Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Arendt: an Israel dependent on ‘great powers’ will always be ‘precarious’

shamelessly lifted from

Dec 25, 2011 11:57 am | Philip Weiss
Hannah Arendt

In 1944-45, Hannah Arendt, who had fled the Nazis to come to the U.S., wrote columns for the German-Jewish New York publication, Aufbau. Some of them are collected in the 2007 collection, The Jewish Writings.

The column excerpted below, "New Proposals for a Jewish-Arab Understanding" of August 1944, treats a recurrent theme in Arendt's analysis of "Zionist failure": Jewish immigrants to Palestine needed to forge a political future with the Arabs who lived there, rather than relying on power politics to guarantee the Jewish future. Dependence on foreign powers-- from Turkey to Britain to the U.S.-- would leave any Jewish commonwealth "precarious," she wrote.

Opportunistic politics, which tries somehow to muddle through from day to day, usually leaves behind it a chaos of contradictory interests and apparently hopeless conflicts. Zionist politics of the last twenty-five years vis-a-vis the Arabs could go down in history as a model of opportunism. One of the Arab leaders from before the First World War rightly recognized the true core of Zionist failure when he called out to his Jewish partners in negotiation... 'Be very careful, Zionist gentlemen, governments come and go, but a people remains.'

In the meantime, the Turkish government vanished and was replaced by the British. This reinforced the Zionist leadership in its stance of negotiation with governments instead of with peoples....

Palestine is surrounded by Arab countries, and even a Jewish state in Palestine with an overwhelming Jewish majority, yes, even a purely Jewish Palestine, would be a very precarious structure without a prior agreement with all the Arab peoples on all its borders....

[Arendt then addresses new efforts to bring Jewish and Palestinian people together at a grassroots level]

The political core of this new intra-Zionist opposition is both the realization of the fatal, utopian hyperbole of the demand for a Jewish commonwealth and a rejection of the idea of making all Jewish politics in Palestine dependent on the protection of great powers.... Over the long term, economic interests, whether those of workers or capitalists, are no substitute for politics, although one can use them politically. That is why it is right that an indigenous understanding between Jews and Arabs must first begin at the base, for it would be fatal to forget how often such efforts have been thwarted and rendered useless by political decisions made at the top.

A couple additional comments. Arendt, a leftwinger, absolutely reflects the view of State Department officials in 1948 that an Israel established by force could only be preserved by force. Also, notice the populism in these paragraphs. Arendt trusted the ability of empowered people to determine their futures. She would have hated the Israel lobby. She would have hated the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which granted so much political power to corporations.

I believe she would have looked at the current scene in Israel and Palestine-- in which a rightwing extreme grows in Israeli society, and Palestine has some extremists of its own--and seen that opposition as a fulfillment of her own worst predictions, and then recommended a political solution. I.e., if the two societies were combined politically, with voting rights at last granted to the occupied population, a reasonable consensus might emerge in the middle. This seems to me the most powerful practical argument for democracy in Israel/Palestine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and KIm Jong Il both died recently, who was the biggest asshole?

Hitchens was 62, Kim was 69. Hitchens was born to a middle class family in a rich country. Kim was born to an exiled Korean communist family in Siberia (although it has been questioned just exactly where he was born). Hitchens got an upper class British education and burst forth as a dashing revolutionary (or played at being one). KIm's father became the "Great Leader" of North Korea. Hitchens gave up the revolution game and found some success as a leftish writer (just left enough to be cool and not so left as to limit his personal advancement) pub crawler and intellectual. Kim hit the big time when his father the great leader croaked; he became the "Dear Leader."

Kim was the "Dear Leader" for 17 years. He presided over an isolated, underfed, terrorized population. The military ate up all the resources; he developed a nuclear bomb and, along with Iraq and Iran, got to be part of the "Axis of Evil" that prez George W and his minder Dick Cheney thought up as the new bogeymen in order to stoke up the destruction of democracy at home and endless wars abroad known as the"war on terror."

Hitchens joined in with W and Dick (and Wolfowitz and Rush Limburger and Elliot Abrams, et al) and became a cheerleader for endless US led carnage in defense of the West against Islamofascism and basic human rights, like the right to smoke and drink yourself to death and the right to make a fool of yourself in public and to lie and slander anyone who doesn't think you are a wonderful person and really smart.

