starting to hypothesise a new an action against Syria and Iran
In general, an “exit strategy” (how to leave a foreign war theatre) is not so much a strategy as an organisational matter. It is sufficient to have it clearly laid out who is the winner and who is the loser. If one wins, the exit takes place with fanfare and medals; if one loses, the organisational matter is actually simplified: either the winner holds them prisoner, or they are kicked out mercilessly. The exit becomes a real strategy when the “level of capitulation” is reached, that is, the limit of toleration of the losses and costs, when one is no longer able to contain the adversary, when the military or political usefulness of the action of war is nil and when major losses or breakdown must be avoided. The most complex exit strategies and the most inauspicable are obviously those to enact when who has won or lost is unknown, or if one pretends to have won when they really have lost. It is the case of the situations of a deadlock in which neither of the contenders is able to prevail and the variation of equilibrium of forces itself, of behaviour and motivation, could determine the defeat of one or the other.
In the last fifty years of military history, as well as that of international politics, we have seen the armed forces that were the strongest in the world debate among themselves over the dilemma of the exit strategy, precisely for the triple incapacity of bringing the victory, admitting the defeat and dealing with the deadlock. The Americans have begun the negative series with the Korean War (the first that had not been won, as General Harrison, who signed the armistice, admitted) and with Vietnam (a defeat). The Soviets followed in Afghanistan, the Chinese in Vietnam and a bit, all of the others, we Italians included, in Somalia. Wars that have been won and exits that are simply organisational have taken place only in the Falklands and Grenada: two small islands.
Iraq is an emblematic case of a deadlock in which the variation of the equilibrium can bring to the edge of capitulation, but at the same time, the commitment seems to be ever more heavy and non-sustainable. The strongest country in the world has almost all of the military resources, as well as the human and financial ones, concentrated in a limited theatre. Emphatically, Rumsfeld said to the 150,000 American soldiers still present in Iraq during his latest flash visit: “We don’t have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy”. The victory, true or presumed, real or virtual, is therefore the key and the premise of the American exit strategy and it becomes that of all those nations who don’t intend upon dissociating themselves from this policy. But after the military operation of 2003, the search for victory has had to move on the political plane, establishing first that it coincided with the famous passage of “sovereignty”, then with the “democratic” elections, and then with the formation of the government. Now the victory would consent that the exit coincides with the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to take care of themselves (a very complex thing) and the Iraqis (very difficult to do) in a way that is not in practice the same as that of Saddam. In all of these “victories”, in the meantime 1,741 American soldiers have died, 89 British ones, 25 Italians, 18 Ukrainians, 17 Poles, 11 Spaniards, and 8 from other countries: for a medium of 80 a month. The civilian deaths among Iraqis number approximately 25 thousand. The wounded Americans are more than 13 thousand. And the new “victory” to accomplish with the autonomy of the Iraqi police force and army seems to be just another convenient goal that is more political than operative. The consignment of a solid and lasting operative capacity is however indispensable and one cannot attempt to make experiments or to throw in the front lines forces that have not been adequately prepared. In the hundreds of attacks of every sort there have already been more than 1,500 Iraqi soldiers or policemen killed and another 6,000 have been wounded.
The objective of having 260,000 men in uniform (in a nation with a population of 26 million), is not impossible to achieve; at this point, there are already officially 240,000 of them. But numbers cannot give the certainty in a system where the salary is seen as a sort of owed subsidy. A private American agency has been hired to check how many policemen and soldiers absolve any kind of duty at all in respect to that which is the quantity listed in the payrolls. The first results are not encouraging: at the end of the roll call, those absent seem to outnumber those present. On the plane of professionalism and motivation the minimum goals are far from being met. Out of a police force of 142,000 people, only 39 percent turns out to be prepared. The armed forces, numbering approximately 98,000 men is said to be operative at 69 percent, but not for tasks of public order or policing. The trustworthiness of the Iraqi police force – trained for the most part by private American companies – in terms of respect for the law and for human rights is still very much lacking: a rapport by the Department of State speaks of homicides of political opponents, extortion, rape and torture. If this happens today with an imposing presence of international forces, then any scenario depicting a disastrous reality after a withdrawal seems justified. Some evoke the prospect of a civil war, of genocide by the rebels against the “collaborators” and ethnic and religious feuds which confirm the extreme fragility of the situation, while others attempt to furnish an image of an internal situation that is stable and more or less “normal”.
