Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Middle Class Radicalism & Its Discontents
Two responses to the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
"What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world."
-- Middle East Studies professor Juan Cole
“I’m not saying that the US is much better than China. But in the face of a bombing attack, they have absolute information transparency and absolute freedom of speech. There is no ban on reporting or block of information. All media are allowed to report, which will never happen in our country.”
-- A Chinese "Netizen"
Sunday, December 23, 2012
The New Laocoon
Andrew Sullivan and Public Debate
The mountain of words and pictures last week mirrored the piles of rubble in New York. Like the rescue workers there, one waded in trying to find something that was alive, that would illuminate and explain what had happened. Noticeable was the reluctance throughout the media to contemplate the Israeli factor - the undeniable and central fact behind the disaster that Israel is now and has been for some time an American colony, sustained by billions of American dollars and armed with American missiles, helicopters and tanks.
Such has been the pressure from the Israeli lobby in this country that many, even normally outspoken journalists, are reluctant even to refer to such matters. Nor would you find anywhere in last week's coverage, any reference whatever to things I have mentioned here in recent issues of The Observer: the fact, for example, that Mr Blair's adviser on the Middle East is an unelected, unknown Jewish businessman, Lord Levy, now installed in the Foreign Office; the fact that this same Lord Levy is the chief fundraiser for the Labour Party; unmentioned also would be the close business links with Israel of two of our most powerful press magnates, Rupert Murdoch and the newly ennobled owner of the Telegraph newspapers, Lord Conrad Black.
When Mr Blair, supported by these gentlemen's papers, pledges his support for Mr Bush as he prepares for war with an as yet unidentified enemy, we ought to be prepared at least to incur the charge of anti-Semitism by giving these matters an airing before the balloon goes up.
So wrote the English journalist Richard Ingrams five days after the 9/11 attacks. "Who will dare damn Israel?" he asked. An outraged Andrew Sullivan answered.
We should be grateful, I suppose, that those who seek the extinction of the Jewish state still feel somewhat hesitant to say so outright. But like all anti-Semites, Ingrams thinks he and the West are somehow victims of the Jewish people... After an event like last week, Ingrams wants to "damn" a country that has long been the victim of such horror. Dare? Oh, the bravery of Ingrams' prejudice! And then further in the piece, he casts the usual ugly slur of dual loyalty on Lord Lever [sic], a British citizen of impeccable patriotism... One phrase stands out: "unelected, unknown Jewish businessman." These are the code words of the worst kind of anti-Semitism...
Also five days after 9/11, Sullivan wrote a piece in The Sunday Times which identified a comparable force in America: "The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column." Sullivan celebrated the arousal by 9/11 of a "squeamish" and "appeasement"-oriented United States, that if not for the horror of that day might have "[abandoned] Israel to the barbarians who would annihilate every Jew on the planet." As much as his charge remains true of fringe figures and is redolent of some thought on the Left, it complemented Ingrams' mean paranoia. There is nothing he's written that he's walked back more emphatically, but that line stands as a measure of the public intellect of Andrew Sullivan.
Like TED and Time Magazine, Sullivan is middlebrow. His blog is a piano roll of middle class amusements -- "Mental Health Breaks," views from our windows, faces of the day, surface encounters with science that make us "go hmmm." This is the mortar into which quick takes on weighty issues are pressed. Sometimes he writes his own; other times he features excerpts by one-off commentators or a gallery of go-to guys. This is by careful design -- Sullivan is enamored of what he considers his key role in the digital democratization of media, which is itself of course a middlebrow concern. He designs his blog to make information easily accessible and emotionally evocative. He uses it to "think out loud."
The china shop starts rattling when he tackles sensitive topics. An intellectual tic guides Andrew Sullivan as a journalist: judging the importance of an issue and the value of its spokespeople by how much outrage they generate. Perhaps the most lurid example is the amount of time and space he donated to amplifying rumors that Bristol Palin was Trig Palin's mother. And if Sullivan detects that a debate is taboo, he doubles down and his hallmark hysteria becomes a kind of keening. That is what has led him to obsess over race and intelligence and to champion Charles Murray. As Editor of the New Republic in 1994, Sullivan shanghaied the center-Left magazine into serializing parts of The Bell Curve. Its whole editorial staff nearly quit. More recently, in meretricious penitence for his support of the Iraq war, he has focused on what he calls the "Greater Israel Lobby" and the work of Walt and Mearsheimer.
Sullivan's self-perception as a maverick fostering the discussion of uncomfortable truths has a stylistic corollary. It gives him a penchant for sounding dogwhistles -- using language that is designed to be disparaging, invidious, provocative, which cunningly conjures from a distance themes that are thought over the line. Christian fundamentalists are termed "Christianists" in order to evoke images of Islamists executing people in football stadiums. Jews and Muslims persist in the "barbarism" of "Male Genital Mutilation," which likens them to primitives who hack away at girls' clitorises with can lids. And "many Jews" participating in our democracy make up the "Greater Israel lobby," which "has actively damaged the interests of the United States on behalf of... a foreign country."Better if he thought out loud less. Native to the middlebrow milieu are Sullivan's capacities for conventionality and enthusiasm. Long after Obama-mania peaked, he maintains a feudal devotion to the President that has led political scientists to ridicule him as an exemplar of unscientific analysis. And on other matters, Sullivan sometimes overshares. That was the thing about Laocoon -- they might have listened to him if he hadn't diddled his wife in front of the statue of Apollo.
One effect is to draw more attention than he would otherwise get. Another, of course, is to summon the "smears" and silencing he laments in the first place, which has the tautologous use of reinforcing his narrative: Andrew Sullivan is a maverick opposing debate-squelching prigs. "I will not be intimidated," he warns.
Andrew Sullivan is zeitgeist Silly Putty. After 9/11 he became a strident neocon, and after Bush he became a neo-realist with Paulite undertones -- skepticism of intervention and distrust of Israel. This has kept him busy for several years, but when his middlebrow intelligence is no longer able to digest what he perceives to be an epochal issue, his hysteria becomes wholly unleashed, and when this emotional process reaches its apex, he identifies a "Fifth Column" threatening to tip us over the edge into perdition.
Eleven years after 9/11, this is what Andrew Sullivan has found:
For many fanatically pro-Israel Jewish-Americans I know, it all comes down in the end to tribalism.
But they project that onto others.
I am not a tribal gay; I am a person before I am a gay person. I have attacked HRC in the past in a way that would simply be inconceivable for many Jewish Americans and AIPAC. I oppose hate crime laws; I challenged the priority for employment discrimination laws. I backed the Boy Scouts in their freedom. For the vast bulk of the American Jewish Establishment, this is simply incomprehensible. Why would I betray "your people" as one TNR colleague used to ironically call my fellow gays when talking to me. "My people?" It tells you so much about a mindset. The mindset affects all vulnerable minorities, of course, gays included. But the enforcement of it on Israel questions in Washington is striking. And it is profoundly illiberal. It reflexively and even at this point unconsciously puts tribal loyalty before any argument of any kind. It is why the Middle East is so fucked up. And why on the Israel question, Washington is so fucked up as well.
Monday, September 17, 2012
The Optics, or How It Works
Liberalism today, on Rosh Hashanah, 2012: the New York Times runs a protege of Rashid Khalidi, who reaches deep into the candy bag of Israel's crimes and dredges up the worst of them all -- the Sabra and Shatila massacre -- to depict the Jewish state as amoral, dishonest and hysterical so as to undercut its security concerns about Iran. While the stakeholders deliberate how to wring the most use out of this, Maureen Dowd's "Neocons Slither Back" pulses like a red lamp in the Most E-Mailed sidebar.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Gore Vidal: Another Lodestar Dims
As if to sweep Alexander Cockburn's cantankerous spirit along, Gore Vidal, one of the last known individuals of a functionally extinct species -- the patrician man of letters -- has died at 86.
As with Cockburn, Vidal was a bracing stylist whose worldview drew from crusty precincts of the Left and Right. And as with Cockburn, Vidal nonetheless was revered as a progressive lodestar. This is especially peculiar in Vidal's case, as he was clearly an American nativist. It's easy to perceive a xenophobic overlap of far Right and Left in relation to Israel, but Vidal nursed a quaint obsession with the Yellow Peril. In 1986 in The Nation of all places, he volleyed abuse at Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter which began with the following "conclusion":
... for America to survive economically in the coming Sino-Japanese world, an alliance with the Soviet Union is a necessity. After all, the white race is a minority race with many well deserved enemies, and if the two great powers of the Northern Hemisphere don’t band together, we are going to end up as farmers–or, worse, mere entertainment–for the more than one billion grimly efficient Asiatics.
This isn't a literary curio. Vidal, the Left-intellectual author of a humane bildungsroman about male homosexuality (The City and the Pillar) and the Democratic Party mandarin who grappled with the likes of William F. Buckley, was a devout isolationist. Attending Phillips Exeter Academy in 1940, Vidal organized its chapter of the America First Committee. Later he described Charles Lindbergh as "the true white knight through and through" who was "the best that we are ever apt to produce in the hero line, American-style." In late life Vidal was also, of course, a conspiracy theorist about the 9/11 attacks.
So it is not surprising that like Alexander Cockburn, and Pat Buchanan and contemporary epigones like Glenn Greenwald, Gore Vidal was ardently phobic of Israel. As Christopher Hitchens observed:
... I always knew, as one had to know - and it was in his writing too -- that [Vidal] had this mean streak in him, of a kind of paranoia -- a conspiracy-based paranoid view of the world, and particularly of American history, which leads to isolationism and what I call Lindberg-ism, because he was a great admirer of [Charles] Lindberg, because this stuff is indissoluble from a very tiny stain of Judaeo-phobia which he could never dispel. He had it in under control - but it's quite hard to keep it under control.
Vidal was less controlled than Cockburn. He contributed a Foreword to Israel Shahak's notorious "Jewish History, Jewish Religion", in which he claimed of the Jews that "no other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a ‘homeland’". Beloved by hardcore anti-Semites, Shahak's book sources Israel's political pathology in a fundamentalist interpretation of Judaism.
And Vidal wrote the following Nation essay, which contains his quote about "Asiatics" and demonstrates that for him, there wasn't a clear distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I've added highlighting in red, in case you wish to skip to the really piquant parts.
The Empire Lovers Strike Back
March 22, 1986
Gore Vidal lives in Los Angeles and Rome. His coruscating essays on the U. S. giobal role always inflame as well as enlighten. Vidal has taken this occasion lo respond to two of his critics, but he uses the sparks of this clash to illuminate his larger preoccupation: the changing image and reality of
the American Empire.
Recently, Norman Mailer and I chatted together at the Royale Theatre in New York, under the auspices of PEN American Center. Part of what I said was reprinted in these pages on January 11, under the title, not mine, “Requiem for the American Empire.” I gave a bit of a history lesson about our empire’s genesis, and I brooded on its terminus last fall, when Tokyo took over from New York as the world’s economic center.
My conclusion: for America to survive economically in the coming Sino-Japanese world, an alliance with the Soviet Union is a necessity. After all, the white race is a minority race with many well deserved enemies, and if the two great powers of the Northern Hemisphere don’t band together, we are going to end up as farmers–or, worse, mere entertainment–for the more than one billion grimly efficient Asiatics. In principle, Mailer agreed.
As expected, that wonderful, wacky couple, Norman (Poddy) Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, checked in. The Lunts of the right wing (Israeli Fifth Column Division), they are now, in their old age, more and more like refugees from a Woody Allen film: The Purple Prose of West End Avenue.
Poddy was the first to respond. He is the editor of Commentary (circulation 55,000, and allegedly falling; paid for by the American Jewish Committee). He is best known–and by me loved–for his autobiographical “novel,” Making It, in which he tells us that he has made it because he has become editor of Commentary and might one day be a guest at the White House, as he has already been a guest of Huntington Hartford in Nassau.
Over the years, Poddy has, like his employers, the A.J.C., moved from those liberal positions traditionally occupied by American Jews (and me) to the far right of American politics. The reason for that is simple. In order to get Treasury money for Israel (last year $5 billion), pro-Israel lobbyists must see to it that America’s “the Russians are coming” squads are in place so that they can continue to frighten the American people into spending enormous sums for “defense,” which also means the support of Israel in its never-ending wars against just about everyone.
To make sure that nearly a third of the Federal budget goes to the Pentagon and Israel, it is necessary for the pro-Israel lobbyists to make common cause with our lunatic right. Hence, the virulent propaganda.
Poddy denounced Mailer and me in the pages of the New York Post. According to him, we belong to that mindless majority of pinko intellectuals who actually think that the nation spends too much on the Pentagon and not enough on, say, education. Since sustained argument is not really his bag, he must fall back on the ad hominem attack, a right-wing specialty–and, of course, on our flag, which he wears like a designer kaftan because “the blessings of freedom and prosperity are greater and more widely shared [here] than in any country known to human history.” Poddy should visit those Western European countries whose per capita income is higher than ours. All in all, Poddy is a silly billy.
Significantly, the one Yiddish word that has gained universal acceptance in this country is chutzpah. Example: In 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Podhoretz were in upstate New York where I used to live. I was trying out a play at the Hyde Park Playhouse; the play was set during the Civil War. “Why,” asked Poddy, “are you writing a play about, of all things, the Civil War?” I explained to him that my mother’s family had fought for the Confederacy and my father’s for the Union, and that the Civil War was–and is–to the United States what the Trojan War was to the Greeks, the great single tragic event that continues to give resonance to our Republic.
“Well, to me,” said Poddy, “the Civil War is as remote and as irrelevant as the War of the Roses.” I realized then that he was not planning to become an “assimilated American,” to use the old-fashioned terminology; but, rather, his first loyalty would always be to Israel. Yet he and Midge stay on among us, in order to make propaganda and raise money for Israel–a country they don’t seem eager to live in. Jewish joke, circa 1900: A Zionist is someone who wants to ship other people off to Palestine.
Midge was next to strike. But before she launched her attack, in something called Contentions, she put on her thinking cap and actually read what I wrote. I give her high marks for that. Unfortunately, she found my history lesson hard going. But then, like most of our Israeli fifth columnists, Midge isn’t much interested in what the goyim were up to before Ellis Island. She also likes the ad hominem attack. When I noted that our writers seldom speak out on matters of war and peace because so many of them are paid for by universities that receive money from the garrison state, Midge tartly retorted, “He, after all, is not paid by a university but by those great centers of independence, the film companies.” Since my last Hollywood film, The Best Man, was made in 1964, I have been “paid” by that American public that buys my books about the American past, a subject of no demonstrable interest to Midge and Poddy and their friends.
Midge was amazed by my description of how we seized territories from Mexico, including California; annexed Hawaii and Puerto Rico and, of course, the Philippines, where we slaughtered between 100,000 and 200,000 of the inhabitants. Interesting note: American imperialists froth if the figures for those murdered are ever in excess of 60,000 men, women and children, the acceptable statistical minimum for genocide. Then Midge, with that magisterial gooniness that marks her polemical style, told us, “that three of these conquered territories are now states of the United States, and a fourth an independent republic, is evidently beside the point–as, we cannot resist remarking...”
Oh, Midge, resist. Resist! Don’t you get the point? We stole other people’s land. We murdered many of the inhabitants. We imposed our religion–and rule–on the survivors. General Grant was ashamed of what we did to Mexico, and so am I. Mark Twain was ashamed of what we did in the Philippines, and so am I. Midge is not because in the Middle East another predatory people is busy stealing other people’s land in the name of an alien theocracy. She is a propagandist for these predators (paid for?), and that is what all this nonsense is about.
Since spades may not be called spades in freedom’s land, let me spell it all out. In order to get military and economic support for Israel, a small number of American Jews, who should know better, have made common cause with every sort of reactionary and anti-Semitic group in the United States, from the corridors of the Pentagon to the TV studios of the evangelical Jesus-Christers. To show that their hearts are in the far-right place, they call themselves neoconservatives, and attack the likes of Mailer and me, all in the interest of supporting the likes of Sharon and Israel as opposed to the Peace Now Israelis whom they disdain. There is real madness here; mischief too.
“Well, one thing is clear in all this muddle,’’ writes Midge, adrift in her tautological sea, “Mr. Vidal does not like his country.” Poor Midge. Of course I like my country. After all, I’m its current biographer. But now that we’re really leveling with each other, I’ve got to tell you I don’t much like your country, which is Israel.
Although there is nothing wrong with being a lobbyist for a foreign power, one is supposed to register with the Justice Department. Also, I should think that tact would require a certain forbearance when it comes to the politics of the host country. But tact is unknown to the Podhoretzes. Joyously they revel in the politics of hate, with plangent attacks on blacks and/or fags and/or liberals, trying, always, to outdo those moral majoritarians who will, as Armageddon draws near, either convert all the Jews, just as the Good Book says, or kill them.
All in all, the latest Podhoretz diatribes have finally convinced me that the time has come for the United States to stop all aid not only to Israel but to Jordan, Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. The Middle Easterners would then be obliged to make peace, or blow one another up, or whatever. In any case, we would be well out of it. After all, the theological and territorial quarrels of Israel and Islam are as remote to 200 million Americans as–what else?–the War of the Roses.
It should be noted that a "kaftan" is a garment symbolic of the Middle East. I think this is what The Nation meant when it referred to Vidal's "coruscating essays".
Postscript: Today, The Nation commemorates Vidal, offering this comment on "The Empire Lovers Strike Back":
The Asiatics didn’t complain, but two months later, some Jews did, after Gore wrote that Norman Podhoretz’s “first loyalty would always be to Israel,” and that he and his wife Midge Decter therefore constituted “an Israeli Fifth Column Division" inside the United States.
Many of us took that as another satiric barb, but Podhoretz had his associate editor at Commentary write to thirty people on the Nation masthead who had Jewish-sounding names asking whether they had protested the magazine’s publication of “the most blatantly anti-Semitic outburst in an American periodical since the Second World War.” (Nobody on the masthead resigned.) Arthur Carter, the Wall Street figure who had recently become publisher of the magazine, told Victor that the head of the Anti-Defamation League had complained to him about Gore’s piece. Carter replied, “What do you think we are? It’s The Nation, not the Jewish Federation Newsletter.” Victor called that “passing the Gore test.”
Monday, July 23, 2012
Commemorating Alexander Cockburn
The Irish New Left journalist and stylist Alexander Cockburn is dead. I don't like dissing the just-deceased, but I have a standard response to the passing of people like Cockburn: I'm not happy that he's dead, and I'm not happy that he lived.
You won't see a lot of straight talk about Cockburn just now. To the extent that anyone still notices his long-dimmed star, it's mainly New Left mandarins and their admirers who are staggering to commemorate him. Katha Pollitt, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Greg Palast are stunned. Gorgeous George is lugubrious. The Nation, which doesn't fly flags, is at half-mast. Assorted padawans are performing homage. Even the Paulite non-interventionist Glenn Greenwald, who moves usually in less rarefied circles, has observed the occasion, and aptly, as we will see.
Cockburn was edgy, ballsy and in some ways brilliant. As a stylist and polemicist, he was a meet peer of Christopher Hitchens, whom he was close to but came to despise. I don't think Cockburn had quite the same level of talent, but he was formidable and was Hitchens' perfect foil.
It goes deep downhill from there. Cockburn was the son of a Stalinist shill, the journalist Claud Cockburn, who according to Bob Gordon, "worked closely [in Spain during the Spanish Civil War] with the Soviet agents who orchestrated both acts of violence against the anti-Stalinist left and the propaganda which whitewashed those acts." Orwell himself documented Cockburn's disinformation in Homage to Catalonia.
Alexander seems to have inherited his father's character and the core of his politics, though he went on to become a New Left icon. Along with Jeffrey St. Clair, he came to edit a political newsletter called Counterpunch, which was admired alternately by International ANSWER types, 60s radicals, libertarians and nativists. As such Counterpunch isn't garden variety radical flora. Its politics comprise global warming denial, pro-NRA and pro-Pinochet positions, as well as paranoid anti-banker populism, hysteria about the surveillance state and Palestinian solidarity. You might be thinking what some have remarked -- that Counterpunch is in some ways more far-Right than Left. Oliver Kamm rightly sources its harlequin politics in
convergence between what may reasonably be termed anti-American instincts on both wings of politics. During Labour's fractious debates in the 1980s, Denis Healey memorably described neutralism - then a vibrant sentiment on the British Left - as "isolationism with an inferiority complex". The identity is by now almost complete.
On Israel, Zionism and Jews, far Right and Left also find common ground, and Counterpunch in this vein is unambiguously anti-Semitic. It's not just over-the-top or an Asperger's affair like Mondoweiss. Counterpunch actually published a blood libel. This is Alexander Cockburn's wicked accomplishment.
The fact is... that substantiated evidence of public and private organ trafficking and theft, and allegations of worse, have been widely reported for many years. Given such context, the Swedish charges become far more plausible than might otherwise be the case and suggest that an investigation could well turn up significant information.Cockburn, in publishing the ruminations by Alison Weir on Israeli organ harvesting, was the last notable First-World purveyor of blood libel. Weir's work is based on an earlier blood libel by Donald Bostrom appearing in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. She folds into it the research of anthropologist and organ trade investigator Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who documented sporadic unethical and illegal organ harvesting of Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers in the 1990s by staff at the National Legal Medical Institute in Tel Aviv. The staff "said that they believed they were helping to save lives, and that this was more important than trying to procure the consent of ill-informed and grieving family members." Chief Pathologist Dr. Yehuda Hiss was fired for these improprieties, which ended by 2000, though he stayed with the Institute.
Israel’s organ donor problems
Israel has an extraordinarily small number of willing organ donors. According to the Israeli news service Ynet, “the percentage of organs donated among Jews is the lowest of all the ethnic groups… In western countries, some 30 per cent of the population have organ donor cards. In Israel, in contrast, four percent of the population holds such cards. (17)
“According to statistics from the Health Ministry’s website, in 2001, 88 Israelis died waiting for a transplant because of a lack of donor organs. In the same year, 180 Israelis were brain dead, and their organs could have been used for transplant, but only 80 of their relatives agreed to donate their organs.”
According to Ynet, the low incidence of donors is related to “religious reasons.” In 2006 there was an uproar when an Israeli hospital known for its compliance with Jewish law performed a transplant operation using an Israeli donor. The week before, “a similar incident occurred, but since the patient was not Jewish it passed silently.”
Palestinian disappearances increase
Bostrom, who earlier wrote of all this in his 2001 book Inshallah, (20) reports in his recent article:
“While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.He describes the case of 19-year-old Bilal Achmed Ghanan, shot by Israeli forces invading his village.
“Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.”
“... On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed.”
“The first shot hit him in the chest. According to villagers who witnessed the incident he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then ran down from the carpentry workshop and shot Bilal once in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet and dragged him up the twenty stone steps of the workshop stair… Israeli soldiers loading the badly wounded Bilal in a jeep and driving him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. The boy was flown to a destination unknown to his family.”Five days later he was returned, “dead and wrapped up in green hospital fabric.” Bostrom reports that as the body was lowered into the grave, his chest was exposed and onlookers could see that he was stitched up from his stomach to his head. Bostrom writes that this was not the first time people had seen such a thing.
It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business, to shed light on what is going on and what has taken place in the territories occupied by Israel since the Intifada began.
Weir, and Counterpunch, want you to believe a broader, darker narrative: that Israel maintains the occupation of the Palestinians in part to shore up its reserves of organs for Jews in need of donations. This is necessary, the conspiracy theory goes, because Israel, owing to the religious compunctions of devout Jews, has a very low supply of donor organs.
This isn't like the case with Ron Paul and his newsletters, which were ghost-written and which Paul indirectly benefited from. Counterpunch was Cockburn's primary project, to which he contributed writing, and his sentiments elsewhere are congruous. "It's supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much the Jews do control the media," Cockburn observed, and published a book called The Politics of Anti-Semitism on the supposed misuse of the charge to silence people like him. About conspiracy theories fingering Israel for the 9/11 attacks or for having foreknowledge of them, Cockburn was noncommittal: "I don't know there's enough exterior evidence to determine whether they are true or not."
While the progressives grieve, consider all this and the following tweets and links that lead to a breviary of other anti-Semitic quotes and their primary sources at Counterpunch. Also see if you can obtain the latest issue -- it features a piece called "THE DREYFUS CASE, REVISITED" by the Holocaust-denier Israel Shamir, who asks "... was [Dreyfus] really a victim of anti-Semitism?"
Alexander Cockburn: "... when it comes to agents of influence the [1940s] USSR couldn’t hold a candle to Israel today" bit.ly/MhL3RO
Alison Weir in Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch - the Lubavitcher Rebbe is a Svengali leading Jews to child-murder: bit.ly/MgsEEO
Alison Weir in Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch - IDF shoots them in the head; now Gabrielle Giffords may switch sides bit.ly/MSxwOR
Alison Weir in Alex Cockburn's Counterpunch - USS Liberty attack was a "false flag" operation by Israel against Egypt: bit.ly/O7p2Yg
Holocaust-denier Israel Shamir in Cockburn's Counterpunch - "Jewish lesbian" is mean to Putin, "relief" he rules Russia bit.ly/MuyS6M
Saul Landau quotes Marc Ellis in Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch - "We live in the Golden Age of Empire Judaism": bit.ly/SNZmkI
Gilad Atzmon in Counterpunch: "[maybe] Hitler developed some of his anti-Semitic arguments after reading... [Zionists]" bit.ly/NHGPWv
Gilad Atzmon in Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch - Hezbollah "heroic", Western leaders are "Zionised", IDF = Wehrmacht bit.ly/MzSNPL
Gilad Atzmon in Counterpunch: "Israelis & Zionists are very unusual creatures that do not follow any recognized human pattern of empathy"
Gilad Atzmon in Counterpunch - Israel sends Israelis to "'Shoah' tourist attractions" to teach them how to be Nazis: bit.ly/NHGPWv
Gilad Atzmon, leading Jewish anti-Semite, writes in Cockburn's Counterpunch about the "Zionification of our universe" bit.ly/LExxWL
Alan Cabal defends Holocaust denial icon Ernst Zundel in Counterpunch - "[Zundel] is a 64 year-old painter & pacifist": bit.ly/MD1TPB
"The issue... in the Bush admin. is dual loyalties... officials... who can't distinguish US... from Israeli interests" bit.ly/OSv3ob
Mike Neumann in CPunch: ".. we should almost never take antisemitism seriously, & maybe we should have some fun w/ it" bit.ly/QdaHgt
Michael Neumann in Cockburn's Counterpunch: "Drop everything. Someone spray-painted antisemitic slogans on a synagogue" bit.ly/QdaHgt
Michael Neumann in Cockburn's Counterpunch: "the real scandal today is not antisemitism but the importance it is given" bit.ly/QdaHgt
Counterpunch: "[Arab] antisemitism... is utterly inexcusable. So was your failure to answer Aunt Bee’s last letter." bit.ly/QdaHgt
Counterpunch: "Israel has committed war crimes... This has provoked hatred against Jews. Why not? ... who cares?" bit.ly/QdaHgt
Friday, June 29, 2012
Iran Vice President Rahimi on the Jews
Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, the Vice President of Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's number two, gave a speech in Tehran on June 26 at the UN-sponsored International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2012 annual event. It was disfigured all over by anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and is a fine specimen of the form. Rahimi is not as well known as Ahmadinejad, but he surpassed his President by explicitly indicting Jews and Judaism rather than precision-targeting "Zionists".
It is frustrating and regrettable that so far no verbatim transcript of the speech has emerged in English. I have worked hard over the last couple of days to find one or anything close -- an English-language summary or a verbatim transcript in Farsi. All I can find are assorted quotes in several English-language news reports.
On a tip by Golnaz Esfandiari, I was able to disinter from the Google Cache a now-unavailable Farsi-language report on the speech that appears to be an eyewitness paraphrase of Rahimi's remarks. It provides a clear and lengthy summary of what he actually said and serves as a better record than anything out there now. Therefore I've labored to translate the document into English and present it here.
"The Vice President announced that the Iranian people, despite intense sanctions, are stalwart and content.”
The Mehr News Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) Mohammad Reza Rahimi, celebrating the anniversary of the global fight against narcotics, said: the trafficking of drugs and glass [“shisheh”, which means "glass", is a Persian idiom for crystal-meth -ed.] are rooted in the teachings of the Zionist Talmud. This book teaches them how to destroy non-Jews so as to nourish a fetus in the womb of a Jewish mother.
معاون اول رييس جمهور اعلام كرد كه مردم ايران با وجود تحريمهاي شديد قناعت ميكنند و ايستاده اند. به گزارش خبرنگار خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران (ايسنا)، محمدرضا رحيمي در مراسم سالروز جهاني مبارزه با مواد مخدر گفت: توسعه و گسترش مواد مخدر و شيشه ريشه در آموزههاي تلموت صهيونيستها دارند. در اين كتاب آموزش داده شده كه غير يهود را چگونه نابود كنند و چگونه يك جنين در بطن يك مادر يهود پرورش داده شود.
He added: Eighty percent of American wealth is in the hands of 6 percent of the Jewish world and a U.S. researcher says that in order to reduce the population of American Indians a Jewish doctor of obstetrics and gynecology rendered 8000 of them sterile -- all of these teachings are in the Talmud.
وي افزود: هشتاد درصد ثروت آمريكا در دست شش درصد از يهوديان دنياست و يك محقق آمريكايي ميگويد يك پزشك زنان و زايمان يهود براي كاهش نسل سرخپوستان هشت هزار نفر از آنها را عقيم كرده است و همه اين مباحث در آموزههاي تلموت است.
Rahimi clarified: the Talmud's teachings are against Christianity and against Muslims. They think God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them.
رحيمي تصريح كرد: آموزههاي تلموت هم بر ضد مسيحيت و هم عليه مسلمانان . يهود ديگران را در خدمت خود ميداند.
He continued: what happened in Russia [the Bolshevik Revolution -ed.] and the labor movements were all due to the actions of orchestrating Jews, but later research showed that none among the victims were Jews.
وي ادامه داد:آنچه در روسيه اتفاق افتاد و همچنين تحركات كارگري همه ناشي از اقدامات يهود و سردمداران آنها بود اما تحقيقات بعد نشان داد كه يك نفر از كشته شدگان نيز از بين يهود نبوده است.
The Vice President stated: Wherever blood is spilled there is a Muslim and located behind the scenes is the Jew.
معاون اول رييس جمهور بيان كرد: هر كجا خوني ريخته ميشود يك مسلمان آنجا حضور دارد و در پشت صحنه آن يهيود قرار دارد.
The Zionists spread destruction not only by drugs, but also by [attacking] cultures and they do this in a way that no son and daughter knows their parents. Rahimi said: Jews dominate the media world to disseminate Jewish thought and plunder the resources and wealth of their countries. He said: they create differences between Shiite and Sunni nations and wear away their understanding, to destroy peace and security and comfort is their main goal.
وي ادامه داد: تخريب فقط به مواد مخدر نيست، بلكه با مسائل فرهنگي است و آنها به گونهاي مسائل فرهنگي را رواج ميدهند كه هيچ پسر و دختري خود را فرزندان والدينشان نميدانند. رحيمي اظهار كرد: تسلط بر رسانههاي جهان براي القاي تفكر يهود است و كار آنها غارت منابع و ثروت فرهنگي كشورهاست. وي گفت: آنها با ايجاد اختلاف بين ملتها شيعه و سني درست ميكنند و زدودن آرامش و امنيت و از بين بردن آرامش هدف اصلي آنهاست.
Rahimi continued: Since [United States -ed.] forces entered Afghanistan poppy cultivation has increased by 60%; alternatively the Islamic Republic of Iran might have bought all poppy produced in Afghanistan and turned it into morphine and medical drugs. He also noted that Iran could take money from the Afghan transit route of drugs to Europe, and open up the way to this income for the country, but this is immoral and contrary to our religion.
رحيمي ادامه داد: از زماني كه نيروهاي آنها وارد افغانستان شده كشت ترياك 60 افزايش پيدا كرده است و گرنه جمهوري اسلامي ايران ميتوانست تمام توليدات كشور افغانستان را يكجا بخرد و آنرا تبديل به مرفين كرده و به مصرف دارويي برساند. وي همچنين اذعان كرد ما ميتوانيم با گرفتن پول از افغانستان مسير ترانزيت مواد مخدر به اروپا را باز كنيم و از اين راه درآمدي براي كشور كسب شود، اما اين خلاف اخلاق و خلاف مكتب ماست.
He pointed out: 13 percent of European addicts are opium users, but they get their liquor elsewhere. Despite the fact that we have respect for the followers of the Prophet Moses, we are opposed to the international Zionists. He announced that the Zionists are the main element of the drug trade, saying their aim is narcotics, while among the addicts you cannot even find one Zionist, and the Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. The Vice President stressed: worldwide 210 million people will try a drug, there are 27 million people in the world that are addicted and this is most relevant to Asian countries. Rahimi said: based on laws and regulations concerning drugs mandating that each drug lord is to be executed in Iran, they will make noise. Our question is, if we execute drug dealers and don’t promote drugs, what is the fuss for? He attributed these recent discussions in our country to Zionist propaganda, and thieves and robbers in this country.
