Cogito Ergo Sum

Singing at the center of your soul, Long may you dance across your inner stage, Regarding neither rectitude nor rage, Pursuing neither destiny nor goal Be, then, whatever person time will tell. Do what reason and the heart deem good. Take whatever will or fortune would, Always west of heaven, east of hell. Lets Blog On !!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Several days ago when former President George Walker Bush left Washington once and for all, oddly, it reminded me of when Julius Gaius Caesar walked into the Senate for the very last time. For someone who had triumphantly entered Rome years earlier and was now facing assassins (who thought they were saving the Roman Republic from tyranny), and for a leader of the Roman Empire to be crying out, "Et tu, Brute?" ("You, too, Brutus?"), it was clearly a not so Triumphant Exit. The reason I say "oddly" is, because, even though there are many differences between George W. Bush and Julius G. Caesar, history has a way of sometimes converging at critical moments in time. In 509 B.C.E., exactly twenty-five centuries ago of this year, the Roman State was founded. Is it coincidence or a twisted act of fate?

Facing his accusers, I wonder if Julius Caesar knew that when Rome was founded the people determined never to be ruled by a ruthless monarch again and therefore, established a republic? Did he think back to when he rode his fathers chariot and dreamed of being a great Roman general? Did he recall that during his military training how he once stopped and out of self-pity, wept at the feet of a statue of Alexander the Great for not achieving what Alexander had? George Bush also wanted to be known as a great "War President" and a military strategist. Instead, and as "The Decider-In-Chief," he showed the world that even a modern democracy can be mismanaged, manipulated and malevolent, especially when the "tyranny of the minority" are allowed to rule. Whereas Julius Caesar's reign helped ruin a Republic, George Bush, by abusing his war powers and executive orders, discredited a Democracy. Sadly, "messy" democracies create and produce messy wars, and milestones become millstones around the neck of freedom and liberty.

At the moment of his death, did Julius Caesar remember how the Roman Republic became an Empire through conquering and exploiting much of Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor? Did he bear in mind how Rome's hardening policies led to fear and insecurity and how Roman extremists demanded war? Did he learn how the hardliners shouted, "Carthago delenda est"? ("Carthage must be obliterated.") Did he finally understand what the conquered Greeks meant when they said, "The Carthaginians fought for their own preservation and the sovereignty of Africa, the Romans, for supremacy and world domination"? Did he too, like many Romans, believe the Mediterranean was Mare Nostrum-"Our Sea"? After initiating wars for war itself, when George Bush left the White House did he regret the hatred and mass carnage in the name of democratic supremacy? In his last speech to the nation, did he look inward when he said, "Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere"? Does he still think of the Middle East as "Our Land" and "Our National Security"? An exit strategy that follows a policy of "Iraqo delenda est" and that leaves behind a trail of blood, is not so triumphant, neither is it very democratic.

When Julius Caesar starved and slaughtered entire Germanic tribes, and then used the excuse that he was only protecting the Gauls, did he keep in mind the words of Livy who claimed, "There was one people in the world which would fight for other's liberties at its own cost, to its own peril, and with its own toil...that everywhere justice, right, and law might prevail"? Did he remember spreading his fame by writing his own 'Commentaries on the Gallic Wars', and in telling only of his victories but not his defeats? Did he recall the Senate ordering him to disband his legions but instead, how he defied their orders, crossed the Rubicon, and committed treason by marching on Rome? When George Bush left, did he recall how he "fixed" the intelligence to invade Iraq and when there were no weapons of mass destruction and the war went badly, how he accused dissenting senators of being unpatriotic and of not wanting to protect Americans? As George Bush considers his 'Commentaries on the Global War On Terror', will he mention the torture memos, Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and the massacres at Haditha and Fallujah? And where is justice and the rule of law?

After starting another civil war and while walking through a battlefield of slain Roman soldiers, did Julius Caesar remember saying, "They would have it so"? Did he remember his own Triumphant Entry into Rome-something he had planned for-and how he led thousands of enslaved women, children and men? Did he keep in mind how he rode at the head of the procession and proudly displayed the plundered gold, silver, cultural objects, exotic animals, and the other spoils of war? George Bush also choreographed his Triumphant Entry onto the USS Abraham Lincoln. Behind him was a banner with the words "Mission Accomplished." It turned out to be his albatross, though, for over 4,000 U.S. troops died and 50,000 more were wounded after his Triumphant Entry. The war also lasted five more years at a staggering cost of over $1 trillion. But at least George Bush had his Triumphant Entry, and his triumvirate consisting of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and himself. And for the tens of thousands of Iraqis that have died, 'Would they have it so too'?

