A regular reader wrote recently and asked why I write so often about Palestine and Israel.
It was a good question and after some time for reflection I have an answer for him, inspired by a 1971 Johnny Cash song, “The Man in Black”.
Cash had been asked why he always wore black. He explains that he did so because he identifies with the poor and the hungry, the prisoners, the lonely and the old, and those who are dying in a war in a distant land, at that time, the Vietnam War.
A few years later, after “The Man In Black” became a best-selling album, Cash said:
“With the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans’, I wore it ‘in mournin’ for the lives that could have been.’ … Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don’t see much reason to change my position … The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we’re not making many moves to make things right. There’s still plenty of darkness to carry off.”
The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and our American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are today providing “plenty of darkness”. Together, these wars are today’s Vietnam.
I am aware that I cannot sing, or write simple, powerful poetry as Cash has done. But I must write about the darkness that covers our nation as it continues its pursuit of empirical conquest at a tremendous cost at home, under the guise of “fighting terror”. Indeed, “terrorism” is today’s version of the Communism that Nixon and Kissinger used as their excuse for “defending” South Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.
Johnny Cash originally recorded “The Man in Black” before a college audience in May, 1971, one year after the Kent State Massacre when, during a student protest against the invasion of Cambodia, Ohio national guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.
In May, 1971, Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were still conducting a secret war, the details of which were only fully revealed on June 30, 1971, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times.
The story of how those Papers were finally published in the Times is vividly presented in the 2010 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America. The title refers to Daniel Ellsberg, the Harvard professor who courageously risked his freedom to deliver the Pentagon Papers to the Times.
Henry Kissinger, who once taught with Ellsburg at Harvard, bitterly described his former academic colleague as “the most dangerous man in America.”
Ellsberg writes of his experiences in his 2002 book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.
Along with the vast majority of the American public, Johnny Cash was unaware of the Vietnam war narrative which Nixon and Kissinger tried to keep secret, when he wrote the lyrics for ”The Man in Black”. What he did know was that young Americans and many Vietnamese were dying needlessly.
The lyrics are at the end of this post.
Today, with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West Bank Bank and Gaza our military forces, and our surrogate Israeli military forces, are involved in an overall war against what a previous American president misnamed as “the global war on terror”.
This 2010 midterm election have essentially ignored the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are dying in distant lands because of our wars. Instead, public attention is riveted on the craziness of the Tea Party candidates, some of whom may very well end up in the Congress.
The American public does not know about the Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian girls’ school building near Nablus this past week. Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is a flashing light of warning to the American public, tells the story of the attack on the school:
The phrase “ethnic cleansing” conjures up a swift, comprehensive act of expulsion. But in reality, moving a large population off its land is the death of a thousand cuts, a slow, inexorable process of stealing property, harassment, forcing people into a condition of malnutrition.
The Native Americans in the Americas, the Aborigines in Australia, and the Palestinians in Israel/Palestine were only sometimes forced off their land suddenly and en masse. The gradual processes told, in the long run.
The amazing thing about what is being done to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli illegal aliens is that it is happening in full view of the world, reported on by wire services, and yet remains invisible to Western publics.
The world reacts in horror when the Taliban in Afghanistan torch girls’ schools. But Israeli squatters just set fire to the store room of a Palestinian girls’ school, and the whole school would have gone up in flames if that warehouse had not been near a water main. The Israeli illegals left behind graffiti saying ‘regards from the hills.’
Cole also reports that earlier in October,
Israeli squatters set fire to a Palestinian mosque in Bethlehem.
[Also this autumn] there is the seasonal vandalism against olive trees in Palestinian orchards, which reached a fever pitch this year. The Israeli authorities prosecute few of these offenses and almost never hand down a punishment to an Israeli squatter.
The 10 million olive trees in the West Bank and Gaza, occupying some 45 percent of the farmland, are the matrix of Palestinian existence. An attack on olive trees is a form of economic warfare of the first water.
The American public knows far more about the fumbling responses of the Republican candidate for Joe Biden’s old Delaware senate seat, than it does about the needless death of a 2-year-old Gaza child who was prevented by the Israeli army from traveling the short distance outside Gaza for specialized treatment. The Palestinian organization, Physicians for Human Rights, has that story on its website:
Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza. Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel. She was two years old.
Abu Lasheen, a young resident of Gaza diagnosed with Leukemia, was referred for emergency treatment in Israel on October 6, 2010. When requests to the Israeli Army for an entry permit went unanswered for several days, by way of B’tselem, the family contacted Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-Israel) for additional help.
That very same day, on October 13, 2010, PHR-Israel contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) demanding a permit be issued immediately to the baby and her father to enable their entry into Israel. A military approval was finally granted the next afternoon, October 14, 2010.
Abu Lasheen’s medical condition had been deteriorating rapidly and by the time the permit was received, the treating doctor in Gaza, Dr. Mohammad Abu Sha’aban, said she was too sick to travel. Nasma died in the early morning hours of October 16, 2010.
Ziad Abbas works for the Middle East Children’s Alliance on a project to bring clean water to the children of Palestine. He grew up in Palestine. He writes in Counter Punch, that his work is especially personal to him because of his own childhood experiences of growing up deprived of water.
Israel controls and uses 89% of the water resources in the West Bank, leaving 11% for the 2.5 million Palestinians. The Israeli Occupation continues to limit Palestinian access to clean water as form of collective punishment by controlling the water resources and distribution and by destroying the water that we are able to get.
During Israeli military incursions, and especially during curfews, when we could not leave our homes, Israeli soldiers would shoot the water storage tanks on our roofs. Our water would pour down the sides of our buildings unused.
During the recent attack on Gaza, Israel targeted the entire water infrastructure including the largest water purification system in Gaza. They also targeted electrical generators that supported water purification and sewage treatment.
I write about these things because American churches are still hung up on not offending their Jewish neighbors, thus choosing interfaith harmony over justice.
I write about these things because major denominational meetings, like this past summer’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, dickered and delayed and finally decided to study further how they might best deal with the “problems” in the Middle East.
Since that Presbyterian GA meeting, two-year-old Abu Lasheen died waiting for permission to travel to an Israeli hospital. Since that meeting, Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian girls school, leaving behind graffiti on the wall that said, “regards from the hills”. Something about the insensitive arrogance of that graffiti implies there was not enough room on the wall to add, in Clint Eastwoodian fashion, “we’ll be back.”
I write about the American media’s blindness to the narrative of the suffering in Palestine because Tom Friedman continues to fool his liberal readers by pretending to criticize Israel when his criticism always includes the AIPAC approved list of what he insists are “facts”, but which are either outright lies or distortions of reality.
The most recent example was Friedman’s October 20 column which calls on Israel to help President Obama line up world opposition to Iran by reaching a friendly agreement with Palestinian negotiators.
