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By definition, "posts" go on this page. I also add the post title to a Table of Contents on the Contents page. (See links above.) Posts are archived by the month. To bring up all the posts for a particular month, click on the "month" button below. (E.g.: 2003.08.01) Materials on other pages are permanent and I do not update the Table of Contents as I add to them.

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Thanks again for visiting.
11Feb04

2004.01.01 | 2003.12.01 | 2003.11.01 | 2003.10.01 | 2003.09.01 | 2003.08.01

Friday, January 30, 2004

The Other Israel

The Other Israel is one of a growing number of Israeli peace groups opposing the Ariel Sharon/George W. Bush in-your-face subjugation of the Palestinian people. (In my view, the Israeli peace movement is precisely analogous to the U.S. protest against the Vietnam War. You will surmise correctly here that I consider President Bush’s so-called Road Map For Peace to be a charade. See my January 16 post.)

I recently received and read through the December-January newsletter issue, No 111/112. It is available on-line (go to the URL above), and I strongly urge visitors to read it. I also strongly recommend subscribing to TOI’s e-mail update and alert service, if only to be current on what the Israeli peace movement is doing . Send your e-mail address to otherisr@actcom.co.il  (Also see  Gush Shalom .)

The newsletter is densely packed with powerful and informative material. It is in no way a polemic or propaganda organ. Indeed, the statements of the Israeli refuseniks and peace workers approach the sublime.  See The Pilot’s Letter, Leibovitz & the Air Force, A state lacking justice cannot stand, Protest of ‘a loyal reservist.’

A Breaking Consensus, and Three Peace Proposals present comprehensive discussions of the different peace proposals that have been developed by private negotiators from each side. Of these, the Geneva Accord is the most publicized and holds out the most hope for a lasting peace — if the Bush Administration can be persuaded to support it.

Following is a transcript of A state lacking justice cannot stand, an excerpt from the article A Failed Israeli Society Collapses While Its Leaders Remain Silent, by Israeli Knesset Member Avraham Burg:

(...) Traveling on the fast highway, it is hard to comprehend the humiliating experience of the despised Arab who must creep for hours along the pocked, blockaded roads assigned to him. One road for the occupier, one road for the occupied. This cannot work. Even if the Arabs lower their heads and swallow their shame and anger forever, it won't work. A structure built on human callousness will inevitably collapse in on itself. Note this moment well: Zionism's superstructure is already collapsing like a cheap Jerusalem wedding hall. Only madmen continue dancing on the top floor while the pillars below are collapsing.

We have grown accustomed to ignoring the suffering of the women at the roadblocks. No wonder that we also don't hear the cries of the abused woman living next door, or the single mother struggling to support her children in dignity. And we don't even bother to count the number of women murdered by their husbands.

Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come, swathed in hatred, and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism. They consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation, because their own lives are torture. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because at home they have brothers and parents who are hungry and humiliated.

We could kill a thousand ringleaders and bomb-makers every day, and it will solve nothing. These ringleaders come up from below — from the wells of hatred and anger, from the "infrastructures" of injustice (...)

It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive. More and more Israelis are coming to understand this as they ask their children where they expect to live in 25 years. Children who are honest admit, to their parents' shock, that they do not know. The countdown to the end of Israeli society has begun (...).

The time for illusions is over. The time for decisions has arrived. We love the entire land of our forefathers, and in some other time we would have wanted to live here alone. But that will not happen. The Arabs, too, have dreams and needs.(...)

We must remove all the settlements — all of them — and draw an internationally recognized border between the Jewish national home and the Palestinian national home. The Jewish Law of Return will apply only within our national home, and their Right of Return will apply only within the borders of the Palestinian state.

The Other Israel, POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.

12:36 pm pst

Friday, January 16, 2004

Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein on Middle East peace process

Dianne Feinstein represents California in the United States Senate.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

I was pleased to learn, through your website, that last November 25 you had co-sponsored a resolution in support of the Geneva Accord. I appreciated your eloquent statements in support of this creative and courageous peace effort.

That was then. Today, the construction of the Separation Fence in Israel, overtly designed to confiscate as much Palestinian land and water as possible under the eye of a disapproving world, is taking place with the tacit approval of the Bush administration. It is highly plausible to surmise that Ariel Sharon is deliberately provoking militant Palestinians to increase their violence against Israel so that he can justify the eventual elimination of the entire Arab and Palestinian population from Greater Israel. It is clear that President Bush, sharing the goals of the neocons within and outside of the administration, has no intention of restraining Sharon.

