Subject: ON BODY HEAT AND THE ETHICS OF "MINDING" ONES OWN BUSINESS.
30 May 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
I thought last week of suggesting to President Obama, when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, May 18th, that he should wear a tee shirt and a baseball cap instead of a coat and tie, that he sit no closer than 10 feet to Netanyahu during their talks, and that he break eye contact with the Israeli Prime Minister every 3 to 5 seconds.
I thought he should read this prepared statement in the last 30 seconds of their visit, before the Netanyahus boarded their flight home: "There will be no more U.S. subsidies to Israel. The free lunch is over."
The U.S. President should then have the White House carefully searched for explosives, and all White House residents, including Michelle Obama, should be body searched for weapons and possible poisons, and all presidential guards tested for chemical substances in their blood. This Byzantine precaution, I thought, might assure Obama's survival to the end of the month.Then, the U.S. President should carry out his promise under heavily armed protection, promptly identifying uncooperative U.S. lawmakers.
Concerning the Israeli nuclear missiles which are allegedly aimed at major cities around the world, a sane strategy to prevent collective suicide might include an encouragement to seek cooperatively a way to enhance our lives by promoting activities preferable to death. How do we release and advance a "joy for life" in ourselves and in our Israeli brothers and sisters, so that they can prepare themselves to cold shoulder paranoid fantasies of imperialism and make a break with the collusion that synchronizes their feelings and does so much harm to their bodies and ours?
Speaking of the interface between the individual brain and the human mind, anthropologist Edward T. Hall, writes: "Within the brain, experience (culture) acts on the structure of the brain to produce mind. It makes little difference how the brain is modified; what is important is that modification does take place and is apparently continuous." ( Beyond Culture (1981), p.250, footnote 16.) Also, looking at culture as "communication," Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error, Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (1994) and Looking for Spinoza, Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain (2003), examins "the body as theater of emotions", stressing the importance of the "emotionally competent stimulus" (ECS) that is able to trigger the biochemical and neurological signals necessary for the production of ideas.
The 7 items below offer "emotionally competent stimuli" which might suffice to cause some new cerebral activities productive of thought about the human condition, of who is using whom in this four-dimensional chess game called "economic growth". The scholars and activists below who have risked their lives (not to mention their sanity) report to us on the battle to maintain a sense of self in our high-tech culture, and to see clearly through the muddied waters and describe how the short-term interests of a few people are threatening collective survival of humankind, and that of other species, as well.
Item A. is an essay from ZNet by Stephen Shalom on real significance of the mass murders of Palestinians living in Gaza.
Item B., from Truth Out, is an article by Dahr Jamail on "soft colonization" as U.S. imperialist tactics in Iraq. (An historical perspective on the collaboration of U.S. anthropologists with domestic criminal activities in America during World WAR II, see Professor Peter Suzuki's piece, republished by CEIMSA, on "Ethics at the U.S. Anthropology Association" : http://dimension.ucsd.edu/CEIMSA-IN-EXILE/publications/Scholars/ScholarlyEssays2008.htm.)
Item C., sent to us by Information Clearing House, is an article by Juan Cole on the importance of the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Obama in Washington, D.C.
Item D., is an article by Patrick J. Buchanan on the "last chance" to prevent the expansion of war in the Middle East.
Item E., is a article by Amira Hass, first published in Haaretz, on Israeli national interests against peace.
Item F. is an article sent to us by Dahr Jamail on the professional ethics of U.S. anthropologists in Iraq.
Item G. is a article from ZMag by Jeff Halper on "the morning after" Netanyahu's visit with Obama in Washington, D.C..
In conclusion, we offer readers a short video on the uses of "Anti-Semitism" as a weapon to silence the critics of U.S.-Israeli imperialism in Palestine, by Stephen Shalom :
And finally, the U.S. State Department 2004 Report on "Anti-Semitism in the World" :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Stephen Shalom :
Date: 5 May 2009
Subject: In creating the nightmare for the people of Gaza, Israel didn't act alone.
from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 27 May 2009
Subject: "Soft Colonization".
Dahr Jamail, Truthout: "The geo-strategic expansion of the American empire is an accepted fact of contemporary history. I have been writing in these columns about the impact of the US occupation on the people of Iraq in the wake of the 'hard' colonization via F-16s, tanks, 2,000-pound bombs, white phosphorous and cluster bombs. Here I offer a brief glimpse into the less obvious but far more insidious phenomenon of 'soft' colonization."
from Information Clearing House.
Date: 18 May 2009
Subject: Obama-Netanyahu must not be Kennedy-Khrushchev.
If Netanyahu comes away thinking he can thumb his nose at Washington, the whole Middle East could be in flames by the end of Obama's first term.
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 19 May 2009
Subject: Is war with Israel inevitable?
Netanyahu wants Obama to commit to go to war if necessary to denuclearize Iran, but he cannot force Obama to fight a war he cannot want. Obama wants Netanyahu to accept a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, but lacks the clout in his own country and Congress to force Netanyahu to comply.
Bibi and Israel at Dead End
by Patrick J. Buchanan
from Haaretz :
Date: 19 May 2009
Subject: When peace doesn't pay.
Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to national interests.
from Dahr Jamail :
Date: 16 May 2009
Subject: Ethis and Anthropologists at War.
Engineering "Trust of the Indigenous Population":
Anthropologist Audrey Roberts works for Human Terrain System (HTS), a Pentagon program. Referring to the information produced by HTS scholars, she says, "If it's going to inform how targeting is done - whether that targeting is bad guys, development or governance - how our information is used is how it's going to be used. All I'm concerned about is pushing our information to as many soldiers as possible. The reality is there are people out there who are looking for bad guys to kill. I'd rather they did not operate in a vacuum."
How Some Anthropologists Have Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving the Army
by Dahr Jamail
To view article with photo click here
In a recent article on this site I have described HTS as comprising American scholars, primarily in the field of anthropology, along with sociologists and social psychologists, embedding themselves with the US military in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their brief is to enable the military to make better decisions by helping it to understand the social mores and customs of the cultures it is occupying.
As a program that is likely to have a long tenure, it deserves further examining. The US military would like the US public to believe it is a benevolent program, but it does not require a crystal ball to recognize the insidious reality. HTS teams actively engage in targeting the "enemy" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Team members often wear military uniforms and body armor, and even carry weapons. Like Ms. Roberts, they are not overly concerned about the fact that the "intelligence" they produce is instrumental in capturing and killing people. The social scientists who choose to employ themselves within HTS clearly are not having a moral struggle with the fact that they are allowing their knowledge to be used as a weapon of war.
The military's benign description specifies that HTS will "improve the military's ability to understand the highly complex local social-cultural environment in the areas where they are deployed." Proponents of the program go as far as to claim that its goal is to help the military save lives.
Those who know better, like US Army Lt. Col. Gian Gentile, will tell you, "Don't fool yourself, these Human Terrain Teams, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, in a generalized and subtle way, do at some point contribute to the collective knowledge of a commander, which allows him to target and kill the enemy in the Civil War in Iraq."
The two highest ethical principles of anthropology are protection of the interests of studied populations, and their safety. All anthropological studies consequently are premised on the consent of the subject society. Clearly, the HTS anthropologists have thrown these ethical guidelines out the window. They are to anthropology what state stenographers like Judith Miller and John Burns are to journalism.
I consulted David Price, author of "Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War" and a contributor to the Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual, a forthcoming work of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, of which he is a member.
According to Price, "HTS presents real ethical problems for anthropologists, because the demands of the military in situations of occupation put anthropologists in positions undermining their fundamental ethical loyalties to those they study. Moreover, it presents political problems that link anthropology to a disciplinary past where anthropologists were complicit in assisting in colonial conquests. Those selling HTS to the military have misrepresented what culture is and have downplayed the difficulties of using culture to bring about change, much less conquest. There is a certain dishonesty in pretending that anthropologists possess some sort of magic beans of culture, and that if only occupiers had better cultural knowledge, or made the right pay-offs, then occupied people would fall in line and stop resisting foreign invaders. Culture is being presented as if it were a variable in a linear equation, and if only HTS teams could collect the right data variables and present troops with the right information conquest could be entered in the equation. Life and culture doesn't work that way; occupied people know they are occupied, and while cultural knowledge can ease an occupation, historically it has almost never led to conquest - but even if it could, anthropology would irreparably damage itself if it became nothing more than a tool of occupations and conquest."
The Handbook for the HTS offers the Human Terrain "toolkit" for the US military to understand subjects living in militarily occupied areas. It states:
"HTTs will use the Map-HT Toolkit of developmental hardware and software to capture, consolidate, tag, and ingest human terrain data. HTTs use this human terrain information gathered to assist commanders in understanding the operational relevance of the information as it applies to the unit's planning processes. The expectation is that the resulting courses of actions developed by the staff and selected by the commander will consistently be more culturally harmonized with the local population, which in Counter-Insurgency Operations should lead to greater success. It is the trust of the indigenous population that is at the heart of the struggle between coalition forces and the insurgents." (Emphasis added.)
The mission of the Human Terrain social scientists gains legitimacy and credibility when expressed in terms of engineering the "trust of the indigenous population."
It is obvious that for the neo-colonialist, the HTS is a form of "soft power." In addition to dropping 2,000-pound bombs in civilian areas, occupation forces now see fit to use HTS to get into the minds of the people of the occupied country.
Price avers, "The problem with anthropology being used in counterinsurgency isn't just that anthropologists are helping the military to wear different cultural skins; the problem is that it finds anthropologists using bio power and basic infrastructure as bargaining chips to force occupied cultures to surrender."
Although he says it is too soon to gauge [a] possible increase in HTS operations since Obama took office, Price is convinced that the president is falling for the claim that a smart counterinsurgency can lead not just to easier occupations, but to victory.
For the military to find regionally competent anthropologists to work for them is unlikely. Price is convinced that, "most (American) anthropologists understand the obvious ethical problems in working for HTS. The real risk lies in the likelihood that anthropologists will be seduced by arguments to support soft-power projects tied to occupation and counterinsurgency - especially when these projects are increasingly being presented as "helping" the occupied.
"Those favoring soft-power forms of counterinsurgency are going to need anthropologists and other social scientists," Price said, "Narratives of aid and assistance, of building hospitals and schools will replace the strategic narratives of soft-power counterinsurgency manipulation of occupied people by occupiers. When you add to this the grim job prospects many anthropologists face in this economy, you can see how easy it is for the US administration to sell these soft-power programs."
As the new administration adopts less-violent manipulations of the environments and peoples in Iraq and Afghanistan, Price is concerned that anthropologists will fail to see the distinction between military coercion of occupied peoples and publicized acts of "humanitarianism."
As in most matters related to the occupation, the corporate media are squarely responsible for selling the HTS program to the American public. Price has written, "... the media has become a key supportive enabler of HTS. In the last two years I have probably spent twenty to thirty hours speaking with journalists from NPR, Elle, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, AP, New York Times, Wired, Harpers, Washington Post, etc. patiently explaining what the critical issues for anthropologists are when a program like Human Terrain Systems embeds anthropologists with troops engaged in counterinsurgency operations in occupied battle settings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sometimes portions of these critiques show up along the way in the final stories, but in most cases, the arguments and critiques against the efficacy, ethical, neocolonial politics as well as the practical impossibility of HTS working as advertised are ignored, or worse yet, they are presented as absurd caricatures."
Corporate media coverage of the program conveniently does not indicate that HTS ignores basic anthropological principles of ethics, such as voluntary informed consent, issues of secrecy, and doing no harm, among others. Most anthropologists concur with Price that HTS is also part of a domestic propaganda project, "that tells the Americans that wars for the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan can be won. History argues against any such outcome, but HTS becomes part of a lie to the American people that helps keep us fighting these already lost causes. It is so poorly designed that HTS has no hope of actually working as advertised, yet both the Bush and Obama administrations have sold us a false hope that such counterinsurgency programs can lead to an eventual victory."
