Archive for Gaza

A (Shitty) Year in Review

Posted in Capitalism, Economy, Elections, Israel-Palestine, Media, News, Politics, USA with tags , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Z

Happy new year.  Let’s review.  We’ll start small:

Status quo in another revolving door election between party A and party a.  (No other result was possible, so we classify this as small).

Stepping up now:

We were treated to the holy wisdom of Richard Mourdock from the heart of Indiana as he revealed to us the Almighty’s position on rape.  (A note on the lighter side: Shouldn’t someone who might be nicknamed “Dick” generally avoid commenting on gender issues?).

Moving on from troglodytic verbal gaffes, we reach domestic surveillance:

It seems the Occupy movement was closely watched by the FBI and Homeland Security even before the start of public protests.  Apparently, the FBI’s Memphis Joint Terrorism Task Force actually described Occupy as “domestic terrorism.”  Apparently, the FBI communicated their findings to corporate America.  So, what we have here are government agencies (the FBI and Homeland Security) coordinating a national crackdown on a nonviolent protest movement according to the needs of the cash engorged corporate world.  This is nothing less than part 2 of the Palmer Raids.  Why mention this now?  Well, because this surveillance is still going on as Occupy plans for the coming spring.

And now manipulating public opinion:

CNN decided to go ahead and selectively gather data on drone casualties from obviously suspect sources in order to cheerlead for Obama-as-war-president.  Here’s an article from The Atlantic that covers the bases, but frankly isn’t critical enough.

On to the real big leagues – death and wrongful imprisonment:

Gaza is still blockaded.

The drone wars of Bush-Obama continue to kill civilians.

Bradley Manning is still not free.

Leonard Peltier is still not free.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is still not free.  (Three is good enough for now.  We only have so much space, after all).

We had a school shooting, following which a president whose personally authorized drone attacks have killed more children than died at Sandy Hook gave what I can only consider a deeply hypocritical speech.  We then had to be dragged through the requisite media find-some-music-or-movie-or-videogame-to-blame-this-on routine before arriving at gun control as an issue.  Once there, the limit of the national discourse seems to be an assault weapons ban not substantially different from the one we had not too long ago.  (Never mind, of course, that that ban only expired in 2004; those of my generation who were finishing up high school in 1999 ought to be acutely aware that this ban was in effect during the Columbine shooting, so hooray for useless legislation).  There’s a great post over at SMBIVA suggesting what should have been obvious from day one: there’s a common element to all school shootings that no one seems to want to talk about – schools.  Check it out.

Finally, stuff of global import:

2012 was the warmest year on record, with tons of extreme weather.  Climate change deniers would be well advised to wear sunscreen when they go outside to yell at the rest of us about how climate change is a hoax.  Unless, of course, sun burns and skin cancer are also hoaxes.

The 2012 Mayan apocalypse failed spectacularly.  Granted, it was based largely on a blatant misinterpretation of Mayan beliefs.  But hey, at least a horde of ignorant rubbernecking tourists did irreparable damage to a couple of archaeological wonders as part of their world’s end party.

You know, I’m getting some serious déjà vu here.  In ’99, we had a horrible school shooting, I finished an academic program, and a prediction of apocalypse (Y2K) didn’t deliver.  In 2012, we had another horrible school shooting, I finished another academic program (if we include high school, that makes four now and still no lucrative, fulfilling career.  Ever wish you could place a call back in time to your high school guidance counselors?), and another apocalypse fizzled.

We lost both Alexander Cockburn and Gore Vidal.  I can only see this as a severe blow to the left and to the United States in general.  We don’t have that many good people left, and these losses only hasten the end of the era of the public intellectual, already being replaced with talking heads and credentialed idiots.  With Howard Zinn already gone, things look pretty bleak to me.  If Noam Chomsky, Jeffrey St. Clair and Cindy Sheehan ever travel anywhere together, maybe we should insist they take separate flights.  The flame is low, and there’s a big wind coming.  The liberals capitulated big time (again) and think the Democrats have saved them from some thug named Cliff whose nickname appears to be “Fiscal.”  As usual, there will be no meaningful help from them.  This year, my eyes will once again be on Occupy.  Here’s hoping.


On the bright side, I did read a pretty damn funny satire recently.  I’ll probably add more on that soon.

Post Thanksgiving Update 1: Israel, Gaza, UN

Posted in Israel-Palestine, News, Politics, USA with tags , , on November 30, 2012 by Z

While I was occupied with the thanksgiving holiday (or more accurately while I was occupied at work instead of having a thanksgiving holiday) the usual suspects went at it over Gaza.  Better bloggers than I have already addressed this in more or less the same way I would have; check out my blogroll if you’re curious.  VastLeft and Chris Floyd  would be good places to start.  Even so, I feel it necessary to chime in.  Criticizing Israeli policy is not for the weak of stomach in the US, where the slightest suggestion that maybe Israel shouldn’t be bulldozing Palestinian homes or might want to consider not defying world opinion and UN resolutions regarding illegal settlements can get one branded an anti-Semite.  I, however, have been shacking up with one of the chosen people for 12 years and fear no reprisal.  To anyone gearing up to play the “Israel has a right to defend itself” card, I present this map:

There are two possibilities here: Either offense really is the best defense, or this isn’t ‘defense’ at all.  If the Palestinians are as dangerous to the integrity of Israel as Netanyahu suggests, then they clearly aren’t very good at it.  HuffPost (Yeah, I’m not a fan either, but they have the most recent count I could find) claims the following as of 11/19: 87 Palestinians killed (50 of them civilians), 720 wounded vs. 3 Israelis killed and “dozens” wounded.  Seriously, who holds the power here?  Since when does the right to self defense encompass this kind of aggression against a densely populated, blockaded region?  The recent UN decision to recognize Palestine as a state, opposed by only nine nations including the US, obviously, seems to show the direction of world opinion.  Apparently, I’m not the only one noticing this stuff.  Whether it actually changes the behavior of the Israeli right on the ground is another question.  To be clear, I’m not trying to sweep the significance of Hamas rocket attacks under the rug here, but responsibility is not a zero sum game.  There’s plenty to go around, and the vast disparity in power and influence between Israel and Hamas suggests that the bulk of it ought not be placed on the weaker party.

Professor Sergio Pergola over at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has done some work on Israeli and Palestinian demographics that addresses one of the more common views of the whole mess.  He breaks it down like this: Israel has three major objectives: First, be a democratic society, second, remain a Jewish society and third, retain the occupied territories.  Here’s the issue: they can only really have two.  In order to keep the occupied territories (West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza), Israel must give up either democracy or its Jewish character.  At the moment, it appears to have opted to off democracy, as in order to protect its traditional Jewish character it must operate in the manner of an apartheid system by excluding – and often confining – Palestinians.  Were it to include them, it could no longer claim to be a ‘Jewish’ society due to the resulting demographic shift.  Pergola doesn’t take a strong position regarding what should be done, but I think it’s pretty clear that releasing the occupied territories is the way to go, now that everyone seems to have abandoned the one state solution.  The Israeli right, however, has opted to keep up the apartheid model.

One final note: Pergola, deep in demographer mode, appears to have missed something ominous: the central issue he’s identified is remarkably similar to the racist paranoia of certain American pundits.  Remember the O’Reillys of the world bemoaning the alleged loss of “white America” after the election?  (Relax, Bill.  It’s right where you left it, on the right hand counter next to the kill list and the predator drone owner’s manual).  Is this not reminiscent of retrograde blood and soil nationalism?  We really ought to have left this behind by now, yes?