Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sometimes Ya Just Have to Shut 'Em Up (Part 2)

When in 1947 the newly-formed United Nations, at the behest of Britain and the USA, undertook to provide a homeland for the survivors of the holocaust, they accepted British recommendations about partitioning Palestine and creating defacto a population of 'Israeli Arabs' - some of whom remain to-day - much to the delight of the Zionist press who do regular 'Sally Fields' pieces about somebody 'really' liking them. The Palestinians had little input and were effectively shut-up by British authorities. They certainly were drowned out by the ensuing choruses of Hatikvah.

History, or at least the Hollywood version, recounts the story of how gallant, and decent and virtually defenceless little Israel had to fight an onslaught of Arab armies. Once again a significant part of this saga is hushed-up. Even before Israel was declared a state, weapons were flowing from supporters of Zionism all around the world to what would be the Middle East's longest battlefield. From Europe war surpluses were removed via Italy. From America the money came, along with surplus aircraft bought through central and south american sources, for there was an 'official' embargo. At least it worked to keep Palestinians unarmed.

Another part of the myth is citizen soldiers, untrained kibbutzniks and concentration camp survivors up against crack divisions, particularly the vaunted Arab Legion. In reality it was a trained and equipped force of 8th Army veterans - a division of Israelis who had fought with the British forces. Polish Army 'refugees' from Russia had been temporarily settled in Palestine - some of these trained soldiers took part as well. The Israeli 'citizens' made short work of Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese forces. They couldn't crack that Arab Legion which took the west bank and held Jerusalem for Jordan. That would have to come later.

While those citizens were fighting the armies, another group of less well-trained citizens were 'doing a Dirlewanger'* on the Palestinians. Palestinian villages and enclaves in desirable areas were vacated, voluntarily or with force. 'Shrecklichheit' on a scale that would have pleased the Germanic soul was evident from the first altercations. Its results still inhabit Gaza and a number of other refugee camps.

Since then Israel has grown into the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the region, bulked by American dollars, Israel has a military apparatus that places in the world's top ten. It has taken on, and bested, all the armies of its neighbours and has only been unsuccessful in occupation and defense. In the offensive, Israel has excelled.

The latest interactions with armed 'terrorist' paramilitary groups have given Israel its first setbacks. The offensive against Hezbolleh last year and the offensive against HAMAS this year have only succeeded if the Israeli intention was to destroy real estate - and even that was limited. Neither military operation succeeded in eliminating the enemy. If some Israeli sources are to believed they are actually stronger now than before.

One of the reasons the Israelis haven't had the successes of yore is that protracted operations - and such have been all of Israeli's conflicts since the Yom Kippur exercise, give opportunity for the world to see more than the 'heroic' that we have become used to seeing. Since the Shatila Massacres the world has come to realize that Israeli 'wars' haven't only been bloody conflicts between fighting men, that there is an element of the killing fields at work, too. Having this repeated in other contentions with the PLO in their intifadas and strikes into Lebanon against a variety of foes, has led to the belief that IDF 'spokespersons' are not infallible. Indeed much of what the Israeli media have to say about their wars is questionable.

The last outing in Gaza was much a case in point - a real time, internet war was fought alongside that on the ground. The thrust however was different. A number of sources in Gaza, used modern telecommunications to relay on-the-spot reports which the IDF , which had it's own hack squad at work, could only answer with 'they're lying'. It took a Gazan doctor, who worked in an Israeli hospital going live on air for an Israeli news program to described how Israeli tank gunners had targetted his house and killed his children, to get the IDF pulled out of Gaza. All of a sudden it wasn't about killing bad guys. But then most of the world, reading post 9/11, knows that 'killing bad guys' is an synonymous with 'mayhem for civilians'.

The western media was filled with stories of such atrocity, countered by the 'shut-up' of "anti-semite". The Jewish organizations of free-world countries were more than active in defense of Israel. They still are.

