Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Human Rights Watch outed, etc.

You might recall my mentioning on 23 November the Jerusalem Post’s report on the new Human Rights Watch report accusing Palestinians of war crimes for protecting individual houses with ‘human shields’. Then, on 29 November, Norman Finkelstein (reprinted immediately on CounterPunch) came out against the report and called for letters to HRW demanding a retraction. This morning there was a press release from the International Solidarity Movement citing the relevant sections of the Geneva Conventions and establishing quite convincingly that HRW’s accusation was completely groundless, in their own terms. Finkelstein’s page provides links for those who want to write to Kenneth Roth and Sarah Whitson, which I encourage you to do. There are also letters from other readers on that page.

Now, Jonathan Cook has also made an impressive contribution to the discussion of the issue, which you should read in full. Among his observations,

Women volunteering to surround a mosque become the equivalent of the notorious incident in January 2003 when 21-year-old Samer Sharif was handcuffed to the hood of an army Jeep and driven towards stone-throwing youngsters in Nablus as Israeli soldiers fired their guns from behind his head.

A few days ago I wrote that Gaza residents traumatized by projectiles falling on their homes didn’t have the option of fleeing because ‘of course departure is not an option for them’. A correspondent has written casting doubt on this assertion, ‘From what I've read, it seems that Israel is perfectly willing to let Palestinians leave for other countries. If that is true, that means departure is an option’. On reflection, I wrote, ‘I have heard that, too. In fact I think foundations exist, possibly run out of Yisrael Beitenu, that will pay their way and even give them a little grant. But I'm not real sure how it works and frankly, I can't imagine anyone in Gaza being able to avail themselves of such an opportunity, as there are no Israeli officials there to entertain an application and the borders are closed.’ If you can shed any light in the issue, please let me know and I’ll post an update.

Hot on the heels of their recent military intervention in Tonga to protect the monarchy from prodemocracy ‘rioters’, in the interests of stability and democracy, Ha’aretz reports that New Zealand has now humiliated itself again by withdrawing a warrant for the arrest of Moshe Ya’alon for war crimes.

The warrant names Ya'alon for ordering an Israel Air Force attack on the home of senior Hamas official Salah Shehada in the Gaza Strip in 2002. Shahada, the founder of Hamas' military wing, and one of his aides were killed in the attack along with 13 civilians.

This morning’s mail also brought an interesting ‘cogitation’ from MediaLens’s David Edwards, where he discusses some of the mechanisms that the educational system deploys in turning us into compliant ‘responsible’ members of society, regardless of considerations of what I think he would call ‘compassion’, and I would call ‘solidarity’. Among the specific ploys that teacher John Taylor Gatto mentions in his book Dumbing Us Down,

The point is that a child who accepts the label ‘not very bright’ will, in his or her own mind, deem risible the notion that he or she might seek to understand the world, much less to challenge the assumptions accepted by the society by which he or she has been labelled. For a ’failure’ who has been successfully undermined in this way, to reject the labelling system itself will seem like the most obvious and wretched sour grapes. How can this one individual be right against a whole world of opinion? And from where can we gain the confidence that has been stripped away from us by the very system we are presuming to challenge?

On the other hand, the ‘bright’ child will feel a sense of affirmation and belonging that will make him or her disinclined to challenge the fundamental legitimacy and wisdom of the source of his or her own self-esteem. These are the ’winners’ who populate our public [i.e. private] schools, Oxbridge universities and corporate media offices.

Edwards also points out that ‘a lot of ’dim’ children are too ’bright’, or at least too true to themselves, to tolerate the trivia imposed on them as ’education’. To be indifferent to what is of minimal human significance is not a sign of stupidity.’

When I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7 years old, my grandmother took me to see a western and after some gripping scene I discovered to my horror that M&Ms actually do melt in your hand. This was a seminal event in my life, to which I attribute my low tolerance for bullshit. My mother recently reminded me of it out of the blue, so I’m pretty sure it’s not just my fevered imagination. Nevertheless, I did well in school until I dropped out in grade 10 - a decision I have never had cause to regret. I wish I’d been allowed to do it earlier. One of the many advantages was that they never got around to teaching me to hate Shakespeare.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how disappointed I was not to have run into the socialists at the secularism rally I attended. Well, I finally found them yesterday selling papers in Kızılay. I anticipate that this is going to have a significant positive impact on my energy level and my motivation to learn Turkish. It’s also possible that it will also impact on the time available for my cyberlife.

I’m going to post this before it gets too long, but I’m currently writing something about Jimmy Carter’s speech broadcast Thursday, Democracy Now!, and the DN interview with Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah. I may post it later today.

No comments:

Post a Comment