Sunday, December 31, 2006

283. Béarla

Between the lines
the tines
behind the briars of the rose
awkward living memories.
our hands
in these neighbouring
but disparate lands
and make us feel
that blood and bone
alone are real.
With resignation
and accommodation
may the grass grow slowly
on the weirs.
May we put an end
to endless tears.


282. sweetness descends in its arc of meaning

The sodium lights
cast an orange gleam
over the rain-drenched
city streets; a white van
approaches, halts,
its door slides wide,
and a body tumbles
down to the pavement.
The van glides softly
silently away, and the lights
shine down on Portadown
on this typical scene
with a dull orange sheen.
Meet Johnny Dempsey.
He moves, then rises,
shakes himself down
and checks the aching head
for new bullet holes;
discovering none, he pulls out
a crumpled fag, then swears
when he can’t find
his bloody matches.
Hi ho, says Johnny D,
It’s a long walk home.

Much much later
(leaving out the boring bits,
just like in the movies)
Johnny reaches the gate
at 42 Mulberry Crescent
and can’t find the bleedin
door keys; Shite, says he,
and gives the aging wood
a good clatter of his boot.
Aber das ist nix gut,
for inside, with her brain half-fried,
Dolores McShane (Dolly to friends)
makes a manic dash to the jax
and in panic and the absence of hope
flushes away the supply of dope.
O Jayzuz, Johnny, I’ll make amends,
says she when our hero enters
by way of the downstairs window.
Ah, you’re grand, girl, says he,
brushing aside the shards of glass.
Gerrup now, Dolly, get on yer trolley,
for it’s been that sort of a day –
and I’d kill for a cup of tay!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

240. The Twelve Days of Christmas (update)

On the First Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
a pink and perfect Mustang
with a V-8 supercharged engine,
fuel-injection, radial tires, and ...

On the Second Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
a complete set of 50 CDs,
digitized, remastered, all the
classic acts from Fillmore West, and ...

On the Third Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
an apartment lease, paid in full,
with tenant approvals signed and delivered
on the tony Upper West Side, and ...

On the Fourth Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
a beach house in Florida, a yacht
with a stand-by crew, powerful
engines and GPS navigation, and ...

On the Fifth Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
two-and-a-half tons of marijuana
in safe storage, zip-lock bags
delivered by discreet couriers, and ...

On the Sixth Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
five million dollars in government bonds,
telephone cashing facilities, plus two
accounts in the Cayman Islands, and ...

On the Seventh Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
an impatient demand to respond
to her marriage proposal, by fax
telephone or e-mail, and ...

On the Eighth Day of Christmas
nothing happened ...
On the Ninth Day of Christmas
nothing happened ...
And on the Tenth and Eleventh
nothing happened either.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas
my truelove sent to me ...
her psychopathic brother, two
Federal Agents, a subpoena,
and a foulmouthed parrot.

That's what you get, ye hobbledehoy,
that's just what you get
me bright-eyed boy;
that's what you get
(croaked the parrot)
that's what you get
for messing with ME!

So it's back, I guess,
to the homeless shelter,
to toothless Peggy, zonked-out
Ben, Stinky Pete, and the guy
who won't tell us his name.
But the parrot fits right in.
We're teaching him
to clean up his act:
"God bless us everyone",
he tells us now. Awrrkk.
Subsequently ...

On the Day after Christmas,
St Stephen's Day,
Boxing Day to the Brits,
I was rummaging through
the rubbish
(the things you find!)
and came away
with an M-60 machine gun
in full working
order, a bit oily,
but devoid of bullets.
So I called on the parrot,
now named Pedro,
and we took a cab
to West 13th Street
where these things
can so easily be arranged.
I suggested a social call
on my thin-lipped fiancee
at her townhouse
soiree, following
the private performance
at the Kennedy Center.
The enthusiasm
of dear Pedro
(we have become quite close)
caused hesitation:
how can he dislike her
more than me?
I think I shall leave
the whole affair
in his competent
claws: I can see
the headlines now --
"NY Debs Machine-Gunned
by Outraged Parrot".
There are times in a man's life
(and this is so difficult to say)
when you have to step back
and let the better parrot
take the lead; indeed
he will spatter them
to hell and gone
with his chocolate

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

281. Rave On ('Bout Time Too)

This Blog has been getting so bloody boring ... I know, I know. Energy is being diffused in many stray directions.

Here's a poem now.
It is not one of my poems (keep down those sighs of relief, please!)
and it's not actually a very good poem.
It doesn't rhyme.
It doesn't scan.
It doesn't make much sense until you read it 2-3 times.
Then, I think, it makes a lot of sense:

Habits of Unsuccessful People

I dream of failure
and large parties
wish I could stop
whining and get
with the program

No coincidences, my father
worked hard his entire life
made me start when I was 12
Was happy when on vacation
4 weeks out of the year(inc
luding weekends) I never
wanted to be that- I want
to wake up happy about
the day- Love big and loud
Drink strange intoxicants
with hobos and the famous
fight about important things
not my dissatisfaction. Write
poetry, songs, sing alone
and in crowds, dance, dance,
dance and answer at least
one Big question to my satisfaction

So, I'm unsuccessful, wanna make
something of it?

I sat back and read this a coupla times, and thought, "wha'??"

The guy is called "dr_con" -- Doctor Con? -- and I came in contact with him on an Internet poetry forum. Yeah, these things do exist. We write poetry for one another, in happy little groups. It's a Gay & Lesbian thing. Sorry??!! Honestly, you guys have the attention span of gnats ....

I got the ball rolling with the following response:

This is a Henry Miller poem. A man, a misfit, feels the pressure to conform (he may be dumb, he sure as hell ain't stupid) but he's still not willing to pay the price. The idea of success in America still hangs on this lingering 19th century dream of scooping up idiotic amounts of money, as if that were still possible today in a country of 300 million. It isn't. For lack of any alternative measure of worth, personal wealth has become the yardstick by which people are assigned their social status. Sure, there are exceptions ... but not so many. Look around you.

This is why the idea of the "Loser" has taken on such force in American society. If you don't join the money merry-go-round you are a strange and dubious person and that means you could also be subversive and dangerous and possibly criminal. You are politically un-American and that can get dangerous.

Just look at what happened to the workers who tried to organize - the IWW - Eugene Debs got thrown in jail and union organizers got their asses kicked. Don't even bring up the subject of Negros (now Afro-Americans, as if a name change makes everything cool) or illegal immigrants from south of the border or anywhere else. In order for there to be a small circle of winners, there has to be an astoundingly huge corral of non-winners, i.e. losers. That's why the USA has no national health insurance, for example (socialism, communism!!) and why the education system is so Third World for lower-income families.

How can you get ahead without a college degree? Drug-dealing? Sports? Hip-hop? Wait a second ... there is always the Army and a one-way ticket to Iraq. The rich kids don't care because the Draft is gone after Vietnam. Let the rednecks and the ethnics fight for America -- we'll put a yellow ribbon on our SUV. Support the Troops! Yup.

This sounds and feels like the late Roman Empire -- just before the whole thing caved in. This adoration of money and the houses and cars and gadgets it can buy is totally sick. In any "normal" society the ratio of incomes between the ordinary line worker and the company president is about 15 or 20 to one (often less) whereas in America it is 250, 400, 1000, just off the chart. This cannot be sustained. It cannot go on. Any sensible person could tell you that. The growing disparity between the incomes of the rich and the poor is a recipe for social unrest: you think the French woke up one day in 1789 and said, hey, let's have a Revolution? Don't think so.

Gated communities, police, private security, all that stuff, are like the New Orleans levees. Works, sort of, as long as no Katrina comes down.

But what if there's a social Katrina?

No, I'm not straying away the subject. I'm developing ideas on the run, turning this comment on a poem into a sort of essay. OK, stop already.

Henry Miller had to leave America. He found artistic and personal freedom in France (don't knock the French, they know how to run their own country) and he was one among many cultural exiles from the crass money-grinding machine of 1920s America. These days I think Americans should stay home. The 1960s were a watershed and there was a lot that got started then that needs to be followed up on. Listen to these people in their 50s and 60s with their tie-dyed T-shirts and ponytails -- they might have something useful to tell you. It was a real start. They pulled the US out of a stupid war overseas and forced an imperial president to resign. Does that sound somewhat familiar? Should we do the same thing now??