So, there you are. You can make your own call.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tribute medly to Amy Winehouse: 50s kitsch meets todays kitsch= a great blast from the past

Amy Winehouse, a great voice and great material ... another sad story, but this video is priceless American Bandstand moves on a 2011 stage

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Father Will Not Be Forgotten

From Counterpunch

DECEMBER 12, 2011

The Holy Land Five Appeal

My Father Will Not be Forgotten

Exactly three days following the tenth anniversary of the Bush administration shutting down the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case, affirming the conviction of my father, the co-founder of the HLF who`s serving a 65-year sentence for his humanitarian work.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the three-judge panel, based in New Orleans, filed their opinion, concluding that ``the district court did not clearly err.``
Upon hearing this news, it initially all rushed back to me at once, nostalgia on overdrive. I saw the relentless accusations by pro-Israeli lobby groups, the pressure by pro-Israeli politicians and the defamatory news reports in the 1990`s. I saw the raid on the HLF in 2001, the pre-sunrise arrests and ``material support`` charges in 2004, the first trial and hung jury in 2007, the second trial and guilty verdicts in 2008, the sentencing in 2009. I saw the plethora of prison phone calls and visitations. And finally, I saw my father being transferred in 2010 to the Southern Illinois city of Marion`s Communications Management Unit - what The Nation has called ``Gitmo in the Heartland`` - and where my father`s significantly diminished phone calls and visitations are scheduled in advance and live-monitored from Washington D.C.

The case of the Holy Land Five comes down to this: American foreign policy has long been openly favorable towards Israel, and therefore, an American charity established primarily for easing the plight of the Palestinians became an ultimate target. As my father said during our 15-minute phone call on Thursday, ``The politics of this country are not on our side. If we had been anywhere else, we would`ve been honored for our work.``
This month could have marked a milestone. The leaders of our country could have learned from our past. The day the towers fell could have been a time to stop fear from dominating reason instead of a basis to prosecute. The HLF would have continued to triumph, providing relief to Palestinians and other populations worldwide in the form of food, clothing, wheelchairs, ambulances, furniture for destroyed homes, back-to-school projects and orphan sponsorship programs. And more notably, my father would not have been incarcerated. My family and I would have been able to call him freely and embrace him without a Plexiglas wall.

Yet my father was charged under the ambiguous Material Support Statute with sending humanitarian aid to Palestinian distribution centers known as zakat committees that prosecutors claimed were fronts for Hamas. He was prosecuted despite the fact that USAID-an American government agency-and many other NGOs were providing charity to the very same zakat committees. Instead of the Fifth Circuit Court taking this fact into account and transcending the politics of our time, the language used in the opinion, drafted by Judge Carolyn King, echoed that of the prosecutors:

``The social wing is crucial to Hamas`s success because, through its operation of schools, hospitals, and sporting facilities, it helps Hamas win the ``hearts and minds` of Palestinians while promoting its anti-Israel agenda and indoctrinating the populace in its ideology.``
Even more disappointing is the Fifth Circuit Court`s opinion regarding one of the main issues in the appeal: The testimony of the prosecution`s expert witness, an Israeli intelligence officer who, for the first time in U.S. history, was permitted to testify under a pseudonym. The opinion states:

``When the national security and safety concerns are balanced against the defendants` ability to conduct meaningful cross-examination, the scale tips in favor of maintaining the secrecy of the witnesses` names.``
I refuse to let this language bring me down, especially knowing that the battle for justice continues. In the next few weeks, defense attorneys plan to ask the entire panel of appellate judges to re-hear the case, and if that petition is denied, they will take it to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, my father waits in prison. This Thursday, when I spoke to him, it had been the first time in several weeks since he received a phone call ban for writing his name on a yoga mat, which prison officials saw as ``destruction of government property.`` I told him that during the tenth anniversary of the HLF shutting down, the name of the charity is still alive and that he will not be forgotten. My father is my pillar, whose high spirits transcend all barbed-wire-topped fences, whose time in prison did not stifle his passion for human rights. In fact, when I asked him about the first thing he`ll do when he`s released, my father said, ``I would walk all the way to Richardson, Texas carrying a sign that says, `End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.` ``
Noor Elashi is a writer based in New York City. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from The New School.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Subtext IS the Text

In remarks made on Friday Dec. 2, United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: "There is no greater threat to our continued domination of the resources of the Middle East than the ability of Iran to effectively defend itself and prevent us from attacking and subduing it."

Say what!? He couldn't have said THAT! Sure, he did. The actual words uttered were the following:

"No greater threat exists to the the the Middle East than a nuclear-armed Iran."

But the first quote is what he said.