Bulletin N°298



8 April 2007
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Recently, in preparation for our International Colloquium this month on "Comparative Patriarchy & American Institutions," I was rereading Mary Shelley's gothic novel, Frankenstein. Her insights into the human condition are endless in this work, and I recommend it to anyone considering a career in teaching. Anyone with humanist or post-humanist concerns about human interconnectedness or about a systemic understanding of life on this planet would be well advised to read this early 19th-century reflection on the limitations of human knowledge and the high costs of ontological insecurity.

The 4 items below reflect the repetition of human folly and the orgy of mass murder that passes in modern society as "security measures." We are privileged to offer  CEIMSA readers the wisdom of American and European scholars who have for many years supported our pedagogical and analytical activities by selecting for us, from a diversity of sources, some of the most penetrating commentaries in the English language on American society --past, present and future.

Item A. is an article by James Petras on the paradigm of political behavior which is being "normalized" today in Gaza.
Item B., sent to us by Professor Edward Herman, is a classic scene from "limited warfare", with calculated attacks on women and children.
Item C., again from Ed Herman is a reiteration of the crimes against humanity which seem to have overloaded our collective mind.
And finally, in item D., George Sorros weighs in to protest the influence of the Israel Lobby on U.S. government decisions and especially on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

In addition to these 4 items, we invite readers to look at Tom Engelhardt's "Tomgram": What if Iran had invaded Mexico?, in which Noam Chomsky puts the Iran crisis in context.

Also, Professor Richard Du Boff has sent us 10-minute bits of Americana, for those who feel nostalgic for the good ol' days of repression, fear and self-censorship :

Duck and Cover . . . and watch your ass



Guess who's in the closet and other mysterious miseries


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
Universit de Grenoble-3

from James Petras :
5 April 2007

The Political Ecology of Disaster

by James Petras

On Monday, March 26, 2007 in Northern Gaza a river of raw sewage and debris overflowed from a collapsed earth embankment into a refugee camp driving 3,000 Palestinians from their homes. Five residents drowned, 25 were injured and scores of houses were destroyed.

The New York Times, Washington Post and the television media blamed shoddy infrastructure. The Daily Alert (the house organ of the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations) blamed the Palestinians who they claimed were removing sand to sell to construction contractors thus undermining the earth embankment. The disaster at Umm Naser (the village in question) is emblematic of everything that is wrong with US-Israeli politics in the Middle East. The disaster in this isolated village has its roots first and foremost in Washington where AIPAC and its political allies have successfully secured US backing for Israels financial and economic boycott of the Palestinian government subsequent to the democratic electoral victory of Hamas. AIPACs victory in Washington reverberated throughout Europe and beyond as the European Union also applied sanctions shutting off financing of all new infrastructure projects and the maintenance of existing facilities. At the AIPAC conventions of 2005 through 2007, the leaders of both major American parties, congressional leaders and the White House pledged to re-enforce AIPACs boycott and sanctions strategy. AIPAC celebrated its victory for Israeli policy and claimed authorship of the legislation. In addition to malnutrition, the policy undermined all public maintenance projects.

Equally central to the disaster, Israels massive sustained bombing attack on Gaza in the summer of 2006, demolished roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, water purification and electrical power plants. Northern Gaza was one of its many targets, putting severe strain on already precarious infrastructure and government budgets including the maintenance of sewage treatment plants and cesspools.

The Israeli economic blockade of Gaza increased unemployment, poverty and hunger to unprecedented levels. Out of work Gazans reached over 60% of the population large families with young children were reduced to one meal a day. Family heads desperately looked for any way to earn funds to buy a pound of chickpeas, oil, rice and flour for bread. It is possible that forced by the AIPAC-induced US-EU boycott and Israeli bombing and blockade, that some desperate workers removed some sand around the cesspool. The pretext cited by the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) for blaming the Palestinian victims for their own suffering, and exonerating the Israelis, AIPAC and their congressional clients.

The PMAJO has justified thirty-nine years of Israeli occupation and criminal neglect of Gazas basic sewage treatment facilities. Israel spends less than 2% on a per capita basis for basic services in the Occupied Territories that it is obligated under international law to provide responsibly than it spends in Israel. The United Nations and Israeli human rights groups have documented Israels callous lack of responsibility toward the Palestinian civilians under its brutal occupation. It is not surprising that the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations can think of nothing better than to blame the destitute Palestinians for the collapse of a primitive earth embankment and the horrific deaths.

To the extent that any Palestinian leader can be held responsible, the finger points to the US and Israeli-backed PLO and its titular head Abbas who receives whatever humanitarian aid flows into Palestine. The tens of millions of dollars of Palestinian import taxes held by Israeli banks were handed over to Mahmoud Abbas and his CIA-Mossad liaison, Mohammed Dahlen, to arm their anti-Hamas vigilantes. Over the past two decades the US-backed moderate PLO leaders and crony capitalists have diverted tens of millions of dollars and euros to their private overseas bank accounts, with the acquiescence of their European, US and Israeli patrons. What is a bit of Palestinian corruption if it means propping up an incompetent group of pliant leaders?

