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Bulletin No° 256
Subject: ON THE CULTURE OF VIOLENCE REVISITED.
18 August 2006
Dear Colleagues and Friends of
In his earlier book, Dialectical Investigations (1993), NYU Professor Bertell Ollman reminds us of the dangers of pure structuralism, i.e.remaining on a level of abstraction which structures the individual out of the picture by focusing exclusively on social class structures (his Level 4) and on capitalist relations (his Level 3), thereby missing important and helpful opportunities of seeing our relationship to the animal world (Level 6), and also missing the interpenetration of opposites in modern capitalist society (Level 2), as well as our individual uniqueness (Level 1). An even more common ideological maneuver, which constitutes another epistemological error, is pure voluntarism, which focuses almost exclusively on the Level 1 abstraction and fails to abstract anything but external relationships(*) connected to the unique individual. To help reorient our thinking toward internal relations(**) within the capitalist system, and to gain a greater appreciation for a dialectical approach that grasps the role of change in real, contemporary life, Ollman cites the famous observation made by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus: A person cannot step into the same river twice! By this he means that reality is in constant transition, that the internal relationships within this ever-changing movement have direction and momentum, and that a description of the external relations between labels will not produce meaningful understanding of how events got to be where they are, and where we are headed.
Dialectics restructures our thinking
about reality by replacing the common sense notion of "thing,"
as something that has a history and has external connections with other things, with notions of
"process," which contains its history and possible futures, and "relation," which contains as part
of what it is its ties with other relations. Nothing that didn't already exist has been added here.
Rather, it is a matter of where and how one draws boundaries and establishes units (the dialectical
term is "abstracts") in which to think about the world. The assumption is that while the qualities
we perceive with our five senses actually exist as parts of nature, the conceptual distinctions that tell
us where one thing ends and the next one begins both in space and across time are social and mental
constructs. However great the influence of what the world is on how we draw these boundaries, it is
ultimately we who draw the boundaries, and people coming from different cultures and from different
philosophical traditions can and do draw them differently. (pp. 11-12)
Professor Ollman's analysis of the dialectical methods employed by Marx for his research into capitalism has little to do with the unequivacol strangulation of Hegel's conceptual "police state" ideology, which employes the internal relationship of subject to predicate, when he claims : "to think abstractly is to cling to one predicate." In fact, Dr. Ollman observes --taking Hegel's examples of murderers, servants, and soldiers-- "all these people are much more than what is conveyed by viewing them from a single vantage point associated with the labels we have given them." (p.70)
(*) A classic example of the expression of an external relationship is : "The cars are parked next to the building."
(**) An example of the expression of an internal relationship is : "Human beings are rational animals."
The major historic transformations we are
witnessing today invite us to reevaluate how we perceive reality and to
become more conscious of what qualities we exclude by adopting
certain abstractions. Such a reexamination should help us to better
understand the role ideologies play in determining what we actually
see and what terms we adopt in order to understand the subject we think
we are looking at.
Below are 6 items which we recently received at CEIMSA. We invite readers to study these accounts and to apply a variety of abstractions necessary to discover the interconnections among the parts and between the parts and the whole capitalist system in which we live, and which lives within us.
Item A., sent to
us by Grenoble graduate student Michael Arresta, includes a very
violent video clip of extremely brutal behavior to animals that have
been captured and destroyed by the apparels industry. (We
warn readers that they may not wish to see these images because of the extreme violence that is
explicitly depicted in this short film.)
Item B., sent to
by Professor Jean Bricmont, is a suggested prescription to end Zionist
the Middle East.
Item C., from Information Clearing House, is a video clip of a recent 60 Minutes TV interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Item D. is a New York Times audio and video documentary on Israel's invasion of Lebanon.
Item E., from Professor John Gerassi, is a political analysis of the UK terrorist plot written by national security expert Craig Murray.
And finally item F., sent to
us by Dr. Catherine Shamas, M.D., is an article published on 12
August in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz,
by correspondent Shiri Lev-Ari, in which he discusses the paid
advertisement of three highly acclaimed
Israeli authors --Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman-- who
publicly declared their opinion that a
diplomatic solution must be
sought by Israel, in the absence of
a realistic military strategy.
We hope that the following
materials will give readers ample opportunity to rethink recent events
around the theme of violence, which is a part of our collective
existence, as it always has been, but which we may have the means to
mitigate in the near future by arriving at a better understanding of
how these patterns are connected in the context of late capitalist
from Mike Arresta :
15 August 2006
Voici un doc, sur la barbarie des hommes a son
apogee, attentions ces images son violentes mais necessaires..
Nous ne pouvons rester insensibles à ces images :
a video about some of the attrocities committed by certain people that
got greedy, they degenerated to a point they totally lost
their humanity, ne'ways check it out, but be careful the content is
violent but the footage is necessary if you are outraged and can't
stand still, add you name to the list so we can bring about a change,
Eviter d'utiliser la fonction "transférer". Créez plutôt un nouveau message en utilisant la fonction "copier/coller": la mise en page sera préservée
(çà évite les ">>>")
Lorsque la liste contient 500 noms, merci de l'envoyer à l'adresse email suivante: PETA2@peta.org
Avec mes meilleures salutations,
Claude Gilbert Notte
01 Jana Bregy, Schweiz
02 Rafael Bittel, Schweiz
03 Angela Fioroni, Schweiz
04 Zeiter Florian, Schweiz
05 Meichtry Jörg, Schweiz
06 Zumtaugwald Beatrice, Schweiz
07 Walpen Hans
08 Sascha Schalbetter
09 Florian Eggel
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13 Juon Carmen
14 Karlen Adelheid, Schweiz
15 Lorenz Linda, Schweiz
16 Zuber Nathalie
17 Lorenz Dominik Schweiz
18 Diezig Alexander, Schweiz
19 Perren Christine, Schweiz
>>20 Perren Isa,Schweiz
21 Franzen Dominic, Schweiz
22 Franzen Michel, Schweiz
23 Blanca Ritler, Schweiz
24 Sandra Ritler, Schweiz
25 Jennifer Ambord, Schweiz
26 Pratico Katja Schweiz
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59 Fam Jamy, Österreich
60 Manuela Wandl, Österreich
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62 Johanna Wandl,&nb sp;Österreich
63 Baldauf Helmut, Österreich
64 Aminger Enrica, Österreich
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67 Stefan Toman, Österreich
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69 Markus Peraus, Österreich
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84 Albertine Travnicek, Österreich
85 Christian Travnicek, Österreich
86 Gerald Schinzel, Österreich
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88 Rebekka Heis, Österreich
89 Petra Krejci, Österreich
90 Tina Kalmund
91 Marita Klaaßen, Deutschland
92 Diana Troitzsch
93 Fritz Troitzsch
94 Elisabeth Troitzsch
95 Teresa Troitzsch, alle Deutschland
96 Irmgard Fendt, Deutschland
97 Gerhard Fendt, Deutschland
98 Martin Schmid, Deutschland
99 Janina Öchsner, Deutschland
100 Luciana Schmidt, Deutschland
>>101 Christoph Glogner
102 Anneli Veldkamp, Deutschland 102 Rob
Veldkamp, >>Nederland 103 Desmond Boers, Nederland 104 Gerwin
Nederland 105>>Yvonne Maathuis, Nederland 106 Regina Maathuis,
Jeffrey>>Maathuis, Nederland 108 Jarno Maathuis, Nederland 109
Kamermans,>>Nederland 110 Karin Kamermans, Nederland 111 Jillian
Nederland>>112 anneke lagendijk Nederland 113 s o s Dier -
Capelle aan den
IJssel,>> NL>>114 Maryles Aracil - llledo - Capelle aan den
IJssel, NL 115
Johne van Beek-Capelle aan den IJssel, NL 116 Gaby Campo - Capelle aan
IJssel, NL>>117 Ellie Hofman - Beinsdorp, NL 118 G Terlaak,
Nederland 119 R
van Damme, Nederland 120 Jan Bungenaar, voorzitter Dierenambulance
Roterdam DAR 121 Edwin en Amber Tamboer Alblasserdam 122 Bianca Vink,
NL 123>>Carole Chicoine, Rotterdam, NL 124 Ineke
125 Melissa van Dijk 126 Ad Post 127 Maya Post 128 Tanja Boegemann 129
Michel Tóth>> 130>>Lucienne Pruijsen 131 Karin
Davids,nl 133 Olga van Lierop,
Luyksgestel, NL>>134 Emile Kolen, Luyksgestel, NL 135 Gerard
Rietjens 136 Ilse
Kuyf, Gent,>>België 137 Pol Kerckhof, Gent, België 138
