Not bad for a former CIJR “Dateline: Middle East” editor. BY SHOSHANNA KEATS JASKOLL
Source: A Zionist in the UN
Not bad for a former CIJR “Dateline: Middle East” editor. BY SHOSHANNA KEATS JASKOLL
Source: A Zionist in the UN
Not bad for a former CIJR “Dateline: Middle East” editor.
This latest diatribe by Jerry Alatalo requires immediate review. I welcome all your comments below. I have highlighted the glaring lies in bold:
Is it an exact analogy to describe the Israeli apartheid nation with its decades-old criminal, dehumanizing, racist policies toward the Palestinian people as the world’s largest “gated community”? In an increasing number of the world’s regions, publishing the previous words represents a criminal act. This sorry state of affairs isn’t a scene from the book “1984” by George Orwell, but is actually happening in the real, nonfictional world today.
After decades of irresolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, advocates of freedom, equality and sovereignty for the Palestinian people have been left with only one option in fighting the good fight, the same successfully used to bring down apartheid in South Africa: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). In France, it is now against the law to become involved in the BDS Movement; in France, it is now illegal to call for an end to apartheid on this Earth.
In the 2016 campaign for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), staying within the bounds of the “law” and trying to outdo each other in praise of Israel. Bernie Sanders didn’t attend the meeting, wanted to deliver his address to the crowd via video conference, but was turned down because “we don’t do that anymore”.
Sanders’ unique position among the remaining presidential candidates – essentially saying in a press conference/”AIPAC speech” days later that Palestinians are people, too – could have, if said in France, now Canada, gotten him into legal hot water for being “antisemitic”. If he were a professor in certain parts of California or other states in America, the mere mention of Palestinians as people like everyone else in the human family might get him censured or fired. In layman’s terms, on the issue of Israel apartheid it at times seems the world has gone stark-raving mad.
Unfortunately, the history of the Middle East revolves around the region’s tremendous natural resource wealth, in particular oil and natural gas, who controls it, and who profits from its sale – all people living in the region or a small group of the world’s extremely wealthy and powerful. Wars and violence of horrific scale have been carried out for the mentioned control and profit, resulting in the region’s innocent residents enduring indescribable suffering for what seems forever – including the people called Palestinian.
The psychological, philosophical and/or spiritual human characteristics of Clinton, Trump, Cruz and Kasich which prevents them from expressing an ounce of compassion or empathy toward the Palestinian people is hard to imagine, much less accurately describe. Year after year Israel continues annexing Palestinian lands, building more settlement communities, and every other year bombing Gaza to the ground – “mowing the lawn”, according to Israel’s less honorable elders. Year after year American politicians and their Western allies “scold” or “express concern” about Israeli actions, while doing nothing effective to resolve the situation equitably and honorably for the benefit of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has become an eternal “Catch-22” situation, powerful and wealthy people seem opposed to resolution of the crisis, and immeasurable efforts of men and women of goodwill through the years has seemingly gone to waste. Human evolutionary movement feels glacial, war has yet to become abolished, but still there are reasons for being optimistic. Desperate attempts to criminalize the actions of people telling the truth about what’s occurring on Earth are perceived as just that: acts of desperation.
Lies told by corrupt leaders and politicians get caught and disseminated around the Earth in minutes or hours, therefore providing billions of people with the truth required for right action – an evolutionary development, a giant leap forward, in a process which in the past took years or decades. From such a perspective events take on a new, more positive meaning and assures civilization’s road ahead moves onward and upward.
While in 100% agreement with author Max Blumenthal and his statements during a recent interview on The Real News Network, it seems important to clarify one minor misinterpretation of Bernie Sanders’ words by Mr. Blumenthal. During the MSNBC interview Sanders, in talking about the BDS movement, mentioned with regard to antisemitism that there was “some of that” and later “some level of antisemitism” – not, as Max Blumenthal described Sanders’ remarks: “…lot of antisemitism out there”.
It’s highly regrettable that using one’s free speech right in fighting for the basic, God-given human rights of other men, women and children inhabiting the Earth has become a crime in certain circles. Israel is an apartheid state. From any reasonable perspective such a situational reality in the year 2016 is the real crime.
(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)
please give your comments on his latest diatribe and the citing of self-hating Jews and anti-Israel activists.
We all know that on his blog he will delete any constructive or factual criticism. At least here, all voices are welcome!!
by Richard Falk
[Prefatory Note: The review below was published in the current issue of Journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and Islamicate World. I am posting it here because I believe that Jeff Halper’s book deserves the widest possible reading. It explains clearly and convincingly one of the deepest and least understood roots of Israel’s diplomatic support throughout the world, which is its role as a niche arms supplier and influential tactical specialist in waging wars against peoples who dare offer resistance to state power as variously deployed against them. The Israeli experience in exerting oppressive control of the Palestinian people provides the foundation of Israel’s international credibility and perceptions of effectiveness in disseminating for economic and political profit its hardware and software associated with managing and suppressing the resistance of popular movements fighting for their rights. The Israel stress on pacification rather than victory exposes the true nature of what Halper identifies so vividly and comprehensively as the distinctive character of waging ‘war against the people.’ ]
Jeff Halper, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification, Pluto Press, 2015, 296 pp., $25.00 US (pbk), ISBN 9780745334301.