At the moment of his death, did Julius Caesar think back to his victories that enlarged the Roman Empire and caused cheap goods and grains to flood Rome's markets, which in return created landless farmers and a class of unemployed? Did he remember how the Roman Empire produced wealthy oligarchs who purchased latifundias-large parcels of land, and imported thousands of slaves? Did he know that he would someday cause the Roman historian Appian to write, "The powerful ones became enormously rich and the race of slaves multiply throughout the country, while the Italian people dwindle in numbers and strength, being oppressed by poverty, taxes, and military service"? Did Julius Caesar recognize the same senators who scrambled for profitable contracts in supplying Rome's Legions (and were now scrambling to kill him), and then fabricated the amount of goods they sold? Like Julius Caesar, did George Bush's pre-emptive invasions and free trade agreements destroy small farms and localized businesses? By subsidizing corporations that were already growing fat from war, and by neglecting fair wages for workers and soldiers, did the Bush administration increase the disparity between rich and poor? And which senatorial nobles and military generals scrambled to make profits from such tragedies like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Hurricane Katrina?

When Julius Caesar was assassinated, did he cry out to the Roman gods? After all, the imperial religion of Rome had much to do with obedience to the state and little to do with ethics and conscience. Did he remember using the gods to justify wars and to support the violent myths of the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome). Did he realize that by subjugating peoples, wearing purple robes, and by placing his image on coins or in temples to be worshipped, that he created many enemies and was viewed as a tyrant? As he laid there dying, did he now understand Thucydides' famous truth that, "Athens kept its democracy but lost its empire; Rome kept its empire but lost its democracy"? When George Bush left the White House, did he too bear in mind the majority of people who wanted to end the wars of conquest? After being appointed by the Supreme Court, and after a skewed election four years later, did he recall mistakenly thinking he had a clear "mandate" from the people to rule? While democracies are not very good at running empires, democracies that try to create their own reality are even worse. And after using God to justify the failed invasion and occupation of Iraq, to what god does George Bush pray to now and who will save him from his not so Triumphant Exit?

When Julius Caesar breathed his last breath, did he remember the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rome's famous poet and orator, who said, "How much greater and more glorious to have enlarged the limits of the Roman mind than the boundaries of Roman rule"? What will George Bush's last memory be? Will it be the awful and terrible wars he initiated and that have shattered nations and thousands of lives? Will it be the disregard for the Geneva Conventions and the numerous human rights accords? Or will it be the crowds chanting at President Barack Obama's inauguration, "No more Bush! No more Bush! No more Bush!"? And when George Bush walked up the steps of the presidential helicopter and turned around and waved for the last time, I wonder if he mockingly thought to himself "the Ideas of March had come"? But we all know that just like Julius Caesar, who was warned to take heed of March 15 and had mistakenly thought he had escaped, the "Ides of March had not yet gone."

There is a phrase written on the Twelve Tables, or the Roman legal code, that says, "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall!" The beginning of the U.S. Constitution begins with the words, "We the People of the United States, in Order to from a more perfect Union, establish Justice,...". Unlike the past, it is not to late for the U.S. Senate and the People to remake the world anew again (as our paters did) and to transform a "not so Triumphant Exit" into a "very Triumphant Exit." This can be accomplished by pursuing charges of treason and of war crimes against former President George Walker Bush and those involved in his administration. Americans should also resist the next Triumphant Entry, for no matter how often they occur, they still benefit only the Few at the expense (death) of the Many. And whether it be a Republic-turned-empire like Rome, or a Democracy-turned-superpower like the U.S., Triumphant Entries that try to either Romanize or Americanize the world, are, after all, not so triumphant. And worst of all, "individual" Triumphant Exits-like Julius G. Caesar's and now George W. Bush's-often become "collective" not so Triumphant Exits, as in the case of when St. Jerome wrote of Rome in 410 A.C.E., "It is the end of the world...Words fail me. My sobs break in...The city which took captive the whole world has itself been captured."


Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ancestry Myth

The fair-haired, blue-eyed Aryan settling in Northern Europe and being of superior status due to his genetically pure race was the product of many intellectual influences, e.g. the establishment of the Indo-European Philology to name only one.

Leon Poliakov showed that the roots of such caricature reach far back into the past and that the desire to have ancestors as illustrious and grand as possible can be found with all European peoples. The Romans believed their ancestors to origin from Troy, while the medieval Spanish aristocracy put emphasis on their superior Visigothic blood which not only made them different from their subjects but also put them above them. The French continue to become chronic schizophrenics as soon as they are to decide whether they are descendants either of Vercingetorix and the Gauls (Celts) or of Charles The Great (Charlemagne) and the Franks (a germanic tribe). Some English seemingly not satisfied with their mix of Briton, Anglo-Saxonian, Viking and Norman predecessors still found it necessary to have one lost tribe of Israel driven to their coasts in order to make sure they have even older and religiously more important ancestors.

