Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies


One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself if you are a news-junkie and political animal is to subscribe to one or another of the social bookmarking sites to collect all your article links in one place. Clipmarks has a good community and service going, as do other bookmarking sites such as, Digg, Reddit, Newsvine etc. I encourage students to develop annotated bibliographies and these are a good way of doing so, allowing comment on any resource that is found online, and allowing them also to be shared if desired.

Below are striking passages from four recent finds, among many collected at Meanwhile, this blog will be on hiatus for a few weeks in order to concentrate on various projects and will resume in due course at a later, as yet undetermined, date (now that’s specific, worthy of Sir Humphrey “In the fullness of time” Appleby in the incomparable UK Yes Minister series. Note to US and other readers: its quite funny and though set in the 1980s, has timeless and universal political-bureaucratic themes). Do check out some of the very fine blogs listed in the blogroll in the meantime.

Wayne Madsen relates his extraordinary (and sadly, becoming all too common) treatment at the airport and harassment as a member of the serious press (Its Definitely Fascism When It Happens To You):

In Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s world of an “Israelized” America, the terms SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) and BDO (Behavior Detection Officer) are the new acronyms of Stasi-like control of the American citizenry by a government that treats anyone as a suspicious person in the same manner that Israel mistreats its own Arab citizens and Palestinians.

Sunday, this editor and his colleague faced the Chertoffian menace at Washington’s Reagan National Airport while heading to the gate to board a flight to Houston.

[ … ] This editor visited the USSR and draconian nations such as Paul Kagame’s Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda, Hun Sen’s Cambodia, the former military junta’s Thailand, surveillance society Singapore, and Muslim monarchy Brunei Darussalam. Nothing compares to what occurred at Washington National Airport. It is yet another sign of the fact that the United States has entered a phase of fascist control. There’s only one question that remains: Is the slide reversible?

Ira Chernus provides a most interesting and timely overview history of the zionist ideology, and in the excerpt below, intimates that zionism depends upon (and must assume) the perpetuation of perceived anti-Judaism (Israel at 60: Zionism’s Fatal Flaw)

Zionism was born from the premise that anti-semitism is a permanent fact of life in the Diaspora—that in every land, sooner or later, gentiles will turn against the Jews living in their midst. Only in a country with a majority Jewish population could this fate be avoided. By this logic, the gentiles in the countries neighboring Israel had to be anti-semitic too. The neighbors did not have to demonstrate anti-semitic behavior to prove it, nor could they ever disprove it. Evidence was irrelevant. The neighbors’ anti-semitism had to be an unquestionable axiom—without it the whole Zionist enterprise would be called into question.

[…] Surely not all Israeli Jews seek a sense of security and normality through the exercise of power. There is, in fact, a sizable peace movement in Israel which is deeply critical of its own militarism. But the majority of Israelis today, who do tilt toward power, block the path to peace. They see any genuinely conciliatory step by their government as a surrender, a return to political powerlessness, and thus a fatal blow to their sense of self-worth. So they want their government to continue on the path of confrontation as evidence of “normalization.”

Every exercise of Israeli power naturally evokes more Palestinian opposition and further enmity. Yet even when Palestinians offer clear evidence of change, like the recent announcement from Hamas that it is ready to accept a two-state solution, the Israelis reject it. Their axiom of eternal anti-semitism tells them that the Palestinians are and must always be their implacable enemy. The insecurity and violence tragically spiral on, deepening the sense that Israel is not yet normal.

Robert Fisk takes Bush’s idiocy to task (as well as Lord B-liar’s), calling him a “foolish, stupid, vicious man [who] is lying to the world yet again.” (Where does all the madness end?)

He holds a “closed door” meeting with Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara – a man stupendously unfit to run any Middle East “peace”, which is presumably why the meeting had to be “closed door” – but tells the world of the blessings of Israeli democracy. As if the Palestinians benefit from a democracy which is continuing to take from them the land which they have owned for generations.

Do we really have to accept this? Bush tells us that “we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world”.

The truth is that it is a source of shame that the United States continues to give unfettered permission to Israel to steal Palestinian land – which is why it should be a source of shame (to Washington) that the UN passes human rights resolutions against [Israel].

Charles Glass (The Power Network) examines the negotiation back-channels and public myths propagated by Israel that it doesn’t “negotiate with [whom it designates as] terrorists” — see also here and here for related posts — and that the “right to exist” rhetoric is a meaningless cliche:

Israel’s public posture has always been that it would never speak with those who did not recognise its “right to exist”. Putting aside the obvious fact that “right to exist” is meaningless in international law, Israel has talked for years with those who did not recognise it. It had contacts with King Hussein of Jordan, and it warned the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Sudan of plots in 1977 to overthrow their regimes. It sold arms to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, and it talked to the PLO for years before Yitzhak Rabin met Yasser Arafat at the White House. It has spoken through mediators to Hamas and Hezbollah.

[ …] This is what happens when nothing is happening: secret discussions on prisoner exchanges, temporary ceasefires, border opening hours and goodwill gestures. For the past year and a half, Condoleezza Rice has made almost monthly trips to Israel. Why? Patrick Seale, one of the best-informed Middle East analysts, wrote for Agence Global on 7 May that Rice “has virtually nothing to show for it. Her diplomacy has been an exercise in futility.”

Doing nothing permits Israel to colonise the West Bank, terrorise Gaza and linger on the Golan Heights. Was futility the policy? “Meanwhile, Israel stepped up its programmes of annexation, dismemberment and imprisonment of shrinking Palestinian cantons in the West Bank,” Noam Chomsky told Palestine Today in July 2007, “always with the decisive US backing despite occasional minor complaints, accompanied by the wink of an eye and munificent funding.” Moreover, Washington’s paralysis allows Israel to choose which Arab leaders to talk to, knowing they will sell each other out. What’s the downside for Bush?

3 comments on “Notables

  1. homeyra
    19 May, 2008

    Thanks Ann for this great selection. I just read the airport post, it makes you wonder who “hates their freedom”!

  2. Ann E
    19 May, 2008

    Thanks, Homey. As one of our favourite humorists, Swami Beyondananda quipped in a recent dispatch, “if the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, and our government takes those freedoms away, the terrorists will have no reason to hate us, right?”!

  3. homeyra
    19 May, 2008

    Well said! This guy is a genius!

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"