Cutting through the bullshit.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Another exchange of emails

This morning I sent the article in this link to my friend with the comment, ‘I think it is coloured by a fair degree of wishful thinking, but is worth considering’, and received this in reply:

I agree with you that the article is coloured by wishful thinking. As a matter of fact such fantasies by the Muslims are the real cause of the troubles they are facing at the moment. I believe all Muslim states must wake up after the thrashing they are getting from the US in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon (where American supplied weapons are being used by American consent). Muslims must realize that neither Israel nor America or UK will allow them to utilize the wealth of oil for themselves. Nor will these tyrannical powers tolerate them to acquire weaponry which will enable Muslim countries to defend and fight back when their children are killed and brutally wounded and their homes and other infrastructure is systematically destroyed to not only damage and injure them physically but also mentally. US, UK or their fellow Israelis do not care about the hatred developed among Muslims who are being subjected to such war crimes by these so called CIVILISED countries. I was amused to know that Mr. Bush and his close subordinates take great pride in their being Christians (I believe calling this group of politicians in the US who are killing Iraqis and who are sending bombs to Israel to kill Lebanese children and are enjoying the agony of a whole nation would be an insult to the great religion). Jesus Christ who even gave life to the dead would I believe never forgive those who kill and injure hundreds of children every week and then go to the church and call them his followers.

As a child I could never understand why the Nazis sent so many Jews to gas chambers. I could not understand how human beings can be so cruel to other human beings. Thanks to the actions of Israel and the US, I now fully understand why Hitler (who may also have been a proud Christian) had to resort to such actions. Comparing Hitler with the present aggressors, I believe Hitler had a very soft heart as he gave a quick death to Jews whereas Mr. Bush and Israelis are throwing bombs in civilian areas of Beirut wounding children, women and men who die a slow and extremely painful death. A psychologist friend of mine has analyzed the mental condition of Americans and British towards this mission of killing and wounding Muslims by their Ally. He says that a sadist enjoys the suffering of humans and animals. He is of the view that the sadist leaders sitting in the white house and No. 10, D Street are in a bliss over the agony and suffering of the children and other civilians in Lebanon and even Israel (by Hizbulla rockets) they are getting high level of pleasure from this suffering and want to prolong their sadistic ecstasy as long as possible. The laughs and broad smiles exchanged between Condi and Olmert yesterday are a proof of it. They very well know that no Muslim or Western country has the power to stop them. They are in full control of the world at the moment. Russia and China are economically dependent on the west. Moreover due to Chechen uprising Russia has no interest in helping Muslim states. China is only interested in selling its stuff to the west and has little interest in human suffering in Lebanon.

So what should be the strategy to counter this aggression. Since the US and Israel will not let the weak Muslim countries acquire military power to defend themselves, the oil rich Muslim countries should invest in Russia, France and China and sign defense pacts with these countries. When Russia and China will become stronger economically, they will not be dependent on the US and would support morally and militarily the oppressed Muslim countries. If Russia sends its air force and navy to defend Lebanon or Iraq, neither the Israelis nor the sadist American leaders would dare to kill Lebanese and Iraqi children.

Israel is a reality now. Whether Muslims like it or not they have to accept it.. They should all recognize Israel and put pressure on the US through Russia, France and China to compel Israel to squeeze into its pre 1967 borders. Muslim countries should discourage supporting those organizations which the US calls terrorists. They may try following Gandhi’s philosophy of peaceful protests.

And here is my response:

Thanks for yet another thought provoking email. And again, I sympathise a bit with your views, but differ on a lot of particulars.

I definitely don’t agree that anyone just has to accept Israel. Unlike many other Jews, I don’t accept that a sectarian Jewish state has a ‘right to exist’ as such, any more than I accept that a sectarian Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Christian state does. And even if I accepted the principle that sectarianism is a basis for statehood, I still couldn’t accept Israel, or Pakistan, for that matter – but for somewhat different reasons. Israel’s right to exist rests on a foundation of terrorism and ethnic cleansing. Of course these are an artifact of the sectarianism in the first place, but are unacceptable whatever their origins. Furthermore, Israel was created quite explicitly as an outpost of European imperialism in the oil rich Middle East, and that, too, is sufficient reason, all by itself, to reject Israel. It’s all very well to squeeze the Israelis back into the 1967 ‘borders’ (Israel has never demarcated its borders – that’s what Olmert’s ‘convergence’ plan is all about), but what of the Palestinians? Is the creation of a non Jewish apartheid state the solution to the Jewish apartheid state? Is it reasonable to expect the some 5 million Palestinians currently living in the area of Mandatory Palestine to survive in an area the size of Gaza and the West Bank? If the Palestinians have ‘a state of their own’, how will that affect the status of the Palestinians with Israeli nationality? Would they all be ‘transferred’ into it? What about the millions of refugees? They are entitled to resume their property, whether in the Occupied Territories or in ‘Israel proper’. How would the establishment of a Palestinian state affect their entitlements? What are the prospects of such a state ever becoming economically viable? Even if the infrastructure hadn’t been demolished and the olive orchards uprooted, what do they really have to live on besides Christmas and easter tourism? Would that support a population of, say, 7 million? And then there’s the little question of the corridor connecting Gaza with the West Bank. This would need to be over 20km long. However high the causeway, however deep the tunnel, Israel would always have the capacity, and almost certainly the desire, to close it. None of the two state ‘solutions’ adequately addresses this issue. Those who support a two state ‘solution’ always claim that a unified democratic secular state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is a pipe dream – there is not enough good will in Israel for that ever to happen. And they are right. But when you look at the alternatives they propose, they rely on a level of Israeli good will that is at least as improbable. Meanwhile, by accepting Israel’s right to exist, they have to take responsibility for all that that implies about endorsing terrorism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, racism, and imperialism. I’ll stick with my own pipe dream, realizing, unlike the two staters, that that’s what it is.

It’s interesting you should mention Gandhi in this connection. There is a story, maybe apocryphal, that when he was practicing law in South Africa, he went to a party and somebody asked him, ‘Well, Mr Gandhi, what do think you of Western civilization?’ To which Gandhi is purported to have replied, ‘That would be a good idea.’

I think you are right to say that the Israelis don’t care what anyone thinks of them, least of all Muslims. This is one of the reasons I am not that supportive of the proposed academic and cultural boycott. The Israelis are likely to say, ‘Well, we never needed the Goyim anyway. We’ve always been better than them.’ Even a full blown economic boycott would be of little impact as long as the US is prepared to foot the bill. But then, a lot of Palestinians are calling for this kind of action, and that trumps my objections, although I still articulate my reservations.

You are quite wrong to think there was anything humane about the Nazi death camps. I don’t know what the proportions were – I don’t think anybody does – but many, many Jews were starved and worked to death over a period of years of torture. Even those who did perish in the gas chambers in most cases suffered slowly up to that point. The Holocaust was an excruciatingly slow process. Imagine watching your friends and relatives being taken away and never knowing when your turn would come, or what awaited you when it did. I recently read John Hersey’s novel The Wall about the Warsaw Ghetto. You might like to read it. It could provide some insight into the Holocaust and, not coincidentally, Palestine. The parallels are striking. If you haven’t seen The pianist, about a Jewish pianist in Warsaw and how he survives that period, I would definitely recommend it. I reckon it’s the single best new movie I’ve seen in the last five years or so.

People like Bush and Tory Blain and Olmert may indeed be sadists and enjoy observing the suffering they inflict, although if that were the case, I’d expect them to want to take a more hands on approach to it. The smiles you observed are probably mainly just diplomatic. But why wouldn’t they smile when they are literally getting away with murder, whether or not they actually take pleasure in causing so much grief? In any event, that can only be a subsidiary motivation for them. The fundamental job of these so called ‘leaders’ is to ensure the profitability of their national businesses. And if hundreds of thousands or millions have to suffer and die to secure their control over crucial energy supplies, so be it. Of course, in Bush’s case, there’s this bizarre millenarian streak that may contribute to his motivation. He seems to be among those christian fanatics who believe that Christ will only return when the Jews have conquered all of Palestine and don’t care much what they have to do to accomplish this. They say politics makes strange bedfellows and few would be stranger than the christian Zionists and the Jewish Zionists. But there you go.

Christians, like the adherents of any other religion, and indeed like many who profess no religion – liberals and the like, are perfectly capable of holding opposing views at the same time, or saying one thing and doing another. I call it hypocrisy, but in more charitable moments, I reckon it’s that they don’t think through the implications of their views and take responsibility for them. Christian dogma, taken at face value, is largely pacifist, but that has never kept Christians from torturing and slaughtering Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Confucians, animists of various stripes, witches, heretics, apostates, adherents of opposing christian cults, and anyone else who got in their way. So why should Bush and Blair be any different? Bush claims to get his instructions directly from the almighty, so who can argue with that? He must be doing the right thing. Anyway, forgiveness is supposed to be one of the preeminent christian virtues, so I’m sure Christ himself would manage to extend it even to such as these. But then, Christ has been dead for nearly 2 millennia, so it hardly matters who he’d forgive in the here and now.

If your reasoning is that Russia would not line up with Muslim countries because of its problems with the largely Muslim Chechens, then I guess you would have to say China would never do so, either, because of their little problems with the mainly Muslim Uyghurs. As for the French, remember Algeria? They do. But religion isn’t really a significant factor in all this. The other side of the coin can be seen if you look at the relations between the Turks, the Syrians, the Iraqis, and the Iranians with the Kurds. Muslim solidarity has not got them self determination any more than the idle promises of the British and the French. The Americans don’t hate the Iraqis because they’re Muslims. They hate the Iraqis because they are sitting on top of ‘our oil’. Full spectrum dominance isn’t just military dominance. If the US wants to remain the economically dominant country, they have to control supplies of energy to their economic rivals – China, Japan, and Europe.

In this context, if Kuwait or Saudi Arabia blew off the Americans and tried to form closer relations, much less a defence pact, with China or Russia, I expect that would mean world war. A lot of Americans really believe that they somehow have a right to the oil. But more importantly, they know that they need control over it to retain their economic position, so right or wrong, they are going to do whatever it takes to retain and extend their control. Can you imagine? Three years after they were caught red handed with their WMD lies, they come up with this preposterous Iranian ‘nuclear ambitions’ bullshit and the media have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. And of course, in accordance with the Bush doctrine, Iran has a perfect right not only to develop nukes, but to rain them down on NY and Washington, preemptively. It’s not just the fevered imagination of the Iranian regime that makes them think the US is threatening them, as it was with the US and Iraq. I’d be too embarrassed to try something like that, but, as I always say, ‘Trying to embarrass a politician with accusations of hypocrisy is as futile as trying to embarrass a dog with accusations that he licks his own balls.’ It’s just something they do and they’re not at all self conscious about it.

When I write of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or the US, of course, what I mean is their governments acting on behalf of the ruling class. Ordinary people, even those sucked into supporting their rulers’ adventures, have no stake in these wars and stand to gain nothing. They, we, are just the victims. The bombs fall on us, we are displaced, and we are sent to slaughter and be slaughtered by other ordinary people. The principal obstacle to changing things decisively for the better is precisely that ordinary people don’t realize that the guy threatening them with a bayonet or an RPG is their ally and their common enemy is the generals and businessmen ‘on both sides’. They send us to fight and die for their profits. To put it another way, I hope you’d agree that as a Pakistani Mulsim, you have more interests in common with me, a US born ethnic Jew, than you do with, say Gen Musharraf, another Pakistani Muslim?

The people and organizations the US calls ‘terrorists’ are, as you know quite well, often the very same people they called ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘the moral equivalent of the founding fathers’ a year ago or a decade ago. What they call them and when doesn’t depend on who they are or what they do, but whose interests they are perceived to serve at any given time. You might have read that just this week they erected a plaque at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem commemorating the terrorist attack Menachem Begin’s Irgun Jewish terrorist organization carried out there on 22 July 1946 ( The Brits got their knickers in a twist over it. Anyway, when these groups are fighting the common enemy, I have to support them unconditionally. Their methods are objectionable because they are ineffective and counterproductive. When the IRA bombs the London Underground or a pub, they are driving their most important potential ally, the English working class, into the arms of the oppressor. However many Israelis are killed by Qassam rockets or suicide operations, there will always be more to take their place, and they will be angrier and more self righteous. Acts of this kind also always have the inevitable side effect of exacerbating repression all around. Witness the draconian ‘anti terror’ legislation that the US, Britain, Australia, and everybody have rushed into law in the wake of 9/11, just for example. But most importantly, the force that really can make a change – the vast majority of ordinary, exploited working grunts of whatever nationality – is disempowered by the heroic warriors who risk life and limb on their behalf. If the Martyr’s Brigade is going to save me, why should I do anything? In this crucial respect, ‘terrorists’ and ‘freedom fighters’ are no different from parliamentarians. Their aim is to substitute themselves for the mass of ordinary people. However courageous and well intentioned they may be, ultimately what they do is defer the struggle that can really make a difference.

On a lighter note, have you seen Paradise now? I’ve bought four copies of it and finally got one that plays on our dvd player. It’s about these two young Palestinian guys who volunteer for a suicide mission and a young woman who tries to sway them towards nonviolence. I thought she could have made a stronger case, but other than that, it was a pretty good movie. Also, there seem to be working copies of The road to Guantanamo around in the video shops. I’d recommend that, if only for the scenes of Pakistan, but there’s a lot more going for it than that. Another movie you might want to see, although I can’t in good conscience recommend it, is Hostel. It is a gruesome and disgusting movie depicting plenty of gory torture, but it does bear on your views regarding sadism.

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