Tuesday, February 26, 2013

“It’s from when she was in the camps” 

An Israeli story


The warrant for the third intifada is being prepared

Remember this little boy who was killed by Israeli soldiers, except that he wasn't ?? Get ready for Act II, and the manufacturing of outrage.

More will come, and the compulsive consumers of rage and hatred will gobble it up like candy. They need their hourly fix in order to be able to justify the deliberate, premeditated  targeting of Israeli kids for annihilation.

According to the the NYT's Jerusalem correspondent, who started her mission learning about the I/P conflict from her friend, EI's Ali AbuNimah (need more be said about her understanding or knowledge?): 

"Nabil A. Shaath, the Palestinian commissioner for international relations, said in an interview that the West Bank leadership was “doing our best to keep calm” and that “violent confrontation absolutely is not our plan.”
“I don’t know how much people can be contained,” Mr. Shaath said of the Jaradat case. “I don’t think anybody is planning an intifada. The question is how much accidents, incidents like this might lead to an anger that can explode.

According to this source, more than 800,000 Palestinian prisoners have been held in Israeli jails since 1967. You may ponder the likelihood of this one seemingly low-level prisoner dying of torture just now, when clearly the Palestinian leadership is trying to whip up a frenzy of hatred and violence. Remember Pallywood and the case of  Al-Durrah, and what damage that theatre had inflicted on both Israelis and Palestinians.

Remember Arafat's  repeated insistence that he had absolutely no interest in fomenting violence but that "the people" spontaneously combusted after Camp David II? Well, years later the full truth came to light, and from an unimpeachable source:
Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha, admitted that the late Palestinian leader planned the second intifada, in an interview with Dubai TV earlier this month, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return.... Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so,"
Any genuine peace loving activist out there ought to realize by now that all it needs for Palestinian plight to end is a will to peace, which will translate into a very simple principle: All we Palestinians want is to be Palestinians. We will no longer kill, seek to kill, educate to kill or want to kill any Israeli Jew. Once that paradigm shift takes place, every obstacle that causes Palestinian suffering will fall away like a dry scab from a healed wound.

Surely this is not such an impossible thing to do?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. 
It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature
 the evil spirit of man." -Albert Einstein

in Literature means: A work written as an explanation or justification of one's motives, convictions, or acts.
So I feel bound to provide a kind of apologia for the way I've dedicated so much time and space on my blog to examine the deranged statements featured on Prof. AbuKhalil's  Angry Arab News Service. 
Here is my apologia, then:

An Israeli joke tells about a man who visits a zoo and stands for hours next to the giraffe's enclosure, staring at the beast in utter fascination.  There is no such animal, he finally says.

This is more or less how I feel whenever I visit A's AA blog (on a daily and sometimes even hourly basis). I've been asked why I find this person's fulminations so interesting. I don't really know how to answer except that I look and read and think to myself: this cannot be real. This is not being written by a member of an academic corpus, this is not happening in our rational, enlightened, informational time and culture.

Or, if you wish to get poetic about it, you can't do much better than Yeats' fearfully close-to-the-bone poem:

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

I think, when the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur spoke of evil as "perversion, [-] a reversal of the order that requires respect for law to be placed above inclination." he must have been intending the same kind of thought as Yeats was trying to impart in this line: 
"the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

Enough said. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

On "Dispelling" Common Misconceptions about the violent History of Palestinian "Resistance" to Israeli Occupation

As’ad AbuKhalil... a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus:: "...the movement began its resistance nonviolently .. —petitions, demonstrations, sit-ins, peaceful letter writing campaigns, poetry—in the 1930s..."

An article in  "The Chicago Maroon" reports, with some indication of approval, the following report:

"As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese-born professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, dispelled what he considered common Western misconceptions of the Palestinian resistance movement to Israeli occupation, such as that the Palestinian resistance had always been violent.

“The Palestinian people have been in a state of resistance for over a century,” he said. “But the movement began its resistance nonviolently, in the same ways as the rest of the civil rights movements throughout the world—petitions, demonstrations, sit-ins, peaceful letter writing campaigns, poetry—in the 1930s.”

How do I guess the approval of the article author? From the use of the verb "dispelled" which means  "Make (a doubt, feeling, or belief) disappear."

It means that the author of the article found the professor's arguments and facts so compelling and irrefutable that they made any beliefs he/she may have held up to that moment about Palestinian  terrorism's long and bloody history null and void.

Let's look at the statement again:  "Western misconceptions of the Palestinian resistance movement to Israeli occupation, such as that the Palestinian resistance had always been violent." and that the movement began its resistance, in the 1930, nonviolently.

Now let's look at the historical record:

Israel's occupation of the WB and Gaza (and now only in the WB) began in 1967, not in the 1930's, when there was not yet a state of Israel to occupy anybody.

In the 1930's there was a Jewish Yishuv, community, in Palestine, a region managed by the British  as a Mandate from the League of Nations. The Jewish Yishuv included new and veteran Zionist immigrant communities (townships, cooperative villages, kibbutzim, newly-established cities like Tel-Aviv) and centuries-old Jewish communities which had been concentrated mostly in the Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa, Zafed, comprising the majority of these cities' populations.

Before the 1930's the following violent riots were recorded:
"Incidents included the riots of April 1920, the riots in Palestine of May 1921, the 1929 Hebron massacre and Safed massacre, and the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. "
 Here is another, fuller account of the historical record.

It took me 3 minutes to find this information by Google. I assume the authors of the article above did not bother to check their facts before gushing over the professor's "dispelling" of misconceptions.

  Case #1: 

Here is how Prof AbuKhalil, (who teaches young American students how to receive facts and interpret them ethically and correctly), describes a historical incident:

 Israeli terrorism is not made famous in the West: Libyan Flight 114

And here is what the article he links to explains

"As the airliner cruised over northern Egypt, a large sandstorm below forced the crew to rely completely on instrument navigation. A short time later, around 13:44, the pilot suspected that he had made a navigational error because of a compass malfunction: he could not find an air traffic beacon, and could not ascertain the plane's current location. He did not report his worries to the Cairo air control tower. Instead, at 13:52 he received permission from Cairo to begin his descent. Pushed by strong tailwinds, the aircraft had drifted east, and was flying over the Suez canal. Sinai (to the east of the canal) had been occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were on high alert; Israel was in a state of war with Egypt at the time, and thought it suspicious that no Egyptian missiles had been fired at the plane, nor MiGs scrambled to intercept it.[citation needed]

At 13:54, Flight 114 entered airspace over the Sinai desert, cruising at 20,000 feet (6,100 m). Two minutes later, two Israeli Air Force F-4 fighters were scrambled to investigate and they intercepted the airliner at 13:59. The Israeli fighter pilots attempted to make visual contact with the passenger airliner's crew, and tried to communicate to them by signaling with their hands, dipping their wings and firing warning shots, that they should follow the F-4s back to Rephidim Air Base. The 727 crew's response was interpreted as a denial of that request.[3] The 727 turned back to the west, and the Israeli pilots interpreted this as an attempt to flee.[4]
The Israeli F-4 pilots fired bursts of 20mm rounds with the F-4's cannon. The rounds severely damaged control surfaces, hydraulic systems, and the wing structure itself. Flight 114 crashed while attempting an emergency landing[3] in an area covered with sand dunes. Following an explosion near the right main landing gear during the crash, 108 of the 113 people aboard died.[4]


The co-pilot, who survived, later said that the flight crew knew the Israeli jets wanted them to land but relations between Israel and Libya made them decide against following instructions.[1] In direct contradiction to the co-pilot's own account the Libyan government stated that the attack occurred without warning.[1] Israel's air force claimed that Flight 114 was a security threat, and that among the possible tasks it could have been undertaking was an aerial spy mission over the Israeli air base at Bir Gifgafa."

What should be recalled is that (1) AbuKhalil has never been able to recognize the deliberate killing of Israeli Jews as terrorism.

And (2)  that his statement about how the "West" is kept in ignorance of this 1973 incident is belied by the very link to wikipedia that he himself provides.

One might conclude that the internal tension between truth and lie is due to the simple fact that the prof. may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. I doubt that very much. How can a truly stupid, clueless and ignorant person get to be a teacher at a high academic institute, entrusted with the instruction of good thinking  to thousands of young pliable minds??  No. The reason why the prof shoots himself in the foot every time he posts some piece of "news" about Israel is because anger makes you stupid.And sometimes even very stupid.

Case #2: 

According to Freud's theory of dreams    the impulses and desires of the id are suppressed by the superego. Through dreams, you are able to get a glimpse into your unconscious or the id. Because your guards are down during the dream state, your unconscious has the opportunity to act out and express the hidden desires of the id. However, the desires of the id can, at times, be so disturbing and even psychologically harmful that a "censor" comes into play and translates the id's disturbing content into a more acceptable symbolic form.

In the case of AbuKhalil's reported dreams (apparently he considers his dreams newsworthy, why else would he post them on his "News Service"?), there is no such censor. The dream's lucid wish fulfilling content is strutted as self-salutary moral achievement.

 Here is the case in point: 

 "I dreamt that ... Thomas Friedman was my roommate in that home.  We moved in and Friedman and I were looking down from the window when he fell out of the window straight on his head.  I alas could not save him.  True story--i mean true dream."

Not a surprising revelation from the same person who openly enjoyed fantasizing about burning Condoleezza Rice 

or about the end of the world.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Birds of a Feather ...

Dr. Mearsheimer, of  "Israel Lobby" fame, is on record schmoozing with and pandering to, rabid antisemites and other mad dogs (when it comes to Israel, his very own particular bête noire.)

Here are two examples:

"To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category.   The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame..."

"Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it incredibly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their 'Jewishness.' Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon's own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.'"

And here is his most recent triumph : 

 "I had a chance to ask John Mearsheimer yesterday at the University of Chicago about his experience since the publication of his article (with Stephen Walt) and later book about the Israeli lobby.  He permitted me to cite on the blog: he told me that he had published 11 op-ed pieces in the New York Times before the appearance of the article on the Israeli lobby.  Two of those were solicited by the Times. He said that after the appearance of the article, he has not published one op-ed piece and the ones he sent were rejected.  He said that his speaking engagements went through a steep decline as a result.  But it was refreshing to see him not intimidated by the Israeli lobby that he wrote about.  I suggested that some academic should write a book similar to the book that Paul Findley wrote about the US Congress. "

Weep for Prof. Mearsheimer and salute the courage of Prof. AbuKhalil. What courage?

Here, as exemplified in this proclamation: 

"People have been asking me about him a lot as of late: in the UK and the US.  I make it very clear: this is somebody that we should reject from the pro-Palestinian advocacy movement.  He is anti-Jewish and his offensive language against Jews and Judaism should be categorically rejected.  I would put the name of Israel Shamir in the same category.  Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side."
Clearly the prof. is a man of deep and binding convictions. He is quite happy to accept the word of a man who had enthusiastically endorsed the writings of an author whom AbuKhalil deemed an irredeemable antisemite of the worst kind. Of course, the greatness of knowledge and moral perspicacity of AbuKhalil are impossible to emulate. Consider the lengths he is willing to travel in his quest for the annihilation of Israel. He is even willing to sit with and quote approvingly the utterances of an antisemite and a Zionist like Mearsheimer.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February is for love ...

"What Is Life Without Aphrodite," (Anne Carson)

Sidebar on a matter of bloggery:

It appears as though at least my blog dashboard was hacked soon after I published this post. I noticed that links were added where there had been none and those links lead to some pages from "behind the scenes" blogspot.

On the same day, I received a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to call from California, from this number: 253-802-0308. 

I have no idea whether the two events are related to one another or just an unhappy coincidence. 

Checking my StatCounter, I found this somewhat frenzied activity taking place:


Hostdime.com Lax ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagLos Angeles, California, United States    
(No referring link)
10 Feb12:43:48
10 Feb12:44:03
10 Feb12:44:24
10 Feb12:44:45
 www.statcounter.com/ (Exit Link)
10 Feb12:45:08
10 Feb12:45:24
 population./ (Exit Link)
10 Feb12:45:36
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10 Feb12:46:38
10 Feb12:46:42
(No referring link)
10 Feb22:09:35
10 Feb22:09:51
10 Feb22:10:11
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10 Feb22:10:44
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10 Feb22:11:21
10 Feb22:11:38
10 Feb22:11:42
10 Feb22:11:56
 www.statcounter.com/ (Exit Link)
10 Feb22:12:20


Palo Alto, California, United States    

(No referring link)
10 Feb10:30:09
Facebook ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagPalo Alto, California, United States    

(No referring link)
10 Feb10:30:08
Iland Internet Solutions Corporation ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagHouston, Texas, United States    

(No referring link)
4 Feb15:32:46
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4 Feb15:37:07
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4 Feb15:37:36
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10 Feb10:21:48
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Facebook ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagPalo Alto, California, United States    

(No referring link)
10 Feb10:20:40
Facebook ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagPalo Alto, California, United States    

(No referring link)
10 Feb10:20:39

It is my custom to publicize any unusual occurrences that take place in and/or around my blog. If anybody has a plausible explanation or speculation about what all this means, I'd be very grateful for his or her contribution.

Let me remind you that a few weeks ago my blog was shut down for a period of over a week due to some complaint lodged against it by some readers. The only explanation I got was that there was some malware in one of the Contentious Centrist posts and once removed by Blogspot's technicians, my blog was re-instated.

So it is all a big mystery to me. It might have a perfectly innocent explanation but then again, it might have a perfect explanation that is not so innocent.


Update: Within minutes of posting the above, my StateCounter registered this:

Iland Internet Solutions Corporation [link added by CC] ( [Label IP Address]    0 returning visits
United States FlagHouston, Texas, United States    

(No referring link)
4 Feb15:32:46
(No referring link)
4 Feb15:37:07
(No referring link)
4 Feb15:37:36
(No referring link)
10 Feb10:19:25
(No referring link)
10 Feb10:21:48
(No referring link)
10 Feb10:21:56
(No referring link)
16 Feb09:37:27
(No referring link)
16 Feb10:03:18
(No referring link)
16 Feb10:03:19

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Apes that can fly and Oranges

Our enraged friend, Prof. AbuKhalil, who teaches political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, likes to point out factual errors that occur in American  media outlets.

Here is one example:
Saturday, February 09, 2013

Zaydis in Yemen

"The Huthis are Zaydis, followers of a variant of Shiite Islam, and they make up about a quarter of Yemen’s population."  Zaydis are at least 40% of the Yemeni population.  
Detecting, notifying, and correcting the errors in media outlets are an interest of mine, too. So I can well sympathize with the good professor's reflex here. But unfortunately he often tends to jump in before actually paying the slightest attention to his facts, even when they are laid out explicitly. In this case his correction is a case of a fool rushing in. The reported statement does not say that  the Zaydis  make up about a quarter of Yemen’s population but rather, that the Huthis do. It is obvious the author was aware of the difference and wanted to state the facts as accurately as possible. AbuKhalil's miscomprehension could have been excused had the author written "The Huthis are Zaydis, followers of a variant of Shiite Islam, [who] make up about a quarter of Yemen’s population." But the author chose to avoid the potential ambiguity (the "who"could refer back to either Huthis or Zaydis) by repeating the "they" which clearly refers to "Huthis", the subject of the sentence, and not the "Zaydis".

When I say: The orange is the fruit of the citrus, and it is the colour between red and yellow in the visible spectrum, I am clearly speaking about the Orange and not the larger category of Citrus. This is elementary.

Why does this even merit a mention and a post on my blog? 

Because this is a professor who is entrusted with teaching young American students the proper and reliable ways of reading and understanding texts so as to be able to collect facts and form arguments and ethical positions based on the kind of information they (the students) collate. If the teacher cannot  perform this easy task of at least understanding what a sentence really says, how can he teach?  And what is the reason for such dismal performance, from someone who managed to get a PhD and write a few books himself? Is it that the prof has no time to read properly? Or does he go out looking for errors and finding them where they do not even exist? And why would a teacher, with presumably a trained mind in reading comprehension, act in this pedestrian way?

It is of course conceivably possible that the prof has erected an iron wall between his performance as teacher and his role as a blogger with a biased agenda. 
And this could serve as some sort of exoneration of a disciplined academic mind at work: The prof provides an scientific explanation why Jews should not be offended by being referred to as apes.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Academic Excellence, Angry Arab style

I've written about Prof. AbuKhalil, who who teaches American students at an American university of a good standing in California. I think there is no need to spread another layer of icing on the case cake of the good prof's credentials and suitability for the job of educator at an academic institute at a Western, democratic country. But here is a cherry:

Yesterday, I told my students in American Government class that I came to America in 1983, with two dollars in my pocket. I said that I came here in a boat and that I peddled my way through the ocean. They were listening intently and did not realize that I was kidding until I added: there were sharks all around me and a monster from outer space was attacking me from above. Ha ha.

A prof, who has so much contempt for his students that he spends time telling them tales from a hate filled imagination, believes he fools them, and then has a good chuckle at their expense with his so much cleverer and savvier readers. That's what I would call a creative teacher with a healthy sense of humour.