Archive for Israel

Why Do the Nations Rage, or, David Ben-Gurion, Zip It

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 18, 2012 by spinoza1111

A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

– Walter Benjamin‎

“We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Trans-Jordan, bomb Amman and destroy its [Jordan’s] army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight, we will bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and the Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times.”

– David Ben-Gurion, 24 May 1948,. Quoted in THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE, Ilan Pappe, Oneworld-Oxford 2006.

Note carefully what one of Israel’s founders, David Ben-Gurion, not considered to be a gangster like Dayan or Sharon, is saying here. If he had not been Israel’s leader and an ordinary man, calling for revenge of harm done 2,500 years before, his friends would tell him get help. The men with butterfly nets would take ben-Gurion away for a nice long rest.

You don’t have to be a Christian, always turning the other cheek, to have a sort of statute of limitations regarding the mean things that people have done to you.

Lunatics hold 2500 year grudges, don’t they?

So why are the leaders of nations and candidates for high office permitted to run their mouths like this stinker Ben Gurion long ago, and Paul Ryan or Romney today? When Romney attacks the Affordable Care Act, having himself overseen a version as Massachusetts governor, and when Paul Ryan says his favorite band is Rage Against the Machine, these are acts of men without bones, men without memory, who are certifiably insane and should be locked up.

Ordinary slobs who treasure grudges cause enough problems from domestic abuse to murder. Ordinary slobs who screw up on the job and (let’s say) fight a policy they implemented the year before get fired. And ordinary fans of Rage Against the Machine usually agree with that band’s left-wing politics.

The rules aren’t different for the elite…but the elite thinks the rules do not apply to them. They are the Hollow Men as TS Eliot said of Stanley Baldwin (if memory serves).

If we could get the leaders of nations to exercise “restraint of tongue and pen” by voting for Gandhi (with all his faults), with memory and a certain consistency, and not Jinnah or Milosevic, the world would be safer for my new grandchildren. But as it is, it is as if the elite have no memory, or, perhaps, they think we don’t. And this is nothing new, as my examples of Jinnah and Ben-Gurion demonstrate.

Perhaps (and here I’m going out on a limb) World War II effected a permanent change to political psychology, although this has to be tested against the fact that Fascism predated World War II (although Fascism did not exist in Europe prior to the 1920s and may have been a WWI aftershock…which fails to account for the proto-Fascism of the Confederate States of America in the 1860s). But perhaps I am losing the thread in speculation in this italicized material.

If you are, dear reader, a very intelligent and learned person, and you feel at any time that with all the shit that’s going on in my life, I am losing it, becoming incoherent like John Nash whom I actually knew, please feel free to use the comments to say so. But do spare me the usual charge, which has often been hurled in my direction by aliterate fools, that I am full of shit. This is based on ignorance and fear. It is a Razor’s Edge but it is a real distinction.

To return, then, to my topic…

Jinnah (the founder of Pakistan a Muslim state) was not a pious Muslim, and he supported the Congress Party until Islamic fundamentalists convinced him that the path to power was fundamentalism. Jinnah may be usefully contrasted with a rather close, but pre WWII politician, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, to reinforce my italicized thesis concerning an effect of World War II, for Ataturk was pre-WWII, no Fascist, and reasonably effective as a nation-builder (but also a genocidal maniac as far as the Amernians were concerned). Whereas Jinnah left us Pakistan as opposed to Turkey because in the immediate post-war, somehow, media and its “dialectic of enlightenment” had made information, at one and the same time, more available, but alongside disinformation.

It is unlikely that opinion makers would have ignored Jinnah’s deception as to his Islamic credentials in, say, 1880, and, post 1945, the radio and cinema could have renarrated Ataturk as a monster. But media destroy memory. It is plain that something happened as witness the contrast, in my own US history, between John Adams and George Bush.

Milosevic, the late “butcher of the Balkans” who as Serbia’s leader implemented Israeli style ethnic cleansing and worse on his fucked up watch, was truly winging it when in 1989, he was giving a speech in Kosovo, there was a disturbance on the edge of the crowd involving Muslims and Serbs, and he said “they will never beat you” (although of course “they” were as he spoke). The rest is history. You know. History. That from nightmare which Stephen Daedalus and my kids would like to awake.

As I write, American Jews are actually signing up for a war with Iran perceived as inevitable, where it would not be inevitable if we didn’t have a pussy in the Oval Office, and instead had a President who could say to Israel, no, don’t do that, or no more F-16s for you, so there.

