Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “Israel”

The War on Christmas

The modern War on Christmas began when Ariel Sharon, then the Prime Minister of Israel, provocatively went for a walk on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in September 2000. thereby sparking off the Second Intifada. This turned Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, into a no-go area, just in time for the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, which Christians might have wanted to observe with special celebrations.

XmasWarThe song of the angels, heard by the shepherds, was more than a little ironic:

Luke 2:14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

King Herod, who started the first War on Christmas, apparently showed very little goodwill, and over the last 200 years, little has changed.

Global Research is a somewhat tendentious web site, and I usually take what it says with a pinch of salt, but when it comes to the War on Christmas, I think they got it right. US-NATO’s “Counter-Christmas Crusade” against the Cradle of Civilization and the Holy Land | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization:

…a region now decimated by that created by George W. Bush’s and Tony Blair’s “Crusade,” not to mention Obama and Cameron’s “humanitarian bombings” of the Land of two Rivers.

Ur was vandalized by the US army, who arrived with Bibles in vast stocks, missionaries and plans for proselytizing those who had nurtured and stewarded the region’s wonders of all religions for centuries.

Al-Qurna was stormed and devastatingly damaged by British, Lithuanian and Danish troops, the Tree of Knowledge whose legend and life seemingly spanned the mists of time, died, near certainly from the poisonous pollution of battle, more poisonous even than that which destroyed over half all fauna and flora after the Desert Storm 1991 onslaught, leaving the soil dead and infertile for years afterwards.

Syria’s tragedy in the ongoing Crusade, determination to redraw the map of the Middle East and steal all natural resources rather than purchase them, is outside the scope of this article.

And Christmas is not the only Christian activity that has been disrupted by these Middle Eastern wars. Now there is this: Last-minute politics overshadow historic pan-Orthodox council – The Washington Post:

A religious summit last held more than 1,200 years ago suddenly risks being downgraded or postponed because of Syria’s four-year civil war. This unexpected twist has come as the world’s Orthodox churches, the second-largest ecclesial family in Christianity, were supposed to be only months away from their first major council since 787.

Now it is no longer clear when or where the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, a summit first proposed at least as far back as 1961 and provisionally scheduled for May in Istanbul, will be held.

Merry Xmas, everyone!

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Been through this movie before?

I’ve just “shared” three appeals for peace on Facebook — one from a Christian, one from a Muslim, one from a Jew.

People say that “religion” is responsible for most of the violent conflict in the world, so how come it is the secular politicians who are fanning the flames of conflict in the world, while is is the “religious” people who are calling for peace?

Remember what happened 100 years ago tomorrow?

19140804I’ve just been reading about it in this book, an hour by hour account of that day, with what led up to it, and the aftermath. Come tomorrow, when I’ve finished the book, I’ll review it (now finished, review here)  but what disturbs me is that nothing has changed. While the world media’s spotlight is on Gaza this week, they haven’t stopped killing people in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. Three civil wars and a quasi civil war in Gaza.

But what are the world’s politicians doing about it? Are they trying to urge the warring parties to get together and try to find a peaceful solution? No, they are grandstanding and making threats against each other, just as they did a century ago. Back then it was called jingoism, and it’s much the same to day.

We don’t want to fight
But By Jingo! if we do
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the guns
we’ve got the money too.

What can ordinary people do to promote peace when the politicians of the world’s most powerful nations are in the driving seat and driving in top gear to hell?

For what it’s worth, here are some of the appeals for peace:

But what is happening?

With Syria buried in the news, hopes fade for ending world’s bloodiest war | Al Jazeera America

What are other countries doing? Supplying arms to the combatants, that’s what.

Church leaders express concern about the sabre-rattling rhetoric: Statement by the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in Australia regarding the situation in Ukraine:

The Church is concerned that much of the rhetoric appearing in the media is biased and ill-informed; based upon the geo-political aspirations of certain stakeholders, which can only lead to further conflict and, God forbid, outright war.

And even some retired politicians recognise the danger — Ex-chancellor Schmidt slams EU over Ukraine – The Local:

Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt said on Friday the Ukraine standoff recalls the lead-up to World War I and blamed the “megalomania” of EU bureaucrats for sparking the crisis.

For the moment, these are separate conflicts, but remember that the Second World War started when a lot of separate smaller conflicts coalesced into one big one — Italy versus Ethiopia, Japan versus China, Germany versus Poland. And suddenly it became a free-for-all.

Can we learn the lessons of history, before it’s too late?

 

 

 

The Pittsford Perennialist: Mailbag

The following comes via The Pittsford Perennialist: Mailbag:

A long-term friend of this blog(ger) sends along an article on a particularly stingy nation — Israel is biggest importer of philanthropy, but exports? Not so good. He also sends along this topical ditty:

Let’s kiss under the ancient trees
And whisper secrets in the breeze,
silently sitting by the bay
Just you and me (and NSA).

The self-confessed “NSA attention whore” sends these phrases along as well: “شكر أن صديقي” and “ستيفن.”

One of the reasons that I am concerned about the Israel-Palestine conflict is that one of the effects of it is to drive Christians out of the part of the world where Christianity started. But like other conflicts it illustrates the poison of competing nationalisms. There are also parallels with the disintegration of Yugoslavia — also the result of competing nationalisms, which were fanned by bigger nations, as predicted by Samuel Huntington.

Clarissa's Blog

A nuclear power is waging an endless war on a tiny area that wants to gain its freedom from the big and powerful neighbor. There is a forced and cruel displacement of people from the lands they have inhabited forever, a genocide. The nuclear power is using anti-Muslim sentiments to consolidate the persecution of the people who fight for independence. The inhabitants of the small area are using terrorism to defend their right to independence, bringing their acts of terror into the very heart of the powerful conqueror. The appalling poverty plagues the people who have almost lost all hope for having a state of their own. The land has been destroyed by endless war.

Of course, you must have realized by now that I’m talking about Russia and Chechnya, right?

As the recent flare-up of the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensifies, everybody is plastering their Facebook pages, blogs…

View original post 143 more words

War and peace

h, and if you like the message, you can click in those little squares below to propagate it on Twitter I think this cartoon applies to a lot more places than Israel and Iran.

An American president (I think one of the Roosevelts) once said that the secrecy of diplomacy was to “talk softly and carry a big stick.” Now the politicians seem to shout loudly while brandishing their sticks.

Oh, and if you like the message you can click on those little squares below to propagate it on Twitter or “like” it of Facebook. Or you could put it on your blog too. Pass it on.

USA dumps Unesco

Yesterday, 107 member nations in UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, voted to admit Palestine as a member. UNESCO protects world heritage sites and leads global efforts to bring clean water to the poor. They even manage a tsunami early-warning system in the Pacific.

The U.S. was one of just 14 countries that voted “no” to Palestinian admission.

But within hours of the vote, the Obama Administration announced it would stop paying its $80 million in total yearly dues to UNESCO, which amounts to over 20 percent of UNESCO’s total budget. Why? Because the vote triggered decades-old U.S. legislation that requires that the U.S. stop paying any UN body that accepts Palestine as a member—even though official U.S. policy is to support a Palestinian state.

That has to change.

You see, the Israeli government and its right-wing supporters in the United States don’t even want a symbolic recognition of the Palestinian’s right to self-determination or participation on the world stage. That’s what the law is really about. The Israelis have already announced that they are expediting the construction of even more settlements and withholding life-sustaining tax monies that belong to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for the vote.

The U.S. is endangering its status at the UN and impoverishing critical global program needs simply because Palestinian admission to UNESCO angered Israel.

Please write your U.S. representatives now. Tell them to waive the portion of the law that bars the president from making funding decisions based on the national interest, and to work towards repeal of the law.


If you live outside of the United States, send a message to the Obama administration that this policy is harmful for the whole world.

Don’t let this go unanswered,

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace


from A Jewish Voice for Peace

Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew | World news | The Guardian

I’m a bit wary of citing the Guardian after their disingenuous distortions about the Catholic Church, so this one might need to be chacked against a more reliable source. Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew | The Guardian:

A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

I’ve been reading The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, the fictional memoirs of an SS officer in the Second World War.

At one point in the story the police are investigating him as a suspect in the murder of his mother, and he goes to visit his boss, Himmler, to persuade him to quash the charge. And the news story above reminded me of Himmler’s reply:

Obersturmbannfuehrer, I’m beginning to know you. You have your faults: you are, excuse me for saying so, stubborn and sometimes pedantic. But I don’t see the slightest trace of a moral defect in you. Racially, you are a perfect Nordic specimen, with perhaps just a touch of alpine blood. Only the racially degenerate nations, Poles, Gypsies, can commit matricide. Or else a hot-blooded Italian, during a quarrel, not in cold blood. No, it’s ridiculous. The Kripo is completely lacking in discernment. I’ll have to give instructions to Gruppenfuehrer Nebe to have his men trained in racial analysis, they’ll waste much less time that way.

OK, it’s fiction, but the rape story seems to bear out what the Brazilian educationist, Paolo Freire, said in his book Pedagogy of the oppressed:

During the initial stage of the struggle the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or ‘sub-oppressors.’ The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men, but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity.

and

The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom misacquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.

Does the story of the rape trial illustrate Freire’s thesis of the oppressed internalising the image of the oppressor, because it certainly looks like racism to me.

Turkish autopsies reveal aid workers shot from behind

Turkish autopsies reveal aid activists shot from behind:

On Friday, the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine released preliminary autopsy results for the nine Turkish men killed in the Israeli raid of the Mavi Marmara. The findings have generated almost as much controversy as has Israel’s actions. The results show five of the dead were shot in the back of the head or in the back, reported the Guardian. They were all shot at close range, and most were shot multiple times, with 30 bullets found in the bodies of the nine men. A British citizen who witnessed the raid first hand told the Guardian Israel appeared to have a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.