I didn't think this was a happy poem at all. I didn't think it was joyful, I didn't think it was playful or full of 'humor' or anything like that. I thought it was defiant, yes, but despairing and sad. And that is why I have responded to this poem at such length and in the way that I have above.

Poems can be windows of the soul, and the individual sometimes speaks for the many. This is why Plato banned poets from his Ideal Republic: they were possible disruptive elements. Get rid of them.

Peace, brothers and sisters. But without justice, there can be no real peace.

Never be afraid to fight against real enemies when you have to. The enemies of our daily lives (our civilization, as we know it) are organized concentrations of power, at home as well as abroad, people who try to control our individual lives by political means ... first by persuasion, and if that fails, by intimidation. Preserving freedom has little to do with attacking faraway countries. Preserving freedom -- under a traditional and agreed system of Law (you guys in America HAD a Constitution, I believe) -- consists in stubbornly maintaining the rights and privileges of the ordinary citizen -- such as you, for example, your friends, your parents, the postman, the people next door -- protecting rights that have taken literally hundreds of years to evolve, often as the result of untold agony and the sacrifice of a dozen generations.

No big deal, nothing to do with me? OK, so throw it all away because of 9/11 and a government that has consistently lied to you? Well, that could almost have been done already, so -- if it's OK to ask -- when do you think you are going to get all these rights and privileges restored? Another 100-150 years? And this is what you leave to your children? Oops, sorry, little kids, we dropped the ball.

I'm not accusing anyone. How can I? I'm just as much a part of these times we are living through (and trying to understand) as anyone else. That's the whole point, we are ALL involved. We've been letting this thing roll over us for the last 3-4 years, this War Fever, with various degrees of complicity, ignorance, total disinterest, or acts of isolated defiance, but now I think it's time to -- maybe -- challenge the warped reality that is being imposed upon us.

Sorry this got so long. That's what poetry can do ......

Saturday, November 11, 2006

279. Weeping Statues

One night as I lay sleeping
the feckin statue started weeping
and I thought that this was odd
that the Blessed Mary, Mother of God,
should start this awful bawling
just as I was slowly falling
asleep. Oh, Jayzus, I thought, what now?
When my wife, a cute but gullible cow,
leapt up and landed upon her knees
and thumbed her blessed rosaries
with that glassy-eyed metallic stare
that shows how much they really care,
them ones who really do believe
(even when us others want to heave)
but that's more or less the local rule
and we send our kids to a Catholic school,
so you shut your gob and spread a grin:
let your wives analyze your lives with knives,
it's too late, mate, it's thick and thin.

I whispered to Paddy and Donal and Teague
do you think Man U will win the league?
Oh, God, that's a matter for disputation,
and we'll have to adjourn for adjudication
of the ins and the outs and the serious nub,
comfortably seated down in the pub.
But that's when my Mary gave me an awful shove,
and grabbed at my arm, and said, "Heavens above,
"It's a visitation of the Holy Ghost!!!"
(I could see my life would soon be toast)
"We'll make this house an open shrine!"
She's mad, she's married, and she's mine.

"Half Dublin will be walkin in the feckin door!"
"Well, sure, isn't that what Our Lady is for?"
"They'll be traipsing on the carpets, willy-nilly!"
"Ah, for feck's sake, don't be so feckin silly,"
says Mary Assumpta Dolores Brigid,
my convent girl, tough, and rigid.
"God and His Blessed Mother," says she,
"have showered down blessin's on you and me,
"they've come down here to our humble home".
(humble, me arse, amn't I still paying for it?)
"And can't you see," says she, "we are chosen?"
My smile is tight and bright and frozen,
when I think of them feckers in Rathgar
with their mobile phones and the latest car,
so why can't the Virgin feckin Maria
come down on them like diarrhoea?

"But just think of the crowds of non-believers,
"like the BBC and them other deceivers!"
"Sure they can kiss me arse," says she,
"them feckin Brits get on me tits".
I was away with the fairies, I forgot,
the wife's a raging pay-triot:
Wrap the Green Flag Around Me,
tighter, ye bastard, tighter,
she's nothing if not a fighter.
Ochone, ochone, just let me die
upon the fearful gallows high,
let me stretch out me neck for Oireland.
"Listen, now," says I, "me darlin' Mary,
"I'll not have you acting so contrary!"
"Baaa," says she, very wickedly,
but she listens all the same;
"Won't the Blessed Mary be just at home
next to the plastic garden gnome?"
"Is it mad you are," says she,
"are we to throw her out of the house
"and plant her next to Mickey Mouse?"

Right, so, it was just a passing thought,
I'm an aisy man, I can be aisily bought.

"Well, would you not think to put her down in the hall,
"so very close and convenient to one and all?"
"I would," says she. "Well, grand," says I,
so I called in the engineers,
(Paddy and Donal and Teague).
Now we've been living for years on Our Lady's tears
since the lads in fine style
installed a turnstile
and the coins of the visitors pay for the beers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

276. Quotes from Tomdispatch Interviews

(click on the names below to open the text of the full interview)

Howard Zinn: "I came to the conclusion that, given the technology of modern warfare, war is inevitably a war against children, against civilians. When you look at the ratio of civilian to military dead, it changes from 50-50 in World War II to 80-20 in Vietnam, maybe as high as 90-10 today… When you face that fact, war is now always a war against civilians, and so against children. No political goal can justify it, and so the great challenge before the human race in our time is to solve the problems of tyranny and aggression, and do it without war."

James Carroll: "The good things of the Roman Empire are what we remember about it -- the roads, the language, the laws, the buildings, the classics… But we pay very little attention to what the Roman Empire was to the people at its bottom -- the slaves who built those roads… the oppressed and occupied peoples who were brought into the empire if they submitted, but radically and completely smashed if they resisted at all… We Americans are full of our sense of ourselves as having benign imperial impulses. That's why the idea of the American Empire was celebrated as a benign phenomenon. We were going to bring order to the world. Well, yes… as long as you didn't resist us. And that's where we really have something terrible in common with the Roman Empire… We must reckon with imperial power as it is felt by people at the bottom. Rome's power. America's."

Juan Cole: "[Iraq] is one of the great foreign policy debacles of American history. There's an enormous amount at stake in the oil Gulf and Bush is throwing grenades around in the cockpit of the world economy. So I think he has dug his own grave with regard to Iraq policy."

Cindy Sheehan: "Katrina was a natural disaster that nobody could help, but the man-made disaster afterwards was just horrible. I mean, number one, all our resources are in Iraq. Number two, what little resources we did have were deployed far too late. George Bush was golfing and eating birthday cake with John McCain while people were hanging off their houses praying to be rescued. He's so disconnected from this country -- and from reality. I heard a line yesterday that I thought was perfect. This man said he thinks Katrina will be Bush's Monica."

Chalmers Johnson: "Part of empire is the way it's penetrated our society, the way we've become dependent on it… The military budget is starting to bankrupt the country. It's got so much in it that's well beyond any rational military purpose. It equals just less than half of total global military spending. And yet here we are, stymied by two of the smallest, poorest countries on Earth. Iraq before we invaded had a GDP the size of the state of Louisiana, and Afghanistan was certainly one of the poorest places on the planet. And yet these two places have stopped us."

Ann Wright: "Thirty-five years in the government between my military service and the State Department, under seven administrations. It was hard. I liked representing America. I kept hoping the administration would go back to the Security Council for its authorization to go to war… I was hoping against hope that our government would not go into what really is an illegal war of aggression that meets no criteria of international law. When it was finally evident we were going to do so, I said to myself: It ain't going to be on my watch."

Mark Danner: "When you look at the record, the phrase I come back to, not only about interrogation but the many other steps that constitute the Bush state of exception, state of emergency, since 9/11 is ‘take the gloves off.'"

Mike Davis: "It's clear that the future of guerrilla warfare, insurrection against the world system, has moved into the city. Nobody has realized this with as much clarity as the Pentagon… Its strategists are way ahead of geopoliticians and traditional foreign-relations types in understanding the significance of a world of slums… There's really quite an extraordinary military literature trying to address what the Pentagon sees as the most novel terrain of this century, which it now models in the slums of Karachi, Port au Prince, and Baghdad."