The plight of the Umm Naser villagers deluged by their own sewage was neither an act of fate nor a result of local negligence or theft: It was a direct consequence of all that is wrong in US-Middle East politics, the taking sides with a brutal colonial power and its powerful voices and organizations in Washington. Umm Naser is written large throughout Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon: Millions of Arab villagers suffer the consequences of pre-emptive wars to secure Greater Israel as both President Bush and Vice President have publicly stated in justifying their aggression. Their commitments follow the Lobbys script, which coincidentally is exactly what pleases the Israeli Foreign Office.

from Ed Herman:
Subject: Demolition of Playgrounds and the Targeting of Children
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007

The only democracy in the Middle east--doing its thing once again.
 Ed Herman

Playgrounds for Palestine

On the targeting of Palestinian children
From Chris Hedges, former Middle East Bureau Chief and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times: "I have seen children shot in El Salvador, Algeria, Guatemala, Sarajevo, but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport." -- Chris Hedges in "A Gaza Diary: Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising," Harper's magazine, October 2001, p. 64

Children's Playground and Women's Recreation Tent among Latest Targets as Israel Intensifies its Oppression of Old City Palestinians
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Press Release

The Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem has recently served demolition orders for a playground and six houses in the Old City. The playground is part of a larger recreation facility for women and children at Burj Al Luq Luq Social Centre in the Moslem Quarter of the Old City. Based on previous attempts to remove this facility, it seems this space has been coveted in order to build 30 homes, a synagogue and religious school for Jews only.

These latest orders must be seen in the context of the ongoing policy of the Judaization of Jerusalem and the systematic destruction of facilities that foster education and childhood among Palestinian children. The current demolitions, like all others, have been ordered in flagrant contravention of International law and of UN resolutions on the status of East Jerusalem.

Of course, this is not the first time Israel has demolished playgrounds or targeted children, in particular:

On February 22, 2006, Israeli occupation forces bulldozed a brand new public park including a playground and swimming pool that had been funded by the United States, on the pretext here was that it was built "illegally." Ironically, Israel's entire presence and protocols in the occupied territories have been universally condemned as illegal based on the UN Resolution 242 and the 4th Geneva Convention, among other tenets of international law. http://english.aljazeera.net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=18835

On January 10th of this year, the Haaretz reported the demolition of the only playground in an "unrecognized" Arab community where 200 children had only garbage dumps in which to play prior to assistance from the European Union to build a playground there. Again, the pretext in this case was that the playground was built "illegally". http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/811923.html

These and many other instances of playground demolitions are just a few examples of the numerous ways Israel targets Palestinian children.

We, the Board of Directors of Playgrounds for Palestine, add our voice to that of the Board of Burj Al Luq Luq Social Centre to appeal to the International Community to intervene on behalf of Palestinian children by exerting pressure on Israel to respect international law and to halt its policy of destroying Palestinian society. We ask all NGOs working in the field of Child Rights to consider how the demolition of a children's playground violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We ask people of all religions around the world to stand beside the Muslim and Christian residents of Jerusalem in resisting this latest attack whose principal victims are local women and children.  


from Ed Herman :
Subject: Kafka/794: Killing Palestinian Children
Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2007

Interesting that Hedges never got this into his own newspaper but had to resort to Harpers to get these unpleasant facts in print.
 Ed Herman

Notwithstanding her creepy pro-Israel politics, I'm reminded here of the remarkable Cynthia Ozick story about an SS camp guard who puts a child on his shoulders and walks her into an electrified fence/efs


Killing Palestinian Children
  I have seen children shot in El Salvador, Algeria, Guatemala, Sarajevo, but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.--Chris Hedges, former Middle East Bureau Chief and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times from his "A Gaza Diary: Scenes from the Palestinian Uprising," Harper's magazine, October 2001.

from Council for the National Interest :
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007
Subject: AIPAC, Israel's Intransigence Criticized by a Prominent Jew

AIPAC, Israel's Intransigence Criticized by a Prominent Jew

George Soros, the billionaire financier and founder of the Open Society Institute that has promoted democracy in eastern Europe and central Asia, has finally turned his attention to Israel, whose intransigence toward the new unity government in Palestine was scathingly critiqued in an article in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books
Also condemned was the US government (White House and Congress) for being enthralled to the Israel Lobby that works against the long-term good of both Israel and the United States. Soros concludes, "[The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] under its current leadership has clearly exceeded its mission, and far from guaranteeing Israel's existence, has endangered it."

Soros' critique discusses missed opportunities, including the 2002 Arab League offer of peace for a return to the 1967 borders (the essence of the UN Security Council Resolution 242), the failure to talk to Hamas, and the heavy handed response to Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. "The current policy of not seeking a political solution but pursuing military escalation - not just an eye for an eye but roughly speaking ten Palestinian lives for every Israeli one - has reached a particularly dangerous point Israel's existence is more endangered than at any time since its birth."  For this, he writes, AIPAC is primarily responsible for its role in stifling a much-needed debate in the US on the issue of Palestinian rights.

Soros also raises the way in which critics of Israel are regularly condemned as anti-Semites, and mentions how he himself, a Jew, has been subjected to a "torrent of slanders" as a result of his willingness to discuss alternative views.  He ends sadly by noting, "I am a fervent advocate of critical thinking. I have supported dissidents in many countries. I took a stand against President Bush when he said that those who don't support his policies are supporting the terrorists. I cannot remain silent now when the pro-Israel lobby is one of the last unexposed redoubts of this dogmatic way of thinking.  I speak out with some trepidation because I am exposing myself to further attacks that are likely to render me less effective in pursuing many other causes in which I am engaged; but dissidents I have supported have taken far greater risks."
For a view of the reaction in the Jewish press, read Nathan Guttman in The Forward discussing Soros, a recent column in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof (also criticizing Israel), an article in the Economist (in which CNI was referenced) criticizing the Israel Lobby, and a similar article in the web site Salon.


Council for the National Interest Foundation
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