To wit George Galloway, the outspoken Scots pol and defender of anything anti-Israeli. On a speaking tour of America, Galloway, who recently led a much publicized Gazan relief drive, and convoy, was slated to visit Montreal and Canada. That was until Canada Customs and Immigration, in a rare display of spunk, decided he was a hatemonger and forbade him entry. The Minister of such backed his mandarins, or vice versa, and refused to permit him entry. An opportunity for the study, and possible exposure of a radical position, was extinguished with a 'shut-up'. A recent Toronto university symposium on the topic of Israel was almost derailed through the efforts of two Canadian cabinet ministers. The Student Union sponsoring the symposium had its funding withdrawn. The event was perceived as anti-Israel by a pro Israel student group. Their religious/cultural organizations got 'on' to government to stop it.

Last week some Israeli soldiers stated that they had killed civilians in Gaza, had interfered with relief workers and deliberately destroyed or damaged property. In response the IDF punished one soldier on unspecified charges. They also countered that, not only did they not target civilians, they actually knew the names of most of the dead - who were 70 percent Hamas. Of the rest, half were questionable and the other half had died by misadventure.

The mention of white phosphorus, or deliberate demolition, brings statements of adherence to conventions of warfare in Israel, and howls of "anti-semite!" elsewhere.

If Israel has had any success in its recent adventures, it has been in putting the world on a defensive about criticism. This is changing, and the Israelis have done it to themselves this time. They have become the 'nazi' state they purport to abhor - war-like, racist, punitively discriminatory, militaristic, and a font of hate propaganda.

*Oskar Dirlewanger - leader of a gang of Nazi 'freebooters' in a criminal punishment regiment, notorious for his 'work' in putting down the Warsaw Rising. Later hung for war crimes.

Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Shut 'Em Up - (Part 1)

Sometimes the voices of criticism and condemnation get to be too loud, particularly when you think yourself the injured party. As it seems with the little land of Israel and its nasty persecutors, the Arab hordes. In the Israeli perspective, they're under siege - surrounded by howling dervishes who would drive them from the land originally vouchsafed unto them by their benevolent Diety, and latterly by the United Nations Organization. And so have they been, in their latest 60 years of national life, having had to fight their neighbours on at least 6 formal occasions and maintain a Ft. Apache defense the rest of the time.

So shutting them up is nothing new. What's new is the help in strange places. But first a little recap of history - abbreviated as it is.

When the God of Abram led him into the land of Canaan all those millenia ago, it's too bad He didn't make the Canaanites aware of his will, other than through the actions of Abraham, et seq, who 'took over' gradually and became chieftains in their own areas of settlement. When Joseph led his 'family' into Egypt, initially as refugees, the land of Canaan may have reverted to its original owners - at least given the current way property changes hands, being first 'deserted' and then 're-claimed' for settlement.

What the Hebrew tribes actually did in Egypt remains a mystery. Egyptian history records an ínvasion by a semitic people they called 'Hyksos' at the end of the Middle Kingdom. These foreign people usurped the Egyptian throne and, for 150 years or so, crowned their own pharoahs and ruled the country. It took a revolt by the Theban nobility and a series of battles to remove them. Whether, or not, they were the descendants of Joseph, whom we are told rose to high rank in Egypt, we don't know, for, to the New Kingdom Egyptians, they were anything but slaves in need of redemption.

Moses and the story of redemption from Egyptian slavery may be the other side of the same coin, explaining how the followers of Jah returned to Canaan claiming their 'birthright'. This time it was bloodier than the first time. The native Canaanites resisted and were conquered, if not virtually annihilated, to make room for the 12 tribes descended from Abraham. Israel took its place on the world stage led by at least 3 strong kings. And at war with its neighbours.

After the death of Solomon the Great, the kingdom went into a decline, being 'nibbled at' by more powerful peoples on the edges - maybe reclaiming what they considered to be their birthright. Eventually the Kingdom split in two parts which were subsumed, separately, by neighbouring powers. The Hebrews become nominal vassals of those around them. The Temple - focus of their worship was eventually destroyed along with the royal capital, Jerusalem, and the entire population taken captive to Babylon - in what is now Iraq.

After a short captivity, relatively speaking, they were favoured by the conquerors of Babylon (for 'fifth column' services?) the Medes, whose king released them and returned them to their 'birthright' a third time. But satrapy under the Persians, became vassal-state under the Alexandrian Greeks and then the Romans. Judea, the land of the Jews, was ruled by priests, judges or kings in various order, none free and none too powerful - but all willing to revolt given some instigation. That sort of thing happened often. Often enough for the Romans to decide that the best thing for 'Palestina' was to remove the irritation, which they did in AD 90, flattening the Temple Mount again and scattering the Children of Israel to the four corners of the then-known world. In many parts of the Empire there were already thriving communities of Jews. They continued to thrive into the middle ages - with occasional negative attention from the a developing Christian population and governmental authority.