Jeff Halper is an unusual hybrid presence on both the scholarly and political scene. He describes himself as an “activist-scholar” (6), which adopts a controversial self-identification. The conventional stance erects a high wall between scholarship and activism. To his credit and for our benefit, Halper excels almost equally in both roles. He is one of the most lucid speakers on the lecture circuit combining clarity with wisdom and a rich fund of information and firsthand experience, and his work as a writer is influential and widely known. His activist credentials have been built up over many years, especially in his work as co-founder and leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which has bravely confronted Israeli demolition crews and IDF soldiers, helped Palestinians on multiple occasions to rebuild their destroyed homes, thereby responding humanely to one of Israel’s cruelest occupation practices, an instance of unlawful collective punishment. Halper has estimated that less than 2% of demolitions can lay claim to a credible security justification (the respected Israeli human rights NGO, B’Tselem, estimates 1.3% of demolitions are justified by security, while the rest are punitive or 621 of 47,000 since 1967). As an author his main prior book makes an unsurprisingly strong pitch for activism as the most reliable foundation for analysis and prescription. His important and incisive title gave the theme away—An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel.1 This earlier book remains valuable as testimony by a progressive Zionist in Israel that with good faith Jews and Palestinians might yet learn to live together, including finding a formula for sharing the land.
Halper’s own life experience makes this blend of scholarship and activism particularly compelling. He is an American born Jew who grew up in the Midwest and studied anthropology in Wisconsin, taught at a Quaker university for several years, and then moved to Israel where he married an Israeli and has three grown children. What particularly sets Halper apart from most other principled Jews in the ranks of critics of Israel is the striking combination of the radicalism of his opposition to the policies and practices of the Israeli state together with his evident commitment to remain in Israel no matter how far right the governing process drifts. Most other prominent Jewish critics of Israel have remained outside the country throughout their life (e.g. Noam Chomsky) or were born in Israel and then chose to become expatriate critical voices (e.g. Daniel Levy, Ilan Pappé, Gilad Azmun). There are a few internationally prominent Israeli journalists and cultural figures who have sustained sharply critical commentary (e.g. Gideon Levy, Amira Hass) and kept their Israeli residence despite harassment and threats.
In the book under review Halper broadens his own distinctive identity while enlarging the apertures of perception by which he views the Israeli state. He focuses attention on the Israeli arms industry, security doctrines, and policies, and examines Israel’s acquisition of formidable diplomatic influence grossly disproportionate to its size and capabilities. It is this gap between Israel’s significant impact on current world history and the modest scale of its territorial reality and its outsider status in most global settings that is the core mystery being explicated by Halper. He starts the book with some provocative questions that put the underlying puzzle before us in vivid language: “How does Israel get away with it? In a decidedly post-colonial age, how is Israel able to sustain a half-century occupation over the Palestinians, a people violently displaced in 1948, in the face of almost unanimous international opposition” (1)? He indicates that this phenomenon cannot be adequately “explained by normal international relations” nor by the strength of the Israel lobby in the United States nor by strong Israeli pushback to discredit critics by invoking the Holocaust as an indefinite source of impunity (3). What the book demonstrates very persuasively is that Israeli influence is a result of its extraordinary, partially hidden and understated role as arms supplier to more than 130 countries and as an increasingly significant mentor of national police forces and counter-terrorist operations and practices in many countries, including the United States.
Israel as Arms Merchant and Pacification Ideologue
Without exaggeration, War Against the People, is really three books in one. It is first of all a comprehensive and detailed look at the elaborate Israeli arms industry, including the extensive network of private companies engaged in arms production. Halper explores how Israel managed to become such a valued producer of sophisticated weaponry that so many governments have come to depend upon. Part of Israel’s success in the highly competitive international arms market is to identify and develop niches for itself in the wider global arms market that allows it to compete successfully for market share with companies backed by several of the world’s largest states by supplying specific kinds of weaponry that outperform the alternatives available for purchase. By so serving as an arms merchant to no less than 130 countries gives Israel a powerful unacknowledged source of leverage throughout the entire world. An aspect of Israel’s success is to be apolitical in its operations as an arms supplier, provided only that the foreign government poses no security threat to Israel.
