18 January 2009


The RF wanted to open up a conversation regarding the most recent eruption of violence in the Gaza strip, which has claimed several hundred lives.

Below are several selected links discussing the conflict. Please feel free to add further links--particularly those which will expand the conversation--and/or your comment:

Though a cease fire was declared Saturday, January 17, the conflict is yet ongoing and one still worth discussing, since it is emblatic of and connected to worldwide violence, hegemony, and dehumanization. Most of us writing here, especially me, witness the travesty and the human cost from the comfort of our chairs and couches in front of our computers and TVs. We imbibe images of dehumanization and moral/ethical depletion and feel disgust, (odd) disconnection, and/or helplessness. Though the events should stimulate (re)action, response, and resistance, many are rendered silent, hopeless. We may determine this to be rational given the culture of fear, ignorance, mysticism, obedience, disconnection, and personal profit inculcated through capital's schools, churches, media, and segregated neighborhoods. However, it is not just--and these rationales must be exposed such that choices are made more clear and our necessary actions are clarified.

Personally, I side neither with Israel nor Hamas. Instead, I side with Palestinians attempting to carve out a dignified life and Israelis who advocate sanity from their government. While the fundamentalist sects within both Judaism and Islam use different words, their ideologies are symmetrical inasmuch as they seek the devestataion of 'the other'. Both are antidemocratic. Both are dehumanizing. The articulation of religion and nationalism is oppressive to the core and breeds irrationalism.

People of conscience must continue to educate, to help our students, friends, colleagues, etc. mine the gray between both poles of irrationalism, to find other axes/dimensions that foster dialogue, deepened consciousness, and enriched democracy. We must be prepared to resist while simultaneously waiting for and creating the turning points toward something more communal, more humanizing. The struggle in Gaza is connected to the struggle in our schools, the labor struggle, the (endless) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ongoing racism and the backlash against immigrants, the fight for justice everywhere. Our opportunity is to make these connections, to cut through the ideologies intended to seperate us, to keep us afraid, and to keep us docile. Our solidarity can be carried out in our classrooms, our community organizations, our families, our unions, etc. Our solidarity can be cemented one act, one voice at a time. Our solidarity can be won through a radical struggle with ourselves which will move us toward the center of resistance wherever it is needed.

I look forward to your comments, links, and feedback.


Faith said...

I also have solidarity with working class Palestinians and Israelis who are oppressed by this imperialist project.
Part of the barrier to having a good conversation about this in the media includes, unfortunately, "progressives" such as Bill Maher who, though an avowed atheist and a person who rejects the hyperbole of the Christian right, still paints all Arabs as "religious extremists" and views Israel as contributing nothing to this conflict (his film Religulous takes this view). He makes it seem as if Palestinian anger comes out of nowhere, which puts him squarely on the side of the Neocons, who hand-wring over "free speech" issues like the Danish cartoon controversy, all the while cozying up to the Patriot Act. While Maher speaks out against the Patriot Act, he does not actively confront the bigotry of the "ask-no-questions" support of Israel, thus strengthening support of the willful amnesia that seems to surround this issue.

andrew said...

The picture of a Palestinian mother caught in this ghastly Gazan nightmare is now the desktop image on my computer. She is hovering over her blood soaked son and while her eyes are hidden, the boy stares up at her. It is hard to know if death has already visited the child but his eyes are still open. If he is still alive it is a vacant but chilling look of numbness, emptiness and shock. It is a horrific image but I should never be allowed to avert my eyes from it until I have lived the rest of my life trying to destroy Zionism.

In my judgement the greatest contribution I can make to that end is to heed the words of Mario Savio in the Berkley Free Speech Movement of '64 applied to the world capitalist economy of today as it is directed from Washington, D.C.. “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Under normal circumstances the impending death of a form of racism like Zionism (see the picture of young Israeli girls bused onto military bases as a school-day field trip writing messages and drawing on missile warheads soon to rain down on Lebanon) and the establishment of a secular state on the territory Israel now occupies where Palestinian Arabs of various religious persuasions and Jews could peacefully co-exist as equals would be cause for human celebration. Unfortunately, the panic that clearly grips Israel means they will likely join in U.S. attacks on Damascus and Tehran and resort to the use of the “Sampson Option”, their nuclear arsenal, when all else fails. And that, on a larger scale, is the dilemma that the whole world faces as the capitalist system spearheaded by the United States begins experiencing the pangs of its death throes.

Both anti-Semitism and Zionism are the bitter fruits of capitalism. The imperatives of that economic system forced the Jewish people to endure the pogroms and the Holocaust. Meanwhile Zionists, propelled by the same economic dynamic, have since executed their own crimes against humanity. 62-years-ago, an unconscionable attack on the King David Hotel killed Britons, Arabs and Jews. Later would come Sabra and Shatila and now the Zionists are demonstrating in Gaza that Germany’s National Socialists had nothing on them for cold-blooded brutality and the capacity for murder on a massive scale.

