Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hellfire, Damnation And Rational Thought

It is difficult for many liberals to honestly discuss the current crisis in the Middle East for fear of being deemed anti-Semitic. This fear leads to an inability to address the issue properly, hell, I’ve fallen victim to this myself in the past. When asked to discuss Zionism and American foreign policy on a local political talk show a few months back, I quickly begged off not wanting to subject myself to live cameras and the potential for being misinterpreted or simply saying the right thing in the wrong way. It is a minefield and no thinking person walks into one of those willingly. But who else, besides liberals, will speak out about the wrong-headedness of Israel’s response to Hezbollah and America’s (not so tacit) approval of their tactics these last few weeks? Silence has its consequences too.

There is an amazing letter circulating that has been signed by some of our most respected liberal thinkers like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, that spells out a rational position (what should be the liberal position) in clear and unflinching terms:

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner - and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis - there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

That this "kidnapping" was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources - most particularly that of water - by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.

Tariq Ali
John Berger
Noam Chomsky
Eduardo Galeano
Naomi Klein
Harold Pinter
Arundhati Roy
Jose Saramago
Giuliana Sgrena
Howard Zinn

That Israel has become an occupier and aggressive state due to circumstances that have forced them to seek security above all else does not negate the reality that they are an occupational and aggressive force in the region and have become so, largely with the help of the U.S. government, stepped up dramatically under the stewardship of GWB. I am not unsympathetic to the situation Israel finds itself in, but this latest inflammation of violence smacks of collective punishment, message sending and the beginnings of a much bigger conflict, one that is desired by the neo-conservatives that have a death grip on the governments of both the United States and Israel. This is not an “isolated conflict” but rather one that has roots in a philosophy that seeks to reshape the world in a way that is most beneficial to a very select few.

I believe in coincidence only up to a point, and the fact that the very same shady characters that brought us Iran-Contra are manipulating the chessboard again now for their own sick power play, tells me this is chaos by design. Bush hasn’t been silent because he’s too ignorant to know what to do (well, not completely anyway) and Condi hasn’t been kept on ice for so long without reason. We are letting the violence escalate and the tensions boil for a purpose. The neo-cons are hell bent on regime change in Iran and this is their shot.

There is a great article in Rolling Stone this week that spells out the neo-con delusions of ”re-making” the Middle East and their backroom (outside the boundaries of law no doubt) machinations to further that goal. Just as the invasion of Iraq was going to happen regardless of how many lies had to be told or how much intelligence had to be manufactured to make it palatable to an American public, so too is the toppling of the Iranian government, whether they were democratically elected or not. Hamas will tell you, we don’t give a shit about elections, not in the Middle East and not here at home. We only care about the outcome. You either buy into the corporatist agenda or you suffer the bombing until the corporatists take what they want by force. There is no resisting the God of Capitalism and the dollar is the only thing worthy of worship. The Iranians signed their own death warrant when they dared buck the buck with their proposed oil bourse that is set to begin trading oil in Euros instead of dollars in September. America simply can’t allow that to happen, there is a price to pay for such petulance. You will trade in the dollar, we’ll make sure of that, and we’ve got the (nuclear) weapons to back that threat up buster.

As hard as I try, I can’t seem to stop myself from seeing the bigger picture. The last remaining Bush supporters will call me a “conspiracy theorist” and an “America hater” but that doesn’t change the fact that they are willfully ignoring the facts on the ground. I accept that I may be wrong and that there is a slim chance that this cabal of neo-conservative freaks are not purposefully driving our ship of state straight into the resource wars in an effort to control the last remaining easy access, high yield power left on Earth, but at least I will be able to sleep at night knowing I paid attention and was a witness to the madness of the greedy men that destroyed life as we know it. If there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, I’ll hopefully be well rested enough to reach it while the sleepwalking masses wonder what the hell happened. Of course if we’re talking about slim chances, there’s always the possibility that the Fundamentalist Christians are right and they’ll be raptured up while I burn in the fires of hell on Earth, but I’ve even made peace with that. Sitting at the feet of Christ for eternity never held any appeal for me anyway.


Anonymous Michael Stickings Former Disciple said...

If only your friend, michael stickings, shared your sentiments.

Can you ask him to repost your blog on his forum?

Very well done!!

12:24 PM  
Anonymous david said...

The terrible irony is that the Christian Right believes that a restored Greater Israel will herald the second coming of Jesus Christ and... the damnation to eternal hellfire of the Jews. And so neo-con Christian Fundamentalists and neo-con Zionists have become strange bedfellows.

A hundred years ago Jews were divided between Zionists and the Socialist Bund. Sadly, it was the anti-semite immigration policies of Britain, Canada, and the USA that gave the Zionists the upperhand. Racial hatred lurks beneath the surface of all aspects of Middle East foreign policy.

The whole unfortunate mess reminds me of the Slavery debate in America during the 1850s. There was no way to solve that politically and it ended in Civil War. And the wounds were so deep that they exist today. But who today thinks retaining slavery could have been an option?

12:57 PM  
Anonymous brachiator said...

Intriguing. I didn't know about the Israeli abduction of the Gazans. Anyone have a link to the story or copy of it?

Not that it matters. Such misery, and all for a few square meters of the ass-end of the world and the repugnant commands of a couple of thuggish "gods."

2:37 PM  
Blogger N in Seattle said...

Thank you for this cogent (and short, when it comes to this subject) post.

As a liberal Jew, I find it difficult to even bring myself to thinking about Israel and its "relations" with its neighbors ... and that's before even beginning to consider how even the whisper of nonobeisance to the Israel-is-always-right position is vilified by "conventional wisdom" in the USA.

Today's Israel is not the nation I supported unabashedly for much of my life. "Zionism" is not equivalent to support for today's Israel. Questioning the policies and actions of today's Israel is not "anti-semitism" or "self-hating".

I'm just so frustrated by the antisocial, antidemocratic, anti-everything I stand for actions of today's Israel, aided and abetted by (and aiding and abetting) Dubya's neo-con United States. I just wish someone could somehow find a way out of the mess.

4:20 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

Well, the question isn't (and has never really been) about whether or not Israel has a right to defend itself. It's about the fact that America is Israel's strongest ally and we are responsible for their well-being. The problem is that instead of having Israel's best interest at heart, we use them as a battering ram in futile attempts to become more dominant over the entire Middle East. We've been doing this for years (first as a reaction to Soviet attempts to do the same, but now for our own attempts at shoring up oil reserves).

We're seriously miscalculating and overplaying our hand now. In the past, we always knew we could put a lid on the situation and postpone having to actually help the Palestinians until a later date. But with what Israel's doing, we may be losing that ability. This thing may soon be out of our control. That will be a first for this region, as there's never been a time where they weren't answering to higher powers for their recklessness.

5:01 PM  
Blogger annie said...

brachiator, here is the link to the la times coverage of the abductions. for anyone to imagine that the kidnapping of the israeli soldiers was the initiation of the violence is absurd. sfchronicle and many other news sources have carried the story of the planning for the invasion for over a year. for a clearer understanding of the greed motivating the massacre this article give one a hint of what we are up against.

'seeking security' is hardly what i would call these aggressions.i have finally called the DNC and asked to be taken off their mailing list. hearing the howard dean has called maliki an anti semite under these conditions, along w/the support of so many of our democratic leaders has left me feeling i have no party.

here's how i truely feel a blight unto the nations

5:56 PM  
Blogger JusticeE.R. said...

This whole subject is not an easy one to address. Israel is first and foremost, a corporate client state. It serves the corporate oligarchy that controls the United States. The rise of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East is a reaction to the cultural and economic globalization that this corporate oligarchy is forcing on the planet. When you combine the reaction to corporate empire building, with countries full of people who believe in silly primitive superstitions, the outcome is predicable; War.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Spencer said...

I wish people would get over the Holocaust which is the only reason the western world continues to support the thuggish policies of Israel. Even when thinking about how to type a comment here I worry about sounding anti semetic. But Israeli's have done nothing in the last fifty years but oppress and kill Arab peoples. It is time we stop supporting thier regime, if they were an Arab nation we would have placed UN sanctions on them long ago. I think they are on par with Hitler at this point with preemptive strikes. It's time we heal some of the wounds we have let fester in the Middle East and give the Palestinians a portion of thier country back. The racist policies of Israel and our support of them have gone on long enough.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

I realize many of you liberals hate the guys guts, but Pat Buchanan's columns on this subject are the best out there. I am knee deep in these issues 24-7 and I worship the guy. His secret is his honesty. I don't agree with his social conservatism, but on foreign policy he is unmatched. and DON'T read the neo cons. or ven tom friedman. unless you think Iraq was a good move.

10:49 AM  
Blogger N in Seattle said...

To lester, regarding Buchanan:

You know the saying "even a stopped clock is right twice a day"? If anyone's clock stopped on August 9, 1974 (if not earlier), it's Pat Buchanan's.

To be fair, though, there are times when it seems better to be way-off in outer space most of the time but occasionally right on the money, than to be in the neighborhood but never quite on the mark.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous supportisrael said...

"There is no resisting the God of Capitalism and the dollar is the only thing worthy of worship. The Iranians signed their own death warrant when they dared buck the buck with their proposed oil bourse that is set to begin trading oil in Euros instead of dollars in September. America simply can’t allow that to happen, there is a price to pay for such petulance. You will trade in the dollar, we’ll make sure of that, and we’ve got the (nuclear) weapons to back that threat up buster."

It is unsurprising that a coalition of Jew-haters and self-hating Jews can find a way to blame Israel for attacking thousands of Hezbollah rocket launchers, but finding a link to Iran trading oil in Euros instead of dollars is lunatic conspiracy theory nonsense. Dollars and Euros are freely convertible and it makes no difference which currency oil is traded in.

Leave it to a liberal to trivialize the Lebanan conflict with moonbat conspiracy theories; that's what passes for serious thought among liberals these days. Keep thinking and you'll finally realize that Bush is not only listening in to all your phone calls but is also watching everything that you do through your TV.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous david said...

Everyone wants to play the race card when it comes to the Middle East. The fact is we have a Hatfield/McCoy feud going on. It is not productive to call everyone critical of American foreign policy in the Middle East a "Jew-hater" or a "self-hating Jew". The Republicans do their best to pin these kind of labels on Democrats when they accuse them of being "self-hating Americans".

It is also insulting to bring Hitler and the Nazis into a discussion of the Middle East. The situations are completely different. Although it should be a warning to Israeli politicians that their friends in America's Right have some skeletons in their closet. (Hello, Prescott Bush!)

Israelis who feel theirs is the Promised Land take a literal interpretation of the Torah. And we only need to go to the stories of Jacob and Joshua to see how they treated the people who were already living in this Promised Land. It's very similar to how the First Nations of the Americas were treated.

And it does matter what currency oil is traded in; it gives strength to the currency and there's always a percentage lost in the exchange. It's not a conspiracy theory. And it's certainly not a "Jewish" conspiracy. The Israelis and the Palestinians, neither of whom have oil, are both victims of petro-politics. This feud feuls profits and prevents the peoples of the Middle East of pursuing their own best interests.

5:15 PM  
Blogger magnabravo said...

You wrote in your opening comments, "The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza." You even cited the source, the LA Times a very liberal paper. That liberal newspaper never listed those two people as "civilians". You are obviously using that term to suggest that they are innocent bystanders.

I am not an Israel supporter or hater, but I am sure the State of Israel does not go around arresting innocent civilians. They arrest, more often than not kill, militants who attack or plan attacks against the innocent civilians inside Israel. Attacks I might remind you that happen every single day in Israel. Where is your compassion for the innocent civilians in Israel?

I hope we can eventually abolish war on our planet. We certainly can not do that when people continually defend the very organizations that are creating the terror and wars on our planet.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Lefty Metalhead said...

The most brilliant mind on such conflicts is Norman Finkelstein. I had the pleasure of taking two of his courses at DePaul University in Chicago. Despite being a Jew, Finkelstein is hardly a diehard Zionist. Instead, he is a steward of truth and reason. Check out his website here.

He is good friends with Noam Chomsky, who helped Finkelstein get recognized for his vibrant work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the outing of Alan Dershowitz as a fraud (Beyond Chutzpah).

9:45 PM  
Anonymous rkelly said...

There are always two sides to every story.

I personally believe the whole stupid mess of people thinking somehow we're different from one another, is going to kill us all.

We are Homo-sapiens. Yes, nature did choose to give us different skin colors due to the nature of the beast, the elements, and protecting our human bodies from such.

But thinking about the world and each other is a personal belief system which every human being individually creates accordingly.

