Friday, February 24, 2012

Does talking about anything make a difference?

Who can say but I guess if you don't say it then it definitely does not make a difference. I seem to spend a lot of time writing, or countering ignorance at work in the world - yes it is my astrological destiny which makes me feel less guilty.

I know that sounds pretentious but I would qualify that by saying I research often and widely on the subject of the Middle East and I have experienced the parlous state of America's propagandised and partisan news services enough to perceive egregious levels of ignorance in many Americans in regard to the world in general and the Middle East in particular. On a plus note, I also have a sense that more Americans are beginning to access their news information online from independent American news services and international sources.

The latest discussion has been with some Americans, many of whom, sadly seem all too keen on going to war with Iran. It beggars belief that they can believe what they believe but I have spent enough time in the US and watched enough of their 'news' - and I use the term news lightly and laughably - to understand why they are so ignorant and ill-informed about the Middle East in general and Israel and Iran in particular.

I just happen to believe, and I am talking about intelligent, educated people here who are rich enough to have access and time for the internet, if you are going to support war-mongering then you have to be pretty clear about why you are doing it and what the risks might be.

I never cease to be astonished at how easily and blithely some people support war! Particularly a war like this which could not be won and where nuclear weapons might be used. They must live in some fairyland, divorced from the real world, where they believe you can bomb and kill at will (clearly as many Israelis do) with no retribution!

Anyway, I spent time doing this earlier and while I suspect it landed on deaf ears it did make me feel better, no doubt satisfying the Cassandra archetype at work in me. Then again, no-one listened to her either but it did not stop her from speaking out.

So here is, probably pointless conversations with a few Americans who seem to think war with Iran is a good idea, with exceptions noted as existing on the thread, albeit in a minority:

Adrianne this is a very important discussion so the more people who participate the better.

You said: Not to insert myself into an argument, but Iranian leaders (particularly Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah Khomenei) have stated repeatedly that one of their main goals is to destroy the state of Israel and have directly advocated for the extermination of the Jewish race.

Actually no they haven't. You have been told they have said this but they haven't. Your media has said they have said this but they haven't.

If you read articles from Iranian writers and articles by commentators - many of them American, but from around the world, including England, Australia, Russia, Europe, Israel etc., you will gain a better perspective and a true perspective and it will become clear that these accusations as to what Iran has stated are utterly untrue. There are a number of independent news services which provide more balanced information, many of them US based and Truthout, Common Dreams and Information Clearing House are just three.

The Israeli propaganda is sourced in a comment Ahmadinajad made some years ago where he said in essence: 'the Zionist entity would pass from the pages of history.' You can easily look up this quote and then easily find translations made by language scholars, many of them American, which will give you the accurate translation not the propaganda which the Israelis and their followers now spout.

You may not know it but there are many followers of Judaism and many Israelis who also wish the 'Zionist entity to pass from the pages of history.' Zionism is not Judaism and is actually a fundamentalist, racist ideology which is destroying Israel and giving Judaism a bad name.

You said:  We all know what happened last time the West ignored a dictator with a vitriolic hatred of Jews, so I think it would be best to take them at their word this time.

Iran is not Germany and has threatened and invaded no-one. It was the US which backed and supported Iraq's invasion of and war against Iran - Iran has attacked no-one for more than 100 years while Israel in its 60 year history has attacked numerous times.

Iran has not threatened another nation - Israel does nothing but threaten other nations, as does the US.

Iran is a large and powerful nation with a strong military. It has no nuclear weapons and it's people are an ancient, pragmatic people who, despite their own problems, are not hegemonic as Hitler was.

More to the point, Hitler's war was not against Jews - the suffering of followers of Judaism was a part of that war certainly, alongside the millions of Romanies or Gypsies who were killed for the same reason followers of Judaism were killed as well as millions of Poles (also considered inferior), homosexuals and political dissenters.

You said: Also, almost every major war between Israel and Arab states was either motivated by terror attacks against Israel or a direct attack by a group of Arab nations against Israel. The Six Day War and both the First and Second Intifadas are examples of this.

Wrong again. Do some research. You will find US and Israeli historians along with European, English, Middle Eastern who make a very, very clear case that all of these wars were instigated by Israel - and all are sourced in the illegal and immoral colonial war waged against palestine to create the state of Israel. Those which followed were also sourced in the ethnic cleansing which the Zionist army carried out against Palestine and Israel's continued occupation and colonisation of Palestine which denies human rights to the indigenous Palestinians.

One would also make the point that the Israelis use violence and terrorism to maintain their occupation of Palestine and the Palestinians use violence and have used terrorism to free themselves from occupation. The first is a war crime and the second, is a human right.

You said: Lastly, there is no apartheid in Israel. Apartheid is state-sponsored discrimination. Israel is the only state in the Mediterranean Middle-eastern region in which Palestinians have citizenship, hold positions in government and the military, and have access equal education.

Again, do some reading and start with Israeli historians and commentators. An apartheid state is one where there is separation between groups of people. In South Africa it was based on race - in Israel it is based on religion.

The Palestinians who were given Israeli citizenship are second class citizens. I would refer you to Israeli human rights and peace groups for the detailed information on this flouting of human rights. Non-Jewish Israelis get poorer education, health services and are prevented from the following - living anywhere they choose in Israel; building on to their homes or extending them; marrying Israelis; bringing parents, spouses, children from outside of Israel into Israel; working outside of Israel and then returning .....but you can find all this out for yourself.

As to apartheid - you may not call it that but the rest of the world does - those Palestinians who are held under occupation and who watch their country being illegally colonised are either imprisoned in Gaza which is a concentration camp or imprisoned in cantons or bantustans behind Israel's apartheid wall and behind checkpoints. There are Jew-only settlements and Jew-only roads and while Jews can travel where they want when they want the Palestinians can take hours to get to their fields, schools, jobs, or homes.

Israel's Apartheid Wall has been built on Palestinian land and it cuts people off from family, community, farms, friends - and you don't see that as apartheid.

And by the way, the mere use as you do here of the term Jew and Palestinian is a  part of the propaganda. Palestinians are a people and a nationality - Jews are followers of a religion. You can talk about Muslims and Jews or Palestinians and Israelis but not the other.

Most followers of Judaism, or Jews do not live in Israel but are instead citizens of hundreds of countries around the world - including Iran, where there are Jewish members of the Government.

The truly worrying thing for the world at large is the egregious level of ignorance amongst Americans in regard to Israel which stands, at this point in time as the source of one of our worst wars yet.

While Americans may swallow the lies, the rest of the world does not and if you do enough reading of the international press and the independent American press you will quickly find that Israel is seen as a pariah and a rogue state and with the US, the greatest threat to world peace today.

Angela, you raise very good points about the obsession with Iran when there is real genocide elsewhere in the world. In answer to your question Why? it is really pretty simple. If they had the sort of oil supplies in Sudan that they have in the Middle East that would be the focus.

As the saying goes: nations don't have friends they have interests and the US, no matter how altruistic it may believe itself to be is no different to all other nations - it is self-serving. It wants to look after itself and it wants to continue to believe it is the world power.

I happen to believe the days of one great world power are gone. The Chinese are already in far better shape than the US - with a billion people and a solid economy while the US has bankrupted itself through war but the reality is that Russia is returning in strength and India is also coming up - we are actually going to have to get on with each other and recognise we need each other and there is no longer any one power.

Having said that however, the US has been bent on military hegemony for quite some time. Yes, to control oil supplies but also to establish a footprint. Many Americans may not know that the US has more than a dozen military bases in Iraq - the reason for the invasion in the first place - and when the troops get pulled out the mercenaries get sent in. Tens of thousands of private mercenaries were used by the US in its war against Iraq and are still used, there and in Afghanistan. Don't believe me, do the research.

More to the point regarding Iran - the US has 44 military bases surrounding Iraq. There is a map which you can find easily. I will post a link to Juan Cole's site because he has it. So as to Iran being a threat - not likely. Iran has no nuclear weapons. It does have an excellent military and it could not be invaded, occupied or destroyed - hence the plan to ring it with bases - but as to being a threat, ridiculous.

So between the power which Israeli and Jewish lobby groups wield in Washington and the power which the Industrial Arms Complex wields in Washington and the desire of the US to remain a military power, you have the focus on the Middle East where most of the oil is!