Capitalism created the idea of Zionism in its relentless drive to divide and more fully exploit the working people of the world. For the historic moment of capitalism’s rise to planetary dominance Zionism has effectively built a figurative and literal wall between Jewish workers and their non-Jewish brothers and sisters. In the US it has made a distant memory of Jewish leadership of immigrant workers of every stripe in pitched battles on the streets of American cities to form and build the garment and furriers unions. It has squashed the great Civil Rights Era coalition consecrated by the blood of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. It has made unity with anyone but the US ruling class all but impossible. Zionism has performed as designed and isolated Jewish workers around the world in a “new Warsaw ghetto” called Israel.

The state that Zionism created has begun sensing its mortality and is thrashing around accordingly. The clearly deranged attack on Gazans and the recent ravings of Israeli intellectual Benny Morris published by the New York Times can now be added to mounting evidence that the guardians of the state are in the grip of panic. It recalls the 2006 attacks on Lebanon and Gaza and the resultant killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure, the kidnapping of Hamas legislators, the targeting of a U.N. observer post, and the outrage on Qana. Each a desperate act farther outside the bounds of common sense than the one before.

One thing the Israeli assault on the Gaza and Lebanon before it has made clearer is the alignment of forces in the Arab and Muslim world. Ironically, in different fashions both Hamas and Hizbollah were creations of Israel. Hamas was supposed to act as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization when Israel considered the PLO the most immediate threat to their domination of the Arab majority. Hizbollah filled the gapping chasm Israel created with the 1982 invasion and years long occupation of southern Lebanon. Both Hamas and Hizbollah have, through years of disciplined work and organizing, woven themselves into the lives of the respective peoples they seek to liberate. What a stark contrast with the rich Arab boys who have created the cult they call al-Qaeda. The clownish Ayman al-Zawahiri rushed to his camcorder after Hizbollah faced down the Israeli military to spout some silly rhetoric about a caliphate from Spain to Iraq in front of a poster that screams, “Please remember us, we did 9/11!”

During the fighting with Hizbollah, completely out of the blue on repeated occasions and in leaflets dropped on the Lebanese, Israeli leaders felt compelled to mention their power to erase Lebanon from the planet. A strong and confident force does not act so. The Israelis are seeing their graves in the corner of their eyes and their bully’s trepidation is now growing as the end nears.

Bryan Reinholdt said...

the following is an online dialogue between three students:

Student A
Terrorism does not deserve a nation. The Israelis stood by while Hamas launched rockets into INNOCENT Israeli neighborhoods. I agree that the Palestinians deserve their own nation, but we cannot stand by and let the Hamas terrorist target innocent civilian targets.

Everytime Israel decalres a ceasefire or withdraws from Gaza or the West Bank, Hamas targets civilians, not legitimate military targets. I agree that Israel should handle the Paletinian situation better, I don't think they should just stand by while Hamas kills innocent civilians.

Student B
I'm not saying Hamas is legitimate, but Israelis essentially took over Palestinian land in the 1940s and Palestinians were NEVER given any choice. Israel declared itself a nation and began forcing Palestinians out of their homes and forced them to become refugees. Palestinians now are treated as second class citizens on their OWN LAND. The difference in living standards between Israelis and Palestinians is outrageous.

And after decades of OPPRESSION, where the livelihood and well-being of Palestinians was/is completely disregarded, where Palestinians have no voice and no nation and no army with which to protect themselves, suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism are seemingly the only option to a people and a plight shunned by the entire western world.

This did not begin 12 days ago or 6 months ago. It began 60 years ago. Not to mention the fact that INNOCENT Palestinians have been getting killed due to Israel's ridiculously disproportionate response.

Student A
Hamas has fired HUNDREDS of rockets into large, heavily populated urban areas, personally as a soldier or a civilian I wouldnt call that a "minor attack." Second of all, look into what Hamas is and does. They have children shows with mickey mouse like characters that preach to children to martyr themselves as suicide bombers agains Israelis in the name of God!!! CHILDREN!!! From early on Palestinians are taught to hate. Regretably this isnt a scenario only found in Palestine, but also in Saudia Arabia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, etc. We (and by we I mean all democratic nations including the US and Israel) are in a fight against global Jihad weather we like it or not.

I dont like what happened to the Palestinians in the 1940s, but you cannot blame the Israelis. First of all, lets remember what happened to the Jews during World War II. They were hated EVERYWHERE. All of Europe persecuted the Jewish population; all of Europe under Nazi rule allowed them to be placed into Ghettos.

Student A
Granted most Europeans were flabbergasted when they found out about the concentration camps, but they didnt hesitate to take away all of the Jews civil liberties and freedoms. After World War II nobody wanted the Jews, and the Jews didn't want to stay any longer in a country that tossed them aside like garbage. Now here comes the United Kingdom with a solution: put them all back in Israel where they want to be. The UK owned the land and put them there.

A lot of people can be to blame for why the Jews are in Israel, but the fact is they are there now and are there to stay. We are in a global fight against Jihad and Muslim Extremism, and its going to be a long long fight. Without writing a book on ur status I can tell you three major strategies for fightings this threat:

1. Peace between Israel and the Arab world.
2. Peaceful Muslims speaking out against hateful Muslim preaching.
3. Promoting Democracy in the Middle East.

