Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Use of "We"

Why is it that WE like to use WE with reference to our religion or country of origin?

I got into a debate with a fellow Jew about Israel today, and he used the term multiple times in describing Israel's actions with regard to the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

If we want to view broad, far-reaching things like countries and religions as entities of their people, shouldn't we therefore hold "our" own actions to the highest standard imaginable?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I swear to gosh that serious updates are to come.

That is, once I get my time management habits under control. I think I'm getting closer and closer to that point. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another interesting ZCom article, and it includes interesting data on suicide bombers

http://www.zcommunications.org/dying-to-win-by-ramzy-baroud

The article is mainly about Newt Gingrich and his feigned expert status, with regard to international politics. Gingrich has always infuriated me with his pied piper genius, so the article was refreshing to read.

Most interesting of all, however, was the article's data on suicide bombers.

In Dying to Win: Why Suicide Terrorists Do It, an exhaustive study on the issue of suicide terrorism, American author, who also heads the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism (CPOST) at the University of Chicago, Robert A. Pape writes: The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the worlds religions. In fact, the leading instigators of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion.


One of his seemingly novel conclusions was:

Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.


No, Mr. Gingrich, terrorism is not a term you simply lob at your enemies for cheap political gains. Its a real problem, with real roots and real casualties. And like any problem, it needs to be properly understood, realistically assessed and wisely confronted.


Well said, author.

What is "recognizing Israel?"

You can read about this ambiguity here. http://www.zcommunications.org/lieberman-speaks-for-all-of-israel-by-jonathan-cook

In light of that article, I must ask the critical Israel-Palestine question yet again: who is truly more responsible for the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine? Furthermore, why hasn't Israel complied with U.N. demands to withdraw to its 1967 borders? Pasted from Norman Finkelstein's website, here is the record of U.N. votes to have Israel withdraw to said borders between 1997 and 2007.

Year

Vote

[Yes-No-Abstained]

Negative votes cast by…

1997

155-2-3

Israel, United States

1998

154-2-3

Israel, United States

1999

149-3-2

Israel, United States , Marshall Islands

2000

149-2-3

Israel, United States

2001

131-6-20

Israel, United States , Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Tuvalu

2002

160-4-3

Israel, United States , Marshall Islands, Micronesia

2003

160-6-5

Israel, United States , Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Uganda

2004

161-7-10

Israel, United States , Australia, Grenada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau

2005

156-6-9

Israel, United States , Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau

2006

157-7-10

Israel, United States , Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau

2007

161-7-5

Israel, United States , Australia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau


Yes, even Britain has consistently voted for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. The reason that 7 votes outweighs 161 is because the U.S.--which is one of the few members of the U.N. security council--has veto power within the U.N. I should also add that this vote was taken again in 2009, and the result was an unsurprising vote of 164-7-4. In fact, the U.S. has been responsible for preventing Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories for 40 years.

Fair?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DAYAM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQkHBJS19F8

Dayam...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koVUu8wTHuw

Ecuador, and the U.S. Role in Latin America

For years, the United States government has covertly undermined Latin American democracy while claiming--contrarily--to be spreading democracy throughout the world. On Thursday, their "democratic" role in the world continued in the attempted coup d'etat against Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

The state's post-WWII obsession with Latin America began in 1954, when Jacobo Arbez Guzmán--the democratically elected president of Guatemala--was ousted by the CIA for attempting to nationalize the United Fruit Company. The succeeding dictators killed approximately 200,000 Guatemalans, and displaced several more. Following that coup, U.S. policy toward the region would only become more brutal and dangerous.

Our most dangerous intervention occurred when in 1962, the United States nearly had nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union due to JFK's aggressive stance toward Cuba--in addition to his attempted invasion of Cuba in 1962. Later, September 11, 1973 would see the CIA's installation of a fascist dictator in Chile, who would eventually kill thousands of civilians and torture tens of thousands. Other U.S. interventions in the region would include the Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador and the infamous Contra aggression against Nicaragua. Most of these interventions would be against freely elected presidents, who merely wanted to redistribute their countries' wealth to help their poor majorities.

