Friday, November 05, 2004


What have we become?

There is an intense video clip on the BBC (go here and then click on the video link right above where it says "Iraq in Transition") about the assault on Fallujah. In it, Roman Catholic soldiers attend mass and are absolved of their sins before entering battle. In the following scene, a Marine says: "We are agents of wrath to bring justice, to bring God's wrath."

UPDATE: First, I have been told that the video link on the page that I linked to no longer has the "God's wrath" part of the broadcast. I'll see if I can remedy this situation. Also, though, the Angry Arab linked to this related AFP story.

Also, there is an excellent guest editorial on Juan Cole's site by Mark LeVine entitled We're all Israelis Now.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Amazing! Seriously, check out the look on Bush's face in the photo bottom right.


Joseph Massad responds

There is a lengthy response by Joseph Massad to the campaign to have him fired from Columbia available on Electronic Intifada. I recommend reading the entire thing (as it is quite eloquent and goes in depth into some of the specific accusations against him) but here are a few excerpts that I found particularly good.
The major strategy that these pro-Israel groups use is one that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. But the claim that criticism of Israel is an expression of anti-Semitism presupposes that Israeli actions are "Jewish" actions and that all Jews, whether Israelis or non-Israelis (and the majority of world Jews are not Israelis), are responsible for all Israeli actions and that they all have the same opinion of Israel. But this is utter anti-Semitic nonsense. Jews, whether in America, Europe, Israel, Russia, or Argentina, are, like all other groups, not uniform in their political or social opinions. There are many Israeli Jews who are critical of Israel just as there are American Jews who criticize Israeli policy. I have always made a distinction between Jews, Israelis, and Zionists in my writings and my lectures. It is those who want to claim that Jews, Israelis, and Zionists are one group (and that they think exactly alike) who are the anti-Semites. Israel in fact has no legal, moral, or political basis to represent world Jews (ten million strong) who never elected it to that position and who refuse to move to that country. Unlike the pro-Israel groups, I do not think that Israeli actions are "Jewish" actions or that they reflect the will of the Jewish people worldwide!


This is not to say that some anti-Zionists may not also be anti-Semitic. Some are, and I have denounced them in my writings and lectures. But the test of their anti-Semitism is not whether they like or hate Israel. The test of anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish hatred, not anti-Israel criticism. In my forthcoming book, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, I link the Jewish Question to the Palestinian Question and conclude that both questions persist because anti-Semitism persists. To resolve the Palestinian and the Jewish Questions, our task is to fight anti-Semitism in any guise, whether in its pro-Israel or anti-Israel guise, and not to defend the reprehensible policies of the racist Israeli government.


I am dedicated to all my students, many of whom are Jewish. Neither Columbia University nor I have ever received a complaint from any student claiming intimidation or any such nonsense. Students at Columbia have many venues of lodging complaints, whether with the student deans and assistant deans, school deans and assistant deans, department chairmen, departmental directors of undergraduate studies, the ombudsman's office, the provost, the president, and the professors themselves. No such complaint was ever filed. Many of my Jewish and non-Jewish students (including my Arab students) differ with me in all sorts of ways, whether on politics or on philosophy or theory. This is exactly what teaching and learning are about, how to articulate differences and understand other perspectives while acquiring knowledge, how to analyze one's own perspective and those of others, how to interrogate the basis of an opinion.


Moreover, the class that this propaganda machine is targeting, my Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies course, is one of a number of courses offered at Columbia that cover the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. All the others have an Israel-friendly perspective, including Naomi Weinberger's "Conflict Resolution in the Middle East," Michael Stanislawski's "History of the State of Israel, 1948-Present" and a course offered in my own department by my colleague Dan Miron, "Zionism: A Cultural Perspective." My course, which is critical of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, is in fact an elective course which no student is forced to take....
Indeed with this campaign against me going into its fourth year, I chose under the duress of coercion and intimidation not to teach my course this year. It is my academic freedom that has been circumscribed. But not only mine. The Columbia courses that remain are all taught from an Israel-friendly angle.


Waiting for Arafat to Die

So Arafat is in a coma and the fact that there have been reports that he has died, though not true, probably indicate that he's not long for this world. I thought that the best sort of pre-eulogy that I read during this most recent situation was that written by Helena Cobban at Just World News - Arafat: A Palestinian Tragedy.

UPDATE: Hmm... maybe I take it back. Possibly the best (and at least in the running) is Azmi Bishara's column in Al-Ahram. In a brilliant stroke of dark humor, Bishara writes:
What really fuels Israeli hatred is that Arafat refuses to behave as expected. What applied in Camp David applies in matters of illness and death: he is supposed to confirm the predictions of the experts. After all, they have gone to great trouble to build up the expectations of the majority of the Israeli people and democracy requires that he does what the majority says. In this case the majority -- of Israelis of course -- says that Arafat is dead, or almost. In fact, I am surprised they have not yet held a referendum in Israel over Arafat's death, since it is their custom to demand a referendum over anything concerning the fate of the Palestinian people without, of course, asking the Palestinians what they think. Here's what the referendum would look like:

1) Is Arafat dead or alive?

2) If alive, does he deserve to live?

3) If dead, who should succeed him?


Oh, you thought this was going to be a real trial

According to a Human Rights Watch report, much of the damning evidence that could be used against Saddam Hussein in a trial is "likely to have been lost or tainted because US-led forces have failed to safeguard official documents and the remains of victims in mass graves." The Guardian reports:
In the months after the invasion, they failed to stop people looting thousands of official documents, or to stop relatives of "disappeared" persons from digging up remains found in some mass grave sites, according to the report, titled Iraq: The State of the Evidence.

The invading forces subsequently failed to put in place the professional expertise and help necessary to ensure proper classification and exhumation procedures. As a result, it was very likely that key evidence had been lost or tainted.
Asked to comment on the report, the Bush administration replied, "Oh [chuckle] you thought this was going to be, like, a real trial [Guffaws of laughter] Well, ain't that cute. Now run along now, we've got some champagne to drink. Four More Years! Four More Years!"

Honestly, though, add this to the (already substantial) list of things the US-led forces didn't safeguard. The Baghdad museum, weapons storage facilities, nuclear facilities, buildings that housed official documents, mass graves, the ministry of oil. Oh wait, scratch that last one. Seems to have been the only place we did safeguard. Again, I don't think this is really going to have much of an effect on Saddam's trial, but I do think that it is just one more piece in the craptacular puzzle of how poorly things were handled in Iraq.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


The Day After

Blogger has been funny today - I guess because everybody wants to blog about the election - so the other posts I tried to put up today didn't happen. Honestly, though, I really haven't felt much like thinking.

I was very much moved by an email that my Aunt Sally sent to my Aunt Deb, parts of which I will reproduce here. She lives in rural Pennsylvania, so her perspective is a welcome addition to this blog (which may just suffer from the young metropolitan male blogger syndrome).
well, now that all the shock and awe is having its numbing effect......aren't we happy the new Walmart has opened in Shippensburg!!!! More minimum wage jobs selling crap and providing no health insurance or retirement because everybody is just under fulltime employment status. Now, how clever is that!!!!! Good responsible American company......looking out for hardworking honest red white and bleeding workers.

I sent a note back to school with [my cousin] telling them not to send home any more papers begging for donations to send to troops in Iraq----I am not supporting war in any way shape or form. and tell the PTO to forget about more fundraisers. They didn't make even half of what they expected on the fundraiser. Nobody has money for that kind of stuff. Shame on all you Republicans who now wonder about the reason for that poor turn-out.......

I think they need to be told that to their faces. And this morning I was mad enough to do it... The world will go on. But I really believe that the economy will get worse. The price of gas will continue to go up and food will go up and people will have less to spend. The double mortgage purchasing of homes will continue and then people will crash and burn because they can't afford it. Doom sayer, I am this morning.....

I've also been listening to Ted Leo today, who I think is an amazing and inspiring person and a great musician. While he has many great political songs, the lyrics that keep popping into my head today come from his song "Biomusicology":
All in all we cannot stop singing
we cannot start sinking
We swim until it ends
They may kill and we may be parted
But we will ne'er be broken hearted

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Happy Election Day!

Well I walked out of my apartment today to a line of voters on P Street from 16th Street to 17th Street and around the corner way up 17th Street. Mayor Anthony Williams was there. I was quite impressed. Then by the time I got to 18th Street there was a line on 18th Street up the block and curling around to P Street. It brought a little tear to my eye.

UPDATE: OW has a link on his site to this photo in Adams Morgan in DC that shows what I am talking about.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Who am I kidding?

There's little point in writing about anything than the election tomorrow, is there? I mean, that's what everybody wants to read about. And I really don't have too much insight into what is going to happen. I think everybody has his or her own theory of how things are going to happen. I personally think that Bush is going to win by a small margin.

I also think that it is pretty cool to have a lot of people who are excited about tomorrow, energized about voting, ready to fight for something even after tomorrow (even after the day after tomorrow). I think that the Bush administration has motivated people to read, to interact with one another, to rally, to think, and to see participation in a democracy as far more than going to your polling place once every two years, or four years.

Still, we aren't going to know what's going to happen until it happens. So in the meantime, if you need to kill some time, here is a transcript of Robert Fisk, who I always find interesting, on Democracy Now, talking about the newest bin Laden tape, Yasir Arafat, and Iraq.


A city park in Bagnaia, Italy. (photo by my dad)


Erodium spp blooming in a city park, Bagnaia, Italy. (photo by my dad)

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