Martine België 139>>Horemans Herman Merksplas Belgie 140 van
Hees Marleen Merksplas
Belgie>> 141De Vogt Suzanne 142 Heymans Willy 143 Vanden broeck
Belgium 144Pauwels Rita, Belgium 145 De clercq Nancy ,Belgium 146
Geeraerts Bianca,>>Belgium 147 Verstraeten Bart,Belgium 148 Nijs
Chris , Belgium
149 DeKeyser Charly,Belgium 150 Van Craenenbroeck Ronny, Belgium 151
Ackermans Anja, Belgium 152 Stoelzaet René, Belgium 153
Evy, Belgium 154>>Christine De bruyn 155 Ine Vergult, België
Massart, Belgium>> 157>>Gisela De Smedt,Belgium 158Josiane
De Keersmaecker, Belgium
159 Claude Gilbert Notte, Belgium 160 Marie-Danielle Smars, Belgium 161
Sandrine Mahaux, Belgium 162 Georgette COLLARD Belgium 163 André
DEFOING Belgium>> 164Gwenaëlle TRUSSART Belgium 165 Olivier
DEFOING Belgium 166
Deschuyteneer Daniel Belgium 167 Aerts Marie Josée Belgium 168
Schiltz Belgium>>169 Ann Van Goidsenhoven Belgium 170 Nathalie
Belgium 171>>Rachid Al Akapak, Belgium 172 Martin Lecapitaine 173
Jessica, Belgique 174 Herbiet Cécile, Belgique 175 Fenandez
Sebastian, Belgique>> 176Bilal Al Dhakir, Bruxelles 177 Greg
Cole, belgique 178 Frederic Vandebroeck, Belgique 179 Marie Franquet,
Belgique 180 Emilie
Castor, Belgique 181 Vicente Salomon, Belgique 182 Rachele
Deschrijvere, Belgique>>183 Valerie Van Bets,Belgique 184 Olivier
Van Bets, Belgique
185. Angelini Emmanuelle, Belgique 186 Jessica Thévoz,Suisse 187
Mickael veyre, swizerland>> 188 Mélanie Münger,
Patrick Visinand Suisse 190>>Barone Patricia Suisse 191 Barone
Silvio Suisse 192 Rochat Eric
Suisse>> 193Sandra Barone Suisse 194 Nidecker Carol Suisse 195
David Suisse>>196 Richards Mike Suisse>>197 Viquerat
Rémy Suisse>>198 Viquerat Laetitia Suisse>>199
Schwab Pauline Suisse
200 Schwab Déborah,
201 Dottrens Elise, Suisse
202 Dottrens Daisy, Suisse
203 Mike Arresta, France
204 Francis Feeley, France
from Jean Bricmont :
August 14, 2006
by JEAN BRICMONT
Americans are constantly told that they have to defend themselves against people who "hate them", but without understanding why they are hated. Is the cause our secular democracy? Our appetite for oil? There are lots of democracies in the world that are far more secular than the United States (Sweden, France...) and lots of places that want to buy oil at the best possible price (China) without arousing any noticeable hatred in the Middle East.
Of course, it is true that,
throughout the Third World, Americans and Europeans are often
considered arrogant and are not particularly liked. But the level of
hatred that leads a large number of people to applaud an event like
September 11 is peculiar to the Middle East. Indeed, the main political
significance of September 11 did not derive from the number of people
killed or even the spectacular achievement of the attackers, but from
the fact that the attack was popular in large parts of the
Middle East. That much was understood by Americans leaders and
infuriated them. Such a level of hatred calls for explanation.
And there can be only one explanation: United States support for Israel. It is indeed Israel that is the main object of hatred, for reasons we shall describe, but since the United States uncritically supports Israel on almost every issue, constantly praises it as "the only democracy in the Middle East" and provides its main financial backing, the result is a "transfer" of hatred.
Why is Israel so hated? The constant stalling of "peace plans" in favor of more settlements and more war aggravates that hatred, but the basic cause lies in the very principles on which that state is build. There are basically two arguments that have justified establishing the State of Israel in Palestine: one is that God gave that land to the Jews, and the other is the Holocaust. The first one is deeply insulting to people who are profoundly religious, like most Arabs, but of another creed. And, for the second, it amounts to making people pay for a crime that they did not commit.
Both arguments are deeply racist, with their claim that it is right for Jews, and only Jews, to set up a state in a land that would obviously be Arab, like Jordan or Lebanon, if not for the slow Zionist invasion. This is illustrated by the "law of return": any Jew, anywhere, having no connection with Palestine whatsoever, and not suffering from the slightest persecution, can, if he so wishes, emigrate to Israel and easily become a citizen, while the inhabitants who fled in 1948, or their children, cannot. Add to that the fact that a city claimed to be Holy by three religions has become the "eternal capital of the Jewish people" (and only them) and one should start to understand the rage that all this provokes throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
It is precisely this racist aspect that infuriates most Arabs, even if they do not have any personal connection to Palestine (if they live, say, in the French banlieues). This situation delegitimizes the Arab regimes that are impotent in the face of the Zionist enemy and, after the defeat of the region's two main secular leaders, Nasser and Saddam Hussein (the latter thanks to the US), leads to the rise of religious fundamentalism.
Now, people often find racism far more unacceptable than "mere" economic exploitation or poverty. Consider South Africa: under apartheid, the living conditions of the Blacks were bad but not necessarily much worse than in other parts of Africa (or even than in South Africa now). But the system was intrinsically racist, and that was felt as an outrage to Blacks everywhere, including in the United States. This is why the conflict over Palestine goes beyond the second class status of Israeli Arabs or even the treatment of the Occupied Territories. Even if a Palestinian state were established on the latter, and even if full equality were granted to Israeli Arabs, the wounds of 1948 would not heal quickly. Arab leaders, even religious ones, can of course sign peace agreements with Israel, but they are fragile so long as the Arab population considers them unjust and does not accept them wholeheartedly. Palestine is the Alsace-Lorraine or the Taiwan of the Arab world and the fact that it is impossible to take it back does not mean that it can be forgotten . (I am not arguing here in favour of « wiping Israel off the map », or in favor of a « one state solution » but simply underlining what seems to me to be the root and the depth of the problem. In fact, I am not arguing for any solution partly because none seems to me to be attainable in the short term, but, more fundamentally, because I do not think that outsiders to the Middle East should propose such solutions.)
There is no sign that any of this is
understood in Israel by more than a few individuals; if Arabs hate
them, this is just another instance of the fact that everybody hates
Jews and it only proves that they have to "defend themselves" (i.e.
attack others pre-emptively) by any means necessary. That is bad
enough, but why isn't this understood in the United States either?
There are traditionally two answers to that: one is that the population
is manipulated into supporting Israel by the government, the arms
merchants or the oil industry, because Israel is a strategic U.S. ally;
the other answer is that the United States is manipulated by the Israel
lobby. The idea that Israel is a strategic ally, if by that one means a
useful ally (useful to, say, the oil interests, broadly
understood), although widely accepted, specially in the Left, does not
survive a critical examination. That may have been the case in 1967 or
even during the Cold War period, although one could argue that, even
then, the Arab states were attracted by the Soviet Union only
because it might support them in their struggle against Israel, albeit
ineffectively. But both in 1991 and in 2003, the United States attacked
Iraq without any help from Israel, even begging Israel not to
intervene in 1991, in order for its Arab coalition not to collapse. Or
consider the post-2003 occupation of Iraq, and suppose that the goal of
that occupation is control over oil. In what sense does Israel help in
that respect? Everything it does (the currents attacks on Gaza and
Lebanon for example) further alienates the Arabs, and U.S. support for
Israel makes the control of oil harder, not easier. Even the Iraqi
parliament, Malaki and Sistani, who are the closest to allies that the
United States can find there, condemn Israel's actions.
Finally, just imagine that the United States would make a 180 turn and suddenly side with the Palestinians, as they did with the Kosovars against the Serbs--who, by the way, were, like the Israelis, richer and more "Western" than their Albanian adversaries . Such a change of policies is by no means impossible : when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the US supported the invasion by providing most of Indonesia's weapons. Yet, 25 years later, the US supported, or at least did not oppose, East Timor's accession to independence.
What effect would that have? Can anyone doubt that such a change of policy would facilitate U.S. access to oil fields and help it gain strategic allies (if any were still needed) throughout the Muslim world? In the Middle East, the main charge against the United States is that it is pro-Israel, because it lets itself be "manipulated by the Jews". Therefore, if Washington switched sides, there would be no more basis for hostility to U.S. presence, including its control over oil. Thus the notion of Israel as "strategic ally" makes no sense.