Katrina vanden Heuvel
: "Sometimes, though, frustration lies in the feeling that you just can't convey the enormity of, say, the Bush administration's unitary executive theory. How do you convey that no previous administration I know of has so openly, so brazenly, on so many fronts tried to subvert the Constitution, that what we're living through is a crisis that may bode the death knell of our democracy. Why aren't people jumping up and down?"

Andrew Bacevich: "[W]e are in deep, deep trouble. An important manifestation of that trouble is this shortsighted infatuation with military power… There's such an unwillingness to confront the dilemmas we face as a people that I find deeply troubling. I know we're a democracy. We have elections. But it's become a procedural democracy. Our politics are not really meaningful. In a meaningful politics, you and I could argue about important differences, and out of that argument might come not resolution or reconciliation, but at least an awareness of the consequences of going your way as opposed to mine. We don't even have that argument. That's what's so dismaying."

Barbara Ehrenreich: "Today, we have this even larger federal government, more and more of it being war-related, surveillance-related. I mean it's gone beyond our wildest Clinton administration dreams. I think progressives can't just be seen as pro-big-government when big government has gotten so nasty. Katrina's a perfect example of how militarized the government has gotten even when it's supposedly trying to help people. The initial response of the government was a military one. When they finally got people down there, it was armed guards to protect the fancy stores and keep people in that convention center -- at gunpoint."


Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.

Friday, September 22, 2006

275. Zionists

Poor little Israel, the eternal bloody victim -- or so they would have the rest of the world believe.

How did this story begin?

(accompanying photographs may or may not show up depending on the type of computer you use, the browser, or ... to be honest, I really don't know the reason).

In 1895, Herzl, the founder of Zionism, wrote in his diary:

  Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)Founder of the Zionist Movement

"We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. Let the owners of the immoveable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back." (America And The Founding Of Israel, p. 49, Righteous Victims, p. 21-22)

In 1897 Herzl outlined one of the most important goals for Zionism during the first Zionist Congress convention held in Basle, Switzerland:

"We have an important task before us. We have met here to lay the foundation-stone of the house that will some day shelter the Jewish people. . . We have to aim at securing legal, international guarantees for our work." (Israel: A History, p. 14)

And on September 3rd, 1897 he also wrote:

"Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word-- which I shall GUARD AGAINST PRONOUNCING PUBLICLY-- it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will know it." (Israel: A History, p. 15)

Moshe Smilansky, 1890:

Moshe Smilansky, a Zionist writer and Labor leader who emigrated to Palestine in 1890:

"Let us not be familiar with the Arab fellahin [peasants] lest our children adopt their ways and learn from their ugly deeds. Let all those who are loyal to the Torah avoid ugliness and that which resembles it and keep their distance from the fellahin and their base attributes." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 7)

However, all did not agree!

Yitzhak Epstein at the Zionist Congress, 1905:

In 1905, during the Zionist Congress convention at Basle (Switzerland), Yitzhak Epstein delivered a lecture about the "Arab question" :

"Among the difficult questions connected to the idea of the renaissance of our people on its soil there is one which is equal to all others: the question of our relations with the Arabs. . . . We have FORGOTTEN one small matter: There is in our beloved land an entire nation, which has occupied it for hundreds of years and has never thought to leave it. . . .

We are making a GREAT psychological error with regard to a great, assertive, and jealous people. While we feel a deep love for the land of our forefathers, we forgot that the nation who lives in it today has a sensitive heart and loving soul. The Arab, like every man, is tied to his native land with strong bonds." (Righteous Victims, p. 57)

Smilansky wrote in "Hapoel Hatzair" in the spring edition of 1908:

"Either the Land of Israel of Israel belongs in the national sense to those Arabs who settled there in recent years [before 1908], and then we have no place there and we must say explicitly: The land of our fathers is lost to us. [Or] if the land of Israel belongs to us, the the Jewish people, then our national interests come before all else. . . . it is not possible for one country to serve as the homeland of two peoples." (Righteous Victims, p. 58)

Smilansky said in 1914:

"We must not forget that we are dealing here with a semi-savage people, which has extremely primitive concepts. And this is his nature: If he senses in you power- he will submit and will hide his hatred for you. And if he senses weakness- he will dominate you .... Moreover ... owing to the many tourists and urban Christians, there developed among the Arabs base values which are not common other primitive people ... to lie, to cheat, to harbor grave [unfounded] suspicions and to tell tales.... and a hidden hatred for the Jews. These Semites- they are anti-Semites." (Righteous Victims, p. 43)

Achad Ha'am, 1891:

 Achad Ha'am (1856-1927) Father of Cultural Zionism

In a pamphlet under the heading line of "Truth from Eretz Yisrael" published in 1891, Achad Ha'Am wrote of how Jewish settlers at the time treated the indigenous Palestinian people:

"[The Jewish settlers] treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamelessly for no sufficient reason, and even take pride in doing so. The Jews were slaves in the land of their Exile, and suddenly they found themselves with unlimited freedom, wild freedom that ONLY exists in a land like Turkey. This sudden change has produced in their hearts an inclination towards repressive tyranny, as always happens when slave rules." 'Ahad Ha'Am warned: "We are used to thinking of the Arabs as primitive men of the desert, as a donkey-like nation that neither sees nor understands what is going around it. But this is a GREAT ERROR. The Arab, like all sons of Sham, has sharp and crafty mind . . . Should time come when life of our people in Palestine imposes to a smaller or greater extent on the natives, they WILL NOT easily step aside." (One Palestine Complete, p. 104)

Achad Ha'Am warned that Jewish settlers must under no circumstances arouse the wrath of the natives, he said:

"Yet what do our brethren do in Palestine? Just the very opposite! Serfs they were in the lands of the Diaspora and suddenly they find themselves in unrestricted freedom and this change has awakened in them an inclination to despotism. They treat the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, deprive them of their rights, offend them without cause and even boast of these deeds; and nobody among us opposes this despicable and dangerous inclination ..."

The same lack of understanding he found in the boycott of Arab labour proclaimed by Jewish labour ... "Apart from the political danger, I can't put up with the idea that our brethren are morally capable of behaving in such a way to humans of another people, and unwittingly the thought comes to my mind: if it is so now, what will be our relation to the others if in truth we shall achieve at the end of times power in Eretz Yisrael? And if this be the Messiah: I do not wish to see his coming." (UN: The Origins And Evolution of Palestine Problem, section II)

Israel Zangwill, 1905:

"Palestine proper has already its inhabitants. The pashalik of Jerusalem is already twice as thickly populated as the United States, having fifty-two souls to the square mile, and not 25% of them Jews ..... [We] must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 7- 10, and Righteous Victims, p. 140)

In 1920, Zangwill clearly acknowledged the existence of Palestinians, but not as a people since they were not exploiting Palestine's resource. He said:

"If Lord Shaftesbury was literally inexact in describing Palestine as a country without a people, he was essentially correct, for there is no Arab people living in intimate fusion with the country, utilizing its resources and stamping it with a characteristic impress: there is at best an Arab encampment." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 6)

Zangwill also wrote in an article published in "Voice Of Jerusalem" in 1920, that Palestinians' cultural "backwardness" as a justification for the removal of the population. He stated:

"We cannot allow the Arabs to block so valuable a piece of historic reconstruction ..... And therefore we must generally persuade them to 'trek.' After all, they have all Arabia with its million square miles .... There is no particular reason for the Arabs to cling to these few kilometers. 'To fold their tents and silently steal away' is their proverbial habit: let them exemplify it now." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 14, and Righteous Victims, p. 140)

In a public meeting in 1919 Zangwill made a remark about the Palestinian Arabs:

"Many are semi-nomad, they have given nothing to Palestine and are not entitled to the rules of democracy." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 14)

Meir Dizengoff
, 1909:

"How can Jews, who demand emancipation in Russia, rob rights and act selfishly toward other workers upon coming to Eretz Israel? If it is possible for many a people to hide fairness and justice behind cannon smoke, how and behind what shall we hide fairness and justice? We should absolutely not deceive ourselves with terrible visions. We shall never possess cannons, even if the goyim shall bear arms against one another for ever. Therefore, we cannot but settle in our land fairly and justly, to live and let live. " (Meir Dizengoff (writing as "Dromi") "The Workers Question," Hatzvi, September 21, 22, 1909)

