Jun 26, 2012

Shifting politics

In this newsletter are notes: on Middle East shifting politics, on a baby fruit bat, on success of BDS campaign against Caterpillar, on an upcoming trip to Germany, and a factoid on "anti-Semitism".

Many years ago, I started to state in my lectures and in conversations and in my writings that we have only two paths going forward: the path of "might makes right" (those with the bigger stick get what they want right or wrong) OR the path of justice and human rights and international law. I stated that we Palestinians wanted the second path but it was full of land mines laid by people who chose the first path.  I predicted that Zionism, which chose the first path, will lose anyway.  It can lose by enforcement of International law (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention for the Suppression of the Crime of Apartheid and Racial Discrimination).  It will also lose if "might makes right" remains the path of governments like Israel and the United States. This is because to every action there is a reaction.  Fundamentalism will be answered with fundamentalism.  Hypocrisy cannot last forever unexposed.  Why is NATO criticizing Syria for shooting down a Turkish Jet over Syrian territory when NATO said nothing about an Israeli attack on a Turkish civilian ship in International waters including execution of 9 Turkish passengers?

The rise of Jewish fundamentalism and its intensifying atrocities (e.g. in Gaza and the West Bank), is now facing a rising Islamic tide.  Its largest manifestation is amply demonstrated in the results of election in Palestinian Occupied areas in 2006, in Lebanon over the past two decades, in Tunisia, and most recently in the Egyptian elections.  Libya's model is diffent (a coup backed by the West).  These dramatic changes in the geopolitical landscape need to be digested, and properly responded to. The train to the future will leave behind any political leader or party which does not act positively based on a deep understanding of current and future trends.

It remains to be seen how Islamic oriented political parties rule. Hamas is not an example here since Palestinians are under occupation and only Israel rules the occupied areas including Gaza.  Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government and it seems the system is an uneasy equilibrium between secular and Islamic forces.  In Iran, the Mullahs run the government but the economy is in bad shape partly due to centralization and the sanctions being imposed on Iran thanks to the Israeli lobby in Western countries.  Turkey has a moderate Islamic party in power and seems to be doing very well economically. I think the era of one man dictatorial rule is slowly giving way to a trend of Islamization but also of empowerment of people.  We must insist first and foremost on freedom: of thought, of religion (and from religion too), of movement, of assembly and demonstration etc.   But governments (Islamic or Secular) must also do more to educate citizens, empower them, improve economies, education, health care etc. Consumerism must be replaced by improving production, responsible development, protecting the environmental etc. 

On a baby bat: I now have a baby fruit bat at home.  She is 2-3 weeks old.  After the untimely death of its mother, it took us a while to figure out how to take care of it. We now use a piece of cloth as an artificial nipple and human baby formula.  The delicate helpless baby is like human babies in many ways.  Their larger than usual heads, chubby cheeks, tender skin, and feeble cries elicit a motherly instinct in all who encounter it. I see the flood of emotion from any friend or relative who visits and see the baby bat.  A baby elephant is helped by any member of the group nearby. A baby dog is coddled by humans and dogs alike. These emotions remind us of the connectedness of all living things.  Babies grow to the curiosity and inquisitiveness of childhood.  Among humans that leads to the idealism of youth.  Among humans though, unfortunately some of us grow up to do mean things to fellow human beings and other creatures around them.  Other animals do not kill for greed or for sport or for a flag or a religion.  They kill only to feed if they are carnivorous or defend themselves from being killed. If only humans remained young or reconnected with fellow creatures.  We could avoid war, environmental destruction and much more.

Major US Retirement Fund Divests From Caterpillar

Trip: I will on a trip to Germany June 28-July 7 (Munich, Pfaffenhoffen, Heidelberg, and Karlsruhe) for a conference and talks. Let me know if you are in one of these Southern German towns or if you know anyone there to connect with.

Factoid: A Jewish German by the name of Heyman Steinthal was actually the first person to use the words "ani-Semitism" in 1860 in Zeitschrift fur Volkespsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft 1:328 (The Jewish Question: Biography of a World Problem,  By Alex Bei, p. 594). Later the term was used by Wilhelm Marr (who had twice married Jewish women with unhappy marriages) and was more well known after the "Anti-Semite League was formed".  The term is misleading since most European Jews are not Semites.  Arabs are of course Semites.


  1. As I put it on my website, One Democratic State, "I totally agree that Zionism and its offspring, the Jewish state of Israel, were doomed from the very beginning. The only question has been how much suffering, devastation and horror they will cause before the inevitable happens."

    Roger Tucker

  2. The origin of the word is not the same as the origin of the phenomenon. Anti-semitism as a term was used mostly by Germans who hated Jews, most notably E Duhring and proto-nazi's such as Nietzsche's sister and husband, and Cosmia Wagner and her husband. They used it specifically in their literature and propaganda against Jews in Germany between 1860-1945. Furthermore 'Semites' or 'Semitism' was originally a lingustic term denoting a language family, and not a race or culture. Germans of the time and most Europeans did in large measure identify people with their mother tongue and not their race or natinal homeland - thus for example you have the Volks Deutch of the Russian plains etc-.Russians who spoke German and were thus regarded as German. Thus it is correct to call European Jews Semites, and in theory those Arabs and east Africans who speak Arabic, Hebrew and Amharic. In reality German anti-semites did not dislike Muslims and other semites as such.

    If of course you believe the historically tenuous claims that Arabs and Jews are both descendents of Shem, then you may also argue that Christians are at least in some senses descended from Shem, as this is their theologiccal stand, and that they too are semites (the Tony Blair approach), which in my mind would make the term redundant. Of course it is a favourite of some people to point of that Arabs are Semites, and by implication that Anti-Semitism is contraction in adjecto, ie you cannot have Arab anti-semtism. Of course many people speak Arabic who are not Arabs, such as Africans and Asians, so the confusion between race, language and ethnicity makes all these points moot.

    I personally think that Anti-Semitism should be used to denote hatred of Jews, as this was its intial and clearest definition and historical connotation. Of course words have an organic existence and will be used in different ways as time progresses. Hatred of Muslims is a different phenomena - different from anti-semitism- in that it has a different origin and history. Mulisms have never been a marginalized race in the Jewish sense of the term, and the ignorance and hatred vented towards them is the product of very different, though no less abhorant, origins.

  3. Gotta give Mazin credit; he refuses to accept the reality that you can't fool all the people all the time and keeps trying to do just that.