“Why do the nations rage so furiously together? The kings of the earth rise up, and take counsel together against the Lord and his anointed.”

When my kid brother went off to war in 1990, he said, sure wish wise old Dad was in charge…he’d figure this thing out, sit down with Saddam Hussein. Fortunately my kid brother covered himself with glory, that is, it was a cake walk (we didn’t know that it would be at the time). I think a whole Iraqi unit surrendered to him and a couple of his buddies. Something like that. But his point was well taken: Facebook alone teaches us that the more ordinary of a slob you are, the more brains and goodness you have: cleaning ladies are the wisest and best of us, like the cleaning lady in Hans Guth’s dramatization of Handel’s Messiah in a dull hotel. Me, I consider myself borderline. I am a slob but not ordinary enough.

Cry me a river, Benjamin Netanyahu

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 25, 2011 by spinoza1111

“I stood before my people and said that I will accept a Palestinian state; it’s time for President Abbas to stand up before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state,’ ”

The problem with Netanyahu’s demand: “Palestinian” and “Jewish” are not parallel, and “we are a Palestinian state” and “we are a Jewish state” are apples and oranges. “Palestinian” means “people who reside in what is considered, historically, the region of Palestine bounded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, or, descendants of long-term residents and pre-1948 property owners in that region”.

This group includes Arabs, Christians and even Jews.

In acceding to Netanyahu’s request, Palestinians are asked to countenance and recognize a highly unusual situation: the ability of one country, and only one country, to define itself in a Völkisch fashion (for given the fact that Israel does not enforce religious belief and practice on the part of Jews, “Jewish” means an ethnicity and not a religion).


Imagine Mexico being asked to say “we recognize, in the United States, a state primarily for people of European ancestry other than Hispanics, or, more generally, Iberians”.

Imagine Poland being asked to say “we recognize a German state”.

Kant said “so act that your action can be recommended as a general moral law.” In simple words, “what if everybody did what you did, or did what you ask the Other to do”?

“If everybody walked outa the shower naked in their hotel room whilst the chambermaid was cleaning up their mess, there would be no hotel chambermaids [and that’d suck because most of us can’t even make a bed.]”

If any state could demand a Völkisch test for full citizenship and residency, just imagine.

Wow. World-wide musical chairs as we all go back to our proper state, where we belong. Palestinians to a new Palestine. Jews to Israel. Scotsmen to Scotland! Malagassies to Madagascar! Turks, long resident in German, to the land of the Turks, what’s that, Turkey!!”

And miserable flotillas of unclassified or unclassifiable people who cannot or will not say what it is they are, including quite a lot of Americans.

You think I’m kidding? I am not kidding. Once again, non-Israelis are being asked to say something that they do not believe, and to give a blank check of Recognition to make up for something the Germans did, specifically a bunch of lower middle class German idiots with eggs for brains.


Politicians think they are being cute when they disregard international law, including the lesson Hitler taught us, the meaning of the Holocaust: thou shalt not define the nation as a tribe.

Politician think they are being Authentic when they appeal to the slobs who are proud they cannot “parse”.

But: international law is nothing more than a codification of international common sense. If the Palestinian Arabs, Christians (and Jews!) have to say “we accept a Jewish state” and the Poles don’t have to say “we accept a German state”, cry me a river, Israel, when the war continues for another sixty years.

Politicians and the wealthy, who gorge on Recognition, just don’t get it. They do not understand what it means to an educated Palestinian (that is, most Palestinians) why they must say something stupid to get a mess of pottage (a demilitarized statelet and a concentration camp hard by a country club).

They do not understand what it means to be a Palestinian Arab with a PhD in electrical engineering without job prospects because he cannot get to universities in Israel and is not wanted there.

They do not understand what it means to be a Palestinian Christian.

They do not understand what it means to be a Palestinian Jew, or an Israeli Jew who believes that his country is illegitimate and a blasphemy but has a job, a home and a family.

Instead, their large and well fed faces, faces of the country club (next to the concentration camp) must have the last word.

They must be Masters, like Amon Rath in Schindler’s List tormenting the Jewish woman. They must have their Recognition in excess of what the rest of us get. But they ain’t getting it. Cry me a river.

Obama proposes 1967 borders and a “demilitarized” (?) Palestine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by spinoza1111

The President has proposed that Israel return to its 1967 borders and the two-state solution….with the proviso that the new state,Palestine, be “demilitarized” while, it goes without saying, Israel, will continue to be the best-armed state in the region.