Arthur Ruppin wrote in 1913:

 Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943) Made practical Zionism possible

"Land is the most necessary thing for establishing roots in Palestine. Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands .... we are bound in each case ... to remove the peasants who cultivate the land." (Righteous Victims, p. 61)

Ruppin stated that he

"had come to the conviction and conclusion that there is no way of reaching a peace agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs without abandoning our fundamental demands." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 52)

Addressing Ussishkin (see below), he then went on to say:

"I also entertained dreams like yours. I once said, Iraq will absorb the Arabs of the Land of Israel and all the people of the world would recognize our justified demands ..... But .... how could you conceive that [Palestinian] Arabs would abandon the Land of Israel and go to Baghdad? What is it in for them? In Baghdad the fellah receives 3 or 4 piastre [local currency] as a daily wage. Here [meaning Palestine] the fellah receives 12-15 piastres. There he is living in object poverty, but not here. Why should he go to Iraq? Is this only because it is an Arab country, and he will still fight for its Arabness ... and the condition of the agriculture in Iraq could not be described as the Garden Of Eden." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 52)

Even after the Balfour Declaration, the British were beginning to have serious doubts:

When the question of the British Mandate over Palestine was discussed in Parliament, it became clear that opinion in the House of Lords was strongly opposed to the Balfour Declaration, as illustrated by the words of Lord Sydenham in reply to Lord Balfour:

"... the harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country - Arab all around in the hinterland - may never be remedied ... what we have done is, by concessions, not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, to start a running sore in the East, and no one can tell how far that sore will extend." (UN: The Origins And Evolution Of Palestine Problem, section IV)

While the Zionist leadership was discussing the morality of "transferring" the Palestinian people in December 1918, Yitzhak Avigdor Wilkansky, an agronomist and advisor at the Palestine Office in JAFFA, felt that, for practical reasons, it was:

"impossible to evict the fellahin [Palestinian Arab peasants], even if we wanted to. Nevertheless, if it were possible, I would commit an INJUSTICE towards the [Palestinian] Arabs. There are those among us who are opposed to this form the point of view of supreme righteousness and morality. . . .[But] when you enter into the midst of the Arab nation and do not allow it to unit, here too you are taking its life. . . . Why don't our moralists dwell on this point? We must be either complete vegetarians or meat eaters: not one-half, one-third, or one-quarter vegetarian." (Righteous Victims, p. 140-141 & America And The Founding Of Israel, p. 71)

Edward Mandell House, US President Wilson's aid, wrote Lord Balfour predicting the outcome of future implementation of the Balfour Declaration:

"It is all bad and I told Balfour so. They are making [the Middle East] a breeding place for future war." (Righteous Victims, p. 73)

In 1930, Arthur Ruppin stated that the dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian Arabs was inevitable if Zionism was to become a reality. He wrote:

"[Palestinian dispossession is inevitable because] land is the vital condition for our settlement in Palestine. But since there is hardly any land which is worth cultivating that is not already being cultivated, it is found that whatever we purchase land and settle it, by necessity its present cultivators are turned away . . . In the future it will be much more difficult to purchase land, as sparsely populated land hardly exists. What remains is densely [Palestinian Arab] populated land." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p.11)

Moshe Sharett
, 1914:

 Moshe Sharett (1894-1965) Second Prime Minister of Israel

We have forgotten that we have not come to an empty land to inherit it, but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it, that governs it by the virtue of its language and savage culture ..... Recently there has been appearing in our newspapers the clarification about "the mutual misunderstanding" between us and the Arabs, about "common interests" [and] about "the possibility of unity and peace between two fraternal peoples." ..... [But] we must not allow ourselves to be deluded by such illusive hopes ..... for if we cease to look upon our land, the Land of Israel, as ours alone and we allow a partner into our estate- all content and meaning will be lost to our enterprise. (Righteous Victims, p. 91)

Chaim Weizmann
, 1925:
 Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952) First President of Israel

Palestine must be built up without violating the legitimate interests of the Arabs.. Palestine is not Rhodesia... 600,0000 Arabs live there, who before the sense of justice of the world have exactly the same rights to their homes as we have to our National Home. [Chaim Weizmann, addressing the Fourteenth Zionist Congress in Vienna, 1925, quoted in Tessler, Mark, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1994 p. 181]

Chaim Weizmann, 1947:

"There must not be one law for the Jew and another for the Arabs....In saying this, I do not assume that there are tendencies toward inequality or discrimination. It is merely a timely warning which is particularly necessary because we shall have a very large Arab minority. I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs, just as the Jewish people at large will be judged by what we do or fail to do in this state where we have been given such a wonderful opportunity after thousands of years of wandering and suffering." (Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, Page 566 - written in December 1947)

David Ben Gurion
, 1934:

“We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland” (David Ben-Gurion to Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami 1934), quoted in Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War, London: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 140).

Ze'ev Jabotinsky
, 1923:
 Ze'ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) Founder of the Haganah

"The Arabs loved their country as much as the Jews did. Instinctively, they understood Zionist aspirations very well, and their decision to resist them was only natural ..... There was no misunderstanding between Jew and Arab, but a natural conflict. .... No Agreement was possible with the Palestinian Arab; they would accept Zionism only when they found themselves up against an 'iron wall,' when they realize they had no alternative but to accept Jewish settlement." (America And The Founding Of Israel, p. 90)

Just before Jabotinsky's death in 1940, he justified "transferring" the Palestinian people out of their homes as follows:

"The world has become accustomed to the idea of mass migrations and has become fond of them." He later added, "Hitler--- as odious as he is to us---has given this idea a good name in the world." (One Palestine Complete, p. 407)

David Ben Gurion, 1919:

 David Ben Gurion (1886-1973)First Prime Minister of Israel

"Everybody sees the problem in the relations between the Jews and the [Palestinian] Arabs. But not everybody sees that there's no solution to it. There is no solution! . . . The conflict between the interests of the Jews and the interests of the [Palestinian] Arabs in Palestine cannot be resolved by sophisms. I don't know any Arabs who would agree to Palestine being ours---even if we learn Arabic . . .and I have no need to learn Arabic. On the other hand, I don't see why 'Mustafa' should learn Hebrew. . . . There's a national question here. We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs." (One Palestine Complete, p. 116)

Not too surprisingly, this led to the two following remarks:

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”

Menachem Ussishkin, 1938:

In 1938 Menachem Ussishkin commented on the partition plan proposed by the British Peel Commission in 1937:

"We cannot begin the Jewish state with a population of which the [Palestinian] Arabs living on their lands constitute almost half and where the Jews exist on the land in very small numbers and they are all crowded in Tel Aviv and its vicinity .... and the worst is not only the [Palestinian] Arabs here constitute 50 percent or 45 percent but 75 percent of the land is in the hands of the [Palestinian] Arabs. Such a state cannot survive even for half an hour ..... The question is not whether they will be majority or a minority in Parliament. You know that even a small minority could disrupt the whole order of parliamentary life..... therefore I would say to the [Peel] Commission and the government that we would not accept reduced Land of Israel without you giving us the land, on the one hand, and removing the largest number of [Palestinian] Arabs-particularly the peasants- on the other before we come forward to take the reins of government in our lands even provisionally." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, p. 111-112; see also Righteous Victims, p. 143-144)

Yosef Weitz, 1940:

"it must be clear that there is no room in the country for both [Arab and Jewish] peoples . . . If the [Palestinian] Arabs leave it, the country will become wide and spacious for us . . . The only solution [after the end of WW II] is a Land of Israel, at least a western land of Israel [i.e. Palestine since Transjordan is the eastern portion], without [Palestinian] Arabs. There is no room here for compromises . . . There is no way but to transfer the [Palestinian] Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them, save perhaps for [the Palestinian Arabs of] Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the old Jerusalem. Not one village must be left, not one [Bedouin] tribe. The transfer must be directed at Iraq, Syria, and even Transjordan [eastern portion of Eretz Yisrael]. For this goal funds will be found . . . An only after this transfer will the country be able to absorb millions of our brothers and the Jewish problem will cease to exist. There is no other solution." (Benny Morris, p. 27 & Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 131-132)

And one year later, in 1941:

"Once again I come face to face with the land settlement difficulties that emanate from the existence of two people in close proximity . . . . We have clashing interests with the [Palestinian] Arabs everywhere, and these interests will go and clash increasingly. . . . and once again the answer from inside me is heard: only [Palestinian Arab] population transfer and evacuating this country so it would become exclusively for us [Jews] is the solution. This idea does not leave me in these days and I find comfort in it in the face of enormous difficulties in the way of land-buying and settlement." (Expulsion Of The Palestinians, 132)

Aharon Cizling, 1948:

During the course of the 1948 war, reports of WAR CRIMES (perpetrated by the Israeli soldiers at al-Dawayima northwest of Hebron) reached the Israeli Cabinet. These atrocities shocked Aharon Cizling, and during a Cabinet meeting he stated:

"I've received a letter on the subject. I must say that I have known what things have been like for some time and I have raised the issue several times already here. However after reading this letter I couldn't sleep last night. I felt the things that were going on were hurting my soul, the soul of my family and all of us here. I could not imagine where we came from and to where are we going. . . . I often disagree when the term Nazi was applied to the British. I wouldn't like to use the term, even though the British committed Nazi crimes. But now Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being has been shaken. . . . Obviously we have to conceal these actions from the public, and I agree that we should not even reveal that we're investigating them. But they must be investigated. . . ." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 26 & Benny Morris, p. 233)

Cizling empathized with the plight of the Palestinian refugees. He said during a Cabinet meeting:

"We still do not properly appreciate what kind of enemy we are now nurturing outside the borders of our state. Our enemies, the Arab states, are mere nothing compared with those hundreds of thousands of [Palestinian] Arabs who will be moved by hatred and hopelessness and infinite hostility to wage war on us, regardless of any agreement we might be reached. . . . " (1949, The First Israelis, p. 31)

Yigal Allon, on the 1948 war:

ONLY five days left . . . until 15 May [1948]. We regarded it as imperative to CLEANSE [of Palestinian Arabs] the interior of the Galilee and create JEWISH territorial continuity in the whole of the Upper Galilee. The protracted battles reduced our forces, and we faced major tasks in blocking [prospective Syrian and Lebanese] invasion routes. We, therefore, looked for a means that would not oblige us to use force to DRIVE OUT tens of thousands of hostile [Palestinian] Arabs left in the Galilee and who, in the event of an invasion, could strike at us from behind. We tried to utilize a stratagem that exploited the [Arabs] defeat in Safad and in area cleared by [Operation] Broom - a stratagem that WORKED WONDERFULLY.

I gathered the Jewish mukhtars [Kibbutz chiefs], who had ties with the different [local Palestinian] Arab villages, and I asked them to WHISPER in the ears of several [Palestinian] Arabs that a giant Jewish reinforcement had reached the Galilee and were about to CLEAN OUT the villages of Hula, [and] to advise them as friends, to FLEE while they could. And rumour spread throughout Hula that the time had come to flee. The flight encompassed tens of thousands. The stratagem FULLY achieved its objective . . . and we were able to deploy ourselves in face of the [prospective] invaders along the borders, with out fear for our rear." (Benny Morris, p. 122)

One day after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine, Menachem Begin, the commander of the Irgun and Israel's future Prime Minster between 1977-1983, proclaimed:

 Menachem Begin (1913-1992)

"The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized .... Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever." (Iron Wall p. 25 & Simha Flapan, p. 32)

Soon after Menachem Begin and the Likud party won the Israeli election in 1977, the government's foreign policy was stated as follows:

"the Jewish people have unchallengeable, eternal, historic right to the Land of Israel [including the West Bank and Gaza Strip], the inheritance of their forefathers," and pledged to build rural and urban exclusive Jewish colonies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." (Iron Wall, p. 354-355) This is a typical Zionist argument where the Bible or the "Word of God" is being used to achieve political objectives.

Moshe Dayan
stated in an oration at the funeral of an Israeli farmer killed by a Palestinian Arab in April 1956:
 Moshe Dayan (1915-1981 ) Israeli military commander

". . . Let us not today fling accusation at the murderers. What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.

We should demand his blood not from the [Palestinian] Arabs of Gaza but from ourselves. . . . Let us make our reckoning today. We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and gun barrel, we shall not be able to plant a tree or build a house. . . . Let us not be afraid to see the hatred that accompanies and consumes the lives of hundreds of thousands of [Palestinian] Arabs who sit all around us and wait for the moment when their hands will be able to reach our blood."

While planning the attack on Egypt in 1956, Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan were trying to work out a plan to internally destabilize Lebanon in favor of Christian-Maronite government, and in that regard Dayan proposed:

"All that is required is to find an officer, even a captain [later to be Sa'ed Haddad] would do, to win his heart or buy him with money to get him to agreed to declare himself the savior of the Maronite population. Then the Israeli army will enter Lebanon, occupy the necessary territory, create a Christian regime that will ally itself with Israel. The territory from Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel, and everything will fall into place." (Iron Wall, p. 133-134)

Sound familiar?

Dayan once remarked "describing Israel's relationship with the United States":

"Our American friends offer us money, arms, and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice." (Iron Wall, p. 316)

Ariel Sharon

Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that's grabbed, will be in our hands. Everything we don't grab will be in their hands.

Rabbi Yaacov Perrin

“One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

Ehud Barak, military hero and former Israeli prime minister, was once caught off guard by a reporter's question:

 Ehud Barak (1942 -) military commander; later PM of Israel

"What would you have done, sir, if you had been born a Palestinian?"
Barak thought a moment and replied candidly,"I imagine that if I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would, at some stage, have joined one of the terror organizations."


Zionist groups had not been distinguished in their physical resistance to anti-Semites in Europe but they were gladiatorial in their assaults on Palestinian communities. (Arthur Neslen, 2006)


The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, outright deportation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. Israel wants all of the land of Palestine, including all of the West Bank and Gaza, but it cannot have a majority Jewish state in all of this land as long as the Palestinians are there. Hence the slow strangulation. (Kathleen Christison, 2006)

And it goes on day by day. We support injustice with our silence.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

274. future grandads

This blood-dripping
saddle says to me
that my lord
(the old bastard)
will possibly not
be cantering, cantering
home for tea

on spreading green swards
with a monkey-puzzle tree

because, in fact,
he's beastly dead.

He was a very silly
man, we can all agree,
and it was not, when you
come to think of it, such
a very bad thing that
he died in glorious battle
for the sake of family.

Dead as a doornail
fancy that.

We'll need to look
to the future
more or less
in which certain
things will happen,
not, perhaps, good
things, but, for the
moment, anyway,
I think, I half believe,
we are secure
among our loyal friends
and the usual plague
of greasy sycophants.

But but but
there is a danger still
that the whole damn
wobbly edifice
so haphazardly erected
by our drunken forefathers
will fall and crumble
and all will tumble

I would vote
if we had elections
I would walk
if I had legs
I would salute
if I had arms
I would laugh
if my mouth
wasn't ripped
apart and covered
with bandages.

War is not so bad
not really
you can pick up
a few things
here and there
loot, cash
as long as you
don't get killed
or maimed

You have to
go your own way
have to wing it, baby
but isn't that
what we all believe?
leaving others
the civilians
the refugees
the emaciated survivors
to pick up the pieces
or fall down dead
so sorry, amid
a rubble of broken dreams.

Being young
helps, in a way, that's
what makes it work,
not having to think
when you drag out
the next screaming
prisoner. Kill em all
says the sergeant, guilty
and innocent alike, filthy
fuckin foreigners.
Kill em all: why not,
the sergeant said so.

You sit at home, but
democracy is a tough job

You sit at home, and
I envy you at times
I want to go to the Mall
I want to go to the movies
I want to drink in the smell
of a blonde-haired girl
or a brown-haired girl
or any sweet-smelling girl at all
while I clean and oil
my M-16, my deadly beauty,
my waking and sleeping
constant companion
and I know you know that
you can't do what I can do

I can kill people.