President Obama came into the office with claims to a more open-minded world view (he initiated talks with Hugo Chavez), but he nevertheless blatantly supported the coup against democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. Rafael Correa of Ecuador, another "dangerous" freely elected Latin American president (with approval ratings of 67%), predicted afterward that he would be the next leader targeted in the region. Thursday proved him right, as the Ecuadoran police--who are on good relations with the U.S. government--pelted him with tear gas and clashed with the army. The Ecuadoran health minister says that eight people died and 274 were injured in the clash, one of whom being a university student.

One can only hope that their president will not use this as an opportunity to initiate authoritarian measures, but if he does, it will be due to our support of the attempted coup.

Rather than allow U.S. financial interests to interfere with Latin America, we should act in solidarity with indigenous Latin Americans, and together hold our government accountable for its role in the region.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Useful Data on Israel-Palestine

I'm going to compile some useful data for whenever I get into a debate with a crazy Israel apologist, seeing as I definitely have in the past. Here's a nice piece of data which proves the illegitimacy of the Six Day War.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1982-1984/55%20Address%20by%20Prime%20Minister%20Begin%20at%20the%20National

"The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

Like, uh, bombing Gaza with white phosphorus or something.

"No, not like that."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsWDcFiPo2s

I love Max Blumenthal. The first thing that the Israeli loyalty oath reminded me of was the Pledge of Allegiance, oddly enough.

I recall Norman Finkelstein calling Israel a "lunatic state" shortly after it attacked the Free Gaza aid flotilla in May. I can't really disagree with that. There's a difference between fanatical nationalism in the cases of North Korea and Israel, namely, the fact that the state of Israel uses propaganda to justify the slaughter and torture of its neighbors. (North Korea simply uses propaganda to keep its population willfully ignorant of its being fucked over, and I personally feel more okay with lobotomies than real life Milgram experiments.)

As a result, Israelis are incredibly fearful of Arabs. Center Against Racism, a pro-Israeli institute that is committed to reducing racism within Israel, found the following about Israel's Jewish population.
  • 75% would not agree to live in a building with Arab residents.
  • More than 60% wouldn't accept any Arab visitors at their homes.
  • About 40% believed that Arabs should be stripped of the right to vote.
  • More than 50% agree that the State should encourage emigration of Arab citizens to other countries
  • More than 59% think that the culture of Arabs is a primitive culture.
  • When asked "What do you feel when you hear people speaking Arabic?" 31% said they feel hate and 50% said they feel fear, with only 19% stating positive or neutral feelings.
Wow.

In any case, I plan on spending the rest of the week on researching ways to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore, my blog might be geared heavily toward the occupation for awhile, especially if we at STAND decide to dedicate a week to Arabs or, more specifically, the history of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Wish me luck.

EDIT: Wow. It only gets worse. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3861161,00.html

The teens were asked about the rights of Arab Israelis. Here, too, there was a gap in the opinions of religious and secular students. While 82% of religious students responded that they don't believe Arabs should be granted equal rights as Jews, 36% percent of seculars responded that they do not believe in equal rights for Arabs and Jews. Overall, 46% students believe there should not be equality between Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel.

The poll showed that many students believe the phrase "Death to Arabs" is racist, and, therefore, not legitimate. Forty-five percent of religious students and 16% of secular students, however, believe it is a legitimate statement.

Some 82% of the religious students believe Arab Israelis should not be allowed to vote in Knesset elections, versus 47% of seculars. Overall, 56% of the high school students polled believe Arabs should not be allowed to vote.

Students were asked if they would be willing to have an Arab friend who is the same sex and age as they are. Out of the religious students polled, 81% said they would not be willing, versus 23% of secular students who would not want to have an Arab friend. Overall, 32% of students said they would not want to have an Arab friend.

Dare I say that the Israeli Jewish population is nearly as brainwashed by the state of Israel as the German "Aryan" population was by Hitler's Germany? Hitler's crimes may have been far greater, but his propaganda amounted to the same message as Israel's; ethnicity B is subhuman and should be treated as such.

Ironic, isn't it? I blame their military culture, in addition to the fact that you would have to believe in the state of Israel if you were to immigrate there. The nation is mostly comprised of Jewish citizens, who decided to immigrate to Israel well into its history of crimes against humanity.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh boy...