What would a “demilitarized” state be other than the punching bag for Israel’s US-funded, well-armed military that the Gaza statelet already is? And wouldn’t “demilitarization” simply encourage Palestinians to form self-defense units, as they already have, which would continue to “defend” their communities by firing rockets into Israel, using Israel’s 1967 equation, that offense and defense are the same?

Politicians treat words as bargaining chips but part of the problem has always been Israel’s tribal disregard for international law. With regards to its own rights, Israel has spoken “the jargon of authenticity”, Adorno’s phrase for self-interested language that pretends to be the only acceptable language: Heidegger’s “language of Being”: existential language that treats any alternative as evil since it’s a threat to one’s oh so very Authentic existence.

Here, Israel needs to be reassured that Palestine would not have the full national sovereignty that Israel enjoys because part of national sovereignty is, under the UN Charter, the right of self-defense…which I’d imagine a “demilitarized” state would not have.

The United States will not guarantee the safety of a demilitarized Palestine from further Israeli aggression. This is a prescription for continued war.

To create a new state you need to figure out how it will preserve itself or be preserved: when Britain participated in the creation of Belgium in 1830, it guaranteed its neutrality and went to war on behalf of Belgium in 1914.

Closer to our own time, the late Richard Holbrooke moved heaven and earth to enable Croatia to defend itself in 1995. He didn’t like the Croatians in the slightest, but he and his fellow diplomats nonetheless saw to it that a private firm armed and trained the Croatian military sufficiently for it to resist Serbia, which ended the first Bosnian war.

Since the Middle East is even more of a “bad neighborhood” than the Balkans, it is folly to require that a new Palestine be demilitarized without guaranteeing its existence with Western forces…to the level that the Israeli military is being bankrolled by the United States.

The message as received by the Arab world is still, as it was in 1948, that our little brown brothers can’t handle guns: that a Belgian or Croatian is worth more than a Palestinian. Politicians confuse pragmatism here (what will be accepted by an Israel which has already rejected the basis of Obama’s proposal, the return to 1967 borders) with lack of imagination and the inability to learn from history.

Israeli policymakers won’t even name what it is they want, any more than Israel will write a constitution (Israel’s immature status as a tribe that seeks statehood and full humanity only for the Authentic members of the tribe is the cause of these two quirks). “Eretz Yisroel” is presented as a demand only from the Israeli right but as the most rugged, tribal, and Authentic demand, it pulls the rest of Israel along with it.

The result is that the sloppy meanings of words to the least common denominator drives policy.

If Palestine is to be a nation, it needs to be a signatory of the United Nations charter. As a signatory it will have the right of self-defense. Therefore it cannot be “demilitarized”.

Numbers on the Death of Osama bin Laden

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 2, 2011 by spinoza1111

1. Of course, taking him alive would be a rich source of information as would have been a trial.

2. A life sentence would be a further source of information and possibly a jailhouse conversion in which the old fellow might start preaching the social gospel of Sayd Qutb from the jailhouse, calling on his followers not to seek seventy virgins but to work for justice in this world. Can’t have that.

3. The United States created Islamic fundamentalism by destroying movements for social justice in the Islamic world.

To Osama’s mentor, Sayyd Qutb, justice in this world was as important as justice in the next. Qutb, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was not a religious nutcase. Here is Albert Hourani on Qutb’s message:

“In a famous book, al’Adala al-ijtima’iyya f’il-islam (Social Justice in Islam), Sayyd Qutb put forward a powerful interpretation of the social teachings of Islam. For Muslims, as distinct from Christians, there was, he suggested, no gap between faith and life. All human acts could be seen as acts of worship, and the Qu’ran and Hadith provided the principles on which action should be based. Man was free only if he was released from subjection to all powers except God: from the power of priesthood, fear, and the domination of social values, human desires and appetites.”

(Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples. Faber and Faber 1991)

That is: while “liberation theology” is marginalized in my church of origin, and replaced by hard-featured, care-worn people trying to get pie in the sky, Islam to Qutb was nothing but liberation theology, a religion of brothers and not of fathers (with the potential for generalization to sisterhood).

Which is why it’s become twisted by United States policy into desert princes doing their Haj in fancy hotel rooms looking down on God in Mecca whilst the little people are trampled, and guys in shorts in Causeway Bay bear-leading wives and daughters in Hijab in 30 degree heat.