In the Middle Ages Jews did well in some areas, but were persecuted and expelled in others. Eastern Europe became a sort of 'homeland' for them but some were notably successful as financiers to western monarchs well into the nineteenth century. They may have attained wealth, and status, but they were considered to be 'foreign' in Christian Europe. The nineteenth century social revolutions in Europe were a natural field for the expression of Jewish social aspirations and for the desire to retrieve the Jewish homeland.

Jews had returned to Palestine within decades of being expelled by the Romans. And, as time passed, more and more returned, settling among Christian and Moslem Palestinians without much upset. Toward the end of the 19th century this 'return' increased and, backed by European money, the settlers bought land in the Ottoman-ruled territory. Zionism, a political movement to have European powers restore Jewry in Palestine, grew in power and influence.

Punishing Jewish people served in many places as an outlet for political 'stresses' and they were often targetted as scapegoats. In Russia and western Europe, periodic upsets, involving the Jews, were fairly regular. The Ottomans used their Jewish (and other) populations in like manner. But when Palestinian Jews were targetted in the early years of the century, and again during the upset of the post-war mandate years, it was because of a rising prominence and a perceived 'ín' with the powers that were. Chaim Weizmann's chemical expertise had been a gift to the British munitions industry, his reward was the Balfour Declaration. The Jews were to have their homeland in Palestine. This time the will of the 'almighty' was revealed to those who would be disinherited.

Con't Part 2

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Building up a (Another) Head of Steam

In the blogosphere, it seems there are bloggers of two kinds. There are the dedicated souls, real writers, who find the time and the subject matter to make a post virtually 8 days a week. As in all writing, the literary value falls somewhere between the sacred and the profane.

In like measure is the quality of the other type of blogger, the intermittent kind. Like myself, and the President of Iran - quiet, easy-going souls who write when the muse takes them, or when the pressure reaches the red zone. Of the latter sad stuff is this post.

All the pet peeve buttons have been pushed this week from Governmental BS, to police BS, to economic BS, military BS and the BS that wafts in torrents from the social whirl, and what passes for our ‘entertainment’. I’ll probably need more one blog to cover the complete upchuck.

First there is the on-going Israel-Gaza thing. The latest round is ‘over’ but the notion that ‘they deserved it’ remains paramount. The ‘victims’, as victors are styled in this instant, continue the quarantine of the ghetto by the Med. Pledge as much as you like, there’s little ‘aid’ getting into Gaza beside dibber bombs and anti-rocket artillery strikes.

Then there are the other ‘bothers’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama has declared the date for the light at the end of the tunnel. But Iraq has been a non-blip on the screen of the American media since GWB received the report that the ‘Surge had Succeeded’ as expected. Things are going great, unless you happen to be one of the Iraqis, in the hundreds by week, caught up in some form of violence, or one of the ill-fated half-dozen or so young Americans who draw the ‘unlucky ticket’ and come home in a box each month. The wounded, like the dead, receive little mention - and that rarely, other than regarding the wonders of rehabilitative medicine. Afghanistan is more on the media horizon as the new President prepares to ‘surge’ the only other ‘just war’ the USA has left.

The economy hasn’t improved since last I griped about it. Like that neo-colonial preacher who intoned about us ‘being sinners in the hands of an angry god’, it appears we’re now being stupid in the hands of a good number of incompetent financial experts. In either case there’s a certain resolution to fate, head up one’s back side, a hoping-for-the-best fatalism on the ride. Except for the ‘smart’, who are stockpiling ‘value’ for the possible collapse of ‘civilization’ - read the consumer society - as we know it.

Governments have ‘responded’ to the economic crisis in a number of ways. But up among the really dense are the actions of Canada’s ruling conservative party. A program of tax-cuts for the well-heeled, combined with a more robust level of corporate welfare for those who happen to be in big business, has the country driving deeper into debt at a pace that would dizzy a deficit-maker like lyin’ Brian Mulroney.

Not only that, there’s a diversion program designed to help take our minds off the ballooning problems. It’s the Russians - invading our Arctic wastes. Ivan didn’t realize the firestorm of patriotic horse-shit he was engendering as he munched his pickle sandwich across the north pole last week. Stevie and company called up visions of legions of Spetznaz descending on the Pickle Dog reserve and getting their jump boots dirty in our sovereign tar sand puddles. Oh yeah, and new anti-gang laws that will keep us all safe - until the first illiterate Jamaican ‘pistolero’ actually gets charged - I almost hope it’s a white kid to set a good precedent. But shooting people is really a ‘social problem’, didn’t ya know? Quelle Merde!

Closer to home is the recent police hoo-hah about the taser. The united ‘Pleece Cheefs’ of Canada - in convention assembled - are standing strong on this life-saving instrument of enforcement which saves the lives of officers that might otherwise be endangered by roarin’ drunks, psycho cases and feisty farts the likes of which are a social innovation and have never been problematic to the 'fuzz' before. Citing 150 studies, not a one of which associate Tommy Swift's little electric gizmo to a certifiable death, the ‘Cheefs’ took the tack that, used with all the prudence the cops could muster - and that’s a lot of prudence, the taser is GOOOOOD, not BAAD. Meanwhile the public was laughing at the RCMP hearing into the death of that rampant immigrant after a tasering last year. The young officer who carried the taser described how the Pole turned on the four officers with a stapler in his hand before he got his 38 seconds (or about 16 times longer than it took the officer to deploy and fire it) of electrical ‘enforcement’ to comply.

Leading the charge of the Cheefs was our favourite renaissance cop, Julian ‘ Comes Stabuli et magistratum Praetoriae’ Fantino. Canada’s ‘top cop’ in the absence of an actual police officer heading up the Mounted, Julian took the lead in defending the taser, defiantly telling the media wonks to ‘do their own research’ when asked which of the 150 taser studies he’d read. Two days later he was on nation-wide media leading the mourning for a long dead cop and citing the opening lines from his book, “We’ve lost one”. Julian couldn’t make the parole hearing, but he made sure the cop’s spirit was well-represented. Just yesterday Julian took public umbrage at some lightweight media hack who had the temerity to address the Chief’s wind-bagging in print. Julian either has a media staff keeping watch, or too much time on his hands, for the offending article appeared in one of Ontario’s lesser lights as far as media goes. So did Julian’s pontifications, which would have reduced lesser men to blubbering incontinence, but probably will bounce off Mike VanTandt. Julian protesteth too much and in the style of another ‘cheef of pleece’, where huffing offense and indignation at insult, pass for reflection, lucid comment and any attempt to get out of that bunker. The ‘leaders’ of to-day’s police have that ‘last defenders on the walls of civilization’ mentality, that, while buying into the mind-set of those willing to pay more for fancied security, actually makes police, and the administration of justice, a potential social problem.

Finally there’s the social whirl.

We’re just off the Oscars, Hollywood’s annual display of public onanism. Another turgid performance in a ‘new’ format. The only film with any ‘value’ and that a moderately entertaining one, was from India. Other than that, another couple of holocaust reminders, before the last sad victims step into the mystery. A spot of superstar ephemera about a man born backwards, in time that is, for breech births aren’t all that uncommon, and a plasticized revival of the fifties and sixties with genuine used furniture, both with ‘superstar’ casting and both fairly flat at the box. Penn won best actor for playing Harvey Milk as a raving fag???

Paris Hilton has a new ‘reality’ show - ‘who wants to be my friend’? Donald Trump continues to asshole his business through coteries of celebs. The Bachelor is constantly ‘falling’ and can’t get up. Dancing with the Stars and the next American Idol are starting to look ‘substantial’. Egoistical dopers in rehab, rehashed crimes, up-front encounters with the dead, the wittiest show is about a dope-making science teacher. Maybe when the economy tanks and prices fall, we’ll get some musical spectaculars like the dirty thirties’ stuff - ‘thing-a-thons’ and howza, howza, howza..

On the bright side it’s only 20 days to the first day of Spring. At least the nice weather can hide a multitude of ‘sins’.