Now the Germans meant to see the roots of their own history in the changes caused by the very migration of the peoples that had caused the illustrious ancestors of their neighbors. Considering that even Tacitus mentioned that the Teutons were “of pure blood”, not at all mixed with other races and (therefore) authochtone, there seemed to be hardly any reason to doubt their Northern European origin. When the Church needed a relation to the bible, Ashkenaz, one of Japhet’s grandsons, was found who discovered a way to Northern Europe and thus established the Teutons even within this frame. Especially during the time of Reformation one was proud to be different from the degenerated and corrupt Roman world. During the 18th and 19th century, the belief in Germanic authochtony and in the power of the Nordic peoples became stronger and stronger, supported by the industrial and intellectual rise of the “Germanic”-speaking countries. This belief was also supported by various findings of research in the field of anthropology as well as in the field of comparative linguistics.

The concept of race theory developed simultaneously with the rise of anthropology. Once having isolated the various human races as a theorem, Western scholars could not resist to place their own “Caucasian” race above the others. Soon “race” was mistaken for or identified as ethnic group, nation and language. History was reduced to a number of races each holding the power for a certain period of time until they lost it to another, stronger one that had “more energy”. In blatant misunderstanding, Darwin’s theory of evolution was transferred to everything that seemed to be subject of development in some way, be it races, nations, ethnics, or even social or economic circumstances. Whether one looked at the busy harbors of England, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia or at the intellectual salons in London, Berlin, Paris or Vienna - it was clear where the more forceful race was living. Anthropology classified the races by their external appearance into the Northern “dolichocephalic” races with high foreheads and the Southern “brachycephalic” races with low foreheads, which allowed to actually “measure” the superiority of the Nordic race. Thus, the blue-eyed, fair-haired ancestor was no longer a mere romantic idea. As of the end of the 19th century, “science” allowed to look back to a superior, noble predecessor who provided “genuine” ethnic identity.

2. The Discovery of the “Aryans”

The discovery of the Indo-European language group not only enabled science to track the historical relations between many European and Asian languages. It was also once and for all the end of the idea that Hebrew was the original language of all human beings and also of the idea that all human beings are descendants of (one) Adam. As a result the Western scholars searched for their own illustrious forefathers in Central Asia, Persia and India following the traces of Indian and Iranian traditions. Indo-European research started as early as in the first decades of the 19th century, and Max Müller and other Indo-Europeanists happened to use the word “Aryan” to describe the old Indo-Europeans. As a matter of cause these early Aryans had to be members of the superior white race if they were to represent the ancestors of the modern Europeans.

In addition, early linguists made the mistake to interpret and even to evaluate the linguistic classification of languages into analytic, agglutin and flective languages in an evolutory manner. Thus, it were again the Aryans, i.e. the Indo-Europeans, which seemed to be superior to other races as they had developed language to the allegedly highest evolutory level a long time before the others. Canon Isaac Taylor once was of the opinion that the Indo-Europeans represented an “advanced Finish race.

So superior physiology, language and culture were allocated to the term “Aryans” and it was assumed that those belonged to the white race - but still their Urheimat was not yet defined to be Northern Europe. So far, the Aryans were associated with the Hindukush or the Himalaya. But as early as in 1870 Lazarus Geiger argued that the very fact of the Aryan being blonde and fair-skinned proved Central Europe, i.e. Germany, to have been his Urheimat. However, it was Theodor Poesche who popularized the idea that the Aryans originally came from Central or Northern Europe respectively. Looking for the Urheimat he used means like the frequency of albinism (!) and so the Aryans found a home in the swampy areas of Eastern Europe. An area hostile to life as the original home of a race thought to be more able to survive than others - Karl Penka did not have a problem to accept this in 1883. Yet, by means of all sorts of scientific disciplines he moved the Aryans to Scandinavia and pointed out in his already very polemic works that no other place on earth could be the Urheimat of the Aryans.

Despite his polemics, Penka’s works were widely accepted. Even well-known anthropologists like Rudolf Virchow and Thomas Huxley agreed that the Aryans are a race of “blonde dolichocephals”. The great indologist Max Müller, disgusted by this development he had partly induced himself, insulted anthropologists who talked of “Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair” as scatterbrains and compared them with linguists talking of “dolichocephalic vocabulary or brachycephalic grammar”. To him “Aryan” was but a name for a language group that had nothing to do with the peoples speaking these languages without even being actual peoples. But it was too late already. The idea of a superior Aryan-Nordic race had settled in the heads of too many scientists, and amateurs were satisfied with sciolism enjoying to think themselves descendants of true super ancestors.

3. The Second World War And Its Consequences

Until the end of the war, only one European Urheimat was accepted in Germany. The dispute was restricted to the question, whether it was Northern Europe or rather a steppe area like the ones in Eastern Europe. But also abroad a European Urheimat was favored, only few thought the Indo-Europeans to origin from Asia. Still, a linguistic term was mistaken for anthropologic, political-ideological and romanticized contents. It was the Second World War and its results which forced the academic world to change their way of thinking as the political effects of unscientific working methods became apparent.

