“OUR S.O.B.” GOES DOWN

12 02 2011
vegyptian

remember, remember....

It was Franklin Roosevelt, speaking of Nicaraguan dictator Somoza Garcia, who said “He may be an S.O.B., but he’s our S.O.B.”  And Hosni Mubarak has been our son of a bitch, or maybe just our bitch, in Egypt for thirty years.  As of this writing, he may still be America’s S.O.B., but he is apparently no longer Egypt’s dictator, and it appears that his designated successor, Omar Suleiman, is only passing through.

There are a lot of angles to this story.  First and foremost, obviously, is how the massive frustration of the Egyptian people bred collective courage and determination and a largely non-violent, decentralized popular revolution.  If only it would happen here!

There’s the question of why the Egyptian people feel so frustrated, what it will take to satisfy their demands, and how or even whether it is possible to meet those needs and aspirations.

There’s the question of how this may affect the situation with and within Palestine and Israel.

There’s the role of the Egyptian Army in the transfer of power.

There’s the invariably lame and sometimes downright bizarre responses of American politicians to this movement.

There’s the angle of American (as well as Egyptian) so-called “intelligence services” completely getting this wrong.

There’s the angle of the depth of support the U.S. government has consistently shown for Mubarak’s notoriously repressive rule in Egypt.

And there’s the question of who’s next.  Saudi Arabia?  Algeria?  Mexico?  The United States?

Let’s start with U.S. involvement and work more or less back up the list, but save “who’s next?” for last.

Thanks to WIkileaks, we know that America’s FBI schooled Egypt’s police in torture techniques at a Quantico, Virginia, training center–interestingly enough, the same one where Bradley Manning, of Wikileaks fame, is being held–but not tortured!  Oh, no, no no!  Verry interesting.  But I want to focus on Egypt.  Most of the weapons, from tear gas canisters to…let’s not go there, have “made in U.S.A.” stamped on them somewhere, and even the ones that don’t were mostly paid for by Hosni’s Uncle Sam.  However President Obama tries to position himself now, it is clear that the U.S. has long known about and been a willing accomplice in Mubarak’s repression of the Egyptian people.

Obama’s approval of Suleiman is a case in point.  Suleiman is widely known as “the CIA‘s man in Egypt.”  He is head of the secret police.  He’s co-operated with the U.S. to carry out kidnappings and torture, and to suppress Hamas, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the US because it is willing to use violence to resist violently enforced US/Israeli hegemony.  I’m opposed to the use of violence, but I’m opposed to hypocrisy as well.  Hypocrisy is just a subtle form of violence.  Wikileaks has revealed that Suleiman’s attitude towards the Gaza Ghetto is that it’s OK for people there to “go hungry but not starve.”  How compassionate!   Considering Suleiman’s position in Mubarak’s government and the overwhelming popular support for the Palestinians around the Middle East, Obama’s endorsement of Suleiman is hardly a “change we can believe in.”

The problem for repressive regimes, in Egypt or the U.S., is that they grow increasingly out of touch with reality because, due to the fear factor, nobody is going to tell them anything they don’t want to hear.  That’s why torture doesn’t work–people will tell their torturer anything just to stop the pain.  It doesn’t have to be thumbscrews, either.  Any kind of power over another person’s life will do. Can you say “paycheck,” boys and girls?  How about “membership in the American upper class”?

Mubarak’s own “intelligence service” seemed bent on pinning the unrest on “outside agitators.” (ah, the “song of the South!), which would have been laughable if not for the number of people who were beaten, imprisoned, and outright killed due to this rhetoric.  Our own so-called intelligence services seem to have been surprised by these events, just as they have failed, or simply refused,  to foresee many major shifts in the currents of history–Pearl Harbor, Mao’s triumph in China, the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the end of the Soviet Union and of so-called “Communist” hegemony over eastern Europe, the destruction of the World Trade Center.  The Bush administration, in particular, was famous for fabricating “facts” that bolstered what it wanted to hear.  Ah, the burdens of empire!

(Yes, I am quite open to the likelihood that the CIA, et al.,  neither failed nor ignored, but actively fomented some of the above events…but that’s another subject!)