Secondly, the book is a detailed examination of the specific ways that Israel has adapted its security doctrine and practice to the varieties of Palestinian resistance over the decades. The Israeli approach rests on adopting a goal toward internal security that seeks to achieve a tolerable level of “pacification” of the Palestinian population. As such it does not seek to “defeat” the Palestinians, including even Hamas, and is content with keeping violent resistance contained so that Israelis can go about their lives with reasonable security and the economy can prosper. At the same time, the threat of violent resistance never entirely disappears or is absent from the political consciousness and experience of Israeli society, and the fear factor keeps Israelis supportive of oppressive internal policies. Pacification in the face of a potentially very hostile minority Palestinian presence in pre-1967 Israel has presupposed a fusing of Israel’s military, paramilitary, police, and intelligence capabilities, but also a less understood Israeli politics of restraint. The capabilities to sustain pacifications must be continuously updated and adapted to evolving circumstances, including shifts in Palestinian tactics of resistance.
This mental shift from “victory” over the natives to their relentless “pacification” to some extent reflects the ethical orientation of a post-colonial world. In many respects Israel represents a species of settler colonialism, but it takes the form of seeking some kind of imposed accommodation with the native population rather than their extinction or spatial marginalization. Actually, as Israeli politics have moved further and further to the right, the tactics of pacification have become more coercive and brutal, and do seem to push the original dispossession of the nakba toward some kind of “final solution” by way of settlement expansion as likely supplemented at some point by population transfer and by periodic massive military operations of the sort that have occurred in Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014. In other words, pacification as conceived in the 1950s has become quite something more ominous for the Palestinians in the twenty-first century as “Palestine” shrinks in size and diminishes in threat while Israel’s territorial ambitions continue to expand and seem to be within reach.
The Israel/Palestine encounter is certainly unique in several of its aspects, yet it bears sufficient similarity to a range of threats facing many governments in the world to allow the Israeli government to serve as an exemplary practitioner of counterinsurgency war/politics. It is precisely the generality of contemporary security challenges situated within society that makes the Israeli experience seem so valuable to others, especially when reinforced by the widespread impression that Israel’s security policies have succeeded in the face of difficult challenges over an extended period. This combination of considerations gives Israel’s weapons, training programs, and security doctrines their global resonance. Especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the long-term character of the Israeli experience became a strong credential on the arms market and among strategy-minded think tanks. Israel’s perceived counterinsurgency record has even led other governments to mute or even abandon their criticisms of the manner in which Israel suppresses Palestinians and flaunts international law. In this way, the Israeli network of arms sales arrangements has not only functioned as direct sources of influence and economic benefit to Israel, but also contributed a political payoff by weakening motivations at the UN and elsewhere in the world to exert meaningful pressure on Israel to modify its policies and uphold its obligations under international law. What Halper helps us to understand is this rarely discussed relationship between the arms trade and what might be called an international diplomacy of pacification. In effect, Israel has quietly bought off most of its potentially most dangerous governmental adversaries by making itself an invaluable collaborator in the security domain, which is given priority by every government when it comes to shaping its foreign policy. The reach of this weapons diplomacy is further extended due to Israel’s willingness to do arms deals discreetly with the most repressive of regimes around the world even while at the same time it takes great pains to substantiate the claim that Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East.
Thirdly, this long experience of coping with Palestinian resistance has given Israel continuing field experience with tactics and weapons useful to subdue a non-state adversary, including convincing demonstrations of what works and what doesn’t. In fundamental respects the work of pacification is never finished, and so Israel continuously modifies its weapons mix to take account of battlefield lessons and technological innovations, and this is of great value to governments that were seeking to choose among several alternatives to meet the requirements of their particular security challenges. Israel can claim both the reliability of its weaponry through their field testing in response to varying conditions and success in adapting to ever changing tactics of Palestinian resistance. No other country has achieved this mastery over the hardware and software of a pacification approach to internal security.
Halper also makes us aware that pacification is what also best explains the hegemonic ambitions of America’s securitizing approach to world order. What Israel has achieved on a small scale, the United States is managing on a large scale. In other words the several hundred American foreign military bases together with navies patrolling all of the world’s oceans, further reinforced by satellite militarization of space for purposes of intelligence and possible attack are the coercive infrastructure of both neoliberal globalization and American global leadership. The objective is to keep those dissatisfied with this established order under sufficient control so that trade, investment, and basic security relations are not deeply disturbed. Part of Halper’s argument is that Israel understands the dynamics of an effective regime of global pacification better than any other country, and has done its best to be useful to the United States and Europe by providing niche support in terms of weaponry (say for border barriers, surveillance, and control) and doctrine (say targeted assassinations by drone strikes and collective blockades).
Matrix of Control
Halper relies upon an illuminating style of conceptualization to develop his basic analysis. For instance, one of his important contributions is to specify global pacification by reference to a “Matrix of Control.” The basic argument of the book is that the most defining “wars” of our times involve using state violence against a mobilized population that mounts threats against the established economic and political order. The matrix of control is the complex interaction of weapons, policies, practices, and ideas that make this project a reality. The paradigmatic case is the Israeli pacification of the Palestinians, which is less than their defeat or annihilation, but something other than sustained warfare; it is doing enough by way of forcible action to punish, terrorize, and suppress without clearly crossing the line drawn by legal prohibitions on mass atrocity and genocide. It is damping down the fires of Palestinian resistance into a smoldering mass of tensions and resentments that every so often bursts into flames, offering pretexts for launching a new campaign of devastation. The pattern of periodic onslaughts against Gaza since 2008 is indicative of the broader policies, with three massive attacks every 2-3 years, what Israeli officials are comfortable describing as “mowing the lawn” (146), which incidentally stimulates a new round of arms sales.
The Israeli matrix of control (143-190) is specified by reference to its various main components, forming an integrated and distinctive form of what Halper describes as “urban warfare” resting on the premise of “domestic securitization,” that is, conceiving of the enemy as mainly operating within the boundaries of the state, ultimately to be contained rather than defeated. Such an integrated approach relies on walls to keep the unwanted from entering, surveillance, fragmenting the population to be controlled, periodic and punitive violent suppression designed to prevent, preempt, and demoralize, and proactive intelligence that seeks to gain access to the inner circles of militant opposition forces. Such a matrix of control both deploys a mixture of traditional counterterrorist measures and the latest innovations in sophisticated technology, including armed robotics, drones, and a variety of overlapping surveillance techniques. The approach relies on a vertical layering of security measures that rests on redundancy to ensure effective control. What is original about this approach is its conscious realization that “victory” over hostile subjugated forces is not an acceptable or realizable policy option, and what works best is a system of permanent control sustained by a mix of coercive and psychological instruments.
Pacifying Palestinians and Pacifying the World
Halper shows how this matrix of control, which developed to enable Israeli settler society to achieve a tolerable level of security with respect to the indigenous Palestinian population, seeks to fulfill an elusive requirement. It maintains security without resorting to genocide or to the kind of destructive forms of mass slaughter that characterized earlier experiences of settler colonialism where the land occupied was cleared of natives. At the same time, it pacifies in a post-colonial era where the power of the colonial master has been effectively challenged throughout the world. It is no longer possible to beat the native population into a condition of passive resignation as had been the case so often during the heyday of the extensive European colonial empires. These two considerations suggest a policy puzzle for the pacifier who must avoid extreme violence and yet depends on a sufficient degree of violence to intimidate a restive population that believes resistance is justified and currently accords with the flow of history.
The Israeli answer in a variety of acknowledged and disguised forms is best understood by reference to the Dahiya Doctrine, which incorporates a logic of disproportionate retaliation (174-176). In effect, for every Israeli killed or home damaged or destroyed, a far greater number of Palestinians will be killed and entire residential neighborhoods destroyed. The Dahiya Docrtine was proclaimed originally to justify the destruction of the Dahiya neighborhood in south Beirut during the Lebanon War of 2006. The people living in densely populated Dahiya were viewed by Israel as supportive of Hezbollah, but it is descriptive of Israeli behavior generally with respect to Palestinian acts of resistance, particularly with respect to Gaza since falling under Hamas’s control. The supposedly centrist Tzipi Livni, the Israeli political leader who served as Foreign Minister during the massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008, expressed this Israeli way of dealing with Palestinian resistance in Gaza in the following chilling words: “Hamas now understands that when you fire on its [Israel’s] citizens it responds by going wild—and this is a good thing” (quoted in Halper, 175). I would add that “going wild” is a euphemism for rejecting the efforts of international humanitarian law and the just war tradition to constrain the intensity of violence and suffering by insisting on proportional responses. In effect, to reject so overtly this admittedly vague effort of international law to impose limits on the conduct of warfare, Israel is incorporating into the core of its security approach a repudiation of the humanizing ambition of international law, and implicitly claiming the right on its own to use force as it wishes. This is a step back from the extensive attempt during the prior century to put the genie of war, if not back in its bottle, at least to gesture toward that end. With Israel’s concept of securitization, also descriptive of the approach taken by the United States, as well as such other countries as Russia, France, and China, it is arguable that international society has turned the normative clock back to a nihilistic zero.
There is another crucial feature of the matrix of control that is of wider relevance than Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians that Halper associates with “Framing: A Tendentious Definition of ‘Terrorism’” (149-151). This framing idea is to make it appear that “the terrorists” are always those resisting control by the established political order, and never those that are exercising authority however oppressively. As Halper points out, the IDF may kill over 2,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of whom are civilians, in the course of an armed confrontation in Gaza, as opposed to Hamas killing five Israeli civilians, but Hamas will still be depicted as the practitioner of terror and Israel’s violence will be put forward as defensive measures that are reasonable and necessary for the protection of the civilian population of Israel. The Israeli government will describe Palestinian civilian deaths as regrettable collateral damage, while attributing Hamas’s comparatively trivial lethality to a deliberate intention to kill Israeli civilians. The final step in the ideologizing process is to make this construction of the respective intentions of the two sides hinge on the question of deliberate intention, and since Hamas’s rockets are fired in the general direction of civilian populations the intention is declared to be deliberate, while Israel is seeking to destroy militarily relevant personnel and weaponry. This kind of manipulative framing by Israel has been borrowed by the United States and other governments to lend moral authority to the form of disproportionate violence that has characterized counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan in the post-9/11 era as well as lesser military operations around the world in the course of “the war on terror.”
What Israel has been doing within Palestinian territory it is seeking to control, the United States does globally. The introduction of drone warfare and special ops covert forces into dozens of countries throughout the world is an extension of the matrix of control as perfected by Israel within its limited field of operations. It also reformulates the parameters of permissible violence without regard to the limitations of international law, regarding any point of suspected adversaries throughout the planet as subject to deadly attack, borrowing notions of targeted assassination from the repertoire of Israeli practices. As with Israel, the operative goal of the so-called long war is not victory in the World War II sense, but rather the exercise of a sufficiency of control that is able to establish tolerable levels of security for Western societies and transnational economic activity. It is worth pointing out that as with Israel, the United States is unwilling to pay the costs in reputation and resources that would be required to achieve victory, although in the Iraq occupation as earlier in Vietnam it did seek to do more than pacify but in the end found the costs too high, and abandoned the undertaking.
Halper’s book gives essential insights to a key set of interrelated concerns: the political benefits to Israel arising from its dual role as quality arms supplier and counterinsurgency mentor; the degree to which Israel’s success in managing a hostile Palestinian population as well as a series of dangerous regional threats offers the United States a model for global securitization with a primary objective of preempting threats to the American homeland and safeguarding neoliberal global markets and trade routes from hostile forces; as also noted, the Israeli domestic security apparatus has been influential in the equipping and training of American and other national police forces. Additionally, Isreali technologies and knowhow have been relied upon to monitor borders and to erect barriers against unwanted entry; the advantages of having a seemingly permanent combat zone such as Gaza for field testing weapons and tactics increases the attractiveness of Israel as supplier of choice. This kind of combat zone is real world simulation that has many experimental advantages over the sorts of war games that are used to assess the effectiveness of weapons and tactics. Without incoming rockets from Gaza it would be impossible to reliably test the effectiveness of a defensive system such as the Iron Dome.
In the end, Halper answers the question as to why Israel’s seeming international unpopularity based of its long-term suppression of the Palestinian people does not harm its image or status. Israel manages to get away with its abusive human rights record while a more powerful and populous country such as apartheid South Africa was sanctioned and censured repeatedly. Of course, U.S. geopolitical muscle is part of the answer, but what Halper adds to our understanding in an insightful and factually supported manner is an appreciation of Israel’s extraordinary usefulness as arms supplier and counterinsurgency guru. A further implication of Israeli usefulness is a realization that governments give much more weight to relationships that bolster their security capabilities than they do to matters of international morality and law. Given these realities, it remains clear that the Palestinian national movement will have to wage its struggle on its own with principal support coming from civil society. Israel, it must be acknowledged has substantially neutralized both the UN and the foreign policy of most important countries, although public opinion around the world is moving in directions that could exert mounting pressure on Israel in the years to come.
As the title of Halper’s book suggests, what is transpiring worldwide, and is epitomized by the Israeli response to Palestinian opposition, can be best understood as part of a wider shift in the nature of global conflict in the post-Cold War period. Instead of most attention being given by security bureaucracies to rivalries and warfare among leading states, the most salient, dangerous, and cruelest conflicts are between state and society, or wars waged against people. There are no significant international wars between two or more states taking place now, while at least 30 internal wars are raging in different parts of the world. To be sure there have been a series of military interventions as part of the global pacification project under the direction of the United States and proxy wars in the Middle East in which major states intervene on opposite sides of a civil war. Yet whether we think of Syria as the paradigm of twenty-first century warfare or the Israeli matrix of control, it is “the people,” or a mobilized segment, that is being victimized. Halper’s book does the best job so far of depicting this new cartography of warfare, and deserves to be widely read and its main theses debated.
From my friend Elsa. Feel free to comment at the end or visit her blog as well
Sometimes I feel like Gandalf among hobbits who don’t want to listen – or maybe even more like Gandalf among grasshoppers hip hopping around, gathering yet again “against fear” after yet another jihad mass murder – while doing nothing to stop the menace, just going on with their hobbit or grasshopper lives.
Actually I don’t feel like Gandalf of Lord of the Rings. Such a powerful serene presence. I sometimes feel more like a frustrated Fairy Queen, waving her wand of words while the grasshoppers are hip hopping around and the hobbits are gathering flowers and grief.
