Thursday, August 24, 2006

Doin' the Hokey-Cokey

I remember the books that have influenced my thinking. The feel and the smell of them, the colours and illustrations. I still have the texts from when I studied Philosophy, Politics and History in the sixties.

There was a lot of talk about Geopolitical strategy and chandelier theory in those days. It was valid then. We held our breath until the split between China and the U.S.S.R brought a sort of three sided balance. That thinking is now obsolete. The collapse of the Soviet Union and China's retreat to the sidelines has created one superpower.

By coincidence or as a consequence there has been a massive world-wide swing to the right which has ushered in a U.S. administration packed with paranoid psychopathic personality types who prefer radio active bullets to diplomacy and actually boast about pre-emptive war - a war crime under the Geneva Convention. These guys do not believe in rules.

This administration has torn up Habeus Corpus and the rule of law. It has exempted itself from the Geneva Convention. It doesn’t pay its tab at the U.N. or obey U.N. Declarations. This Administration tells bare-faced lies to the American people in the sure and certain knowledge that a majority will not comprehend. And those who do can be confused and divided by disinformation. This administration openly accepts bribes and rifles the Federal purse. There is credible evidence that the Ballot has been rigged.

How bad does it have to get?
How did it happen?
How did the leaders of the "Free World" become complicit in Ethnic Cleansing, murder and mayhem?

I remember a book we read at high school. From it we learned about one man one vote, rotten boroughs, secret ballots, bribery and corruption. I remember thinking how obvious the abuse had been and how blind the people must have been not to have seen it. I was pleased it had all been sorted.
Funny thing, even then I recognised that the guys who thought nothing of bending the rules were the already powerful. They had to be armwrestled into universal franchise and the forty-hour week.

We were taught that the printing press aided reform and that was easy to believe- then it was bought. Radio likewise. As the revenue base of each new communications medium shifted from subscriber to advertising, entertainment replaced information. New media was quickly absorbed by the growing networks.
Multi-media gave birth to the PR industry and the PR industry commoditized the electoral process.
Once again, elections could be bought and very few people realised. Those who did could only whisper about it in the underground press.

Today, the level of disinformation is so great that the best informed are those who eschew the popular press, radio and television. The information is still out there. You just have to sort through the garbage manufactured by lobbyists and PR firms masquerading as "think tanks".

Do I think it's all gone to hell? No I do not. The pendulum has always swung back. It is just that the arc has been wider this time. I am beginning to detect a swing in America. Congressmen and Senators from both sides are beginning to speak out. Could this mean that pressure from the left is loosening AIPAC's grip on the U.S. political process? If it reaches critical mass, could the voter swing landslide and the succeeding Democrat administration have enough momentum to shake it loose? Could we see a great era of reform putting the reins on campaign funding and the power of lobby?

Hope I'm reading the right blogs.
It’s either that or Magna Carta time.

The internet is my new hope. As the communications industry decentralizes it becomes difficult to own and control. There is always a window of opportunity for the left and humanism provided by a new medium. Eventually the internet will be deluged by corporate sponsored infotainment and the radical voice swamped by brightly coloured disinformation. What they cannot own they smother.

For a short while however, there exists a slightly more even battle ground, that of ideas and the mind. For the left, this has always provided advantage.

The question is, of course, do our children know the history?

“Mass movements do not usually rise until the prevailing order has been discredited. The discrediting is not an automatic result of the blunders and abuses of those in power, but the deliberate work of men of words with a grievance.”-Eric Hoffer The True Believer


One of the good things about nearing sixty is the great grab-bag of references experience brings. Watching one’s heroes metamorphose into villains brings cynicism but finding a hero where a demon once stood brings hope. There have been a number of them in my time: Che, Nelson, Fidel, to mention a few.

Old Fidel is on his last legs. Who’d have thought it? He is the longest serving head of state in the world. He won’t outdo Queen Victoria but she had a head start, she was born a ruler.

I have a great deal of admiration for Fidel. Now. Once I thought he was the devil incarnate. That was back when I read Time and Newsweek.

I’d like to go to Cuba. They say it’s a people’s place. Not a paradise but a good place to go and kick back a little, hang out in a bar with friendly people. In the old days, Fidel might have joined you, invited you out to the beach house if he found you interesting.