Friedman opens his column with a set of “stubborn facts” which are really just a repeat of the acceptable Israeli narrative which, of course, he assures his readers are “stubborn facts”. Only, they are not.
Here is the start of Thomas Friedman’s latest column, followed by corrections:
Say what you want about Israel’s obstinacy at times, it remains the only country in the United Nations that another U.N. member, Iran, has openly expressed the hope that it be wiped off the map. And that same country, Iran, is trying to build a nuclear weapon.
Israel is the only country I know of in the Middle East that has unilaterally withdrawn from territory conquered in war — in Lebanon and Gaza — only to be greeted with unprovoked rocket attacks in return.
Indeed, if you want to talk about spoiled children, there is no group more spoiled by Iran and Syria than Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia.
Hezbollah started a war against Israel in 2006 that brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese — and Hezbollah’s punishment was to be rewarded with thousands more missiles and millions more dollars to do it again. These are stubborn facts.
Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are stubborn, alright. They are falsehoods or distortions he clings to “stubbornly”.
Iran’s President Ahmedinejad never used the phrase, “wipe Israel off the map”. That was an initial mistranslation into English which the media loved and never let go. The media has refused, as Friedman does here, to go back and obtain the original statement by Ahmedinejad in a speech he gave to a Persian audience.
The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when he said that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the Shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.
He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The “page of time” phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.
Another error: It is true that Israel took its military forces out of Lebanon and Gaza, but it did so because the cost in Israeli lives had become too expensive to maintain the garrisons in those two areas.
The invasions had proved to be a major loss for the vastly superior Israeli forces, a fact Friedman ignores as he praises Israel for its “unilateral withdrawal” from the two countries it had invaded and failed to control.
Friedman writes that “Hezbollah started a war against Israel in 2006 that brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”
Israel did launch a massive invasion of Lebanon in 2006, but who fired the first shot has been debated. Israeli sources have confirmed that Israel’s invasion plans were already on the drawing board when a border skirmish erupted, giving Israel the excuse it wanted to launch a war that, indeed, “brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”
Who brought those deaths, injuries and destruction to the Lebanese? Israel, of course.
Careful research would quickly demonstrate to Friedman and every other pro-Israel pundit and politician that Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are either false or distorted.
I will continue to write on Israel and Palestine as long as pundits like Thomas Friedman have access to the pages of the New York Times, and the American public remains ignorant of the actual facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine.
The Man in Black, lyrics by Johnny Cash
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black, Why you never see bright colors on my back, And why does my appearance always have a somber tone. Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town, And I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, But still is there because he’s a victim of the times.
I wear the black for those who never read, Or listened to the words that Jesus said, About the road to happiness through love and charity, Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.
Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose, In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes, But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back, Up front there ought ‘a be a Man In Black.
I wear it for the sick and lonely old, For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold, I wear the black in mornin’ for the lives that could have been, Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.
And, I wear it for the thousands who have died, Believen’ that the Lord was on their side, And I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died, Believen’ that we all were on their side.
Well, there’s things that never will be right I know, And things need changin’ everywhere you go, But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right, You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.
Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day, To tell the world that everything’s OK, But mabe I can carry off a little darkness on my back,
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.
The photo at the top of the page is of two Bedouin girls, in school uniform, returning to their houses after a school day in Abu Farda near the West Bank city of Qalqilia on October 6, 2010. MaanImages/Khaleel Reash.
The Youtube above, and the lyrics by Johnny Cash may be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLkmC2VuXA8.
Filed under: Media, Middle East Politics | 16 Comments
Ten years after the US invaded Iraq in 2003, another Middle East war looms large between the West and Muslim states.
Signs point to the strong possibility that Israel, and its US Zionist supporters, remain determined, first, to draw the US into the Syrian Civil War, and second, to lead Israel in a joint attack against Iran.
All from the skies, of course. Boots on the ground have not served well in the past, too visible, too costly in “our” lives lost.
At a cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel was prepared to attack Syria for the third time this month “to stop the transfer of advanced Fateh-110 missiles to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.”
Why not? He got away with it before, using the “self defense” righteous rationale that empires employ as they increase their power one step at a time. This is the way empires grow. It is also the way they die, one pyrrhic victory after another.
Secretary of State John Kerry is doing his best to persuade Russia to help the US pull the Syria parties to peace talks before a civil war extends beyond its boundaries.
He will find little support from US domestic Zionist forces who are as hungry for war as is Israel
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s continued “defense” actions threatens another war between the West and Muslim states, ten years after the US invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.
The ostensible reason for that invasion was to eradicate Iraq’s non-existent WMDs. The American public was primed for the war. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld leadership team had whipped the American public into such a post-911 war fever that all normal reason and logic had been drained away.
In the picture above, Iraqi citizens are walking around tanks on a bridge near the entrance to the besieged city of Basra. The picture was taken ten days after the war began. It was a time of great uncertainty as Iraqis struggled to adjust to the presence of another foreign army on their soil.
These Iraqi citizens are caught in the middle of an empire’s over reach, a moment in time when the US, still reeling from the attacks of 9/11, goaded by its Israeli ally and its own domestic Zionist patriots, entered a war against Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the horrors of 9/11.
After the Asoulum battle, the historian Plutarch conveyed words and wisdom that live on:
“The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him.”
When empires recognize they are losing too much in battles they win, it is past time to stand down. Unfortunately, empires become blind to reality and instead of withdrawing from battle, they plunge further downward toward their own demise.
Patrick J. Buchanan and Eric S. Margolis, two intrepid columnists, found a warning from King Pyrrhus as they reflected on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war . Their columns were linked together in the Washington Report. Read both columns here.
Here is how Buchanan ended his column on the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq:
What makes the question more than academic is that the tub-thumpers for war on Iraq a decade ago are now clamoring for war on Iran. Goal: Strip Iran of weapons of mass destruction all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran does not have and has no program to build.
This generation is eyewitness to how a Great Power declines and falls. And to borrow from old King Pyrrhus, one more such victory as Iraq, and we are undone.
John LeCarre’s recently published novel, A Delicate Truth, is a perceptive and clear-eyed presentation of the period before the US led Britain and a loose coalition into a war that strikes LeCarre as insane.
Early in A Delicate Truth, Second Secretary Toby Bell has arrived in Berlin on his first diplomatic assignment for Her Majesty’s government. Bell reaches Berlin in the weeks before the launching of the “shock and awe” assault against Iraq.
LeCarre’s novel captures the moment through Bell’s anger and frustration:
The neophyte diplomat [Toby] Bell, Second Secretary (Political), has just arrived at the British Embassy on his first overseas posting. The Iraq War looms. Britain has signed up to it, but denies it has done so. Germany is dithering on the brink. Giles Oakley, the embassy’s eminence grise – darting, impish Oakley, dyed in all the oceans, as the Germans say – is Toby’s section chief.
Oakley’s job, amid a myriad others less defined: to supervise the flow of British intelligence to German liaison, Tobys: to be his spear-carrier. His German is already good. As ever, he’s a fast learner. Oakley takes him under his wing, marches him round the ministries and opens doors for him that would otherwise have remained locked against one of his lowly status. Are Toby and Giles spies? Not at all! They are blue-chip British career diplomats who have found themselves, like many others, at the trading tables of the free world’s vast intelligence marketplace.
The only problem is that the further Toby is admitted into these inner councils, the greater his abhorrence of the war about to happen. He rates it illegal, immoral and doomed. His discomfort is compounded by the knowledge that even the most supine of his schoolfriends are out on the street protesting their outrage.
So are his parents who, in their Christian socialist decency, believe that the purpose of diplomacy should be to prevent war rather than to promote it. His mother emails him in despair: Tony Blair – once her idol – has betrayed us all. His father, adding his stern Methodist voice, accuses Bush and Blair jointly of the sin of pride and intends to compose a parable about a pair of peacocks who, bewitched by their own reflections, turn into vultures.
Little wonder then that with such voices dinning in his ear beside his own, Toby resents having to sing the war’s praises to, of all people, the Germans, even urging them to join the dance. He too voted heart and soul for Tony Blair, and now finds his prime minister’s public postures truthless and emetic. And With the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he boils over.
Bell’s religiously-committed parents had it right: “The purpose of diplomacy should be to prevent war rather than to promote it.”
Ten years after the Iraq War began, the American/Israeli empire appears hell-bent on its own destruction. To launch a war that makes no sense ten years after a war that made no sense in 2003, can only be understood as blind empirical arrogance.
Israel produces and sells more drones than any other nation in the world, while the US has refused to give up the drone as its weapon of choice in fighting forces of “terror”. With our use of drones, our nation’s use of coercion is sliding down a dangerously dark slope.
In Moral Man and Immoral Society theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was aware of the ambiguity of nations forced to employ coercion to preserve “the course of justice”. However, Niebuhr was quick to warn, “moral reason must learn how to make coercion its ally without running the risk of a Pyrrhic victory in which the ally exploits and negates the triumph”.
Coercion is a dangerous ally. It is also one we must keep under strict control. Moral reason demands no less. If we want to apply moral reason to our nation’s action, our leaders must be warned that war is always a sign of failure.
(The photo from Basra, Iraq, above. is by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) from the Denver Post.
Filed under: Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, War | 3 Comments
by James M. Wall
University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking stunned Israel last week with his announcement that he would boycott the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, June 18-20.
Hawking was responding to an incongruity: He had been invited to attend an Israeli conference of scientific, economic and political world leaders under the lofty title: ”The Human Factor in Shaping Tomorrow”.
Many usual political suspects are expected to speak at the conference, including noted Israeli friends Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
Also listed as speakers are Stuart Eizenstat, Larry Summers and David Axelrod. George W. Bush was a speaker for the 2008 inaugural conference.
As a matter of conscience, Hawking will not be there.
What makes this conference such an incongruous event is that it will hold its “Shaping Tomorrow” sessions in close proximity to what is essentially a prison wall built to separate an occupied, entrapped Palestinian population, from the rest of the world.
Is this the future Israel would have us shape? Prison walls enforcing ethnic cleansing?
In his conference withdrawal statement Hawking (above) explained his boycott decision:
“I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank”
“However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference.
Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster”.
The term “boycott” is part of the Palestinian civil society’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) non-violent campaign, a grassroots movement launched in 2005 to non-violently bring an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and people.
Israel is holding its fifth conference in close proximity to the Israeli-built prison wall that enforces that occupation.
Stephen Hawking has not been known for political activism. His story unfolded in a different arena. It is a story of his enormous personal courage and significant achievement as a physicist and cosmologist.
Hawking, who tells his personal story in “Living With ALS“, has to be the most high-profile invitee yet to boycott an Israeli Presidential conference, an event which in the past has attracted little media attention. Hawking has changed that.
In her 2012 Scientific American essay, “How Has Stephen Hawking Lived to 70 with ALS?”, (on January 7, 2013, he turned 71) author Katherine Harmon provides background both on Hawking and his disease:
The famous theoretical physicist has helped to bring his ideas about black holes and quantum gravity to a broad public audience. For much of his time in the public eye, though, he has been confined to a wheelchair by a form of the motor-neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). And since 1985 he has had to speak through his trademark computer system—which he operates with his cheek—and have around-the-clock care.
But like his mind, Hawking’s illness seems to be singular. Most patients with ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for the famous baseball player who succumbed to the disease—are diagnosed after the age of 50 and die within five years of their diagnosis. Hawking’s condition was first diagnosed when he was 21, and he was not expected to see his 25th birthday.
But his disease seems hardly to have slowed him down. Hawking spent 30 years as a full professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge. And he is currently the director of research at the school’s Center for Theoretical Cosmology.
Hawking is the sort of high profile public figure whose boycott action is most feared by Israel.
The Guardian takes note of the blow Israel has received to its scientific prestige:
Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the Israeli president’s conference has gone viral. Over 100,000 Facebook shares of the Guardian report at last count. Whatever the subsequent fuss, Hawking’s letter is unequivocal. His refusal was made because of requests from Palestinian academics.
Witness the speed with which the pro-Israel lobby seized on Cambridge University’s initial false claim that he had withdrawn on health grounds to denounce the boycott movement, and their embarrassment when within a few hours the university shamefacedly corrected itself.
Hawking also made it clear that if he had gone he would have used the occasion to criticise Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
While journalists named him “the poster boy of the academic boycott” and supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement celebrated, Ha’aretz, the most progressive of the Israeli press, drew attention to the inflammatory language used by the conference organizers, who described themselves as “outraged” rather than that they “regretted” Hawking’s decision.
That the world’s most famous scientist had recognised the justice of the Palestinian cause is potentially a turning point for the BDS campaign. And that his stand was approved by a majority of two to one in the Guardian poll that followed his announcement shows just how far public opinion has turned against Israel’s relentless land-grabbing and oppression.
The Times of Israel made a feeble attempt to defend conference organizers.
The Times quotes Israel Maimon, chairman of the conference, who ”decried” Hawking’s withdrawal as “outrageous and inappropriate, especially for one so fundamentally associated with the spirit of independence as a person and an academic.”
There is considerable irony in Israel’s promotion of its scientific achievements within strolling distance of the “prison wall” it built to deprive Palestinians of their freedom.
This is an irony made doubly painful to sensitive and compassionate Jewish Israelis when they read a description of the Conference from their 90-year old President Peres, included in his Conference introduction:
My experience has taught me that people tend to underestimate the tremendous ability within them, and yet mankind has the power to make a difference to ensure the betterment of our collective tomorrow.
What should be more reassuring, however, to those sensitive and compassionate Jews who live under a government based on lies and deception, is a Boston Globe editorial which found Hawking’s boycott decision to be a “reasonable way to express one’s political views”.
When the esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking announced his decision to boycott Israel’s Presidential Conference, a gathering of politicians, scholars, and other high-profile figures scheduled for June, the response was as predictable as the movement of the cosmos that inspired Hawking’s career.
The conference chair, Israel Maimon, called the move “outrageous and improper,” while Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that advocates protests against Israeli policies, declared, “Palestinians deeply appreciate Stephen Hawking’s support.”
In fact, the decision to withdraw from a conference is a reasonable way to express one’s political views. Observers need not agree with Hawking’s position in order to understand and even respect his choice. The movement that Hawking has signed on to aims to place pressure on Israel through peaceful means.
In the context of a Mideast conflict that has caused so much destruction and cost so many lives, nonviolence is something to be encouraged. That is equally true of attempts to inspire cooperation on the Palestinian side.
Chances for a peaceful solution in Israel and Palestine are remote enough without overreactions like Maimon’s. Foreclosing nonviolent avenues to give people a political voice — and maybe bring about an eventual resolution — only makes what is already difficult that much more challenging.
Ali Abunimah was also encouraged by Hawking’s boycott action. Abunimah writes in The Guardian:
One of the most deceptive aspects of the so-called peace process is the pretence that Palestinians and Israelis are two equal sides, equally at fault, equally responsible – thus erasing from view the brutal reality that Palestinians are an occupied, colonised people, dispossessed at the hands of one of the most powerful militaries on earth.
For more than two decades, under the cover of this fiction, Palestinians have engaged in internationally-sponsored “peace talks” and other forms of dialogue, only to watch as Israel has continued to occupy, steal and settle their land, and to kill and maim thousands of people with impunity.
The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) aims to change this dynamic. It puts the initiative back in the hands of Palestinians. The goal is to build pressure on Israel to respect the rights of all Palestinians by ending its occupation and blockade of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; respecting the rights of Palestinian refugees who are currently excluded from returning to their homes just because they are not Jews; and abolishing all forms of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Abunimah ends with a prediction:
When we look back in a few years, Hawking’s decision to respect BDS may be seen as a turning point – the moment when boycotting Israel as a stance for justice went mainstream.
What is clear today is that his action has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price. Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.
This Real News video provides a valuable visual summary of the Hawking boycott action:
If Israel is to have the future it desires, then Israel’s friends must firmly tell them: ”Give me your car keys; friends don’t let friends drive drunk”. Ali Abunimah provides the text we need to set that axiom in motion:
“Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.”
As they used to say in the American South where I grew up: “That will preach, brothers and sisters”.
The picture of Hawkin, above, is from Wikimedia Commons. It appeared in the Scientific American.
Filed under: Human Rights, Middle East Politics | 7 Comments
The civil war in Syria between rebel forces and President Bashar Assad’s Syrian army, escalated this weekend when Israel bombed Damascus, the capital of Syria.
With its standard rationale familiar to Gaza residents, Israel released an official story that claimed the bombing was carried out for defensive purposes.
The Reuters story in the Jerusalem Post, reported that the Israeli airstrikes, which killed “dozens of Syrian soldiers close to Damascus”, were “downplayed” by Israeli leaders.
The “downplaying” consisted of Israel’s claim it was not attempting to influence the Syrian civil war, but wanted only to “stop Iranian missiles reaching Lebanese Hezbollah militants”.
To bolster its official version of the raid, veteran Israeli lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu, told Israel Radio that ”Israel wants to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime.” (It should be noted that Hezbollah and Assad’s government are allies.)
The Post rushed past the fact that “dozens of Syrian soldiers” were killed outside Damascus. There was no mention, not even a sympathetic nod to the possibility, that civilians may also have died in the attacks.
Instead, the Post story got to the heart of the matter, the heart, that is, for Israel:
Oil prices spiked above $105 a barrel, their highest in nearly a month, on Monday as the air strikes on Friday and Sunday prompted fears of a wider spillover of the two-year old conflict in Syria that could affect Middle East oil exports.
Major General Yair Golan, Israel’s commander on both the Syrian and Lebanese fronts, was quick to reassure “fearful” Israelis.
The general was out jogging with troops when a Reuters reporter caught up with him. He told the reporter, “There are no winds of war”. Then he added, “Do you see tension? There is no tension. Do I look tense to you?”.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was also calm. The Prime Minister had already begun a a scheduled visit to Beijing, which the Post story indicated was “an apparent sign of confidence Syrian President Bashar Assad would not retaliate”.
Netanyahu received veiled criticism in Beijing where Chinese leaders urged “restraint without mentioning Israel by name”. China and Russia are the two major powers who are Syrian President Assad’s “protectors” in the UN Security Council.
Russia said the strikes by Israel “caused particular alarm”, a mild reprimand to a nation that has just bombed a neighbor with whom it is not officially at war.
President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry were expected to meet Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported, “to try to tackle differences over the Syrian crisis”.
In an Independent story that appeared January 25, before the Israeli bombing of Damascus, Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev said that President Assad’s chances of retaining power in Syria are getting “smaller and smaller by the day”.
“The statement is the most explicit admission from the regime’s chief ally that its days may be numbered, but Mr Medvedev also reiterated that the regime must not be toppled by external forces.
As the political pressure on Damascus grows, so the scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria could also be significantly greater than official figures show, according to analysis by The Independent. The latest UN figures say that 678,540 refugees have been registered or are awaiting registration although the true numbers are likely to be closer to one million.”
Beyond Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Post found different opinions on Israel’s bombing:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group based in Britain, said at least 42 Syrian soldiers were killed in the strikes and 100 others were missing.
Other opposition sources put the death toll at 300 soldiers, mostly belonging to the elite Republican Guards, a praetorian unit that forms the last line of defense of Damascus and is comprised mainly of members of Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam that has controlled Syria since the 1960s.
As well as the heavily-fortified Hamah compound, linked to Syria’s chemical and biological weapons program, the warplanes hit military facilities manned by Republican Guards on Qasioun Mountain overlooking Damascus and the nearby Barada River basin.
Residents, activists and rebel sources said the area is a supply route to the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah, but missiles for Hezbollah did not appear to be the only target.
Air defenses comprising Russian made surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns on Qasioun and overlooking the rebellious Damascus district of Barzeh were also hit, they said. Their statements could not be verified due to restrictions on media.
“The destruction appeared to be massive,” said one activist in Damascus, who did not want to be identified.
