Sam Harris wrote a blog post, Why Don’t I Criticize Israel? As one who read more Noam Chomsky than I could bear, as one who donated money to the Electronic Intifada, I think I’m clearly in the camp critical of Israel, and yet Sam Harris’ article gave me pause. So, even if you’re quite sure of the opinions you hold, even if you think that the moral aspects of what Hamas says need to be balanced with the actual power they wield, that article is still interesting.✎
For the record: My favorite solution would be for all the evil dudes to be tried in court, for Israel and Palestine to unify, for the establishment of a secular state, for a solid protection of minorities, for equal rights for everybody. I’m just not quite sure of the means to get there. 😰✎
There is also a huge economic issue at hand. I want some sort of land reform that undoes all the confiscating and appropriating of “abandoned” land. I want the refugees in the neighbouring countries to return. This will come at an incredible cost, at a point where nobody can afford these things. But the current situation comes at a cost just a daunting.✎
I keep thinking about Apartheid and how it went, and how much it cost, and how much there still is to do. I just can’t think of an alternative, at the moment.✎
Obama gets the Peace Nobel Prize? What’s wrong with these people?
Am I so misinformed?
- No progress in Palestine.
- No progress in Iraq.
- No progress in Iran.
- No progress in Afghanistan.
- No progress regarding health care.
- No progress in secret prisons.
- No progress in Guantánamo.
- No progress regarding torture.
- No progress regarding war criminals.
- No progress regarding global warming.
I’ve heard people say that he’s giving hope to those who had none. Well, let me tell you: I still have none!
The United States of America is blessed with two conservatives parties. While they sure sound different, talk is cheap.
Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap.
Hope is not a plan.
People claim that he was nominated for the prize after twelve days in office! “The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House.”  I find that disgusting.
Some people say that “The award is also an example of what Nobel scholars call the growing aspirational trend of Nobel committees over the past three decades, by which awards are given not for what has been achieved but in support of the cause being fought for.” 
Reminds me of certain three individuals in 1994:
- Yasser Arafat, leading a corrupt cabinet, robbing the Palestinians of millions of dollars – France investigating “money transfers totalling 9 million euros ($11.5 million) from Swiss banks to private accounts owned by Suha Arafat, the wife of the Palestinian leader” – and remember the Palestinian State Controller’s report that “nearly half of the authority’s $326 million 1997 budget had been lost through corruption or financial mismanagement.” 
- Shimon Peres, a war criminal who launched “Operation Grapes of Wrath” causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon. On 18 April the Israeli army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly. Many more were injured.” 
- Yitzhak Rabin, a war criminal who “oversaw the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities like Lid in 1948; he ordered tanks into Arab villages inside Israel during the Land Day protests of 1976, leading to the deaths of half a dozen unarmed Palestinian citizens; and in 1988 he ordered his army to crush the first intifada by “breaking the bones” of Palestinians, including women and children, who threw stones at the occupying troops.” 
You can hope for the best, but you should only reward people with 10 million Swedish crowns having a proven track record for peace. We all hoped that Oslo would lead to peace. But it went nowhere. 
These three people were honored for the hope they inspired in 1994.
But Hope is not a plan.
Every now and then I can’t take the pro-israeli propaganda in the Swiss mainstream newspapers anymore and I turn to the ElectronicIntifada. There, I just need to skim the front page in order to shake off the images of smiling soldiers hugging after the cease fire, of politicians talking about goals achieved, of organized retreats, of attempted negotiations.
- The chemical burns deeply, to the bone, experts say. It is considered illegal warfare, not to be used in civilian areas. Yet the accounts grow of its use: heavy use in the Khosar region, east of Khan Younis, and in the northwest of Gaza, and in eastern Jabaliya, Sheik Zayid, Sheik Rajleen, al-Zaitoun, everywhere. The United Nations headquarters housing hundreds of fleeing Palestinians which was bombed on 15 January was hit with white phosphorus. 
I gag as I read half-way through the article, and then I have to stop.
Sadly, a familiar reaction when I read about Israel.
:danger: :groan: :danger: :groan: :danger: :groan: :danger:
I’m particularly amused by the language. The Swiss news report it as “bombing Hamas infrastructure” and I think to myself that the Hamas is an elected government and that the infrastructure includes police stations and the like. And I ask myself whether they prefer no police at all. And then I get a headache. That does not improve when I see a face on TV saying that Israel is counting on the “solidarity of the international community”. I am reminded of Newspeak.
Unfortunately both sides seem to be interested in perpetual war. I wonder if anybody ever thinks: “Hm, I think I’ll bomb these guys and see whether this will bring us peace and prosperity.”
While eating a piece of my tiroler cake 2008-01-20_Tiroler_Cake and figuring out what books need to be sent where via BookMooch, I listened to my Tom Waits collection in the background. And suddenly the lyrics of Road To Peace by Tom Waits bubbled to the top of my attention. Something about Israelis and Palestinians. I then googled for the lyrics and found the following passage at the end of the song:
- The fundamentalist killing on both sides is standing in the path of peace
- But tell me why are we arming the Israeli army with guns and tanks and bullets?
- And if God is great and God is good why can’t he change the hearts of men?
- Well maybe God himself is lost and needs help
- Maybe God himself he needs all of our help
- Maybe God himself is lost and needs help
I really need to activate that Last.FM plugin for my SqueezeBox… My current top seven:
The numbers are probably still ok. Must check back in a few weeks.
Too bad my iTunes Update plugin isn’t working correctly. Apparently I can’t get the CPAN module Mac::AppleScript to work.
So here’s what I did:
cpan Mac::AppleScript– this fails with the error “/usr/bin/ld: /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/Versions/A/WebKit load command 20 unknown cmd field”
cdinto the appropriate build directory in
cc -bundle -undefined dynamic_lookup -L/usr/local/lib AppleScript.o -framework Carbon -o blib/arch/auto/Mac/AppleScript/AppleScript.bundle– that’s right, I just deleted
-framework AppleScriptKitfrom that command line
make– no more problems
make test– it works! Weird, eh?
But then again, the plugin itself still doesn’t seem to work.
You can try
cd Library/Application\ Support/SqueezeCenter/Plugins/iTunesUpdate/ and run
perl iTunesUpdate.pl. No more error messages. But no success, either.
Time! Sink! Gaaaah!
- …since 28 June, 175 Palestinians have been killed, including approximately 40 children and eight women, and over 620 injured in the Gaza Strip. One IDF soldier has been killed and 25 Israelis have been injured, including 11 Israelis injured by homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have fired on average between 8-9 homemade rockets per day towards Israel (319 in total) and the Israeli military has fired on average 200-250 artillery shells per day into the Gaza Strip and conducted at least 220 aerial bombings. – “Statement on Gaza by United Nations Humanitarian Agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory”  
Note the small differences between the statements by the WFP (over 620 injured) and UNICEF (over 600 injured).
Funny to see in the YouTube sidebar that about four other people have uploaded the same video.
I also remember his speech in the US senate I wrote about so long ago (2005-05-22 USA): “Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.” 
Anyway. The discussion also reminds me of the HumanRightsWatch press release IDF Fails to Explain Qana Bombing: “The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) inquiry into the July 30 killing of at least 28 civilians in Qana is incomplete and legally misguided, and contradicts eyewitness testimony, Human Rights Watch said today. The findings underline the need for an independent international inquiry into what took place.”
I think what the world needs, is an agreement on asymmetric warfare. The past has shown that the world cannot agree on a definition of “terrorism”, and I think that makes sense. Usually the others are terrorists, if they are:
- worse than criminals (simple murder is not enough, current favorites are bombing civilians)
- not on our side (if we bomb civilians, we’re not terrorists)
- and not a regular army
- court (including the law)
- war (including the Geneva Conventions)
Personally, I’d like to see terrorists treated like either common criminals, to be put on trial, with evidence being sought against them, a defense being arranged for them, and so on. That’s what all prisoners in the American concentration camps deserve, if you ask me (Guantánamo, and others, should there be more, as some people suspect).
Why not treat terrorists like soldiers in a war? The first problem with calling the fight against various organisations a single “war” is that it will never end. Like the “war on drugs” or a “war on crime” – the concept is silly. A war between two nations involves a command structure and a government. Once it surrenders, the troops surrender, a peace treaty is negotiated, and the prisoners of war are released.
If the various organisations don’t recognize a single “government”, then you can never knock out the “government” – you can never win unless you imprison every single one of them.
Actually, that’s just how crime fighting works: You imprison every single one of them. And you also give them a fair trial. Sounds good to me.
And even if you did win a war against terrorrism, you wouldn’t want to release the prisoners. You’d want to put them to try them for war crimes and crimes against humanity (if they didn’t commit any, how can they be terrorists?) So you want to put them to (a fair!) trial anyway.
The current situation, were the existence of an organisation can serve as the pretext to bombing ports, airports, bridges, and buildings is just not acceptable. Similarly, detention for indefinite lengths of time, cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners, neither providing them the protection of the Geneva Conventions nor civil rights – that too, is not acceptable.
Even if I don’t read all the articles appearing on Electronic Intifada, the plain summaries I’m getting by Email are hard enough to bear.
I’m finding it increasingly difficult to talk with friends about the issues surrounding Israel. I am the only one reading a left newspaper, I am the only one reading about these issues at all outside of the Swiss mainstream media. This means that I am often confronted with different issues presented on equal footing: The Israelis are bastards for invading Lebanon, but really, Hamas should finally recognise Israel. Or Israelis are pigs but Hamas are terrorists, so what can you do? I don’t know all the issues by heart, and even if I did, I’d feel weird launching a monologue explaining the occupation, the way Israel has avoided all talks with Palestine, while at the same time accusing Palestine of being an unfit partner for talks. I myself have only muddled recollections of the things I have read, since I am not a specialist. So I faintly remember having read about the elections and how they were fair, and praiseworthy by all our standards, and yet people sabotage the government, withholding money and thus causing civil unrest in Palestine, and then accusing the Palestinians for being violent. And so I get frustrated whenever the topic turns to Israel in Palestine amongst friends.
These days I’ve started to quickly say a sentence about my point of view and then insist that we change topic. This is the kind of speachless frustration that so many people must feel in all sorts of situations. It’s a new feeling for me, however. It has taken me over 30 years to realize that my rhetorics are not good enough to convince people that don’t share my point of view. Without words, the empty air separating me from the people around me, a bitterness in my heart, an angry knot of blackness churning deep in my belly.
I remember the days, maybe a dozen of them, where I’d spend an hour during lunchhours on a Friday standing on Paradeplatz as all the tourists and bankers were rushing by, together with about ten other people, holding up a banner asking for a just peace in Palestine. And even by just asking for a just peace, I’ve seen a tourist insulting us for not knowing how it really was down there, and another one coming up to me and patting my shoulder, telling me that all Jews should be killed anyway. Strange days, and crazy people.
As we are now watching the Israelis kill over 100 people, mostly civilians, one wonders what people think. Here in Switzerland, I sometimes fear that they don’t think too much. Today I read in the news, for example, short note saying in the first sentence that the Israeli attack on Hisbollah was continuing, and in the second sentence it said that they had bombed the airport and hit a fuel depot. I paused. What the hell does that mean? Was Hisbollah hiding in the fuel tanks of the airport in Beirut? After all, we don’t bomb the Roman airport just because there are many mafiosi in Italy.
Once again, it’s a spinning fight. A fight about our heads. If the abduction is a criminal act, then we should call the police, put these people to court, and in a civilized country, they would go to prison for a few years. Even if the kidnappers had killed their hostages, we would not kill the kidnappers, because we’re a civilized people and we reject the death penalty. If the police tried to liberate the hostages and the hostages, or God forbid, innocent people got killed, we’d be angry. But the Israelis have killed over a hundred people! Without a trial. Innocent people. Children. Extrajudicial killings, as far as I can tell. The kind of policy that terrorist militia have used in South America for many years, the kind of policy that Russian military forces have been using in Chechnya.
Reminds me of “Kill them all, and let God sort them out!” 
I kept thinking about these things as I read that Israel was murdering so-called terrorists in Palestine, killing and wounding women, children, body guards, and any bystanders along with their target. That’s one extrajudicial killing plus bloody random murder, as far as I can tell. And with the recent campaign, the blood flowers are coming to bloom at last. A catharsis of blood and bones.
Anyway. Thinking about these things, and hearing my friends and coworkers blab their innocent mumblings about the Hamas being terrorists… I lack the words.
ElectronicIntifada posted an interesting article, describing a terrorrist shooting people in a bus, one of the victims grabbing the gun, onlookers storming in and killing the terrorrist. The victims are buried – and then the police starts to investigate the lynching and rounds up seven suspects and puts them to trial.
The story starts to make sense when you realize that the terrorrist was an Israeli soldier killing Palestinians in a bus.
Well, I agree that people should be put on trial for the lynching. But obviously the court should decide that it was legitimate self-defense to attack the soldier, and extenuating circumstances. I don’t believe in the death penalty, and thus I cannot condone a lynch mob killing a criminal, no matter what his crime. Self-defense might not have required the killing of the soldier, for example.
The injustice is more apparent in the lack of compensation for Palestinian victims compared to the compensation of Israelian victims because a soldier cannot be a terrorrist, the lack of investigation into the negligence leading up to the killing-spree – apparently there were early warning signs that got ignored, the use of obvious fanatic racists in the army, and the double-standard when you compare it to other stories of Israeli massacres of Palestinians.
- “Israel has shown time and again that it selectively enforces law and order, depending on the ethnicity of killer and victim.”