It's not a place you go to buy stuff like Cartier, Versache or Happy Meals. You can get a good cigar, lovely organic fruit and, as the song goes, the rum is fine any time the year. You wouldn't dream of going there to work. It is more the sort of place to go to live.

I guess Fidel pulled it off. With thumb firmly pressed to his nose he faced down the might of the U.S. for nearly fifty years.

I wonder if President Ahmadineajad of Iran is an admirer of Fidel’s. Somehow I think he might be. There is a similarity in style.
Ahmadineajad is young, hip, has his own blog. He is a people's man. He still teaches a class in engineering, talks one to one with students, is highly intelligent and informed. His ambitions are not in the material world.

He speaks simply and the analysts pore over his words and interpret the meanings behind meanings until “Israel is in the wrong geographical location” becomes “Israel should be wiped off the map” and “Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilized for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether?” becomes: “We’re going to develop nukes whether you like it or not”.

Have you read his letter? Cut and paste it, fix up the grammar and spacing, print it out and take it to bed tonight. It’s remarkably good reading.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I've been blogging in support of the Palestinian/Lebanese cause almost continously for two weeks. One blogger kept sourcing his stuff from an organisation called Stratfor. It's a private spook outfit that peddles "intelligence". Stratfor's intelligence has included the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Al Quaida - Iraq collaboration and Cesar Chavez's downfall every year.

When you trawl the internet for stuff on Stratfor, You run into a lot of blogging. Kids are quoting Stratfor all the time. The chat on these sites is invariably of the murderin’ terrorist-sandnigger sort. I wonder what the kids on the other side are saying? Eventually I found what I was looking for. It was here:

Trawling through the Stratfor slime last night has made me understand what dear old Hunter S. meant by fear and loathing. He coined that phrase while covering the Nixon/McGovern Presidential election. The situation was similar to now. The Vietnam war had become a debacle and McGovern ran an anti-war ticket. He didn’t have a shit-show and the off-stage stuff was very similar to today.

It just goes to show how deep this neo-con stuff is embedded. I was left fearing that the fix is in. If it goes into Iran, the mess will be too big for a straight (if you could find one) Democrat to fix. Not in one term. Probably not in a lifetime. And those kids on the blogs will never know it.

Maybe that’s why Hunter S. shot himself.

Of course, the demons back in our day were the Chinese, Vietcong, and the Soviets. They shared a belief system. The idealogues among them believed that it would be possible for humans to live in a simple, co-operative manner. In a way that shared the resources in the most equitable way. It couldn’t work and it didn’t.

It might have worked if they had managed to get the bugs out of it. But they had to fight wars with the Hawks and profiteers of the West who saw it as bad for business. Eventually, with their infrastructure sufficiently degraded, they collapsed. Neither side could see a middle ground.

New Zealand had a try. State pensions, State Houses, a medical system that was free. I got paid to go to university. State Railway, State Postal Service. State......well, whatever it was, the State had one. It creaked and groaned but it worked, until newspapers lost their dominance. And the PR industry was born.

I think it’s our fault. Us baby boomers. We thought it was a done deal, that Dylan, Joni and the crew had got the message across. So we sat on our arses, dropped out and became Carpenters, sailors and singers. Waiting for the Greening of America.

So I apologise to the next generation. We took our eye off the ball. Hunter’s beast was loose among us and we nurtured him ‘til he grew strong. We raised him in the hope that he would enrich us and, in your time, you too.

You will have to live as we have lived. God grant you just a few years when it seems like it just might turn.

Oh....and try not to believe too hard in anything.

Stratfor Monitors and Studies Social Movements

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Break in Transmission

I had hoped to take up the thread of my argument but an article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker has thrown me off course. If Hersh’s sources are genuine, we may well be watching what Churchill called, the gathering storm. And it may be that, in a month or two, we will have witnessed as great an evil as the world has ever seen.
Hersh tells us that the war in Lebanon was approved of by the White House and is regarded as a precursor and test ground for Iran.
Mike Wallace of CBS News has interviewed the President of Iran. There is some controversy over the editing of the interview. Here is what Mike Wallace later said about President Ahmadinejead.