The myth of Aryan superiority was a widespread phenomenon of varying distinction, usually more obvious in anthropological publications than in linguistic ones, until the political consequences (eventually) made it an anathema in the academic world. Having been heavily incriminated and abused by the Nazis the linguistic term “Aryan language group” was no longer acceptable. Modern research considers “Aryan” merely in connection with the Iranian and its preliminary stages. “Indo-Aryans” are seen as precursors of e.g. the Persians. “Genetic purity” was banished to the realms of myth. Yiddish is as much an Indo-European language as any other Germanic dialect and the language of the Roman gypsies is much closer to “Aryan” than any of the Northern European languages.

The “tree-branch”-principle of development adopted from archaeology was given up to favor a theory of development with “overlapping” boundaries. It was understood that any influences surrounding and crossing a language area transform the development of a language, and - even more important - that although language usually provides cultural information it does hardly allow anthropological conclusions. This is confirmed by the fact that Indo-european science has made great strides since it returned to a dispassionate level of scientific work.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust

'There is little doubt that the Nazi Holocaust was as close to unconditional evil as has been revealed throughout the entire bloody history of the human species. Its massiveness, unconcealed genocidal intent, and reliance on the mentality and instruments of modernity give its enactment in the death camps of Europe a special status in our moral imagination. This special status s exhibited in the continuing presentation of its gruesome realities through film, books, and a variety of cultural artifacts more than six decades after the events in question ceased. The permanent memory of the Holocaust is also kept alive by the  existence of several notable museums devoted exclusively to the depiction of the horrors that took place during the period of Nazi rule in Germany.

Against this background, it is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as ‘holocaust.’  The word is derived from the Greek holos (meaning ‘completely’) and kaustos (meaning ‘burnt’), and was used in ancient Greece to refer to the complete burning of a sacrificial offering to a divinity. Because such a background implies a religious undertaking, there is some inclination in Jewish literature to prefer the Hebrew word ‘Shoah’ that can be translated roughly as ‘calamity,’ and was the name given to the 1985 epic nine-hour narration of the Nazi experience by the French filmmaker, Claude Lanzmann. The Germans themselves were more antiseptic in their designation, officially naming their undertaking as the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Qestion.’ The label is, of course, inaccurate as a variety of non-Jewish identities were also targets of this genocidal assault, including the Roma and Sinti(‘gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses, gays, disabled persons, political opponents.

Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy. If ever the ethos of ‘a responsibility to protect,’ recently adopted by the UN Security Council  as the basis of ‘humanitarian intervention’ is applicable, it would be to act now to start protecting the people of Gaza from further pain and suffering. But it would be unrealistic to expect the UN to do anything in the face of this crisis, given the pattern of US support for Israel and taking into account the extent to which European governments have lent their weight to recent illicit efforts to crush Hamas as a Palestinian political force.

Even if the pressures exerted on Gaza were to be acknowledged as having genocidal potential and even if Israel’s impunity under America’s geopolitical umbrella is put aside, there is little assurance that any sort of protective action in Gaza would be taken. There were strong advance signals in 1994 of a genocide to come in Rwanda, and yet nothing was done to stop it; the UN and the world watched while the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of Bosnians took place, an incident that the World Court described as ‘genocide’ a few months ago; similarly, there have been repeated allegations of genocidal conduct in Darfur over the course of the last several years, and hardly an international finger has been raised, either to protect those threatened or to resolve the conflict in some manner that shares power and resources among the contending ethnic groups.

But Gaza is morally far worse, although mass death has not yet resulted. It is far worse because the international community is watching the ugly spectacle unfold while some of its most influential members actively encourage and assist Israel in its approach to Gaza. Not only the United States, but also the European Union, are complicit, as are such neighbors as Egypt and Jordan apparently motivated by their worries that Hamas is somehow connected with their own problems associated with the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood within their own borders. It is helpful to recall that the liberal democracies of Europe paid homage to Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games, and then turned away tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. I am not suggesting that the comparison should be viewed as literal, but to insist that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century.

To ground these allegations, it is necessary to consider the background of the current situation. For over four decades, ever since 1967, Gaza has been occupied by Israel in a manner that turned this crowded area into a cauldron of pain and suffering for the entire population on a daily basis, with more than half of Gazans living in miserable refugees camps and even more dependent on humanitarian relief to satisfy basic human needs. With great fanfare, under Sharon’s leadership, Israel supposedly ended its military occupation and dismantled its settlements in 2005. The process was largely a sham as Israel maintained full control over borders, air space, offshore seas, as well as asserted its military control of Gaza, engaging in violent incursions, sending missiles to Gaza at will on assassination missions that themselves violate international humanitarian law, and managing to kill more than 300 Gazan civilians since its supposed physical departure.

