As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.
They kill us for their sport
— Edgar in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”
[The condemnation of Radovan Karadzic to forty years of imprisonment by the International Crime Tribunal-Yugoslavia occasions these reflections.]
They come; they see; people die. They laugh. Or say it was worth it. Their maps are not a territory inhabited by living beings; they are military targets. They bomb from safe altitudes, no lower than 15,000 feet (Yugoslavia, 1999, for example) to protect their own volunteer warriors. In 38,000 sorties and 22,000 tons of bombs in three months (Yugoslavia, 1999), they never lost a plane. They promise the people their bombs will not harm a hair on their heads; then, they bomb markets and bridges at noon, when people are at their thickest; the say they are as careful at noon as they are at midnight. They claim they have nothing against the people—only against their leaders; then they bomb water supplies, electrical grids, schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, museums. They hold civilians in their power, hostages to their air force, their cluster and phosphorus bombs. They poison the land with depleted uranium and raise whole crops of human cancers for generations. They send drones. They fund, train, and arm cutthroat armies. They terrorize civilians for their political ends. They are the humanitarians of the “international community,” and they have nothing to envy the conquistadores, the exterminators of native people, the enslavers, the imperialists of times gone by. They are the agents of collateral genocide.
When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk, The Art of Power
I’ve been in deep despair these last few months about our political landscape. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh recently elevated my spirit, and I share it with you. Because I am — we are — still here! Though it’s clear that the die is cast and that Clinton will win — that is, if you believe in numbers and materialism, but I don’t, not completely.
For many more years than any intelligent person would want to count, Israel was the sacred cow of the United States. From its violent, bloody, genocidal inception that involved the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians, and the murder of another 10,000, right through to the illegal, immoral occupation of the West Bank and blockade (aka occupation) of the Gaza Strip, Israel, in the view of U.S. governance and politics, could do no wrong. Anyone who dared to criticize Israel’s many crimes was accused of anti-Semitism; as Dr. Norman Finkelstein said, “whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle, its apologists sound the alarm that a ‘new anti-Semitism’ is upon us”. In the past, if a Jew, such as Dr. Finkelstein, was critical of Israel, Zionists raised the cry that he was ‘a self-hating Jew’, and U.S. politicians bought that ridiculous line. As a result, Israel became the beneficiary of the bulk of U.S. foreign aid, and has relied on the U.S. for years for protection from international accountability for its crimes, with the U.S always happy to veto any United Nations resolution condemning Israeli violations of human rights and international law.
Once again, hardly any ‘new’ news today, and generally speaking, there’s no ‘action’ of any consequence going on right now, not stateside and not globally – the media is, as per usual, full of regurgitation and variations on old themes, the hasbara factory is same-same-same (oh tedium!); plus I have a house full of visiting Brits this weekend so my computer time is limitato (that’s Italian for ‘limited’). I will still endeavor to post up the good stuff that I have time to read on the interwebs… and I also have a half finished new article that I’ll resume working on again once my guests depart and the farmhouse is nice and quiet again – I could have finished this article a couple of days ago but man the weather has been so utterly gorgeous here after a long month of March rains that I’ve ended up instead chilling in a citrus grove on a lush carpet of springtime flora and reading Hart Crane – so drunk on the heavy scent of orange blossom and birdsong that I simply couldn’t be bothered with the world or even with my writing. Peh. It’s just the way it is with me.
London — WHEN I was still an architecture student at Yale, I got stuck in New York City traffic with one of my professors, Zaha Hadid, and her chauffeur. I asked her whether she had any advice for me, a young female architecture student graduating into a depressed market dominated by men. She simply said, “Come work for me.”
I told her, “O.K., but only if I get to design shoes.”
She replied, “If you work for me, you can design anything.”
Last Thursday, March 24th, an Israel defense force (IDF) soldier was filmed executing a wounded Palestinian man alleged to have carried out a stabbing attack against IDF soldiers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The videographer responsible for the filming is Imad Abu Shamsiya, a Palestinian shoemaker who has since received death threats and intimidation from extreme right-wing Israeli settlers with the prospect of a potential lawsuit. Though the incident is part of a wave of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians carried out by Israeli soldiers, this particular case is different. Here, the film unambiguously shows that the wounded Palestinian man did not present a danger to his surrounding. Quite shockingly, not only does the film implicate the executioner; it also shows his IDF comrades as completely unfazed by the incident, including medical personnel. What’s more, the soldier has received a wave of public support that politicians from the right-wing have seized as an opportunity to further erode the moral fabric of Israeli society in a bid to serve their political and ideological interests.
Anti-Israel Group Breaking the Silence accused of collecting classified information
On Thursday evening, approximately 50 Columbia University students came out to see the Israeli non-governmental organization Breaking the Silence at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life (Hillel). Off limits to the press, the event was sponsored by J Street CU and The Human Rights Graduate Group at CU.
According to their website, “Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”
BDS activists confuse freedom of speech for an unfettered license to shout louder than anybody else
As a short man with an outsized personality, I have always reveled in contradiction. So when being questioned on how a proponent of free speech can idly stand by when BDS is being silenced across the nation, I am troubled by the fact that I don’t care. It might be because of a genuine sense of hypocrisy, or my passionate apathy toward the those spouting complete nonsense. The law, however, is a curious mistress. She gives the right to be offensive, misguided and wrong, and fails to protect that person from the inevitable consequences arising out of exercising such a right.
For example, a professor is perfectly entitled to personally boycott Israeli research, despite it being the intellectual equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and singing. However, should that professor decline to teach students the fruits of one of the most intellectually forward countries on Earth, such a stance is an abuse of authority and a dereliction of duty sufficient to warrant termination. If a college tolerates such a practice, it should be defunded by state or private donors.
Ages ago I read Hare and Cleckley on psychopaths, they then being canonical on the matter. Psychopathy tended to be somewhat vaguely defined but usually included lack of empathy, remorse, conscience, and the like. Today, it seems to be detectable. For example, say researchers, if you put a normal person on a polygraph and read him words like bread, tree, mountain, torture, dogs, and sidewalk, there will be a sharp response to “torture” but not to the neutral words. Psychopaths don’t have that response. This would seem to tie in with a lack of empathy.
In an increasingly chaotic Middle East, Israel may sometime best deter its foes by feigning irrationality.
In complex matters of nuclear deterrence, some suggestions may first appear counterintuitive. One such suggestion: Appearing “too rational” in the face of certain adversaries could be a liability. A too-conspicuous rationality, it is supposed, might sometime undermine stable nuclear deterrence. This ironic and seemingly eccentric argument must apply especially to an imperiled country of limited mass: the state of Israel.
Back in the pre-nuclear 19th century, Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz already understood that in war, and also in corollary preparations for war, “mass counts.” Significantly, Israel, a country smaller than America’s Lake Michigan, remains beleaguered on all sides by assorted state and sub-state enemies. Some of these enemies, as Jerusalem well understands, could sometime choose to feign irrationality – a strategy selected to get a jump on Israel in any ongoing competition for escalation dominance. Also still plausible, these very same enemies could decide to actually be irrational.
It has seemed to me that a vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.
At Bowdoin College, holding parties with sombreros and tequila is deemed to be an act of prejudice against Mexicans. At Emory, the chalking of an endorsement of the likely Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on a sidewalk is deemed to require a review of security tapes. The existence of a college named after a widely admired former U.S. president has been condemned at Princeton, under the duress of a student occupation. At Yale, Halloween costumes are the subject of administrative edict. The dean of Harvard Law School has acknowledged that hers is a racist institution, while the freshman dean at Harvard College has used dinner place mats to propagandize the student body on aspects of diversity. Professors acquiesce as students insist that they not be exposed to views on issues, such as abortion, that make them uncomfortable.
$1m prize winner Hanan al-Hroub on how her family getting shot at by Israeli soldiers galvanised her to teach in an environment where violence is endemic
When Hanan al-Hroub returns to her classroom after a week’s absence on Sunday, her arms full of puppets, socks, wooden clothes pegs, toy cars and a clown’s wig, she will be additionally weighed down with a trophy inscribed with her name as this year’s winner of the $1m Global Teacher prize.
“I will carry the trophy aloft to my children,” the 43-year-old said at her home in Ramallah. “My students are the true winners of this prize. My inspiration came from these children.”
Credit Amir Cohen/Reuters
JERUSALEM — The case of the Israeli soldier who shot a Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay wounded and subdued on the ground is whipping up a public and political storm and posing a rare challenge to the military’s high command, usually the most popular body in the country.
In a letter sent to commanders and soldiers on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of staff, underlined the predicament facing the army as it contends with an upsurge in Palestinian violence — and finds itself facing a hardened public mood fanned by some politicians who say Palestinian assailants must not be left alive.
A Monaco-based company called Unaoil cultivated an astonishing web of influence.
There was little about the man walking through Heathrow Airport to show he held secrets that could bring down some of the most powerful men in Iraq.
Moustached, olive skinned, hair receding, eyes sharp. His name was Basil Al Jarah. His British passport showed he lived in Hull, an unremarkable town in the north of England, but it bore the stamps of a frequent traveller: London, Baghdad, Basra, Amman, Paris, Istanbul, Kuwait.
Basil Al Jarah was an oil industry fixer. But had authorities known his true business, they might have taken a far keener interest in the man waiting for a plane to Amman in 2011. Because by that stage, Al Jarah and his employer, a Monaco-based company called Unaoil, had cultivated an astonishing web of influence in the upper echelons of Iraqi power – all based on the simple expedient of bribing the right man at the right time.
The Judaisation strategy did not only aim at confiscating lands, but also to undermine the rise of Palestinian leaders.
On March 30, 1976, Palestinians marched against an Israeli decision to expropriate 2,000 hectares of land around the Arab villages of Araba and Sakhnin as a part of a plan to “Judaise the Galilee”.
The Palestinian “Land Day” marked the first act of collective civil disobedience against the racist colonisation and dispossession of the Palestinians of their lands and rights since the creation of Israel in 1948.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in a war of words over the Democrat’s request that the State Department investigate alleged human rights violations by Israeli and Egyptian security forces.
Leahy and 10 House members sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Feb. 17 that lists several examples of alleged Egyptian and Israeli “gross violations of human rights,” including extrajudicial killings, that should be examined. The letter’s contents were first reported by POLITICO on Tuesday evening.
On March 23, 2011, at the very start of what we now call the ‘Syrian conflict,’ two young men – Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub – were gunned down in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.
Merhej and Dayoub were neither civilians, nor were they in opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were two regular soldiers in the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
Shot by unknown gunmen, Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict– in Daraa, Latakia, Douma, Banyas, Homs, Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, Suweida, Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.
Regents of the University of California have wisely backed off a proposed statement that would have condemned anti-Zionism on campus on the grounds that it is comparable to anti-Semitism. Instead, the university’s overseers approved a set of “principles against intolerance” that condemn “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism” as one of several forms of discrimination that have no place at UC.
The change in wording may seem minor, but the difference in meaning is substantial. The final version avoids conflating anti-Zionism, or opposition to the idea of a Jewish state, with hatred for Jews as a people. The earlier formulation was overly broad and suggested that those who reject the concept of Zionism are bigots. In reality, it’s perfectly possible to oppose Zionism — or advocate for a secular state in what is now Israel and the West Bank — without being anti-Jewish.
Who are Donald Trump’s supporters? That’s the question every pollster, pundit and politico has been asking ever since the Manhattan mogul launched his candidacy, ascended to the top of the polls and kicked off the GOP primary battle as we know it.
For months, many rank-and-file Republicans admitted that they had no idea who was backing Trump.
“I’ve never met a single one of them,” a New Hampshire resident named Doug Cleveland told the New York Times in January. “Where are all these Trump supporters? Everyone we know is supporting somebody else.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and 10 House members have asked the Obama administration to investigate claims that the Israeli and Egyptian security forces have committed “gross violations of human rights” — allegations that if proven truei could affect U.S. military aid to the countries.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry dated Feb. 17, the lawmakers list several examples of suspected human rights abuses, including reports of extrajudicial killings by Israeli and Egyptian military forces, as well as forced disappearances in Egypt. The letter also points to the 2013 massacre in Egypt’s Rab’aa Square, which left nearly 1,000 people dead as the military cracked down on protesters, as worthy of examination.
Following a thorough explication of Obama’s foreign policy doctrine in a recent Jeffrey Goldberg article, it is now clearer than ever that America and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course over strategic decisions in the Middle East. This is because the “Obama Doctrine” is diametrically opposed to the emerging “Salman Doctrine,” which the Kingdom is developing in order to restore peace and a modicum of stability to the region. And while the Saudis and their allies would benefit immensely from having the United States at their side, Washington also has much to lose by distancing itself from the Saudi agenda. Since the end of World War II, American influence and standing in the Arab world has, to a large extent, been dependent on the “special relationship” with the Kingdom.
A virulent if familiar censorship is about to descend on the US election campaign. As the cartoon brute, Donald Trump, seems almost certain to win the Republican Party’s nomination, Hillary Clinton is being ordained both as the “women’s candidate” and the champion of American liberalism in its heroic struggle with the Evil One.
This is drivel, of course; Hillary Clinton leaves a trail of blood and suffering around the world and a clear record of exploitation and greed in her own country. To say so, however, is becoming intolerable in the land of free speech.
The 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama should have alerted even the most dewy-eyed. Obama based his “hope” campaign almost entirely on the fact of an African-American aspiring to lead the land of slavery. He was also “antiwar”.
With Israel’s continued efforts to source economical oil from the region and an ongoing civil war in nearby Syria, the Golan Heights is once again in the spotlight, leaving the international community in a renewed debate over the acknowledgment of Israel’s territorial claims and their geopolitical impact.
Following the resolution of a permit issue, Afek Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of American company Genie Energy, has resumed efforts to verify whether or not commercially viable options for oil extraction exist within the Golan Heights region. These drillings are anything but routine, as years of conflict and contestation over the plateau – which was seized by Israel in 1967 – have led to profound disagreement over the territory’s sovereignty.
According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel.
On March 24, 2016, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) wrapped up its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women’s rights anywhere on the planet –Israel, for violating the rights of Palestinian women.
On the same day, the U.N. Human Rights Council concluded its month-long session in Geneva by condemning Israel five times more than any other of the 192 UN member states.