Without energy no-one has power and while nuclear power is an increasing reality there is no doubt that oil fuels the military machine and if you control the oil then you are able to retail greater power - however ultimately useless that power may be where, as in the case of the US, a half of your people are living in poverty, your economy is trashed (the Chinese virtually own the US dollar these days) and if you were to use your power to dominate we would all be dead because only nuclear weapons and destroying countries would achieve that end.

The oops factor is it would also destroy the oil so in many ways all of this is a game - but a dangerous game. The Israelis are delusional at best and insane at worst and could do something as stupid as attacking Iran. We could be in a war before we know it.

And at this point it time Americans are the ones with the greatest power to haul their government into line which can then haul Israel into line and bring peace to the Middle East by either forcing the Israelis to negotiate legitimate borders for themselves - a two state solution - although it is probably too late - or force a one-state solution, as you have and we have, where there is equal rights for all - indigenous and colonisers alike.


You said: The second reason I think we focus on the Middle East is that Israel is a staunch ally and represents American values and stability in a region filled with tyranny, poverty, and inequality. Israel significantly contributes to advancements in the fields of science and medicine, and is the only democracy in the region.

Having spent time in both the US and Israel let me tell you Israel does not represent American values and is one of the most racist and discriminatory countries on the planet.

While both the US and Israel use State sanctioned terror against anyone they define as enemies, the American values as they function in the society are not discriminatory and do offer equal rights for all. Israel discriminates on the basis of religion and is reminiscent of the American South in the first part of the last century - not the modern, democratic nation which the US is.

Don't believe me? Do a search on B'Tselem, Israel's human rights group or Peace Now, an Israeli peace group or any other human rights, peace or justice activist group in Israel. The reality is that more of the truth gets told in Israel than in the US. Then again, Israel could not survive without being bankrolled by the US so there is a reason for that.

You said: We are also supposedly in a global war on terror, regardless of any of our opinions on that subject are, and Israel is probably the most frequent target of Islamic terrorist attacks of any country in the world.

And that is because Israel from its inception has done nothing but target Muslims and use war to maintain its occupation and colonisation of Palestine.

You might also take the time to read reports on the treatment of the Palestinians which have been written by international human rights groups including American and United Nations and then you might understand why so many people in the world, who are not subjected to the US media and its distorted version of the events see things as I do.

It is one thing to be ignorant but it is quite another to justify war on the basis of ignorance. Any responsible citizen needs to know exactly why a war might be waged and the cost involved. 

And on another thread talking about whether or not the US can advise others in terms of human rights:

I don't think the US can champion human rights anymore and has not been able to do so for a long time. Neither can any developed nation, including mine, which places itself as an ally.

Like you I was around in the 60's and 70's when we fought for justice for women - and against the Vietnam War where Australians followed the US lead and entered that unjust and iniquitous war - and looking around now it seems we have gone backwards not forwards and betrayed the principles on which the modern world so perilously now sits.

We support and have supported, through omission and commission, the worst of regimes - the Saudis who are repressive in generally and egregiously repressive toward women; Saddam Hussein even as he gassed the Kurds was still supported and armed by the US; the Israelis who occupy, colonise and oppress the Palestinians ... flouting international law, committing war crimes and the worst of human rights abuses and still calling themselves a democracy; the Chinese as they occupy, colonise and oppress the Tibetans in the same way the Israelis treat the Palestinians and yet who are not as hypocritical as they don't claim to be a democracy; the Egyptian dictator Mubarak - now gone; the Syrian dictator - now being treated as Saddam Hussein was but who was supported by the US and its allies for decades and countless other dictators, tyrants and oppressors of women around the world.

But I think the invasion and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have put the nail in the coffin of Western 'superiority.' I mean the US and allies actually supported the Taliban (despite their misogynistic beliefs) into government in the first place and then changed their minds because the Taliban would not play 'ball' on the oil pipeline which the US wanted to put through their country. Out with the Taliban and in with Karzai, an ex-oil man who was happy to play 'ball.'

While many people in the West may not be fully aware or at all aware of international self-serving meddling by the West, let's just say, those who have suffered at our hands - and that is hundreds of countries and millions of people - know what we have done and continue to do.

We are morally bankrupt, sadly and the Chinese and those who are happy to ignore enlightened values of human rights etc., must fall about laughing everytime the US or some Western nation tries to dictate to them about human rights. 

We have betrayed the principles of the modern and enlightened world at our peril and rubbed fragile the thin layer of civilization which protects us.


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