As unacceptable as is this earlier part of the story, a dramatic turn for the worse occurred when Hamas prevailed in the January 2006 national legislative elections. It is a bitter irony that Hamas was encouraged, especially by Washington, to participate in the elections to show its commitment to a political process (as an alternative to violence) and then was badly punished for having the temerity to succeed. These elections were internationally monitored under the leadership of the former American president, Jimmy Carter, and pronounced as completely fair.

Carter has recently termed this Israeli/American refusal to accept the outcome of such a democratic verdict as itself ‘criminal.’ It is also deeply discrediting of the campaign of the Bush presidency to promote democracy in the region, an effort already under a dark shadow in view of the policy failure in Iraq.

After winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas was castigated as a terrorist organization that had not renounced violence against Israel and had refused to recognize the Jewish state as a legitimate political entity. In fact, the behavior and outlook of Hamas is quite different. From the outset of its political Hamas was ready to work with other Palestinian groups, especially Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas, to establish a ‘unity’ government. More than this, their leadership revealed a willingness to move toward an acceptance of Israel’s existence if Israel would in turn agree to move back to its 1967 borders, implementing finally unanimous Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Even more dramatically, Hamas proposed a ten-year truce with Israel, and went so far as to put in place a unilateral ceasefire that lasted for eighteen months, and was broken only to engage in rather pathetic strikes mainly taking place in response to Israeli violent provocations in Gaza. As Efraim Halevi, former head of Israel’s Mossad was reported to have said, ‘What Isreal needs from Hamas is an end to violence, not diplomatic recognition.’ And this is precisely what Hamas offered and what Israel rejected.

The main weapon available to Hamas, and other Palestinian extremist elements, were Qassam missiles that resulted in producing no more than 12 Israeli deaths in six years. While each civilian death is an unacceptable tragedy, the ratio of death and injury for the two sides in so unequal as to call into question the security logic of continuously inflicting excessive force and collective punishment on the entire beleaguered Gazan population, which is accurately regarded as the world’s largest ‘prison.’

Instead of trying diplomacy and respecting democratic results, Israel and the United States used their leverage to reverse the outcome of the 2006 elections by organizing a variety of international efforts designed to make Hamas fail in its attempts to govern in Gaza. Such efforts were reinforced by the related unwillingness of the defeated Fatah elements to cooperate with Hamas in establishing a government that would be representative of Palestinians as a whole. The main anti-Hamas tactic relied upon was to support Abbas as the sole legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, to impose an economic boycott on the Palestinians generally, to send in weapons for Fatah militias and to enlist neighbors in these efforts, particularly Egypt and Jordan. The United States Government appointed a special envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, to work with Abbas forces, and helped channel $40 million to buildup the Presidential Guard, which were the Fatah forces associated with Abbas.

This was a particularly disgraceful policy. Fatah militias, especially in Gaza, had long been wildly corrupt and often used their weapons to terrorize their adversaries and intimidate the population in a variety of thuggish ways. It was this pattern of abuse by Fatah that was significantly responsible for the Hamas victory in the 2006 elections, along with the popular feelings that Fatah, as a political actor, had neither the will nor capacity to achieve results helpful to the Palestinian people, while Hamas had managed resistance and community service efforts that were widely admired by Gazans.

The latest phase of this external/internal dynamic was to induce civil strife in Gaza that led a complete takeover by Hamas forces. With standard irony, a set of policies adopted by Israel in partnership with the United States once more produced exactly the opposite of their intended effects. The impact of the refusal to honor the election results has after 18 months made Hamas much stronger throughout the Palestinian territories, and put it in control of Gaza. Such an outcome is reminiscent of a similar effect of the 2006 Lebanon War that was undertaken by the Israel/United States strategic partnership to destroy Hezbollah, but had the actual consequence of making Hezbollah a much stronger, more respected force in Lebanon and throughout the region.

The Israel and the United States seemed trapped in a faulty logic that is incapable of learning from mistakes, and takes every setback as a sign that instead of shifting course, the faulty undertaking should be expanded and intensified, that failure resulted from doing too little of the right thing, rather than is the case, doing the wrong thing. So instead of taking advantage of Hamas’ renewed call for a unity government, its clarification that it is not against Fatah, but only that “[w]e have fought against a small clique within Fatah,” (Abu Ubaya, Hamas military commander), Israel seems more determined than ever to foment civil war in Palestine, to make the Gazans pay with their wellbeing and lives to the extent necessary to crush their will, and to separate once and for all the destinies of Gaza and the West Bank.

The insidious new turn of Israeli occupation policy is as follows: push Abbas to rely on hard-line no compromise approach toward Hamas, highlighted by the creation of an unelected ‘emergency’ government to replace the elected leadership. The emergency designated prime minister, Salam Fayyad, appointed to replace the Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, as head of the Palestinian Authority. It is revealing to recall that when Fayyad’s party was on the 2006 election list its candidates won only 2% of the vote. Israel is also reportedly ready to ease some West Bank restrictions on movement in such a way as to convince Palestinians that they can have a better future if they repudiate Hamas and place their bets on Abbas, by now a most discredited political figure who has substantially sold out the Palestinian cause to gain favor and support from Israel/United States, as well as to prevail in the internal Palestinian power struggle.

To promote these goals it is conceivable, although unlikely, that Israel might release Marwan Barghouti, the only credible Fatah leader, from prison provided Barghouti would be willing to accept the Israeli approach of Sharon/Olmert to the establishment of a Palestinian state. This latter step is doubtful, as Barghouti is a far cry from Abbas, and would be highly unlikely to agree to anything less than a full withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 borders, including the elimination of West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.

This latest turn in policy needs to be understood in the wider context of the Israeli refusal to reach a reasonable compromise with the Palestinian people since 1967. There is widespread recognition that such an outcome would depend on Israeli withdrawal, establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as capital, and sufficient external financial assistance to give the Palestinians the prospect of economic viability.  The truth is that there is no Israeli leadership with the vision or backing to negotiate such a solution, and so the struggle will continue with violence on both sides.

The Israeli approach to the Palestinian challenge is based on isolating Gaza and cantonizing the West Bank, leaving the settlement blocs intact, and appropriating the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For years this sidestepping of diplomacy has dominated Israeli behavior, including during the Oslo peace process that was initiated on the White House lawn in 1993 by the famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat.

While talking about peace, the number of Israeli settlers doubled, huge sums were invested in settlement roads linked directly to Israel, and the process of Israeli settlement and Palestinian displacement from East Jerusalem was moving ahead at a steady pace. Significantly, also, the ‘moderate’ Arafat was totally discredited as a Palestinian leader capable of negotiating with Israel, being treated as dangerous precisely because he was willing to accept a reasonable compromise. Interestingly, until recently when he became useful in the effort to reverse the Hamas electoral victory, Abbas was treated by Isreal as too weak, too lacking in authority, to act on behalf of the Palestinian people in a negotiating process, one more excuse for persisting with its preferred unilateralist course.

These considerations also make it highly unlikely that Barghouti will be released from prison unless there is some dramatic change of heart on the Israeli side. Instead of working toward some kind of political resolution, Israel has built an elaborate and illegal security wall on Palestinian territory, expanded the settlements, made life intolerable for the 1.4 million people crammed into Gaza, and pretends that such unlawful ‘facts on the ground’ are a path leading toward security and peace.

On June 25, 2007 leaders from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority met in Sharm El Sheik on the Red Sea to move ahead with their anti-Hamas diplomacy. Israel proposes to release 250 Fatah prisoners (of 9,000 Palestinians currently held) and to hand over Palestinian revenues to Abbas on an installment basis, provided none of the funds is used in Gaza, where a humanitarian catastrophe unfolds day by day. These leaders agreed to cooperate in this effort to break Hamas and to impose a Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on an unwilling Palestine population. Remember that Hamas prevailed in the 2006 elections, not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank as well. To deny Palestinian their right of self-determination is almost certain to backfire in a manner similar to similar efforts, producing a radicalized version of what is being opposed. As some commentators have expressed, getting rid of Hamas means establishing al Qaeda!

Israel is currently stiffening the boycott on economic relations that has brought the people of Gaza to the brink of collective starvation. This set of policies, carried on for more than four decades, has imposed a sub-human existence on a people that have been repeatedly and systematically made the target of a variety of severe forms of collective punishment. The entire population of Gaza is treated as the ‘enemy’ of Israel, and little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society.

To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole. It is this prospect that makes appropriate the warning of a Palestinian holocaust in the making, and should remind the world of the famous post-Nazi pledge of ‘never again.’  

Richard A. Falk is an Jewish American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, a prolific writer, speaker and activist on world affairs, the author or co-author of more than 20 books and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

With a traumatized nation and a paralyzed government, a core group of secular ideologues and Hindu nationalists are executing a ‘soft coup’ in New Delhi to bring to power hawks who want to pursue America’s agenda of grooming India as a regional policeman, sort out Pakistan and confront China. India will self-destroy in the process.  India’s military and intelligence has been penetrated. The man who uncovered the plot, Hemant Karkare, the antiterrorism chief of Mumbai police, was the first target of the mysterious terrorists. Patriotic Indians need to wake up and save their country.

Preliminary signs emerging from India’s power center, New Delhi, paint a picture of an unstable situation. Security is already compromised. But a bigger story is taking place in New Delhi, not Mumbai. There are disturbing signs that India, a nuclear-armed nation of a billion people, is witnessing a ‘soft coup’ attempt involving secular rightwing ideologues and Hindu nationalists.


Exploiting the fears of a traumatized nation and a government caught sleeping at the wheel, a core group of rightwing ideologues within India’s military, intelligence and political elite are trying to overthrow Manmohan Singh’s government. The plan apparently is to help the rise of rightwing elements in power and firmly push India in a confrontation with Pakistan and some other countries in the region.