When I go home
I could work in a store
stacking shelves
but I think I'd rather
go to college instead,
I think I'd kinda like
to become a lawyer,
get myself a job
with the government:
they'll never admit it
but they owe me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

273. cyberlove (noli tangere)

the cool
the stalactites
of resentment
like sharp icicles
of uncertainty
thrust themselves
in rigid frozen
form //: from
the obscure
dis ... connected
dizzy heights
of gun-toting
secure communities
totally, totally
so that nothing
bad could possibly
ever happen
either now
or in the future
exists the thing
she thinks
he calls
his brain
or the thing
he thinks
she calls
her own.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

272. Guns, Death, Politics & Murder

Steven Spielberg's film "Munich" has finally arrived at the DVD rentals in Japan. Spielberg has been labelled a "self-hating Jew" by the usual suspects for exploring the moral ambiguities of an assassination campaign.

Meanwhile, now and not 30 years ago, on the West Bank:

"Palestine has been so reduced and so humiliated that it is now a country where the Occupying force can walk into a main city at nightfall, can walk down the main street of that city and kill a man and then walk away again as if that is a damn right of theirs and no one is going to blink an eye at it.

"It is not their damn right to come and terrorize the people of a city night after night after night on some hyped up 'security' reason! This is no human being's right.

"I have been accused of not understanding how people are feeling on the other side of the Wall. People have written to me 'You don't know what it is like to be driving behind a bus when it explodes' and I say this is true. But I do know what it is like to see fifteen thugs walk down a main street of a city at nightfall and murder in cold-blood outside a family restaurant and then walk away again.

"I call that the worst kind of terror."

This is an eyewitness report. These targeted assassinations continue to happen on a regular basis. How long will it take before the Israelis understand they can't just stroll around and murder Arabs (subhumans) with impunity? They were surprised and indignant when Hizbullah fought back in August and killed about 120 Israeli soldiers. I am sorry for the young men who died but I can't find it in my heart to blame Hizbullah for resisting. They were fighting for control of their own towns and villages. Israeli troops invaded Lebanon, not the other way around. The home team wasn't doing anything wrong by fighting back and defending their own territory. In fact, good for them.

Friday, August 25, 2006

271. Elephants

Elephants cavorting
on the floor
could drive other dancers
to the door
because, perhaps,
they are somewhat large,
slightly larger, in fact,
than most Americans:
with delicate tact
they try not to barge
and step upon your toes.
God knows
you’d remember that
(a foot mashed flat)
as they politely strain
to stay with the beat
in spite of the pain
and pulsating heat
and not very much
in the way of feet.

Casual reporting
the serious strands
of elephant thought:
their love of books
their modest demands.
They never catch fire,
not precisely,
assidiously self-taught,
they hardly require
or congratulation,
but want to act nicely,
and politely.
Elephants are serious,
elephants are good,
elephants, understandably,
are misunderstood:
they eat plants, they step around ants,
and behave with perfect PC,
more thoughtful, in fact, than you or me.

Lions and tigers leave them alone,
they have never been beasts of prey:
they are dignified, large, and grey.
And there is this passing rumour
that they have a sense of humour,
they can chuckle at the inside joke,
and especially like the ones that poke
at politics and religion ... O what fun!
It may be true they weigh a ton
but they’re by and large a laid-back folk,
who mull over each and every decision.
Babar, as you may well expect,
is the only Elephant superstar,
he tingles their hearts, both near and far,
(“Le Roi Babar ” gets a lotta respect)!
Talking English is still quite new
dans le Centrale Afrique
so, therefore, only a very few
of younger elephants can speak.
Their elders chide them and repair
to discuss the plays of Moliere,
and trumpetting, rumpetting,
(thank God we’re off the dance floor)
tear apart Voltaire.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

270. Kamakura

(Click on any picture to expand; use Back button to return to blog)


Last Monday (Aug. 21st), in the midst of the blazing and relentless summer heat that the country has been experiencing this year, we spent the day in Kita (north) Kamakura and Kamakura itself visiting a number of historical and rather famous Zen temples, including Engaku-ji and Shokozan (once known as the divorce temple, since women could take refuge here from abusive husbands).


These temples date from the period when Kamakura wrested control over the Japanese islands from the court in Kyoto (ca. 1194-1333) and although much renovated and rebuilt these temples still retain a direct link to those days when Zen (Ch'an) Buddhism was being introduced to Japan from China and when the two great Mongol invasions of the country were repulsed by huge storms -- the original "kami-kaze", or divine winds.


An expanded set of 30 photos may be viewed by going to kaboodle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

269. Lebanon -- what now?

As the belated UN Ceasefire goes into effect after five long weeks of war – and just how secure this ceasefire will be, one wonders – questions are being raised and answers sought not only among those who were directly involved in the conflict, but in government cabinet sessions around the world.

What will be the political results of this war? Who has lost, who has won? What do these events augur for the future of Israel and the Middle East in general?

In military terms the war has come to a temporary halt without a clearcut victory on either side. This counts as a de facto Israeli defeat since it was inconceivable not only to their US allies but to the Israelis themselves that the all-powerful and American-supplied IDF could be stopped in its tracks by a despised group of Arabic militants.

The war was allowed to continue as long as it did in order to provide time for an Israeli military victory. When initial Israeli attacks into south Lebanon met with stiff resistance the Israelis asked for more time to finish the job. The US and Britain (PM Tony Blair, if not his Labour Party) stalled on ceasefire negotiations to give the Israelis their chance. The additional time led to more Israeli casualties on the ground (and many more Lebanese civilian casualties from the air) but there was no noticeable improvement in the Israeli military situation. With world opinion growing ever more hostile the Israeli demands for more time could not be sustained indefinitely. An initial, one-sided, and deeply-flawed ceasefire proposal has now been replaced with something slightly, but not much, better. No doubt the young Israeli reservists who have been bearing the brunt of the difficult fighting will be quietly relieved. The angry perception of military failure, however, will lead to a political firestorm in Israel.

How will Israel react?

PM Ehud Olmert and Minister of Defense Amir Peretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is definitely on the way out. Calls for his resignation have already been raised in the Knesset and it is highly unlikely he can long survive the political fallout from this war. Look for a bitter war of words in the Israeli press between civilian and military leaders as each side blames the other. If Olmert goes, which is almost certain, we can expect the sacking or perhaps pre-emptive resignation of the IDF Commander, Dan Halutz. Halutz, the first Israeli CIC from the air force, believed in winning wars from the air and was the architect of the devastating airstrikes on Lebanon which caused so many civilian casualties and which roused world opinion to a deafening chorus of outrage.

Dan Halutz, Israeli military commander in chief

Ordinary Israelis were astounded and angry at the world’s disapproval (after all, they had been getting away with murder on the ground for decades) and could not understand how they were suddenly losing the PR battle around the world. Lose it they did, and definitively so, in spite of the best efforts of the US media to mislead, as usual, the public at home. Not only in the Muslim world – which has few if any illusions about Israel – but also in places as far apart as China, Russia, South America, Africa, India, almost any country one might care to name, the Israelis were being seen on the world’s TV screens as brutal aggressors, murderers of women and children, heartless attackers of fleeing refugees and ambulances and aid convoys. It will take years, perhaps a generation, for Israel to expunge these negative images.

Lebanon and Hizbullah

Sayyid Hassan Nasrullah, leader of Hizbullah

Within Lebanon and the wider Arab world (indeed the Islamic world as a whole which embraces non-Arabic nations such as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, also Indonesia and Malaysia, large parts of India and the southern Philippines, not to mention large populations of Islamic emigrants in Europe and North America) Hizbullah comes out as a clear winner as does their charismatic and relatively young leader Hassan Nasrullah. Nasrullah is calm and shrewd and whenever he appeared on al-Manar TV during the crisis he avoided over-the-top emotional tirades and simply warned the Israelis that he would match their bombing attacks with more and more missiles and would possibly target Tel Aviv.

In retrospect, in spite of the loss of civilian lives in Israel (some of them Israeli Arabs with no bomb shelters provided for them to go to) Hizbullah rocket attacks on Israel were not an indiscriminate lashing out at the “Zionist” enemy so much as a measured response to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon. When the Israelis stopped bombing for a 48-hour period Hizbullah stopped sending over rockets. When the Israelis resumed, so did Hizbullah. The short-range Katyusha rockets don’t have the vaunted accuracy of smart bombs but it would appear Hizbullah was actually trying to go after military targets. BBC and CNN reporters in Haifa went on camera in shirt sleeves because the central city was relatively safe whereas their counterparts in Beirut and Tyre and the Bekaa Valley were all wearing flak jackets.

The Israelis have weapon factories and ammunition stores and military installations dotted around the whole northern part of the country as Jonathan Cook, a free-lance writer based in Nazareth has been trying to explain to everybody for the past few weeks but without much success. The Israeli complaint that the “cowardly” Hizbullah were hiding among the civilian population is entirely hypocritical given that the Israelis do exactly the same thing. Western reporters are prevented from mentioning the existence of military installations in the suburbs of Haifa, Nasiriyah and Nazareth under the draconian censorship rules that Israel imposes on foreign reporters – and which few of these reporters ever remember to mention.

What happens next?

Hizbullah has gained a great deal of respect within Lebanon. This can only add to their growing political influence. The dismissive image of Hizbullah as a Shi’ite militia has been replaced during the course of the war by a wider Lebanese appreciation of the role of Hizbullah as defenders of the country. This perception cuts across all the old sectarian divides. The Israelis were quick to claim (Netanyahu on the BBC Hard Talk program, for example) that the Lebanese Christians and Sunnis were cheering on Israel and hoping for a defeat of Hizbullah. This may have been partly true at the beginning of the war but it is totally untrue now. Even super-safe (supposedly) Jounieh, a Christian enclave north of Beirut, got pounded with bombs as did Sunni and Druze areas as the crazily arrogant and ultimately self-defeating Israeli air campaign went on. In their declared attempt to cut off Hizbullah weapon supply corridors the Israelis shut down the whole transportation and communications infrastructure of Lebanon. What was understood in the beginning as an Israeli attack on Hizbullah soon came to be perceived as an all-out attack on the Lebanese state. And who was standing up to the Israelis? Who was defending Lebanon? Not, you can be sure, the Lebanese army.

The defiant flag of Hizbullah

It remains to be seen how far Hizbullah will benefit politically from their (perceived) role as national defenders during the recent war, but benefit they will. That much can be easily predicted. It is indicative of their growing political awareness that they downplay their former religious agenda, never all that strong, and now even field local Christian candidates in election campaigns. These guys are not stupid. They are on their way to becoming major political players in Lebanon, first and foremost, and, by extension, a model for the wider Arab political world. I can’t help but wonder (maybe it’s only me) if they haven’t been stealing a few peeks at the Sinn Fein playbook in Ireland.

America, Bush, GWOT

What about America? Well, what about it – does it really matter? We all know what is going to happen. Bush is like one of the old Bourbon kings of France. He only sees what he wants to see and he learns nothing from changes in events and circumstances. We can expect more of the same blind stupidity. Hizbullah will be ostracized and condemned, again, as an “Islamofascist” terrorist organization. It never has been that, not by any stretch of the imagination. Hizbullah came out foursquare and condemned Al Quaida and the 9/11 attacks, but who cares to remember that now?

America will continue to support Israel and ship them new weapons (but not through Shannon Airport!!) in the hope that a new, better and improved Israeli regime will launch a fresh attack and exterminate these hardy defenders of their native soil. Whatever happened to the old republican virtues (small “r”) in which the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord held a position of respect? In these days of geopolitical conniving and imperial overreach the foundations of the American Republic are conveniently forgotten and set aside, and the same national aspirations which gave rise to the independence of America are denied to others.

The Global War on Terror? It hasn’t been that for some time although Al Quaida is still out there, largely undisturbed. What we have now is a global war on everyone including dissidents, the poor, and ethnic minorities within the USA itself. If you are a Muslim or a black or brown foreigner, God help you.

Sunni regimes

The conservative Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are probably quaking in their boots and with good reason. A successful Shi’ite grassroots organization like Hizbullah that can take on the Israelis and not lose (not losing means you win) is the last thing they need with their own volatile and predominantly poor populations chafing under restrictive quasi-military rule. Hizbullah has aroused feelings of pride and defiance throughout the Arabic world which cuts across the Sunni-Shia divide. It will be interesting to see how they will build upon this support, but build upon it they will. These people are intelligent, disciplined, and dedicated. They won’t be going away anytime soon.

For related articles, please click here

Sunday, August 06, 2006

268. The War in Lebanon

O God, they’re at it again!

During the last 60 years, or ever since the creation of the State of Israel, hardly a week or month has gone by without some incident of political violence in which civilians have been attacked or killed. There have been major outbreaks of violence in the form of all-out wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and now, since July 12 of this year, we have witnessed Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon. Apart from the full-scale invasion of Lebanon in 1982 there have also been bombing campaigns by Israel in 1978 and 1996 before the Israeli army finally withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon in 2000. Internally Israel has been engaged in almost continuous military actions against the Palestinians, most notably in reaction to the “intifadas” (uprisings) of 1987 and 2000. Now they are at it again in Gaza.

Israel lays claim to the sympathies of the West as a fellow “democracy” surrounded by hostile enemies who wish to destroy the Jewish state and push its inhabitants into the sea. This is very emotive stuff but it has gradually lost the power to convince (except, of course, in the United States) since originally well-disposed European nations have taken stock of the overwhelming military superiority of Israel vis-à-vis its opponents and the number of times that Israel has been the actual instigator of armed conflict in the region (every single time, in fact, with the exception of the Egyptian attack in 1973). It’s a little bit like the Boy Who Cries Wolf in that the neighbours soon learn to take these pleas with a pinch of salt. Woe, then, to Israel should she really come under the sort of devastating attack that would actually threaten her existence!! Of course, America will probably still be there to pull the irons out of the fire should things ever get that far – and it seems highly unlikely they ever will – whereas the Europeans, grown ever more disillusioned with Israeli behaviour, would be much slower to react.

Does Israel have a right to exist?

Yes. It will always be a troublesome entity because of its location and because of some of its rather more dubious Zionist claims to legitimacy. Nevertheless, the state of Israel is internationally recognized and its right to exist will be defended by the United Nations, even to the extent of military intervention if necessary. In spite of Israeli fears to the contrary, the world will not stand by and allow Israel to be destroyed. Only Israel itself can do that. There is a growing belief among non-partisan outside observers that the attitudes and policies of successive Israeli governments have done much to exacerbate the problems of the region and that these policies have increased rather than reduced tensions with Israel’s neighbours and its internal population of Palestinians. In other words, Israel has generally created more problems than it has solved, rarely if ever accepts responsibility for these problems, and consistently engages in angry but well-orchestrated attacks on any groups or individuals who have the temerity to challenge its behaviour.

The real question here is which Israel has the right to exist? Is it the Israel of the original UN Partition Plan of 1947, the expanded Israel that followed the 1948 war, or the even more expanded Israel which came into being after the 1967 war? (see maps above and below). In 1967 Israel took over -- and continues to occupy -- the West Bank and East Jerusalem (formerly part of Jordan), Gaza (formerly Egyptian -- the Sinai Peninsula was returned in 1982), the Golan Heights (formerly Syrian) and a small enclave along the Syrian-Lebanese border known as Shebaa Farms. UN Resolution 242 (November 22, 1967) specifically called for Israel to withdraw from these occupied territories.

There have been 98 UN resolutions concerning Israeli actions and the vast majority of them have been critical. Nevertheless, the only UN Resolution that Israel cares to quote is Resolution 1559 calling on the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah, (“There are pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli sources that have commented on the amount of United Nations resolutions against Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir commissioned an analysis of UN voting concerning Israel. According to results of this study, from 1967 to 1988 the Security Council passed 88 resolutions directly against Israel and during that span, Israel was condemned 43 times. In the UN General Assembly, 429 resolutions against Israel were passed, and Israel was condemned 321 times”. – source, Wikipedia).

Is Israel justified in its attack on Lebanon?

No. The rationale put forward is totally out of sequence. We are told Israel has a right to destroy the Lebanese infrastructure (roads, bridges, the main airport, oil storage facilities, TV and cellphone relay towers, factories, etc.) because Hizbullah fired rockets into Israel. This is not what happened. The Hizbullah attacked an Israeli army patrol, killed three soldiers and captured two. Their intent was to set up a prisoner exchange for some of the 900 or so Lebanese held without charge in the Israeli military prison system. Israel sent in a team (there is still a dispute as to which side of the border the original incident occurred)to chase down the Hizbullah fighters and one of their tanks ran over a landmine and a further four Israeli soldiers were killed. One more soldier was killed in an ambush as the Israelis attempted to retrieve the bodies. The next day Israel initiated air strikes on southern Lebanon and hit the airport in Beirut. Hassan Nasrullah, the Hizbullah leader, told Israel to stop bombing Lebanese targets or Hizbullah would fire rockets into Israel. That’s how that got started.