As Price wrote recently, the media stance does not bode well for the future, or for President Obama. "The real bad news for American foreign policy is that given President Obama's commitment to "soft power" and his open endorsements of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, we can expect more of this uncritical coverage on HTS as a crucial tool needed for America's occupations in foreign lands. I am left to wonder how anthropologist Ann Dunham, Barack Obama's mother, would have reacted to her son's reliance on such clearly unethical anthropological means to achieve political ends so aligned with neocolonialist goals of occupation and subjugation?"
** Dahr Jamail's MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail's website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
Dahr Jamail's new book, /Military Resisters: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan/, is now available for pre-order
Pre-order book here http://tinyurl.com/cnlgyu
As one of the first and few unembedded Western journalists to report the truth about how the United States has destroyed, not liberated, Iraqi society in his book Beyond the Green Zone, Jamail now investigates the under-reported but growing antiwar resistance of American GIs. Gathering the stories of these courageous men and women, Jamail shows us that far from “supporting our troops,” politicians have betrayed them at every turn. Finally, Jamail shows us that the true heroes of the criminal tragedy of the Iraq War are those brave enough to say no.
Order /Beyond the Green Zone/
"International journalism at its best." --Stephen Kinzer, former bureau chief, New York Times; author /All the Shah's Men/
Winner of the prestigious 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism
from Jeff Halper :
Date: 28 May 2009
Subject: The Morning After.
Netanyahu Chooses Warehousing
by Jeff Halper
Would Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu say the magic words "two states" after his meeting with President Obama? All Israel held its breath. (He didn't). The gap between the two is wider than those words could ever have bridged, however. Obama, I believe, sincerely - perhaps urgently - seeks a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a pre-condition, he understands, to getting on with larger, more pressing Middle Eastern issues. Netanyahu, who rejects even the notion of a Palestinian mini-state as grudgingly accepted by Barak, Sharon and Olmert, is seeking a permanent state of "warehousing" in which the Palestinians live forever in a limbo of "autonomy" delineated by an Israel that otherwise encompasses them. The danger, to which we all should be attuned, is that the two sides might compromise on apartheid - the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan that has neither genuine sovereignty nor economic viability.
For his part, Obama seems to understand the strong linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hostility towards the West so prevalent in the Muslim world. His administration has been quite candid about the need to move forward on Palestine in order to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue, and his ability to withdraw from Iraq, stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan and deal with the challenge political Islam poses to the "moderate" Arab states also depend, to a meaningful degree, on forging a new relationship with the Muslim world , which requires an end to the Israeli Occupation.
Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have already presented the outlines of their new "reframing" of the conflict:
(1) The Iran threat is preeminent, uniting the US and Israel into a strategic alliance and completely overshadowing the Palestinian issue;
(2) Such "slogans" (as Lieberman characterized them) as occupation, settlements, settlers, land for peace and even the "simplistic" two-state solution must be abandoned in order to "go forward" according to a new slogan: "economy, security, stability" - meaning improving the Palestinian economy while ensuring Israel's security. The stability that results (Lieberman invokes the "stable" situation between the Greek and Turkish populations of Turkish-occupied Cyprus as his model) will then somehow facilitate some future and vague peace process;
(3) Israel will continue to expand its "facts on the ground." Just the day before the Netanyahu/Obama meeting the building of a new settlement was announced - Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, the first settlement to be officially established in 26 years. Two days after returning from Washington, Netanyahu further declared: "United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." It then announced that it will continue building within the "settlement blocs." Just a month before, on the day Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell were to arrive in the country, the Israeli government announced that it would conduct massive demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. This "in your face" approach signals the Administration that Israel is not about to accept dictates, as the Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon put it, testing just how assertive Obama will be.
