August 2, 2012

Mitt-fil-A — Is He Done Yet?


July 27, 2012

The Incredible Not-Rightness of Being Mitt


April 30, 2011

Israel: Latest victim of America’s weird foreign policy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:44 pm

Don’t even get me started on America’s failed foreign policy in the Middle East. Just try to name even one country east of Suez that America hasn’t tampered with and made a mess of. “Israel?” you might say. Yeah right. Just imagine what Israel would be like today if America had resisted the temptation to interfere with its policies, the direction it was taking and its priorities.

America, like some strange King Midas in reverse, seems to have completely screwed up everything that it touches in the Middle East. And, yes, this statement appears to include Israel too.

First of all, in any kind of sane world Israel would have gotten its hand slapped for bombing the USS Liberty back in 1967. But it didn’t. 34 U.S. sailors were deliberately and callously murdered by Israeli armed forces and apparently no hand-slapping was involved — with the possible exception of some bizarre spy vs. spy story from Wayne Madsen about America then sinking an Israel submarine in retaliation and then Israel sinking a French submarine to get even and also sinking a U.S. cargo ship returning empty from Iran after dumping off tons of weapons from Reagan to the Ayatollah, thus getting in the last word.

If this bizarre story is true, however, America’s and Israel’s leaders’ foreign policies and moral compasses are even more off-base than we thought!

And after the USS Liberty incident, Israel’s leadership must have been on top of the world. “Wow!” they must have said to themselves in stunned disbelief. “If Americans let us get away with deliberately murdering 34 U.S. sailors in cold blood, they’ll let us get away with anything! Let’s go for it guys.” And apparently they did.

America over the past several decades has appeared to support every single bad thing that Israel has done since its inception. “America NEVER sends us to our room without any supper — no matter how badly we behave!” seemed to the message that America sent to Israel’s leadership after the USS Liberty was heartlessly attacked, bombed and strafed.

So Israel, like some naughty child, was allowed to pull as many wings off as many Middle East butterflies at it wanted to. That mess in Lebanon in the 1980? That mess in Lebanon in 2006? The heartless bombing of Gaza with deadly white phosphorus that killed hundreds of women and children in 2008? Rachel Corrie’s death-by-bulldozer in 2003? Go for it!

And even more important, Israel has suffered inestimable harm to its international reputation as a religious nation. And it has suffered economic harm. And moral harm. And its citizens have become racists and murderers without even a qualm. The whole country looks like South Africa during Apartheid or Warsaw during World War II. Yuck!

Not to mention the price Israel has to pay as its returning soldiers suffer from PTSS.

Not to mention the price Israel has to pay as its entire civilian population suffers from PTSS!

“But Jane,” you might say, “if Israelis hadn’t fought back, then Palestinians would have thrown them into the sea!” Not true. That “Poor Me, underdog, David vs. Goliath” story is getting more and more unbelievable every day days. Did David own a whole fleet of F16 jets or over 200 nuclear weapons? I think not.

Not only that, but a huge number of Israelis these days are voluntarily throwing their own selves into the sea. We will never know how many Israelis with European roots have packed up their families in the middle of the night and moved back to Europe where it is safe and where Europe’s leadership doesn’t use them as fall-guys for some real estate grab and their children won’t grow up to be bigots. I’ve heard that there are more Israelis living in Berlin right now than there were even back in the 1930s.

In an article entitled, “Three Myths of Israel’s Insecurity,” Ira Chernus lists three frequently-told stories that are actually purely myths. “Myth Number 1: Israel’s existence is threatened by the ever-present possibility of military attack. In fact, there’s no chance that any of Israel’s neighbors will start a war to wipe out Israel….

“Myth Number 2: The personal safety of every Jewish Israeli is threatened daily by the possibility of violent attack. In fact, according to Israeli government statistics, since the beginning of 2009 only one Israeli civilian (and two non-Israelis) have been killed by politically motivated attacks inside the green line (Israel’s pre-1967 border). Israelis who live inside that line go about their daily lives virtually free from such worry.

“Myth Number 3: Israel’s existence is threatened by worldwide efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Early in 2010, Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, that the country was not ‘suffering from terror or from an immediate military threat.’”

Now let’s talk about the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) economic movement worldwide — where both Israeli and American companies who support apartheid are being boycotted. This movement is putting Israel in more danger than possibilities of violent attack. And the BDS movement is a direct result of Israel having been influenced by America’s ineffective, weird and immoral foreign policies in the Middle East. And I have the YouTube flash mob videos to prove it!

Of course I could continue to cite you cases in point here all night about how Israel’s military, economic and racist policies are failing it bigtime all over the Middle East, and also in the eyes of world opinion, with regard to Israel’s military and foreign policy strategy. For instance, there’s the case of the new Arab Spring movements that appear to have been originally inspired by Arab hatred of injustice in Palestine. However, I am more of a philosophical person than a military fact-checker or foreign-policy wank and would prefer to focus on investigating how Israel’s American-inspired-and-funded cruel, unjust and apartheid policies appear to be also destroying Israel from within as well as allegedly from without.

Most practicing Jews — both outside of Israel and inside it — are religious and righteous people who put a heavy emphasis on observing mitzvahs and pursuing justice. And slowly but surely these practicing Jews are becoming fed up with the vicious persecution of Palestinians that currently makes Israel more resemble Warsaw than the Promised Land.

And not only that, but Israelis have stolen — stolen! — millions of olive trees from Palestinian farmers. You gotta sink pretty low in order to steal some poor farmer’s olive trees. Where in the Talmud does it say that olive-tree-stealing is kosher? Nowhere!

Arab Jews in Israel are also getting fed up with being prejudiced against — even though they are in the majority in Israel. In an article published recently by a group of Arab Jews in Israel, young Mizrahi Jews stated that, “We believe that, as Mizrahi Jews in Israel, our struggle for economic, social, and cultural rights rests on the understanding that political change cannot depend on the Western powers who have exploited our region and its residents for many generations.”

Arab Jews are also getting prejudiced against in Israel — remember those famous ringworm experiments that maimed thousands of Jewish children of Arab origin? The ones where children were irradiated deliberately? And paid for by America?

It’s not only Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs that are getting kicked around in Jerusalem. Arab Jews are getting kicked around there too. That’s just wrong!

For decades, America has offered Israeli leaders billions and billions of dollars if Israel only will serve as its cats-paws in the Middle East. And Israeli leaders just hold out their hands, happily selling out their country, willingly corrupted by wealth.

And then there’s that infamous Subaru ad where a Zionist driver thinks it’s just peachy to run over Palestinian children. Now tell me again how Israelis could have sunk so low morally? It’s amazing what the power of American money will do when it is waved in your face.

Just like Americans have been corrupted into believing that killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of women and children in the Middle East is both necessary and cool, Israelis have also sold their birthright as moral human beings in order to serve bogus U.S. foreign policy goals in the Middle East that do NOT serve Israel’s own national interests at all — nor America’s either.

PS: Here’s a link to an article written by Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, “As a Holocaust Survivor, AIPAC Does Not Speak for Me”: “At the end of one of my first journeys to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in 2004, I endured a shocking experience at Ben-Gurion Airport. I never imagined that Israeli security forces would abuse a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor, but they held me for five hours, and strip-searched and cavity-searched every part of my naked body. The only shame these security officials expressed was to turn their badges around so that their names were invisible….”


December 4, 2010

Sadness: When “Plant a Tree for Israel” goes awry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:36 pm

It always saddens me when I hear about the destruction of human life and property for no reason. And I have been completely saddened and dismayed to learn about all the horrible wildfires that are currently tearing through northern Israel unchecked. These out-of-control blazes have destroyed up to one-eighth of the entire state of Israel so far — and with no end in sight. At last count, over 40 people have been killed and thousands more have been left homeless.

To me, it is particularly sad that the exact same trees that are now burning so intensely are the very same trees that were planted so many years ago during the extensive 1950s “Plant a Tree for Israel” campaign that allowed for the purchase of over 260 million trees. And each one of these trees may have been purchased with small, precious sums of money eagerly and hopefully donated by schoolboys and schoolgirls in America.

Each pine tree now in flames may have been purchased with some little boy’s allowance that he had saved up for weeks, months or years, or with some little girl’s birthday money or babysitting money or paper route money. (Hey, my sister had a paper route back in 1955 — girls did that kind of stuff too — just think of Rosie the Riveter!)

All these precious trees up in flames.

People and property needlessly destroyed.

This tragic loss also reminds me the tragic losses that have happened in southern Lebanon, Beirut, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, Jenin, Hebron, Gaza, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Manhattan.

It is always a sad tragedy and waste to humanity when people and property are needlessly destroyed.

PS:     I just got an e-mail from an expert in that area to the effect that I was being way too subtle here and that although things certainly have gone awry in Israel/Palestine recently, things in that area actually began to go awry far earlier than this current wildfire situation.

“Things first began to go awry in that area when the very first ‘Settler’ killed the very first Palestinian solely for his or her land.”

“And when was that?”

The expert who e-mailed me stated that this may have happened as far back as the 19th century — long before even the beginnings of all that horribleness began occurring in 20th-century Germany.

PPS: Here’s my account of having visited that area of northern Israel back in 2006:

Today we drove up into northern Israel, to see the remains of a Palestinian village that had been destroyed by the Israeli army approximately 60 years ago. As we drove along the freeway toward the Lebanese border, we passed a McDonalds sign. And a sign for KFC. It reminded me of when I used to take my children on trips. They would see a McDonalds and say, “Are we there yet?”

Finally we arrived in a relatively large Israeli city near the Lebanon border. Mostly it seemed to consist of miles and miles of strip malls. The best of American architecture! I felt right at home. Then we drove out through the countryside on the far side of the city and then up into the mountains, finally arriving at a hilltop somewhere near the Lebanese border. Lots of trees. Nice view. “Oh, look! There’s a cow.” There was a bunch of cows.

We arrived at the site of the former Palestinian village, apparently one of 450 Palestinian villages destroyed at the time. But I couldn’t see nothing but trees and grass and cows.

“Some of the original inhabitants of the village will be meeting us here,” said the Israeli man I had driven up with. He, like many other Israelis, strongly objected to the drunken use of force by the IDF and he, like many other Israelis, has made a point of learning some of the true history of what had gone on way back then. When he had offered to bring me here, I had jumped at the chance.

“This is one of over 500 Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the Israeli army back around 1948-49.” Wow. They certainly did a good job on this one! There was nothing left but stones — and cows.

“All record of what the Palestinians call the Nakba — the catastrophe — are absent from Israeli school curricula, from most history and geography books and even from maps of Israel itself. The sites of the old Palestinian villages have even been erased and re-named on all of the maps. And even today there is no official Israeli recognition or commemoration — let alone apology — for the Nakba.”

We got out and walked around the land where the village used to be. There was nothing left. Just a lot of scattered stones. Another bunch of cows appeared as we walked down a dirt road. Photo op! Except that these cows had horns. Big horns. Lots of horns.

“In the Zionist collective memory,” continued my Israeli friend, “the Palestine of 1948 was a ‘A land without people for a people without a land’. Yet the place where Israel was founded was never empty. This was home to almost one million Palestinians living in over 700 villages and cities, most of which were depopulated and re-named in the period during and immediately following 1948.” Now all there was here was cows. And cow poop. Opps.

It was a peaceful afternoon in the country. We walked up the path to the top of another hill. Terrific view — almost like the Sierra foothills near Auburn and the California gold rush country up before you get to Lake Tahoe. “Here is an old fortress that was bombed by the Israeli air force back in 1949. 99% of the houses were still standing in 1950 but the Israeli army returned and blew up everything that was left. You are now standing on the site of the elementary school and the high school. The village used to make its living by growing bees and harvesting honey.” Not any more. Nothing was left. It looked like even the bees had left town.

“And here is the Muslim cemetery and across the road is the Christian cemetery, dating back from the time of the Crusades.” Now a small stone building was all that was left. “It used to be the minister’s home. For hundreds of years, Muslims and Christians had lived — mostly — in peace in this village. And over there was the village pool and the village green.”

On that day in 1950 when the rest of the villagers had been driven away by the occupying Israeli army, one family had been down in the fields during the seizure and occupation of the village. “When they came back and one of their boys had a wound that he had gotten while farming, the Israeli soldiers said that it must have come from resisting the invasion so the soldiers tortured him and killed him. His parents were too scared to even come out of the trees in order to collect his body. The rest of the surviving villagers had run and hidden in their olive orchards but after a few days without food, two old men went back to the village to try to get supplies from their homes. They were shot.”

The Israeli army wanted to hide any evidence of destroying the village. “But they were stupid. They left all the stones.”

Then somehow we got into a discussion of eye-wear and I gave someone with me my famous “glasses as accessories” speech. “Nobody manufactures yellow glasses,” I lamented. “Do I have to do everything myself? Now I have to manufacture glasses too?”

Then we toddled off to what was left of the village church. I met an Arab-Israeli man there who was also touring the ruins and he told me his story. “My grandfather was a Palestinian and he had a very high regard for education. When I was a boy, he made each of his grandchildren learn a different language. Unfortunately I got stuck learning English,” he joked. “The others learned French, German, Spanish and Chinese.” Chinese? “Yes but unfortunately the only textbook he had was Chinese to English so he was forced to learn English too.”

Apparently when the Israeli soldiers stormed the village back in 1950, they confronted the headman, who was a Christian. “Why are you defending these Muslims,” the Israeli commander asked and the headman answered that, “in this one moment, we now are all belonging to the same religion — and it is God, not us, who will sort out who is good and who is bad.”

The air today smelled of pine trees. There were stone blocks everywhere. Thousands of them. One of the villagers who had survived the massacre and who had come back for the day spoke to us. “Every year since the Nakba, those of us who are left feel so empty inside. The horrible violence seemed so senseless. It has split our bodies and minds. Our bodies stand here 57 years later but our souls are still back in our village, so long ago, in this beautiful place. And no matter what the Israeli history books say, this village did once exist.” That man survived. And he remembers.

“We thought at first that we might be allowed to come back to our village,” said the man. Who could blame him. This place was — and is — beautiful. “Other villages took us in but then they too were destroyed. But we will never give up our dream of someday coming back here, back to our home.”

Apparently after 1950, this village was declared to be a “military area” and so the villagers were never allowed to return. And even today, even with all the trees and the cows, this village is still labeled a “military zone”. The sun was beginning to set so we walked back to our car and drove back to Tel Aviv. And we didn’t stop by McDonalds for dinner on the way back.


October 21, 2010

Higher standards: What if Afghanistan was like Palestine?

One of the biggest gripes that the corporatists who rule Israel (sorry — nobody uses the term “neo-con” any more) have expressed lately is that so many Americans are now siding with Palestinians instead of with them. “And also how come you never hold any other countries in this region to the same high standard that you demand from us,” they complain. “Just look at the civil rights abuses in the Arab countries in the Middle East. How come you never get on their cases too?”

Okay. Here goes. Now I’m gonna get on Afghanistan’s case.

First of all, one of the major reasons that we don’t get on Afghanistan’s case as much as we get on the case of the corporatists currently ruling Israel and Palestine is that who the freak even KNOWS anything about Afghanistan?

What if we knew as much about Afghanistan as we know about Israel and Palestine? What would we think about Afghanistan then? Would our standards for Afghanistan be as demanding as our standards for Israel? And would we require the same solutions to problems in Afghanistan that corporatist-controlled Israel now comes up with? Hmmm.

What if it was as easy to travel to Afghanistan as it is to travel to Israel (or even Palestine) right now? Would we be getting as much correct information from eye-witnesses about what is going on in, say, Helmand, as we now get regarding what is going on in the West Bank? (Gaza is a different story. No one is allowed to go there. Not many people know what is going on in Gaza.) But who the freak ever travels to Afghanistan these days?

I myself have been trying to get to Afghanistan for the past three years by embedding with the U.S. military there — but with no luck. And do you know how hard it is to even GET to Afghanistan if you go there on your own? First you gotta come up with big bucks to fly to Dubai. Then at the Dubai airport you gotta get up at the crack of dawn to get in line at the Ariana Airlines check-in counter and elbow your way through a crowd of hundreds of Afghans who are, like you, also trying to get to Kabul. There are hundreds of people in the “stand-by” line, including you. Plus they don’t call Ariana the “Inch Allah” airline for nothing. Last time I flew Ariana, we landed in Tehran instead of Dubai — by mistake.

Flying into Kabul, you can still see ragged old airplanes and broken-up tanks lining the runway from back in the day, back from the Afghanistan-USSR war. And the airport’s baggage claim area? Craziness. Yes, even getting to Afghanistan is a big pain in the [bootie]. And once you are there? It’s not like they have grand hotels and tourist information bureaus at the airport — or even in town. And then you get mobbed by determined beggar children on Chicken Street — or perhaps even blown up. The ATM machines there are fortified with barbed wire, blast walls and checkpoints. Kabul is NOT Tel Aviv!

We all know that Afghanistan was brutally occupied by the United States under Cheney and Bush back in 2001, with lots of bombings and killings of civilians in a gigantic take-over that was pretty much illegal — no matter what the occupiers claimed. But the same thing happened to Palestine approximately 63 years ago. It was the exact same thing. So. What will Afghanistan be like in 63 years? Will there still be all that military occupation going on there like in Palestine today? And will us taxpayers still be paying for this occupation 60-odd years from now the same way that we now pay (and pay) for the occupation of Palestine? Yeah? Yikes!

In this respect, Palestine and Afghanistan are already very much alike — both of them have become military money pits that American taxpayers can’t seem to climb out of.

And there are other ways that Israel-Palestine is as bad as Afghanistan. In both Afghanistan and Palestine, money is being spent on weapons instead of medical care and schools. But, in that respect, America is pretty much as bad as Afghanistan and Palestine as well. You can’t make huge profits on medical care and schools– either there or here, not like you can selling weapons!

But enough of that. Let’s get back on-topic. How else can I get on Afghanistan’s case for being worse than Israel-Palestine? Well, I gotta admit that Palestine’s resistance fighters are pretty much wimps compared to Afghanistan’s Taliban. What if Palestine had radical Taliban-style insurgents fighting its occupation like the Taliban now do in Afghanistan? The Israeli corporatists who now run the Israeli government should thank their lucky stars that Palestinians are more patient and tolerant and not that violent and mean.

However, if the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine keeps going the way it has been going for the last 60-odd years — with land theft and torture and aerial bombings of homes and unjustified civilian deaths and destruction of civil rights and huge concentration camps — Palestinians may finally get desperate enough to become like the Taliban too. And, from what I can tell, the Taliban seem to be winning in Afghanistan.

But in some ways, corporatist Israel-Palestine is actually worse than Afghanistan. What if Afghan Christians were persecuted and killed like Palestinian Christians have been persecuted and killed for the last 60-odd years?

What if Afghan refugees, like Palestinian refugees, were never allowed to return to the place where they were born, to their childhood home — never ever again?

And what if Afghanistan were to suffer a bloody and brutal occupation like Gaza’s, with tanks and bombs and guns giving children nightmares every night? Oops, too late. In that respect, Afghanistan already has.

So. When Israeli corporatists whine that we get on their case more than any other country in the region, now they won’t be able to complain about that particular issue any more — because I just got on Afghanistan’s case!

PS: This week, Israeli corporatists came up with yet another weird thing to complain about. Israeli corporatists have now started complaining about JEWS. Yep, you read that right. The Anti-Defamation League, an American organization that is highly influenced by Israeli corporatists and tends to follow their party line to the letter, has just condemned “Jewish Voice for Peace” for being antisemitic! Huh?

According to Michelle Goldberg at the Daily Beast, “…the ADL has also shown itself willing to smear human-rights activists when it thinks Israel’s interests demand it. It is in this context that the organization’s misguided new report on the ‘top 10 anti-Israel groups in America,’ which includes Jewish Voice for Peace…has to be understood.

“The ADL’s list also includes The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition that aims ‘to change those U.S. policies that sustain Israel’s 40-year [sic] occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and deny equal rights for all.’ Among its member organizations are the American Friends Service Committee-Iowa, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA.” What? Quakers and Unitarians are now antisemitic too?

So. When is the Israeli corporatist government finally going to give up its assault on Muslim and Christian Palestinians’ civil rights and also their paranoid fear that Americans like me are all out to get them? Perhaps this will happen someday soon — but only if Israeli corporatists finally lose power in Israel, so that normal Israelis can finally stop worrying about all this corporatist intrigue and start getting on with their lives.


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