Thus, I suggest that it is time for you to take a stronger stand. President Bush does not need to be encouraged to support the Geneva Accord — he needs to be forced to support it. Even under the current political configuration in the House and Senate, there must be some way to draw attention to the commitment to violence that Sharon shares with the most extreme elements of the Palestinian resistance. It is also time to stop using past injustice against Jews as an excuse for the neo-Fascist attitudes now dominating Israeli life. "You become what you hate," is an accurate statement of what is in store for Israel if she is not led to a more humane, and realistic approach to ending the conflict. We are witnessing a colossal human tragedy, carried out with barely concealed enthusiasm by a genuine human rights violator — Ariel Sharon — and with the barely concealed approval of a President who led us into a war based on lies and a desire for revenge upon a tin-horn dictator.

I’m certain that you are aware of the efforts of the Israeli peace community, and the sacrifices being made by the growing numbers of Israeli soldiers who are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories. They need our support, and your strong leadership in support of the Geneva Accord will give them hope and encouragement — to say nothing of the positive effect on America’s own peace and justice community. In truth, Senator Feinstein, America and Israel are each in the grip of a true psychopathology. The Israeli peace movement is trying to heal Israel. I hope that you will be the person to begin that process here at home. The stakes grow higher with each passing day.

Sincerely,

Bill Becker

1:57 pm pst

Don Marquis and archy the cockroach

Don Marquis was a New York newspaper columnist and highly popular social critic during the early 1900s. One morning he arrived at his desk to find a composition on the sheet of paper he had left in his typewriter the night before. The text was an introduction of the writer, a cockroach who called himself "archy." Archy said that he had always wanted to be a poet, and thanked Marquis for making it possible for him to live his dream. He asked Marquis to always leave a blank sheet in the typewriter each night when he left the office. He also thanked Marquis for leaving food scraps on the desk for him every night.

The text on the sheet was entirely in lower case, without punctuation, the reason being that the only way archy could make the typewriter key strike the paper was to dive off the platen head- first onto the key, whereupon the momentum of his dive forced the key down with enough pressure to make an imprint on the paper. He did this for each letter, and by the end of the evening, he was thoroughly worn out. He couldn’t arrange a way to work the shift key simultaneously; thus the lower case text. I forget how he managed to arrange the carriage returns for separate lines. For more information on a great humanist, go to http://www.donmarquis.com.

 

From the life and times of archy & mehitabel, by Don Marquis. Doubleday, 1950. (I will add to the archy collection in future posts.)

aesop revised by archy

a wolf met a spring
lamb drinking
at a stream
and said to her
you are the lamb
that muddied this stream
all last year
so that i could not get
a clean fresh drink
i am resolved that
this outrage
shall not be enacted again
this season
i am going to kill you
just a moment
said the lamb
i was not born last
year so it could not
have been I
the wolf then pulled
a number of other
arguments as to why the
lamb should die
but in each case the lamb
pretty innocent that she was
easily proved
herself guiltless
well well said the wolf
enough of argument
you are right and i am wrong
but i am going to eat
you anyhow
because i am hungry
stop exclamation point
cried a human voice
and a man came over
the slope of the ravine
vile lupine marauder
you shall not kill that
beautiful and innocent
lamb for i shall save her
exit the wolf
left upper entrance
snarling
poor little lamb
continued our human hero
sweet tender little thing
it is well that i appeared
just when i did
it makes my blood boil
to think of the fright
to which you have been
subjected in another
moment i would have been
too late come home with me
and the lamb frolicked
about her new found friend
gamboling as to the sound
of a wordsworthian tabor
and leaping for joy
as if propelled by a stanza
from william blake
these vile and bloody wolves
went on our hero
in honest indignation
they must be cleared out
of the country
the meads must be made safe
for sheepocracy
and so jollying her along
with the usual human hokum
he led her to his home
and the son of a gun
did not even blush when
they passed the mint bed
gently he cut her throat
all the while inveighing
against the inhuman wolf
and tenderly he cooked her
and lovingly he sauced her
and meltingly he ate her
and piously he said a grace
thanking his gods
for their bountiful gifts to him
and after dinner
he sat with his pipe
before the fire meditating
on the brutality of wolves
and the injustice of
the universe
which allows them to harry
poor innocent lambs
and wondering if he
had not better
write to the papers
for as he said
for god s sake can t
something be done about it
                                       archy

11:45 am pst

Thursday, January 1, 2004

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM FISH RECOMMENDATIONS

The Monterey Bay Aquarium researches the state of the world’s ocean and freshwater fisheries, and provides a table of good, marginal, and bad fish choices.

Best Choices

Catfish (farmed)
Caviar (farmed)
Clams (farmed)
Crab: Dungeness
Crab: Snow(Canada)
Crab: Stone
Halibut: Pacific
Lobster: Spiny/Rock (U.S., Australia)
Mussels (farmed)
Oysters (farmed)
Salmon (Alaska, wild-caught)
Salmon (canned)
Sardines
Shrimp/Prawns (trap-caught)
Striped Bass (farmed)
Sturgeon (farmed)
Tilapia (farmed)
Trout: Rainbow (farmed)
Tuna: Albacore (troll/pole-caught)
Tuna: Bigeye (troll/pole-caught)
Tuna: Yellowfin (troll/pole-caught)

Proceed with Caution

Clams (wild-caught)
Cod: Pacific
Crab: Blue
Crab: Imitation/Surimi
Crab: King (Alaska)
Crab: Snow (U.S.)
Flounder: Summer/Fluke
Lobster: American/Maine
Mahimahi/Dolphinfish/Dorado
Oysters (wild-caught)
Pollock
Scallops: Bay
Scallops: Sea
Shrimp (U.S. farmed or U.S. wild-caught)
Soles (Pacific)
Squid
Tuna: Albacore (longline-caught)
Tuna: Bigeye (longline-caught)
Tuna: Yellowfin (longline-caught)
Tuna (canned)
 
Avoid
 
Caviar (wild-caught)
Chilean Sea Bass/Toothfish
Cod: Atlantic/Icelandic
Crab: King (imported)
Flounders (Atlantic) except Summer Flounder
Grouper
Halibut: Atlantic
Monkfish
Orange Roughy
Rockfish/Rock Cod (Pacific)
Salmon (farmed/Atlantic)
Sharks
Shrimp (imported)
Snapper: Red
Soles (Atlantic)
Sturgeon (wild-caught)
Swordfish
Tuna: Bluefin

Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium at www.montereybayaquarium.org for more information.

3:47 pm pst

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Michael Moore channels George Orwell

I enthusiastically recommend Michael Moore’s new book, Dude, Where’s My Country? Like his runaway best-seller, Stupid White Men, it is highly entertaining and informative, but here Moore strikes a far more serious tone beneath the wit. In fact, the book contains perhaps the most concise and accurate discussion of the psychopathology of the American political right I have yet seen.

Given the season, I haven’t had time to do a comprehensive review of Dude, Where’s My Country?, nor do I think such a review is really necessary. Just go out and buy the book, and then loan it out to as many people as possible. To entice you toward that end, let me present a few quotes from George Orwell’s 1984 that Moore, brilliant social commentator that he is, thought worthy of including in the book:

"The two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought."

"All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations."

"They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening."

"The capitalists owned everything in the world, and everyone else was their slave. They owned all the land, all the houses, all the factories, and all the money. If anyone disobeyed them they could throw him into prison, or they could take his job away and starve him to death. When any ordinary person spoke to a capitalist he had to cringe and bow to him, and take off his cap and address him as ‘Sir.’"

It’s not rocket science to connect these few Orwellian dots with the domestic and foreign policy steps taken by the Bush administration since 9/11.  I will try to address this subject in more depth after the holidays.

For the die-hard anti-communist reader of this post, let me mention that the book Orwell wrote in satirical protest against Soviet Communism was Animal Farm. 1984 originated entirely from his experience as a propagandist with the British Ministry of Information during WWII.

It is worth noting that Oceania, the fictional country in 1984 Orwell creates as the fiefdom of Big Brother, was born of the political and military union of the United States and the British Empire. In 1984, the Soviet Union became Oceania’s enemy, Eurasia. (Reference on request.)  Orwell saw quite cleary the potential for dictatorship and repression in the democracies as well as in the totalitarian states, and it wasn't from the likes of Hillary Clinton.

Best wishes to all for the holidays, and I look forward to hearing from you in 2004!

Bill

P.s.: Check out the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom: www.gush-shalom.org. Lots of good material on the conflict. More on that later, too.

9:32 pm pst

In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived.