Thursday, November 30, 2006
This following quote is from Alan Dershowitz. He responded to President Carter's new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." One may not like all Alan Dershowitz has to say but I think no one can argue his brilliance. I quote him because, in my opinion, he is the best most factually accurate debater FOR the State of Israel. There are too many, especially on the left, in my view, who do not see the plus side of the State of Israel. Why this is so staggers me as Israel is the only semblance of democracy in that ridiculously violent part of the world. They often never see its side of the quotient. Of course, there are times any state's policies are suspect and I do not always agree with Israeli policy but on balance I do believe the State of Israel has more pluses than minuses. Alan Dershowitz states the following to which I concur:
"I like Jimmy Carter. I have known him since he began his run for president in early 1976. I worked hard for his election, and I have admired the work of the Carter Center throughout the world. That's why it troubles me so much that this decent man has written such an indecent book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.His bias against Israel shows by his selection of the book's title: "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." The suggestion that without peace Israel is an apartheid state analogous to South Africa is simply wrong. The basic evil of South African apartheid, against which I and so many other Jews fought, was the absolute control over a majority of blacks by a small minority of whites. It was the opposite of democracy. In Israel majority rules; it is a vibrant secular democracy, which just today recognized gay marriages performed abroad. Arabs serve in the Knesset, on the Supreme Court and get to vote for their representatives, many of whom strongly oppose Israeli policies. Israel has repeatedly offered to end its occupation of areas it captured in a defensive war in exchange for peace and full recognition. The reality is that other Arab and Muslim nations do in fact practice apartheid. In Jordan, no Jew can be a citizen or own land. The same is true in Saudi Arabia, which has separate roads for Muslims and non-Muslims. Even in the Palestinian authority, the increasing influence of Hamas threatens to create Islamic hegemony over non-Muslims. Arab Christians are leaving in droves.
Why then would Jimmy Carter invoke the concept of apartheid in his attack on Israel? Even he acknowledges--though he buries this toward the end of his book--that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa--not racism, but the acquisition of land." But Israel's motive for holding on to this land is the prevention of terrorism. It has repeatedly offered to exchange land for peace and did so in Gaza and southern Lebanon only to have the returned land used for terrorism, kidnappings and rocket launchings.
I don't know why Jimmy Carter, who is generally a careful man, allowed so many errors and omissions to blemish his book. Here are simply a few of the most egregious.
• Carter emphasizes that "Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman times," but he ignores the fact that Jews have lived in Hebron, Tzfat, Jerusalem, and other cities for even longer. Nor does he discuss the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries since 1948.
• Carter repeatedly claims that the Palestinians have long supported a two-state solution and the Israelis have always opposed it. Yet he makes no mention of the fact that in 1938 the Peel Commission proposed a two-state solution with Israel receiving a mere sliver of its ancient homeland and the Palestinians receiving the bulk of the land. The Jews accepted and the Palestinians rejected this proposal, because Arab leaders cared more about there being no Jewish state on Muslim holy land than about having a Palestinian state of their own.
• He barely mentions Israel's acceptance, and the Palestinian rejection, of the U.N.'s division of the mandate in 1948.
• He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first, Israel tried desperately to persuade Jordan to remain out of the war, and Israel counterattacked after the Jordanian army surrounded Jerusalem, firing missiles into the center of the city. Only then did Israel capture the West Bank, which it was willing to return in exchange for peace and recognition from Jordan.
• Carter repeatedly mentions Security Council Resolution 242, which called for return of captured territories in exchange for peace, recognition and secure boundaries, but he ignores the fact that Israel accepted and all the Arab nations and the Palestinians rejected this resolution. The Arabs met in Khartum and issued their three famous "no's": "No peace, no recognition, no negotiation" but you wouldn't know that from reading the history according to Carter.
• Carter faults Israel for its "air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor" without mentioning that Iraq had threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons if they succeeded in building a bomb.
• Carter faults Israel for its administration of Christian and Muslim religious sites, when in fact Israel is scrupulous about ensuring every religion the right to worship as they please--consistant, of course, with security needs. He fails to mention that between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Hashemites destroyed and desecrated Jewish religious sites and prevented Jews from praying at the Western Wall. He also never mentions Egypt's brutal occupation of Gaza between 1949 and 1967.
• Carter blames Israel, and exonerates Arafat, for the Palestinian refusal to accept statehood on 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza pursuant to the Clinton-Barak offers of Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001. He accepts the Palestinian revisionist history, rejects the eye-witness accounts of President Clinton and Dennis Ross and ignores Saudi Prince Bandar's accusation that Arafat's rejection of the proposal was "a crime" and that Arafat's account "was not truthful"--except, apparently, to Carter. The fact that Carter chooses to believe Yasir Arafat over Bill Clinton speaks volumes.
• Carter's description of the recent Lebanon war is misleading. He begins by asserting that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. "Captured" suggest a military apprehension subject to the usual prisoner of war status. The soldiers were kidnapped, and have not been heard from--not even a sign of life. The rocket attacks that preceded Israel's invasion are largely ignored, as is the fact that Hezbollah fired its rockets from civilian population centers.
• Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel's superb legal system, falsely asserting (without any citation) that "confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts," that prisoners are "executed" and that the "accusers" act "as judges." Even Israel's most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court, but not Carter.
• Carter even blames Israel for the "exodus of Christians from the Holy Land," totally ignoring the Islamization of the area by Hamas and the comparable exodus of Christian Arabs from Lebanon as a result of the increasing influence of Hezbollah and the repeated assassination of Christian leaders by Syria.
• Carter also blames every American administration but his own for the Mideast stalemate with particular emphasis on "a submissive White House and U.S. Congress in recent years." He employs hyperbole and overstatement when he says that "dialogue on controversial issues is a privilege to be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and withheld from those who reject U.S. demands." He confuses terrorist states, such as Iran and Syria to which we do not extend dialogue, with states with whom we strongly disagree, such as France and China, with whom we have constant dialogue.
I hope President Carter will seriously consider addressing these omissions and mistakes. He begins his book tour soon and he will have an opportunity to correct the record."
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Slow Dance: This was sent by a friend of mine. I thought it worthy to post it on my blog and also post its response by me as well.
> SLOW DANCE
> Have you ever watched kids
> On a merry-go-round?
> Or listened to the rain
> Slapping on the ground?
> Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
> Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
> You better slow down.
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> Do you run through each day
> On the fly?
> When you ask How are you?
> Do you hear the reply?
> When the day is done
> Do you lie in your bed
> With the next hundred chores
> Running through your head?
> You'd better slow down
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> Ever told your child,
> We'll do it tomorrow?
> And in your haste,
> Not see his sorrow?
> Ever lost touch,
> Let a good friendship die
> Cause you never had time
> To call and say,"Hi"
> You'd better slow down.
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> When you run so fast to get somewhere
> You miss half the fun of getting there.
> When you worry and hurry through your day,
> It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.
> Life is not a race
> Do take it slower
> Hear the music
> Before the song is over.
Those are excellent thoughts. It would be so nice if we would do just that. Slow down and listen to the music. Thinking man was given, I believe, by some mystical roll of the dice, a chance ... a short chance ... to see and appreciate it all. Although animals, plants, insects etc. make the world live, probably no other animal except man possesses the capacity to absorb the wonder. The hectic, harried pace of our culture coupled with the technological disneyland and faceless CEO's that make things economically run (literally) make me feel I am in a cacophonous ice machine bolting a million miles an hour to nowhere for nothing except to make the faceless generally uncaring rich even richer. Although our world is certainly more comfortable (FOR SOME) and allows us to live and live and live and live growing old way beyond our natural DNA dictates, our fast-paced speed-of-light culture produces, I think, an anomie which freezes us and makes us miss the beauty that is all around, given by some force only to us.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Middle East Mess: What a mess the Middle East is! How did it come to this? I really do not know what to say about the
It would seem to me that a fundamental law of nature would be survival and that laws are instituted among people to ensure that a society does not fall apart so chaos will not reign and they will survive. Everyone’s view of what society should be like differs but I would think the depth and the scope of a constant never-ending cruelty, brutality, death and lawlessness would take a back seat to one’s desire for compromise and the calm it brings. I would think that that would be a law of nature for human beings so the next generation could go on. There is no calm in the
I do not know how people would want to face each sunrise, get up and try to live their lives every day. The risk of having your body torn to shreds is too great. I do not know what would be the use in living.
Who knew? Certainly George Bush did not know. George Bush has now shown to our enemies the limits of the power of the west and
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Kramer Considered: What a horrific diatribe Michael Richards spewed during his comedy routine because he was heckled. I cannot understand why someone would say something so filled with racist vitriol using the most profane racist language available potentially sacrificing his own occupational survival for a few seconds of anger relief.
I think this topic is worthy of discussion on different levels.
Anger is a powerful emotion. The other day I went to a fast food type restaurant. I asked for a cup of coffee and was directed to the coffee urn at side of the restaurant to get it. There were four urns and one was missing. It was the one I wanted. Initially, I got angry because the place was packed with people, I am disabled and I felt powerless. I thought the problem would not be rectified in quick order. I was very tired and very hungry. I stood there feeling that no one cared. My friend was waiting for me at the other end. I wanted to eat my dinner with someone and not alone.
I went over and spoke with a person behind the counter at the register whom I thought was so inundated with people that my problem would be cast aside. She assured me someone would come out to fill the urn. No one did. I stood there for about twenty minutes, went back numerous times to no avail.
Finally, someone delivered coffee. When I poured it into my cup it contained hundreds of coffee grounds. I had to throw out three cups because there were so many grounds floating it in. Worse, it was the wrong type of coffee. They put the wrong sign on it and, of course, the person who replaced the urn disappeared. I became angrier and angrier. When another urn was put down, I poured that but when I put milk in it, the milk container was empty. I became infuriated and slammed the milk container down on the counter. That was my violent act of protest in addition to the fact that I did not even thank, as is my custom, the person who finally delivered another urn and filled the milk container. What was at the heart of my anger?
The etiology of anger: I felt no one cared. I felt like a grain of sand in our global economy where I was a small microchip in a huge technological giant. I was not even part of that giant. I do not make the kind of money the corporate executives make, often, I think, at my expense. I spend money that is precious to me rather than make it and, ultimately, as I perceive it, give it to executives who do not need it. I feel angry, jealous and sad at my plight. Those can be explosive feelings.
I got back to my table finally, rather exhausted but also remorseful that I had slammed the milk container down and that I had not thanked the service person who probably is making minimum wage or less. I ate my dinner dejected and guilty. I did something usually alien to my nature.
Anger and racism: The feeling of powerlessness, inferiority and alienation or anomie translates into rage. Perhaps Mr. Richards is not violent but his words certainly were. Those were the most violent words short of BEING violent I have heard.
The racists in the south and elsewhere in this country, I submit, felt or feel powerless. They feel events swirling out of their control and their hegemony threatened. Historically, certainly, if they could not feel superior to certain men then who could they feel superior to?
Perhaps, since playing Kramer on Seinfeld, Mr. Richards has lost his notoriety and was relegated to a comedy club he felt beneath his stature. Black men were ridiculing him, Kramer, the object of the envy of yesteryear was now begging for laughs today – and, perhaps, not getting them. Worse he was heckled. Richards must have felt very demeaned, very powerless and VERY angry. The kind of speech he used comes from somewhere deep and goes beyond – way beyond – a few hecklers. It reaches into the depth of a person who feels SO bad about his life and his fate, his weapon of choice is his words used like swords to cut human flesh to ribbons and triumph over his perceived adversity. It often never works. Like my anger at the fast food restaurant, after the vitriol, one is left with an even greater anger towards oneself.
My experience, of course, was not racist in origin. It is though about anger. It did not rise to the level of the consequences Richards will have to face. He will experience not only the rejection of the comedy club but the loss of, potentially, his career and whatever stature he had left. All that he achieved before was dashed for a moment of emotional release. Richards really hurt no one but himself. Anger really hurts the individual feeling it. All of us need to realize our words have power and our actions carry consequences. I am sure today, Richards realizes just that fact.
The Audience Response: Both the black man and the Jew have suffered historically perceived threats to power by those who had all of it. Both were used by the favored to maintain their power and both were considered somehow threatening. Both endured centuries of psychological attempts to demean, humiliate and dehumanize them. Both groups have persevered and survived the attempts by those who had the power to crush or control those who did not.
It is amazing to me that those in the Richards’ audience did not react violently. It is a tribute to them that they did not. After centuries upon centuries of accumulated suffering, I believe, something is woven into the DNA tapestry of those who have been “the other” to rise up in anger and never let it happen again.
Racist words such as those uttered by Michael Richards or anyone are like weapons which carry with them the reminder of an arduous and difficult journey to the safety and security of simply being left alone. Those weapons carry with them an angry reminder that there are miles yet to go and that we are all still traveling that long difficult seemingly never-ending insecure journey home.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Borat, more than meets the eye: Generally I enjoyed the film Borat. I was glad it was not longer than it was. Once one dramatizes humor about cultural differences one, I think, can take it only so far. At the end I kept saying alright already I get it! Having said that, however, I think the film has something poignant to say which belies the prevailing humor of its content.
Some in the Jewish community, I have read, have refused to see the film because of its explicit and continuous anti-Semitism. Admittedly, some was hard to take. I am Jewish. I am extraordinarily sensitive to the history of anti-Semitism and the Jewish historical plight. It is because of that, I think, those who were offended by that element of the film miss the point of what the film was about. I think Sasha Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, was making a serious contention about cultural relativism. It doesn’t matter where one comes from, hatred and ignorance is what it is no matter how you dress it up … or down.
In part, I believe he was taking aim, too, at those in
Three positive characters exist in the film. Two were orthodox Jews and one was a black prostitute. This was not accidental. Sasha Cohen tried, I think, to say something to defend those whom the majority still often think – for the most irrational reasons –are the indefensible. People are still just people after all and one can find humanity in people and in places where you think none would exist.
If others who are not Jewish take away from that movie the idea that Borat and the characters he meets are right about their world view, then there is little hope for those of us in this world who would like to extricate ourselves from the sewer of its stupidity and ignorance.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Further: Even if a court ... a high court... makes a decision, for example, in Plessy v. Fergusson which erroneously, in my opinion, found separate to be in fact equal, that decision can be and was ultimately reversed. It was done through the court itself, albeit one hundred years later but nonetheless the court reversed itself. I am trying to be consistent when I say if the court decided against it then at some future date when the culture has progressed out of the Middle Ages that court might reverse THAT decision.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Letter to Lieberman: I listened to you on Meet the Press and I am VERY concerned. I am very concerned because when you were asked if there was the potential for you to move to Republican you said you did not deal in hypotheticals. That worried me. I thought your response should have been a clear “No.” Your response when reading subliminally meant that if Democrats do not kow tow to you, you may, in fact, leave. That to me is a threat and amounts voter and Congressional extortion.
As someone who supported you in your bid for the presidency on the Democratic ticket in 2000, the prospect of your going over to the Republican side is revolting to me. In my opinion, that would betray what you have historically been about. The Republican party has done more damage to our country including lying us into a war which incurred the deaths of thousands. How you could even leave room for the possibility of a switch is enigmatic. I hope and pray that the country is seeing its errors of its ways and that the inhumanity, horrendous corruption and lies of the Republican party will see its ultimate downfall. Republicans are not about humanity. They are about power and they are especially about money – corporate money – which they use to attain that power for them and the top 2% of the population. They are not about the middle and certainly not about the poor. They are about Machievellian politics in its extreme and they do not care how cruel or unethical they perceive they must be to anyone who threatens them. For you, a moral religious man, to be tied to the cesspool of what the Republican party has become would be egregious.
The Middle East,
I am a person who originally bought what the Republicans were selling with respect to the war and the neo-conservative agenda. I was wrong.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The first Federal Supreme Court to establish the right of judicial review was the
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
First, the war in Iraq: The public saw the mismanagement, lies, and deceit which took this country to war and which have been responsible for nearly 3000 American deaths, countless Iraqi deaths and has cost, so far, nearly one half trillion dollars inflating the deficit to new Olympian heights. It battered a country and a people who did nothing to us and exacerbated not limited the terrorist threat. The strategy, if one can call it that, was not working. The war from the beginning was mishandled. There was no oversight and there is no END in sight.
Second, the Katrina debacle: It was clear that again, lies, deceit and gross incompetence were responsible for the deaths of thousands in one of the most catastrophic disasters to hit this country in its history. Katrina uncovered the wizard behind the curtain and showed the emperor was not wearing any clothes. One could not hide the complete ineffectiveness and the incompetence of this government’s response to save its own people from the ravages of a storm.
Third, Corruption: The corruption of this Republican Congress and its utter disregard for ethics was another part of the election equation. The so-called party of ethics had none. Indictments on corruption charges were legion. This Congress had no oversight and, indeed, was power run amok. Leaders of Congress have been cast under a veil of suspicion that stretches far and wide including the huge Abramoff K Street lobbying scandal which swept so many Republicans into its black hole, has meant resignations of the Republican’s highest leadership and will include and has included jail time for many.