3. The refusal of blood for blood is where it all got started in Abraham’s time. It ends with slobs cheering this shit.

4. My guess is that the CIA and military guys tried to take him alive but he preferred to go down in a blaze of gunfire.

5. So…nice going. You’ve created a saint and martyr.

The best retraction money can buy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 3, 2011 by spinoza1111

Richard Goldstone, the UN rapporteur who said two years ago that Israel may have “targeted” Gaza civilians during its military operations in Gaza, has retracted that charge in light of new “evidence” provided by Israel.

This changes nothing. In the law of just war, the belligerent, above and beyond not “intentionally” targeting civilians, may not use excess force in such a manner that civilians will be known to be harmed: this, in just war theory, is known as proportionality.

But in fact, all developed countries intentionally use disproportionate force when engaged in “asymmetric warfare” with developing countries and non-state actors as a matter of policy, because in all cases (the US in the Vietnam era: Israel today) the citizens of developed countries will protest high casualties in the developed countries’ military.

Proportionality is always violated of necessity. Disproportionality was policy under President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara after 1965 and its used was assumed to be critical to victory in Vietnam. “Shock and Awe” were the names of policies in Iraq. It has been policy in Afghanistan with few modifications.

Israel chose, as is the custom in both Israel and the USA, a cute name for its aggression, for in both cases the public is expected to treat war as a movie in a multiplex: Operation Cast Lead. Disproportionality and the intentional or “unintentional” slaughter of civilians is a necessary result if the developed country is to demonstrate its physical and hence moral superiority to its people, in this brutal calculus.

The intentions and errors of operational officers are superseded by decisions made at the top which in the “fog of war” (a very familiar term known to military experts but almost never mentioned in the press) means that you are unclear on where the enemy is, let alone innocent civilians.

You are very likely to disproportionally harm civilians if your high level policy is to Cast Lead and use overwhelming, high-energy weapons that are “precision” only in the sense that usually they will precisely land where you programmed them to land under conditions of stress and the “fog of war”.

This creates an environment thought unendurable when that kind of environment appeared in Manhattan on September 11. In that environment, you are let us say a Muslim father who has taken his two sons for a treat to breakfast at Windows of the World. Nobody has intentionally targeted you.

I rest my fucking case.

As to Hamas’ intentional use of low tech rockets which has killed smaller number of civilians (where other Israeli civilians have been used as proxies for soldiers on the West Bank as settlers to take land in direct violation of international law): all formal statements of the law of war happen to exclude the criminals’ favorite argument and logical fallacy, tu quoque or “you’re another”. The Hamas rockets do not justify the necessarily disproportional use of force, especially since the use of force has never prevented the firing of the rockets.

Both German and allied fliers, during WWII, strafed columns of civilian refugees for shits and giggles. There is in fact no clear moral distinction between this and the long-term settled policies of Israel and the United States to be able, at all times, to bring disproportionate force to bear in asymmetric warfare. The shits and the giggles are simply pushed upstairs.

While American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have had, it seems, greater scope in unleashing disproportionate force at tactical levels for shits and giggles than IDF forces, this is because, as it appears, IDF soldiers are subject to greater procedural discipline and administrative paperwork, which has been provided (along with pressure) to Goldstone.

Unfortunately, when the top brass and the government make a basically immoral decision, the following of administrative rules and procedures becomes what used to be known as Mickey Mouse in WWII and “bullshit so high you needed wings” in Vietnam.

It has never been claimed that Israeli forces went in shooting civilians like a bunch of Jewish cowboys. Instead, they went in with their overwhelming force and shit happened as in “oops”, and this was by design. The IDF does have the capability to mount high tech and surgical operations as was on display in the Entebbe rescue of highjacked Israelis in the 1970s. These types of operations could have been used on Palestinian rockets (or a high tech Star Wars defense in miniature). They were not because the broader policy was to destroy the legitimacy of Hamas.

Note the moral decline. Israel either would nor could not bomb Entebbe when a highjacked plane with Jewish civilians landed in Entebbe in the 1970s. “Surgical” warfare with “high tech” did not exist. But today this “surgical” warfare (which, if it is surgery, doesn’t use anesthesia) is used indiscriminatly and in all cases disproportionally, while paperwork is more rapidly generated to say that the field commanders did what they were told and the higher ups had the purest of intentions, and then, shit happened, and stuff.

It is taken as axiomatic that in clean white offices intentions are good. But what if developed nations have, since the 1970s, been taken over essentially by criminal gangs by means of media manipulation and convenient assassination such as that of Rabin? This wouldn’t be announced. We’d just assume that there was not qualitative change when Ariel Sharon walked to Temple Mount, and also that he’d matured since he sowed his wild oats in the 1950s as a gangster for Israel.

