Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Shani Boianjiu’s "The People of Forever Are Not Afraid"

Israel’s Youthful Warriors

by CHARLES R. LARSON

The title of Shani Boianjiu’s vexing “novel,” The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, comes from a bumper sticker that presumably represents an attitude of survival for Israelis.  The only problem with that is the novel’s focus: three young women, immediately after secondary school, fulfilling their military service. The trio—Yael, Avishag, and Lea—have been friends for years, since primary school, and grew up in a remote village where there has never been much to do.  Once they are conscripted into the army, they’re in an entirely new world of discipline and order and, above all, boredom, since women are generally kept out of direct conflict and placed is less demanding but still important security positions.  If the safety of the nation relies on women such as these, the leaders at the top have reasons to be worried.

The story—a series of loosely connected vignettes—shifts from character to character, that is, the three girls who are becoming women.  For most of what we observe, the three are more adolescent than adult, with interests in sexual encounters, pop culture, video games and TV and, somewhat later, absurd situations once the three are given their military assignments.  Lea, assigned to a checkpoint, alleviates her boredom by fantasizing about the Palestinian males who cross the border at her site.  Yael, who is a superb marksman, trains young men, who are less proficient than she.  Flirting with them is half of the fun.  Avishag, similarly, guards one of the borders.  All three, have little respect for the Bedouin and the Palestinians they encounter as they go about their daily routines.

In one of the more absurd sections of the story titled “Means of Suppressing Demonstrations,” Lea repeatedly encounters three Palestinian demonstrators—two men and a boy—determined to make a statement about their condition.  The three show up at the border, day after day.  One man holds a sign which reads “Open 433,” referring to a highway with that number.  He tells Lea, “Officer, we are here to demonstrate against the restriction of our mobility, which is a collective punishment and against international law.” He speaks in “solid, accented Hebrew.” Lea has a document (“Means of Suppressing Demonstrations”) which tells her how to deal with the situation, presumably for much larger demonstrations.  “Use from light to heavy: shock, tear gas, rubber.”

The first of these, “the shock grenade, was designed to stun and scare by creating a loud noise.” So she uses the grenade first, but to little effect.  The men return the next day, so Lea and another soldier with her (a young man, called Tomer) use the tear gas.  Again, to little effect.  So that leaves the rubber bullets for the next encounter and the men, of course, show up the next day.  All along, Lea has warned them about the methods she will employ to stifle their dissent, indicating that the means will become increasingly harmful if they do not stop.  Thus, there’s a kind of dialogue at the border that illustrates the absurdity of both sides and their respective goals.  When Lea tells the trio that she’s going to use the rubber bullets, one of the Palestinians tells her, “Shoot and miss, just shoot and miss….  We need to be in the newspaper.  Page five, even.”  The incident concludes with Lea’s observation that if anyone saw her standing next to Tomer and the young boy who was part of the “demonstration,” they might conclude that the three were part of  “a family.”  Indeed, too true.

The final sections of the narrative relate what subsequently happens to Yael, Lea, and Avishag—mostly mundane jobs, though Lea is married—but, in addition, flashes back into the past, relating Yael’s mother’s military experience during a much earlier time.  Her situation replicates what has been told about the three young women, that is, an innocuous position, presumably at a safe location where little is expected to happen and a woman will be safe.  When she was eighteen, Yael’s mother insisted that for her active duty she should be assigned a position as an “air traffic controller.”  After much arguing, she was given a position as a controller in Sharm el-Sheikh, when it was still under Israeli control and for little interest to anyone.

It’s the same situation in those earlier years: nothing to do, unending boredom. There’s almost no equipment comparable to what controllers have today.  Basically, there’s a red telephone and, if it rings, she has to answer it.  Then one day, the phone rings and “she screamed.  This was because…she had never heard a phone ring before.” She didn’t have a telephone at home; she was only aware of the one near the local market.  Yet, the phone rings, and Yael’s mother gets her fifteen minutes of fame.  I won’t reveal more of the humor of the incident other than to say that she becomes part of the aftermath of the Entebbe rescue mission, in 1976.

Parts of The People of Forever Are Not Afraid are overwritten, boring.  Although the author writes in English, too often there are sentences (“There was becoming much more of her with every word.”) that read as if they have been translated from Chinese.  And yet, Shani Boianjiu has talent.  She has published in major outlets, including The New Yorker.  My hunch is that after she had those successes publishing individual stories, someone suggested that she write a few more until there were enough to string together as a novel.  A bad suggestion.

Shani Boianjiu: The People of Forever Are Not Afraid

Hogarth, 338 pp., $24

Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University in Washington, D.C.  Email: clarson@american.edu.