I found this one leader's passing on of a belief system to be just a little over the top, especially since it was only a little over a decade ago:

Ayatollah Khomeini, 1990: "A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However he should not penetrate, sodomising the child is OK. If the man penetrates and damages the child then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however does not count as one of his four permanent wives."

And: "A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine."

So our species has the Jews thinking they are the chosen children of a very mean spirited god and we have the other side of the coin (interesting how there is always a polar opposite) Musavi Khomeini (Hendi zadeh) who founded the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I believe these "spiritual," "religious," chosen children of "God" are not who I want to hang with ~ past, present and I must observe future actions of these holy people to see whether or not they can evolve themseves into "anthropocosmic."

Hopefully they don't destroy our species and this planet along with.

4:58 AM  
Anonymous David said...

It doesn't help matters, rkelly, to spew anti-religious invective at Christian, Jews, and Muslims.

I visited the Jack Huberman blog and he's already recanting the authenticity of the two Ayatollah Khomeini (d. 1989) quotes you offer.

These quotes are all spread by anti-Iranian groups. They are fanciful reworkings of ancient Islamic texts; there are equally shocking and obsolete "laws" in the Torah.

Child molesting is illegal in Iran. But promoting the image of a people as immoral and hopelessly depraved is of course one of the first steps to justify killing them as non-homo sapiens. European Jews were accused of ritual child murders in the Middle Ages; the Romans accused early Christians of being cannibals; and to justify the first Gulf War Iraqi soldiers were accused of tossing Kuwaiti babies from incubators onto a cold concrete floor. The first casulty of war is the Truth.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

n in seattle- I really disagree. he is a serious intellectual. Believe me, I don't agree with his social views, but in the run up to the iraq war he was virtually the ONLY prominent commentator who argued against it. to no avail. I've been down since then. check out his recent column "this is not our war" . He is THE anti neo con

11:52 AM  
Blogger annie said...

I am not an Israel supporter or hater, but I am sure the State of Israel does not go around arresting innocent civilians. They arrest, more often than not kill, militants who attack or plan attacks against the innocent civilians inside Israel. Attacks I might remind you that happen every single day in Israel. Where is your compassion for the innocent civilians in Israel?

say what? you are not an israel supporter but you are sure they don't arrest innocent civilians? just like bush knows america doesn't torture? there are over 10,000 palestinians in israeli jails, but you are sure israel would never jail an innocent compassion for innocent israeli's is the same it would be for any civilian whose government acted in a terrorist instigated massacre.there is an over 10/1 ration of civilian victims. i consider the 1 percent after i have considered the others.

the la times used to be a liberal paper. the got slapped down by their corporate masters last spring, the tenured liberal editoria;list robert sheer was 'let go' by the publisher the entire management was overhauled
after they broke a negative story about the neocons. i'm sure if you call their offices you can find out more details of the expulsion.

forbes ran the original story of the arrest (not kidnapping) of israeli soldiers within the borders of lebanon. this was before the spinmeisters could alter the location. go ahead, tell me how liberal they are.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

annie- that story is wrong. what happened was the kidnapping was on the israeli side, but the subsequent battle was on the lebanese side.'s blog has an explanation

1:28 PM  
Blogger annie said...

wrong? you mean according to ran hacohen's article at anti war?

"The Associated Press reported that “The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon”.

-This ambiguous or rather contrdictory formulation can clearly mean that the soldiers were captured across the border on Israeli soil; “southern Lebanon” may be used as a broad geographic term."

oh yeah, clear as a bell.

i am absolutely open you you reproducing anything in that article that mke clear logic.

there was a request for an investigation. israel bombed the airport first. why do seem so willing to accept the second report? who confirmed it. all of the initial reports are consistent.

How much longer will the critics of state terrorism be considered anti-Semites?

3:25 PM  
Blogger annie said...

ps did you know that in the last month 128 palestinian have died? did you know that israel has rolled 50 tanks into gaza. don't even tell me about innocent israeli civilians, frankly, at this point, my heart is so filled w/sorrow from the victims of their countries assaults i have no room to pity them, tho i know if my heart were bigger i would, i really would.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

current middle easte cricies are think able for human being who have brain to think not like animal who too think to beat or cut but not undersatnd whom he is beating and cuting. now a days in the world people are saving animals but why not to social animals.

4:20 AM  

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