This leads us to the "Israel lobby" answer, which is closer to the truth, but not the whole truth. To get a complete picture, one has to understand why the lobby works as effectively as it does, and that depends on factors lying outside the actions of the lobby itself. After all, the militant Zionists constituting the lobby are a minority among Jews, who themselves form a small minority of the American population. The Israel lobby does not work like other lobbies, for example, the arms and the oil industry lobbies (which is one of the reasons why it is easy to dismiss it as irrelevant, as long as one does not understand how it really exerts its influence).
Of course, like the latter, the
Israel lobby does fund electoral campaigns and its power derives in
part from its ability to target people in Congress who deviate from its
"line". But if that was all, it could easily be defeated indeed,
there are other sources of electoral funding, the big industrial
lobbies for example, and if the pro-Israel candidates could be shown to
be paid to serve the interests of another State, their opponents could
denounce the people who receive money from the lobby as some sort of
agents of a foreign power. Just imagine a pro-French, pro-Chinese or
pro-Japanese lobby that would try to significantly influence the US
Congress. Certainly, money alone cannot suffice.
What protects the Israel lobby is the fact that anyone who would denounce an opponent funded by the Lobby as a quasi-agent of a foreign power would immediately be accused of anti-Semitism. In fact, imagine that Big Business is unhappy with the current U.S. policies (as it well may be) and wants to change them--how could they do it? Any criticism of Lobby influence on U.S. policy would immediately trigger the anti-Zionism-is-anti-Semitism accusation.
So the strength of the Israel lobby resides in part in this second line of defense, which itself is linked to its influence on the media. But even that could easily be defeated -- not all the media are under the lobby's influence, and, more importantly, the media is not all-powerful: in Venezuela, it is anti-Chavez, but Chavez regularly wins elections. In France, the media were overwhelmingly in favour if the "yes" vote to the referendum on the European Constitution, yet the "no" won. The problem, and that is why the Israel lobby is so effective, is that it expresses a world view that is accepted too easily by too many Americans. After all, nothing could be more ridiculous than accusing someone of anti-Semitism because he wants or claims to put America's interests above those of Israel. Yet, the accusation is likely to be effective, but only because years of ideological brainwashing have predisposed people to consider U.S. and Israeli interests as identical -- although instead of "interests" one speaks of "values".
Associated with this identification
comes a systematically hostile view of the Arab and Muslim world, which
both increases the lobby's effectiveness and is in part the result of
its propaganda. Despite all the talk about anti-racism and "political
correctness", there is an almost total lack of understanding of the
Arab viewpoint on Palestine, and, in particular, of the racist nature
of the problem. It is this triple layer of control (selective funding,
the anti-Semitism card, or rather canard, and the interiorization) that
gives the lobby its peculiar strength. (And that is also why it is easy
to dismiss its strength by saying, for instance, that, obviously, Jews
don't control America. Sure, but direct control is not the way it
People who think that it is the arms or the oil industry that are running the show in Washington as far as foreign policy is concerned, should at least answer the following question: how does it work? There is no evidence whatsoever that the oil industry, for example, pushed for the Iraq war, the threats against Iran or the attack on Lebanon . (There is a lot of evidence that the Israel lobby pushed for the Iraq war; see Jeff Blankfort, A War for Israel.They are supposed to act secretly, of course, but where is the evidence that they do? And if they is no evidence, even no indirect evidence, how does one know? Profits from the war, at least for major corporations, haven't materialized yet, and there are many indications that the U.S. economy will suffer a lot from war-related expenses and the associated deficits. On the other hand, it is enough to open any mainstream U.S. newspaper or TV and read or hear opinions expressed by Zionists calling for more war. War needs war propaganda and a supporting ideology, and the Zionists provide it, while none of this is offered by Big Business in general or the oil industry in particular.
One may also think of historical precedents, like the China lobby (made of post-1949 Chinese exiles and ex-missionaries, supported by their domestic churches) in the 1950's and 1960's. That lobby led the United States to maintain the ridiculous claim that a billion people were represented by a government (Taiwan) that had no control over them whatsoever. It was also very influential in bringing on the Vietnam war. Whose interests were they serving? The ones of the American capitalists? But the latter make huge profits in post-Nixon recognized China. And the same is true in Vietnam.
