Posted by: quiscus | February 14, 2011

February 14, 2011

1.  “Eclipsed by the events in Egypt, news from its little neighbor has not gleaned much notice save for media angst that Egyptian democracy might not be as genial as was the Mubarak dictatorship to the relentless, long-term ethnic cleansing of an indigenous people, the Palestinians. But news there was as Israeli “human rights” lawyers went public with a libel suit against Jimmy Carter for his precise little book, Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid. The stunner to the Israelis lies in a single word in Carter’s title, “apartheid.”

Names, names, names. What constitutes an accurate description of Israel? There are many appellations, none of them appealing. The partisans of Israel like to call it “the Jewish state.” But that name carries a disconcerting note. We do not like “Islamic states,” and “Christian state” calls forth images of fascism, bigotry, and Crusades. Does “Jewish state” sound any more tolerant?

Then there is the very old-fashioned label, “a people without a land and a land without a people.” Not even the European colonialists of the Americas had the chutzpah to deny the very existence of the indigenous peoples as they were exterminated or put into reservations, the Gazas of the New World. Though that racist little phrase continued up to Golda Meir, who denied the very existence of the Palestinians, at least by the time of the terrorist Yitzhak Shamir the Palestinians had transmogrified into “insects” or “cockroaches.” At least Shamir allowed for their pesky, subhuman existence.

Then there is “colonial, settler state,” an accurate name well understood by the developing world as it continues its struggle to throw off the hidden shackles of European domination – but not well understood as yet in the more or less post-colonial West. Of course there is the “Zionist entity,” again well understood by the oppressed of the Middle East, but a mystery to many in the West who have been trained to perceive it as anti-Semitic

Carter has popularized the term “apartheid,” both accurate and easily understood, a term that has a “stench in the nostrils of the world.” And it is precisely what is going on in Israel and the territories it occupies. Do you want to call Israel a democracy? Fine, if we understand that it is a democracy in the same sense that South Africa was under apartheid. The apartheid in the West Bank is so blatant that it can be seen from a satellite where the Jewish colonists have their own roads in the West Bank. And if the West Bank is a haven for terrorists, why, oh, why would Israelis keep colonizing on the far side of the great “security” wall, in fact an apartheid wall? And the allegory of South African apartheid plays itself out in amazing detail here. Gaza, an outdoor prison, is like a Bantustan, a virtual prison where only Arabs reside. Israel proper has Arab “citizens” with diminished rights based on their Arab status, much like the “coloreds” of the old South Africa. And then there are the Arabs of the West Bank, living in poverty adjacent to and separated from the great wealth of Jewish Israelis, much like the townships of the old South Africa. Anti-Arab racism cuts across the society in many different ways. It is a core feature of Israeli society and not just a superficial aspect.

But the great advantage of the term “apartheid” is not simply its accuracy but the fact that everyone in the West and the rest of the planet knows it was wrong in South Africa – and wrong in the U.S., where it bore the synonym of segregation. And so it is also wrong in Israel. By putting this single word into the mainstream of political discourse, Carter has given us a weapon in the struggle against the slow genocide of the Palestinian people. It should always be used – the “apartheid Israeli state” or the “apartheid state of Israel” or even simpler, “apartheid Israel.” It is a gift inserted into the mainstream; use it routinely before it fades away.”
http://original.antiwar.com/john-v-walsh/2011/02/13/jimmy-carters-gift-of-apartheid/

2.  “War: The Worst Thing Ever Invented

FIGHTING FIRE WITH GASOLINE

A central problem with the idea that wars are needed to combat evil is that there is nothing more evil than war. War causes more suffering and death than anything war can be used to combat. Wars don’t cure diseases or prevent car accidents or reduce suicides. (In fact, they drive suicides through the roof.) No matter how evil a dictator or a people may be, they cannot be more evil than war. Had he lived to be a thousand, Saddam Hussein could not have done the damage to the people of Iraq or the world that the war to eliminate his fictional weapons has done. War is not a clean and acceptable operation marred here and there by atrocities. War is all atrocity, even when it purely involves soldiers obediently killing soldiers. Rarely, however, is that all it involves. General Zachary Taylor reported on the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) to the U.S. War Department:

“I deeply regret to report that many of the twelve months’ volunteers, in their route hence of the lower Rio Grande, have committed extensive outrages and depredations upon the peaceable inhabitants. THERE IS SCARCELY ANY FORM OF CRIME THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED TO ME AS COMMITTED BY THEM.” [capitalization in original]

If General Taylor did not want to witness outrages, he should have stayed out of war. And if the American people felt the same way, they should not have made him a hero and a president for going to war. Rape and torture are not the worst part of war. The worst part is the acceptable part: the killing. The torture engaged in by the United States during its recent wars on Afghanistan and Iraq is part, and not the worst part, of a larger crime. The Jewish holocaust took nearly 6 million lives in the most horrible way imaginable, but World War II took, in total, about 70 million — of which about 24 million were military. We don’t hear much about the 9 million Soviet soldiers whom the Germans killed. But they died facing people who wanted to kill them, and they themselves were under orders to kill. There are few things worse in the world. Missing from U.S. war mythology is the fact that by the time of the D-Day invasion, 80 percent of the German army was busy fighting the Russians. But that does not make the Russians heroes; it just shifts the focus of a tragic drama of stupidity and pain eastward.

Most supporters of war admit that war is hell. But most human beings like to believe that all is fundamentally right with the world, that everything is for the best, that all actions have a divine purpose. Even those who lack religion tend, when discussing something horribly sad or tragic, not to exclaim “How sad and awful!” but to express — and not just under shock but even years later — their inability to “understand” or “believe” or “comprehend” it, as though pain and suffering were not as clearly comprehensible facts as joy and happiness are. We want to pretend with Dr. Pangloss that all is for the best, and the way we do this with war is to imagine that our side is battling against evil for the sake of good, and that war is the only way such a battle can be waged. If we have the means with which to wage such battles, then as Senator Beveridge once remarked, we must be expected to use them. Senator William Fulbright (D., Ark.) explained this phenomenon: “Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is peculiarly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations — to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image.”

Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State when Bill Clinton was president, was more concise:

“What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

The belief in a divine right to wage war seems to only grow stronger when great military power runs up against resistance too strong for military power to overcome. In 2008 a U.S. journalist wrote about General David Petraeus, then commander in Iraq, “God has apparently seen fit to give the U.S. Army a great general in this time of need.”

Combating evil is what peace activists do. It is not what wars do. And it is not, at least not obviously, what motivates the masters of war, those who plan the wars and bring them into being.

But it is tempting to think so. It is very noble to make brave sacrifices, even the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, in order to end evil. It is perhaps even noble to use other people’s children to vicariously put an end to evil, which is all that most war supporters do. It is righteous to become part of something bigger than oneself. It can be thrilling to revel in patriotism. It can be momentarily pleasurable I’m sure, if less righteous and noble, to indulge in hatred, racism, and other group prejudices. It’s nice to imagine that your group is superior to someone else’s. And the patriotism, racism, and other isms that divide you from the enemy can thrillingly unite you, for once, with all of your neighbors and compatriots across the now meaningless boundaries that usually hold sway. If you are frustrated and angry, if you long to feel important, powerful, and dominating, if you crave the license to lash out in revenge either verbally or physically, you may cheer for a government that announces a vacation from morality and open permission to hate and to kill. You’ll notice that the most enthusiastic war supporters sometimes want nonviolent war opponents killed and tortured along with the vicious and dreaded enemy; the hatred is far more important than its object. If your religious beliefs tell you that war is good, then you’ve really gone big time. Now you’re part of God’s plan. You’ll live after death, and perhaps we’ll all be better off if you bring on the death of us all.

But simplistic beliefs in good and evil don’t match up well with the real world, no matter how many people share them unquestioningly. They do not make you a master of the universe. On the contrary, they place control of your fate in the hands of people cynically manipulating you with war lies. And the hatred and bigotry don’t provide lasting satisfaction, but instead breed bitter resentment.”

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23213

3.  “Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders — and describing them as such — is what good journalists do, by definition.  It’s the crux of adversarial journalism, of a “watchdog” press.  “Objectivity” does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims.  The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that:  treat factually false statements as false.  “Objectivity” is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a “lie,” but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they’re viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions.  The very idea that a journalist is engaged in “opinion-making” or is “taking sides” by calling a lie a “lie” is ludicrous; the only “side” such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth.   It’s when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are “taking sides” — they’re siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies. This warped reasoning is one of the prime diseases plaguing establishment political journalism in the U.S.  Most establishment journalists are perfectly willing to use the word “lie” for powerless, demonized or marginalized people, but they genuinely believe that it is an improper breach of journalistic objectivity to point out when powerful political officials are lying.  They adamantly believe that such an activity — which is a core purpose of political journalism — is outside the purview of their function.

Declaring the statements of an American political leader to be a lie is one of the most rigidly enforced taboos in American journalism.  That this hallmark of real journalism is strictly prohibited — “It’s not our role,” explained the Meet the Press host — tells one all there is to know about the function which most establishment journalists fulfill.”

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/02/14/journalism/index.html

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