Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mosque Outrage Also Brings Solidarity

Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD (IPS) - Widespread sectarian violence generated by the recent bombing of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra has also brought widespread demonstrations of solidarity between Sunnis and Shias across Iraq.

The revered Al-Askariyya Mosque in Samarra, 135 km northwest of Baghdad, is one of four sacred places for Shias in Iraq.

The mosque was bombed at 6:55am Feb. 22 by men who tied up the guards and planted the explosives. This being the third attack on the Shias in as many days, outrage was immediate, violent and widespread.

Bloody retaliatory attacks took the lives of three Sunni Imams and scores of civilians, while over 50 Sunni mosques were attacked.

Yet the violence led also to demonstrations of solidarity after Shia and Sunni leaders called for calm and restraint.

Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani called for "easing things down and not attacking any Sunni mosques and shrines."

Sistani's office was quick to issue a statement: "We call upon believers to express their protest...through peaceful means. The extent of their sorrow and shock should not drag them into taking actions that serve the enemies who have been working to lead Iraq into sectarian strife."

Muqtada Al-Sadr, arguably the second most influential Shia cleric in Iraq told reporters: "It was not the Sunnis who attacked the shrine of Imam Al-Hadi, God's peace be upon him, but rather the occupation (forces) and Ba'athists...God damn them. We should not attack Sunni mosques. I have ordered the Al-Mahdi Army to protect both Shia and Sunni shrines."

Sadr returned promptly from Lebanon and called on the Iraqi parliament to vote the departure of occupation forces from Iraq.

Sunni religious authorities called for peace and asked people to confront those trying to generate a sectarian war.

Many Arab media outlets blamed the floundering Iraqi government for failing to provide the security needed to prevent the attacks. But thousands of people who joined demonstrations blamed American troops for failing to protect the Iraqi people.

Sunnis were quick to demonstrate solidarity with the Shias in Samarra and to condemn the mosque bombings. Demonstrations of solidarity between Sunnis and Shias followed all over Iraq. Some of the bigger demonstrations were held in Basra, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Kut, and Salah Al-Din.

Much of the Shia anger was directed at U.S. forces. In the primarily Shia city of Kut south of Baghdad, thousands marched through the streets burning U.S. and Israeli flags.

Thousands of Shias marched through Sadr City, the huge Shia slum area of Baghdad, shouting anti-American slogans. Sadr City has almost half the population of Baghdad.

Many large demonstrations were held in Baghdad outside Sadr City.

"Those shrines are very important to all Muslims, not only in Iraq but all over the Islamic world," 40 year-old merchant Ahmed Hassan told IPS at a demonstration in Khadamiyah area of Baghdad Feb. 23. "Every Muslim in Iraq not only criticised and condemned this action, but everyone is against it."

Thousands of Sunnis joined Shia demonstrations in Baghdad despite moves by the Iraqi security forces to seal off Sunni areas.

"This is no more than an Israeli kind of act done by the American troops using some men who were paid," a 54 year-old Shia man told IPS. "It is not the Sunnis who are responsible, because we know the Americans and Israelis want to divide us. The Sunnis would never bomb a Muslim mosque."

A 25-year-old woman among the demonstrators was telling everyone she could that the attack had nothing to do with the Sunni people of Samarra.

"My husband is a Sunni from Samarra who goes to that shrine," said Hashmia Atimim. "Of course we know it was a foreigner who did this horrible act."

Some of the sentiments at the demonstrations found unexpected if partial echoes. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a statement that those who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra "have only one motive: to create a violent sedition between the Sunnis and the Shiites in order to derail the Iraqi rising democracy from its path."

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Deliberate Acts

Agreed analogies only go so far.
Calling a person or a group of people "the devil" does make it sound, as if I believed, there are people with no hope of redemption, no way out of damnation.
I believe as long as a person is alive, he or she has a choice.
This is, what with very few exceptions every religion on earth preaches: There is a choice. There is no predestination.

I do not believe that human beings are determined by their biology in their thoughts and in their acts.
Nor do I believe that they are determined by their living conditions, their upbringing or their membership in a class or a group.
Humanity is a very unic species on earth. We are not determined by our instincts or by environmental factors.
While those factors can surely have influence on us and our acts, we have a "manual override" other species don´t.