The objective of this core group is to see India emerge as a superpower closely allied with the United States. They are excited about American plans for India as a regional policeman and have no problem in confronting China and Pakistan to achieve this status. They think time is slipping and they don’t want a hesitant political leadership in their way.  Already the instability in the wake of Mumbai attacks is being exploited to start a war with Pakistan.  The fact that this will also help U.S. military that is facing a tough time in Afghanistan appears to be more than just a coincidence.


In the very first hours of the Mumbai attack, the unknown terrorists were able to achieve a singular feat: the targeted murder of Hemant Karkare, the chief antiterrorism officer in the Indian police. The man was responsible for exposing the secret links between the Indian military and Hindu terror groups.  His investigation resulted in uncovering the involvement of three Indian military intelligence officers in terrorist acts that were blamed on Muslim groups.  At the time of his murder, Karkare was pursuing leads that were supposed to uncover the depth of the nexus between the Indian military and the sudden rise of well armed and well financed Hindu terrorism groups with their wide network of militant training camps acrossIndia.


Curiously, a CCTV camera has caught on tape one of the unknown terrorists when he arrived with his group at their first target: a train station. The man, dressed in a jeans and a black T-shirt and carrying a machine gun, is wearing an orange-colored wrist band very common among religious Hindus. As a comparison, a recent picture of a Hindu militant activist taken during an event this year is shown to the right where the militant is wearing a similar band.

An aggressive advertisement campaign has already begun across India urging a scared population to rise against the government.


On Friday, front-page advertisements appeared in several newspapers in Delhi showing blood splattered against a black background and the slogan “Brutal Terror Strikes At Will” in bold capital letters. The ads signed off with a simple message: “Fight Terror. Vote B.J.P.”


The Indian, the Pakistani and the international media has not woken up yet to this ‘soft coup’ taking place inNew Delhi Some observers and journalists are beginning to catch its first signs. This is how a New York Times reporter, Somini Sengupta, has characterized it today:


“Mr. Singh’s government had lately hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party with evidence that its supporters, belonging to a range of radical Hindu organizations, had … been implicated in terrorist attacks. Indeed, in a bizarre twist, the head of the police antiterrorism unit, Hemant Karkare, killed in the Mumbai strikes, had been in the midst of a high-profile investigation of a suspected Hindu terrorist cell. Mr. Karkare’s inquiry had netted nine suspects in connection with a bombing in September of a Muslim-majority area inMalegaon, a small town not far from Mumbai. 


Evidence is emerging that Karkare knew he was facing the prospect of a violent death because of the investigation he was pursuing. What Karkare probably didn’t know is that his elimination would come in such a perfectly executed operation.


Only hours before Karkare’s violent death, his close friend, retired Colonel Rahul Gowardhan, received an envelope. Karkare called him to say he was sending him a confidential letter. This is how Times of India has reported the story

Just some hours before that, Karkare had sent a letter to him in an envelop which had some “personal” content. “Hemant had called me up on Wednesday,” said Gowardhan, a top official with MSEDCL. “As I was in a meeting, we decided to postpone the talk. He hung up saying he would be sending me an envelope. When I wanted to know the content, he told me to just read the letter that’s inside it. I returned home and read it. I cannot share the content of the letter with anyone,” said Gowardhan.


 The highly sophisticated nature of the attack in Mumbai, lasting for almost 60 hours, diminishes the chances of a foreign invasion and increases the possibility that influential elements in Indian intelligence and Hindu militant organizations might have helped orchestrate this incident, pretty much like they did in the Sept. 29 Malegaon attack, in which they tried to simulate a Muslim terrorist group. In that attack, in which three Indian military intelligence officers have been arrested, the objective was to provoke a Muslim backlash that could justify a massive state crackdown against minorities. 


Observers are already seeing how the hawks within the Indian establishment and Hindu militant organizations have seized the initiative from a paralyzed government. The Indian army and intelligence are already penetrated. Now the real culprits are channeling the fears of a traumatized people toward Pakistan.


India is on the same path today that the Bush administration hawks took the American nation on after 9/11. But this time, patriotic Indians have the benefit of hindsight. They should stop the secular warmongers and Hindu militants from hijacking their country. The future of the entire region depends on it.

It's not only moslem extremists who have fine tuned the art of terror over the years.. State Terror is a far greater threat, all the more so, when you consider the fact that most people donno squat beyond 'islamic fundamentalism'.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008


"Why we fight?" A documentary

After a sea of lies and a tsunami of propaganda, the ugly truth behind the Iraq and Afghanistan wars finally emerged into full view this week.

Four major western oil companies, Exxon, Mobil, Shell, BP and Total, are about to sign US-brokered no-bid contracts with the US-installed Baghdad regime to begin exploiting Iraq’s oil fields. Saddam Hussein had kicked these firms out three decades ago when he nationalized Iraq’s foreign-owned oil industry for the benefit of Iraq’s national development. The Baghdad regime is turning back the clock.