MW: He (Ahmadinejead) is not trying to project an image. Look, it's very difficult. I know...I found it difficult to understand, but the more that I sat there, and the more time that I spent with the man, he is...I'm not suggesting...he despises, if you will...oh, he doesn't despise, but he doesn't like the United States. He doesn't like the United States for the reason that it's supporting the Zionist entity. He doesn't talk about Israel.
SH: So you don't think he's an anti-Semite?
MW: He himself, an anti-Semite, an anti-Jew...anti-Jew?
SH: Yes.
MW: No, I don't.
MW: I am with you 100% in what I perceived to be the individual that I was about to sit down and talk to. And he made his case, fairly rationally. It wasn' was a conversation. He did not propagandize and so forth. He...when I began to talk to him about America, about the United States, and oppression, he had his facts down solid about why he feels sorry, he says, for President Bush. Why? And then he starts in about the polls of President Bush, and how they're going down, and how he's going to leave office, and it's sad that he's going to leave office and leave behind a people who don't really approve of him. His approval ratings are what they are. And what is the standing of the United States in the world generally under President Bush. And it's...we weren't having an argument. I mean, we were having a discussion. And he was infinitely more rational than I had expected him to be.
SH: And would you deny, Mike, for example, if you ever sat down with Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin...
MW: (laughing)
SH: Oh, wait. Hang on.
MW: No, look, I couldn't agree with you more.
SH: Would they seem, perhaps, informed, smart, reasonable, even though they were evil?
MW: Well, it's a perfectly sensible question. As far as I am...Adolf Hitler? Good Lord. I mean, the man was such a hateful, hateful man.
SH: So is Ahmadinejead, Mike. Listen to his statements.
MW: What...running a Holocaust, which the Iranians have not done, as you know, running a Holocaust, doing that sort of thing, slaughtering six million Jews, that's not what this man is talking about doing.
SH: But Mike, but let me answer that. Mike, but his statements are such that he wants to go beyond that. His statements are annihilate, wipe off the Earth.
MW: No, no, no.
SH: The world.
MW: Hold it, hold it.
SH: Wipe off the map.
MW: Yes, he says wipe off the map, and of course I asked him over and over about that. He says in effect, hey, it's perfectly sensible to do...pardon me. It's perfectly sensible for them, and I'm not quoting directly, obviously, because I don't have the translation in front of me, to...for them's perfectly sensible, if there is a Holocaust, and let's buy the fact that there was a Holocaust. Where did the Holocaust take place? Did it take place in an Arab neighborhood? Did it take place in Jerusalem? No. It took place in Germany. Then it seems to me, under those circumstances, take Israel, the Zionist entity, he called it, move it to Germany. Move it to Europe. That's where it happened.
SH: Do you agree with him?
MW: Move it to the United States.
SH: Do you think that's a legitimate argument?
MW: It's an argument. I'm not a commentator. You are.
SH: You think he's a better man than we think? Do you think he's a good man?
MW: I wouldn't call him a good man, no. I think that he's a more reasonable...he's self-assured. He is self-righteous. He is savvy. He has studied. Do you know what he does? He has a PhD in civil engineering. And...
SH: Well, he certainly won't let his people be free. There's not the freedom...
MW: What does that mean, free?
SH: Well, I would argue that women...
MW: Are you suggesting that he wasn't elected by his people?
SH: I don't believe that those elections are honest in any way. No, I do not.
MW: Well, all I can tell you is...
SH: I believe if there was an honest election, people would...
MW: Khamenei, who is the supreme leader, really, in Iran, if there's one man to whom this man, pronounce his name better than I do...that the president of Iran defers to, it is the man who they call the supreme leader, who is the ayatollah, the highest ayatollah. 27 years ago, I went to the holy city of Qum to talk to Khomenei, which is one of the reasons, I'm sure, that they decided that they were going to let me talk, or he was going to let me talk. I know that I am making him sound more human, more surely than I expected, and by all means, more human than you feel that he is. You feel that he's dead evil, and there's no doubt about it, and so forth. What you're telling me is that some of your best friends are Jews, is that it? That's not what I'm saying. He says, let the people who were responsible for the Holocaust, let the Zionists go there and establish their state.
MW: I think that Khomenei...Khomenei was much more, how to say, hard-minded, much more the kind of man that you're describing that Ahma...
SH: Ahmadinejead.
MW: Ahmadinejead, correct, is. The...I ask you to bring not prejudice, not your own beliefs or prejudices. When you watch him, I'll be curious to see whether you think that there's anything reasonable about this man at all.

