Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Azmi Bishara on a ministry of strategic threats

Azmi Bishara is always a read I enjoy. In this week’s Al-Ahram Bishara writes that a Ministry of Strategic Threats comes right out of the theatre of the absurd that is politics in Israel right now. Rather than legitimate questions of national security being subsumed into a defence or foreign affairs portfolio, “only in Israel could such a ministry be created”, tailor-made for the right-wing crack-pot Avigdor Lieberman:

This is a country that has not yet appointed a minister of social affairs, but after coalition negotiations now has a Ministry of Strategic Threats. Perhaps in the future we will see the Security Fears Ministry, the Demographic Threat Ministry, the Non-Recognition of Israel Ministry, the World Is Against Us Ministry, the Chosen People Ministry, or the Ministry of Greater Israel. This is a ministry that embodies an ideological position; it says that the gravest danger facing Israel today is the Iranian threat and the Syrian-Iranian alliance with Hizbullah and Hamas. Fine, but standing up to this threat has always been the job of the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the intelligence establishment. What need is there for a new ministry run by a man who has no experience in security affairs, unless you count his rumoured links to the Russian mafia, and is not distinguished by his penetrating strategic thought? This is a ministry for incitement, mobilization and conspiracy-mongering. It is a ministry made to win popularity in the Israeli street by beating the war drums against “the enemy.”

On Lieberman, he says:

It is difficult to listen to a Russian immigrant without intelligence or culture, who still does not speak acceptable Hebrew after 30 years in Israel informing you of the conditions of citizenship in your own country.

To be fair, he contextualises the environment from whence some of Lieberman’s ilk emerged, though really that is no excuse for racism or ignorance and insults all Russian emigres:

… Lieberman’s constituency of Russian immigrants come from a country in which the resettlement of millions of individuals and the extinction of entire peoples were common in the Stalin era. They are shocked to find Arabs in this country — no one told them they were there.

Shocked to find Arabs in the country – fancy that! Maybe someone should tell them that there are tens of thousands of Jews living in Iran today (25 000, to be more precise) and pockets in other “Arab” countries, too.

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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"