The British government’s response to this has been muted, perhaps because of the behaviour of British police in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Violence and values

All yesterday Sky News was still full of the Cumbria shootings. They seem obsessed with them, to the exclusion of all other news. Now they are interviewing survivors and witnesses. A fellow taxi driver who was shot, a little boy who witnessed the man on a bicycle being shot. They tell their stories calmly and matter-of-factly, in contrast to the breathless hype of the interviewers, going on about how terrible it is for such events to take place in a small and close-knit community in a beautiful part of England.

And then there are the expert counsellors, talking about the lasting trauma of those who witnessed these things, and how long it will take the community to get over it, and it is all so over-the-top. British soldiers have been doing such things as Derrick Bird did every week for the last few years in Iraq and Afghanistan, but nobody talks about the trauma they have caused in the small closs-knit communities there. Nothing about the trauma of the people on the ships taking aid to Gaza, hijacked on the high seas by Israeli pirates. There is something hugely disproportionate about it somehow.

I suppose it is understandable that Israel wants to impose a blockade on Gaza. Bombs are expensive, and running an air force to deliver them is expensive. So when you use bombs to break things you want them to stay broken. When you bomb people out of house and home you want them to stay homeless. If people bring aid to help people to rebuild their homes, then you are going to have to go to all the effort and expense of bombing them again to make them homeless again. It’s cheaper to stop them from rebuilding their homes.

When I was a child at school we used to amuse ourselves by kicking holes in anthills, and watching the termites scurrying around to repair the damage. And when they had just about repaired it we would kick holes in it again, easier the second time, because the mud was still damp and hadn’t hardened yet.

And it seems that grown-ups are no different, and just as cruel. It’s just that they can afford bigger bombs, and attack their own species. And no, I’m not overlooking Hamas as some have accused me of doing. Hamas and Likud are both terrorist organisations, playing a zero-sum game[1]. As my former blogging friend Facebook | Simon Hewitt says, “in spite of being utterly opposed to the attack on the Flotilla, will not be demonstrating tomorrow. Reason? : I’m just sick of marching alongside Hamas supporters and people chanting ‘we are all Hezbollah’. My enemy’s enemy is not my friend. My enemy’s enemy is an authoritarian, misogynistic, murdering bastard.” And they continue playing zero-sum games because it suits the more influential spectators for them to go on doing so.

So when it happens in Cumbria, Shock! Shock! Horror! Horror! from the Brit media. But when British soldiers do it elsewhere, they are heroes. Perhaps they should take Derrick Bird’s coffin in procession through Wootton Bassett.

_________

[1] terrorist n. one who favours or uses terror-inspiring methods of governing or of coercing government or community (from The Concise Oxford Dictionary of current English, Fifth Edition).

Piracy spreads — first Somalia, now Israel

t r u t h o u t | Israeli Commandos Kill Gaza Aid Volunteers:

At around 5 a.m. this morning, the live feed on the IHH ship showed helicopters floating above the desk of the Mavi Manara, and paratroopers rappelling onto the decks. Israeli army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibowitz claimed that the navy confiscated light weapons and handguns from the flotilla. ‘We basically encountered a lynch,’ she said. ‘We had to control this violence.’ All evidence suggests that Leibowitz is lying. The boats and passengers were rigorously checked for guns by international monitors before leaving the port. According to FGM, the commandoes opened fire from their machine guns practically as soon as they hit the deck.

‘Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck,’ the FGM report says. Some of those they shot were asleep.

Critics of violent and aggressive actions by the Israeli military are often told that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” It seems, from this action, that Israel’s claim to a a “right to defend itself” is the same right claimed by a rapist to justify attacking those who try to help his victims.

And piracy on the high seas seems to have spread from the south to the north of the Suez Canal. Any lingering doubts that Israel is a rogue and terrorist state should now be dispelled completely.

Some other bloggers’ responses:

Neil Clark: Israeli forces ‘kill up to 19 people’ in raid on Gaza aid ship: “can you imagine Hague and co’s response if Iran had violently stormed ships in international waters on which there were 28 British civilians?”

would it have been like this?

CalumCarr on …. Whatever: Israel: Hague’s, UK Government’s Weasel Words: “The Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on the Government of Israel to open all crossings for aid to enter Gaza and deplored the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza Flotilla.

In a statement this morning the Foreign Secretary said:
‘ I deplore the loss of life during the interception of the Gaza Flotilla. Our Embassy is in urgent contact with the Israeli Government. We are asking for more information and urgent access to any UK nationals involved.

We have consistently advised against attempting to access Gaza in this way, because of the risks involved. But at the same time, there is a clear need for Israel to act with restraint and in line with international obligations. It will be important to establish the facts about this incident, and especially whether enough was done to prevent deaths and injuries.”

Tell Obama: free the human rights activists, conduct an impartial investigation: A Jewish Voice for Peace.

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