Our intelligence is this override. It can bring us to acts of "evil" bringing destruction on fellow members of the species or other living beings, no member of any other species ever could, or to acts of "good" sacrificing for the wellbeing of others even until total self-sacrifice.
Our intelligence makes us capable of choice and capable of change.
Everyone has a chance to turn around, change his thinking and his acts, regret, repent, make reparations as far as possible and find redemption.

Reparations in the case of instigating wars based on lies, is of course, first and foremost telling the truth. The dead can´t be brought back to life and and the maimed won´t get back their limbs, but truth can bring back peace.

When I talk about a "human devil", I mean the believe I have come to, that it is not a faceless system, some automatacy, which is responsible for exploitation, oppression, mass-murder and war.
It is people, human beings, who deliberately plan for these results of their politics.
Marxists believe that those results are inevitable results of capitalism and that to overcome those terrible conditions for humanity a Marxist led revolution is necessary.
I see in Marxism a lot of evidence of being a rather intolerant "religious faith". Marxism's "God" of "Dialectic Materialism" does not allow for any alternatives. It is a very jealous and absolutistic "God".
I very much agree with the issues of social injustice, imperialism and permanent war for the enrichment of the few, which are raised by Marxists, but I also believe that the solutions to those problems must be found within the people and culture of single countries and cannot be imposed on all the world by a western ideology. And since humanity contains so many diverse cultures the solution to social problems will be diverse. This in my opinion might actually enrich the human condition.
And while it might make the cooperation between countries a bit more complicated than a one-world system, it could in the long run actually help humanity to overcome the scourges of ethnocentrism and racism. For learning to communicate to other cultures on a equal basis will do this for you in the long run.

Even within the European framework Marxist revolutions could not deliver on the promises of Marxism inspite of the high cost in human lives.
If the people of Eastern Europe had felt some kind of confidence in the justice of their socialist system, they would have defended it against the onslaught of western capitalism. Sure many people in Eastern Europe believe now in hindsight, that what they had then was better than what they have now, but still just as the lesser of two evils.Marxist materialism could not fulfill the human desire for true justice, which is also a spiritual value.
(The only place were socialism actually has worked enough for the people to want to defend it, is Cuba. But if you look closely,even there the system is not doctrinaire Marxist but a mixture respecting cultural values of the Cuban people. And when Castro shook hands with the Pope, the Cuban revolution made peace with the Church.)

But when saying, that the originator of human misery is not an an anonymous "system", but actual people, who use this system and would use any other system as well to serve their advantages and further the goals of their philosophies, then we need to try to identify those people.
I do not think, that they are just one ethnic group, like Anglo-Saxons, Germans, Jews or Chinese, although some probably have these ethnic backgrounds.
Nor do I think that their background is from one single religion.
Nor do I think that they are true believing Free Masons or even ritual Satanists, although I did use the "devil" analogy.
These people believe themselves to be ultra-rationalists, so praying to any God, or to the "Architect of the Universe" or even to Lucifer, makes very little sense, except for some kind of perverted fun.
Those strange religion-like groups might be used to trap some politicians with embarrasing photographs, or they might be used for some strange form of male-bonding.
But I´m rather convinced that the actual believe system of the ruling elite is atheist, materialist, nihilist and social-darwinist.
Those are the defining characters of their worldview. This is what drives their political actions.

Kurt Nimmo on his site "Another Day in the Empire" quotes Shadia Drury in the worldview of the Straussian Neocons, who are now the spearhead of the global elite:

"Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat, and following Machiavelli, he maintains that if no external threat exists, then one has to be manufactured. “Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed,” Strauss wrote. “Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united—and they can only be united against other people.” Strauss’ established governance, according to Drury, is made possible through “aggressive, belligerent foreign policy,” and “[p]erpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in.” According to Jim Lobe, “Strauss’ neoconservative students see foreign policy as a means to fulfill a ‘national destiny’—as Irving Kristol defined it already in 1983—that goes far beyond the narrow confines of a ‘myopic national security.’”

Then he quotes Michael Doliner:

The Straussians “are not, as some think, merely agents of Israel,”
Nor was the war fought merely for oil. They did not ally themselves with the religious right merely for expedience. They do not seek primarily to further the fortunes of Halliburton and Bechtel. All these are real motives, but they are peripheral motives. Their goal is to turn America into the Straussian State and rule it perpetually. Consequently, the debacle in Iraq [or the coming debacle in Iran] does not seriously affect their plans. Even the Katrina aftermath might not shake them. A Straussian society needs an endless war to supply a “them” against which “we” will do endless battle. The endless war, such a horrible prospect for the rest of us, provided the political glue to transform the United States of American from a liberal democracy to a Straussian totalitarian state.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Deliberate Provocation

Did they see it then, some 67 years ago in Europe, even earlier in Asia, did they see the train engine coming at them, running over everything on their way, already Tschekeslovakia was run over, then Polland and then...?
Did they see that the whole world was strapped to the tracks, and the engine was running unstoppable, madmen at the wheels and nobody to pull the emergency brakes?