Yes, the burden of empire will drive any country crazy.  We have been treated to the ironic spectacle of Republican “populists,” frightened out of their tunnel-vision wits at the involvement of radical Islamist organizations like The Muslim Brotherhood in this revolution. throwing their support to Mubarak, who is exactly the kind of strongman they claim to see in Obama.

Ah, the tangled webs we weave, eh?

I mentioned the Egyptian Army, which is a very peculiar institution, as armies go. Last month I said that the U.S. military is one of the best examples of state socialism in the world today, but the Egyptian have us beat.  Since the cessation of hostilities with Israel, they haven’t had a lot to do, militarily.  Instead, they have turned their manpower and resources into an enormous business conglomerate that is involved with everything from resort hotels to agriculture to appliance manufacture to road building.  They don’t want a protracted power struggle.  When it comes to a choice between a stable, happy Egypt without Mubarak or a grim, sullen country with him, the army’s preference is obvious–and that is the choice they have made.  Mubarak is out.

Whether Egyptians will find more happiness without Mubarak may depend on how philosophical the people can be.   From a materialist standpoint, the numbers are not good.  The population has tripled in the last fifty years and at current rates will double again in the next twenty.  Most of the country is virtually uninhabitable desert.  The Aswan dam has proved to be a trade-off:  the country has more electricity, but soil fertility is slipping without the annual Nile floods, and, unreplenished by silt from those floods, the Nile delta, the largest concentration of both population and arable land in the country, is washing away into the Mediterranean Sea.  The country’s oil production peaked fifteen years ago and has fallen 30% since, so it needs to import an increasing amount of its fuel as well as its food. The prices of both oil and food are rising.

What this boils down to is that the Egyptian standard of living is unlikely to improve. As long as the Egyptian people are glad to have more freedom to chart their own destiny in a world of diminished expectations, there is a chance that the country’s gross national happiness index will rise.  If they were expecting a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway once Mubarak left, they will be sorely disappointed.

A change to a more sympathetic government in Egypt could be very good news for the people of Palestine.  If Egypt opens its border with Gaza and becomes more proactive in offering aid, the Israelis will have a much more difficult time keeping the screws tight on that unfortunate ghetto, and will have less energy and for making trouble elsewhere in the Middle East.  Maybe it’s time they started checking out real estate in Nevada?  Nevada, Negev, sounds a lot alike, nu? But I digress….

It’s that famous “butterfly effect.” An oppressed, underemployed fruit vendor immolated himself in Tunisia, and not long after that, the government of Tunisia fell.  To the surprise of everyone and the delight of some, that energy bounced into Egypt and dislodged a long-established,seemingly intransigent regime there in a matter of weeks.  The world is far too complex a system to predict where the next strand in the world-wide web will unravel, or when.  But we seem to have reached a tipping point.  In world politics as with the climate, bigger and bigger things are shifting faster and faster.  It’s no longer “After us, the deluge.”  The deluge is happening.

music:  John Lennon, “Power

vegyptian

remember, remember....

to the People”





THIS MONTH: THE “INCONVENIENT TRUTH” AWARD

13 06 2010

This month, instead of a “truth in strange places” award, I’m giving an “inconvenient truth” award, to the once revered but now reviled Helen Thomas, for this exchange, as reported on Democracy Now:

    RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Yeah, and any comments on Israel? We’re asking everybody today. Any comments on Israel?

    HELEN THOMAS: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.

    RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Ooh, any better comments than that?

    HELEN THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied, and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, and it’s not Poland.

    RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: So where should they go? What should they do?

    HELEN THOMAS: They could go home.

    RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: Where is their home?

    HELEN THOMAS: Poland, Germany—

    RABBI DAVID NESENOFF: So the Jews—you’re saying Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?

    HELEN THOMAS: —and America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries?

Ms. Thomas’ expression of her honest opinion had several unfortunate effects.  Personally, it marked the end of her career as a White House reporter.  In general, the resulting spin storm eclipsed, in the US at least, the outrage of Israel’s violent attack on an unarmed convoy bearing relief supplies for Gaza, where millions of Palestinians are enduring near-concentration camp conditions.

Government and media in this country conveniently ignore the reality of the Palestine/Israel situation, which in many respects eerily parallels the European subjugation of the Americas:  White people with a sense of entitlement helped themselves to territory long held by darker-skinned people, couldn’t understand why this created resentment among the natives, and then used their superior technology and tighter organization to violently suppress native resistance to European invasion.

The further irony in the case of Palestine as a “Jewish homeland” is that, just as  Hindus,  Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Mithraists, and many Christians  in the zone of Muslim conquest  ultimately became Muslim, so many of the original Jews of Palestine became Muslim, and now find themselves oppressed, in the name of “Israel’s right to exist,” by Jews with only a very distant genetic tie to “the Jewish homeland.”

Don’t get me wrong–I was brought up Jewish and have a deep appreciation for its tribal, earth-based traditions.  Whatever European roots my family had were erased in the Holocaust.  I am further aware that the Holocaust wasn’t solely the construction of a few perverted Germans.  They were aided and abetted by anti-Semites all across Europe, especially Eastern Europe, where anti-Jewish riots after the Second World War made it clear that the Nazis had tapped into a deep, long-lasting prejudice with their genocide.

But nobody really asked the Palestinians.  With all the furor about “illegal immigrants” in the US these days, it’s surprising that so few people get it that Israel was populated in part by–illegal immigrants.  Even those who entered legally were allowed in by the British, who had the power to enforce their rule over Palestine and paid little more than lip service to the needs, wishes, and feelings of the native population.

I don’t have time this month to explore this explosive, expansive topic as much as I’d like, but I will say that Helen’s suggestion that the Jews in illegal settlements in Palestine (which I think is part of  what she meant by “Israel should get out of Palestine”) should go back to their countries of origin has some merit.  The standoff between Israel and the Arabs needs to be de-escalated.  Israel’s piratical attack on the Gaza relief convoy, relentless oppression of its native people–the Palestinians–and many other provocations I wish I had time to go into (can you say USS Liberty, boys and girls?)–have made Israel into the pit bull of the Middle East, with the USA as its enabler.  No wonder people can entertain the notion that the Israelis planted explosives in the World Trade Center!   They make the North Koreans look laid-back and friendly.

But I digress….thank you, Helen Thomas, for daring to speak the truth.  I’m sorry you’ve been pilloried for it, but that just shows how closed the discourse in our “free society” really is.  We can get to peace and honesty from here, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.

music:  Steve Earle, “Jerusalem





PALESTINE: A PLACE FOR CRUCIFIXIONS

7 03 2009

I was brought up Jewish.  As a child I went to temple regularly, went to Sunday school (It was a Reform temple, so we had Sunday school–and I’m sure some people will say that’s where I started going wrong!), was confirmed at 16–declined Bar Mitzvah because I couldn’t, with a straight face, say “Today I am a man!” at the age of thirteen….

As a teenager, I started having radical leanings early.  I recently found an essay I wrote at the age of fourteen, in 1962, decrying the emptiness of suburban life in America.  lBut still, I saw the kibbutz movement in Israel as a wonderful, living embodiment of utopian democratic socialism, and thrilled to the action in Leon Uris’s Exodus as the brave Jews battled the dastardly British and the ignorant Arabs to establish a homeland where they could create their dreams and live in peace.

But a doubt started eating at my unquestioning support of Israeli policy,  a doubt that sprang from a seed at the heart of Judaism.  One of the most highly regarded Jewish scholars of all time, Moses Maimonides, was asked, somewhat in jest (because we Jews are known for our loquaciousness) if he could tell somebody the essence of Judaism while standing on one foot.  The great Maimonides took his foot off the ground long enough to say “Treat other people the way you would like them to treat you.”

The more I have learned about the Palestinians, the more I have sighed and cried about my fellow Jews.  I cannot reconcile the way the ostensibly Jewish state of Israel has treated the Palestinians–from the getgo, from before Israeli independence.  There has always been arrogance, insensitivity, and a sense of entitlement.  “We’re coming back for our promised  land, so move along, now.”

The situation is full of ironies.  First of all, we have to understand who” the Palestinians”  really are:  they are the descendants of the original Jews of the Bible.   It’s true that many Jews left after the various unsuccessful revolts against the Romans, spreading Jewish practice and communities from England to India.  But many Jews, probably the poorer, peasant ones,  also stayed in Palestine, and were there when Mohammed’s armies swept out of the desert and made Islam the preferred religion.  By a process of what you could call spiritual osmosis, many of those who had been Jews became Muslims, just as the Buddhist populations of Afghanistan Pakistan, and central Asia became Muslim under similar circumstances.