Now lets examine how these three strategies can help quell Jihad and terrorism in the Middle East. First, much of the hate is generated by Israel's presence. Unfortunately, nothing is going to change them being there. They aren't hated because of how they are justifiably defending themselves against Hamas, they are hated by the Muslim population for being Jews. Once again, these people are taught since childhood to hate Jews and the West. Many of these Muslim countries (Syria, Iran, Hamas, etc) use Israel's reactions to Hamas terrorism to justify their own actions against Israel, not Israel pushing for a justification to attack Hamas.

28% of Muslims in the United Kingdom condone suicide bombing. TWENTY EIGHT PERCENT!!! NEARLY ONE THIRD!!! Immediately after this survey the UK Intelligence Agency MI5 investigated why. It is because of hateful, anti-west Muslim preaching. While freedom of speech is protected in the UK and the US, it is being abused to preach hate.

The same is true here in the United States and the rest of the Muslim world. If peaceful Muslims, who practice and preach the true meaning of Islam speak out against such hate then their message can be stopped. Unfortunately, I personally feel as though many of these peaceful Muslims dont recognize just how dire the situation has become.

Finally: democracy. In my studies of democracy, socialism, communism, and fascism I've concluded that no system of government is perfect, especially democracy. However, it is the best system. Facism, communism, and socialism have all failed, while democracy and capitalism, despite their negative aspects, are what grants America is status as THE world Super Power. (and before anybody states that we're in a recession, just now that this is the 12th recession since the Great Depression - we're going to be fine and we're going to come back out on top as we always have).
One of the many reasons why so many people in Iraq turned to terrorism, such as Magtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army, were because they didnt feel as though they were going to be represented in the new Iraq. Instead of trying to influence government, they tried to force their political agenda through violence.

Currently, al-Sadr is an active voice within the new Iraq Government, his Mahdi Army is disbanded, and he no longer utilized violence as a means of political influence.

Many people turn terrorism because it is the only way for them to influence politics. Because a Democracy is run by the people, it gives them a peacful means to have their voices heard.

Global Jihad is trying to establish a totalitarian empire based upon an extreme view of Islam. The best counter to this is Democracy. By giving people a choice, it helps destroy influence of totalitarianism. Unfortunately, as mentioned before many Muslims are being taught since birth hate and are preached an extreme view of Islam. They accept a global totalitarian state because it is all they know.

There is another strategy for dealing with the Middle East: to rid ourselves of our dependency on foreign oil. Unfortunately, I do not believe this strategy will work. If the Western World leaves the Middle East and no longer requires oil, their economies will plummet, their governments will only become more corrupt, and terrorism and global Jihad will only become more popular. If we stop supporting Israel, who have developed the best counter terrorist strategies in the world, then our first line of defense against the Middle East terrorism will be gone.
We cannot stop supporting Israel. They are the front line against global Jihad and Middle East terrorism. They have developed the best counter terror strategies on the planet. While their government is still learning and needs to learn how to deal with terrorism politically, because that is where global Jihad and terrorism can only be stopped, their military is the best at combating terrorism.

If peace can be sustained between Israel and the Arab world, then there is a chance for true global peace and the defeat of the ideal of Jihad and terrorism.

None of what i said here is simply speculation, assumption, or cause i watched some youtube video did i think im an expert. Im a homeland security major, and i primarily focus my studies on modern terrorism and the history of terrorism. Im still no expert, but ive spent a lot of long hours in the library, read a lot of books, listened to a lot of lectures, and written a lot of papers. ive done my homework

Student B
Again, I am not saying that Hamas is legitimate. I am saying that our (and by our, I mean the US, UK, and all other western democracies) UNWAVERING support of Israel and our COMPLETE disregard of the Palestinian people is the reason Hamas ever gained power. The United States is in a global fight with terrorisms that its own foreign policies helped create. Palestinians harbor hatred toward the people that aided in the demise of their people. It is far too easy for us, in the comfort of democracy and free speech, to say that violence is not the answer, but when the people who preach freedom and democracy do not support the basic human and civil rights of your people, when the government that is forced on you gives you no effective representation, when your people live in poverty next to the privileged immigrants (which is what Israelis and British were) who took over your country, violent measures, however WRONG, will be taken.
The Jewish people were not first given access to what is now Israel just after WWII, but long before that. Yes, Jews had been persecuted for much of the early 20th century, mainly because they were a displaced people. The UK first declared the area of Palestine open for Jewish immigration in the 1920s. And before WWII, they began to limit and then stop the immigration because the tensions it was causing with the native Palestinians was so apparent. So you cannot say that the Holocaust was the reason for the creation of Israel. Nor can you say that the UK legitimately OWNED the land. Great Britain, as well as all European nations, were forcefully colonizing Africa, Asia, and the Middle East as part of their belief in the “White Man’s Burden.” Palestinians, under British ruled were not mistreated, in fact they were mostly left alone. But nevertheless, the land was not theirs to legitimate sell.
And furthermore, if the western powers were so altruistically concerned with the well-being of the Jewish people, why then did they not give a portion of their own country(ies) to the Jewish cause? We cannot justify one genocide with another. Or excuse displacing one people to right the wrong done to another.
Yes, Israelis are there now and will not be leaving, but to disregard the history and simply state that this terrorism and extremism simply appeared out of nowhere will do nothing to solve the problem. Because the fact is that this is a political problem and the two sides of the issue happened to be of different religions. Israelis were not originally hated because they were Jewish because historically Muslims and Jews have had amicable relations. The POLITICAL issue was expanded to pit Jewish people against Muslims because Palestinians are mostly Muslim and Israeli leaders are mostly Jewish.

Religion never had to be a factor, but the exploitation of the Middle East never stopped and when the people of the Middle East saw that their oppressors and those doing the exploiting were from the Democratic West, it created the environment for extremism and terrorist. Now, peaceful, innocent Muslim will condone the suicide bombings of Hamas and other extremist groups because the Palestinians do not have their own nation like they should, they do not have their own army like they should, and they are continually treated as second class citizens. The children who are watching their parents be wounded and killed by the bombs of Israel will justifiable learn to associate hatred and evil with the nation of Israel. And with no voice of their own with which to help and advance their people, these children, the future peacemakers, will instead be recruited by terrorists.

The United States MUST address the underlying cause of the extremism and terrorism if we want to end it. We can stop unilaterally supporting Israel. We can do more than just denounce Hamas and instead work with all the nations of the Middle East to ensure equal standards of living for all citizens of Israel. We can work toward securing the Palestinians there own sovereign nation.

Student A
I agree with establishing a Palestine state, and that Israel has not taken the proper measures to do so. However, one reason why Israel has placed an embargo on Palestine is because they still sponsor and promote terrorism. In return the Palestinian terrorist launched rockets into innocent Israeli cities. We should not give into Hamas until they renounce terrorism. However, Israel needs to show their support of a peaceful Palestine, to help them understand peaceful cohabitation is possible.

Regretably, Hamas is supported by other organizations such as Hezbollah and Iran. These countries and organizations will not support Israel, at least not anytime soon. The hatred runs too deep, not only against Israel, but also against the United States. Iran's support of terrorist and anti-western militias in Iraq have led to the deaths of thousands of American and other western soldiers.

The violent Arab countries (namely Syria and Iran) wont simply be our "friends" for not supporting Israel, but unless we destroy Israel ourselves. BTW Israel has nuclear weapons, and mark my words they will destroy the world before they will ever fall to their knees. Unilateral support for Israel must be possible as well as support for peace in the Middle East. Dont expect good things to happen if we stop supporting Israel. This is not an option, im sorry.

Student C
peace on whose terms? there apparently cannot be peace under such terms like 'violent arab countries' and the fear of nuclear threat if we befriend a fellow occupying force. america the mirage needs to wake up and start applying it's own rules upon itself, let alone those pesky international laws...after having physically aided in the occupation of iraq, reading, and most importantly listening to varying views, it seems to me that terrorism needs an etymologic face-lift. if we try to define and label certain groups 'terrorist,' but act the same way only calling it self defense-what is the point, aside from false motivators such as spreading democracy, of using the phrase? there is no such thing as absolute good and evil, only people vying for power. america and israel are not the flawed heroine, doing her best in a world gone mad.

churchill (a royal prick of the highest order) managed to say something quite true: "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." democracy isn't given to one country by another. it is the product of a peoples uprising against other forms of organization. and besides, who the hell wants the 'freedom' track record that american has: 725 overseas us bases (the result of spreading democracy), extreme rendition, the halting of one of the most basic laws of humanity: habeas corpus, and of the 'rich, developed countries' we are second to mexico in having the highest child poverty rate. any country that prides itself on anything while maintaining such a disgrace ought to be ashamed. finally, why all the talk about america in an israel/palestine conflict? it's because in our global (not increasingly global) humanity, our country has failed to act responsibly. borders are artificial. i am palestinian, i am israeli, we are all human.

Student A
You talk about how much of a disgrace America is, then I invite you to visit Iraq, visit Israel, visit Palestine. I have not been to these countries myself, but I am well on my way (Army Guard). My point is to examine life in these countries; for example: there are police in Iran that will arrest women who wear clothing that "disgraces the Koran." America has given you all the best possible standard of life available on the face of the Earth.

I agree, we are all human, but the fact of the matter is our enemies don't recognize that. If we want to be loving and accepting thats great, problem is our enemies will not. At least America grants you the opportunity to choose our leadership, to have the freedom to speak your mind and a chance to influence opinions. Good luck with that in the countries that need it more than we do, namely countries like Iran.

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Student C
i think the key is to look at the shit-utations from the point of view of those most vulnerable. if our lives are spent saying "yes, but" we are just heaping excuses upon excuses the road that leads us down is not democracy, is not what the 'founders' or 'framers' (who could even know such a thing anyway?) desired. seems that a life lived in luxury on the backs of others deserves the relation of such people. wouldn't we do the same? aren't we doing the same? it has to stop with those with the most to lose, because those with nothing to lose have no other alternative. the concept of an enemy is not wholly portrayed in the 'everyday" policy workings of the army. after eight years and two middle east countries later, i am no more convinced and i can guarantee the same awaits you. being deployed does not surround one with over mounting evidence and clarity - only people pushed to physical and mental limits which is not the environment for rational, logical, and justice-based conclusions.

i would just plead that you ask more questions about the situations you believe you might find yourself in. what really do you want from an 'examination' of countries such as iran, that frankly we are unable to accurately understand. we might be living in a land that is steeped in resources and wealth, but offering them to only some of the population- is not as mighty as it is portrayed. i left the army because i care deeply about this county and refuse to participate in it's degradation. i left the army because i finally built up enough independence to think for myself, not superficially, i mean engaging in deep questioning of motives and actions. this county is full of many good people....silently holding on to something they know nothing about. america will fall one day. we are becoming an empire, it's up to us to decide how we proceed - not assigning responsibility to other people to do things. elections have been financially brokered by republicans and democrats for decades...

Student B
My family and I know first hand the terrors and atrocities committed by the Iranian regime in the name of religion. Believe me, arresting women is the least of their problems. No one is talking about America being disgraceful, because you’re right, the standard of living here is obviously better than most other nations. But much of it comes at the expense of other nations. The situation in Iran is a direct result of American and British involvement in Iranian affairs in the 1950s. When the British were continually exploiting Iranian resources and becoming wealthier and wealthier as hundreds and thousands of citizens lived in poverty, the Iranian people democratically elected a Prime Minister who was determined to end the exploitation and improve the standard of living for Iran’s own people. The British and American governments then in 1953 executed a coup to overthrown this democratic leader in order to REINSTATE the monarch.

The Shah of Iran became so paranoid and ruthless that he unleashed his secret police, the SAVAK, on any dissenters. This man is someone the Iranian people were trying to exile before the coup. His son was even worse. So when the nation that declares itself a democracy overthrows your democratically elected leader and allows the continued exploitation of your people, is it a surprise that resentment builds? When the Ayatollah Khomeini became prominent, he promised a government that would include democratically elected officials but would also remain close to Islam and not become Westernized, since it was the west that abruptly ended their earlier revolution. The Iranian people were very worried that the US and Britain would again try to end their attempts at establishing a new government, thus leading to anti-American protests and ultimately the Iranian-hostage crisis of 1979.

And then, when Iraq was given the green light to attack Iran, Khomeini used it as an opportunity to say that no opposition or dissent could be tolerated during the war. Many were arrested and executed as traitors because he simultaneously began implementing strict Shariah law, again using the war as the reason for the necessity. The United States sold weapons to Iraq (as well as Iran) as if simply handing them the chance to bleed each other out. But the Iraqis were also given chemical and biological weapons to use against Iranians, the effects of which are still being seen today (children born with defects, etc). Over one million died. The Iranian people never intended to create a totalitarian government that all but strips them of their rights. They are the victims of this regime that has been allowed to continue, grow, and prosper.

If we are truly as altruistic as we like to claim, if the spread of democracy, and not our own advancement and agenda, is our goal, then where was the help that the Iranian people so desperately needed? And is starting a war with Iran or any country for that matter really going to help our relations with the actual people of the country? How easy will it be for the Iranian regime to preach more hate about the US and the west if we invade their country? And how easy is it for them to point to the plight of the Palestinians and remind them of American interference into Iranian affairs and claim that at least they are better than the “democracy” America is spreading?

Furthermore, we cannot fight this enemy as though we are fighting fascist Germany in WWII. We are not fighting someone with an identifiable face. We are fighting an ideology. And ideologies are not defeated through invasion and 20th century war strategies.

The United States right now is simply adding more fuel to a fire that it helped create. The ideologies that make our enemies strong are partly a result of our own policies and if we are to defeat that hatred and extremism, we need to find a better, more suitable strategy.

Student A
The Israelis raided a Hamas operation to raid Israel and capture Israeli soldiers!!! Hmmm, Hamas was moving into position to attacka and Israel stopped it. Soooo by this logic, if i see someone go to get a gun out of his car to shoot me, i see him get the gun, i should wait for him to shoot first before i defend myself? Legally in the United States I can use any force necessary to defend myself if i feel that my life is threatened beyond a reasonable doubt. I understand that this is the law here in the United States, but if the enemy is moving into position to attack during a ceasefire, that clearly breaks the rules.

One reason why nobody has heard about this small operation until now is because Hamas wants to make it public to manipulate the media to gain popular support. The media is one of the most influential force multipliers terrorist utilize. In my opinion, by digging a tunnel into Israel to maneuver terrorist in position to kidnap soldiers violated the ceasefire first.

As toward that second link, im sorry but in war there will always, AWLAYS be collateral damage. It is proven that Hamas militants wear civilian clothing because one, when theyre injured and brought to a hospital they dont have a weapon on them, thus then they are civilian. Thust, when a hospital or Red Cross report casualties, they report 80 civilians, when in fact its impossible to tell just how many were actually militants.

Also, because militants dont wear uniforms (though i know that some Hamas terrorist do, most dont) it is very difficult to target who is who on the battlefield.

Now, i implore you to compare civilian casualties from World War II to recent conflicts. While there will always regrettably be civilian casualties, there are far far far less than there were when both sides of the conflict would carpet bomb whole cities, killing millions of innocent civilians.