Next, we hear that Syria and particularly Iran are engaged in a proxy war with Israel (and the United States) by supplying Hizbullah with missiles and military training. Even as this complaint was doing the rounds of all the media outlets, the USA was shipping new bombs into Israel by way of Prestwick airport in Scotland. This is apparently OK. The bombs were redirected through Prestwick (much to the fury of the Scots) because my own government in Ireland refused landing rights at Shannon airport. Good for them. So why can’t Hizbullah and Israel make a deal? We (Hizbullah) will cut all ties with Syria and Iran if you (Israel) promise to cut all ties with the USA? Well, I can’t see that happening any time soon, but it amazes me that people can't see the parallels.

Are we being told the truth?

No, of course not. When has that ever happened? The so-called Peace Process between Israel and the Palestinians is a total sham and everybody knows it. It’s a smokescreen to hide the fact that Israel wants to retain the occupied territories and somehow get rid of the Palestinians. This is why they are building illegal settlements, usually on strategic hilltop positions; this is why they confiscate Palestinian land, refusing building permits to Palestinian families (if they do build, their homes are destroyed by bulldozers); this is why they set up military roadblocks and checkpoints that make it nearly impossible for Palestinians to get their goods to market, attend schools and universities, get to hospitals for imminent childbirth and other medical emergencies, or in simple terms, lead normal lives; this is why they have set up a highway system connecting settlements that only Israeli citizens can use. The list goes on. It is literally unbelievable, except nobody seems to be paying any attention to what is actually happening to these people. These daily humiliations are totally buried in American press and TV coverage. Whenever Palestinians react with anger they are painted as mindless terrorists and Israel is praised for “defending” itself by shooting a few of them. Kids throw stones against tanks and when the soldiers catch them, they beat them and break their arms. Those are the lucky ones, the ones who don’t get shot. Unlike press and television outlets from the rest of the world, the American news media hardly ever mentions the brutal military occupation which gives rise to these responses. The whole situation is reported totally out of context as if the Palestinians were unstable people addicted to violence. Could you imagine this happening in your own neighbourhood? Probably not, but if it were to happen, what would be your reaction? Fight or flight? The Palestinians have nowhere to run to.

Ehud Barak, military hero and former Israeli prime minister, was once caught off guard by a reporter's question:

"What would you have done, sir, if you had been born a Palestinian?"
Barak thought a moment and replied candidly,"I imagine that if I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would, at some stage, have joined one of the terror organizations."

Right, exactly. Source under Quotes.

In the meantime, for those who are interested in Israel and the Middle East,there is a longer article on this blog entitled 'Great Hatred, Little Room'.

By clicking on the links button below you will be brought to a page with a collection of nearly a dozen recent articles on Lebanon and Gaza.


Friday, August 04, 2006

267. Breaking News

Whatever it takes,
between station breaks,
allow your mouth to do the walking
and never once stop talking;

Anderson Cooper
induces stupor,
but, consistently, most of all,
what really drives me up the wall

is Colonel This and Brigadier That
who woof-woof at us rata-tat-tat
with their steely eyes and lantern jaws
about events, yet never the cause

of the unfolding dreadful situation
in a small and faraway foreign nation
when any fool can easily tell
that they don't know really what the hell

is in actual fact transpiring;
this is sad, it is totally uninspiring,
as innocent people continue to die
and they focus on what, but can't say why:

half-cocked blather, ill-prepared,
"news" by and for the thought-impaired.

Under the moon and under the sun
all humankind must learn,
that those to whom evil is done
WILL do evil in return.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

266. Mexico

In many different ways
the nights were a torment
far worse than the days.

Trapped, involuntarily,
in a situation beyond our control,
we believed, contrarily,

that others were to blame.
We tried to shrug aside responsibility,
and so avoid the shame.

We were not good at introspection:
we were trained to fight, wrong or right;
thought was a kind of infection.

We had killed the enemy with impunity,
to be captured was a blow to our pride;
then kindness broke down our immunity.

Why were they devoid of hostility?
This we could not, would not, understand;
it made us consider the futility

of the righteous, murderous behaviour
that had primed us from the start.
They spoke of a just and gentle Saviour

bringing peace and freedom to the land.
We tried, but it was beyond us --
at first we could not understand.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

265. Rue du Bonne Chance

Madame Vavasour
trips the light
dans le Rue
du Sauvignon.

in zee hand
is worse too
in zee Boosh.

Alors, quel’ homme!!
Inky- dinky
Quest ce-que tu dire?
Never push
when you can shove instead.

Hola, parlez vous?
(Oui, oui, on y va chez nous!)

Life is short,
soon comes le Morte
and by report
the silent resentful dead
remain dead for a very very very
long time.

My crime
was complex, yet quite simple,
my best girl had a pimple
and the blowtorch
came to hand.
Franz Ferdinand
war ein “echter Wiener”
In Bosnia-Hercegovina,
Jetzt tot, der lieber Mann,
his white on white tunic
now so dunkel-rot
and poor morganatic Sophie
shot and squealed and bled,
equally, beastly dead.

La veille ogresse avec les dents jaunes
No, that was Queen Victoria,
a completely different storia.

In another place, another time
some other crime
transpires; now the fires
of Hell burn low:
the Devil’s stokers want to strike
instead they just “go slow”.
They don’t much like
their permanent condition
and seek the Devil’s permission
for a 3-week summer break
in Purgatory. Nugatory, I fear,
such hopes, the rise and fall of tropes:
after all, they have made their beds
along with other nasty deads.

And it’s only them feckin Paddies
(such an awful lot of them down here)
who keep acting queer, obstreperous laddies,
getting into fights,
demanding non-existent rights.
So, the Devil, well, he’s right annoyed
and consults his adviser, Sigmund Freud
(yes, of course, he’s down here too,
an under keeper of this shabby zoo,
a critic and constant scathing belittler
of his hopeless assistant, Adolf Hitler).
Ah, feck this crowd, says the Devil,
would you ever get on the phone to Neville
Chamberlain? He’s one of the pure
blithering idiots beyond,
he’s easily fooled and easily conned.
Tell him to ask that fella God
if he’s ready to do a trade?
He can have the Irish, the whole bleedin’ crew,
and all he has to do
is send me some Baptists and Quakers
and a slew of pious Protestants.
They’ll work without the bother of getting paid
and pay attention to the borders;
best of all, at my beck and call,
they will obey my Standing Orders!!

Madame Vavasour
is not a hoor
but a woman of a certain age
with a mind “en clair”
who thought, this world is so unfair
with young girls placed in a cage:
Alors, she reflected, what can I do,
If not be unfair too?
Her raging business success
has got her on the Fortune 500
along with all the other crooks and liars.
On the smouldering funeral pyres
of our moribund civilization
a final oration
falls due to our Captains of Industry!
Damaged people, with nervous tics and snuffles,
who root out money like pigs find truffles.

On the Chateau d’If
d’Whether, du When,
the wind blows from the south.
Ah, Bisto!
cries out the Count of Monte Christo,
rinsing out his … armpits;
today I believe I shall them deceive,
Voila! Heu, heu .. oui, sacre bleu!!
Vite, vite, vite, doleur!

Zee tricoleur
will fly over all zee nations
and reparations
will be honoured, on presentation
of a duly signed and stamped receipt
at Burlington Court, 114 the Strand.
Ah, life would surely be grand
with loads of unearned money!
But life is brutal, grasping, sick,
a carny trick --
but sometimes very funny.
Things happen.
Things happen some more.
Things happen some more some more.
You can’t help but love it.

War criminals
die peacefully in their beds
while their innocent victims
die in agony, in hundreds of thousands:
that’s the way things are.
In my little car
I drive ten thousand miles
across the weeping frontiers.

do nothing.
Nothing changes,
Nothing improves.
Power remains a heartless game
in every generation.
The occasion
of death is incidental,
accidental, and necessary.
It moves all people aside.
It ranges wide.