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01 August 2014


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This is from the English musician Brian Eno. Anyone who has ever been to the Occupied Territories knows what he's talking about:

Dear All of You:

I sense I'm breaking an unspoken rule with this letter, but I can't keep quiet any more.

Today I saw a picture of a weeping Palestinian man holding a plastic carrier bag of meat. It was his son. He'd been shredded (the hospital's word) by an Israeli missile attack - apparently using their fab new weapon, flechette bombs. You probably know what those are - hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans. The boy was Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra. He was 4 years old.

I suddenly found myself thinking that it could have been one of my kids in that bag, and that thought upset me more than anything has for a long time.

Then I read that the UN had said that Israel might be guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and they wanted to launch a commission into that. America won't sign up to it.

What is going on in America? I know from my own experience how slanted your news is, and how little you get to hear about the other side of this story. But - for Christ's sake! - it's not that hard to find out. Why does America continue its blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing? WHY? I just don't get it. I really hate to think its just the power of AIPAC&hellip for if that's the case, then your government really is fundamentally corrupt. No, I don't think that's the reason&hellip but I have no idea what it could be.

The America I know and like is compassionate, broadminded, creative, eclectic, tolerant and generous. You, my close American friends, symbolise those things for me. But which America is backing this horrible one-sided colonialist war? I can't work it out: I know you're not the only people like you, so how come all those voices aren't heard or registered? How come it isn't your spirit that most of the world now thinks of when it hears the word 'America'? How bad does it look when the one country which more than any other grounds its identity in notions of Liberty and Democracy then goes and puts its money exactly where its mouth isn't and supports a ragingly racist theocracy?

I was in Israel last year with Mary. Her sister works for UNWRA in Jerusalem. Showing us round were a Palestinian - Shadi, who is her sister's husband and a professional guide - and Oren Jacobovitch, an Israeli Jew, an ex-major from the IDF who left the service under a cloud for refusing to beat up Palestinians. Between the two of them we got to see some harrowing things - Palestinian houses hemmed in by wire mesh and boards to prevent settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels at the inhabitants; Palestinian kids on their way to school being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter; a whole village evicted and living in caves while three settler families moved onto their land; an Israeli settlement on top of a hill diverting its sewage directly down onto Palestinian farmland below; The Wall; the checkpoints&hellip and all the endless daily humiliations. I kept thinking, "Do Americans really condone this? Do they really think this is OK? Or do they just not know about it?".

As for the Peace Process: Israel wants the Process but not the Peace. While 'the process' is going on the settlers continue grabbing land and building their settlements&hellip and then when the Palestinians finally erupt with their pathetic fireworks they get hammered and shredded with state-of-the-art missiles and depleted uranium shells because Israel 'has a right to defend itself' ( whereas Palestine clearly doesn't). And the settler militias are always happy to lend a fist or rip up someone's olive grove while the army looks the other way. By the way, most of them are not ethnic Israelis - they're 'right of return' Jews from Russia and Ukraine and Moravia and South Africa and Brooklyn who came to Israel recently with the notion that they had an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land, and that 'Arab' equates with 'vermin' - straightforward old-school racism delivered with the same arrogant, shameless swagger that the good ole boys of Louisiana used to affect. That is the culture our taxes are defending. It's like sending money to the Klan.

But beyond this, what really troubles me is the bigger picture. Like it or not, in the eyes of most of the world, America represents 'The West'. So it is The West that is seen as supporting this war, despite all our high-handed talk about morality and democracy. I fear that all the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture are being discredited - to the great glee of the mad Mullahs - by this flagrant hypocrisy. The war has no moral justification that I can see - but it doesn't even have any pragmatic value either. It doesn't make Kissingerian 'Realpolitik' sense; it just makes us look bad.

I'm sorry to burden you all with this. I know you're busy and in varying degrees allergic to politics, but this is beyond politics. It's us squandering the civilisational capital that we've built over generations. None of the questions in this letter are rhetorical: I really don't get it and I wish that I did.

This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.

Peter Brownlee

This is also the history of "White" (to be blunt) Australia but the fate of the indigenes so far -- while shameful and horrific -- is not extinction (as was so confidently predicted) and is a firebell in the night for all of those who have benefited from such inhumanity including me.

And, as elsewhere, the melting pot is always being stirred.