The situation is darker than in the Shire. In the Shire, Mordor is far away, though it’s on its way. Here the hobbits and grasshoppers live with ever more of Mordor among them, among us – No Go Zones, Islamic rape gangs “grooming” indigenous European girls, attacks on the freedom of speech of non-Islamics while jihad murder attacks are celebrated openly by some Islamics.
Gandalf reached Frodo, the hobbit he intended to reach, and Frodo quickly reached his 2 best friends. The three hobbits set off together to tackle Mordor.
Perhaps the people who are needed to tackle political correctness and Islam have been reached. There are millions of people worldwide with at least some awareness of the dangerous nature of both political correctness and Islam – people in Australia, India, Great Britain, United States, France, Canada, Israel, Ireland – on and on.
But the question remains: will we stay a relatively small number of people tackling our “Mordor” – and all the same, as in Lord of the Rings, destroying Mordor against all odds?
That brings me to Trump – a bit of fresh air, like from wind entering through a hole freshly blasted in the side of a dank and gloomy cave.
Trump isn’t Gandalf the Wise. He’s someone Tolkien, creator of the worlds of the Shire and of Mordor, didn’t envision. A couple of years ago, I wrote The Joker is Wild(http://elsasemporium.com/political-rap.html) Yes, Trump is definitely a wild card. And millions are wild about him – not just Americans, but people worldwide.
My guess is millions upon millions in the democracies have been hungering for a strong force against paralyzing see-no-evil political correctness. So the “parade” has been there, waiting for someone with enough force of personality and POWER (in this case, through personal wealth plus media savvy). Trump has stepped to lead a parade just waiting to happen.
I like seeing someone with enough strength to be heard against the politically correct uproar.
Many of us have long been doing what we can, with our more limited strength and resources. We’ve created a good part of the “parade.”
I think of prominent people like Geert Wilders, Bat Ye’or, Mark Durie, Bill Warner, Pamela Geller, Mark Steyn, Marine Le Pen, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Jamie Glazov – on and on. Ideas, awarenesses, information. Political presence. Books, blogs, online channels.
I also think of the people who go to events, who show up to hear Robert Spencer, Lars Hedegaard, Allen West. I think as well of the far greater number of people who are open to hearing and who share their awareness, to the best of their ability, with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers.
I’d say that Trump is, as the saying goes, standing on the shoulders of giants – people with courage and willingness to see what we’re not supposed to see, and to speak out about it despite the dangers from the politically correct and Islamics (dangers from verbal abuse to ostracism to lawfare to violence).
Today I’m going to celebrate some of those “little people” – bikers in this case. I first noticed bikers for freedom in the Million Biker Ride to DC a couple of years ago – in response to an event called for by an Islamic group, a Million Muslims to DC. It was impressive.
Now bikers are organizing again, this time against the well-organized protesters showing up to disrupt Trump’s rallies:
Patriotic Bikers from all across the United States are planning to show up at ALL future TRUMP rallies to make sure that any paid agitator protesters don’t take away Mr. Trump’s right to speak. Or interfere with the rights of Trump supporters to safely attend. WE SHALL NOT BE SILENCED!
Their stepping up got me to add a few words to photos of the bikers: We’ve Just Begun – as in, we’ve just begun to get the numbers and power and awareness to turn the tide:
What do I see most with the bikers? Like the politically correct, they link with each other. So they easily organize huge events.
The rest of us can learn from that.
So many horrors to face daily. Here’s just one. On Easter Friday, a Christian priest, Thomas Uzhunnalil, was crucified by ISIS.
We need to organize in strength for freedom and safety.
All the best for all of us who care and dare,
April 3 2016
By Richard Falk
It deserves to be noticed that it is only the two anti-establishment candidates who have challenged the foreign policy consensus that has guided American politicians ever since the end of World War II: consistently express unconditional support for the Pentagon, Wall Street, and Israel (especially since the 1967 War).
Bernie Sanders has been the first serious presidential aspirant for several decades to challenge directly and unabashedly at least one of these pillars by way of his principled and concerted attacks on Wall Street, on the billionaire class, on the exploitative 1%. Although moderate overall, Sanders has been respectfully deferential to the other two pillars, Pentagon and Israel. Because he has mobilized an intense following among all categories of American youth there has been a media reluctance to assault his substantive views frontally, except to offer a variety of snide remarks that cast doubt on his ‘electability.’
Such a dismissal pretends to be pragmatic, but the polls indicate that Sanders would do better against likely Republicans than Clinton. This leads me to interpret the refusal of the corporatized mainstream to take Sanders seriously, at least so far, as a coded ideological attack, basically a reaction to his anti-Wall Street stand that can be viewed as the opening salvo of class warfare.
Donald Trump has encountered a somewhat different firestorm but with a similar intent. At first, when the cognoscenti dismissed him as a serious candidate, he was welcomed as a source of entertainment. When his popularity with primary voters could no longer be overlooked, he was challenged by a steady flow of condescending rebukes that question his competence to govern (rather than his electability) or to be a commander in chief. Again his cardinal sin, in my judgment, is not the extraordinary mobilization of a proto-fascist populism that relishes his anti-Muslim immigration stand, his xenophobic call for a high wall on the Mexican border paid for by Mexico, and his proposed revival of torture as a necessary instrument of anti-terrorism. Most hard core Trump supporters have been long hiding out in a closet until The Donald stepped forward with aplomb and a strident willingness to be politically incorrect. As with Sanders, but seemingly more capriciously and less convincingly, Trump has agitated the guardians of all three pillars, unlike Sanders with a programmatic assault, but more obliquely with provocative comments here and there. He manages to convey, although by way of his many off hand and unrehearsed asides, a heretical state of mind with respect to the received wisdom that has been guiding the country since World War II regardless of which party’s president sits in the oval office.
Of the Pentagon, his heretical views seem spontaneous challenges to settled policies. Trump appears to look with some indifference, if not outright approval, at the prospect for further proliferation of nuclear weapons, specifically in relation to Japan and South Korea. Such a comment is regarded as imprudent even if never meant to be acted upon as it makes the so-called ‘nuclear umbrella’ seem leaky to those accustomed to its protection, and more importantly, casts some doubt on American global commitments around the world.
Similarly, casting doubt on the role of NATO in a post-Cold War world, asking for the Europeans to pay more, is seen by the Beltway wonks, as both an unacceptable public rebuke to allies and an even more unacceptable failure to take seriously the threat being posed by a newly belligerent Russia that flexed its muscles in the Ukraine, and then Syria. Trump’s skeptical attitude toward NATO was particularly resented as it seemed insensitive to the bellicose slide toward a new cold war that had been gathering bipartisan momentum in Washington.
Beyond this, Trump showed little appreciation of the way the Pentagon community views the war on terror. Although war planners likely welcomed the Trump promise to rebuild America’s armed forces so as overcome their alleged decline during the Obama presidency. What bothered the Washington policy community was Trump’s skepticism about such mainstays of American foreign policy as military intervention and regime-changing missions. At one heretical high point Trump even hinted that it would be a good idea to divert Pentagon dollars into infrastructure investment here in America. Annoyed listeners among the guardians might have detected in such a sweeping assertion a disguised, if confused, nostalgia for a revival of American isolationism.
Of the Wall Street pillar, Trump is perhaps more seriously worrisome, although not at all in the Sanders’ mode. Trump trashes the international trading regime that has been such an article of faith at the core of ‘the Washington consensus’ that gave substance and direction to neoliberal globalization in the latter stages of the prior century. His views of the world economy clearly favor the nationalist sort of protectionism that is widely held responsible for the Great Depression. Beyond this, Trump seems intent on challenging the terms of trade with China in ways that could expose a disastrous American vulnerability to Chinese countermeasures, especially given their enormous dollar holdings. Although the foreign policy approach to China endorsed by the guardians is ready, if not eager, to confront China on the island disputes in the South China Sea, it does not want to disrupt the enormous economic benefits and continuing potential of orderly relations with the Chinese market. From this perspective, Trump’s aggressive deal-making approach to global economic policy is viewed as highly dangerous.
Trump has even made the Israeli pillar quiver ever so slightly by suggesting at one point that he favored neutrality in approaching the relations between Israel and Palestine. He sought to override this unwelcome and uncharacteristic display of judiciousness, by making a fawning speech at the AIPAC annual conference. Yet Trump’s willingness to follow the intimations of his gut must have probably made ardent Israeli advocates yearn for the likes of Clinton and Cruz who have mortgaged what’s left of their soul on the altar of subservience to the lordship of Netanyahu and his extremist cohorts.
The candidates who pass the litmus test associated with the three pillars approach are clearly Clinton and Kasich, with Ryan on the sidelines waiting to be called if gridlock ensues at the Republican Convention. Cruz would also be treated as an outlier if it were not for Trump preempting him by this assault on the three pillars. Cruz is hardly the kind of candidate that the guardians prefer. His evangelical religiosity is outside the political box, as is his imprudent stance toward engaging international adversaries, crushing enemies, patrolling Muslim communities, and endorsements of waterboarding. It is not the sort of image of America that the guardians wish to convey to the rest of the world.
Sanders is grudgingly admired for his authenticity, but grounded politically for assailing Wall Street and cruel capitalism in ways that threaten the established economic order (universal health care, free public university tuition) with initiatives popular with many voters.
For months the guardians assumed that Trump would self-destruct but instead he kept dominating the field of presidential hopefuls among the Republican ranks. Unlike the Clinton control of the Democratic Party machine, the Republican Party bureaucracy has been ineffectual in stemming the Trump tide. For this reason media and establishment reinforcements were called upon, and even President Obama joined the chorus of Trump detractors, not because he overtly opposed to the activation of fascist populism but to relieve pressures on the three pillars consensus.
The voters in Wisconsin and elsewhere still have an opportunity to push back. If Sanders should win by double digits on Tuesday, it will create a quandary for the guardians. To have to depend on Clinton’s support among the super delegates for the nomination would be such an anti-democratic rebuff of the Sanders’ constituency that not even Sanders could effectively control the backlash. Many of the Sanders’ faithful would sit out the election no matter what their leader urged, rejecting the lesser of evils plea.
If Trump should prevail, even narrowly, it looks as though the Republicans will find themselves swallowing hard while being forced to select a candidate unacceptable to themselves. Such an outcome would also probably mean kissing goodbye to any hope of regaining the White House, leading the main party effort to be directed at holding on to control of Congress.
Actually, this primary campaign reveals a dismal underlying situation: in a healthy democracy all three pillars should long ago have been shaken at least as hard as Sanders is currently challenging Wall Street. This benevolent challenge mounted by Sanders is a sign that America may be finally getting ready for a genuinely revolutionary challenge, although the grassroots strength of the Trump legions creates the menacing alternative possibility of a fascist counterrevolution. Such radical options are at this point no more than remote possibilities. The persisting probability is more of the same, most likely under Democratic Party auspices. In this respect, the three pillars seem secure in their dysfunction for the foreseeable future. We who lament this can only wish that this dysfunction does not achieve political maturity in the form of global catastrophe.
I have not dwelled on the lesser of evils argument that makes Clinton seem a vastly preferable alternative to a wannabe reactionary like Trump or Cruz. Even if we fear Clinton’s warmongering past, we could at least expect better judicial appointments, more positive initiatives on health care and women’s rights, and more informed and balanced assessment of foreign economic policy. Whether this is enough to overcome our distaste for Clinton’s wanton opportunism and instinctive militarism, is something every citizen will have to ponder on her own if the choice comes down to this next November.
A very close friend of mine, Shelly Schreter has allowed me to re-publish his essay “Thirteen Propositions about Zionism and Israel” below. He also begins with a preface.
Shelly is an ardent Zionist yet a very committed orthodox Jew who although originally from my home town Montreal has lived in Israel for the last 25 years or more.
He every strongly opposes the current right wing government but also has few good things to say about the left. I don’t agree with most of his points however there is enough there for me to support. I highly respect him and his opinion and as such I am re-blogging his piece here and welcome everyone’s input.
Dear friends and family,
Recent events provoked me to set down some of my views about Israel, Palestine, BDS, etc. in the attached piece. The ideas have been articulated before, including by me, though some of the formulations are updated. It just seemed like restating the basics was necessary at this time of widespread confusion, and this is my attempt at doing it.
At 2500 words, this is too long for publication, and I don’t have the time to craft an op-ed article or smooth narrative out of it. I can only submit it for your examination, and hope that you find it of interest, whether or not you agree with its arguments. Your feedback will of course be welcomed. And you are free to share it with anyone you like. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Pesach holiday. Be well,
At 2500 words, this is too long for publication, and I don’t have the time to craft an op-ed article or smooth narrative out of it. I can only submit it for your examination, and hope that you find it of interest, whether or not you agree with its arguments. Your feedback will of course be welcomed. And you are free to share it with anyone you like. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Pesach holiday.
Thirteen Propositions about Zionism and Israel
Shelly Schreter March, 2016
There is tremendous self-deception and denial in the Jewish world today about Zionism, Israel’s future, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), BDS, the idea of a Jewish state, and the requirements for Israel’s security. We have lost the pragmatic common sense and clear-sighted evaluation of political realities which enabled earlier generations to create and sustain the Jewish state. This is an attempt to recover that earlier vision, while we still have a chance to save the Jewish state, and thereby the Jewish people: the stakes are “only” everything.
This is an advocacy piece, and strong statements will be made. Both left and right should find what to oppose here. First, two points of general principle, followed by the specifics of our conflict with the Palestinians.
I can’t believe that you or anyone can believe the hundreds of lies in Christopher Bollyn’s video link you sent. One long unsubstantiated anti-Semitic monologue!!
By Jerry Alatalo
ome people have, as most journalists experience, various levels of negative opinions of Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change. But try to name one other journalist who’s gotten directly into the faces of Rothschild, Kissinger, Silverstein etc., and now – Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rudkowski recently ran into the former Secretary of Defense during the time of 9/11 in 2001, and asked him about World Trade Center Building 7, the 3rd skyscraper to collapse on September 11, and about which virtually every man, woman and child on Earth knows about.
In response to the “smoking gun” controversy surrounding Building 7, Rumsfeld told Luke Rudkowski: “I don’t know anything about that.”
There are people who’ll see this short three-minute video and react with laughter, or get some kind of “kick” out of hearing Rumsfeld, frankly, lie through his teeth. Unfortunately, what Rudkowski captured on film and audio…
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