Even without putting much credence in the theory of the civil war or the “genocide”, the degree and type of risks of a mass withdrawal depend upon the zone and the role that is currently held by the international forces. In the Kurdish part the American presence is already reduced and caries out indirect tasks of security. In the Sunni triangle and at Baghdad the function of security to the civil population or of the government structures is grossly overshadowed by the need for self protection: the US soldiers are concentrated primarily in defending themselves from assaults. In the Shiite area of the south the security function is essentially self-protection while in favour of the community and the local administrations the military forces undertake duties of assistance, including important humanitarian assistance, but they are not a determining factor in guaranteeing local security. And while in the south one may hypothesise a massive reduction of the foreign contingents, it is doubtless that a possible withdrawal of the American troops from Baghdad and in the Sunni triangle would induce the Iraqis to a drastic revision of the relationships of the internal forces. If this process of revision does not respect any democratic rules and is not controlled by the international community, it would leave space for tribal dynamics which have a predictable result. The prospect, in this case, would be a long period of transition until a new equilibrium between the ethnic groups is established, or until the rise of a new dictator.
But the war in Iraq has introduced an ulterior parameter of instability: terrorism, which is important to consider as separate from rebellion. With the regime of Saddam, the only terrorist was he himself, even if is relationship of cooperation with Osama Bin Laden are still to be demonstrated.
Today, on the other hand, the alliance between Al Qaeda and Al Zarqawi is a certainty and it is the fundamental novelty that links international fundamentalist terrorism to nationalism. Whatever exit strategy that takes place must therefore take into account that the destiny of Iraq is no simply a limited internal question. The war has put into movement a series of related mechanisms that intend upon altering the regional scheme. And they have succeeded. The post war has put into movement still other mechanisms that reflect upon the entire question of world security. The fresh outbreak of fundamentalist terrorism is one of the most tragic aspects, but far worse is the birth of terrorism in the diasporas that is stretching out to other nations.
It is also for this reason, the idea of unlocking the situation of deadlock with an action of force is one of the strategies thought of in the environs of the Pentagon both for eliminating the Iraqi rebellion and the terrorism once and for all, and as a way of leaving Iraq. The idea of making a clean sweep of all the possible oppositions and terrorists, running the risk of eliminating a great number of innocent people, is a temptation to many hawks and it is not said that is has not already been accomplished in a local sphere. The idea of “exiting from Iraq by passing through Syria and Lebanon” (read: war against the first and revolution in the second) does not enjoy the pre-bellum favour, but it is still in the minds of some authoritative supporters of the Victory Strategy. The same exit can make “passing through Iran” necessary.
The American interests in Iraq are at this point enormous and the debts so far accumulated (more than 500 billion Dollars) does not consent (even if they wanted to) that the United States close the shutters and go. It is not even a question of saving face. The question is taking advantage of the money already invested. The large corporations that have had contracts must be paid, the Iraqi government must guarantee a certain normalcy, but the entire Iraqi and international community present on the soil have to accept a high level of endemic violence. With these premises, the Americans and the British will begin to reduce their own contingents, trying to not add to the level of capitulation and leaving in place enough forces, not so much so as to guarantee the growth of Iraq or the democratisation of the country, but to safeguard their own interests and investments. Of the other countries who decide to remain in Iraq beside the Americans and British, or even in a form of bilateral cooperation with Iraq, must be certain to have a portion of interests and a concrete project: something to do and bring to its conclusion in an established period of time and at an assured budget. That will be the factor that decides what to leave behind and what to bring back home.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Palestinian Landloss from 1946 to 2000
Bertrand Russell - On Palestinian refugees, and a word by Fromm and Asimov
Lord Bertrand Russell addressing an international conference in 1970, wrote the following:
"The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East".
"Message from Bertrand Russell to the International Conference of Parlimentarians in Cairo, February 1970." Reprinted in The New York Times, Feb. 23, 1970.
And this is what Erich Fromm said: (thanks to Jamil T. for finding it)
...and may I add another similar statement by Erich Fromm, criticizing the Zionist assertion that Palestine is the land of the Jews, noting: "The principle holds that no citizen loses his property or his rights of citizenship and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which (Palestinians in Israel) have much more legitimacy than the Jews.... If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers lived two thousands years ago, this world would be a madhouse." (Jewish Letter, February 9, 1959)
Ed Seiler of the Asimov Society responded to a query by Ed Corrigan. Here is his reply:
As is the case for many topics on which Asimov wrote, I'm sure he expressed his views about Zionism in a number of pieces. One that I know of is in _In Joy Still Felt_, the second volume of his autobiography. There, he tells of having dinner in 1959 with one of his old college chums and his wife, an Israeli. Asimov wrote: "As usual, I found myself in the odd position of not being a Zionist and of not particularly valuing my Jewish heritage.
I like Jewish cooking, Jewish music, Jewish jokes -- but I'm not *serious* about it. I also like other kinds of cooking, music, and jokes (in fact, we were eating in a Chinese restaurant). I don't even mind *being* Jewish. I make no secret about being Jewish in this book, or elsewhere, and I've never tried to change my name.
I just think it is more important to be human and to have a human heritage; and I think it is wrong for anyone to feel that there is anything special about any one heritage of whatever kind. It is delightful to have the human heritage exist in a thousand varieties, for it makes for greater interest, but as soon as one variety is thought to be more important than another, the groundwork is laid for destroying them all."
He had some additional thoughts in a chapter titled "Anti-Semitism" in _I. Asimov_, his third autobiographical volume. There, he discussed how he was distressed by the capability of the historically oppressed (such as the Jews) to in turn become oppressors if given the chance, and writes, "Right now, there is an influx of Soviet Jews into Israel. They are fleeing because they expect religious persecution. Yet at the instant their feet touched Israeli soil, they became extreme Israeli nationalists with no pity for the Palestinians. From persecuted to persecutors in the blinking of an eye."-- Ed Seiler
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Lana Habash - Divide and Conquer:The Politics of Palestinian Human Rights
One of the most outstanding articles I have ever read, quite possibly the cornerstone of understanding where we activists for Palestinian people's rights should be operating. A heartfelt thanks to Dr Habash, and to Umkahlil and Zahi for the forwards.
A brief excerpt from a lengthy, informative and inspiring piece:
"Israeli civilians" within the Green Line are portrayed quite differently from Israeli settlers of the West Bank and Gaza, despite the similarities in their material relationship to the indigenous people of Palestine. These people are often portrayed in American media as innocent individuals who "want to live in peace" with their neighbors. These "civilians" are also settlers on Palestinian land occupied through military force. They live in houses and on property that belongs to Palestinian refugees. They claim rights to land and resources that have been taken by force and over which they maintain exclusive control under a system of laws based on racist ideology. The vast majority of these Israeli civilians advocate for separation and segregation. Even the Israeli Peace movement continues to maintain that Israeli injustice in Palestine does not include the forced displacement of Palestinians in 1948, but rather only the occupation of Palestinian land since 1967. These civilians fight for the preservation of their privileges as Jews within Israel that allow them to buy land (Palestinians cannot), travel freely (Palestinians cannot), settle in historic Palestine permanently (Palestinians born and raised in historic Palestine cannot return despite international laws guaranteeing their right to do so), express their political opinions freely without fear of detention or torture (Palestinians who are considered Israeli citizens do not enjoy this freedom), enjoy education, electricity, and free use of the water of historic Palestine (Palestinian "Israelis" often have none of these freedoms in the unrecognized villages).
For the entire article, see Lana Habash, Divide and Conquer.