I'm part of an anti-genocide group on campus known as STAND, and both the leader of the group and I are of Jewish heritage. We both had interest in spreading the word about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and I sent him an article that I felt like showing STAND. Here's our exchange so far. I'll add to our email exchange as it progresses.

"Hey there, I feel that this would be a good synopsis of the occupation for STAND to read. *attachment* If some people can't read pdfs, they can read everything--albeit without the images/graphs/charts--here. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/ I think we should also watch the first 6 minutes of this at our next meeting, as it provides a more empirical context for understanding the conflict. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VV8N9J9gJ9c"

See you on Wednesday,
Sam

Innocent enough, right? Read forth...

"That PDF is NOT a good resource. For one, it calls early Zionists "extremists." Also, it says that Zionists tried to prevent Holocaust refugees from fleeing to Western countries, which is a serious allegation―and highly offensive if it's not supported. It also seems to avoid using the word "Holocaust," which I suspect is because it seeks to cater to people who deny it. Unbiased info is hard to find, but please analyze your sources critically."

Isn't it funny how we call insurgents extremists with relative ease, but never occupiers and invaders? Is the leader of an "anti-genocide" group seriously apologizing for poor Israel and all of the crimes that it happened to innocently commit? Just because Jews dealt with the horrors of the Holocaust doesn't mean that Israel can be allowed to go against basic standards of morality. My response went as follows:

"Obviously the Zionist movement was more diverse than the colonizers themselves were, but the fact remains that the colonial Zionists formed an expansionist state by kicking hundreds of thousands out of their homes and massacring several more. Those particular Zionists were "extremists" just as we often call armed Muslim groups extremists (and with less effort). The current situation in Palestine is an ethnic cleansing, and I think that matters a little more than the selective language of the article. Don't be so hasty to accuse anti-Zionist language as anti-Semitic.

Sources are cited in the more detailed history here. http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

"“In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”"

Quigley also appears to be a respectable scholar, as his wikipedia page illustrates. That said, I don't think it's worth overthinking the sources we use. We shouldn't apologize for occupying countries or otherwise dwell too much on them.

More on the site, since you seem concerned. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_Americans_Knew and http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/whoweare.html"

Sam

And then I responded again, just to further illuminate him about why I provided him a pro-Palestinian source.

"An addendum, I think it's also key to remember how extreme of a bias our own mainstream media has regarding the conflict. (Whereas, the international media is far more willing to criticize Israel.) Muslims are always portrayed as the belligerents whereas the state of Israel is typically referred to as defending themselves, in spite of the fact that far more Palestinians have died in the occupation. Therefore I have little problem with one generalization about the Zionist movement compared to endless anti-Palestinian media coverage. Remember, we're trying to inform people that their tax dollars are going to these atrocities, and the U.S. media hasn't done a sufficient job of that whatsoever."

Sam

Hopefully he'll understand, but I have my doubts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Compelling Article on the Emergence of Elitism

http://www.zcommunications.org/fearing-the-masses-by-david-swanson

David Swanson writes: It used to be 9-11 theorists. Then it was doomsayers wallowing in their post-Obama hope overdose. Now it's people who are afraid of majority rule and want to avoid it. At a recent book-tour stop there were three examples. First, one gentleman wanted to impose testing and allow only the smartest 10 percent of Americans to vote. The basis for this was his claim that "most people just don't have the sense that god gave a cat."

Second, a professor told me that if we didn't impose checks on majority rule the teabaggers would take over the United States just as the Nazis did Germany.

He later writes: The teabaggers will never ever be a majority. No activist group has ever been a majority. The one thing you can always count on the majority to do is . . . not a damn thing. The rights of individuals are being eroded in this country against the will of the majority, but with the support of an elite minority. Of course, we need to prevent a slide into fascism. The question is: how?

Going by public opinion polling, I would take the will of the majority over the will of our current government any day on just about any topic. But how do we get more people who hold enlightened views to get off their butts and do anything? I don't think we can do so by focusing on disenfranchising people, blocking majority rule, keeping the filibuster in place, or shielding elected officials from election challenges. I think we need to get more people more information, more education, and more useful ways to get active.