Some people did see it. Their words are recorded. We still can read them.
But could they ever imagine that after the engine had run against the wall, 50 million dead bodies would be strawn around its tracks?
Who could have imagined this?

Did they see before hand the weapons that would be used, incinerating whole cities, burning land and harvests to the ground, leaving nothing but ruins and blackened earth?
Did they see the firestorms raging, the fires which couldn't be extinguished when they hit the skin, fires that would burn you alive in unimaginable pain?
Did they see the weapons which would exterminate cities in an instant and still would keep on killing twenty, fifty years after they were used?

They did not know about these kind of weapons then, the last time the engine ran over the whole world.
But we know now.
And most look away, too frightening is the view, too eery the sound. Afghanisthan has been run over already, Iraq a hundred thousand dead bodies already by last spring and nobody has been counting any more since then.

And the engine is running, running towards us, Iran will be next or Syria. A military option is proposed, a nuclear one is not excluded.
Madmen at the wheel and nobody to pull the emergency brake and Europe close at the side of the Americans, no longer wavering, but there in the engine.
How many bodies will it be this time, 50 million or 500 million or more?

It is planned to be a generational war, 30 years or so.
The last time a 30 year war was fought in Europe, half of the population was dead afterwards.
It won´t hit Europe this time? Really?
The whole world is strapped on the tracks. When the engine is not stopped it will run over us and it will run over you.
But the engine needs fuel to run. It's fuel is hatred. It´s an artificial fuel, not natural.

When the Danish paper printed those Muhammed cartoons. They were only done by Muslim hating cartoonist, printed by an Muslim hating editor in a paper owned by Muslim haters for the consumption of local Muslim haters. And there are so many of them now in Europe.
But when those cartoons reached the Middle East, half a year later, the anger there was real. But the activists threatening foreigners, first of all in Palestine, trying to empty the land of foreign witnesses to upcoming crimes, those agents were not real, they were mercenaries.
It happened right after a Hamas victory, but those violent agents weren´t Hamas. They were from some obscure Fatah group, Fatah who had sunk in their own corruption, undermind by Israel and probably riddled with collaborators.

But the anger has spread and the frustration and maybe the hatred has become real or maybe there are other paid agents to spread it.
And we are on a threshold of a Clash of Civillisations or maybe we already stepped over it.
And I hear the arrogance and ignorance in the talking heads on TV and read it in the papers, blowing the smoke of a "free society", a "information society", when their "information" is nothing but pure viciousness, deliberate instigation to hatred and war.

And the engine is running.

And the arrogant western atheist viciousness is telling us: what´s wrong with a little bit of fun, a little bit of fun on those retards who believe in something else than pure science, those religious idiots.
We Christians should not have taken it laying down, when those atheist fanatics were smearing crosses with urine and feces and called it art.
Because it gave them a precedent: Smearing what for many people is holy, is just fun or art or a matter of free speech.
I don´t believe in violence, but I believe in screaming. We should have screamed louder. Let them call us retards, so what?
At least we are not hate-mongering mass-murdering madmen.

For atheists not much is holy. But in their "free speech" defense they are just holier than thou.
However historically, they have a very bad memory.

Have you ever seen those cartoons, that were printed in the "Stürmer", the leading Nazi hate paper? Maybe you have seen it in history class and if not, maybe you can look it up.
Those cartoons will look eerily familiar now. They were used to defame an ethnic and religious minority, to bring the majority in the country up against them, put the majority into the right mood, the right mood for expulsion, deportation, incarcaration, slave labour oppression, abuse and murder.
It was not a matter of "free speech" then, it was a matter of hate and everybody knew it. But now we have gotten used ot our smoke screens. We need them to not feel guilty.

But when the engine comes running over us, the smoke screens won´t protect us, because they are just that - empty smoke.
The engine is fueled by hatred. And we provide it. It´s not their hatred, it´s ours, the western, enlightened, secular and so very rational hatred towards the "others" who do not want to be like us.