Note that the psychology of the public here is essentially the same as that of the woman who apologizes for the abusive husband. Disproportionality is kind of sexy, I guess. Whereas being a non-state actor tends not to get the girls.

Clearly then, the fix was in as regards Goldstone (a creature of apartheid and who attained his majority in a state which conspired with Israel), and this is the best retraction money can buy.

Oh let us push for an end to the freeze, or something: Letter to International Herald Tribune on the US’ end to the push for a freeze

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, Detail from “I can no longer teach you kids”, Nov 2010, pencil, ink and Gimp modifications, A4 size

This is a new subgenre of Letter to the Editor, in which the writer either is, or believes himself to be, a better writer, journalist, and human being than the creatures he addresses, and as such the Letter is completely unpublishable. I publish these here when I send them to the International Herald Tribune (which is simply the international edition of the New York Times): if you don’t usually buy the NYT/IHT, don’t bother to do so on my account, since the letter will probably be unpublished. Some of my letters to the IHT have been, brutally cut down to length appropriate to my station. But this one takes the cake, and such a feu de joie is probably unacceptable to the editors.

Edward G. Nilges
Lamma Island
Hong Kong

9 Dec 2010

To whom it may concern:

Reading Ethan Bronner’s “Why the US ended push for Israeli building freeze” (IHT 10 Dec 2010), I have the feeling associated with childhood, that a key word or phrase in putatively grown up discourse is so often repeated as to drain it of meaning.

The grave wise child, like Alice in Wonderland, finds herself repeating the word to herself until it becomes a pure object, something rich, and strange, and rather sad.

I’ve also had that childhood feeling as a grown-up in the corporation, in boring meetings convened to solve some iatrogenic cock-up or other where Job One is making sure that Mr. Big is indemnified against Looking Bad.

That key word is “freeze”. It appears nine times in Bronner’s short article.

Reification is the Word Become Thing, isn’t it. “Freeze” as a word, as a goal, deliberately obscures a crime under international law, which is violating the territory of a nation, or a country, or a region, that ain’t yours, whatever the status of that land you violate.

You don’t “freeze” criminal behavior, although I guess cops are expected to say “freeze!” when apprehending a suspect. You end it.

The international laws which establish national sovereignity as both bounded and inviolable within those bounds are not a joke. As the late Senator Moynihan pointed out, they form part of US domestic law under the Senate’s “advise and consent” powers, and theoretically, the DC cops could be called when the US countenances Israel’s continuing disregard of international law.

But: criminals of all sorts would rather pitch pennies, play cards, or shoot people who don’t count than actually discuss what it is they do. This would force them to face up to what they are, to look in the mirror.

Likewise, Bronner makes the discussion eerily abstract as if the US nobly pushed for a freeze in Israel’s venial, recreational and rather ruggedly charming behavior only to find that, gosh, the situation is pretty complicated because elements of the current Israeli leadership might get stroppy, and the Palestinians won’t be happy anyway, being, well, Palestinians…you know how those people are.

Let’s tell the truth, for a change. Like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, the players are sitting around their hideaway. One of them is engaged in a criminal affair: he’s building houses without a permit in Jersey. The big man doesn’t like it, but funds it because the houses encroach on land he covets, and his client thug is his only marker in Jersey, where he needs a foothold.

In walks some servant who displeases, and he is shot, casually, even as Palestine’s kids are “wasted”.

The big man wants his client to stop but his client don’t want to stop, and the big man cannot completely control his client as so often happens in gangland.

Certainly would make for a more readable story, and would be on balance, true. Might even start selling enough papers and generating enough traffic to save the New York Times from its coming bankruptcy.

The world will perceive the US end to a push for a freeze for what it is: the cowardly act of a big thug whose children can no longer succeed at simple tests, unlike kids in Shanghai, who has lost three wars in the past fifty years, who has used nuclear weapons on civilians, and which no longer makes anything useful except iPods and pornography.

The US can no longer control even Israel’s behavior. In either pushing for a freeze, or in ending its push for a freeze, or pushing for an end to the push for a freeze, no matter what combination of signifiers need be dreamed up by apologists and hacks, those combinations drained of meaning by abstraction and evasion of the law, the US is, in the final analysis, pushing on a string.

Israel is grabbing as much land as it can in a vain attempt to overcome the demographics of the Middle East, in which Muslims will always outnumber Jews, and the United States lacks the will to stop Israel’s criminal behavior. But not even the Nazis thought of building a country club next to a concentration camp. And not even the Nazis thought to so torment the inmates of the camp in this way, by negotiating in bad faith and talking utter nonsense!

The phrase “an end to the push for a freeze” is what happens to language when it is abused by Goodfellas. Everybody who’s anybody knows, even in elite circles in the USA, that TS Eliot was the source of the phrase “the hollow men” in reference to the appeasers and warmongers of his day alike.

But unless these gliterati happened to elect the right class at Princeton, they won’t know how the poem, The Hollow Men, ends: with a sort of surrealism uncharacteristic of the later Eliot. The last canto starts:

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Eliot knew that talking nonsense is a regression to the nightmare of childhood, especially when the adult has forgotten the insights of childhood.

The abstraction attendant on a lack of basic decency in this language causes the sensitive word-smith, perhaps as a flunky’s own flunky in one of those interminable meetings, to become rather confused, and to fall into a dream. Even in Serious cables, “an end to the push for the freeze” might be mistakenly expressed as “a push for the end to the freeze” and so, dreaming, we fall into the abyss, or the rabbit hole.

As in the corporate meeting, language becomes a throwback, in “a push for an end to the freeze”, more pleasant as an iamb and two anapests than as anything meaningful. Let’s see, if we exchange “push” and “end” in the title of Bronner’s piece we get what Likud wants, right?

A push for an end to the freeze
Is pushed because Netanyahu da Freeze don’t please
Hey, we’re dip low mats
And as such, we’re pretty cool cats:
Despite Julian Assange and wikileaks
We’re not a bunch of outsiders, nor a bunch of the freaks
So let’s not push for an end to the freeze,
I mean, let’s push for an end to the freeze,
No, let’s end the push for the freeze
That was merely a come-on: that was merely a tease.

Language’s glory and language’s misery is that language, save perhaps for some indigenous languages of the Amazon, is recursive. In the title of Bronner’s piece, there is one too many layers of recursion and a pernicious abstraction which simply allows comfortable people to forget what is actually happening: settlers are murdering Palestinians because they are emulating their criminal government.

Edward G. Nilges

Israel’s “existential” struggle

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by spinoza1111

The problem is that we’re supposed to see everything from the Israeli point of view. This is most obvious when we’re told that Israel is engaged in an “existential” struggle and will (must) (must be allowed to) do “anything” to survive including what’s ordinarily considered aggression:

Clearing the area between Haifa and Jerusalem in 1948 by deliberate terrorism in order to create refugees

Pre-emptive attacks in 1967


Boarding ships on the high seas and killing their occupants (Mavi Marmara)

Boarding ships and forcing them to divert (Rachel Corrie)

Whether or not it is true that Israel’s struggle is existential, this issue is also moot.

Don’t we all have an “existential” right to fight for our existence? According to Hobbes, we do.

“And because the condition of Man, (as hath been declared in the precedent Chapter) is a condition of Warre of every one against every one; in which case every one is governed by his own Reason; and there is nothing he can make use of, that may not be a help unto him, in preserving his life against his enemyes; It followeth, that in such a condition, every man has a Right to every thing; even to one nothers body. And therefore, as long as this naturall Right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, (how strong or wise soever he be,) of living out the time, which Nature ordinarily alloweth men to live.”

Israel and her public relations firms argue for a truth, but one that’s moot because the right they claim is shared with the Palestinians.

In the case of the Mavi Marmara, the passengers felt, rightly, that their lives were endangered by an IDF commando style raid which had nothing of the dignity of a traditional boarding party.

Indeed, Israel seems to have contempt for military and diplomatic dignity.

The passengers’ feeling was justified despite after the fact claims that the IDF were using “paintball” guns, since one of the victims, a 19 year old American of Turkish ancestry, was killed with five rounds, four to the head and one to the chest. The Israelis were a threatening presence to which a small subset of the passengers responded to in self-defense, and in defense of the women, children and activists below decks.

Israeli PR deliberately obscures the fact that we’re all involved in existential struggle by structuring the narrative using Hollywood subjectivity and over-identification by the smart, spunky, sexy protagonist. This allows the Palestinians to be represented as the stupid, cowardly, unattractive antagonist. But there’s nothing particularly smart about descending one man at a time [1] from a helicopter to be picked off retail by an angry mob. There’s nothing spunky about pumping rounds into kids. And anyone who still gets off on the Israeli narrative is a porn addict.

[1] The IDF’s intention was to descend two men at a time, but in self-defense, the passengers belayed the rope from one helicopter. It of course is just as stupid to descend even into a small riot two men at a time.