(4) Both the US and Israel seek broader involvement in the peace process by the Arab states, but once again, Israel has its own particular spin on that. While the US is formulating a comprehensive approach to peace and stabilization in the entire Middle East region (which King Abdullah of Jordan calls a "57-state solution" whereby the entire Arab and Muslim worlds would recognize Israel in return for a genuine end to the Occupation), Israel's formula of putting "economic peace" before any politically defined peace agreement tries to create a state of normalization between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world that would relegate the Palestinian issue indefinitely to the back-burner. Given the record of the so-called "moderate" Arab states, and given the opposition to a rising Iran they share with Israel, their involvement does not necessarily bode well for the Palestinians.
Then there all the mechanisms for delaying or undermining negotiations:
- Creating insurmountable political obstacles, such as the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." Netanyahu well knows that the Palestinians will not accede to that, the fact that such recognition would prejudice the equal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, a full 20% of the Israeli population, being an important consideration. The fear of further ethnic cleansing ("transfer" in Israeli parlance) is a real one. When she was Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni stated clearly that future of Israel's Arab citizens is in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel itself. And remember, last year the Israeli Parliament passed a law requiring a majority of two-thirds to approve any change in the status of Jerusalem, an impossible threshold. Similar legislation, supported by the government, will be passed on other issues such as dismantling settlements and ratifying any peace agreement.
- Delayed implementation. OK, the Israeli government says, we'll negotiate, but the implementation of any agreement will wait on the complete cessation of any resistance on the part of the Palestinians. "Security before peace" is the way the Israeli government frames it. Since, however, there has never been any indication that Israel would agree to a viable Palestinian state, and since Israel views any resistance, armed or non-violent, as a form of terrorism, "security before peace" actually means "stop all resistance and you may get a state." The catch here is that if Palestinians do stop their resistance they are lost. Without Palestinian pressure, Israel and the international community would lack any motivation for making the concessions necessary for a genuine solution. And even if an agreement is reached, "security before peace" means that it will not be implemented until Israel unilaterally decides the conditions are ripe. This so-called "shelf agreement" erects yet another insurmountable obstacle before any peace process.
- Declaring a "transitional" Palestinian state. If all else fails - actually negotiating with the Palestinians or relinquishing the Occupation not being an option - the US, at Israel's behest, can manage to skip Phase 1 of the Road Map and go directly to Phase 2, which calls for a "transitional" Palestinian state before, in Phase 3, its actual borders, territory and sovereignty are agreed upon. This is the Palestinians' nightmare: being locked indefinitely in the limbo of a "transitional" state. For Israel, such a situation is ideal, since it offers the possibility of imposing borders and expanding into the Palestinian areas unilaterally while seeming to respect the Road Map process.
Needless to say, all of this is to avoid a real two-state solution, the very idea of which is anathema to the Likud-led government. More than a decade ago Netanyahu set out his vision of Palestinian self-determination: somewhere between "state-minus and autonomy-plus." The best, if bleakest term for what Israel is intending for the Palestinians is warehousing, a permanent state of control and suppression in which the victims disappear from view and their situation, emptied of all political content, becomes a non-issue.
Although the Obama Administration may truly desire viable two-state solution and even understands all Israel's tricks, it is also clear that without significant pressure it cannot be achieved. And here is where the real problem arises. Israel's trump card has always been Congress, where it enjoys virtually unanimous bi-partisan support. And Obama's own Democratic Party, which received almost 80% of the Jewish vote in 2008, has always been far more "pro-Israel" than the Republicans. It may well be that Obama and Mitchell will try to take American policy in a new and more assertive direction and the leaders of his own party will balk, fearful of not being re-elected.
In this case, the "compromise" between the desire to resolve the conflict and the inability to move Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories so that a viable Palestinian state may emerge may be nothing less than apartheid. The difference between a viable Palestinian state and a Bantustan is one of details. Already signs are that the Obama Administration will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs, including a "Greater" Jerusalem, and prevent the Palestinians from having sovereign borders with the neighboring Arab states. Since few appreciate the crucial meaning of such details, Israel believes that it can finesse an apartheid situation in the guise of a two-state solution. Over the past decades the job of civil society has been to force governments to fulfill their responsibilities and enter into a political process that will actually lead to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Now that that process is upon us, our task is now to keep it honest.
(Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.)
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.
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