And the engine is running full speed at us, and I hear the rumbling.
And feel the vibration of forboding desaster.
And I can´t turn my eyes away.
And I only can imagine what lies ahead.
But then, those people 67 years ago, who felt like I feel now, nothing in their imagination could prepare them for the reality that finally hit them and hit also the others who didn´t want to look.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Culture and Philosophy

Why waste time on talking about movies, TV-shows, books or some philosophical theory, when in the real world real wars are killing and maiming people, destroying their homes and lands?
Should it not be enough to just document the suffering and the crimes to get the peoples of the world to oppose them and stop them?
Obviously not.
Wars, massacres, oppression, torture and other atrocities are justified or downplayed.
We never see the world plain and obectively. We allways see it coloured through the glasses of our own worldview. While my individual worldview might differ from the views of my immidiate neighbours, it still is influenced by the collective worldview of my country and the culture I live in.
A worldview is created by culture and mirrored in it and it bases on a collective philosophy wich changes through the years.
Our western culture has become more cynical and less humanist in the last twenty years and has still not overcome racism. Instead, racism has changed its focus from skin-colour to culture.
Of course in our western self-righeousness we declare that this is not real racism, since, while people cannot change the colour of their skin, they could change their culture and religion or at least the attitude towards religion easily and become like us, the prototypes of the wonderful modern man, the over-humans instead of the barbarians they are now. And if those barbarians do not want to become like us, those barbarians just get what´s coming to them.
When westerners accuse Muslim societies of oppressing women and the Muslims accuse western societies of abusing women´s sexuality for profit, then most westerners wouldn´t even consider of looking at the accusations. They would not even consider, that the suffering caused by turning sexuality into a merchandize to be sold, bought and used for the advertisment of other products together with the economic devastation of neo-liberal politcs, might cause as widespread physical and psychological suffering among women as the legal discrimination of women in Muslim societies.
All this western self-righteousness is based on modern western philosophies, which define freedom in a whole different way than non-western people do or we ouselve have defined some twenty years ago.
We need to realize that our own culture is far from perfect or even on the way to perfection, it is not even a whole lot better than the cultures we critizice.
And I believe that we need to question our collective worldview including all the assumption we perceive as undeniable truths, which in reality are just theories.
Those theories stand in comptition to a other contrdicting theories which have just as much sceintific evidence behind them as the ones generally accepted by most of us.
When we analyze our culture mirrored in movies, music, tv-shows and books, we can recognize what the philosphies and assumed "truths" our culture is built on, and what philosophies are propagated by the powerful in order to move our culture into their direction.

"Munich": Responses

"Der Spiegel" uses Spielberg´s movie as title to last week´s print magazine with the headline: May Democracies kill Terrorists - The Ethics of Revenge.
No matter to what conclusions the fanatic pro-Israel Spiegel comes, the headlines in themselves imply the first untruths.
Can there ever be an ethic in revenge?
Even the old Vikings with their very low threshold in refraining from killing came to conclusion that in the long run the circle of revenge and counter-revenge must be broken or it would destroy both parties and they invented a compensation system and a neutral court, which actually was the primare function of "Althingi" the parliament.
Mahatma Ghandi thought, that with the rule of an eye for an eye, everybody would go blind in the end. Revenge imprisons people in a vicious circle with no way out of violence and bloodshed, no hope for peace. How can anybody presume this was ethical.
And who has the ethics on his side. The Israeli death-squad revenging the kidnappings and killings of those Israeli athletes or the kidnappers revenging the far higher death-toll of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the eviction of the Palestinians from their land with the help of rape, murder and massacres?
Then the assumptions of the first question: Who actually are the terrorists. Are agents acting for a state less terrorists than other agents acting for a national liberation movement? Both are killing for their political goals.
And then, what actually is a democracy?
Is it a country where people can go to elections and make a cross behind some name or the name of a party?
Well, then just about every country in the world has some kind of elections and should be called a democracy.
Isn't the minimum requirement for a country to be called a democracy that is has equal legal rights for all its citizens and protects those rights. And Israel even fails in this minimum, by discriminating with written laws against it´s non-Jewish citizens.
But then words like democracy, freedom and justice have turned into Orwellian phrases with no meaning at all, phrases just to be used to justify the powers of the powerful.

Here are other responses to "Munich".
For instance a review by Lydia Howell, a Minneapolis-based journalist and host of KFAI radio's "Catalyst: Politics & Culture."