In fact both countries, as well as most of Asia, were anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist, as well as anti-feudal (partly because the feudal structures did not allow them to resist foreign invasions). But they were anti-capitalist (in the rhetoric, since capitalism barely existed there) mostly because their aggressors --the West--were capitalist. So that the main lesson to be drawn from the tragic history of the China lobby is that it held, during decades, the US policies hostage to revanchist feudal and clerical forces that were alien to mainstream America, and actually harmful to capitalist America. But they worked to the extent that their ideology-- mixing fear with racist contempt for the "Asian mind" -- was in sync with Western prejudices. Replace the China lobby by the Israel one and the Asian mind by the Arab one and you get a fair picture of what is going on right now in the U.S.-Middle East relation.
What should the Left do? Well, simple: treat Israel as it did South Africa and attack the Lobby. The reason Israel acts as it does is that it feels strong and that, in turn, is for two reasons: one is its "all-powerful army" (currently being tested in Lebanon, not conclusively yet); the other is the almost complete control over Washington policy-making, specially the Congress. Peace in the Middle East can only come when this feeling of Israeli superiority is shattered, and Americans have a great responsibility is doing half of the job, the one concerning kneejerk U.S. support.
Now, there are, in principle, two ways to do that: one is to appeal to American generosity, the other is to appeal to their self-interest. Both ways should be pursued, but the latter is not enough emphasized by the Left . (See Michael Neumann, What is to be said ?, for a discussion of the ethical aspects of that choice.) That's probably because self-interest does not appear to be "noble" and because the pursuit of the "U.S. national interest" has all too often been interpreted as overthrowing progressive governments, buying elections etc. But, if the alternative to self-interest is a form of religious fanaticism, then self-interest is far preferable: if the Germans had followed self-interested policies in the 1930's, even imperialist policies, but rational ones, World War II could have been avoided. Also, if the United States were to distance itself from Israel, it would pursue policies opposed to the traditional ones, and far more humane. The other problem is that a large part of the Right (from Buchanan to Brzezinski) correctly sees American interests as being opposed of those of Israel, and the Left (understandably) does not like to make common cause with such people. But if a cause is just (and, in this case, urgent) it does not become less just because unsavory people endorse it (the same argument applies to genuine anti-Semitic hostility to Israel). The worst thing that the Left can do is to leave the monopoly of a just cause to the Right.
The Left cannot expect the American people to change radically overnight, abandon religious fundamentalism, give up oil addiction or embrace socialism. But a change of perspective in the Middle East is possible: the strength of the lobby is also its weakness, namely the naked king effect-everybody fears it, but the only reason to fear it is that everybody around us fears it. Left alone, it is powerless. To change that, one should systematically defend every politician, every columnist, every teacher, who is targeted by the lobby for his or her views or statements, irrespective of their general political outlook (to take an analogy, act as civil libertarians do with respect to free speech).
When people in the antiwar movement divert attention from Israel by blaming Big Oil or Big Business for the wars (specially the one in Lebanon, or the threats against Iran) one should demand that they provide some evidence for their claims. Challenge all the apologists or excuse makers for Israel or its lobby within progressive circles. When politicians and journalists claim that Israel and the United States have common interests, ask what services exactly has Israel rendered to the United States recently. Of course one can always point to some (minor) services; but, then, ask them what a cold-blooded cost-benefit analysis would reveal and why such an analysis is impossible to undertake publicly. If they speak of common values (the fallback position), provide a list of discriminatory Israeli laws for non-Jews.
Rolling back the lobby would
necessitate a change of the American mentality with respect to the
people of the Middle East, and to Islam, like ending the Vietnam war
required a change in the way Asians were looked at. But that alone
would have a greatly humanizing effect on American culture.
It is true that a change in the U.S. policy with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict would change nothing about traditional imperialism-- the United States would still support traditional elites everywhere, and press countries to provide a "favorable investment climate". But the conflict in the Middle East, involving Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, has all the aspects of a religious war-with Islam on one side and Zionism as a secular Western religion on the other. And wars of religion tend to be the most brutal and uncontrollable of all wars. What is at stake in the de-Zionization of the American mind is not only the fate of the unfortunate inhabitants of Palestine but also unspeakable miseries for the people of that region and maybe of the rest of the world. The ultimate irony in all this is that the fate of much of the world depends of the American people exercizing their right to self-determination, which, of course, they should.
Jean Bricmont teaches physics in Belgium. He is a member of the Brussells Tribunal. His new book, Humanitarian Imperialism, will be published by Monthly Review Press. He can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Erlanger reports on Israel's ground offensive aimed at pushing Hezbollah back.
from Catherine Shamas :
Date : Sat, 12 Aug 2006
Objet : Prominent Israeli authors say oppose expansion of IDF assault
[They think that this war was a just one so far, and now they oppose the expansion, not because the images on TV have left them heart broken, or
because the war undermines their country's morality, but because it is no longer viable from a military point of view.]
12 August 2006
Acclaimed Israeli authors Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman publicly stated their opposition Thursday to the cabinet's decision to
expand ground operations in Lebanon, calling for a diplomatic solution to the crisis based on the proposal put forth by Lebanese Prime Minister
This past Sunday, the literary giants published an advertisement in the press calling for a cease-fire and negotiations. Critics felt the demand for
a halt in the fighting was late in coming, and that the advertisement was aimed both at justifying the war as well as an attempt to distance the
authors from the war.
The three men convened a joint news conference with reporters Thursday afternoon, a rarity in the world of Israeli literature, a few meters from
the Defense Ministry compound at the Kirya in Tel Aviv. Later Thursday evening, Meretz and Peace Now are to stage a large demonstration in the
"The literary people who are sitting here thought that Israel initiated a just war," said the organizer of the joint briefing, Professor
NissimCalderon. "After yesterday's cabinet meeting, they feel that the decision to widen the war is mistaken, and that [we] need to go from a military
operation to a diplomatic operation."
Yehoshua said Israel has reached a true crossroads. "No one is happy to go to battle," he said. "We know that Israel doesn't have its eyes set on conqu
erings. We were at the Litani River twice, and we don't have any need to be there a third time. But now, there is an initiative by the prime minister of
Lebanon which offers to deploy the Lebanese army all along the border with Israel."
"Lebanon is our neighbor forever, it isn't Vietnam nor is it some Soviet republic," Yehoshua said. "Thus, there's a need to be more careful with it,
not to destroy it." Yehoshua said he called upon the government to renew negotiations with the Palestinians.
Oz said the cycle of hatred exhibited by extremist Islam is different than that which characterizes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hezbollah, Oz said, seeks to destroy Israeli society, and "Israel was right in that it responded to the provocation militarily."
"On the first day of the operation, it was said that its goal is to deploy the Lebanese army along the border," Oz said. "As time went by, bizarre and
unreasonable objectives popped up, such as crushing Hezbollah totally, and wiping out the axis of evil - goals which are not within our abilities.
Siniora's seven-point plan is a turning point."
"I'm not saying there are no black holes in [Siniora's plan]," Oz said. "But Israel should have accepted it publicly as the basis for negotiations, and
[accept] it privately as a victory."
David Grossman believes that in this war, Israel has gone beyond its right to protect itself and is now endangering itself and strengthening Hezbollah.
"It is in Hezbollah's best interests to make us sink deeper in Lebanon," he said.
He said the "disastrous" situation could be averted if steps are taken immediately. Grossman sounded much less at peace with the Israeli
leadership. According to him, Israel's leaders believe that "what doesn?twork with force, will work with even more force. If the prime
minister of Lebanon had suggested this plan the day before the war broke out, we would have accepted it. The leaders of an army and a state must recognize moments
in which they can achieve the best results for their people. I believe we have already passed that moment by and are now sliding down a slope, but
even a slope has certain points at which you can stop before falling into an abyss."
Grossman rejected claims that the Zionist left has been rendered embarrassed and confused by the war. "I do not feel confused. We had a right to go to
war, but then things got complicated, and not in a way that worked in our favor. This war touches on such profound anxieties and deep-rooted traumas,
and these may cause people to loose a some of their sense of balance and their ability to recognize what is in their best interests right now, and in
the long term," the author said.
According to Grossman, "We are not necessarily the persecuted Jew. We sometimes are the persecuted Jew, but this is a Jew with a few hundred
planes, some thousands of tanks. I don't wish to ignore the element of basic, fundamental Jewish tragedy that exists in this war as well, the
feeling that after 60 years we have still not been accepted into the Middle East, nor have we been absorbed by other nations in the world, and that this
place is not yet a home, it?s more like a shelter. But still, I believe there is more than one course of action available."