Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Three events, loosely related if at all

I. Marwan Barghouti has filed candidacy papers for the upcoming Palestinian elections.
A. With the help of his wife and his brother, Barghouti submitted the fee and the 5,000 signatures of support necessary to register for the January 9 election.

B. Barghouti had previously claimed that he was stepping aside and would not run, and would instead lend his support to Fateh candidate Abu Mazen.

C. Barghouti's brother claimed that the fee and signatures were only a "precautionary measure" so that Barghouti could presumably leave his options open.

D. Abu Mazen cannot be that pleased that this is making news, even if Barghouti does not run and continues to issue statements of support for Abu Mazen. The fact that this is in the headlines tends to undermine Barghouti's support of Abu Mazen, which was already unlikely to sway some Fateh members toward Abu Mazen.
II. A GI in Connecticut tried to commit suicide and was taken to the hospital, apparently after learning that he was scheduled to return to Iraq in January.
A. Apparently, after struggling with the police, the man claimed that he "just wanted to die" rather than go back to Iraq where he would be forced to kill again.

B. I was watching "Dog Day Afternoon" the other day with Amanda (it's a great film with Al Pacino, go watch it) and in it, Sonny and Sal, the characters who attempt to rob a bank, are Vietnam veterans. Amanda said something like, great, this is what we have to look forward to when all the traumatized Iraq veterans get back to the US.

C. I read an article in the New Yorker a while back that pointed out that probably the most traumatic part of being in the military during war is killing another person (as opposed to being injured or seeing a fellow soldier injured or killed). Unfortunately, the military has very little set up (this according to the article) to deal with this kind of trauma. This would make sense seeing as how the military probably wants its soldiers to be ready and able to kill another person.
III. Last week, an Israeli peace activist videotaped a Palestinian at a checkpoint who was forced by the IDF to play his violin at the checkpoint.
A. There was a great outcry because of how the event evoked memories of the holocaust and Jewish musicians being forced to play for Nazis. There is an interesting article in the Guardian, which points to the way the incident invoked outrage "not for abusing Arabs but for disgracing the Holocaust" - to quote Yoram Kaniuk, author of a book about a Jewish violinist forced to play for a concentration camp commander.

B. The IDF, with its proud tradition of investigating incidents, launched an investigation that concluded that the man, Wissam Tayam, had started playing the violin of his own accord. Because, of course, the IDF would never do anything to humiliate a Palestinian. Indeed, the officer had "shown a lack of sensitivity" but not a "lack of respect" for Tayam. My Aunt Deb said she read somewhere that the initial IDF response was that if the soldier acted inappropriately, it was only because the conditions of the checkpoints were such that they would prompt such a reaction. Hmmm...

C. Tayam responded to the allegation that he played of his own accord:

"I did not offer them to play," he told Haaretz on Tuesday. "They asked me to open the case and show them the instrument, which was fine by me. But then they asked me to play; I did not offer to play. That does not sound logical. They asked me to play something sad, to match their mood.

"I felt humiliated," Tayam said Tuesday. "I always identified with the Jews who suffered in Europe [at the time of the Nazis] and after that they come and do the same thing to us."

D. But not only that:

When asked if perhaps the soldiers wanted him to play to ensure that the violin was not booby-trapped or contained explosives, Tayam said, "it doesn't make sense that they thought there were explosives in the violin. If they thought that, they would have made me move some distance from them [before playing], fearing I might blow up. I do not understand why they forced me to play. Most of the soldiers at the checkpoint know me, as I work there twice a week. The problems arise when new soldiers come."

Meant to comment on this earlier but blogger crashed...

About the guy in CT - that's so sad. I've been through depression, but I can hardly even imagine his situation. I just shudder to think how many will be in his shoes in a few years.

If the military were to set something up to deal with this problem, first, it would be admitting the oh-so-personal pains of war - especially if the average citizen knew about the problem/the program to deal with it, the public might not look upon the military as such a heroic organization.

From their me-first, realpolitik standpoint, they don't particularly care what war does to the mind - they don't want people to use their minds anyone! But they especially don't want anyone else to know, lest their supplies of bodies (slaves) dwindles even further.
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