I have to agree with him. It's really damning of liberals and the left as a whole to engage this elitist train of thought, and it continuing on such a path may very well sink the left. Furthermore, what Swanson says of public opinion polling is absolutely true.

Do Americans want single-payer healthcare? Mounting evidence suggests that, yes, they overwhelmingly want single-payer healthcare. http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html

And that only pertains to the main issue that's energized the Tea Party. From Paul Street's great article on the suicide of the Democratic Party,

* 71 percent of Americans think that taxes on corporations are too low (Gallup Poll, April 2007), 66 percent of Americans think taxes on upper-income people are too low (Gallup Poll, April 2007) and 62 percent believe corporations make too much profit (Pew Survey 2004).

* 77 percent of Americans think there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies (Pew Survey 2004), 84 percent think that big companies have too much power in Washington (Harris Poll 2007), and two-thirds think that “big business and big government work together against the people’s interests” (Rasmussen Reports, 2009).

*A majority of American voters think that the United States' "most urgent moral question" is either “greed and materialism" (33 percent) or "poverty and economic injustice" (31 percent). Just 16 percent identify abortion and 12 percent pick gay marriage as the nation's "most urgent moral question" (Zogby, 2004). Thus, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the population think that injustice and inequality are the nation's leading "moral issues” (Katherine Adams and Charles Derber, The New Feminized Majority [Paradigm, 2008], p.72).

* Just 29 percent of Americans support the expansion of government spending on "defense." By contrast, 79 percent support increased spending on health care, 69 percent support increased spending on education, and 69 percent support increased spending on Social Security (Chicago Council on Foreign Relations [hereafter "CCFR”], "Global Views,"2004).

* 69 percent of Americans think it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide health coverage to all U.S. citizens (Gallup Poll, 2006) and 67 percent “think it’s a good idea [for government] to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27 percent dissenting” (Business Week, 2005).

* 59 percent of Americans support a single-payer health insurance system (CBS/New York Times poll, January 2009) and 65 percent of Americans respond affirmatively to the following question: “Would you favor the government offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan – something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and over get – that would compete with private health insurance plans?” (CBS-New York Times, September 23, 2009)

Yeah, I would definitely trust the majority over the government.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pirates vs. Emperors

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQBWGo7pef8

I had a conversation with somebody about Alexander the Great today--in addition to other matters regarding land disputes (to say the very least)--and I think this is a perfect summary of the argument that I was making. In short, conquerors are all dirty scumbags, but we fail to recognize those qualities in the conquerors that we're supposed to like. Alexander the Great conquered the known world to "spread civilization," Israel to "defend itself against its hostile neighbors," and United States interventions are typically attributed to the two aforementioned pretenses. However, ask a citizen of any country that isn't the U.S., Israel or Britain what motivates our foreign policy. You will probably get a different answer than you would from the mainstream media.

Even Europe considers the U.S. and Israel to be the greatest threats to world peace, although I would disagree with them in considering Israel to be a greater threat than the U.S. Perhaps it's because Israel as a state is so ideologically obsessed with expanding its borders, such that some within the government would potentially consider nuking all of Israel's enemies if it were to reach the verge of destruction. I would argue that the Samson Option is Israel's attempt at empty nuclear apocalypse rhetoric, and I would also argue that by virtue of being a U.S. client state, Israel can't be a greater threat to world peace than the U.S. Nevertheless, the poll is compelling on several levels.

Remember, condemning emperors--or even considering emperors to be worse than pirates--does not mean that you have to side with the pirates. It just means that you have learned to fit things into a proper context.

Empire, or humanity?

Viggo Mortenson reads Howard Zinn here. Very cool.

It's time to revive this shit!

Around this time last year, I created this blog because I was in a really dark place. I figured that, maybe, a blog could help me solve the world's problems as well as my own.

Well, I'm bringing it back, only I'm only going to use this blog to post my feelings on current events, political philosophies, etc. My last iteration of this here blog only had two posts, but with this iteration of it, I would--as suggested by my 'About Me'--like to express my feelings on current events in a decently constructive way.

So, here I am. Rock me like a hurricane.