Israeli hardliners have little to fear from Spielberg's excursion into the political thriller genre, a bloody philosophy lesson from which only the most dedicated and sophisticated viewers will be able to discern any worthwhile, deeper meaning...........
Some Israelis (such as Ehud Danoch, the Israeli Consul-General in Los Angeles) have slammed Spielberg for making Israeli and Palestinian violence seem "equivalent" -- a totally absurd claim to anyone who's actually seen the film. In fact, Munich virtually omits "the Palestinian side" of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There's just one brief exchange, between the film's lead Israeli agent and a Palestinian, where the Palestinian expresses longing for a "homeland" and makes a fierce declaration that "Israel will eventually lose to the Palestinians, even if it takes a 100 years." It's a startling moment, because it's the only time a Palestinian speaks. Otherwise, Palestinians are portrayed in the usual way: nameless thugs "speaking gibberish" (untranslated Arabic) who commit "senseless" acts of brutality against Jews........
Avner (Eric Bana), the lead agent who serves as our primary lens, ultimately takes his wife and child out of Israel and moves them to Brooklyn. He must visit them in secret, and none of them seem "at home" away from Israel. There is the looming irony that perhaps in attempting to avenge his homeland, it is lost to him forever. But most disturbing to this viewer is that, in the film's final scene, it's still not his own violent acts that apparently haunt Avner, only the Palestinians' slaughter of the Israeli Olympic team. This should mollify Spielberg's pro-Israel critics. In a clumsy, ham-fisted display of propaganda, he saves the bloodiest flashback of all for last, with Avner "remembering" Munich, while having sex with his wife in Brooklyn. It would have made more sense, psychologically, dramatically, and morally, if he had been reminded instead of the blood-spattered, bullet-ridden female assassin they deliberately left naked, or the Palestinian couple they shot dead in bed.

In short, Munich is neither the equal of Schindler's List nor Saving Private Ryan, both of which showed more courage and complexity, with memorable characters entangled in moral ambivalence. It is more interesting than most action movies and is still worth seeing, but Munich doesn't do justice to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. That's too bad, because Steven Spielberg might be the only American filmmaker able to get both the cash and the audience to put a new perspective before the American people.

A response from a Socialist Site by David Walsh

.......One can find fault with Spielberg and principal screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America) on a number of grounds. Although there are references to the origins of the state of Israel, the film tends to suggest that the history of violence in the region began in Munich in 1972. In fact, the establishment of the Zionist state meant the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians. In 1946, Jews owned less than 12 percent of the land in the area that became Israeli territory; that figure rose to 77 percent after the 1948-49 war.

Palestinians fled their land in large measure out of fear of Zionist violence. In the notorious massacre at Deir Yassin in April 1948, Menachem Begin’s Irgun group massacred 250 men, women and children. This widely publicized event was part of a deliberate effort to terrorize the Arabs and empty Palestine of its population. Over a two-year period from 1947 to 1949, the Zionists destroyed and depopulated more than 400 Arab villages, systematically replacing them with Jewish communities. By 1972, then, masses of Palestinians had been living miserably in refugee camps distributed throughout the region for more than two decades. They had only recently taken up arms against their condition.

The killing of the Israeli athletes was an atrocity (how many were killed by Palestinians and how many by German police snipers remains unknown), but the ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the Zionist authorities and their backers in Washington and elsewhere.

Moreover, it is reasonable to assume, and research apparently backs this up, that the decision taken by Meir was only in part a specific response to the Munich events. These rather provided the moral and political pretext for the Israelis to eliminate a portion of the Palestinian leadership, many of whom had nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic hostage-taking. Avner raises this issue in the film, but, again, the reference is only a fleeting one........

And a response by Steven Spielberg himself in which he ends all speculation of the movie being pro-Palestinian or at least somehow neutral to both sides:

"I am as truly pro-Israeli as you can possibly imagine ... But there is a constituency that nothing you can say or do will ever satisfy." Spielberg himself admits that the silliest aspect of this whole buzz ball is that one faction is accusing him of "moral equivalency" - in other words, of making like Switzerland and refusing to pick a side. "Frankly," he tells Ebert, "I think that's a stupid charge." The film is meant to be critical of Israel, he says – but in the nicest, gentlest, most puppy-dogs-and-ice-cream, appropriate for a 10 year old's birthday party way possible.