FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Witness Out of Palestine

Anna Baltzer’s amazing book Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories has been updated over the years, and I’ve just read it for the first time. Rather unfairly, and — as it turns out — wrongly, my first response upon turning the initial pages was: Do we really need another one of these? Jewish person believes pile of myths. Jewish person confronts reality. Jewish person tries to open the eyes of others. It’s become as familiar as “Dog Bites Man.” Couldn’t we all just share one book around instead of everyone writing his or her own, and then pool our money until we can afford a television station so that people can be made to wake up in large numbers?

But here’s the thing. While I’ve grown accustomed to describing each such book as the best or one of the best, they are not all the same. One of the many merits of this one is that it would make — and I hope it does make if it isn’t already — an excellent text book in schools. And significant numbers of people are waking up, without television, and presumably in part because of all the books, plus the interviews and events that accompany the books. The movement in the U.S. against Israel’s wars (and occupations and apartheid) demonstrates to the movement against all wars, and that against U.S. wars, that such things are possible. It may also demonstrate to writers that their efforts are in fact worth a bit more than would be spending their time helping Fox News hosts spot hidden sperms in presidential portraits.

I recently debated a West Point professor on whether war can ever be justified, and I tried to get him to name some actual wars that have been justifiable (as opposed to theoretical wars). He claimed that Israel’s Six Days War was the “quintessentially” just war. So in our second debate, I read to him from a Los Angeles Times column by Miko Peled showing that those who launched that war did so because they saw an opportunity for aggression and conquest. The facts that Peled revealed would be spreading virally and becoming universally known if they proved that the United States was created by God to set an example for the dumber people of earth. Information becomes known if it is desirable. But why isn’t the fact that every single war ever has been unjustifiable very desirable news, as it allows the world to do something more useful with $2 trillion a year?

My debate partner was a man who took part in the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan but refused repeatedly to say whether they were just or unjust wars. During our second debate he said that only fresh recruits could be excused for refusing to participate in those wars, but that experienced trained soldiers should have known better. However, he said something seemingly at odds with that, when, after the debate, I asked him yet again whether Iraq 2003-on was a justifiable war, yes or no? He said that it was only unjustifiable after the fact because of new information. And yet he had publicly promoted and participated in that war long after any such supposedly new information (presumably meaning the absence of the WMDs) had become widely known and the fact that the lies had been intentional had been thoroughly documented, and those who had pointed out the blatant falsehoods beforehand had been proven right.

My confused debate partner much preferred talking about analogies to Good Samaritans and doctors and muggers than actual wars, so I pointed out to him that Israel’s concern in 1967 that in 18 months Egypt could be capable of attacking it actually bore no relevant similarity to the immediacy and the urgency of a victim of a mugging. In making this comment I also referred to “decades of genocidal occupation” that followed the war. Someone later accused me of misusing the term genocide. So I pointed out the open advocacy of genocide by top Israelis. Baltzer’s book points out the open advocacy of genocide by many (obviously not all) Israeli settlers and soldiers. But I was then told that the crime of “incitement of genocide” is not the same as genocide. So, apparently it is OK to accuse Israelis of “incitement of genocide” but not of doing anything genocidal. I have no idea Baltzer’s view and don’t want to overemphasize the silly question of the use of a particular word, but I recommend reading her book.

This book documents the normalization of a long-term gradual genocide, one that in its duration serves as a marketing device for generations of new military weaponry. Ambulances are stopped at checkpoints until the ailing person dies. Children are shot for straying too near a fence in pursuit of a soccer ball. Supplies are blocked. Malnutrition is intentionally and successfully imposed. Fishing is restricted. A village is flooded with raw sewage with five people drowning in it. These and hundreds of other techniques serve to reinforce the bigotry behind the apartheid, and to do something that is in a strange way worse than a faster genocide: the banalization of evil. Call it whatever the bloody hell you want to call it. But let’s not let the unpleasantness of it prevent us from working to make it stop.

More articles by:

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail