Friday, February 29, 2008
To see those Western allies greatly agitated over the possibility that Iran might have a nuclear program that at some future date would allow it to produce such weapons, while taking Israel's arsenal as a given not even worthy of mention, reflects a gross political double standard that is both racist and illustrative of that famous "clash of civilizations," with the clash coming from Western initiatives, actions and threats.
Gates and the Iranian Versus Israeli Threat
While this double standard is not even discussible in the Western mainstream it is considered a major issue and is debated in the Arab world. Thus, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was confronted with the double standard at a conference in Bahrain organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, where Gates was urging the Arab states to press Iran to halt any nuclear activities. Gates was asked by Bahraini Minister of Labor Majeed al-Alawi whether Gates thought "the Zionist (Israeli) nuclear weapon is a threat to the region." Gates paused, and answered tersely: "No, I do not." A.P. reports that "Asked if U.S. acceptance of that was a double standard in light of Washington's pressure on Iran, Gates again said 'no,' and described the government in Jerusalem as more responsible than the one in Tehran. 'I think Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly,' said Gates. 'So I think that there are significant differences in terms of both the history and the behavior of the Iranian and Israeli governments.'"  This reportedly elicited a great deal of laughter among the Arab representatives present, but both the laughter and the issue at stake are outside the orbit of accepted thought in the West.
- "Israeli Apartheid: Time for the South African Treatment" by Omar Barghouti
- "Discrimination Diaries" by the Arab Association for Human Rights (based in Israel)
- The Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel
- An Equal Constitution For All?: On a Constitution and Collective Rights for Arab Citizens in Israel (PDF)
- Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
- The Association of Forty - the association for the recognition of the Arab Unrecognized Villages in Israel
- Ittijah - Union of the Arab Community Based Organizations
- "Israel: an apartheid state?" by Leila Farsakh
- "Declaration on Apartheid Israel" by the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa
- "Israeli Apartheid And Terrorism: Part 1, The Reality" by Edward S. Herman
- "Apartheid Israel: An interview with Uri Davis" by Jon Elmer
- "Our apartheid state" by Yossi Paritzky
- Israeli Apartheid Week
- "Worlds Apart" by Chris McGreal
Thinking the Unthinkable
Thu. Feb 28, 2008
VFPD: The author does not make it clear just what is unthinkable but it is, apparently, "that Israel must talk to Hamas" because the idea that Jews should give up on Jewish supremacy in Palestine is beyond unthinkable. You would first have to admit that is what Israel and Zionism is all about and this the author does not do.
Israel is in a diplomatic and military jam that keeps getting worse, but has no obvious solution.
VFPD: Here's an obvious solution: 1) End the occupation of Arab lands seized in 1967; 2) Equality and democracy for all citizens of Israel; and, 3) Implementation of the Palestinian right of return under UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
It is rapidly approaching the demographic tipping point, when Palestinian Arabs outnumber Israeli Jews in the land now under Israeli control.
VFPD: Too late. According to the US State Department, that "tipping point" was passed around 2004.
When that happens, Israel will find that it has become a minority-rule state, and it will have to make the choice it has avoided up to now: whether to be a Jewish or a democratic state.
VFPD: The decision was made long ago against democracy and for Jewish supremacy. From its bloody inception, Israel was undemocratic and that is why so many Arabs were killed or ethnically cleansed in 1947-1949 and subsequent years. Currently, Israel dominates the lives of millions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank even though they comprise no part of its polity. Just because Arabs are putatively in the minority does not make the situation any less undemocratic than if they constituted the majority.
If it chooses democracy, it will no longer be the Jewish state of Israel. If it gives up on democracy, it will find itself more isolated — and threatened — than ever. Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, put it well last fall: If the peace process does not resume and lead to a Palestinian state soon, Israel is “finished.”
VFPD: And, thus, we find the reason why so many Zionists and faux progressives embrace the "two-state solution"--to preserve Jewish supremacy in the 78% of Palestine stolen in 1947-49.
The only solution is to separate from the Palestinians in the territories, and the only practical way is through Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and partition into two separate states. That process must be carried out by agreement with the Palestinians. Unilateral withdrawal, as happened in Lebanon and Gaza, has been discredited by events.
But negotiations require a partner capable of carrying out its end of the bargain. The Palestinian Authority, Israel’s main negotiating partner, is toothless and incapable of imposing its will. It lost even nominal control of Gaza to Hamas, which bombards Israel daily and rejects the very idea of recognizing Israel.
Out of this impasse, a new consensus is emerging that Israel must talk to Hamas. The Islamist party has offered Israel a long-term cease-fire, lasting decades. It is already negotiating indirectly with Israel, through Egyptian mediators, for a prisoner exchange that would free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Egypt is also working to bring Hamas and Fatah back together. With Hamas in tow, Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority could negotiate with Israel for a deal that has some chance of working.
VFPD: I hope that Palestinians will never submit to any negotiations led by the Fatah Zionist collaborator, Abbas. Hamas was demonstrably the choice of the Palestinian people and it is Abbas who should be "in tow" if he participates at all.
As usual, the Israeli public is ahead of its leaders. A new poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and published this week in Ha’aretz shows that 64% of Israelis favor talks with Hamas, and only 28% are opposed. Several Israeli Cabinet ministers have come out in favor, as well. They understand that Israel urgently needs a strong Palestinian leadership to talk to.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Another poster by SF Bay Area graphic artist Doug Minkler. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Below is Steve Rosenthal's article from 2000 on the Nader-Gore-Bush contest of that year. I would provide a link but I can't find it on the web anywhere except archived here. At bottom, Ralph Nader deftly answers a critic on the 2000 election controversy in a Youtube video. To Rosenthal's list, I would add:
And, if only one Democratic Senator--Kerry, Kennedy, Wellstone, Harkin, Boxer, Clinton or one of the Florida senators, Graham or Nelson--had supported the efforts of Congressional Black Caucus members to challenge Florida's electoral votes during the Electoral College count, Gore might very well have won. At the least, Americans might have gained a better understanding of the colossal fraud perpetrated in Florida where thousands of mostly Black voters were systematically disenfranchised by being illegally removed from the voting rolls, having their ballots disqualified, or simply not being allowed to vote (and this had nothing to do with butterfly ballots).
I don't want to overstate the importance of electoral politics, though. On the contrary, because we have the best democracy money can buy (and I don't mean voting machines), I have little faith in elections to provide solutions to the problems we face (see also Rosenthals' concluding remarks). Instead, we must realize our own power and struggle primarily outside the electoral arena.
by Steve Rosenthal
20 December 2000 16:04 UTC
So we're still debating whether Nader cost Gore the election.
Well, if Nader hadn't been in the race, Gore probably would have picked up enough of Nader's 2.7 million votes to beat Bush.
And, if some six million registered Democrats hadn't voted for Bush, Gore would have won.
And, if Gore had inspired a few of the 50 million eligible voters who did not vote, Gore would have won.
And, if Gore and his "new" Democrat friends hadn't supported the war on drugs, the prison construction boom, and the disenfranchisement of over four million citizens, disproportionately black and poor, at least enough of them would have voted Democratic to put Gore in the White House.
And, if Democrats hadn't joined Republicans in refusing to spend money to update election machines in poorer counties, fewer ballots would have been thrown out, and Gore would have won.
And, if Democrats hadn't traditionally agreed with Republicans that immigrants, documented and undocumented, are not eligible to vote, Gore would surely have gained enough Latino and Asian votes to win the election.
And, if Democrats hadn't joined with Republicans in preventing U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico from being eligible to vote for president, Gore no doubt would have picked up enough votes to win.
And, if Democrats had refused to confirm Clarence Thomas or one of the other racist pro-Bush majority on the Supremely Racist Court, maybe the court would not have helped Bush steal the election.
And, and, and so on. You can undoubtedly add much more to this list.
So to select one factor (Nader) as THE factor that determined the winner of the election strikes me as mainly of an indication of who you want to scapegoat.
More importantly, the Gore vs Nader discussion rests on the premise that at least one of those two candidates was worth supporting. Frankly, I think that what Nader said about Gore was mostly true, and much of what the Gore supporters said about Nader was also true.
Both Gore and Nader played the ideological role of telling masses of oppressed and/or disaffected people that the capitalist economic and political system can be reformed, and both Gore and Nader diverted people away from seeing the crucial necessity to make anti-racism central in building an anti-systemic movement.
Alan Harrison asked why the U.S. doesn't have at least a right wing social democratic party. My answer is that the Democratic Party basically plays that role in U.S. politics. Like the Labor Party in Britain, the Democrats have close ties to the unions, and both parties have moved to the right and adopted what some call "neo-liberalism" during the past decade or so.
Whether the U.S. has a "soft landing" or a recession next year will be determined a little bit by the the Fed, but it will be determined mainly by the laws of capitalism. So will the continued pervasiveness of racism and future imperialist adventures and wars.
It won't matter who stole the election. The ruling class did us a favor by staging an election so corrupt and fraudulent that it must have deepened the contempt that more and more people have for the system.
By all means, let's analyze this election. It will help many to shed illusions they have had about the political institutions of U.S. capitalism.
Ralph Nader on the 2000 Election
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Source: Character of Mr. Evans in the 1999 Ang Lee film, Ride With The Devil.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"When Dialogue is NOT our Hope" (PDF) by Joseph Phelps in the Mennonite Conciliation Service's journal Conciliation Quarterly (Spring 1996. p. 8).
I hesitate to discuss the limitations of dialogue because of the danger that people will use them as escape hatches whenever the work become too demanding or too threatening. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that there are occasions when dialogue is not the appropriate action for people of faith. There are times to talk, and times to be silent. We cannot dialogue when:
Either side refuses to talk.
To continue to pursue dialogue in the face of an absolute rejection by the other side may be a counterproductive strategy.
There may be, however, a few folks on the other side who are willing to be in dialogue; you may be able to ask them to convey your positions to those on the extreme edges of their side--it may well be that persons on both extremes will only be able to dialogue with others on their particular side of the Divide but who are closer to the middle of the spectrum, instead of dialoguing with persons from the other side .
When the conversation is co-opted by persons in power.
This happens when dialogue is used by a group that is being oppressive with their power as a way to appease the group with the grievance. In this case, dialogue is no longer a genuine exchange, but simply a way to neutralize the cry to be heard by those without power. In this scenario, dialogue is converted from a tool for mutual understanding and transformation, into a salve to soothe the feelings of the grieved ones by giving them the illusion of being heard and taken seriously. This perversion of dialogue will eventually be exposed, as the offending party comes to recognize that, indeed, this "talk is cheap."
When dialogue is substituted for the work of counseling.
Disputes can be the result of something more complex than a misunderstanding or even competing world views.
When an issue of justice is involved.
This is the most complex reason for halting dialogue. Some conflicts are more than a difference of perspectives. As Martin Luther King reminded us, sometimes there are reasons "why we can't wait." People of God cannot be content to engage in dialogue with perpetrators of evil and injustice. We must be hesitant and cautious to place such strong labels on an individual or group, but sometimes we must.
There are times when action must take precedence over talk, when conflict should be pursued in place of a false peace. This what Jeremiah (6:14) accused the prophets of Jerusalem of doing: "They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, 'Peace, Peace,' when there is no peace." A dialogue between Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus company which tried to force her to give up her seat in the 1950s was not in order (MCS Training Manual, p 134). Clearly, the time for talking had passed. An act of resistance, a shifting of sentiment, and a redefinition of power was necessary before honest dialogue could resume.
Jesus reminded us that there would be issues worth (non-violently) fighting over: "Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather dissension" (Luke 12:51). His stance for justice and true holiness put Him in constant conflict with those who preferred the status quo. The conflict exposed the need for radical change. To have quelled the conflict through dialogue would have been to neglect the work for which He was sent. (Could this be why Jesus stood silent before Pilate when asked, "What is truth?"?) Jesus had real enemies; his command for us to love our enemies acknowledges their reality and requires a tough love that stands up to them, and through transforming initiatives, turns them into friends.
Thus for Jesus, there needed to be a transforming fight. Having said this, let us also remember that Jesus' form of fighting differed from the tactics of the world. And despite their vast differences, Jesus kept talking with His adversaries throughout His ministry. He never gave up.
See also On Propriety, Power, and Social Protest
Thanks to HC for tracking down the PDF of this article.
The following actions probably don't rise to quisling-type behavior, treason or selling out, but still demonstrate a low level of self-respect.
- The University of Michigan's Muslim Students Association is collaborating (no pun intended) with Hillel to help out Katrina victims. If the MSA wants to help out the displaced of Katrina, couldn't it find a more qualified partner than an organization that supports the displacement of Palestinians?
- The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee collaborated (again, pun unintended) with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on February 12, 2008 to host a panel on dispelling myths and stereotypes in the Arab and Muslim communities at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. The panel included an ADC board member. The discussion focused on the demographics of local Arab and Muslim-American communities, and the issues that have affected these communities since 9/11. If the ADC has no idea what the ADL is about, it isn't qualified to do civil rights advocacy on behalf of Arabs. I couldn't find a website that stated this, but it was in an ADC-Michigan email sent out on February 13, 2008.
Sunni Militia Ends Cooperation with U.S. over Civilian Deaths
In Iraq, a U.S.-allied militia staged a massive walkout from its guard posts this weekend in protest of U.S. attacks that have killed twelve civilians this month. Members of the group, known as Sons of Iraq, are paid ten dollars a day and issued military vests to fight alongside U.S. forces. But nearly two thousand members abandoned their positions Saturday following a U.S. attack on a town south of Baghdad the day before. Militia members say U.S. forces deliberately opened fire after landing in a helicopter. The group says they will no longer work with the U.S. military.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I've written several posts dealing with Darfur and Snow has a couple of good articles on that subject, too. See "The United States' War in Darfur" and "Darfurism, Uganda & U.S. War in Africa: The Spectre of Continental Genocide".
Staying in Africa, late last December Sadia Ali Aden wrote "The 'War on Terror' and the Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia". The current crisis in Kenya seems partly related to the US-backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian troops in 2006. Last Saturday, the Independent (UK) published an article entitled "Somalia: The World's forgotten catastrophe" that focuses mainly on Somalia but also discusses how the US and Kenya figure into the conflict. Here's the intro: "According to the UN, the worst catastrophe in Africa is not taking place in Kenya, or even Darfur. Fifteen years after the disastrous Black Hawk Down incident, Somalia has more refugees than any country in the world"
Please see also "In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war" in the International Herald Tribune. This article is 14 months old but it highlights the US role. Note that both articles say that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is one of the groups at the center of the current conflict, was hatched in Nairobi, Kenya at US behest in 2004. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported "Kenya, Ethiopia, the United States and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia cooperated in a secret detention program for people who had fled the recent conflict in Somalia ... In a March 22 letter to the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch detailed the arbitrary detention, expulsion and apparent enforced disappearance of dozens of individuals who fled the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and the joint forces of the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopia from December 2006 through January 2007."
For the women who are the principal prey of the sharia system, it is often only when they are shipped or flown to Britain that their true miseries begin. This modern disgrace is deepened and extended by a fatuous cleric who, presiding over an increasingly emaciated and schismatic and irrelevant church, nonetheless maintains that any faith is better than none at all.But what did the Archbishop actually say? Here are some excerpts from his lecture on "Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective":
Among the manifold anxieties that haunt the discussion of the place of Muslims in British society, one of the strongest, reinforced from time to time by the sensational reporting of opinion polls, is that Muslim communities in this country seek the freedom to live under sharia law. And what most people think they know of sharia is that it is repressive towards women and wedded to archaic and brutal physical punishments; just a few days ago, it was reported that a 'forced marriage' involving a young woman with learning difficulties had been 'sanctioned under sharia law' – the kind of story that, in its assumption that we all 'really' know what is involved in the practice of sharia, powerfully reinforces the image of – at best – a pre-modern system in which human rights have no role. The problem is freely admitted by Muslim scholars. 'In the West', writes Tariq Ramadan in his groundbreaking Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, 'the idea of Sharia calls up all the darkest images of Islam ... It has reached the extent that many Muslim intellectuals do not dare even to refer to the concept for fear of frightening people or arousing suspicion of all their work by the mere mention of the word' (p.31). Even when some of the more dramatic fears are set aside, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what degree of accommodation the law of the land can and should give to minority communities with their own strongly entrenched legal and moral codes. As such, this is not only an issue about Islam but about other faith groups, including Orthodox Judaism; and indeed it spills over into some of the questions which have surfaced sharply in the last twelve months about the right of religious believers in general to opt out of certain legal provisions – as in the problems around Roman Catholic adoption agencies which emerged in relation to the Sexual Orientation Regulations last spring.It should be clear from the above that the Archbishop understands that Western, non-Muslim understandings of sharia are usually simplistic, at best, but moreover that he thinks critically, as do many Muslims, about sharia and, finally, that he is, by no means, advocating the establishment of a separate, parallel judicial system for Muslims in the UK. All of that is, however, too much for those who want to pigeonhole sharia as an oppressive system generated by a terroristic cult that is unworthy of any thoughtful consideration whatosever.
... But it is important to begin by dispelling one or two myths about sharia; so far from being a monolithic system of detailed enactments, sharia designates primarily – to quote Ramadan again – 'the expression of the universal principles of Islam [and] the framework and the thinking that makes for their actualization in human history' (32). Universal principles: as any Muslim commentator will insist, what is in view is the eternal and absolute will of God for the universe and for its human inhabitants in particular; but also something that has to be 'actualized', not a ready-made system. If shar' designates the essence of the revealed Law, sharia is the practice of actualizing and applying it; while certain elements of the sharia are specified fairly exactly in the Qur'an and Sunna and in the hadith recognised as authoritative in this respect, there is no single code that can be identified as 'the' sharia. And when certain states impose what they refer to as sharia or when certain Muslim activists demand its recognition alongside secular jurisdictions, they are usually referring not to a universal and fixed code established once for all but to some particular concretisation of it at the hands of a tradition of jurists. In the hands of contemporary legal traditionalists, this means simply that the application of sharia must be governed by the judgements of representatives of the classical schools of legal interpretation.
... recognising the authority of a communal religious court to decide finally and authoritatively about such a question [the inheritance rights of widows] would in effect not merely allow an additional layer of legal routes for resolving conflicts and ordering behaviour but would actually deprive members of the minority community of rights and liberties that they were entitled to enjoy as citizens; and while a legal system might properly admit structures or protocols that embody the diversity of moral reasoning in a plural society by allowing scope for a minority group to administer its affairs according to its own convictions, it can hardly admit or 'license' protocols that effectively take away the rights it acknowledges as generally valid.
To put the question like that is already to see where an answer might lie, though it is not an answer that will remove the possibility of some conflict. If any kind of plural jurisdiction is recognised, it would presumably have to be under the rubric that no 'supplementary' jurisdiction could have the power to deny access to the rights granted to other citizens or to punish its members for claiming those rights. This is in effect to mirror what a minority might themselves be requesting – that the situation should not arise where membership of one group restricted the freedom to live also as a member of an overlapping group, that (in this case) citizenship in a secular society should not necessitate the abandoning of religious discipline, any more than religious discipline should deprive one of access to liberties secured by the law of the land, to the common benefits of secular citizenship – or, better, to recognise that citizenship itself is a complex phenomenon not bound up with any one level of communal belonging but involving them all. ...
In conclusion, it seems that if we are to think intelligently about the relations between Islam and British law, we need a fair amount of 'deconstruction' of crude oppositions and mythologies, whether of the nature of sharia or the nature of the Enlightenment. But as I have hinted, I do not believe this can be done without some thinking also about the very nature of law. It is always easy to take refuge in some form of positivism; and what I have called legal universalism, when divorced from a serious theoretical (and, I would argue, religious) underpinning, can turn into a positivism as sterile as any other variety. If the paradoxical idea which I have sketched is true – that universal law and universal right are a way of recognising what is least fathomable and controllable in the human subject – theology still waits for us around the corner of these debates, however hard our culture may try to keep it out. And, as you can imagine, I am not going to complain about that.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Seven thousand miles from home, US Army Special Forces (SF) troops occupy a small compound in a village in southern Afghanistan. They call this outpost of empire Firebase Cobra and Inside the Green Berets is the title of the 2007 National Geographic Society documentary film about it. The allusion to a poisonous snake is apt, as is the narrator's unwitting description of it as a "modern-day Fort Apache."
Here's what the White Mountain Apache Tribe web site says about Fort Apache:
In July 1869 Brevet Colonel (Major) John Green of the U.S. 1st Cavalry led a scouting expedition of more than 120 troops into the White Mountains area from Camp Goodwin and Camp Grant to the south. Seeking to kill or capture any Apache people they encountered, the expedition headed north up the San Carlos River, across the Black River, and to the White River in the vicinity of the future site of Fort Apache.So, instead of killing all the White Mountain Apaches the US Army used their land as a staging ground to wage war against other Indians and enlisted their aid in doing so. As the web site notes:
Army scouts reported finding over 100 acres of cornfields along the White River. Escapa—an Apache chief that the Anglos called Miguel—visited the camp, and invited Col. Green to visit his village. Green sent Captain John Barry, urging him “if possible to exterminate the whole village.”
When Captain Barry arrived at Miguel's village, however, he found white flags "flying from every hut and from every prominent point," and "the men, women and children came out to meet them and went to work at once to cut corn for their horses, and showed such a spirit of delight at meeting them that the officers [said] if they had fired upon them they would have been guilty of cold-blooded murder."
Green returned to the White Mountains in November, and met again with the Apache leaders Escapa (Miguel), Eskininla (Diablo), Pedro, and Eskiltesela. They agreed to the creation of a military post and reservation, and directed Green to the confluence of the East and North Forks of the White River:
I have selected a site for a military post on the White Mountain River which is the finest I ever saw. The climate is delicious, and said by the Indians to be perfectly healthy, free from all malaria. Excellently well wooded and watered. It seems as though this one corner of Arizona were almost its garden spot, the beauty of its scenery, the fertility of its soil and facilities for irrigation are not surpassed by any place that ever came under my observation. Building material of fine pine timber is available within eight miles of this site. There is also plenty of limestone within a reasonable distance.
This post would be of the greatest advantage for the following reasons: It would compel the White Mountain Indians to live on their reservation or be driven from their beautiful country which they almost worship. It would stop their traffic in corn with the hostile tribes, they could not plant an acre of ground without our permission as we know every spot of it. It would make a good scouting post, being adjacent to hostile bands on either side. Also a good supply depot for Scouting expeditions from other posts, and in fact, I believe, would do more to end the Apache War than anything else.
In 1871 General George Crook was named commander of the Department of Arizona. Crook recognized that his regular soldiers were no match for the Native people he was sent to subdue, so he enlisted the aid of Indian men as scouts. In August 1871 he made his first visit to Fort Apache and engaged about 50 men from Pedro and Miguel’s bands to serve as Apache Scouts. The Scouts would play a decisive role in the success of the Army in the so-called “Apache Wars” of the next fifteen years, ending with the final surrender of the Chiricahua leader Geronimo in 1886. In part because of the Scouts’ service, our ancestors were able to maintain a portion of our homeland as the White Mountain Apache Reservation. ...The same divide-and-conquer strategy is at work in Afghanistan today by American and NATO troops.
Any way, back to the video. At about 3:15 into the film the "Assistant Team Commander" and senior enlisted man, "Sam," tells us that in two months his unit has "killed almost 200 people." He quickly corrects himself, "Taliban. Not people, just Taliban." You see, the Taliban are not people and everyone the Green Berets kill are necessarily Taliban or else they wouldn't have been killed because they only kill terrorists, not people. How perfectly nice and neat and circular. Seconds later, the narrator, producer, and director Steven Hoggard actually has the gall to tells us that the troops are there to also "win hearts and minds."
Several minutes later, the SFs are in an Afghani village whence the commanding officer, Captain "Rob" informs us: "We know that these people are relatively scared of us because the last few times we've been in this area we've been in fights. So, they're being a little bit more obedient than other places we go." The villagers have in fact hidden from the Americans for about twenty minutes before coming out to receive, among other things, hand-crank radios that can be tuned to only one frequency—that of the US-sponsored propaganda radio station.
At 21:10, we watch Firebase Cobra's 105 mm Howitzer "firing at Taliban targets somewhere beyond the dark horizon." It will do so, we are told, "throughout the night." There is no suggestion that the rounds are guided by a forward observer somewhere. Notwithstanding this, a few minutes later (29:06), Sam is whining: "I'll fight anybody all day long. I don't care. I'll fight a hundred of them guys. No Problem. But IEDs—I don't want to have nothing to do with them damn things. It's the coward's way to fight." A bit later (37:28), we are treated to scenes of buildings in a village previously destroyed by 1000-pound bombs dropped after Sam's team called in an air strike. The narrator generously admits that "perhaps a number of innocent civilians" were killed in the attack. Want to know who the terrorists and cowards are, Sam? Take a look around you and in the mirror, too.
The film crew's visit with the SFs is cut short by a deadly IED attack by the Afghani resistance. In short, while it is consciously pro-US propaganda, the documentary reveals the moral bankruptcy of the US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the ignorance/moral cowardice of the troops who leave their homes to kill and maim for the empire.
I'll close with a quote from a two-time Medal of Honor winner, retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler:
WAR is a racket. It always has been.See also:
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. ...
Until 1898 we didn't own a bit of territory outside the mainland of North America. At that time our national debt was a little more than $1,000,000,000. Then we became "internationally minded." We forgot, or shunted aside, the advice of the Father of our country. We forgot George Washington's warning about "entangling alliances." We went to war. We acquired outside territory. ...
It would have been far cheaper (not to say safer) for the average American who pays the bills to stay out of foreign entanglements. For a very few this racket, like bootlegging and other underworld rackets, brings fancy profits, but the cost of operations is always transferred to the people -- who do not profit. ...
But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill.
If you don't believe this, visit the American cemeteries on the battlefields abroad. Or visit any of the veteran's hospitals in the United States. ...
Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. ... We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.
Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! ... Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.
... Physically, they are in good shape; mentally, they are gone.
There are thousands and thousands of these cases, and more and more are coming in all the time. ...
Revised 31 Jan 2010: Expanded info on and quote by Smedley Butler
Revised 30 Jun 2016: Fixed dead links and added link re:"moral cowardice"
Now, I don't look for these things but learning about the plight of Palestinians has sensitized me to lies and distortions about Jews and Judaism. And, thus, the bullshit alarm went off when I saw the segment with the Jew in the village. So, I wondered where did this misinformation come from? I checked out the book and found that it was not an invention of the film makers--it came from the 2002 book by Smith.
In the book Smith claims (p. 12) that "Whenever possible, the most current statistics have been used." One of Smith's sources was the CIA World Factbook. The problem is that source estimates that only 0.23% of the world's population is Jewish. This is consistent with the Jewish and world population estimates by the quasi-governmental (Israeli government, that is) Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (2006) and the UN (2005), respectively. Their estimates are 13,085,000 Jews and 6,514,751,000 people, which works out to 0.20%. From another of Smith's sources, infoplease.com, we can calculate a 1990 estimate of 0.34%.
All of which means that the Jew in Smith's village is a magic Jew--the real number being multiplied by three to five to make sure we have at least one Jew in the village. Why is that?
Update: Left out of the village are, among others, practitioners of Chinese traditional religion (394 million) and Sikhs (23 million).
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Moveon, you may recall, is a front group for the liberal wing of the corporate war party--the Democrats--and was founded by a pair of California software millionaires specifically to defend Bill Clinton against impeachment proceedings. The pity isn't so much that Clinton wasn't convicted as that he wasn't impeached and convicted for, among other things, the Waco massacre, the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children, and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Any way, below is a long excerpt from Frank's article--subtitled "Why there is no 'hope' for 'change.' " Following that is a consideration of Jewish attitudes on Obama.
... Obama's best quality at this point seems to be the fact that he's not a Clinton. When it comes to foreign policy, however, he may as well be, which makes MoveOn's shallow approval of his candidacy all the more hypocritical.Regarding Barack Obama, Jews are, unsurprisingly, asking that perennial question: Is he good for the Jews? In the last two weeks, the Jewish Daily Forward has run at least three articles on Obama. One of the most interesting is an unsigned editorial entitled "Fear Factor" (1/30/08). Here are a couple of excerpts (emphasis added):
After Obama won his senatorial race in 2004 he quickly abandoned the antiwar rhetoric he had touted along the campaign trail. While remaining critical of the White House and the lies that pushed us toward war, Obama still maintained that U.S. military should remain in Iraq until the job was completed.
"Given the enormous stakes in Iraq, I believe that those of us who are involved in shaping our national security policies should do what we believe is right, not merely what is politically expedient," Obama proclaimed in a speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in late November 2005.
Later in that same speech, he said, "In sum, we have to focus, methodically and without partisanship, on those steps that will: one, stabilize Iraq, avoid all out civil war, and give the factions within Iraq the space they need to forge a political settlement; two, contain and ultimately extinguish the insurgency in Iraq; and three, bring our troops safely home."
Obama continues to favor a "phased redeployment" of our troops as well as "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government, but promises to not "fully withdraw" – hence why the Illinois senator has supported the majority of Bush administration's pork-engorged appropriation bills that are draining the U.S. Treasury. Obama wants to keep cadres of troops throughout Iraq with others all other the region to strike if necessary.
So where would President Obama send the troops he's redeployed? A good guess might be Iran.
As Obama told the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 26, 2004, "[T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point … if any, are we going to take military action?"
He added that "launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in" given the ongoing war in Iraq. "On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse." Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if "violent Islamic extremists" were to "take over."
Iran is a "genuine threat" to the United States and Israel, Obama later expressed at a forum sponsored by AIPAC on March 12, 2007, in Washington, D.C. At the event Obama reiterated that he would not rule out the use of force in disarming Iran, a position he shares with rival Hillary Clinton.
Earlier that same month, on March 2, 2007, Obama spoke at an AIPAC Policy Forum in Chicago, where he succinctly laid out his position on how he would deal with the Middle East, promising not to alter America's lopsided relationship with Israel. "[W]e must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs," he said. "This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza." ...
When the dust settles, the uproar over Barack Obama's religious beliefs will have taught us little about the candidate and his loyalties that we don't already know. If we look closely, however, we can learn a great deal about American Jews and their anxieties. More pointedly, we can penetrate the mystery of the power of the so-called Jewish lobby.It is this writer's experience that "Moderate and liberal Jews" are every bit as quick as conservative Jews to falsely accuse people of "antisemitism." Below is an excerpt from "As Campaign Surges, Obama Working to Quell Jewish Fears," another recent (1/30/08) Barack Obama article in the Forward ( emphasis added).
As most Americans have heard by now, rumors flying around the Internet suggest that the Illinois senator is secretly a radical Muslim. It’s rumored that he took his oath of office on a Quran, that he was educated in a Saudi-funded Muslim academy in Indonesia, that he’s some sort of Manchurian candidate plotting to take the reins of government and launch a jihad. It sounds almost comically implausible, but some people — too many, it seems — take it as fact. The Obama campaign vigorously denies the whole thing as a tissue of lies from beginning to end. ...
Most surprising, a parade of Jewish politicians and organizational leaders, the elite of what’s called the Jewish lobby, has spoken out aggressively to reject the rumors and defend Obama — but it hasn’t helped much. Early indications are that Jewish voters will spurn Obama in numbers large enough to hurt him. And all the efforts of the vaunted Jewish establishment haven’t convinced them otherwise.
That's the secret of Jewish lobbying success: It's not about the professional influence-peddlers and fundraisers. It's about frightened, angry Jews, thousands of them, determined to stop anyone they suspect is against them. Once they get going, no one can talk them out of it. They feel powerless and vulnerable before enemies great and small, and they have the clout to do something about it. And they don't always check the details before hitting the barricades. ...
Published reports and word-of-mouth from New York to Miami suggest that considerable numbers of Jewish voters will not back Obama, because they're not sure he's not their enemy. The rumors may be true or false, they reason; Obama may or may not be a secret Muslim radical. But why risk it? If there's any danger of antisemitism, the thinking goes, you err on the side of caution. You don’t take chances.
One prominent Orthodox activist, founder of a pro-Israel PAC and a former president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, bluntly told a local weekly last week that he wouldn't vote for Obama and couldn't imagine anything that would change his mind. A news report on the controversy, published on the English-language Web site of the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, drew dozens of online comments from readers who insisted that Obama must be a secret Islamist, regardless of what anyone says. Some, secure in their anonymity, argued that he must be a Jew-basher because most African Americans are.
... Consistently, liberals have failed to appreciate the conservatives’ secret weapon.
Accusations of antisemitism take on a life of their own. Once the A-word is in play, the defenses go up, and they don't come down until it's proved that there's no danger. Moderate and liberal Jews who don't share the conservatives' agenda will give the benefit of doubt to the accusers. Thus the Jewish hawks have the final say, and the burden is on the candidate to avoid falling afoul of them.
... Immediately prior to accepting the endorsement of Senator Edward Kennedy on Monday afternoon in Washington, Obama conducted a conference call with Jewish reporters in an effort to dispel concerns on a number of issues, including his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the views of his longtime pastor. ...See also:
In recent weeks, even as the organized Jewish community has publicly combated a series of scurrilous personal falsehoods, more delicate questions about his views on the Middle East have animated Jewish leaders, spilling on to the pages of newspapers and into discussions among voters. Despite repeated efforts to reach out to the community — including the recent mobilization of some of his prominent Jewish supporters, such as Lee Rosenberg, a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — doubters have continued to make noise.
"The concern in the back of my mind is, "Is he going to be the next Jimmy Carter?'" said one prominent Jewish Democrat who spoke with Forward on the eve of the primary in New Hampshire, as he was grappling with the seeming implosion of the Clinton campaign. Emphasizing that he planned to support whoever became the party's eventual nominee, the Democrat said he was uneasy about Obama’s emphasis of dialogue with Iran.
Spurred by the same concern, last week the former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Danny Ayalon, raised his voice in The Jerusalem Post, in an article titled "Who Are You, Barack Obama?"
Such comments have frustrated Obama aides, who complain that the candidate has repeatedly clarified the various issues about his personal connections as well as his policy positions, but that these efforts seem to gain little traction against the power of rumor and innuendo. Nevertheless, those efforts were made once again in this week’s conference call.
During the call, Obama argued that a magazine affiliated with his pastor's Chicago congregation, the Trinity United Church of Christ, had "made an error in judgment" by awarding a prize to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in November 2007.
"I have always denounced the abhorrent antisemitic views of Louis Farrakhan," Obama said. He noted that he had spoken out against antisemitism in the black community for decades, including during a recent appearance at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Day.
He also reiterated many of his longstanding pro-Israel positions, including the need for Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition for talks, and his rejection of a literal Palestinian right of return. Asked about the peace process, Obama said the Palestinians had the responsibility to tamp down on violence before Israel made substantial concessions.
Palestinian leaders have to "get a hold of their security apparatus, to be able to crack down on terrorist activity, to root out the corruption," he said. "Until the Israelis have some confidence that whatever is negotiated will actually be followed through on, I think it’s going to be difficult."
When asked about his previous statements emphasizing the need for diplomatic engagement with Tehran, the senator first reaffirmed his understanding of the threats posed by the Iranians.
"Iran's possession of nuclear weapons would not only be a threat to U.S. interests and destabilizing to the region but would also be an extraordinary threat to Israel," he said, noting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial and his expressed wish that Israel did not exist. But Obama said that incentives, along with deterrence, are needed to deal with the regime.
"I also think we should be presenting carrots," he said. "The key is to give Iranians incentives to behave differently." The unwillingness to talk, he said, "empowered extremists like Ahmadinejad."
These remarks came on the heels of other steps taken to underscore his support for Israel in the past week. On January 23, the senator sent a letter to Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calling upon him to ensure that any response to the recent unrest in the Gaza strip will not be biased against Israel. ...
- "Internal Memo Takes On Obama's Mideast Approach" in the Jewish Daily Forward (1/23/08)
- "Ali Abunimah discusses US presidential candidates on Democracy Now!" in the Electronic Intifada (1/25/08)
- "Clinton, Giuliani Top Survey of Jewish Voters" in the Jewish Daily Forward (12/12/07)
- The Obama Campaign's Israel Fact Sheet(PDF)
Fair enough. But why is the disclaimer that he supports "Israel's right to exist" necessary? To avoid anti-semitism accusations? If anti-Zionism is necessarily anti-Semitism, and pro-Zionism is necessarily pro-Semitism, how could one possibly be pro-Semitic before Theodore Herzl was born? Why support the right of a racist, colonial state to exist on stolen land, Mr. Ali? Zionism is racism according to its own founders' words, like Valdimir Jabotinsky:
"[T]he preservation of national integrity is impossible except by means of racial purity and for that purpose we shall have this territory where our people will constitute the racially pure inhabitants"
"It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and by every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now. ... All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy."
And: “We must expel Arabs and take their places." David Ben Gurion, future Prime Minister of Israel, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.
And: "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.
The quotes are numerous, but you get the picture.
Also, Tariq's reasoning for boycotting the book fair, while partially useful, is nevertheless flawed. "So why did the Turin Book Fair not invite Palestinians in equal numbers? 30 Israeli writers and 30 Palestinian writers (and I promise you they exist and are very fine poets and novelists) might have been seen as a positive and peaceful gesture and a positive debate might have taken place."
Someone at the level of Ali's political activism ought to know of the call to boycott, divest and place sanctions on Israel. This includes cultural and academic boycott.