Charles Cameron

I'm sorry, Col. Lang, but I'm unsure what the source of this piece is. You usually sign your own pieces "pl" -- and this one carries the word "Origin" at top and bottom -- it's a pretty forceful statement, and I'd like to be able to quote it with appropriate attribution. I don't think it comes from Origen, the Patristic writer, so... who should I attribute it to?



I wrote this piece and others previously on this site under the moniker WP. I am not W. Patrick Lang. You will note I spell my name differently from the early Christian polemic, Origen, though we both write on the sources of human inspirations. My pieces usually focus on understanding the word tools humans use to parse reality, hence the mathematical term for the center, origin. Further attribution other than a link back here is unnecessary.

To learn more about my thoughts, many appear elsewhere on this site.



An excellent and accurate piece. I recommend adding "birthright" to the language of this myth.


That sounds like a somewhat 1-dimensional description of the Zionist movement. From what I understand, there was always some recognition of all this, and at least in parts of the Zionist movement, there was a desire to coexist with the native Palestinians.

But after WWII, what Origin wrote did happen.

What gets me is the later time period, after it was obvious that Israel had decisively defeated all of its enemies. 1973? Certainly by the 1980s.

After that, Israel was not in existential danger any more. The basic goals of the Zionist movement were achieved. Whatever justification for using force on a large scale, to remove those who stood in their way, was gone. But the Israelis keep going.


Meanwhile, the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, encouraged by the US neocons at State Dept. have been busy implementing Wolfowitz doctrine:

Where are Dershowitz and Fox (ADL) and other big mouths that always scream the word "Holocaust" at a smallest attempt to criticize Israel yet obviously have no problems with Nuland-Kagan and such promoting the neo-Nazis in Eastern Europe. There are mass graves of Jews exterminated by the Nazis in Ukraine and Belorussia during WWII. But this is of no significance for Dershowitz et al.
The Zionists did not factor the Internet.


Indeed, there was a robust, if minority, strain of Ziosocialism which envisioned a progressive, secular, and equal state. Noam Chomsky's parents were of such a persuasion, which may explain his long-standing "self-loather" status as what emerged in 1948 was so disappointing right from the start, from their perspective.


jr786 and All:

I don't claim to represent any sort of scientific sampling, but over and over this summer, the people that I talk to are 'tuning out'. It's as if they can't take any more terrorizing, belligerent, horrifying news. The sense of helplessness is simply too overwhelming, and it goes on 24/7.

They are the kind of Americans Eno mentions: creative, decent, hard-working. But I sense a kind of weariness that seems new to me. It may be that the 24/7 news cycles have become numbing, but over and over I seem to detect a theme that goes something like this: "I don't know what to make of events. After the Iraq debacle of 2003, I don't know who is lying to me this time, and (as a coping mechanism, because I still have to function), I have now limited my exposure to news."

I'd be curious as to whether others who read here are detecting the same kind of strange weariness - almost despair about world events - among their own [American] friends and contacts.

AIPAC may think that it runs the Congress. And it may.
But the last Congressional approval rating that I read had public approval at < 8%.
If that's accurate, public derision can't go much lower.

As for Obama, if mentioned at all, the theme that I hear over and over is, "Not one single Wall Street banker has ever gone to jail." I sense that there is a deep, weary disgust with ineffectual government; not much is expected at this point. I sense a quiet despair, and an almost sullen sense of betrayal.

For myself, I wonder: WWJWD?
"What Would Jim Webb Do" -- if he ran, and won, the Presidency?
Could strong leadership, in contrast to rhetorical giftedness, make a real difference...?
Maybe I only wonder this as a way of trying to fight off the despair and alienation that I see around me -- and I see it in people who are well-educated, well-traveled, and well-read.

These have always been 'can do' folks: problem solvers, pragmatists. The silent frustration and 'tuning out' seems new, and it worries me.

Perhaps my experience in recent weeks is atypical.
However, *if* it is typical, then it suggests that people simply can't bear to see what is happening, and although they don't seem to know what Eretz Israel means, they are deeply disturbed by what they seem to view as unrelenting, unreasonable, endless conflict.

With respect to this post's topic of the Justification Meme, the idea that Israel can move into this region because it was uninhabited -- we don't often consider the impact Israel's success in politicizing archeology. Nevertheless, I suspect it contributes to the Justification Meme.

The discovery of the remains of ancient Troy (at Hissarlik in Turkey) in the late 1800s prompted further investigation of the ancient world throughout the 20th century, as the field of archeology developed.

Given that Israel has controlled many sites that are considered sacred to multiple faiths, it has had tremendous influence in the interpretation of the region's history. If the linked article is correct, 'historical tourism' is a $3 billion/year industry for Israel.

It would not be possible for people to think of Palestine as 'uninhabited' if the rich archeological evidence showed how far back in time this period has been a key region of commerce, religion, trade, and the development of basic technologies like writing and metallurgy.

mistah charley, ph.d.

The later-settled Anglophone colonies - Canada and New Zealand - seem to me to have a more respectful attitude nowadays toward the First Nations (as the Canadians call them) - possibly there is such a thing as progress, sometimes, in human affairs.

William R. Cumming

My guess is most Americans would now side with Secretary of State George C. Marshall in his belief that recognition of Israel by the USA was a FP mistake.

The USA was the promised land for all, even the Jews, and despite the eradication of Native Americans in law they remain sovereign nations except for FP.

Now Araby, Palestine, and Israel are raising the spector of annihilation for themselves and others.

Like the leadership of lemmings we just want to see what is at the bottom of the cliff?


Origin - I think most of the people on this site know my grandfather was Irgun. He escaped from Aix-en-Provence in Vichy France and made his way to Israel in 1943. One of his areas of responsibility was trying to move the Arabs out of Jaffa. The Jews of Tel Aviv owned most of the commercial establishments in Jaffa but the town itself was heavily Arab.

The Jews feared that in any division of the land Jaffa would go to Palestine because of demographics. The idea was if the Arabs were moved out, Jaffa could be attached to Tel Aviv and the shops would not be lost.

To that end, fertilizer bombs were set off in the marketplaces. My grandfather's specialty was hiding them in donkey carts full of produce. Random shootings to strike fear in the populace were routine. BY 1948 almost 80% of the Arab population of Jaffa was gone, many if not most, to Gaza.

The Nabka was real and all part of a long standing plan of the Zionists. Irgun and Lehi played their part and so did Haganah but the man behind the plan was Ben Gurion himself. While a few Arabs might have moved out as a result of Arab countries telling them to leave and then return, the vast, vast majority were forced out.

The Israeli historian, Benny Morris, outlined all of this from Israeli achieves but has since recanted due to societal pressure. My grandfather was a terrorist but it in the end was absolutely consumed by guilt for his actions.



Thank you for relating your family history. Several commenters have requested "support" or "proof" of my point that the goal of the present day Israeli government is not the creation of a solution including Palestinians, but a state from which the Palestinians have been extirpated. Comments like yours add factual support to the tragic fact now facing the Palestinians throughout Israel.

It would seem that your grandfather somehow justified his killing in his mind while he was a terrorist, or Jewish freedom fighter depending on one's perspective. If you have any knowledge, what converted his mind away from justification to guilt? An understanding based upon known personal experience related from a participant would be an important contribution to this Committee of Correspondence.


Origin - My grandfather was a committed Zionist. He was heavily influenced by Henry Siegman's (now on Council of Foreign Relations)father who was in the 1930's a European leader in the Mizrachi religious Zionist movement. When Henry's father felt the boot of the Nazis in their native Germany they moved to Belgium and when Belgium fell the family was smuggled into Vichy France.

They stayed with my grandfather a couple of weeks(Henry was just a boy)in 1942 and my grandfather used his shipping connections in Marseille to get Henry's family on a boat that eventually got them to America. I relay this part of the story because Henry's father had a great deal of influence on my grandfather.In 1943 my grandfather used the same shipping connections to get to Israel to help fulfill the Zionist dream.

There were two things that happened during his Irgun career that changed him forever. In late 1947 while on patrol in Haifa he saw an Arab man come out of this house in Haifa and sit on the step while drinking coffee and having a morning smoke. He raised his rifle and shot the man in cold blood and was forever haunted by the image of the man's wife coming out of the house screaming and holding the man to her breast.

