Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE ONGOING CRISIS IN PALESTINE - Living and Dying in an Unsustainable Duality

The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be hosts of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy. As long as they live in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor, this contribution is impossible. ” - Paulo Freire - The Pedagogy of the Oppressed

A Palestinian protester throws stones at Israeli troops during clashes after protests near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip
Palestinians hurl stones and incendiary devices at Israeli forces
On Tuesday July 15 2014 an Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva published an op-ed written by Moshe Feiglin titled “ My Outline for a Solution in Gaza”. Feiglin spoke then as head of the Manhigut Yehudit faction, and a leader in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He refered to his article as: “Clear and concise...” because it is in fact very clear and very concise in its intention. These are Feiglin's - “Steps toward achieving quiet in Gaza”:

Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.

Attack – Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).

Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.

Conquer – After the IDF completes the "softening" of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Elimination- The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.

Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the entire length of Gaza.

According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to 

remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship”

One would be right to question the audacity of such a statement published for the civilized world to peruse. There is an obvious insanity that undergirds such audacity, and it is not the kind of madness that we can afford to ignore. The article reminds me of another “solution” that resulted in one of the most abhorred episodes in human history. The Holocaust Encyclopedia records the following:

“On July 17, 1941, four weeks after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler tasked SS chief Heinrich Himmler with responsibility for all security matters in the occupied Soviet Union. Hitler gave Himmler broad authority to physically eliminate any perceived threats to permanent German rule. Two weeks later, on July 31, 1941, Nazi leader Hermann Goering authorized SS General Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the implementation of a complete solution of the Jewish question." 

According to this same articleGerman SS and police murdered nearly 2,700,000 Jews in the killing centers either by asphyxiation with poison gas or by shooting. In its entirety, the "Final Solution" called for the murder of all European Jews by gassing, shooting, and other means. Approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children were killed during the Holocaust -- two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before World War II”.

With all due disrespect to euphemisms from the mouths of those we know as murderous villains in the course of human history, let me suggest that the word “solution” should never proceed from the mouth of a Jew toward Palestinians in the “occupied” territories. 

The article by Moshe Feiglin expresses the crassness and inhumanity that has come to characterize Zionist behavior toward the Palestinian people. This crassness and inhumanity found expression in the slaughter of dozens of Palestinians, including women and children, and severe injuries to thousands of others protesting against Zionist oppression in recent days.

According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

“After the September 1939 German invasion of Poland (the beginning of World War II), anti-Jewish policy escalated to the imprisonment and eventual murder of European Jewry. The Nazis first established ghettos (enclosed areas designed to isolate and control the Jews) in the Generalgouvernement (a territory in central and eastern Poland overseen by a German civilian government) and the Warthegau (an area of western Poland annexed to Germany). Polish and western European Jews were deported to these ghettos where they lived in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with inadequate food.”

In the minds of Jews like Feiglin, Gaza is nothing but a “ghetto” and its inhabitants are nothing more than “vermin” that must be wiped out to make way for Zionist ambitions. The “elimination of terror from Gaza” is the same as the elimination of any man, woman, and child who dares be perceived as obstacles to such ambitions. Feiglin has seen the enemy...it is him. He dwells in an unsustainable duality that has degraded his humanity. For him, to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the Nazi that he has been conditioned to despise.

The Zionist is yet to realize that his own liberation is inextricably bound with the liberation of the Palestinian. He is numb to the glaring reality that his every expression are manifestations of his own dehumanization. He finds himself in a delusional state in which he actually believes that he can quarantine himself and his clan from the pandemic of violence that his inhumanity breeds.

Reasonable voices must prevail against the insanity of the rabid fundamentalism on both sides. Israel's right to exist and to defend itself should never be an excuse for the disproportionate use of force to accomplish patently inhumane ends. Reasonable people have laid the groundwork for two states living side by side in civility. That work must bear fruit despite the objections rationalized on each side and their detractors. 

The resolution of this conflict requires the engagement of truly liberated persons. People willing to let go, not forget, but willing to work in creative ways to establish Peace despite the horrors in their common memories. The process has not been and will not be easy, but it is critically necessary that it endures through completion. The establishment of a comprehensive Peace in the Middle East is necessarily a work of persons dedicated to Justice for all involved. It is a work that requires the efforts of truly liberated participants. 

Paulo Freire aptly describes the peril and the promise of the work that must be done: "Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way, the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor nor longer oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom."

Despite the hopes of those who work and pray for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the birthing of a different state of being in Palestine is destined to be a process fraught with pain and bloodshed... on both sides.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

REALITY BYTES... Tragic Factoids Informing Our Laughter And Our Tears

I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where the proliferation of “garrison communities” has to this day engendered a sense of persistent insecurity among the people who inhabit them. These are places where ruthless gangsters and politicians exploit the survival instincts of their henchmen in pursuit of their own ignoble goals. These “communities” suffer some of the highest murder rates in the world. The devaluation of life in these circumstances has led to the kind of social destitution in and around them that is described in Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” :
“Welcome to Jamdown, poor people a dead at random
Political violence, can’t done!
Pure ghost and phantom,
The youth dem get blind by stardom… 
To see the sufferation sicken me
Them suit no fit me, to win election them trick we
Den them don’t do nuttin at all”
I lived my teenage years in the environment that Damian Marley so aptly describes in his lyrical exposition of the facts of life in these violence disposed ghettos. By the time I was 20 years old, many of the boys I had gone to elementary and secondary/high school with were either dead or in jail. They had become perpetrators or victims, all equally susceptible to the destructive wrath of the sharp edges and bullets of the criminal/political tribalism around them.
I have been robbed. I have been shot at. I have loved ones who were raped. I have seen the mayhem of brutality and murder. I have been called a “slave” for believing in the virtues of hard work by those who chose to be “thugs”. I have been caught up in curfews where a policeman told me to “run” so I would become a target of his trigger-happy, murderous inclination. 
I believe I am alive today because something greater than the fear in me made me stand firm against this prevalent inhumanity. Scary as it was, I learned to walk through it. I know about the corrupt influence of politicians, and cops, and preachers. There are evil people in the world, and no amount of naivete or pseudo-liberal idealism will, or can change that reality.
I make no excuses for those who choose to cultivate their depravity with excuses about being poor or disadvantaged. I grew up among the poor and disadvantaged; and I know that decency and industry was as much a part of our experience and aspirations as it may have been among some of those experiencing the abundance that we longed for. I also know that we did not have the quality education and training facilities around us that the privileged were exposed to. Neither did we have the resources to bribe the police and politicians and other servants of the status quo in order to gain access to the advantages that the moneyed around us had.
Despite the deleterious influences around me I have always seen my life in terms of making a positive difference in my world. 
By the time I was 18 years old I had boiled down my vocational choices after high school to either law enforcement or the priesthood. I chose the church because I was convinced I would be no good at taking orders. Chalk that decision up to my persistent naivete. After four years of seminary I found myself in a vocational crisis that led me to the couch of a renowned psychoanalyst, who, after many sessions, concluded that my personality was most suited to work in a prison.
 I left her office laughing, I wasn't sure why… I remember that I was very sad.

Like Lilies In Spring

There is a bulb buried deep inside us all that longs for the end of the season of dormancy. It contains, and is the symbol of all our ...