وي خاطر نشان كرد: 13 درصد از معتادان اروپا را ترياكيها به خود اختصاص ميدهند، اما آنها در جاي ديگري شراب ميل ميكنند. ما عليرغم اينكه براي پيروان حضرت موسي احترام قائل هستيم، اما مخالف صهيونيست جهاني هستيم. وي تجارت مواد مخدر را كار صهيونيستها اعلام كرد و گفت: هدف آنها مواد مخدر است، اين در حالي است كه حتي يك صهيونيست معتاد هم نميتوان پيدا كرد و ما ميخواهيم از محققان و سازمانهاي بين المللي خود را معرفي كنند كه چرا صهيونيستها ترويج و گسترش دهنده مواد مخدر هستند، اما خود آنها معتاد نيستند. معاون اول رييس جمهور تصريح كرد: در دنيا 210 ميليون نفر يك بار مواد مخدر را تجربه ميكنند و 27 ميليون نفر در دنيا معتاد وجود دارد كه بيشتر آنها مربوط به كشورهاي آسيايي است. رحيمي با بيان اينكه هر معتاد 5 نفر را درگير ميكند گفت: در حال حاضر 70 درصد از زندانيان ايران را مواد مخدريها تشكيل ميدهند و 300 هزار پرونده مواد مخدر در قوه قضاييه وجود دارد كه باعث شده قوه قضاييه را به خود مشغول دارد. رحيمي اظهار كرد: بر اساس قوانين و مقررات هر باره كه سردسته مواد مخدري در ايران اعدام ميشود آنها سر و صدا ميكنند. سوال ما اين است شما مواد مخدر را ترويج ميكنيد و ما اعدام ميكنيم پس سر و صدا براي چيست. وي ادامه داد: به اين گونه مباحث تبليغات صهيونيستي گفته ميشود كه اخيرا در كشور ما هم باب شده و دزدان در اين مملكت آي دزد آي دزد راه انداختهاند.
Rahimi said the spread of drugs has occurred mostly in Asian countries because in Africa there is no money to buy drugs.
به گفته رحيمي گسترش مواد مخدر بيشتر در كشورهاي آسيايي اتفاق افتاده چرا كه در آفريقا پولي براي خريد مواد مخدر وجود ندارد.
He also pointed out: 10 percent of Americans are addicted to drugs but the Zionists are behind the whole story. The Vice President also stated that three million immigrants are in their country for years and it is possible to call Iran the largest immigrant country. If these numbers are taken out of the country the number of unemployed in our nation of Iran will reach zero.
وي همچنين خاطر نشان كرد: 10 درصد از آمريكاييها معتاد هستند اما پشت پرده همه ماجراي مواد مخدر صهيونييستها قرار دارند. معاون اول رييس جمهور همچنين بيان كرد سالهاست كه سه ميليون مهمان افغانستاني به كشور ما تحميل شده است و گفته ميشود ايران بزرگترين كشور مهاجر پذير است. اگر اين تعداد از كشور خارج شوند بيكاريمان به صفر ميرسد چون به همين تعداد بيكار در كشور داريم.
Elsewhere in his remarks about America, he claimed that via satellite they monitor certain events such as in prison camps and military bases, he said: "So why do you not see all the poppy fields in Afghanistan? Are you blind?”
وي در بخش ديگري از اظهارات خود درباره اينكه امريكا ادعا ميكند از طريق ماهواره اتفاقات فلان پادگان يا زندان را ميداند گفت: پس چرا آن همه مزارع ترياك در افغانستان را نميبينيد؟ كوريد؟
He said wherever Iran shows independence and freedom there are manifestations of global arrogance and World Zionism. Why should the Islamic Republic of Iran give 4000 martyrs for fighting drugs, but there should not even be blood from the nose of one of them?
وي گفت: هر كجا مظاهر استقلال و آزادي ايران است استكبار و صهيونيست جهاني آنجا را ميكوبد. چرا بايد جمهوري اسلامي ايران چهارهزار شهيد براي مبارزه با مواد مخدر بدهد اما از دماغ يك نفر از آنها هم خون نيايد.
The Vice President said: if a carpenter from the Secretary-General headquarters to fight drug trafficking built a wall around Iran to stop opium from entering the country, what to do with industrial materials? Who will organize this material? The hands behind the curtain.
معاون اول رييس جمهور گفت: اگر دبير كل ستاد مبارزه با مواد مخدر (نجار) دور ايران را ديوار بكشد تا ترياك وارد كشور نشود با مواد صنعتي چكار كنيم. چه كسي اين مواد را سازماندهي ميكند. پس دستهايي پشت پرده وجود دارد.
Rahimi said: A United States Senator has said they will poison Iranians via cigarettes so we must tell the people and in the schools what kind of people they are. Rahimi said in another part of his speech: Doctors say there are enough drugs in the body and when someone is smoking all the time God has put enough of this in the body to discipline the body. This is why drug addiction affects the body with pain.
رحيمي اظهار كرد: سناتور امريكا گفته است ما ايرانيان را از طريق مسموم كردن سيگار از پا در ميآوريم پس بايد به مردم و مدارس بگوييم كه اينها چه كساني هستند. رحيمي در بخش ديگري از سخنان خود گفت: پزشكان ميگويند به اندازه كافي مخدر در بدن وجود دارد و خداوند اين مواد را به اندازه كافي در بدن قرار داده است زماني كه كسي مواد مصرف ميكند تمام نظم و انضباط بدن را به هم ميريزد به همين دليل است معتادان در زمان ترك اعتياد به انواع دردهاي بدن دچار ميشوند.
He emphasized that the Zionists are behind all the stories of drugs and said that Iran is willing to pay the price of the research so all countries in the world know that Zionism is the main drug. He said that the Iranian people, despite intense sanctions, are stalwart and content. He stressed: there is no way except by making people ready to fight drugs and we shouldn't fill prisons with drugs.
