Jan Oberg’s comment on Chancellor Merkel’s speech at the Munich security conference where she mentioned the duty Europe has to receive refugees and also reiterated that Germany will do its best to increase its military budget to 2% of its GDP.
Apart from this one can only get very sad and pessimistic when reading the comments underneath this sequence: Boundless hate against Merkel herself, racism, anti-Islam, anti-Semitism – and not one (of the first 70+ comments) on the issue of NATO, the risk of war or on what I brought up about the need for new, less militarist policies, less interventionism and better ways of handling the refugees.
Anger and hatred just under the surface, brought out mostly anonymously. No reasoning, just smear.
We still have a long long way to go in terms of public education…
Here in the United States, I react against the avoidance of the word ‘Christmas’ during this holiday season. I would undoubtedly feel differently if I were living in Turkey or India. The legions of ‘the politically correct’ determined to avoid offending those, especially Jews, who are not Christians, will carefully express their good wishes with such phrases as ‘happy holidays!’
This is okay except it obliterates the vibrant symbolism of Christmas as a seminal occasion that has over the centuries transcended for most of us its specific religious roots and meanings. It has an ecumenical resonance that calls for bright lights, ornamented trees, celebration, and wishes for peace on earth and good will toward all, bringing together those of diverse faith or no faith at all.
When I was growing up in New York City Christmas was ‘Christmas’ regardless of whether one was Christian or not, and implied no religious dedication whatsoever.Read More »
We have war and peace, theory and practice. And deeper down cultures of war and peace, notions of what the world is or could be. The latter is not necessarily peace, could also mean removing obstacles to war.
Timothy Snyder, “Hitler’s World” (NY Review of Books, 24 Sep 2015) and Greg Grandin, “The Kissinger Effect: The relentless militarism of the national-security state and its perverse justification begin with Henry Kissinger” (The Nation, 28 Sep 2015) are both on that line.
Hitler’s World derives from Darwinist struggle for niches, with survival of the fittest. His niche is not the whole world but what is needed to feed the German people, and here Ukraine plays a major role. The food chain is key to the image, with humans on top, eating animals and plants, but not eaten by them. So also for the human species, divided in races with the Aryan race on top, “fittest” as evidenced by domination all over; never slaves. On top of them are the Germans; their state not an end but the military arm obliged to be strongest.
To Hitler that world is natural, and inherently stable. Values, equality, human rights, equal right to life, Christianity, capitalism, communism, are anti-natural. For Hitler such ideas…
Do you remember the Axis of Evil – Iraq-Iran-North Korea?
George W. Bush, or his speechwriter rather, concocted that axis in 2002 as focus for a global war on terror. The key term is “evil”–not “enemy”, “hostile”–the connotation being “possessed by Satan”. The proof is opposition to a USA chosen by God, as God’s Own People, as “In God we trust”. To exorcise Satan only violence works.
In 1953 North Korea under Kim Il Sung did not capitulate to the USA, only cease-fire, the first US non-victory since 1812. Very evil.
In 1978-79, Iran, by the Khomeini Islamic revolution, decolonized Iran from US dominance and evicted the shah, who had been installed by a US-UK (CIA-MI6) coup in 1953; in fact undoing 1953. Very, very evil.
On 17 May 1987 Saddam Hussein, used by the USA to fight Iran with no gains for Iraq, fired on a US vessel (USS Stark incident). Very, very, very evil.
However, for a USA, never questioning bringing US style democracy and US free market to all countries in the world, this was not seen as others having their own goals. It was seen as exactly that, evil.Read More »
While reporting to the UN on Israel’s violation of basic Palestinian rights I became keenly aware of how official language is used to hide inconvenient truths. Language is a tool used by the powerful to keep unpleasant realities confined to shadow lands of incomprehension.
Determined to use the rather modest flashlight at my disposal to illuminate the realities of the Palestinian ordeal as best I could, meant replacing words that obscure ugly realities with words that expose as awkward truths often as possible. My best opportunity to do this was in my annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the General Assembly in New York.
My courageous predecessor as Special Rapporteur, John Dugard, deserves credit for setting the stage, effectively challenging UN complacency with language that looked at the realities lurking below the oily euphemisms that diplomat seem so fond of.
Of course, I paid a price for such a posture as did Dugard for me. Your name is added to various black lists, and doors once open are quietly closed. If the words used touched enough raw nerves, you become a target of invective and epithets. In my case, this visibility meant being called ‘an anti-Semite,’ even ‘a notorious anti-Semite,’ and on occasion ‘a self-hating Jew.’
Strong Zionist pressures have now been brought to induce legislative bodies in the United States to brand advocacy of BDS or harsh criticism of Israel as prohibited form of ‘hate speech.’ In April of this year pressures broad to bear by the British Jewish Board of Deputies led the University of Southampton to cancel a major academic conference on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
In relation to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the clarifying/offending words are ‘apartheid,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘settler colonialism,’ and ‘annexation.’ The UN evades such invasions Read More »
This is a grand essay on the dimensions, history, structures of the Middle East/Palestine-Israeli-Western conflict over about 100 years. It is extraordinarily rich – but doesn’t cause the reader to drown in too many details. I highly recommend it to any student – young or old, journalist and politician – whose understanding of the issues may be based on the woefully biased, general account in Western mainstream media. – Jan Oberg
In this period when the centenary of the genocidal victimization of the Armenian people in 1915 is being so widely observed and discussed, it seems especially appropriate to call attention to the comparable victimization of the Palestinian people. This second story of prolonged collective victimization also received its jump start almost a century ago with the issuance by the British Foreign Office of the Balfour Declaration supporting the Zionist movement project of establishing a Jewish national home in historic Palestine.