Student B
The point is not exclusive to Hamas tactics in the unrest between Palestine and Israel. And you can rattle off specific examples of incidents where Hamas has acted wrongly or not in accord with tradition conduct in war. The point that the Palestinian struggle is just. And all Palestinians are not members of Hamas. People are people. Soldiers are people. Civilians are people. And death and war should not be so easily justifiable. Because there are plenty of times where Israel and Israeli soldiers have done detestable things. And to compare any aspect of the currect struggle in the Middle East to WWII, even if it's just civilian casualties, is to legitimize an entirely UNJUST situation.

adam said...

[From our friend, Milton Brown:]

Like most conscious people today, I have been thinking endlessly about the current situation in Gaza. And like many people, I am deeply disturbed by what I have witnessed. As a human(e) witness, in both the biblical and secular sense, I am at once morally obligated and socially compelled to enact a narrative of moral accountability and responsibility. Naomi Klein calls for an anti-apartheid style boycott of Israel, while my good friend, Marc demands a greater understanding of the complex nature of Israel's place in the Middle East. While these disparate positions are presented in opposition to one another, they represent two important and compatible elements of a critical engagement of this Middle East crisis. Toward that end, I seek a discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict toward greater enlightenment, reflection, and propulsion to act.

I don't know Klein, but I have read several of her books, most recently the shock doctrine, and I find her to be both informative and balanced, especially in relation to the entrenched ideas of empire, xenophobia, and racism of the American public and the obsessive imperialism of the political right. I say this post-November 4, because my hope for a new America is just that and my faith in Obama has yet to grow roots in a realization of real political, let alone moral, change in our culture. I know Marc exceedingly well, since he and I are spiritual brothers, and I know his heart better than I do his head. I know that Marc cares deeply for all human beings, including Palestinians, even while he struggles to support the continued existence of Israel absent state terrorism and the dehumanization of the Palestinian peoples in both Gaza and the West Bank. These may not be Marc’s words, but I am certain that they are his sentiments wherever these kinds of atrocities of power and dehumanization make themselves known to us. What is particularly important to me is that two people for whom I have great respect find themselves on perhaps irrevocably different sides, and yet reflect a humanism that impels me to place both in the center of my moral community. In that sense, I wish to honor both as I seek my own way.

As with many people with whom I have discussed this issue over the years, and particularly in the last week or so, I am outraged by the disproportionality of Israel’s response to the rocket fire from Gaza. The sinful irony of Israel’s justification for such inhumane treatment of another people has not been lost on me, since the pitiable potential of Hamas to inflict serious damage on Israel is certainly less than proportionate to their existence in concentration camp-like circumstances (American style re Japanese and not the death camps of Hitler’s Germany), deprivation of food, and blockades against their economic and cultural survival. Does anyone really think that Katushya (sp) rockets are in anyway analogous to the 1-ton bombs Israel has dropped on civilian populations in crowded Gaza enclaves? I fully recognize that fear is more relative to intent than the magnitude of harm that can be caused and that I have no right to judge the fear of Israelis, especially from the comfort of my home with a big screen television that I can either turn off or change to a different channel. Nonetheless, I find the disproportionality of response in this conflict to have crossed the border of humanity and to have found its place in the outback of barbarity. Of course, I refer here to the State power of Israel more so than the people, but the Israeli people must be held to the same accountability for its nation’s inhumanity as I hold myself accountable for American atrocities around the world. As such, no rationalization, fear or otherwise, can justify this kind of human depreciation.

It is this very condition that has moved me to propose an analogy not so much with South Africa, as Klein has chosen to do, but with Northern and Western European colonialism in the New World—that is, their New World and not the Old World of Native Peoples who had lived on this continent for centuries. Even the accepted naming of these places of conflict—Israel and the New World—is emblematic of the problems that the imposition of disproportionate power presents. Usurping the right of a people to name themselves and the land of their ancestors is not relegated to the bounded geography we now collude in calling Israel. In Africa, Asia, Central and South America, in Canada to our north, Australia and throughout the Galapagos Islands, indigenous peoples now live in places where invading European hordes sought to appropriate their wealth and beauty and expatriate their souls. A god, made in the likeness of his inventors, overthrew the gods of their ancestors and with it the spiritual lifeline of cultures intact since before there was even a Europe. In what was once Palestine, Israelis—or more precisely European Ashkenazic Jews—now do to Arabs and Sephardic Jews to a lesser extent, what was done to them in the countries of their origin—at least politically. The power to conquer and the power to name are preconditions essential to the power to control and to dehumanize, and they are palpably present in both the US and Israel.

It is important at this point to make clear that when I speak of power I do not do so in personal, individualized terms. The masses that emigrated to Israel from Central and Eastern Europe to escape tyranny and to settle in the Promised Land were no more the architects of colonialism than were those jettisoned from the prisons of 17th and 18th Century Europe and deposited on the eastern shores of this continent. Most were simple people courageously seeking something better and hoping that they would find it in their lifetime. The power I speak of is ideological and systemic. It is cultural and as unobtrusive as the water in which fish find sustenance. Marimba Ani, a cultural anthropologist, refers to this phenomenon in her captivating book, Yurugu, as the European/American Asili, a Swahili term for “will to power”. Ani argues that foundational to the European/American cultural worldview is the undying pursuit of power, a will to conquer all and to make the world over in their likeness. And even if the people who emigrated to Israel and the US were not inspired by power interests, those interests were soon embraced by them as a right of “manifest destiny”, whether propelled by religious belief or secular opportunism.

Once on their new land, European Jews like European Christians before them, moved quickly to separate themselves from the “Others” and to establish disparate and inequitable living conditions and social possibilities. Cultural imperialism, social hierarchies, and political disempowerment served to immediately dichotomize the respective groups creating more permanent inequities of power and influence of already unequal Semitic peoples. As Frederick Douglass made all too clear, “power concedes nothing without a demand” and it was/is no different with the Native Peoples of America and Arab nationalists in Israel. From political cries for inclusive justice to armed resistance to occupation and control, disempowered peoples on both continents and countries utilize(d) both. What Douglass didn’t tell us is that resistance is inevitably defined as savagery and terrorism by the powerful who almost always control the systemic means of communication dissemination and who are therefore able to manipulate national and international misrepresentation and misunderstanding. If we are to accept Confucian wisdom that “He who defines the terms has already won the argument”, then the very act of occupation dissembles the rights of the occupied and marginalizes them on the outskirts of cultural agency and continuity.

It needs to be stated clearly that political disempowerment, economic deprivation, social distancing and cultural marginalization do not a priori establish moral superiority or infallibility of the oppressed. In fact, Howard Zinn makes this very point while arguing for the inclusion of voices of the disenfranchised: "The cry of the poor may not always be just, but if you never listen to it, you will never know what social justice is." Neither the Palestinians of the Middle East nor the Native Peoples of the Americas are any more imbued with an inherent moral character than their respective conquerors. As human beings they are by moral definition equal. The differences lie in their social positioning, especially in relation to each other, and that is a constructed unreality. The illusions of superiority/inferiority, power/powerlessness, agency/impotence conjoin to serve the interests of the system and not either of the peoples who suffer them.

No people can be defined by others, marginalized to the fringes of social life and dispossessed of their historical investments in dream and hope—and view the world other than through the veil. Just as people who share few, if any, of these conditions can view the “Other” except as distorted images peering out from behind the veil. It is what constitutes the “Other” and what sustains it as a determinant of each group’s sense of their respective selves. “Palestinian Terrorists” and “Savage Indians” are negotiated identities similar to the negotiated treaties and cease fires between the defeated and the conquerors. In each category and case, the less powerful sought/seeks ways to minimize their continuous loss of moral standing against a resolute disregard of equitability by the powerful. Again, not because the powerful are inherently less human(e), but because their incentive to be more equitable is insufficient to overcome their “possessive investment” in the perquisites of privilege and power. Bows and Arrows are to Springfield Rifles as Katushya Rockets are to Nuclear bombs.

adam said...

Marx was once asked, "What is?" He responded, simply: "Struggle."

Indeed, struggle is. Struggle is the work to throw off imperialism, whether that exists in Gaza, in Sudan, in Mexico, in the west end of Louisville. Struggle is the work to flee the path of least resistance, to understand privilige as the dialectical pair of oppression (that my privilege causes and is caused by oppression), and to tremble at an unfolding consciousness that reveals the intimate interconnectedness of all things living--earth, animal, and human.

To struggle for me is the antithesis to God, more exactly to market-driven, institutional religion. To struggle means to live this life, rather than die to it as a post-ressurection Christianity or a fundamentalist Islamic faith may have us do. To struggle is not to give up, to not turn our life over to powerful men and persuasive ideologies wrapped up as (clever) mysticism.

To struggle is to hope. It is to see history, not as inexorable or as already lived and static, but as an ever-transformational project that is always in the process of being lived, recognizing anew its fissures, its ruptures, its possibility. We hope because we know life existed prior to capitalism, prior to feudalism, prior to racism, prior to heterosexism, prior to sexism. These have all been constructions foisted upon humanity, often wrapped up as democracy and freedom--thus, unconsciously accepted by most. What comes next will also be part of the historical process. What comes next can be built by conscious people of the truth, as Milton might say.

We will not win without struggle. We will not know what there is to win without deep introspection, without a new appreciation for revolutionary theory, without being able to connect the historical dots. We will not know that we can win without hope, without the long memory that bryan reminds us of through u.utah phillips below.

So, I opt for consciousness. I opt for the long memory that will illuminate the heretofore unseen connections. I opt for listening to the voices of the oppressed/marginalized/disenfranchised. I opt for taking sides with the underdog in matters of power. I opt to speak truth to power. I opt for telling my students a truth they have not heard, regardless of the consequences. I opt for stopping a family member in the midst of the telling of an uninformed remark. I opt for finding/building/creating community over hyper-individualism. I opt for joining a protest rather than being consumed by the technical bread and circus of (reality) TV. Better, I opt for leading a protest. I opt for reading. I opt for one more step in making the planet live longer. I opt to throw myself into the present so that a future is even possible (whether I am in it or of it). I opt for something other than capitalism and a man made god (they could be the same thing, actually) intended to keep me in my place and render oppression as a natural state of things.

I can do all these things because I opt to struggle. I will be more or less good at this depending on the day, depending on my ability to address my privilege and cut through the bullshit of the corporately created media. But, I can commit to being better everyday. And, I can/will measure my success by my widening community circle, by the level of discussion within my community, by our ability to connect with other communities (and thus grow our community), by our courage to act toward all of the options enlisted above. We can act locally everyday, provided our local action is not whimsical, but rather connected to a global movement for justice. We also know that justice will not be won through some low-cost conciliation or, probably, without chaos. Thus, we need the courage that is built through community, through one more added to the struggle each day. We are what is. We are the struggle.

bryan reinholdt said...

another interesting dialogue between three people (an older woman, an educator, an army reserve pilot, and an older unknow gentleman). like the last post, these conversations are posted on the social site facebook after the army reserve pilot posted a thread.

thread: 9/11 Families Outraged by Obama Call to Suspend Guantanamo.
Families of victims of terrorist attacks say they are outraged by President Obama's call to halt the trials of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

older woman:
I did not lose any one in that but I too am very upset about that decision. I belevei we need to do what is right and I dont think letting murders of the innocent go is right. Weather it be the unborn or those tht were killed in 9/11

most of the men in git-mo were not a part of 9/11 but rather were handed over for vengeance or resources. if we cannot give a person a proper trial, not a war crimes tribunal, with evidence presented to the accused then they do not need to be held without account. the only gained by such is the guarantee that such people will increase their hatred, if they had any to begin with.

for those that were involved, give them a trial that doesn't cause the last four JAG prosecutors to RESIGN. if we can't learn something from our military prosecutors, then who can we?

pilot: well, that's ok, I know that I for one am happy that over 60 of those pukes who were released are confirmed in terrorist activity now, that was for sure the best course of action, come on! You can't seriously think they are innocent, it doesn't matter if they were part of 9/11 specifically it only matters they that were picked up doing terrorist things.

what things? driving? cooking? where is the evidence? the remaining men, most minors at the time of arrest, who were released should be mad that they were held for years against their will, i'm sure mccain was pissed for being a POW for so long. so pissed he devoted his life to understanding the situation in a war college, going on to politics after other areas didn't pan out. when some of these men return to their countries, the greatest social gatherings are anti-american, and i'm sure we could understand that such convictions are not totally incorrect. they don't have war colleges, support groups, psychiatric care....after being held in solitary for years, your mind isn't going to function the same. i'm not an obama fanatic, but i believe he is guiding us closer to a us free from hypocrisy.

the us is guilty of terrorism. we didn't bomb tim mcveigh's home town why would we be justified in bombing other neighborhoods in other countries?

because his hometown did not support the bombings and hold rallies in his honor and praising him as a martyr who takes the lives of people in 'the evil empire' they know as America. That's why!

true, and that point really obfuscates the reasons why they would support resistance. people placed under pressure will cling to a faith system, even to the point of infusing nationalism with their ideology. the less you have to lose, the greater your willingness to risk everything for changing the situation. both iraq and iran are products of american covert intervention: in iraq saddam turned away from western influence when he decided he didn't want to remain under the thumb of america and wanted more power (ie invading iran and kuwait). iran on the other hand rebelled early when the people would not accept the us placed shah after the western nations over through the democratically elected Mossadegh. which is similar to the leadership in palestine-we didn't want fattah in power so the people elected hamas. that wasn't what westerns or israelis wanted, so they are deemed terrorist because they believe that israel's take over of the state of palestine was illegitimate. and it was/is

but it is OK to tell Israel to stop defending themselves from rocket/mortar attacks from people who are taught in their 'schools' that all Jews must die. You can't tell me this past election was not rigged, I may be a conspiracy theorist more than most because I vote, but I still believe the govt. picks who they want to be cmdr in chief.

older man:
Mcveigh nor other individual terrorist have absolutely NOTHING to do with obama closing gitmo. We are talking about terrorist cells, groups, who are trained by our enemies to kill Americans. There is black and white, no gray. Right or wrong. They attacked us, now they have had an American boot in their butt. GET OVER IT ! They are not our friends , they are muslim terrorist. We will see them again. If not them , then their children. Then the liberal fools will have yet another liberal excuse as to why they hate us. GET OVER IT ! They hate us because we are Americans. CHRISTIAN AMERICANS. I, for one will not give that up.


i, for once, would just like to hear some higher, critical thought than the tired old argument that they hate "us" because of {insert predictable reason here}. it's my view that there are more influential factors behind these arguments. such as US hegemony, governmental manipulation, and a capitalist system that that’s built on the least commendable features of the human psyche, greed and envy, rather than the best. i fear a citizenry that fails to ask questions about itself or its motives. if anything, the world has much more reason to loath americans for our hegemony and carpet violence rather than a faith system. it's a mistake to think that a gun and revenge will bring justice from mounting injustice/violence. it didn't start on 9/11. we are people of the world first, family members, then framed by our chosen nationality, and lastly our faith or lack of faith system.

older man:
Why dont you move over there with them since you love them so much, and hate this nation?

unfortunately, this conversation has taken a disrespectful turn with nationalistic and theological/mythological introversion. i suppose if i was religious i could end by saying i'll pray for ya, but i'll just say good night, sleep tight.