وي با تاكيد بر اينكه پشت همه ماجراهاي مواد مخدر صهيونيستها قرار دارند گفت: جمهوري اسلامي ايران حاضر است هزينه اين تحقيق را بپردازد تا همه كشورها بدانند كه صهيونيسم عامل اصلي مواد مخدر در جهان است. وي گفت: مردم ايران ايستادهاند و با وجود تحريمهاي شديد قناعت ميكنند. وي تاكيد كرد: هيچ راهي به جز آماده كردن مردم براي مبارزه با مواد مخدر وجود ندارد و نبايد زندانها را از مواد مخدر پر كنيم.
End of messages
Journalist Code: 71 199
کد خبرنگار: 71199
Unlike Juan Cole, who if Rahimi's remarks become more infamous will arise to tell us they are merely whimsical references to a medieval Persian poem, I do not "command" Farsi. Therefore, my translation has been an interesting travail whose product is imperfect. It is made up of five sources: 1) Google Translate; 2) the Babylon English-to-Persian Translation tool; 3) Google Web and Images (for when dictionary lookups failed or produced confusing results); 4) Rahimi's quotes reported in English-language media, which I correlated to their referents in the Farsi transcript which I then replaced (in blue); and most of all, 5) the considerably gracious help of a tehrooni Farsi-speaker, who fought through her annoyance and embarrassment to sort out the most difficult passages. Let me say again that the Farsi transcript is a paraphrase, not verbatim.
Each paragraph is followed by the original Farsi text. Reader edits are most welcome. Based on them or my own efforts, I may be able to improve the translation in the coming days or weeks. I'll make my own changes inline without notification, as that seems most efficient and ethically unproblematic. However, if a reader helps out and I can confirm the new text I'll update this post with an acknowledgement.
Annoyingly, Blogger's GUI won't allow you to format text right-to-left, which one must when writing Farsi, unless you change your whole blog to be an Arabic, Hebrew or Persian-language blog. (American global arrogance!) Because I shudder to imagine the effect that might have on the rest of my posts, which incorporate a lot of custom HTML, I'm not going to bother. So my apologies for the ill-formatted Persian text.
There are two significant, if not precisely crucial, differences between the Rahimi quotes circulating and the Farsi transcript. First, Rahimi was quoted claiming the Talmud teaches Jews "how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother." According to the transcript, he didn't use a Farsi verb meaning "protect". I felt the closest English interpretation of the verb he was reported to have used -- پرورش داده -- which might unite the means (destroying non-Jews) with the ends (conferring some benefit on Jewish fetuses), was "nourish". But yeah, it's still batshit crazy.
Second, Rahimi was reported to have said Jews kill "black babies" on the orders of "the Zionists". The transcript says Rahimi claimed that in order to control the population of Native Americans, Jewish doctors sterilized Native American women. The Farsi phrase used is "red-skinned" and as it once was here in rougher times, Iranians use it to refer to Native Americans. They do not use it to refer to black people.
Thomas Erdbrink, whose New York Times report on the speech (linked above) is the most heavily cited, told me he witnessed the event and ran quotes that were rendered into English by an official Iranian government translator. The transcript I translated was made by the Iranian Students' News Agency.
Though the ISNA transcript appears to be an eyewitness rendering, it's been secreted away and I'll never find "Journalist 71199" to ask after the methods he or she used.
I've made requests of Ahmadinejad's office and relevant departments of the United Nations to obtain a verbatim transcript in any language of Rahimi's speech. I'll update if I receive fruitful responses.
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Two on Terrorism
Glenn Greenwald's opinion that terrorism studies doesn't exist is based on his perception that its scholars focus disproportionately on their ideological enemies. (That isn't true -- Greenwald, a dilettante, assumes the talking heads on US TV news are the key scholars in the field.) Thus the Western analysts who populate terrorism studies focus on terrorism by Muslims and ignore Christian, Jewish and "state terrorism". The field is so polluted by bias as to be nugatory.
This fronts a broader concern held largely by left-of-center people -- that Muslim terrorism has become a lightning rod for racist malice against Arabs, Muslims, the dusky Easterner. Concern about terrorism is a merkin for Orientalist hostility.
Pair with this another of Greenwald's key themes, that Western foreign policy is by equal turns stupid and counterproductive, because visiting violence on Muslims in order to fight terrorism produces more terrorists than it destroys. If that is true, then given our unipolar power and multiple campaigns in Muslim lands, wouldn't by necessity the vast majority of terrorists today be Muslims? Wouldn't that explain the academic bias Greenwald alleges, as well as exonerate the average person, who when first hearing about a new mass murder, wonders if its perpetrators were Muslims?
If not, then what are the other root causes of terrorism, and how many terrorists are created by the Greenwald method versus the others? Shouldn't Greenwald attempt to answer, if he wants us to give his analysis weight?
Related is the lament that we blame Muslims en bloc for the tiny minority of extremists among them. But those who most conspicuously carry this concern -- again, left-of-center people -- often offer a systemic analysis of how non-Muslim terrorism comes about. Consider this recent Nation blog post by Jessica Valenti, who in the course of chiding the media for "ignoring domestic terrorism" -- the bombing of a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin -- warns that the attack was "a foreseeable result of a conservative culture that uses violent rhetoric and lies" to "rile up" its constituency. The Gabrielle Giffords shooting (not really terrorism, but close) produced a similar response. Peter Daou sententiously announced -- "We do not yet know whether the Arizona massacre was directly fueled by rightwing [sic] rhetoric" -- while summarizing left-wing efforts to pin the shooting on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.
If this -- a systemic analysis in which mainstream right-wing discourse roils until it actuates fanatical violence -- is fair game, then isn't it also fair game to surmise that the millions of Muslims who aren't violent themselves but endorse violence against Israel, entertain anti-American and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and long to extirpate Western troops and influence from Muslim lands, are the engine of a social machine that produces terrorism?