If the book fair had invited 30 KKK writers, would Ali have been content with the invitation of 30 African-American writers? Isn't it necessary to disinvite the KKK (and Israeli) writers?
Thank God Palestinians (and others who suffer from and resist Zionism like the Lebanese and Iraqis) aren't holding their breath for Tariq Ali to disprove of Zionism before standing up for themselves.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Malcolm X on Zionism---Reprinted From the Egyptian Gazette
Photo caption: Malcolm X with early leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. Malcolm was a staunch critic of zionism as a political philosophy. Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Zionist Logic -- Malcolm X on Zionism
Malcolm X (Omowale Malcolm X Shabazz)
Taken from The Egyptian Gazette -- Sept. 17, 1964
The Zionist armies that now occupy Palestine claim their ancient Jewish prophets predicted that in the "last days of this world" their own God would raise them up a "messiah" who would lead them to their promised land, and they would set up their own "divine" government in this newly-gained land, this "divine" government would enable them to "rule all other nations with a rod of iron."
If the Israeli Zionists believe their present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of predictions made by their Jewish prophets, then they also religiously believe that Israel must fulfill its "divine" mission to rule all other nations with a rod of irons, which only means a different form of iron-like rule, more firmly entrenched even, than that of the former European Colonial Powers.
These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their "divine" authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized.
The Israeli Zionists are convinced they have successfully camouflaged their new kind of colonialism. Their colonialism appears to be more "benevolent," more "philanthropic," a system with which they rule simply by getting their potential victims to accept their friendly offers of economic "aid," and other tempting gifts, that they dangle in front of the newly-independent African nations, whose economies are experiencing great difficulties. During the 19th century, when the masses here in Africa were largely illiterate it was easy for European imperialists to rule them with "force and fear," but in this present era of enlightenment the African masses are awakening, and it is impossible to hold them in check now with the antiquated methods of the 19th century.
The imperialists, therefore, have been compelled to devise new methods. Since they can no longer force or frighten the masses into submission, they must devise modern methods that will enable them to manouevre the African masses into willing submission.
The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is "dollarism." The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly
"independent" African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists... and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.
At the close of the 19th century when European imperialists wisely foresaw that the awakening masses of Africa would not submit to their old method of ruling through force and fears, these ever-scheming imperialists had to create a "new weapon," and to find a "new base" for that weapon.
The number one weapon of 20th century imperialism is zionist dollarism, and one of the main bases for this weapon is Zionist Israel. The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.
Zionist Israel's occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab world to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments, making it impossible for these newly independent Arab nations to concentrate on strengthening the economies of their countries and elevate the living standard of their people.
And the continued low standard of living in the Arab world has been skillfully used by the Zionist propagandists to make it appear to the Africans that the Arab leaders are not intellectually or technically qualified to lift the living standard of their people ... thus, indirectly "enducing" Africans to turn away from the Arabs and towards the Israelis for teachers and technical assistance.
"They cripple the bird's wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they."
The imperialists always make themselves look good, but it is only because they are competing against economically crippled newly independent countries whose economies are actually crippled by the Zionist-capitalist conspiracy. They can't stand against fair competition, thus they dread Gamal Abdul Nasser's call for African-Arab Unity under Socialism.
If the "religious" claim of the Zionists is true that they were to be led to the promised land by their messiah, and Israel's present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of that prophesy: where is their messiah whom their prophets said would get the credit for leading them there? It was Ralph Bunche who "negotiated" the Zionists into possession of Occupied Palestine! Is Ralph Bunche the messiah of Zionism? If Ralph Bunche is not their messiah, and their messsiah has not yet come, then what are they doing in Palestine ahead of their messiah?
Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the "religious" claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation ... where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?...
In short the Zionist argument to justify Israel's present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history ... not even in their own religion. Where is their Messiah?
See also: "Black American Anti-Zionism: From Boggs to Badu"
Sunday, February 03, 2008
The singer, who couldn't name any Israeli hip-hop artists, said she identified best with the Palestinians and their hip-hop scene, saying they are part of her "tribe" of hip-hop.Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post both republished the AP story and their readers left lots of interesting comments here and here. One hopes that Badu got the permission of Palestinians to perform in Israel as the Jewish apartheid state is currently under a cultural and economic boycott.
"They use (hip-hop) as a form of liberation, as a form of pre-resistance, as a form of therapy," she said.
In any case, the AP report reminded me of the November 1, 1970, "Appeal by Black Americans Against United States Support of the Zionist Government of Israel", published in the New York Times (p. 172) by the Committee of Black Americans for Truth About the Middle East. The statement was signed by a number of Detroit activists, including Grace and James Boggs and the Reverend Albert B. Cleage Jr., founder of the Shrine of the Black Madonna. Among other things, the appeal expressed "complete solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters", denounced "King Hussein's slaughter of Palestinian refugees and freedom-fighters", noted the alliance of apartheid South Africa and Israel, and quoted Yassir Arafat as follows: "Our political vision for a free Palestine is a democratic, secular, non-racial state where all Palestinians--Christians, Jews, and Muslims--will have equal rights."
Props to no snow here for alerting me to the Erykah Badu story, via criticalbloggers.org, and to Stop Raping Palestine for clueing me into the "Appeal by Black Americans ..."
I liked Badu's 1997 Baduizm but haven't really followed her music since then but I really like the video for "Honey" from the New Amerikah album. The two vids below are both from the Palestinian hip hop group, DAM.
See also: "935 Bush Lies & Are Palestinian Collaborators Jewish?"