Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why I Support the Palestinian Cause

A comment by another blogger, Stephen M. Flatow, has led me to examine why I support the Palestinian cause in the first place. Contrary to what Flatow seems to assume, opposition to Israeli policy does not necessarily imply anti-Semitism or opposition to Israel's existence. A deeper examination of my motivations will make this evident.

Perhaps the deepest roots of my support for the Palestinian cause lie in my ethnic heritage. My roots include the Irish, the Polish, and Native Americans. All three groups share one common trait: they have faced violent struggles to free their homelands from foreign domination. To a certain extent, I recognize the Palestinian struggle as analogous to those earlier struggles, a valid effort to assert dominance over one's homeland.

Some will no doubt comment that the Israelis are essentially doing the same thing: struggling for an ancestral homeland. However, I feel it is worth noting that while the Jewish people were largely absent from Palestine for centuries, whereas the Palestinians have been displaced more recently. They have a far greater claim to the land.

Another factor is my concern for human rights in all countries. Flatow comments that he wonders why Caryl Churchill, the author of Seven Jewish Children profiled in an earlier blog post, does not give attention to Sri Lanka, Darfur, or other human rights hot spots. As anyone familiar with my blog can attest, I have a strong concern for human rights, with a particular focus on China. Israeli actions that impact civilian populations naturally draw my attention, as part of my broader concerns.

Notice that none of this translates into anti-Semitism. Flatow claims that anti-Israeli activism derives largely from hatred of Jewish people, citing one instance where an anti-Israel protest in Fort Lauderdale in which there was a pro-Nazi chant. The use of an isolated incident to claim an entire movement is anti-Semitic is simply comical. Indeed, Flatow's treatment of Seven Jewish Children suggests that he looks for anti-Semitism in any expression of opposition to Israeli policy, a trait common to many, if not all, backers of the Israeli occupation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yet Another Terror Plot That's Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

The Nation's Robert Dreyfuss reveals the alleged plot against synagogues in New York may not have been as great a threat as politicians and law enforcement officials are alleging. As his article demonstrates, the informant at the center of the plot was apparently an identity theft suspect recruited by the FBI to infiltrate potential terrorist groups.

However, the informant went beyond infiltrating to create his own terrorist cell, recruiting people to a plot conducted by himself. The actual threat posed by the suspects, one of whom is a schizophrenic, may well have been nill.

That has not stopped the panic-mongers from sounding the alarm bell. Stephen M. Flatow warns about the "cancer" of terrorism within our cities, never mind the fact that virtually all the terror plots discovered after 9 / 11, have been shown to be law enforcement fabrications.

First Things First, Let's Kill All the Journalists

In a disturbing report by writer Jeremy Scahill, we learn that a former Army Colonel, Ralph Peters, has published an article endorsing the killing of journalists who do not subscribe to official American explanations of events. He claims in the Journal of International Security Affairs that the media have played a prime role in defeating America in Vietnam, and creating difficulties in Iraq. (Hmmm...guess the Viet Minh and the insurgents had nothing to do with it.)

Such a position is not only a threat to free speech; it threatens the ability of the world in general to learn what is going on in war zones, and to judge the justice of a particular war. Yes, journalists take risks when they visit a conflict zone, but that doesn't give the military, whether ours or someone else's, to target unarmed non-combatants. (And even Col. Peters admits they are unarmed.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seven Jewish Children

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to witness a performance of the controversial new play Seven Jewish Children by Caryl Churchill, produced at a local Unitarian Universalist Church on Morewood Ave. I found it to be a genuinely moving performance, with excellent acting by students from the University of Pittsburgh. The play focuses on the experience of Jewish children ranging from the time of the Holocaust to current day Israel.

Some people have tried to interpret this play as anti-Semitic, claiming that a line referring to blood on children is a throw-back to the old blood libel. Having seen this play myself, I can definitively say this allegation is not true. Those who interpret the play this way have either never seen it, or have deliberately misconstrued it.

The latter interpretation is suggested by the reaction of one woman in a discussion group after the performance. She ranted that the play was biased, "anti-Israeli propaganda." She saw anti-Semitism largely because she was looking for it from the beginning. Her attitude brought to mind the woman in a pre-play discussion who argued that Israel could solve the issue of Palestinian population growth by means of mandatory birth control. Such people are not to be taken seriously.

In all, I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance should see this play.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Edmund Andrews Follow Up

A follow up to the previous blog entry:

Megan McArdle has posted Edmund Andrews response, issued to PBS, but refuses to acknowledge its significance, carping that it wasn't issued to her. As Andrews explains, the first bankruptcy stemmed from the activities of her first husband, and was filed jointly with him because of legal reasons. The second stemmed from a loan from her sister, whose idea of resolving family conflict apparently involves lawsuits.

I feel that Andrews's response vindicates my position. His wife wasn't responsible for what happened. McArdle whines that she still qualifies as a "serial bankrupt," but I think Mrs. Andrews should be granted the benefit of the doubt.

Did the Andrews family make mistakes in their financial arrangements? Lords yes. Do they warrant the vilification they've received? Even Ms. McArdle admits they don't. Unfortunately, she seems unwilling to apologize for her role, however unintentional, in generating it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Megan McArdle, Econo-Fascist of the Week!!!

The Atlantic Magazine blogger Megan McArdle has just received a new, one time only award from this blog:


What has Ms. McArdle done to deserve this prestigious award? Her capping achievement is a blatant attempt to smear the wife of Edmund L. Andrews, a New York Times writer who has written a book, as well as an NYT Sunday Magazine article, regarding his financial troubles. McArdle basically uses his wife's financial history, which includes two bankruptcies, one apparently connected to a divorce,. to imply that Andrews, and her, are getting what they deserve, and that we should ignore calls for financial reform.

Such coldheartedness is characteristic of McArdle, who has opposed bailouts of California, the auto industry, and just about everyone except Wall Street. Charity does not seem to play much of a part in her vision of life and the world.

(Note: Yesterday, I printed a rather inflammatory comment about some of McArdle's friends, who died in 9 / 11. I apologize for this, both to Ms. McArdle and my readers. Although I stand by the feelings that provoked it, I should not have stooped to McArdle's level.)

Letter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I had a letter published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today attacking a recent article by the paper's religious columnist, Ann Rodgers. The article was a poorly thought out critique of the new movie Angels and Demons, accusing it of bigotary against Catholics. Rodgers haplessly attempts to portray the Catholic Church as benevolent and undeserving of suspicion.

Really, Ms. Rodgers, were you asleep during history class and, for that matter, the past ten years? Did you just happen to ignore the revelations of cover ups by the Church hierarchy of wide spread sexual abuse within Catholic-run schools? For that matter, did you know about the collaboration between the Catholic Church and Fascists such as Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini during the early twentieth century? Hell, when I was attending Northeast Catholic High School in the year 2001, the teachers were still trying to whitewash Franco.

With all that in mind, it's not really difficult to see why the Catholic hierarchy might be viewed as an object of suspicion.