The second event was April, 1948 Deir Yassin. My grandfather was there and when he saw what was happening he dropped his rife to the ground, hitched a ride back to Haifa and a boat back to France. From there he immigrated to the U.S. where he had sent our family in 1939. When he lived with us, I would often find him with his head in his hands, weeping, and saying over and over " what have I become".

old man

You leave out important parts of your history lesson.
1. The inhabitants of Palestine have resisted and won against European colonization at least three times, the Romans, the Crusades and the British. The current inhabitants of the West Bank are probably decendents of the Jewish population of Jesus' time.
2. Remember in the space of 10 years 1940 to 1950 the British Empire went from owning the world to being a welfare supplicant.
3. Some 70% of Israeli Jews carry two passports. Even they have not fully bought into the myth and have to have an insurance policy. In recent years the emigration rates from Israel to the Western world has been high and is increasing. After this current campaign is over, I expect that we will see a large exodus of Israels'more productive and educated dual passport citizens. About a century ago in the USA there were more Irish in Boston than in Dublin. We may see more Israelis in New York than Tal Aviv.

different clue


It seems to me that chunks of the Israeli leadership at the time came to agree with the assessment in your last two paragraphs. And the Palestinian leadership came to realize that the Israelis then would never stop fighting then just as the Palestinians now will never stop fighting now. So the leaderships pursued secret negotiations to find a graceful way to halfway surrender to eachother.
I don't for sure remember the sequence of events but I think the existence of Oslo Accords was made public somewhat before the Rabin-Netanyahu election contest. That election was therefor somewhat a referendum on the Oslo Process and the possibility of a 2SS endpoint. Enough Israeli voters felt Rabin had the old soldier credibility to at least explore going down the Road To China.
Were Rabin and those voters merely trying to sucker themselves, eachother, the Palestinians specifically, the Arabs generally and the rest of us at that particular time? I don't think so myself. I do remember reading that right after winning that election, Rabin attended a peace rally in Tel Aviv held by a bunch of young people with lit candles etc. He was described as appearing to have no real emotional investment in any 2SS peace up to that point, but to have been emotionally affected by the young people and to even have sung some songs with them. And it was walking away from that rally that Rabin was ambushed and killed by Likud's handy dandy little tool and by Rabin's security detail's oh-so-convenient caught-by-complete-surpriseness that any Jewisraeli would kill his/her own Jewisraeli Prime Minister.
So were Rabin's government and his voters trying to sucker us at the time? Or were they sincere about accepting a Free State of Palestine?
Likud sure thought they were sincere about it. That is why certain Likud/security elements went to such lengths to get Rabin very very killed. Here is an article about that.
I think the Likudists calculated that only Rabin had the credibility to Go To China and bring a mass of citizens with him. No other Laborite could bring it about. Peres had no credibility and Barak had no real intention of accepting a Free State of Palestine. (I thought Barak was sincere about 2SS with his " we only want 3% of West Bank land, how can PNA negotiators object to only 3%"? Till I saw a theoretical map of how that 3% was achieved. It was thin strips of land dividing West Bank Palestine into three watertight compartments with Israel to control all ingress, egress and "throughgress" among them and between them, Israel, Gaza-Palestine, and Jordan. Then I realized that Barak was either unvisionary or insincere).
So if the question is "what happened"? . . . I think successfully killing Rabin is what happened.
The Likudists were willing to have a civil war with the Laborists and the Laborists were not prepared to fight and win a civil war right back.
Perhaps Barak was trying to sucker himself as well as us. Every Likudist (and possibly Kadimist) government has been devoted to suckering us just as David Habbakuk has come to suspect. The only way any sincere 2SSers could achieve 2SS from within Israel is to wage and win a civil war against the Greater Israel parties and their supporters, and what is the chance of that happening? Or the attempt even being dared? The days after Rabin's assassination would have been the golden moment for that and no such moment will come again.


old man

"The inhabitants of Palestine have resisted and won against European colonization at least three times, the Romans, the Crusades and the British." Maybe it is you who needs a history lesson. The Romans never lost anything to the Jews in Palestine. The Jewish Revolt that Josephus writes of was won by the Roman Army. Herod's temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was depopulated of Jew. They only gradually came back. Palestine remained in Roman and Byzantine (Roman) hands until the country was overrun by the Muslim conquerors in the 7th Century. None of the Muslim conquerors were locals. They were all peninsular Arabs. The Kingdom of Jerusalem never had a problem with the Muslim Arab inhabitants of much of the countryside. Saladin's army was not made up of Palestinian Arabs or Jews. It was an international Muslim Army raised from across the near East, mostly in Syria and Iraq. The final destruction of the Kingdom was accomplished by the Mamelukes, who were Christians converted to Islam when they were children and who lived in Egypt. The British defeated a three year Arab Muslim revolt in Palestine in the thirties and after WW2 their Labor government liquidated Palestine as an obligation as part of their program of withdrawal from empire. They did this in much the same way that they gave up India. The Jews in Palestine never got to see what the Brits were like back then when they wanted to keep something. The Jews like jdledell's sad but repentant grandfather won nothing from Britain. They were given it. pl


It is a coincidence that you mention Henry Siegman. Yesterday evening I listened to these two informative pieces on democracynow.org where Henry Siegman discusses the tragic failure of the current Israeli government in its relations to the Palestinians. The pieces are well worth the time it takes to listen to or read the transcripts.


I forgot about Rabin. That moment really comes back now. I don't know much of anything about Israeli politics, so I found your comment very informative.

But why a civil war? Israel is still a democracy, despite the craziness.


yes, that was a great interview. Long but worth it.


Near the end of the interview, I was struck with Siegman's clear identification of the moral dilemma that is facing us and Israel this very day near the end of the interview ( http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/30/henry_siegman_leading_voice_of_us )in this dialog:

"AMY GOODMAN: And the response of—or the slogan, the idea that was put forward so much in the founding of the state of Israel: Palestine is a land without people for a people without land?

HENRY SIEGMAN: Well, that was the common understanding and referred to repeatedly in Ari Shavit’s book and others, that the Zionist movement, at its very birth, was founded on an untruth, on a myth, that Palestine was a country without a people. And as he says, obviously—and he recognizes in his book that it was a lie. And therefore, from the very beginning, Zionism didn’t confront this profound moral dilemma that lay at its very heart. How do you deal with that reality? And as a consequence of that, one of the ways in which they dealt with it was to see to the expulsion of 700,000 people from their cities, from their towns and villages, and the destruction of all of them, which, to his credit, Ari Shavit writes about very painfully and honestly."

Millions of Palestinians do exist in Palestine and they are not leaving any time soon. Unfortunately, Israel as a polity has little regard for those not-People. Most recently, the Israelis bombed and killed hundreds in a vain and brutal attempt to prevent the retention of an Israeli POW in Rafa. The value of a Palestinian baby compared to that of an Israeli soldier is probably less than the regard given to a stray dog.

The existence of the not-People in Palestine are as much of a fatal flaw in the Israeli polity as was slavery in the American system. No healing can be done until the not-People become visible people to the Israelis. The challenge is how does the world teach the Zionists that their land is not devoid of not-People.


Origin - Yes I saw this great interview a few days ago and that is what triggered the memory of the time our two family's paths crossed.



I have known Henry Siegman for about 20 years. I traveled with him a good bit in the ME. This interview is traditional Henry. He is a voice crying in the desert. always revered, always fluent but with little real impact on events. One thing to remember about him is that he is a pal of the people who created Obama. They fund his operation. He and they could well be described as compassionate Zionists but Zionists none the less. The people he favors in Israeli public life are all losers in terms of the competition for political power in Israel. pl



Many of us had been brought up to believe that all the Arabs hated Jews and drove them out of all of the places they lived. Now we know this just isn't true. Can you add anything to what has been written re: actions that terrorized Jews in Iraq and elsewhere which made them move to Palestine in Ben Gurion Scandals: How
The Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews?

Thank you for your contribution to the discussions here.

Sadly, things haven't changed much.



Back to "Wogs":
There were legal, as well as practical reasons for de-peopling the landscape of natives. John Winthrop, colonial Governor of Massachusetts is said to have given blessed thanks for "the marvelous goodness and providence of God” for the removal of the inconvenient “natives”, noting that “they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." My ancestors in 17th century Virginia and their friends thought no differently. A great irony is that many Virginians view with great pride their descent from the Princess Pocahontas, but do not declaim so publicly their descent from Chief Powhatan. Another irony is that, by saving John Smith’s life, Pocahontas played an unwitting role in hastening the destruction of her people who were doomed in any event.

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