President Ahmadinejead sent President Bush a letter. You can read it here:

The White House dismissed it as a “sermon”.

Time-Life and cleanliness

I seem to remember my Time-Life book on Israel showed nice pictures of Arabs and Jews living happily side by side. I tried dig it out of the attic but couldn’t find it. So I looked it up on and I found it was published in 1968.

was published in 2002.
So I guess my Time-Life book was a little cock-eyed as was my Atlas. Incidentally, you can buy a forty year old copy of Time-Life Israel in very good order for $2.95. I suggest you beat them down a bit. It's not worth that much.
One of the names that crops up in the Time proprietorship is Edgar Bronfman Sr
He gets a mention here

AIPAC can be naughty.

A lot of us down here in New Zealand have been puzzled by news that comes out of the U.S. It just doesn’t seem to gel with what we see from other sources and on the net. And even within the U.S. there are inconsistencies. Sometimes a sensational story in the New Yorker doesn’t even make it onto the networks.

I’ve often wondered what happened to the American Anti-Trust laws. I remember reading about them . In Time magazine. There was some debate about media monopolies. How did they get here from there? Did they change the laws?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Settle down easy.

I’m going to leave out the growth of the Zionist movement and the terrorism of the Israelis during the British mandate. And the fact that Balfour was a rapturist. Bidstrup has covered that well. It’s a hard read but rewarding. My thesis is more geographical.

It is an intriguing fact that Israel has never declared it’s borders.

Now I wonder why that is. One would think that a country professing a desire for peace and security within it’s borders would take the trouble to survey them out. One possible reason might be that they are somewhat fluid. If we consider the map of partition we can see that the split was about half and half. Today the Israelis control 82% of the land plus a bit of Syria (and Lebanon if the Shebaa Farms are indeed Lebanese).

It has always been a matter of puzzlement to me that Israelis seem to have a strong desire to go live in Palestinian territory. Particularly as they have increased their own land area by over 50% since 1948.
I suppose moving to a new house is only natural if the Israeli Government is prepared to foot the bill.

“The Israeli government spends at least $560 million a year on subsidies, infrastructure, and education for 220,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the new report Tuesday in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. This figure does not include military spending in those areas and it does not include any figures on spending for the 200,000 Jewish settlers living in settlements in and around East Jerusalem. If military spending and settlements in Jerusalem were included in the study, the figure would rise sharply.The report finds that since occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel has spent at least $10.1 billion on settlements, excluding military spending and the settlements in Jerusalem.”

That was in 2003. Today, if we include East Jerusalem, over 400,000 Israelis live in Palestinian territory.

Now I have some trouble with this. I can understand why settlers would flock to subsidized land but why would a State pay it’s citizens to go dwell in a land with which it lives in a condition resembling war.
Of course, it does cause a bit of trouble.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


As you will have read in the Bidstrup piece, the Israelis were given a plot of land after the second world war. The term “given” is probably inaccurate as the “givers” were not in fact the owners of the land. What really happened was that the Allies were pretty shocked by the ethnic cleansing that the Nazis had attempted so they said they’d turn a blind eye while the Israelis went and took it.
My Collins Clear School Atlas showed the area coloured yellow so it was clear to me that it was desert and there weren’t a lot of people around. Here is a map of the land that Israel was given permission to settle.

You might wish to compare it with this one:

Please take note of the small map on the left.

There are some nice pictures on the Israeli Tourism site. I think my clear school atlas was deficient.

Not all Israelis made a beeline back to Israel. Otto Preminger opted for the U.S. and became a movie producer. He made a movie called Exodus which I saw when I was about twelve. It made a huge impression on me although I didn’t understand the bits about the Irgun and Hagganah. I don’t think the Stern gang featured. I didn’t know that another Exodus was taking place while I watched Paul Newman defending the holocaust survivors against the Arabs.

Nearly a million Palestinians fled.

This is from Le Monde Diplomatiqe, Dec 1997:
“In the opening pages of "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem", Benny Morris offers the outlines of an overall answer: using a map that shows the 369 Arab towns and villages in Israel (within its 1949 borders), he lists, area by area, the reasons for the departure of the local population (9). In 45 cases he admits that he does not know. The inhabitants of the other 228 localities left under attack by Jewish troops, and in 41 cases they were expelled by military force. In 90 other localities, the Palestinians were in a state of panic following the fall of a neighbouring town or village, or for fear of an enemy attack, or because of rumours circulated by the Jewish army - particularly after the 9 April 1948 massacre of 250 inhabitants of Deir Yassin, where the news of the killings swept the country like wildfire.”

