An odd thing indeed. Several odd things combined. Firstly, The New York Times printing an op-ed by Muammar Qaddafi? Qaddafi proposing a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine Conundrum? Entitled simply The One State Solution, Qaddafi very briefly lists the legitimate grievances of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, points out that they’ve got on pretty well in the past, and echoes Chomsky in claiming that a two-state “solution” is not viable.

Thus the Palestinians believe that what is now called Israel forms part of their nation, even were they to secure the West Bank and Gaza. And the Jews believe that the West Bank is Samaria and Judea, part of their homeland, even if a Palestinian state were established there. Now, as Gaza still smolders, calls for a two-state solution or partition persist. But neither will work.

I find myself more or less agreeing with him. Of course, as an anarchist, my ideal would be the no-state solution. And, as someone with too much time on his hands, I would prefer the name “Canaan” to Qaddafi’s proposed “Isratine”, which to me sounds like something you ask-your-doctor-about-and-may-cause-drowsiness-and-breathlessness.

But it’s just interesting to see Qaddafi continuing his recent trend, which kind of began with him declaring and ending his WMD programmes, of engaging more with “the West”. His argument also has hints of a story told about a figure common to both Judaism and Islam – King Solomon. The old “cutting the baby in two” show. Of course, not actually like that at all, when you think about it.

Who’s to Say?

So it happens again. The situation in Israel-Palestine dominates my thoughts, just as it dominates news media and political arguments online. That last one shouldn’t be a surprise – the internet is an ideological battleground, and all kinds of people realise it. Fascinating how quickly a tool for massive dissemination of information has become equally a tool for dissemination of propaganda. So much so that I feel a strange relativism come over me. Massacre, defence; Zionism, Islamism; callous slaughter, morally upright surgical operation; another naqba for the Palestinian Arabs, another shoah for the Israeli Jews. Right, wrong. Who’s to say?

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It’s unfortunate for the Palestinian-rights movement that some arguments leveled at Israel are fallacious at best and idiotic or racist at worst. As with so many things, when putting forward any statement on the matter, I find my efforts are nine-tenths explaining what I’m not saying, with little time left for what I am saying. Blogospheric mimetics seize on dodgy reasoning and loudly point out its failings, an echo chamber that leaves one with the impression that critics of Israel are uniformly trend-following fools.

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Gush Shalom

Having been on the receiving end of accusations of racism for my criticism of Israel’s appalling treatment of its indigenous people, and being acquainted with many people who make no distinction between Jewish people and the actions of the Israeli state, I’m always very glad to be able to point out that not all Jewish people support Israel’s actions. Further, there are non-Jewish Israelis (just as there are Christian and Jewish Palestinians). And, finally, not all Israelis support their government’s actions.

Of course, the majority of Israelis do support their government’s treatment of the Palestinians, to varying degrees within a spectrum that most in the international community finds abhorrent. I’m not qualified to say why, but I suspect it’s a combination of compulsory military service and parental conditioning. It’s true that most Israelis support their government’s actions, just as it’s true that most Israeli chicks are intensely gorgeous.

Anyway, last weekend one Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, marched against the occupation. They took photos. You can see them by clicking on the word: shalom.

EDIT: It’s seven years since I wrote this post, and while I’m not going to delete it, I will say that it was unnecessarily crude of me to make sweeping statements about the gorgeousness of women from one particular country or other. I vaguely recall someone referring to that comment years ago as a kind of “see, I can’t be racist, because I’m saying they’re hot”. I bristled at the suggestion at the time, but in retrospect something along those lines may have been at work subconsciously, a pre-emptive response to tiresome ad hominem attacks.

A better approach would have been to simply state my thoughts, confident in my knowledge that those thoughts are not driven by racism and unconcerned with what others may think. We live and learn.

Eyeless in Gaza

It’s important to occasionally rail off some statistics to put things in perspective. For example, how many children would you say were killed in the Israel-Palestine conflict last year? If you guessed 60, you’re hella right. 60 kids. That’s pretty fucked.

Here are a few things to remember. When the news (and that includes mainstream New Zealand media) talks about Hamas “taking control of Gaza”, they were actually democratically elected by the Palestinian people. They are the democratically elected government. That’s important to remember. Also, “Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas” refers to “unelected Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas”.

Here’s another interesting point. What’s going on in Gaza at the moment is FUCKED. For those who don’t know, essential supplies have been blocked from getting into Gaza, including food and fuel. The fuel is used for generators. The generators are used for the hospitals. The hospitals are used for keeping people alive. This is collective punishment. Blatant collective punishment.

So, punishment implies a crime. What is the crime for which 1.5 million people are being punished? Rockets being fired at Sderot, an Israeli town. You can read the LA Times article here , about how hard life is in Sderot:

They take quick showers, afraid to miss an alert, no longer sleep in upstairs bedrooms and avoid public places at what are considered peak Qassam times. And when the alert sounds, people drop everything, including their unpaid groceries in the aisles, costing Daniel Dahan more than $100 a day, he said. He owns Super Dahan, the grocery his father started. They run to one of the square concrete shelters, known as betonadas, after the word for cement, that increasingly dot the town. Then they pull out their phones, to check on their children.

And let’s face it, that’s pretty terrible. Living with that kind of fear must suck. Dropping your groceries, phoning your kids… Hell, it’s going to cost US$25,000 per house to add safe rooms to protect people. Who can afford that?

Well, presumably the people of Sderot can afford that. And apparently they have groceries and phones. Yes, it’s a tough life there. And their kids! I mean, as I said above, 60 children died in the conflict last year. Some of them must have come from Sderot, right?


Well, some of them must have come from Israel, right?

Yes! Yes, one child out of 60 who died last year from violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict was Israeli. His name was Mahmoud Ibrahim Mahmoud al-Krenawi, 11, of Rahat, near Beersheba. He was a Bedouin with Israeli citizenship, and he was shot by the Israeli Defence Force, in his head and pelvis, while picking figs.

Oh, wait. Even the Israeli kid wasn’t killed by Palestinians. He was killed by the Israeli Defence Force too. This is very disconcerting. So, basically, hospitals are being shut down, 1.5 million people have had their vital supplies cut off, who are living in shit anyway, because they democratically elected the wrong people and include some minority who fire unguided rockets into a town 1km away, disrupting grocery shopping and killing one Israeli child every two years, on average, since they began being fired in 2001.

There’s another statistic for you. On average, since 2001, Qassam rockets fired into Sderot have killed 1 child every two years. Four children since 2001. THREE KIDS HAVE BEEN KILLED IN GAZA BY THE IDF IN THE LAST MONTH! NO CHILDREN HAVE BEEN KILLED IN SDEROT IN THE LAST YEAR! This is not a proportionate response.

It’s just fucked. And the media’s attempts to “show both sides” and “be objective” just results in a ridiculous presentation of the affair as being roughly equal, with equal accountability and equal power to resolve the situation.

Anyway, according to Tom Feeley, here is how to donate food directly to Palestinian kids. No political, religious or militant groups involved.

PS. Statistics from Remember These Children.

PPS. Yes, life in Sderot is fucked, and it shouldn’t be. Missile attacks on civilians are by definition terrorism. It’s just fucking paradise compared to what the IDF do to Gazans.

Wiping Lies off the Map

“Wiped off the map” and “Ahmadinejad” returns 262,000 results.

Thanks to Bomber for mentioning this. Information Clearing House has published an article debunking the popular myth that President Ahmadinejad of Iran said that he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map”. What he said was that Khomeini had said that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

More interesting is the monumental fuck-up that gave birth to the anti-Iranian propaganda:

One may wonder: where did this false interpretation originate? Who is responsible for the translation that has sparked such worldwide controversy? The answer is surprising.

The inflammatory “wiped off the map” quote was first disseminated not by Iran’s enemies, but by Iran itself. The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s official propaganda arm, used this phrasing in the English version of some of their news releases covering the World Without Zionism conference. International media including the BBC, Al Jazeera, Time magazine and countless others picked up the IRNA quote and made headlines out of it without verifying its accuracy, and rarely referring to the source. Iran’s Foreign Minister soon attempted to clarify the statement, but the quote had a life of its own. Though the IRNA wording was inaccurate and misleading, the media assumed it was true, and besides, it made great copy.

Amid heated wrangling over Iran’s nuclear program, and months of continuous, unfounded accusations against Iran in an attempt to rally support for preemptive strikes against the country, the imperialists had just been handed the perfect raison d’être to invade. To the war hawks, it was a gift from the skies.

On a slightly related note – ie., American racism – thanks to Russell Brown for pointing out this hilarious interview between Stephen Colbert and Dinesh D’Souza.