Monday, August 8, 2005
Gilad Atzmon - -The Tyranny of Pronouns on the Road to Fascism
I immigrated to Britain eleven years ago. Originally I came here with the intention of finishing my post-graduate studies in Philosophy. I didn’t nurture any plans of staying, but I fell in love: first with London and later with Britain. When I came here just over a decade ago, I met a society that was trying to reconcile itself with the twilight of its long, disastrous history as a colonial power with the morally orientated liberal view it adopted in the aftermath of the Second World War. When I decided to settle here I had the impression that the days of the empire were really over. This was obviously a few years before Blair took over. At the time Britain was searching for different ways to transform its expansionist heritage into one that could survive just as well as a tolerant, peace seeking nation. Small, but without the shackles of needing to dominate and impose its will upon others. British society presented itself as a multi-ethnic society with a multi-cultural horizon. Any visitor to London would admit that this image of openness is more than apparent in almost every aspect of the life of the capital; the very many languages, the extreme wide range of foreign cuisines and restaurants, the music, the people and their varied dressing code, etc. London is no doubt an amazingly colourful international cultural hybrid. It is the most welcoming city on this planet, it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, you can always turn it into your home.
Saying that, I have never been convinced by the general idea of multi-culturalism. I would ideally prefer to live in a society that tolerantly celebrates its differences rather than a society that identifies itself with an ideology, be it the most open and tolerant ideology. I would prefer to think of a society in which collective tolerance is an authentic and genuine tendency rather than a legally imposed political agenda. The idea of authoritarian multi-cultural ideology always appeared to me as a shaky cover up. It is there to hide clear latent chauvinist and even racist tendencies. But I learned to live with it. I learned to accept the fact that in Britain, art centres are receiving public funding only when they present a ‘multi-cultural program’ with a discernible number of marginal artists, be it Indians, Blacks, Pakistani, Jews, Women, etc. Although I could never support such an instrumental approach, I learned to respect it. I thought to myself; if this is what it takes for so many people to live together in peace, who am I to raise any criticism?
Seemingly, Mr Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, exposed the essential deceptive character entangled with the idea of multi-culturalism. “The rules are changing” Blair says these days. From now on ‘we’, the British, will decide what really fits into our ‘way of life’. ‘They’, on the other hand, will be deported or even stripped of their citizenship. I tend to believe that Blair knows very well who the ‘we’ and who are the ‘they’ must be. Blair surely believes that he knows what the British ‘way of life’ is all about as well.
Without really knowing whether I fall into Blair’s ‘we’ category or rather into the ‘they’ one, I would confess that my personal interpretation of the British ‘way of life’ is very different from Blair’s. This is not very unusual considering the fact that I am a ‘Johnny foreigner’. But then, surprisingly enough, I realised lately that my personal account on the subject isn’t that remote from Ken Livingstone’s vision of the British capital. In a press conference following the 7/7 bombing, the Mayor said it all: “London is the town of the people who want to be themselves”. Ken had tears in his eyes that cloudy afternoon, and I found myself sobbing with him. It was Ken Livingstone who managed to explain to me in a one single sentence why I fell in love with London and why I settled in Britain a decade ago. Ken’s philosophy is simple: Let yourself and others be.
I feel at home in Britain and especially in London because it was here where I could initiate a search for myself. It was here where I managed to stop identifying myself as a Jew, it was here in London where I ceased being an Israeli. It was here where I started to write. It is here in Britain where I stopped being an Americanised bebop clone and became Gilad Atzmon (what ever that means). I love London and Britain because I am allowed to be myself or even just to be. But it goes further, it is here in London where I could spend an evening in a Lebanese restaurant, it is here in London where I meet, talk and make friends with Palestinians without having them become intimidated by my ‘Israeliness’. It is here in London where I realised that I am a Hebrew speaking Palestinian. I owe a lot to this town and to people who made this town into what it is, be they British or not.
I might be completely wrong here, but I tend to believe that as far as the subject of ‘British way of life’ is concerned, we better listen to Ken rather than to Tony. Unlike Blair who was re-elected indirectly in spite of himself, Livingstone was directly elected by Londoners, by people who believe in their Mayor and his universal humanist outlook.
Indeed, Livingstone and Blair represent two different and opposing worldviews. While Ken describes a liberal society comprised of many different people searching for their own authentic voice, Tony is articulating some radical nationalist thoughts. For Blair, the whole is far greater than its parts. For Blair, society is by far more vital than its members. The state is more important than its citizens. Blair articulates his worldview by cluttering it up with pronouns and assigning them intrinsic value. For Blair, the ‘we’ is obviously far more valuable than the ‘they’.
One may raise an eyebrow and state that there is nothing innovative about the worldview Blair has adopted. In polite company, it is called nationalism, at times even patriotism, but on the face of it, it is nothing less than fascism. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, we may as well take this opportunity to admit that our PM is introducing us to fascist ideology and practices. We may as well acknowledge the horrifying possibility that our society is heading towards fascism through the byways of nationalism and patriotism. But then, even fascism is a matter of degree. Some fascists are better than others. Fascists do believe that the state is greater than its citizens. And yet, exclusion isn’t essential to fascism. Apparently, it is essential to Blair who is politically engaged in mobilising the darkest xenophobic forces within British society.
For those who still fail to see it, based on his recent declarations and intentions, Blair’s political tendencies, mirroring some of the principles of fascism, are of the Zionist type. The man truly believes in the Zionist notion of cultural clash in which ‘we’ stands for Judeo-Christian goodness and ‘they’ stands for Muslim fundamentalist evil.
One may correctly argue, that the most racist form of fascism should be better described as a form of Nazism rather than Zionism. Admittedly, I could see the logic behind such a claim and yet, I insist upon not equating Blair’s policies with Nazism for two important reasons:
1. Zionism predates Nazism. If this is not enough, while Nazism has been defeated over sixty years ago, Zionism is still an active successful political practice that inflicts pain on millions of people, and shows little sign of being in decline. Moreover, Blair’s illegal war in Iraq is in practice a Zionist war against the Arab pockets of resistance. The ‘War Against Terror’ is just another example of a major Zionist battleground. As sad and mad as it may sound, Britain and America are operating currently as a Zionist mission force.
2. Nazism is traditionally associated with the industrialised murder of innocent civilians. Thank God, Blair isn’t there yet. Anyhow, we better remind ourselves that it took the Nazis a while before they even considered the possibility of industrialised murderous solutions.
But then, not only does Blair flirt with fascism in his stance as an all-knowing, all-powerful leader of his nation, even as a watered down tyrant, he appears to be a complete failure. To start with, he is far from being popular amongst his people which is something that disqualifies him from becoming the British Fuhrer. Take my advice Tony, you can’t become a Fuhrer in a society that lacks the notion of a balcony.
Fascists are occasionally good at making wars, but Blair is anything but a military genius. So far he has managed to fail in every possible front. Blair was very quick to surrender to terror. His endorsement of the ‘we’ and ‘they’ philosophy, is exactly where his enemies want him to go. The Muslim fundamentalists want to challenge our so-called ‘Western liberal ideology’. Evidently, Bush and Blair were very quick to lacerate the notion of liberty and civil rights. Furthermore, militant Islamic fundamentalists may aim to prevent Muslims from assimilating within their host Western nations. The terrorists want British Muslims to feel rejected, humiliated and segregated. Blair provides the fundamentalists with the goods. His newly proposed legal measures alienate the British Muslim communities. I better say it loudly, with Tony Blair in No 10 Downing Street, the British people do not need an enemy from beyond.
Unlike recent British PMs at war, unlike Churchill who led the nation through the gloomy days of Dunkirk and the horrendous nights of the Blitz, unlike the Iron Lady who at least showed some backbone by standing firmly in spite of repetitive IRA raids, Blair has managed to raise a white flag just after a single successful terror attack on the capital.
On the face of it, only divine intervention can save Britain right now. In my despair I went back and checked the lyrics of the British national anthem. I vaguely remembered that there was some kind of an appeal to God right in the very front. Of course there is: it says ‘God save our gracious Queen”. Ok, I think to myself, our Queen may be saved but what about the rest of us?
Saturday, August 6, 2005
Singling out Muslims is un-American
San Antonio Express-News
August 5, 2005
I received 400-plus e-mails responding to my column last week, "Arabs shouldn't have to apologize." I do, however, need to apologize to all the readers who took the time to send feedback for my inability to respond to each of them individually.
Sadly, it hasn't been fun reading many of the messages. The content betrays unimaginable racism, hatred and ignorance. I never thought I would have such an experience in a society claiming to be civilized.
In addition to the e-mails, I was contacted by a number of radio stations within and outside the United States. I was also invited to appear on a popular show on one of the networks. I declined because I am willing to fight the devil anywhere except in hell.
Some individuals wanted to convert me, while others wanted me to pack up and leave. Some threatened physical harm to me and all Muslims and Arabs. A reader took the opportunity to remind me "the dam is cracking" and the time of retribution is at hand.
Some of the readers were parroting a Washington Post column by Charles Krauthammer. His piece piqued my interest. Krauthammer, a psychiatrist-turned-columnist, advocates racial profiling and searches. His proposal for a secure transit system in New York and other parts of America is to search only Muslims and Arabs. He doesn't say how he will distinguish an Arab from a non-Arab or a Muslim from a non-Muslim, but he does say we all look the same. I find his solution applicable only if Arabs and Muslims are made to wear identifiers.
Some in the United States would love to see the revival of such oppressive tactics and, perhaps, require all Arabs and Muslims to wear an insignia of some sort. How fast we forget the lessons of history, where calamities are calamities only if they touch us.
Politics does, indeed, make for strange bedfellows. Many Arabs, including me, would rather die than submit to such dishonorable nonsense. In all my years, I have rarely seen Islamic publications condemning or belittling Jesus Christ, his mother or his apostles. Nor have I seen any belittling Judaism, Moses or David. Indeed, to go further, I have never seen a mainstream publication in Arab or Muslim states condemning Christianity orJudaism. Even the majority of fundamentalist publications do not touch either negatively. However, a few do, but these remain on the fringes and many can only publish their diatribe outside the Arab world.
In spite of what some say, America was never intended to be solely a Christian country. It was a land occupied by individuals running away from religious oppression. The Constitution separates church and state, and the first presidents can be described more as deists than adherents to any particular religion. Why, then, is religion being injected into the legal, political and educational systems? And, more important, why are we doing that at a time when we are urging Muslims to separate religion from politics and law? This leads me to only one conclusion. In much of the Arab and Muslim worlds, religious societies are trying to change secular governments, while in the United States a religious government is trying to change a secular society.
and... the article that caused the brou ha ha:
I am fed up with the ceaseless requests by columnists, religious personalities and other American public figures for Arabs and Muslims to apologize for terrorist acts committed by thugs and murderers in the name of Islam.
As far as I am concerned, the final straw came a couple of weeks ago when the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, paid for a national advertisement repudiating terrorism in the name of Islam.
As soon as the advertisement was broadcast on America's media, I read a column by one of the nation's most ardent Islam-phobic columnists, Cal Thomas, now also a FOX News personality, which plowed into CAIR's reconciliation efforts. Long before 9-11, Thomas' writings were full of venom for Arabs and Muslims. He represents a despicable and ignorant attitude that, unfortunately, a sizable segment of America has come to share. There is nothing American Muslims can do to satisfy this group short of packing up and leaving the United States.
I disagree with what CAIR did, and I also disagree with this groveling and begging for forgiveness, as though American Arabs and Muslims are responsible for those atrocities. CAIR knows better, and those running it know that Islam rejects all acts of violence outside self-defense. Arab and Muslim Americans are responsible for neither the twin towers nor the London subway bombings, and as Americans they should never accept responsibility for actions they did not instigate, commit or condone.
Furthermore, in spite of the fact they are constantly condemned for one thing or another, they — like other Americans — are victims of these murderers. Does anyone think they are pleased to have their movements and telephone conversations monitored or that coercive and freedom-depriving laws are tailored for them? Does anyone in his or her right mind really believe that being an Arab American or a Muslim is pleasant in America today?
The United States has lost 3,000 souls to terrorist thugs, but that figure is miniscule compared to the 60,000 Algerians or the 25,000 Iraqis who also have died at their hands. These thugs don't differentiate between Muslim and non-Muslim, Arab and non-Arab when they plant a bomb or enter a village at night and murder everyone.
It is rejection of U.S. and British policies in the Middle East, not Islam, that has promoted terrorism against America. And for the benefits of those who do not know, 95 percent of Middle Easterners are Muslims. Hence, it is only natural that those opposing the United States and Britain in the region would be Muslims. In India, they would have been Hindu; in Latin America or Northern Ireland, they would have been Catholic.
More important, it was the British and the United States that drew first blood. The Middle East didn't come to America or go to Britain; rather, America and Britain went to the Middle East. Both powers used and abused regimes, toppling some and keeping others in power. They never thought that the people they were helping suppress were human beings with needs, beliefs and emotions. They didn't care as long as their interests were served.
America's experience in the Middle East is no different from its Southeast Asia stint, and look at the mess it left in that region.
However, while the calamity of Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea might be rationalized by the Cold War or even a domino theory, there is nothing to rationalize the invasion of Iraq except ideological stupidity. The United States illegally invaded and decimated a country that did not threaten its security and, in the process, unleashed one of the most vile and ruthless insurgencies the region has ever seen. And as it did in Vietnam, when the going got tough, it is planning to pull out. The result will be a protracted instability and turmoil that no country in the region can escape.
Future turmoil in the region is exactly what the instigators of the Iraq invasion have planned all along. They had made their desire for strife in the Middle East known long before the invasion of Iraq. Yet they underestimated the consequences of their lunacy and set into motion processes and events that will make the United States less secure and threaten the lives of Americans for many years to come.
San Antonio Express News
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst Terror Attacks in History
August 6 and August 9 will mark the 60th anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second.
Some 13 square kilometres of the city was obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.
Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.
Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.
A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst terror acts in human history.
The 60th anniversaries will inevitably be marked by countless mass media commentaries and speeches repeating the 60-year-old mantra that there was no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.
On July 21, the British New Scientist magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered evidence revealing that "the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War''.
Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington stated that US President Harry Truman's decision to blast the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity''.
With Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was "looking for peace''. His senior generals and political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. "Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war'', Selden told the New Scientist.
While the capitalist media immediately dubbed the historians' "theory'' "controversial'', it accords with the testimony of many central US political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek interview that "the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing''.
Truman's chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that "the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.''
At the time though, Washington cold-bloodedly decided to sweep away the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to show off the terrible power of its new super weapon and underline the US rulers'
ruthless preparedness to use it.
These terrible acts were intended to warn the leaders of the Soviet Union that their cities would suffer the same fate if the USSR attempted to stand in the way of Washington's plans to create an "American Century'' of US global domination. Nuclear scientist Leo Szilard recounted to his biographers how Truman's secretary of state, James Byrnes, told him before the Hiroshima attack that "Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might and that a demonstration of the bomb may impress Russia''.
Drunk from the success of its nuclear bloodletting in Japan, Washington planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons on at least 20 occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, only being restrained when the USSR developed enough nuclear-armed rockets to usher in the era of "mutually assured destruction'', and the US rulers' fear that their use again of nuclear weapons would led to a massive anti-US political revolt by ordinary people around the world.
Washington's policy of nuclear terror remains intact. The US refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Its latest Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear "rogue states'' and it is developing a new generation of "battlefield'' nuclear weapons.
Fear of the political backlash that would be caused in the US and around the globe by the use of nuclear weapons remains the main restraint upon the atomaniacs in Washington. On this 60th anniversary year of history's worst acts of terror, the most effective thing that people around the world can do to keep that fear alive in the minds of the US rulers is to recommit ourselves to defeating Washington's current "local'' wars of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From Green Left Weekly, August 3, 2005.