There are more accounts of the Palestine exodus here:

Here is a piece written by Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, founder and president of the London-based Palestine Land Society who was eight years old when his own family fled their home in Beir al-Sabe' (Beersheba) in 1948:

Ahh. They don’t make movies like they used to.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Fence

It all started with a debate. You see I have this friend, a retired writer who visits me regularly and we drink coffee and set the world to rights (yeah, I should get out more, I know).
Anyway, Israel launched it's offensive against the Hezbollah and I complained that the death toll of Lebanese civilians seemed disproportionate to the crime of kidnapping two Israeli combatants. My friend told me it was a bit like a sleeper, maddened by a mosquito, who swats wildly and knocks over the bedside lamp. Israel, he said, lies surrounded by enemies who just won't stop firing rockets, sending fanatics with bombs, generally causing a nuisance.
Something about the number of civilian casualties just didn't add up. I wasn't influenced by pictures of apartment buildings being blown up. I don't have television. Furthermore, I was aware that Israel has a great deal more firepower than it's neighbours.
My friend is a very knowledgeable chap and gave me a potted history of the Middle East but a couple of points jarred with my recollection of events. After he left I did a search on the internet. That was where I discovered the Bidstrup essay.
I didn't trust it so I kept on searching for more and more reliable information.
Many references to "the fence" and "settlements" arose. I had figured that Israeli settlers were moving into the border lands between Israel and the West Bank. Why not. Probably a good thing I thought. Get to know each other a little, learn to co-exist. So I googled the fence. You don't have to. It's here:
Have a look at it. The blue areas are Israeli settlements. The Israeli Government subsidises people to go and live there. It's actually not Israel's territory. When the settlers have moved in, they often have a bit of bother with the locals. As you do. The Israeli army feels a duty to protect it's citizens, even if they are not actually living in Israel. So there's a bit more bother.
Next time we'll look at another map.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Epiphany - a sudden revelation or insight.

I can remember the room, the table setting, the tea lady. Most of all I can remember the newspaper heralding the Israeli victory in the six day war. I can remember the grins of my co-workers as we joked about the Arab soldiers who, we were assured, retreated so fast they left their shoes behind. I was 19 years old. I was proud of the Israelis. My earliest introduction to horror had been the grainy photos of Auschwitz and Belsen. I think it was the first time I had ever seen a picture of a dead body. Only it wasn't a dead body, it was a pile of them. There were pictures of the living as well. Eyes too big for their stick thin bodies.
In the fifties and sixties it gave me pleasure to read about how the survivors had been given a desert, a wilderness that nobody wanted and they made it flourish. Another picture comes to mind. A Time-Life glossy of orange groves on the edge of the desert. Israeli oranges. Oranges were still a treat in New Zealand. I got one in a Christmas stocking. The Israelis were producing them by the bushel. In the desert that no-one wanted.
Now it was 1967 and plucky Israel had been attacked and, against all odds, sent the Arabs packing. Minus their boots.

Why then, you may ask, have I just spent the past week arguing the Palestinian cause on every blog I can find? Why, at 57 years do I feel that strange mix of energy and exhaustion that I begin to suspect is common to those who become radicalised. Why do I now understand the emotion that drove so many young persons to enlist in the Spanish Civil War? Why indeed do I want to go to Palestine? Why do the names Ben Gurion, Begin, Sharon, Eitan, Dayan now fill me with disgust? I would like to tell you but first let me warn you that what happened to me could well happen to you. Having ones long-held beliefs overturned is for some, a disturbing experience.

Jesus of Nazareth had his Epiphany out there in that desert. I had mine right here in front of this computer. Jesus had his visions, I had the internet. The internet had a chap called Bidstrup.
Bidstrup is nobody special. Just a blogger. He can write though. I recommend that you read this piece.
Be sure to check all the facts. Please post comments but this is my blog and I will delete posts if I think the poster has not read the piece.
Keep your hand on your tram ticket. The ride can get rough.