This agreement comes as talks are continuing between the Washington and its Baghdad client regime over future US basing rights in Iraq. After some face-saving Iraqi objections, it is expected that Baghdad will sign a compact with Washington giving US forces control of Iraq and its air space in a manner very similar to Great Britain’s colonial arrangement with Iraq.

Interestingly, the same oil companies that used to exploit Iraq when it was a British colony are now returning. As former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently admitted, the Iraq war was all about oil. VP Dick Cheney stated in 2003 that the invasion of Iraq was about oil, and for the sake of Israel.

Meanwhile, according to Pakistani and Indian sources, Afghanistan just signed a major deal to launch a long-planned, 1680 km long pipeline project expected to cost $ 8 billion. If completed, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) will export gas and, later, oil from the Caspian Basin to Pakistan’s coast where tankers will transport it to the west.

The Caspian Basin located under the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakkstan, holds an estimated 300 trillion cubic feet of gas and 100–200 billion barrels of oil. Securing the world’s last remaining known energy Eldorado is strategic priority for the western powers. China can only look on with envy.

But there are only two practical ways to get gas and oil out of landlocked Central Asia to the sea: through Iran, or through Afghanistan to Pakistan. For Washington, Iran is tabu. That leaves Pakistan, but to get there, the planned pipeline must cross western Afghanistan, including the cities of Herat and Kandahar.

In 1998, the Afghan anti-Communist movement Taliban and a western oil consortium led by the US firm UNOCAL signed a major pipeline deal. UNOCAL lavished money and attention on Taliban, flew a senior delegation to Texas, and also hired an minor Afghan official, one Hamid Karzai.

Enter Osama bin Laden. He advised the unworldly Taliban leaders to reject the US deal and got them to accept a better offer from an Argentine consortium, Bridas. Washington was furious and, according to some accounts, threatened Taliban with war.

In early 2001, six or seven months before 9/11, Washington made the decision to invade Afghanistan, overthrow Taliban, and install a client regime that would build the energy pipelines. But Washington still kept up sending money to Taliban until four months before 9/11 in an effort to keep it "on side" for possible use in a war or strikes against Iran.

The 9/11 attacks, about which Taliban knew nothing, supplied the pretext to invade Afghanistan. The initial US operation had the legitimate objective of wiping out Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida. But after its 300 members fled to Pakistan, the US stayed on, built bases – which just happened to be adjacent to the planned pipeline route – and installed former UNOCAL"consultant" Hamid Karzai as leader.

Washington disguised its energy geopolitics by claiming the Afghan occupation was to fight "Islamic terrorism," liberate women, build schools, and promote democracy. Ironically, the Soviets made exactly the same claims when they occupied Afghanistan from 1979-1989. The cover story for Iraq was weapons of mass destruction, Saddam’s supposed links to 9/11, and promoting democracy.

Work will begin on the TAPI once Taliban forces are cleared from the pipeline route by US, Canadian and NATO forces. As American analyst Kevin Phillips writes, the US military and its allies have become an "energy protection force."

From Washington’s viewpoint, the TAPI deal has the added benefit of scuttling another proposed pipeline project that would have delivered Iranian gas and oil to Pakistan and India.

India’s energy needs are expected to triple over the next decade to 8 billion barrels of oil and 80 million cubic meters of gas daily. Delhi, which has its own designs on Afghanistan and has been stirring the pot there, is cock-a-hoop over the new pipeline plan. Russia, by contrast, is grumpy, having hoped to monopolize Central Asian energy exports.

Energy is more important than blood in our modern world. The US is a great power with massive energy needs. Domination of oil is a pillar of America’s world power. Afghanistan and Iraq are all about control of oil.


Monday, November 24, 2008


Accepted theories about man causing global warming are "lies" claims a controversial new TV documentary.

'The Great Global Warming Swindle' backed by eminent scientists - is set to rock the accepted consensus that climate change is being driven by humans.

The programme will see a series of respected scientists attack the "propaganda" that they claim is killing the world's poor.

Even the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, is shown, claiming African countries should be encouraged to burn more CO2.

Nobody in the documentary defends the greenhouse effect theory, as it claims that climate change is natural, has been occurring for years, and ice falling from glaciers is just the spring break-up and as normal as leaves falling in autumn.

A source at Channel 4 said: "It is essentially a polemic and we are expecting it to cause trouble, but this is the controversial programming that Channel 4 is renowned for."

Controversial director Martin Durkin said: "You can see the problems with the science of global warming, but people just don't believe you - it's taken 10 years to get this commissioned.

"I think it will go down in history as the first chapter in a new era of the relationship between scientists and society. Legitimate scientists - people with qualifications - are the bad guys.

"It is a big story that is going to cause controversy.

"It's very rare that a film changes history, but I think this is a turning point and in five years the idea that the greenhouse effect is the main reason behind global warming will be seen as total bollocks".

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