The most striking difference between these two experiences of severe historical wrongs is that the Armenian people are seeking acknowledgement and apology for what was done to their ancestors a century ago, and possibly seeking reparations, while the Palestinian people may sometime in the future have the opportunity to seek similar redress for the past but now their urgent focus is upon liberation from present daily structures of acute oppression.
This Palestinian situation is tragic, in part, because there is no clear path to liberation, and the devastation of oppressive circumstances have gone on decade after decade with no end in view.
The political puzzle of the Israel/Palestine conflict continues to frustrate American policymakers despite their lengthy diplomatic engagement in the search for a peaceful future that satisfies both peoples. There are significant changes, of course, that have occurred as time unwinds.
Perhaps, the most crucial change has involved the gradual extension of Israeli control over virtually the whole of historic Palestine with American acquiescence. This coincides with a growing and more vivid awareness around the world of how much suffering and humiliation the Palestinian people have endured over the course of the last century, and the degree to which this frozen situation can be blamed on the unlimited willingness of the United States to deploy its geopolitical muscle on Israel’s behalf.
My approach to the Palestinian struggle reflects four points of departure: Read More »
Prefatory Note This post is the full text of my presentation at an excellent conference “The Israeli Lobby: Is it good for US? Is it Good for Israel?” National Press Club, Washington, D.C., April 10, 2015.
The conference was sponsored and organized by the editorial leadership of the magazine Washington Report, which brings together some of the best writing on the Israel/Palestine struggle. I encourage readers of this blog to look at the full conference either at the YouTube website or the audio recording at http://www.israellobbyus.org Although there were many illuminating presentations during the day, and I would call particular attention to the memorable remarks of two highly informed Israelis, Gideon Levy and – another TFF Associate – Miko Peled.
There are no better texts for assessing the damage done to the role and reputation of the UN by the Israeli Lobby than to consider Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements boasting about the U.S. success in protecting Israel from criticisms arising from its non-fulfillment of responsibilities under international law and as a member of the United Nations. It should be understood that the lobby does not act in a vacuum, and its leverage is greatly enhanced in global settings to the considerable extent that its priorities overlap with the strategic and economic interests of the United States in the Middle East.
Despite the tensions with the White House associated with Netanyahu’s March speech to Congress, Kerry proudly informed an ABC TV news boradcast: “We have intervened on Israel’s behalf..a couple of hundred times in over 75 different fora.” [“This Week,” Feb. 28, 2015]. And then when addressing the Human Rights Council Kerry included a statement that could just as well been drafted by AIPAC or Israel’s ambassador to the UN: “It must be said that the HRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.”
And further, “we will oppose any effort by any group or participant in the UN system to arbitrarily and regularly delegitimize or isolate Israel, not just in the HRC but wherever it occurs.” [Remarks, Palais des Nations, Geneva, March 2, 2015]
What is striking about these kinds of statements by our highest ranking government officials dealing with foreign policy is the disconnect between these reassurances of unconditional support and Israel’s record of persistent disregard of its obligation under international law and with respect to the authority of the UN.Read More »
Hitler was about race, Stalin about class. Their theories were based on one contradiction: Aryans vs non-Aryans for one; workers vs capitalists/landowners for the other. The ills of their countries followed from the contradictions at the top of their verbal pyramids. As Western intellectuals they tried to explain much from one axiom. Thus, to Hitler bolsheviks and plutocrats were both mainly Jewish.
Their utopias were contradiction-free, by cleansing; ethnic for Hitler, class for Stalin. Only Aryans; all others killed-expelled-marginalized by the power of the NSDAP, National-Socialist German Labor Party for one; all capitalists/landowners killed-expelled-marginalized by the power of the vanguard of the proletariat CPSU(B), the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik) for the other.
So similar that one may ask: did they imitate each other? Like armies becoming similar by fighting, so also the machines for reshaping societies in the European civil war 1917-1945 (plus minus some years?).
There is another, better explanation: if the theory is pyramidal, so also the practice, the policy machinery. The ultimate power should be in the hands of those licensed as ultimate truth-holders. Those lower down have to learn the smaller, specific truths and enact them.
That pattern identity, isomorphism, between theory and practice pyramids came from the same source in Germany and Russia: Churches, of two opposed Christianities: truth by revelations, articles of faith, commandments on top; enacted by pyramids with popes-patriarchs on top.
Stalin was even trained as Orthodox priest, changing from Christ revealing the truth about God the Father, to Marx revealing the truth about History. And Hitler? Martin Luther’s rabid anti-Semitism and axiomatic Christianity (catechism) played a major role. Why Germans? Very gifted in axiomatics–dictatorship easily follows by isomorphism.
Two genocidal secularisms poured into old Church bottles.Read More »
The following question was asked to the ambassador of Israel to Sweden in one of the most respected programs on the Swedish Broadcasting (Sveriges Radio): “Do the Jews themselves carry any responsibility for the anti-Semitism we now see growing?”. (Translated by me from its official website). The ambassador refused to answer.
At the end of the program the responsible editor expressed a profound apology: “We wholeheartedly apologize for the question. It leads in the wrong direction and puts the guilt on individuals and unexposed groups”. The section was cut from the program recording although the original is stored in a public archive.
It seems like almost everyone in the media world agrees with this apology: “You should not ask such a question.” I agree. But we should ask “Does Israel carry any responsibility for the growing anti-Semitism?” Read More »