Beyond the conflict between major nations who have lined up on opposing sides in the civil war, the human cost of the war is also massive:
Millions of Syrian refugees face food rationing and cutbacks to critical medical programmes [cq] because oil-rich Gulf states have failed to deliver the funding they promised for emergency humanitarian aid, an investigation by The Independent on Sunday has found.
Arab states and aid groups, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain, have failed to deliver $650m (£420m) in pledges they made at an emergency United Nations conference in Kuwait four months ago.
The severe shortfall, together with predictions that the Syrian refugee crisis could triple by the end of the year, is forcing UN aid agencies to plan for food rationing and to scale back health programmes including vaccinations.
Israel’s concern and sensitivity to the transfer of munitions to Hezbollah is understandable; what’s hard to accept is the indifference toward the plight of its neighbors exhibited by the country that prides itself of being “a villa in the jungle” and “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Jordan. Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey, the other countries bordering Syria, have already taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the Syrian inferno.And Israel, the only country in the world that holds Syrian territory, keeps looking on from the sidelines. The policy of the Netanyahu government is reminiscent of the Begin government’s policy toward the horrible war between Iraq and Iran (1980-1988). Asked which side he supports, the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin answered with a smile: “We wish both sides the best of luck.” In Iran, by the way, they still remember this phrase.
Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they’re applying anything remotely resembling “principles”. Their only cognizable “principle” is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not. . . .
One could say quite reasonably that this is the pure expression of the crux of US political discourse on such matters: they must abide by rules from which we’re immune, because we’re superior.
So much of the pseudo-high-minded theorizing emanating from [Washington] think thanks and US media outlets boils down to this adolescent, self-praising, tribalistic license: we have the right to do X, but they do not.
Indeed, the entire debate over whether there should be a war with Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities, as Israel sits on a massive pile of nuclear weapons while refusing UN demands to permit any international inspection of it, is also a perfect expression of this mentality.
The ultimate irony is that those who advocate for the universal application of principles to all nations are usually tarred with the trite accusatory slogan of “moral relativism”. But the real moral relativists are those who believe that the morality of an act is determined not by its content but by the identity of those who commit them: namely, whether it’s themselves or someone else doing it.
As Rudy Giuliani put it when asked if waterboarding is torture: “It depends on who does it.”
The picture at top is a handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency which purports to show damage caused by an Israeli strike on May 5. It is an AFP/Getty Image that appeared in the Guardian.
The picture of Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, is from The Independent.
Filed under: Middle East Politics, Netanyahu | 3 Comments
In the late 19th century, Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingston fame), (right) was the “king’s man”—more accurately, a hired colonist conqueror—working for Belgium’s King Leopold II.
Stanley’s assignment: Seize and conquer for Belgium, the vast and unexplored territory surrounding Africa’s Congo River, a territory that stretched from Stanley Falls in the north to the mouth of the river, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Stanley and King Leopold worked with the conqueror’s template, one which the 19th and 20th century Zionist movement also utilized to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The formula used by Leopold and the Zionists is a well-worn conquerors’ formula of deceit, deception, destruction and seizure.
In his book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild tells the sordid and sad, but still illuminating, story of Stanley’s successful conquest of Central Africa in the 19th century.
One description of the book offers a dark portrait of King Leopold:
Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million–all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.
Hochschild’s book focuses on King Leopold, but the modern reader should see the historical parallel of Belgium’s African empire with the Zionist movement’s (still on-going) seizure of Palestinian land.
During his reign on Belgium’s throne, King Leopold never visited what was then commonly referred to as the “dark continent”. But as king of a tiny nation, he desperately wanted an empire of his own to rival those of his neighbors, England and France.
Hollywood’s version of the meeting between Stanley and Dr. David Livingston was a highly romanticized portrait of journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Livingston’s actual role in this drama is described by Hochschild:
“All those European impulses toward Africa—antislavery zeal, the search for raw materials, Christian evangelism, and sheer curiosity—were embodied in one man, David Livingston (left).
Physician, prospector, missionary, explorer and at one point even a British consul, he wandered across Africa for three decades, starting in the early 1840s. He searched for the source of the Nile, denounced slavery, found Victoria Falls, looked for minerals and preached the gospel. As the first white man to cross from coast to coast he became a national hero in England.”
While on another long expedition inside Africa, Livingston disappeared. Sensing a major story, New York Herald publisher James Gordon Bennett hired Henry Stanley to “find Livingston”. He succeeded, though actual details of his meeting with Livingston are unclear. Stanley was a self-promoter who shaped the narrative of his exploits and the meeting of the two men. .
Stanley’s reputation soared. Now an expert on Africa, as well as master of deceit and deception, Stanley was courted, and then hired, by King Leopold, to prepare the way for a Belgian colonial kingdom in Africa. Greed and personal aggrandizement hidden behind the elevated rhetoric of Christian zeal, were combined in a story which the media of the day embraced daily.
Again, Stanley controlled the narrative, appropriately enough for a man serving a king determined to build a colonial empire while keeping his enemies oblivious to his intentions. Stanley and Leopold were true soul mates.
The 19th century colonization of the Congo basin did, indeed, lead to the establishment of a series of Belgian colonies, “countries” on a map drawn by King Leopold. The area of the Congo basin, if placed on the map of the United States, would cover the area east of the Mississippi River.
Across that large expanse, two power-hungry men—a king and his conniving journalist-explorer partner—established the groundwork for “a confederation of free negro republics” along the Congo River.
The use of the term “free”, of course, as Hochschild writes, was “merely a prop to be removed as soon as the curtain closed”. The deceit and deception were easily employed during a period when racism and ignorance shaped the public’s understanding of the mysterious continent of Africa.
As one of Leopold’s subordinates wrote Stanley:
There is no question of granting the slightest political power to negroes. That would be absurd, the white men, heads of the stations, retain all the powers.
I take advantage of a safe opportunity to send you a few lines in my bad english . . It is indispensable you should purchase . . . as much as you will be able to obtain, and that you should place successively under . . suzerainty…as soon as possible and without losing one minute all the chiefs from the mouth of the Congo to the Stanley Falls . . . .If you let me know you are going to execute these instructions without delay I will send you more people and more material. Perhaps Chinese coolies.
Deception is an essential ingredient in the steady march of conquerors. As he wrote his “suzerainty” note to Stanley, Leopold “piously” assured the British minister in Brussels that his venture in Africa “had no commercial character; it did not carry on trade.”
It is worth noting that “suzerainty”* (see definition below) is a term describing the absolute control of a larger state over a smaller one. The term originated during the Ottoman empire era.
Which raises the question: Does Israel aspire to become a modern Ottoman empire?
In an ominous Leopold precursor to the current success of the Zionist invasion of Palestine, the King concluded his message to Stanley:
I also recommend you to establish barriers and tolls on the parts of the road you have opened. It is but fair and in accordance with the customs of every country.
The evil that men do lives after them in the actions of those who follow knowingly, or unknowingly, a formula of conquest that has worked in other centuries and in other lands.
Freeman was an early Obama administration appointee whose forced withdrawal from a post for which he was clearly highly qualified, was an early indication that President Obama would be overly sensitive to Zionists in his administration when he made appointments and considered plans deemed unacceptable to Israel and its American AiPAC-led agents.
I wrote about that early period of disappointment with Obama and the Zionist influence in his administration, for Link, a publication of Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU). A pdf of that essay is available here.
Freeman survived his 2009 encounter with the Israel Lobby. Today, he continues to provide wise guidance on all matters related to Israel’s conquest of Palestine.
A most recent example may be found in an address he gave at a January 16, 2013, Washington conference convened by the Middle East Policy Council, entitled, “U.S. Grand Strategy in the Middle East: Is There One?”
Freeman was the opening speaker at the conference, the full text of which may be found here.
The opening of Freeman’s presentation put the US Middle East strategy in a moral context:
Over the past half century or so, the United States has pursued two main but disconnected objectives in West Asia and North Africa: on the one hand, strategic and economic advantage in the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, and Egypt; on the other, support for the consolidation of the Jewish settler state in Palestine. These two objectives have consistently taken precedence over the frequently professed American preference for democracy.
These objectives are politically contradictory. They also draw their rationales from distinct moral universes. U.S. relations with the Arab countries and Iran have been grounded almost entirely in unsentimental calculations of interest. The American relationship with Israel, by contrast, has rested almost entirely on religious and emotional bonds. This disconnect has precluded any grand strategy.
It is significant that Freeman does not refer to Israel’s “occupation”, but instead, stresses that what the US is supporting is “the Jewish settler state in Palestine”.
Occupation is the term Israel and the world media employs as Israel steadily and deceptively seized more and more Palestinian land, not unlike King Leopold’s deceptive strategy to set up a “confederation of free republics” along the Congo River.
Occupation is a euphemism, one of many employed in Israel’s hasbara (reeducation) campaign to rewrite the reality of a conquered people. Occupation is a word used to cover the truth of Israel’s long-range plans to seize all of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Occupation is a term normally used to describe a temporary holding arrangement, as, for example, the US occupation of Germany following World War II. This so-called “occupation” has continued since Israel, under the United Nations first established its modern state in 1948. It is no occupation; it is, as Freeman writes, the creation of a “settler state in Palestine”.
Israel has pretended, with the help of its AIPAC-led allies in the Congress and White House, that it really wanted to participate in a “peace process”, a carefully orchestrated lie maintained by Western mainstream and alternate media alike.
It has been a lie successfully maintained with the support of the American public’s desire for a reality easily grasped in black and white terms, e,g, “savage” American Indians facing the Puritans; “inferior” black Africans trading land for a pittance to King Leopold; and more recently, the long-running Cold War between communists and the “free world”.
Israel has effectively manipulated public opinion to make Islam the new communism, a new enemy to engender fear of constant imminent danger.
Eager to engender more fear, our politicians and media have together elevated the alleged Boston Marathon bombers into Islamic-driven zealots, following every lead that might link the Boston bombers to a dark, foreign, Islamic organization.
The Zionist campaign to see any and all designated “enemies” of Israel as the action of “terrorists”, is the ongoing effort to retrieve The Clash of Civilizations, a theory ”that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world.”
The Clash concept was proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in a 1992 lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, which he then developed in a 1993 Foreign Affairs article titled “The Clash of Civilizations?“, in response to Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. (Wikipedia).
Ours is a public that prefers not see the evil that is inherent in conquering other nations, preferring, instead, to grasp any excuse to divide the world between Us and Others, with Us as the good guys and Others as the bad guys.
Chas Freeman offers historic parallels for conquerors and their goals:
The increasingly blatant racism and Islamophobia of Israeli politics, the Kafkaesque tyranny of Israel’s checkpoint army in the Occupied Territories, and Israel’s cruel and unusual collective punishment of Gaza have bred hateful resentment of the Jewish state in its region and throughout the Muslim world. One has to look to North Korea to find another polity so detested and distrusted by its neighbors and with so few supporters among the world’s great powers.
Just as the book and movie, The Exodus, were peddled for decades as the “true story” of Israel’s creation as a state, the movie version of Stanley and Livingston created the narrative that Stanley (as portrayed by Spencer Tracy) was a dedicated journalist looking for a “man of God” who went to Africa to do good.
In this clip, we see and hear the famous quote, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.”
With Hollywood’s support and the power of political Zionist in American culture, the “blatant racism and Islamophobia of Israeli politics” has successfully made its insidious way into the American psyche.
Until we realize this, we will continue to function as a nation without the moral compass that should lead us. Absent that moral compass, we will continue to yield to the Zionist racist-driven conquerors’ worldview of the Clash of Civilizations.
* From Wikipedia:
Suzerainty (pron.: /ˈsjuːzərənti/ or /ˈsjuːzərɛnti/) occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal statesome limited domestic autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a suzerain. The term suzerainty was originally used to describe the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and its surrounding regions. It differs from sovereignty in that the tributary enjoys some (often limited) self-rule. (emphasis added.)
Filed under: Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Movies | 1 Comment
If you believe the Israeli and US pro-Israel media, the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry (right) is “confused” in his new job.
What led to the confusion? To those who embrace his negative media coverage, the Secretary forgot the rules.
He forgot what US Diplomats must never forget. What is that? To paraphrase a quote from the movie Fight Club:
The First Rule of US diplomacy: You do not question the Sacred Israeli Narrative.
The Second Rule of US diplomacy: You DO NOT question the Sacred Israeli narrative.
Kerry was attacked by defenders of these Rules when in a fit of compassion, he questioned one verse in one chapter from the Book of The Sacred Israeli Narrative. Annie Robbins explains:
Under the headline: Kerry likens Boston victims to ‘Mavi Marmara’ victims, Robbins reports:
At a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, US Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara in [May] 2010.
Kerry responded to a question from Bloomburg’s Nicole Gaouette, who asked him about “the importance of a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel”.
Behind the question are these facts:
Turkey broke diplomatic relations with Israel following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which nine passengers, including one Turkish-American citizen, were killed when Israeli soldiers attacked the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship carrying peaceful protesters attempting to reach Gaza to protest Israel’s blockade.
Turkey responded by breaking relations with Israel.
Kerry connected the deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara with the dead and wounded in last week’s Boston Marathon explosions. Both experiences brought grief and anger to their respective nations.
Kerry’s response was personal, an expression of compassion from a Bostonian to the people of Turkey, linking the Mavi Marmara to the City of Boston. Here is his response which comes late in the press conference text, released by the US State Department:
I think Turkey is working in very good faith to get there [i.e., restoring broken relations between Turkey and Israel]. I know it’s an emotional issue with some people [i.e.,Turkey's decision to break with Israel after the Mavi Marmara deaths]. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them.
And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that.
Those are the words of a compassionate man making a connection to others. What could possibly be wrong with that?
The literalist keepers of the Sacred Israeli Narrative knew what was wrong.
Annie Robbins writes:
The response from Israel was swift. Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon responded by implying the Turkish victims of the Israeli attack were terrorists and that Kerry was confused.
The Times of Israel led the attack on Kerry, continuing the “confusing” line:
It is never helpful when a moral equivalency is made confusing terrorists with their victims,” Danon told The Times of Israel. ”As our American friends were made all too aware once again last week, the only way to deal with the evils of terrorism is to wage an unrelenting war against its perpetrators wherever they may be,” he said.
Note the assumed sub-text of the Sacred Israeli Narrative in the Times story: Any protest, any opposition to the state of Israel, is, ipso facto, a “terrorist” action. And since Israel has infected the rest of the Western world with its ideology, the term “terrorist” is now automatically attached to any acts of violence against Israel’s Mother nation, the United States.
How bad is this infection in some corners of the US media? According to the Huffington Post, Bob Beckel had his say on Fox News Tuesday:
Fox News liberal Bob Beckel had some policy ideas about Muslims on Tuesday’s [April 23] edition of “The Five.”
Beckel and his co-hosts were talking about the Boston bombing suspects, who are Muslim. The general consensus seemed to be that, by probing into their lives and their possible motives for the attacks, members of the media were avoiding the main issue.
“You find the big argument, which is Muslim supremacy, isn’t that all you need?” Greg Gutfeld asked. “Why do you have to delve into their psychosis?”
“We know that In the Muslim communities around the world, they do not like us,” Beckel replied. “They recruit people from poor areas and turn them into terrorists.” He didn’t say how this thesis was connected to the Tsarnaev brothers, who came legally with their family when they were 9 and 16.
“I think we really have to consider…that we’re going to have to cut off Muslim students from coming to this country for some period of time so that we can at least absorb what we’ve got, look at what we’ve got and decide whether some of the people here should be sent back home or sent to prison,” he continued.
Fox News refers to Beckel as a “liberal”. He used to be. He was national campaign manager for 1984 Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale.
Meanwhile, outside the bubble of the Sacred Narrative, it is important to keep in mind that in 2010, the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, was on a peaceful protest journey. Not so, of course, from the perspective of the Sacred Israeli Narrative, as the following attacks on Kerry emphasize.
The Blaze, a pro-Israeli site, describes the attacks on Kerry under this headline:
Confusing Terrorists with Their Victims’: Kerry Slammed for Comparing Families of Gaza Flotilla Incident with Boston Bombing Families
In defense of the Mavi Marmara, Annie Robbins looks back on Israel’s military attack on Turkish citizens, aboard the Mavi Marmara:
“One of those Turkish citizens was also an American, young Furkan Dogan (left). Perhaps John Kerry read the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) report describing his killing as a “summary execution”.
Meanwhile the attacks on Kerry from the Sacred Narrative camp, were continued by Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.
He tells The Blaze,
To call Kerry’s statement incredibly ignorant, insulting to Israel, and counterproductive is an understatement. Those killed on the Mavi Marmara were terrorists, aiding a group (Hamas) like those who committed the Boston atrocity.
Now he labels Israel as terrorist for defending itself from terrorists. Kerry’s statement gave the Turks justification for not conciliating. Would Americans accept an apology from those who staged the Boston attack? Of course not.”
US media outlets, spurred on by political conservatives, continue to search for “terror” motivations in the Boston attacks.
They need look no further than Israeli reactions to the Boston attacks:
Ali Abunimah wrote on his Electronic Intifada blog:
In comments reminiscent of Benjamin Netanyahu’s own on 11 September 2001, a senior advisor of the Israeli prime minister has expressed confidence that Israel will benefit from the 15 April Boston Marathon bombing.
Speaking to US Jewish leaders, the advisor, Ron Dermer, praised Netanyahu’s leadership before stating:
“I’m pretty bullish about the prospects for strengthening cooperation with the United States. Support for Israel – you all can tell me yourselves – I see polls that show that its almost at record highs… The American people stand firmly with Israel. I think they identify with Israel.
I think if you look historically, there’s a big change after 9/11. I’m sure that after the bombing, the tragic bombing in Boston, I believe that people will identify more with Israel’s struggle against terror and I think we can maintain that support.”
Dermer can be heard making the comments in a two and a half-minute video tweeted by Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid.
Dermer’s comments are remarkably similar to ones his boss, then Israeli opposition leader, made on 11 September 2001 as the world watched in horror as the Twin Towers came down in New York.
The New York Times reported in 2001:
Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good.” Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.”
He predicted that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.”
Abunimah writes further that it is unclear if “Dermer’s comments were intended for public consumption, given that they reveal a fairly cynical and calculated Israeli government assessment of how to exploit an American tragedy for nakedly political purposes.”
Cynical and calculated or not, there is no doubt that purveyors of the Sacred Israeli Narrative are quite effective in finding ways to evangelize their political goals.
The picture of Secretary of State John Kerry, above, is an Associated Press photo, taken during his recent press conference in Istanbul, Turkey.
Filed under: Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Movies | 4 Comments
by James M. Wall
A Boston Marathon Interfaith memorial service, “Healing Our City”, was held at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross Thursday, April 18.
It was a service that concluded with remarks delivered by President Barack Obama.
The National Journal’s Matthew Cooper called Obama’s remarks “an emotional rallying point for the city”. It was also, Cooper writes,
“a moment for Obama to speak to the nation and strike a tone between remembrance and optimism, a call for justice and a call for compassion.”
The service included a local children’s choir, prayers and remarks by political and religious leaders.
The service was held three days after two deadly explosions struck cheering bystanders at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. Three people died, two young women and an 8-year old boy, all of whom were spectators cheering for the runners. As many as 176 were injured, some of whom will lose one or both legs.
Thursday’s memorial service was held to mourn the dead and support the wounded.
The service included Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. Prominent state and local leaders were present, including Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and Obama’s rival in last year’s presidential election.
Matthew Cooper, in his National Journal story, described Obama’s concluding remarks as:
“a stunning moment as President Obama brought parishioners to their feet at a memorial service for those killed and wounded in the Boston Marathon bombing and vowed “we will run again.”
Another speaker, current Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, set a positive tone when he said “we will have accountability without vengeance, vigilance without fear.”
Governor Patrick also praised the city for its “resilience and its compassion”.
“In a dark hour,” he said, “so many of you showed so many of us that darkness cannot drive out darkness, as Dr. [Martin Luther] King said; only light can do that.”
New Yorker blogger Amy Davidson reported the inevitable dark side of some conservative media coverage:
A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed.
This young man was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units.
“Let me go to school, dude,” the roommate said later in the day, covering his face with his hands and almost crying, as a Fox News producer followed him and asked him, again and again, if he was sure he hadn’t been living with a killer.
What made them suspect him? He was running—so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb—as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one.
Juan Cole writes that CNN was especially egregious in its desire to finger a “dark skinned” man, media-speech for Muslims, a hint directed at Islamophobes among its viewers.
Conservative Rupert Murdoch’s The New York Post was specific in identifying the “Saudi man”. Two hours after the Monday explosion, the Post ran a story on its website under a headline that blared:
“Authorities ID person of interest as Saudi national in marathon bombings, under guard at Boston Hospital.”
The Post also quoted Fox News as saying, “Law enforcement sources said the 20-year-old suspect was under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital.”
Continuing with Fox News as its source, the Post reported “the suspect suffered severe burns”
The so-called “Saudi man” was in the hospital. He may well have suffered “severe burns”. But that would be the only part of the Fox-Post narrative that proved to be correct.
By Thursday afternoon, the FBI reported that it had identified two suspects, both of whom were identified in video footage. At right in a FBI picture is one of the suspects.
This was an emotional week for the nation, and especially for Boston. Grief-stricken and angry citizens must be handled with care at such a time.
News reports that later must be corrected, have a way of feeding a false narrative that hangs around until they morph into “false flag” memes, stories that emerge as conspiracy theories.
As a nation, we have faced this darkness before, including in recent years, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the killings during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the killing spree of Chicago-born Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who bombed, killed and maimed innocent people for nearly eighteen years
What really matters in this week’s events is that once again indiscriminate evil struck. The impact of such attacks reaches all of us at some level, beginning with the immediate families of the dead in Boston, and then radiating outward to the entire human community.
President Obama and other speakers at Monday’s interfaith service, rose to the occasion to inspire the nation. In contrast, some conservative media outlets rushed to judgments that were irresponsible and damaging to the innocent.
UPDATE FRIDAY MORNING:
Early Friday morning, the New York Times reported that one of the suspects was dead, shot by police. That suspect’s brother was still at large. The Times also reported the suspects’ names:
The surviving suspect was identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., a law enforcement official said. The suspect who was killed was identified as his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the law enforcement official said. Investigators believe that both of the suspects were Chechens.
Prominent and highly respected Chicago Muslim leader Abdul Malik Mujahid, has posted the following helpful alert on his Facebook page:
Media is identifying both Boston suspects to be from a Russian region where about 20% population is Muslim. Islamopobes were already blaming Muslims. At least two Muslims in Boston including a physician were beaten and a popular imam Webb was not allowed to speak at the interfaith service in Boston.
Muslims need to be ready for another round of generalization of our community. If your masjid needs a press release, talking points, khutba notes, our team has prepared them for you.
If local media would like to interview a Muslim runner of Boston marathon, first medical responders or Muslims surgeons saving victims, we have at least seven such person willing to talk. please forward this message to your masjids, Islamic centers. Contact RadioIslam@SoundVision.com
Filed under: Religion and politics, The Human Condition | 4 Comments
Despite vicious opposition from the Alan Dershowitz conservative wing of the American Jewish community, Cardoza Law School honored former President Jimmy Carter April 10, for his career of work on peace and conflict resolution.
The International Advocate for Peace award was given to Carter by the student-run Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution.
The journal cited “Carter’s brokering of the 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt and the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty with the then-Soviet Union.”
The presentation ceremony was held at the Cordoza Law School, a part of New York City’s Yeshiva University.
Since it began as a university more than a century ago, Yeshiva, according to its website, “has been dedicated to melding the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life with the heritage of Western civilization”.
With that tradition, Yeshiva University was hardly an institution the Dershowitz radical wing of American Jewry, expected to honor Jimmy Carter. The Cardoza Law School took its name, at the time of its 1976 founding, in honor of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardoza (1870-1938).
The loudest protest voice leading the demand that Cardoza “withdraw” Carter’s award, came from Professor Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University since 1967.
Dershowitz seldom misses an opportunity to demand that Carter confront him in a “public debate” on any campus where Carter is invited to appear.
The Wikipedia page on Dershowitz gives some of ”that debate that did not happen”, history:
When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) published—in which he argues that Israel’s control of Palestinian land is the primary obstacle to peace—Dershowitz challenged Carter to a debate at Brandeis University.
Carter declined, saying, “I don’t want to have a conversation, even indirectly, with Dershowitz. There is no need to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine.”
Dershowitz repeated his demand for a debate when Carter spoke at Brandeis in January 2007. Brandeis refused to invite Dershowitz to debate Carter, but the school did invite him to respond to Carter on the “same stage” after Carter had left.
USA Today reported that the award presentation “has drawn a harsh response from alumni, who called on graduates to withhold donations to the school.”
Confronted with this usual tactic of alumni opposition to a university decision, the Cardozo Law School leaders stood their ground and continued to support the award.
Yeshiva’s president, Richard Joel, and the university’s board of overseers, said in statements that they object to Carter’s views on Israel, but that the university is a “free marketplace of ideas,” as Joel put it, and the students had the right to invite the former president.
Alex Kane reported on the threats and protests against Carter that began the moment the award was announced. The previously loud opposition, however, was quiet on Wednesday, the day Carter received his award.
Cardozo Law School’s decision to honor former President Jimmy Carter generated a lot of bluster and outrage from the reactionary wing of the Jewish community. But after all that, the event with Carter came and went yesterday with a whimper.
There was no protest. Nobody blocked the door, as one alumnus had threatened to do to prevent Carter from entering. The former president strolled in through a side door without many people noticing.
An earlier Cardoza conflict resolution award was given to Dennis Ross, the former US government official who worked on Middle East issues within several presidential administrations, including the Carter administration. Another award was given to Desmond Tutu. Neither of these awards drew the attention and resistance of Carter’s award.
As it turned out, the “bluster and outrage” of the Dershowitz wing exhausted its fury in its losing battle to force the school to withdraw Carter’s award.
Kane described the calm that prevailed on award day:
The activists who did come out were a small group of supporters of Carter, most of them affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild. They sent a radically different message than the one Alan Dershowitz and others disseminated in the days leading up to the event.
“We wanted to make it clear that not all Cardozo alumni are comfortable with bullying,” said Maria Chickedantz, a graduate of the law school and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace who was there to support Carter. “The entire Alan Dershowitz style of bullying—that’s what we’re against.”
The Cardoza Law School’s support of its students is a testimony to the fact that it is also against the Dershowitz style of bullying.
The Jimmy Carter photo at top is from the Carter Center.
Filed under: Middle East, Religious Faith | 7 Comments