Jews spread out from Palestine after the rebellions of the first and second centuries,. but apparently not very many reproduced.  DNA studies reveal that most European Jews seem to have descended from just four “women of Middle Eastern descent”  who arrived in  southern France around that time.

Then, there is the case of the Russian Jews, most of whom have no genetic tie to Palestine.  They came to their religion when the Khazar kingdom of southern Russia officially converted to Judaism around the year 800 CE.  Of course, this was not accomplished without some input, doubtless genetic as well as spiritual, from originally Palestinian Jews who settled in the ports of the Black Sea as Roman and Byzantine influence had penetrated in that direction and Palestine had become not such a good neighborhood–“too much gangs and violence,” as we might say now.

The irony starts to thicken when we look at one of the central issues that hangs up Israeli-Palestinian negotiations–the “right of return” that the Palestinians insist on, the right to return to the areas their (by now) grandparents were forced out of in the struggles of the late forties and fifties.  This, of course, would produce a state with a non-Jewish majority and so is consistently  and understandably rejected by the Jews, who nevertheless insist upon their “right of return” after an absence of a mere eighteen hundred years (or, in the case of Russian Jewry, no historical presence whatsoever).

Then there’s the inter linked questions of imperialism, racism,  and sustainability.  I had long criticized the goat- and sheep-herding practices practiced by native Palestinians (and everybody else in the Mediterranian basin)as  the major cause of the erosion and desertification of the Mediterranian basin, but after reading my fellow Jew Starhawk’s reporting on Palestinian culture, I began to understand that what we were looking at was a native, land-based, long term culture (the Palestinians) that, by itself, could be tweaked into sustainability–except that it has been overwhelmed by a very westernized, economically-oriented society that has no deep roots and apparently no sense that it is responsible for the long-term welfare of the whole  planet and not just a small circle of friends and relatives.  Yet, at the same time, Jewish culture is very vital and precious and nourishing to those who live in it.  What does anybody, ultimately, really want besides a sustainable, deeply rooted culture?  Even if you are too alienated to know what you really want, which most of us are, to some extent, that’s the only thing that will satisfy you.

But I digress…what we have, historically speaking, in Israel/Palestine, is a trickle of Europeans turning into a flood and overwhelming native resistance, not unlike what happened here in America, or what the Chinese have done to smaller cultures on the fringe of their homeland.  In the case of the Jews’ entry into Palestine, we were encouraged, first by our own history and mythology, and then by the sympathy of a world horrified by the genocide of the Jews of Europe in the thirties and forties.

That awful crime certainly demanded redress and restitution…but why did it have to come at the expensive of the Palestinian people, whose plight increasingly resembles that of the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe?  What difference is there, really, between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto?  What is the point, and what is the result, of allowing more and more Jewish settlements in supposedly Palestinian territories, of checkpoints and travel restrictions, arbitrary arrests and detainments, “targeted” assassinations that take out dozens of bystanders and maybe the object of the murder?  Is it because somehow guaranteeing Lebensraum for the Jewish people is a holier cause than guaranteeing Lebensraum for the German people?

No, the Palestinian response to the oppression inflicted on them by the Jews has not been morally perfect, but neither was the establishment of Israel.   When Menachem Begin became prime minister of Israel, it was conveniently forgotten that his methods of operation had been described by  Albert Einstein and many other leading lights of the late forties as

closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties, (inaugurating) a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community

…as well as the Palestine Arab community, where they committed at least one major massacre of innocent civilians.

So, the Palestinians protest their oppression with suicide bombers and rinky-dink rocket attacks. But who faults the Jews of  Warsaw for the pinpricks they inflicted on their Nazi tormentors?  And let us not forget that part of the “crime” for which Jesus was crucified was his attempt to throw the money changers of out of the temple.  It was a small act of insurrection, but it was enough of an excuse for the Romans to take action.  Like the modern-day Jews, The Romans had superior firepower and an unswerving conviction that they were doing the right thing.  Jesus was a Palestinian; today, instead of one special representative being singled out for torture and slow death, we have the painful prospect of millions of people herded into a small area that then serves as a shooting gallery for another group of people.  If this is still treating others the way we would like to be treated, the Jews of Israel are setting themselves up for a lot of pain.

So, what’s a “Green” solution to this mess, this clash of opposing forces with different, mutually exclusive agendas for the same small piece of turf?

This is not a problem that can be solved merely by agreements among leaders, any more than civil rights in the US was “solved” by the Supreme Court.  The solution to this conflict will start with an agreement between leaders, but it will then need to be solved by millions of people listening to each other and talking with each other in small groups where everyone can be heard.  Reconciliation is not abstract.  It is intensely personal.  We need to put an end to the cycle of vengeance.  We have to initiate  a new cycle of agreement , mutual consideration, and mutual aid, and we need to set an example here in the US first.

This is not an easy task, and the downward momentum of this conflict, which has been going on in one form or another since modern humans spread out of Africa and encountered Neanderthals in the Eastern Mediterranian, may be impossible to overcome.  If that is the case, then the prognosis for this planet and its people is grim.  If the Israel-Palestine conflict continues to be  a black hole, it will drag us all in, and that, along with the the climate change we have been too busy fighting to avert or prepare for,  will be the end of our aspirations for a peaceful, sustainable future.

“Treat other people the way you wish to be treated.”  If we allow the Palestinian crucifixion  to continue, can our own crucifixion be long in coming?

music:  Steve Earle, “Jerusalem





STARHAWK REFUSED ENTRY INTO ISRAEL

16 03 2008

from her blog:

I’ve spent a lot of the last week being searched, questioned, detained, jailed, and ultimately denied entry and deported from the State of Israel–that land which I had been raised to believe would always be the ultimate refuge for anyone born Jewish. But not, apparently, for me.

I was refused entrance because of work I have done in the past with the International Solidarity Movement, a group which supports nonviolent resistance against the Occupation. ISM works in the West Bank and Gaza, bringing internationals as witnesses, moral and practical support for nonviolent Palestinian initiatives–like the ongoing campaign against the Wall which the Israeli military is building to protect the illegal settlements which have encroached deeply into the territory once designated for a Palestinian state.

I came to join the ISM out of a deep belief that nonviolence is a powerful means of struggle, that the Jews of Israel who after all are my own people are good people and a nonviolent struggle would touch their hearts and turn the tide toward real justice. I saw efforts to establish a nonviolent movement as a small ray of hope in an endless cycle of killing begetting more killing and revenge begetting revenge.





“TERRORISM IS THE WARFARE OF THE POOR; WARFARE IS THE TERRORISM OF THE RICH”–PETER USTINOV

11 08 2006

I’ve been saying for quite some time that the United States has as much right to be in Iraq as the Nazis had to be in Poland. I’d like to take this opportunity to look through the lens of World War II and reframe more of the tragedy now unfolding in what was once the fertile crescent.

Israel’s destruction of Lebanon is a blitzkreig, a “lightning war,” waged against people who do not have the technology to deflect Israel’s strength. And Gaza is the moral equivalent of the Warsaw Ghetto. Our proxy state, Israel, has just as surely become the new Nazis as America has.

Think of it this way: “Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto captured two German soldiers and have held them hostage, demanding that all Jewish women and children held by the Germans be released. In response, the Germans have unleashed an aerial bombardment of the ghetto, leveling not only Jewish homes and businesses but those of non-Jewish Poles whom they suspect of sympathizing with the Jews.”

Of course, the Israelis have learned a few lessons from their Nazi tormentors, most importantly—no concentration camps. No point giving bleeding heart types anything to concentrate on, eh? Just keep the ragheads where they are and build walls around them, destroy their communities, homes, gardens, farms, schools, hospitals, water sources, communications routes. Make sure there’s plenty of lebensraum for God’s chosen people—us Jews. It’s not a policy that will ever win Israel any Muslim hearts and minds. They must know this. If they’re obviously not committed to reconciliation, what is the long-term goal of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians? What is Israel’s “final solution to the Palestinian question?”

The conflict is not new, nor is it simple. The Old Testament is, among other things, a record of struggles over the narrow band of wet, fertile ground between the Mediterranean sea and the Arabian desert. The Palestinian people have been protesting for over a hundred years, often violently, against the influx of European Jews into their fragile ecology. In many ways, the story of Israel is the same story of Europeans vs. native people that has been played out all over the globe. I got a lot of insight into this by reading Starhawk’s dispatches from Palestine. I strongly suggest you look them up at her website, www.starhawk.org, for an eye-opening, positive picture of the Palestinian people, written by a Jew–like me.

So, when George Bush fires off lines about “fighting Islamic Fascism,” he is, as usual, about 180 degrees from the truth. Fascism is, in the words of fascist founding father Benito Mussolini, the marriage of corporate and state interests for their mutual benefit. Mussolini said that a synonym for “fascism” could be “corporatism.”

Hmm. That makes George Bush the fascist, not Hezbollah. The new order in the Middle East that Bush and his junta envision is a Middle East dominated not just by Shell, Mobil, and Halliburton, but by Coca-Cola, Col. Sanders, Walmart, and their ilk. The Muslim people of the Middle East are fighting to stay free of fascism, not to establish it. They may be fanatical, authoritarian, repressed, violent misogynists, but they are very strongly committed to their native cultures, and opposed to the corporatist/fascist business state model Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to impose on them. No, no, no, Hezbollah and friends are not fascists. It is you, Mr. Bush, who is the fascist. Your words and actions have demonstrated that over and over again.

You wish to fight terrorism, Mr. Bush? What you call terrorism is warfare fought by those who are too poor to afford armies. The way to stop terrorism is to stop the kind of military and cultural arrogance that leaves people feeling that they have no other option than a violent attack on their oppressors, and then reroute the resources that have been used to enforce oppression into improving the lot of the oppressed.

From Palestine up through Lebanon and Syria, then down the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, stretches the cradle of our civilization, an area still occasionally referred to as “The Fertile Crescent,” though it is hardly that any more. Its hills have been denuded by the demands of goatherds and wood-cutters; its fields and pastures have blown away in the wind or been saturated with salt from too much irrigation and not enough rainfall; its rivers are running dry, squeezed between emptying aquifers and burgeoning populations, choked with sewage and agricultural runoff. All of it has been trampled by too many marching armies. This once-fertile crescent, between the deserts of Arabia and the steep, rocky mountains of the Caucasus, does not need more wars, more bombs, more destruction. The Israeli campaign against Lebanon, like the American campaign in Iraq, is breaking something it cannot fix. A complete change of direction is needed to bring peace to the Middle East.

I can call it a Green proposal, but it comes from the Old Testament, that testament of sorrows, from the Prophet Micah, who suggested that if everyone could sit beneath their own vine and fig tree, there would be peace and happiness. The Old Testament also famously references the cedars of Lebanon, but there are hardly any of them left. Evidence from such primeval sources as The Epic of Gilgamesh suggests that, when civilization first arose, there was extensive forest cover (and its corollaries, regular rainfall and year-round streams) throughout the area we now think of as borderline desert. Is it possible to reclaim this devastated land? Such a massive bioremediation project would employ thousands, possibly millions of people, in a project that would demonstrate fairly immediate benefits to them. It would include ecological education as well as hands-on projects, and would be structured to give local people control over projects in their vicinity. That is the way to create a democratic Middle East—not by holding staged elections for a powerless government, but by giving people control over their lives.

But—but—you ask—what about this terrible plot that was just uncovered—they were going to blow up a bunch of airplanes full of tourists!?

Here’s what I think about the latest so-called “terrorist threat”: a great many of the so-called “terrorist threats” that have been revealed have turned out to be more hot air than substance; the timing of such announcements, I believe, usually has more to do with political calculations than with protecting the public. The war party needed some kind of shibboleth to wave in the face of growing awareness of their short-sighted stupidity, and so now they are confiscating perfume and toothpaste instead of scissors and nail clippers. None of these alleged plotters had even bought an airline ticket yet. We need to pull our attention out of this kind of nonsense and put it back into positive actions to save the planet—like recreating the Mideast’s devasted ecosystem. Vines and fig trees for everyone! Olive trees, too! Pomegranates! Dates! Oranges! Kif! Yes!

This does not directly address tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ites, or between Muslims and Jews; but I think that a greener, wetter, softer, more bountiful environment (notice how feminine those adjectives are!) will enable everyone to relax, share some grapes, figs, olives, a puff of kif or two, and figure out their differences– which are, beneath all the ideological trappings, squabbles over scarce and diminishing resources. Let’s, as Mr. Bush said,” make the pie higher.”

Doesn’t that beat dropping bombs?

Music:  Steve Earle, “Jerusalem”








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