CHIROT ZERO ZINE--ANNOUNCING NEW BLOG

Dear Followers, Friends, fellow Workers:

I have just begun a new blog/zine called
Chirot Zero Zine A Heap of Rubble--
Anarkeyology of hand eye ear notations
---
http://chirotzerozine.blogspot.com
the blog is more exusively concerned than this one with presenting essays, reviews (inc. "bad reviews") , Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, Event Scores, Manifestos, Manifotofestos, rantin' & raving, rock'roll, music all sorts--by myself and others--if you are interested in being a contributor, please feel free to contact me at david.chirot@gmail.com
as with this blog, the arts are investigated as a part of rather than apart from the historical, economic, political actualities of yesterday, today, & tomorrow
as with al my blogs--
contributions in any language are welcome

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier
The government under pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word “liberated” loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view the use of the words “collateral damage” when they kill innocent men, women and children. They describe people defending their homelands as terrorists, savages and hostiles . . . My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it is too late—see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. --Leonard Peltier, Annual Message January 2004 (Leonard Peltier is now serving 31st year as an internationally recognized Political Prisoner of the United States Government)

Injustice Continues: Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole

# Injustice continues: Leonard Peltier denied parole‎ - By Mahtowin A wave of outrage swept the progressive community worldwide at the news that Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Aug. ... Workers World - 2 related articles » US denies parole to American Indian activist Leonard Peltier‎ - AFP - 312 related articles » # Free Leonard Peltier 2009 PRISON WRITINGS...My Life Is My Sun Dance Leonard Peltier © 1999. # Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance - by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden - 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. In 1977, Leonard Peltier... books.google.com/books?isbn=0312263805... - # Leonard Peltier, American Indian Activist, Denied Parole And Won't ... Aug 21, 2009 ... BISMARCK, ND — American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole ... www.huffingtonpost.com/.../leonard-peltier-american_n_265764.html - Cached - Similar - #

Gaza--War Crime: Collective Punishment of 1.5 Million Persons--Recognized as "The World's Largest Concentration Camp"

Number of Iraquis Killed Since USA 2003 Invasion began

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

US & International Personnel losses in Iraq &Afghanistan; Costs of the 2 Wars to US


Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,667
icasualties.org/oif/

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,453
http://icasualties.org/oef/


=

Cost of War in Iraq

$691,188,637,164

Cost of War in Afghanistan
$229,137,844,021

The cost in your community

www.nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182

flickr: DEATH FROM THIS WINDOW/DOORS OF GUANTANAMO--Essays, Links, Video-- US use of Torture

VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual


VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL
No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
GAZA-GUANTANAMO-ABU GHRAIB—THE GLOBE
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com
Addresses: david.chirot@gmail.com
David Baptiste Chirot
740 N 29 #108
Milwaukee, WI 53208
USA

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'



Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'


The current 'Miss Universe' Dayana Mendoza (formerly Miss Venezuela) and 'Miss America' Crystal Stewart visited US troops stationed in Guantanamo Bay on March 20th, the New York Times reports. Here's Mendoza's account of the visit from her pageant blog last Friday. She says the trip "was a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.


The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FAITS DIVERS--FATE'S DIVERS--"Gitmo Prisoners Sent to Gaza"--"Pro-Apartheid Post Ironic Language Poetry"--24 January 2009








Putting rumors to rest, President Obama announced today that a deal with Israel has been reached to transfer the unwanted inmates of the closing Guantanamo Prison directly into the Prison Population of Gaza. There, the Israelis have reassurred US officials, they will be targeted for swift assassination, putting an end to polls showing the US public's loss of interest, and low approval ratings abroad.





While Americans celebrated their first Black President's Inaugeration in Washington, pro-Israel marchers in New York City staged the first Pro-Apartheid protests held on US soil. Surpassing even the Segregationists of 1950's America in extremism, the new Movement is fast gaining approval at all levels of the new Government. Pundits and poets alike are hailing a "Post Ironic Public Language," in which contradictions are "overcome in the = sign" of the "Revival of American Pride."


Charles Bernstein--"Dark at End"



"Post Ironic Language --New Extreme Experimental American Poetry Reading"


"Post Ironic Language--American Sponsored Apartheid Performance Art"

from Aryanil Mukherjee: "Can write, will print ": India's Non-Mainstream Writers Making Cretive Use of Self-Publishing Services


Bharat Matrimony 060109 The Telegraph


Can write, will print

It was a dilemma for Ohio-based poet and essayist Aryanil Mukherjee. He’d written a book of poems in English (he has already written four in Bengali) and didn’t know how to get it published. He finally hit upon a slightly unorthodox solution: he teamed up with Goa-based self-publishing service CinnamonTeal Print and Publishers to publish his collection, Late Night Correspondence recently.

Welcome to the world of self-publishing. Today, would-be authors can avail of self-publishing services like CinnamonTeal, Pothi.com and Depot. They offer a quick, efficient and cost-effective option to writers eager to be out in print quickly.

Ok. Self-publishing or vanity publishing, as it’s also known, has always been around. But today technology means that a publisher like CinnamonTeal or Pothi.com can bring out a well-produced volume — and in next to no time. And the costs are more manageable.

For Mukherjee, the self-publishing option turned into a boon. He wanted to share his works, originally in Bengali, with American experimental poets, who he interacts with. “Small presses typically take one to three years to print. That was the principal reason why I approached CinnamonTeal,” says Mukherjee.

The new services offer more than just modern printing technology. They’re also offering varied services from editing to designing, thus hand-holding writers through the entire manuscript-to-printed copy process. And in some cases, they’re even helping to market the books although self-published authors are ultimately responsible for reaching out to readers — and selling in bookstores.

For writers like Mukherjee, in fact, self-publishing services like CinnamonTeal have proved to be a “value for money” proposition. As an experimental poet, exercising control over presentation too was equally important for Mukherjee. “Small presses sometimes want to exert control in terms of the style. The advantage with print on demand is that all that is within your control,” he says.

The service providers

A host of self-publishing firms have sprung up over the last few years. Like Pothi.com, which was set up by Bangalore-based techies Jaya Jha and Abhaya Agarwal in July 2008.

The two were actually trying to publish Jha’s collection of Hindi poetry when they stumbled upon the print-on-demand technology. “I had a dream job with Google then. But I always wanted to start up on my own,” says Jha.

Pothi.com has already published around 50 books like Four Briefs and Six Vests, a memoir by IIM graduate Dilip T.K., and On the Contrary, a collection of columns by venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy. “Self-publishing is more prevalent than it appears. It gives a chance to writers who don’t have access to conventional publishers,” says Jha.

Then there’s Depot, the three-year-old books and music division of Pantaloon Retail (India). Depot was already publishing cookery, self-help and children’s books through its Depot Exclusives imprint when it began getting queries from would-be authors.

“We thought, why not offer self-publishing services as we already had a back-end and a front-end too in our Depot stores,” says Darshana Shah, senior manager, marketing, Pantaloon Retail (India).

That was in February 2008. Now, Depot has already done around 20 self-publishing projects, ranging from food to fiction to self-help. “We’ve got a very good response,” says Shah. But she admits, “Self-publishing is a democratic platform. We are not going to judge whatever you have written.”

Meanwhile, in Goa, Leonard and Queenie Fernandes too launched CinnamonTeal in October 2007 as an offshoot of their online bookstore, dogears.com. They’ve published 25 titles so far.

As a business, self-publishing is still quite young in India, says Pinaki Ghosh, who set up Power Publishers in Calcutta last year. But he expects to witness “a notable growth” over the next five years.

“Thousands of wannabe authors will get drawn to this concept when they discover the benefits,” says Ghosh, who founded Power Publishers as an extension of his three-year-old ghostwriting service, Writer4me. Ghosh expects to publish 25 books in 2009.

On the shelf

Writers from across the country — and beyond — are seeking self-publishers. Take Sumitra Ramachandran, who’s co-founding an IT company in Thiruvananthapuram. She has just published Pachoo’s Story, an allegorical tale with animal characters, through CinnamonTeal. “As a first-time author, I felt self-publishing was a good option as I was able to choose how my book was going to be,” she says.

Others like Amish Tripathi who has just published his novel, Shiva: The Man, The Legend, are hoping to catch the eye of a mainstream publisher with a fully packaged product.

As the national head of marketing and product management at IDBI Fortis Life Insurance, Tripathi knew the importance of making a good presentation. “I didn’t want to present an A4-bound manuscript that would get lost in the pile,” he says. Hence, he published it through Depot first.

The novel — written under the pen name Amish — is the first part of a trilogy that Tripathi intends to write, and is based on the premise: what if Lord Shiva was a real man who lived in 1900 BC and whose story was turned into a myth about the god? So it turns Shiva into a Tibetan migrant who travelled to the Indus Valley region.

“The story just came to me. I wrote it every morning and evening in the backseat of my car,” says the history buff. Now, he has put together a package of the printed work with reviews from “celebrities” like Prahlad Kakkar and mythologist Devdutt Patnaik, which he will submit to mainstream publishers soon.

Chennai-based Rumjhum Biswas doesn’t believe in self-publishing either. “I write because I must. But if it has to be read, it must be seen critically by a third party who feels it is worth it,” says Biswas.

Nevertheless, when she was invited to read at the Prakriti Poetry Festival in Chennai in December, she didn’t want to read from cyclostyled sheets. So she decided to print some of her already published poems as a slim volume, It’s Been There All Along.

These writers aren’t necessarily opting out of the conventional publishing industry. Aryanil Mukherjee recently published a second book with CinnamonTeal called Chaturangik/SQUARES, a collaborative anthology written with American poet Pat Clifford. He’ll submit it to New York-based Litmus Press soon.

For writers like Mukherjee, self-publishing in India is a value-for-money proposition. But he says, “There’s no reason why self-publishers can’t graduate to the next level and take an editorial stance.”

Yet, for others, self-publishing is also proving to be a way to publish personal writings among family, or even indulge themselves.

Like when Zunder Lekshmanan’s father M.V. Lekshmanan died last April. “My father had a large number of friends and family, and I wanted them to relive their memories of him through this book,” says Zunder, who works with a telecom firm in Bangalore.

(From top) Novelist Amish Tripathi, Pothi co-founders Abhaya Agarwal and Jaya Jha, poet Rumjhum Biswas

The result is Down The Memory Lane, a slim book of 19 poems, which Zunder published through Pothi.com.

On the other hand, when Prabhleen Singh, a medical intern in Amritsar, managed to put down the “stories in his head” into a novel, And The Mirror Kissed Back, he deliberately chose to publish it himself.

“Traditional publishers usually want you to make changes to make the book more marketable. I didn’t want mine to be changed at all,” he says. It has been a tough job but he has, so far, managed to sell 200 of the 500 copies of his novel about two women “who face problems they’re not responsible for”.

Indeed, Karthika V K, publisher and chief editor, HarperCollins India, cautions: “Self-publishing has always been around but marginally. And it will continue to be marginal because people may be able to print their work but you also need to sell and distribute, which is an entirely different thing.”

Manuscript to printed word

So how does one self-publish? It’s pretty simple actually. Once you’ve written your magnum opus, you can just contact a self-publisher online and get going.

As a first step, you need to enter the basic details of your book online like its genre, dimension (7in x 9in is the most common size), number of pages, hard or soft cover, and number of copies. The self-publisher’s website will generate an estimated cost. You can also choose from the range of services provided such as cover page design, copy editing, formatting and page layout.

The cost depends on all these parameters. For instance, Depot charges Rs 550 for a premium cover page design for a 100-page 7x9 book. Pothi.com charges Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 to edit a 200-page book.

Print-on-demand is costlier than offset printing on the price per book. But as you can print fewer copies, the total outlay is lower. Players like Pothi.com and CinnamonTeal print even a single copy, while Depot prints 25 copies minimum, and Power Publishers, 300.

Once you’ve got your initial quote, you can submit your manuscript online. After that, it’s a matter of liaising with the publisher on editing, formatting et al. You can conduct the entire process online too like Lekshmanan.

The publishers vouch on confidentiality. The book’s copyright too rests with the author, and he also decides its price.

“All rights are with the author. Also the services are non-exclusive so authors can look for regular publishers simultaneously,” says Pothi.com’s Agarwal.

Once you’ve got your printed copy in hand, you can either list it on the publishers’ website or distribute it yourself.

Reaching out to readers

The big problem is how do you sell your book? Mainstream publishers have established marketing and distribution networks to create demand for their authors. But self-published authors must rely on themselves, and that’s where they are at a disadvantage.

Singh, for instance, approached bookstores in his hometown Meerut himself to stock his book. He also managed to get Oxford Book Store in Amritsar, Chandigarh and Delhi to sell his book though he had to first host — and pay for — a book launch.

The self-publishing firms do offer some marketing services though. With its 120 shop-in-shops and 10 standalone stores, Depot for instance, has a ready network. It offers a free listing on its site and stocks the book at select stores for three months. It even organises free book launches. Shraddha Damani, 22, who runs a search firm in Calcutta, hosted one recently when she launched her book Love, Life & Relationships.

Players like Pothi.com and CinnamonTeal also offer a free listing on their online bookstores — they only print copies when orders come in, sharing the royalty with the author. Besides, CinnamonTeal has tied up with online book stores like India Plaza and Flipkart.com.

Pothi even offers an online marketing package, which includes putting up a website and blog for the author, getting them on social networks like Facebook, and marketing the book on community-based networks like Shelfari.

“Ultimately, however, it’s up to the author to reach out and engage with their readers,” says Jha. Be that as it may, one thing’s clear: there’s no dearth of writers out there and self-publishing is opening up the doors for them.

Top

An e-mail from Barbara Lubin of MECA (Middle East Children's Alliance)


As some of you know, Barbara Lubin, Executive Director of MECA, embarked on a humanitarian trip to Gaza, to get necessary goods into Gaza for the kids. She finally did get into Gaza, and this is the e-mail she wrote to supporters of MECA. I will put a paragraph that horrified me in large print, to emphasize it. (Barbara's e-mail was all in a uniform print size.) Another selection in large print, simply because it makes mention of a practice I know that has been done over a period of years. I devoted one chapter of a book I am writing on Israeli human rights abuses to this subject. -- Jerry Cohen


Letter from Gaza

MECA
January 23, 2009

Dear Jerrold,

I entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night with my friend and fellow activist Sharon Wallace after waiting ten hours at the Egypt/Gaza. The destruction and trauma is even greater than I expected.

In just two short days I met with families who were given minutes to evacuate their homes and are now living in overcrowded UN schools; I saw the ruins of bombed greenhouses; I looked out the window at fields and roads torn up by the tread of Israeli tanks; and I visited two universities where MECA supports students with scholarships- severely damaged by Israeli bombs.

Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to "give as a gift to Israel." As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her. Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. The concept of "Jewish morality" is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.

I spent the first morning visiting Rafah then drove north to Nuseirat Refugee Camp where our partner organization Afaq Jadeeda Association is buying food a delivering cooked meal to displaced families with funds MECA provided. Then to Gaza City.

Today I visited Jabaliya Refugee Camp and the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, two of the areas hardest hit by Israel's brutal attacks. Pharmacies, schools, and homes were indiscriminately hit in Jabaliya. Mohammed, one of our volunteers in Gaza, and his family were forced to evacuate their home because of intense bombing in their area.

In Zaytoun, I saw families gathering wood from charred trees. The almost two-year blockade of Gaza has deprived people cooking gas, so these terrified families build fires to keep warm and cook the little food they can get.

I talked to people on the street who told stories of wild dogs coming to eat their dead neighbors, relatives bleeding to death because Israel would not allow emergency workers into the area, and Israeli soldiers entering homes to beat and kill.

But despite the immense mourning and devastation, people are starting to put their lives back together. Sabreen, a young woman from Rafah, told me, "We are a strong people. No matter how many times Israel bombs us we are not leaving. We will keep trying to live as normal a life as possible."

Sincerely,


Barbara Lubin
Gaza City, Gaza, Palestine

email: meca@mecaforpeace. org

Gaza children return to school after war


Gaza children return to school after war

Palestinian boy Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to AP – Palestinian boy Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to the name sign of his killed …

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Tens of thousands of children returned to schools across Gaza on Saturday after three weeks of war, playing games for some relief from the devastation and telling friends and teachers about the explosions they heard and relatives they lost.

In one classroom, signs with the names of three 14-year-old boys killed in the fighting were set on their desks — and their deskmates sat with stunned expressions next to the empty seats as the teacher encouraged the class to talk about their experiences.

"It's very hard when one used to see 30 students in class, and after what happened, I see 27," their teacher, Bassam Salha told the class at the U.N.'s Fakhoura Elementary school. "We lived three weeks in sadness. I want you students to help me to get out of the sad mood I am in now."

Meanwhile, an Israeli foreign office official said President Barack Obama's newly-appointed special envoy to the Middle East is expected in Israel on Wednesday for talks on reviving Mideast peace negotiations after the Gaza fighting and on ensuring an arms blockade on the territory's Hamas rulers.

George J. Mitchell will meet with Israel's prime minister and other leaders, as well as the Palestinian president and prime minister in the West Bank, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because there has not yet been an announcement from Washington. The White House and State Department declined to comment.

Also Saturday, international aid organizations called for the unfettered entry of humanitarian and building supplies into Gaza. The territory's borders with Israel and Egypt have remained largely closed since a cease-fire took hold earlier this week, though supply convoys have been able to come through.

In Israel, the defense minister was to propose to the Cabinet on Sunday that the government provide "moral and legal support" for officers in potential court cases related to the war's conduct.

The reopening of schools, a week after a tentative cease-fire, marked a small step back to normalcy for Gaza's 1.4 million residents. Israel had launched a 22-day air and ground assault, aimed at stopping rocket fire by Gaza militants on southern Israel.

Some 280 children were among the 1,285 Palestinians killed in the offensive, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed during the fighting.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed regret over the deaths of civilians, but Israel blamed the deaths on Hamas, saying its fighters used civilians, schools and mosques to shield themselves.

The scores of schools run by the United Nations — which are attended by 200,000 children — reopened along with Gaza's public schools, which Hamas has run since seizing the territory in 2007.

"Getting these children back to school was our absolute priority," John Ging, Gaza head of the U.N. agency that cares for Palestinian refugees, told the Associated Press.

In one school, first-grade girls with white ribbons in their hair swept shattered glass from the courtyard. More than 30 U.N. schools were damaged in the fighting.

The schools were also used as makeshift refuges by tens of thousands of Gazans fleeing clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in border areas, and by others whose homes were destroyed in the fighting.

At the Fakhoura Elementary school in the town of Jebaliya, volunteers from an Islamic aid organization led the children through a series of songs and clapping games in the courtyard.

Talking to his students, Salha recalled the three lost classmates, calling one, Ahed al-Quddas a "very naughty student, but he was light-hearted." Another, Bashar Naji, "was always giving the right answers," he added.

One of Naji's friends spoke up.

"I don't know what I'm going to do after him — he used to help me in answers and the others at the same time."

During the fighting, Palestinian militants fired rockets from next to the school, where hundreds of Gazans had huddled, according to witnesses. Israeli forces responded with mortars that hit near the school and killed 42 people, most civilians.

At the Asma elementary school in the Shati refugee camp, three blood stains and a large hole in the bathroom wall marked the spot where a Jan. 5 missile strike made a direct hit and killed three boys and teens, ages 10, 17 and 19. The three, who were among hundreds taking refuge at the school, were using their cell phones to light the way to the bathroom when struck, witnesses said.

Hundreds of students sat in the courtyard, eating U.N.-provided bread, cheese and cucumbers. Many had lost relatives.

Fifth-grader Noor Abdel-Ali, said two of her brothers were killed in the first day of air strikes. Suhaib, 30, was working at a police station that was bombed, and Yousef, 18, was in the Internal Security building when it was hit, she said.

"I feel alone because they used to come visit me at school," said Noor, 10. "My friends are around me here, but I'm still sad that they died."

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Ministry said it would ask the Cabinet at its weekly meeting Sunday to provide legal support to army officers in potential court cases resulting from the war's conduct.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the war on Hamas Israel was exercising "the right, indeed the obligation, of any country, under international law to defend itself and its citizens."

Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups have said they are seeking to build a case that Israel violated the laws of war. The groups are focusing on suspicions that Israel used disproportionate force in its onslaught and failed to protect civilians.

Israel, which denies any violations, is gearing up to protect its soldiers from any attempted prosecution, including with Barak's motion to the Cabinet. The rights groups say it is too early to say if they would seek any such prosecution, and it is not clear at what court it could be attempted.

Half a dozen international aid groups called for the free passage of humanitarian aid and construction materials through Israel's border crossings with Gaza.

The Israeli army said more than 125 trucks a day — on some days nearly 200 — have entered Gaza since fighting ended on Jan. 17.

"We are looking at providing (aid) for months and even years to come," said Mohammed Ali Abu Najila of Oxfam told a news conference at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. "Lives are hanging in the balance and they depend on unrestricted humanitarian access and increasing funding."

The border crossings are a central issue in efforts to work out a long-term cease-fire. Israel and Egypt had enforced a border blockade following the Hamas takeover in 2007, and have said they will only open the gates if Hamas accepts the deployment of border monitors, as a way of halting weapons smuggling.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said a Hamas delegation to Cairo would discuss this and other issues with Egyptian leaders to create a detailed agreement.

Guantanamo: Video

"Guantanamo"

You can view it here:

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/540.html

take action on "BBC: Journalism is about compassion too"!

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LENGUA Sólo el vacío puede hablar... Elisa Mendoza






lengua lengua

arte contemporáneo

 

Identidades en tránsito by you.

 

Identidades en tránsito by you.

 

Identidades en tránsito by you.

 

Identidades en tránsito by you.

 

31 de diciembre del 2007  

 

(....) Sólo el vacío puede hablar 

 

Chére Iris,

 

Que gusto, leerte, y verte! que placer saber que compartimos la tragedia del entre, del lugar sin lugar...

 

Pues te cuento, estas dos últimas semanas fueron la locura, exámenes finales y trabajos..ahora tengo la pausa de las vacaciones para seguir trabajando en mis lecturas y en mi proyecto. No obstante, sigo en el limbo, no solo por la ciudad pues poco a poco he ido apropiándome de los espacios, re-signifandolos, dejando en ellos y ellos en mí, las huellas que forman la silueta del lazo que me une a Paris.  No obstante, el limbo me re-atrapa porque mis miedos más ancestrales me atraviesan la piel, miedo al olvido del otro, miedo a volverme recuerdo, a mi muerte en la conciencia del otro.  

 

Mis emociones se encuentran en puntos contradictatoriales (es decir en una lógica donde bien y mal forman parte de la misma unidad) estoy viviendo con toda la acidez posible el amor y el odio, la empatía y la indiferencia... ya ves, el corazón tiene razones que la razón no comprende.... Después de la luna llena del 24, emprendo el camino del re-nacer....

 

Afortunadamente, tengo la habilidad de convertir todo esto en pulsión por el conocimiento... así mi noche decembrina se cubrió de vino, notas y lagrimas... finalmente así como tú, y eso es lo que nos une, nos mostramos sin más ni menos, no sólo observamos, sino que también nos entregamos, nos donamos...

 

En cuanto al blog, estoy muy contenta, sin lugar a dudas la retroalimentación es mutua. Tal vez un poco lenta (sobre todo de mi parte, me pasa que escribo á partir de los momentos de lucidez jajaja o de oscuridad total)

 

Pero hoy que el año termina (¿en realidad termina o re-comienza con un nuevo nombre?) hay varias cosas para compartir en este interminable va-y-ven, eterno retorno.

 

La primera, en mi trabajo final de lingüística utilicé la noción de limbo y encontré cosas curiosas, te mando adjunto el trabajo, es algo muy sencillo pues no soy ni lingüista ni semióloga jajaja, pero se me han ocurrido varias ideas a partir de la reflexión... El trabajo  es un análisis semántico de la palabra limbo en francés, es importante resaltar este punto pues los referentes culturales cambian entre los hispanohablantes y los francófonos, en primer lugar, el termino limbo en francés divide sus significados a partir de su acepción en singular o en plural y esto da pie a un análisis distinto.

 

Otra cuestión que vino a mi mente fue que tal vez en otro momento se podría hacer un análisis semiológico de los iconos de las estaciones del metro, para comprender el imaginario social que se teje alrededor de ciertas imágenes... o como dijo Rockdrigo... "ahí en la estación del metro Balderas...una bola de gente se la llevo...ahí en la estación del metro Balderas ahí es donde ella se metió al talón...

 

El punto a seguir a partir de la reflexión semántica es que la idea de limbo se liga directamente con la de vacío, paradójicamente el vacío permite la vida, el movimiento, recordemos que en el vacío interestelar, entre las condiciones menos favorables, las más hostiles, la vida surgió. Entonces, ¿por qué no habrían de ser los no-lugares y los no-actos la posibilidad de la resistencia de la vida, una resistencia no verbalizada. Porque justo ahí donde uno menos lo espera, la vida se abre paso.

 

Réveillon éternel  

 

31 de diciembre y el tiempo aparentemente no se detiene... para la lógica racional todo pasa de manera lineal, todo comienza y termina... siempre hay un final, 31 de diciembre de 2007 a las 23:59 minutos y 59 segundos... el mundo ser otro, un, dos, tres, doce deseos de lo que podrá ser en el futuro, el mundo condicionado, el mundo prometido que nunca llega… Por eso, esta noche en Paris  hay quienes se niegan a aceptarlo y testarudamente viven el presente, los instantes eternos, contra toda productividad, contra toda mercantilización del tiempo y de la vida... ¡HOY SE FESTEJA CON UN NO-ACTO UN NO-AÑO NUEVO... UN REVEILLON ETERNEL!!!

 

El grupo de FONACON (Front d'Opposition à la Nouvelle Année - Comité d'Organisation National ) bajo la consigna ¡2008 Ne passera pas ! . . . se reúne el día de hoy en Montmartre para manifestarse contra el paso del tiempo, y bajo un no-acto el tiempo se detiene y la noche de año nuevo se vuelve eterna... un instante eterno, circular, sin principio ni fin... un vacío...

 

http://www.fonacon.net/

 

En esta noche ambigua entre el deseo de decir Feliz 2008 y desear que el tiempo no pase, jajaja, recibe desde este lado del charco, mis mas buenas vibras y bendiciones universales

 

Elisa

 

  

http://identidadesentransito.blogspot.com/ 

Identidades en Tránsito, proyecto con la colaboración de Vamp Iris Mexico y Elisa Mendoza. Nuestro propósito es abordar el tema del no-lugar y de la no-acción desde la investigación, documentación, la sociología y el performance.

 

 
FONACON Manifestation contre le 2008 á Montmartre

1:58

 


Israel's Lies, London Review of Books special--Writers' Responses to Gaza--

thanks to Palestinain Think Tank for making this avaiilble-

Palestine Think Tank


Israel's Lies, London Review of Books special

Posted: 24 Jan 2009 12:49 AM PST

WRITTEN BY Henry Siegman

Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas's capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel's actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF's carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF's Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha'aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel's government of having made a 'central error' during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing 'to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,' General Zakai said, 'it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they're in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.'

The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel's intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn't even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza's population.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel's leaders as a 'plucked chicken'. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas ­ brutally, to be sure ­pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.

Israel seeks to counter these indisputable facts by maintaining that in withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, Ariel Sharon gave Hamas the chance to set out on the path to statehood, a chance it refused to take; instead, it transformed Gaza into a launching-pad for firing missiles at Israel's civilian population. The charge is a lie twice over. First, for all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah's rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.

The greater lie is that Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza was intended as a prelude to further withdrawals and a peace agreement. This is how Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglass, who was also his chief negotiator with the Americans, described the withdrawal from Gaza, in an interview with Ha'aretz in August 2004:

What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements [i.e. the major settlement blocks on the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns . . . The significance [of the agreement with the US] is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush's] authority and permission . . . and the ratification of both houses of Congress.

Do the Israelis and Americans think that Palestinians don't read the Israeli papers, or that when they saw what was happening on the West Bank they couldn't figure out for themselves what Sharon was up to?

Israel's government would like the world to believe that Hamas launched its Qassam rockets because that is what terrorists do and Hamas is a generic terrorist group. In fact, Hamas is no more a 'terror organisation' (Israel's preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons. According to Benny Morris, it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. He writes in Righteous Victims that an upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 'triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict'. He also documents atrocities committed during the 1948-49 war by the IDF, admitting in a 2004 interview, published in Ha'aretz, that material released by Israel's Ministry of Defence showed that 'there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought . . . In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them, and destroy the villages themselves.' In a number of Palestinian villages and towns the IDF carried out organised executions of civilians. Asked by Ha'aretz whether he condemned the ethnic cleansing, Morris replied that he did not:

A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

In other words, when Jews target and kill innocent civilians to advance their national struggle, they are patriots. When their adversaries do so, they are terrorists.

It is too easy to describe Hamas simply as a 'terror organisation'. It is a religious nationalist movement that resorts to terrorism, as the Zionist movement did during its struggle for statehood, in the mistaken belief that it is the only way to end an oppressive occupation and bring about a Palestinian state. While Hamas's ideology formally calls for that state to be established on the ruins of the state of Israel, this doesn't determine Hamas's actual policies today any more than the same declaration in the PLO charter determined Fatah's actions.

These are not the conclusions of an apologist for Hamas but the opinions of the former head of Mossad and Sharon's national security adviser, Ephraim Halevy. The Hamas leadership has undergone a change 'right under our very noses', Halevy wrote recently in Yedioth Ahronoth, by recognising that 'its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.' It is now ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state within the temporary borders of 1967. Halevy noted that while Hamas has not said how 'temporary' those borders would be, 'they know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their co-operation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: they will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals.' In an earlier article, Halevy also pointed out the absurdity of linking Hamas to al-Qaida.

In the eyes of al-Qaida, the members of Hamas are perceived as heretics due to their stated desire to participate, even indirectly, in processes of any understandings or agreements with Israel. [The Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled] Mashal's declaration diametrically contradicts al-Qaida's approach, and provides Israel with an opportunity, perhaps a historic one, to leverage it for the better.

Why then are Israel's leaders so determined to destroy Hamas? Because they believe that its leadership, unlike that of Fatah, cannot be intimidated into accepting a peace accord that establishes a Palestinian 'state' made up of territorially disconnected entities over which Israel would be able to retain permanent control. Control of the West Bank has been the unwavering objective of Israel's military, intelligence and political elites since the end of the Six-Day War.[*] They believe that Hamas would not permit such a cantonisation of Palestinian territory, no matter how long the occupation continues. They may be wrong about Abbas and his superannuated cohorts, but they are entirely right about Hamas.

Middle East observers wonder whether Israel's assault on Hamas will succeed in destroying the organisation or expelling it from Gaza. This is an irrelevant question. If Israel plans to keep control over any future Palestinian entity, it will never find a Palestinian partner, and even if it succeeds in dismantling Hamas, the movement will in time be replaced by a far more radical Palestinian opposition.

If Barack Obama picks a seasoned Middle East envoy who clings to the idea that outsiders should not present their own proposals for a just and sustainable peace agreement, much less press the parties to accept it, but instead leave them to work out their differences, he will assure a future Palestinian resistance far more extreme than Hamas ­ one likely to be allied with al-Qaida. For the US, Europe and most of the rest of the world, this would be the worst possible outcome. Perhaps some Israelis, including the settler leadership, believe it would serve their purposes, since it would provide the government with a compelling pretext to hold on to all of Palestine. But this is a delusion that would bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Anthony Cordesman, one of the most reliable military analysts of the Middle East, and a friend of Israel, argued in a 9 January report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the tactical advantages of continuing the operation in Gaza were outweighed by the strategic cost ­ and were probably no greater than any gains Israel may have made early in the war in selective strikes on key Hamas facilities. 'Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal, or at least one it can credibly achieve?' he asks. 'Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel's actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.' Cordesman concludes that 'any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends.'

15 January

Note

[*] See my piece in the LRB, 16 August 2007.

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, is a visiting research professor at SOAS, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

LRB contributors react to events in Gaza

Tariq Ali, David Bromwich, Alastair Crooke, Conor Gearty, R.W. Johnson, Rashid Khalidi, Yitzhak Laor, Yonatan Mendel, John Mearsheimer, Gabriel Piterberg, Jacqueline Rose (certainly to be published elsewhere), Eliot Weinberger, Michael Wood.

January 15, 2009

http://www.lrb.co.uk/web/15/01/2009/mult04_.html#tariqali

Tariq Ali

A few weeks before the assault on Gaza, the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army published a levelheaded document on 'Hamas and Israel', which argued that 'Israel's stance towards the democratically-elected Palestinian government headed by Hamas in 2006, and towards Palestinian national coherence - ­legal, territorial, political and economic - has been a major obstacle to substantive peacemaking.' Whatever their reservations about the organisation, the authors of the paper detected signs that Hamas was considering a shift of position even before the blockade:

It is frequently stated that Israel or the United States cannot 'meet' with Hamas (although meeting is not illegal; materially aiding terrorism is, if proven) because the latter will not 'recognise Israel'. In contrast, the PLO has 'recognised' Israel's right to exist and agreed in principle to bargain for significantly less land than the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, and it is not clear that Israel has ever agreed to accept a Palestinian state. The recognition of Israel did not bring an end to violence, as wings of various factions of the PLO did fight Israelis, especially at the height of the Second (al- Aqsa) Intifada. Recognition of Israel by Hamas, in the way that it is described in the Western media, cannot serve as a formula for peace. Hamas moderates have, however, signaled that it implicitly recognises Israel, and that even a tahdiya (calming, minor truce) or a hudna, a longer-term truce, obviously implies recognition. Khalid Mish'al states: 'We are realists,' and there is 'an entity called Israel,' but 'realism does not mean that you have to recognise the legitimacy of the occupation.'

The war on Gaza has killed the two-state solution by making it clear to Palestinians that the only acceptable Palestine would have fewer rights than the Bantustans created by apartheid South Africa. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians with equal rights for all. Certainly it seems utopian at the moment with the two Palestinian parties in Israel ­Balad and the United Arab List – both barred from contesting the February elections. Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of Yisrael Beitenu, has breathed a sigh of satisfaction: 'Now that it has been decided that the Balad terrorist organisation will not be able to run, the first battle is over.' But even victory has its drawbacks. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Isaac Deutscher warned his one-time friend Ben Gurion: 'The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase "Mann kann sich totseigen!" — you can triumph yourself to death. This is what the Israelis have been doing. They have bitten off much more than they can swallow.'

Five hundred courageous Israelis have sent a letter to Western embassies calling for sanctions and other measures to be applied against their country, echoing the 2005 call by numerous Palestinian organisations for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the South African model. This will not happen overnight but it is the only non-violent way to help the struggle for freedom and equality in Israel-Palestine.

Tariq Ali's latest book is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

David Bromwich

Like the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, the rockets from Gaza were a choice of tactics of a spectacular vengefulness. The spectacle was greater than the damage: no Israeli had been killed by a rocket before the IDF launched their assault. Yet the idea of rockets falling induces terror, whereas the idea of an army invading a neighbouring territory has an official sound. The numbers of the dead ­ as of 15 January, more than 1000 Palestinians and fewer than 20 Israelis tell a different story. Many people remain unmoved by the tremendous disproportion because they cannot get the image of rockets out of their heads.

In the United States, since this one-sided war began on 27 December, facts are not suppressed but fiction pervades the commentary. We are offered an analogy: what would Americans do if rockets were fired from Canada or Cuba? The question has been repeated with docility by congressional leaders of both parties; but the rockets are assumed to come suddenly without cause. The choking of the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air, the rejection by the US of the Palestinian Unity Government, the coup launched by Fatah and bankrolled by the US, which ended in the seizure of power by Hamas ­ all of this happened before the rockets fell from thee sky. It is as if it belonged to a prehistoric time.

American politicians exhibit an identification with Israel that is now in excess of the measurable effects of the Israel lobby. The blindness of the identification has led the US to respond with keen sensitivity to Israeli requests for assistance and moral support, and to underestimate the suffering caused by the Gaza blockade and by the settlements and checkpoints and the wall on the West Bank. Yet grant the potency of the lobby and the identification ­ even so, the arrogance with which Israel dictates policy is hard to comprehend on the usual index of motives. Ehud Olmert boasted to a crowd in Ashkelon on 12 January that with one phone call to Bush, he forced Condoleezza Rice to abstain from voting for the UN ceasefire resolution she herself had prepared. The depth, the efficacy and the immediacy of the influence are treated by Olmert as an open secret.

To judge by the nomination of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and the likely nomination of Dennis Ross as Middle East envoy, Obama wants to be seen as someone who intends no major change of course. In a televised interview on 11 January, he said he would deal with Israel and Palestine in the manner of the Clinton and Bush administrations. The unhappy message of his recent utterances has been reconciliation without truth; and reconciliation, above all, for Americans. This preference for bringing-together over bringing-to-light is a trait of Obama's political character we are only now coming to see the extent of. It is an element -until lately an unperceived element- ­ of a certain native moderation of temper that is likely to mark his presidency. Yet his silence on Gaza has been startling, even immoderate. The ascent of Barack Obama was connected in the world as well as in the US with peculiar and passionate hopes, and his chances of emerging as a leader of the world are diminished with every passing day of silence.

David Bromwich teaches English at Yale.

Alastair Crooke

'We have to ask the West a question: when the Israelis bombed the house of Sheikh Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, killing him, his wives, his nine children, and killing 19 others who happened to live in adjoining houses ­because they saw him as a target, ­was this terrorism? If the West's answer is that this was not terrorism, it was self-defence ­then we must think to adopt this definition too.'

This was said to me by a leading Islamist in Beirut a few days ago. He was making a point, but behind his rhetorical question plainly lies the deeper issue of what the Gaza violence will signify for mainstream Islamists in the future.

Take Egypt. Mubarak has made no secret of his wish to see Israel teach Hamas a 'lesson'. Hamas are sure that his officials urged Israel to proceed, assuring Amos Yadlin, Israel's Head of Military Intelligence, at a meeting in Cairo that Hamas would collapse within three days of the Israeli onslaught.

Islamists in Egypt and other pro-Western 'moderate' alliance states such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan have noted Israel's wanton disregard for the deaths of civilians in its desire to crush Hamas. They have seen the barely concealed pleasure of the regimes that run those states. The message is clear: the struggle for the future of this region is going to be uncompromising and bloody.

For all Islamists, the events in Gaza will be definitive: they will tell the story of a heroic stand in the name of justice against overwhelming odds. This archetype was already in place on the day of Ashura which fell this year on 7 January — when Shi'ites everywhere commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, the Prophet's grandson, killed by an overwhelming military force at Kerbala. The speeches given by Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah's secretary general, were avidly followed; the ceremony of Ashura drove home the message of martyrdom and sacrifice.

Islamists are likely to conclude from Gaza that Arab regimes backed by the US and some European states will go to any lengths in their struggle against Islamism. Many Sunni Muslims will turn to the salafi-jihadists, al-Qaida included, who warned Hamas and others about the kind of punishment being visited on them now. Mainstream movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbullah will find it hard to resist the radical trend. The middle ground is eroding fast.

At one level Gaza will be seen as a repeat of Algeria. At another, it will speak to wider struggles in the Arab world, where elites favoured by the West soldier on with no real legitimacy, while the weight of support for change builds up. The overhang may persist for a while yet, but a small event could trip the avalanche.

Alastair Crooke is co-director of Conflicts Forum and has been an EU mediator with Hamas and other Islamist movements. Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution will come out next month.

Conor Gearty

It is just possible the killings in Gaza may mark the end of Israel's disastrous plunge into militant Zionism. The key is Obama: will he collapse under pressure like most of his predecessors, or is there more to him? Let us assume he knows how senseless it is for the US to collude in a crime of the kind going on in Gaza. There are ways of marking this without unleashing the pro-Israeli forces against him at too early a stage.

Clearly the new administration desires to re-engage with the global community and revive its commitment to international law: the 'war on terror' will be reconfigured and Guantanamo closed. A rededication of the US to law should also involve a more consensual approach to the UN ­"Security Council business in particular ­ including (for example) support for UN investigative missions to regions where egregious violations of human rights and breaches of the UN charter have occurred. It should entail the US signing up to the International Criminal Court" and urging its closest allies to do likewise. Framed in this way, a US engagement in the international human rights agenda would quickly lead to a crucial re-empowerment of the rapporteurs, special representatives, committees of experts and so on who have languished on the margins for so long.

This reformist energy would then need to be backed by mechanisms along the lines of the MacBride principles or the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act linking US financial and military aid to the newly emerging international legal order. The worst offenders against the new dispensation would run the risk of economic and intellectual boycotts. Since its application would be general, Obama could do all this without any mention of Israel, leaving the consequences to be worked through by various bureaucracies, while the phone calls and special pleas are politely fended off with an easy 'it is out of my hands'. Were pressure from the lobbies to reach dangerous levels, the president might choose to take the issue to the American people, to discuss openly whether Israel should have an exemption from the system of values to which every other genuine ally and the US itself will by then have signed up. That is not likely to be a debate which the Israeli leadership will want.

Conor Gearty, Rausing Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and professor of human rights law at the LSE, has written a number of books on terrorism and human rights.

R.W. Johnson

The current crisis has probably not changed anything fundamental. As even the more pessimistic Israeli analysts have been noting for some time, the pressure of the crisis has turned many, perhaps most Palestinians into irreconcilable foes of Israel. To that extent the two-state solution, however much the great and good may wish it, gradually becomes less and less of a real solution. The present crisis was probably unavoidable given (a) Iran's position, (b) the coming Israeli election and (c) the failure of Israel to achieve full-scale victory over Hizbullah last year. That last factor has weighed on all minds, showing Iran how much leverage it had, threatening to turn all Arab-occupied land into rocket-launching grounds and increasing Israeli determination to show that this is a prohibitively expensive option for anyone who opts to host such an exercise. The stalemate seems complete.

I doubt whether Obama will make much difference. His chief of staff is an ex-Israeli soldier and his administration will be heavily in hock to the Israel lobby from day one. Israel may be unhappy that he will talk to Hamas but this unhappiness is quite unnecessary. He is not going to soft-talk them into accepting Israel's existence and laying down their rockets, so what will such talks really change?

The real key remains US-Iran relations. This was a period in which many expected an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The fact that it has not happened is promising and suggests that the CIA is right to say Iran is not close to having nuclear weapons. As it is the US has hugely strengthened Iran by handing Iraq over to Shi'ites and an Obama administration might try to capitalise on that by making a US-Iranian deal the cornerstone of Middle East politics, thus reducing Syrian, Saudi and Egyptian leverage. Iran would obviously be greatly tempted by such a deal. But if Obama and Ahmadinejad really could reach a deal it would probably be very bad news for both Hizbullah and Hamas, who might get cut off from Iranian aid. If that happens, I can't see much joy for Palestinian militancy. But if it doesn't and the US under Obama is left to face an unchanged position, he is bound to end up taking Israel's side as much as Bush did. Which also doesn't bode well for militant Palestinians. So whatever happens I'd expect the Palestinians to emerge worse off from this conflict and Israel stronger, though probably less popular.

R.W. Johnson lives in Cape Town.

Rashid Khalidi

It is commonplace to talk about the 'fog of war', but war can also clarify things. The war in Gaza has pointed up the Israeli security establishment's belief in force as a means of imposing 'solutions' which result in massive Arab civilia

cing accusations of impotence and even treason in some of the largest demonstrations the region has seen in years. Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hizbullah in Lebanon, reserved some of his harshest criticism for the Mubarak regime; at Hizbullah rallies, protesters chanted 'Where are you, Nasser?' ­ a question that is also being asked by Egyptians.

The Egyptian government and its Arab allies ­ Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco ­ responded to the war much as they responded to thee 2006 invasion of Lebanon: by tacitly supporting Israel's offensive in the hope of weakening a resistance movement which they see as a proxy for Iran and Syria. When the bombing began, Egypt criticised Hamas over the breakdown of the reconciliation talks with Fatah that Cairo had brokered, and for firing rockets at Israel. The implication was that Hamas was responsible for the war. Refusing to open the Rafah crossing, the Mubarak government pointed out that Israel, the occupying power, not Egypt, was responsibile for the humanitarian situation in Gaza under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Egypt's concern is understandable: ever since it recovered the Sinai in 1979, it has worried that Israel might attempt to dump responsibility onto it for the Strip's 1.5 million impoverished residents, a fear that has grown as the prospects of ending the occupation have receded. But its initial refusal to open the crossing to relief supplies, medical personnel and reporters made it difficult for Cairo to deny charges that it was indifferent to Palestinian suffering, and that it valued relations with Israel and the US (its main patron) more highly than the welfare of Gaza's people.

Since Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2006, Egypt's press has been rife with lurid warnings ­ echoed in conservative Lebanese and Saudi newspapers, as well as Israeli ones ­about the establishment in Gaza of an Islamic emirate backed by Iran. Cairo's distrust of Hamas is closely connected with internal politics: Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brothers, the country's largest opposition movement; and it came to power in Gaza in the kind of democratic elections that Mubarak has done everything to prevent. (He is likely to be succeeded by his son, Gamal, after sham elections.) When there still seemed hope of a Palestinian Authority (PA) coalition government between Fatah and Hamas (which would have diluted the latter's power), Egypt was careful to appear balanced. But after the deep split in Palestinian politics that followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, Egypt tilted increasingly against Hamas. The division of occupied Palestine into two PAs ­ a Fatah-ruled West Bank and a Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, both without sovereignty, jurisdiction or much in the way of authority ­ was seen in Cairo as a threat to domestic security: it promised greater instability on Egypt's borders, jeopardised the negotiated two-state solution with Israel to which Egypt was committed, and emboldened allies of the Muslim Brothers.

Egypt has also been alarmed by Hamas's deepening relationship with its fiercest adversaries: Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. 'Moderate' Arab regimes like the one in Egypt ­ deeply authoritarian, at best, but friendly with the US ­ have favoured peaceful negotiations with Israel, but negotiations have not led to Palestinian independence, or even translated into diplomatic leverage. Resistance movements such as Hizbullah and Hamas, by contrast, can plausibly claim that they forced Israel to withdraw from occupied Arab land while scoring impressive gains at the ballot box; they have also been reasonably free of corruption. As if determined to increase the influence of these radical movements, Israel has undermined Abbas and the PA at every turn: settlements, bypass roads and 'security barriers' continue to encroach on Palestinian land; none of the 600 checkpoints and barriers in the West Bank has been removed; and more than 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israeli jails. The result has been the erosion of support for the PA, and for the conciliatory approach pursued by the PA and Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which reacted by moving even closer to the Bush administration in its waning days. Mubarak, according to Ha'aretz, urged Olmert to continue the Gaza offensive until Hamas was severely weakened â€" though Egypt has, of course, denied these reports.

But Hamas will not be so easily defeated, even if Israel's merciless assault and Hamas's own obduracy have brought untold suffering on the people of Gaza and much of the Strip lies in ruins: like Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, all it has to do in order to proclaim victory is remain standing. The movement continued to fire rockets into Israel under devastating bombardment, and it looks likely to emerge politically stronger when the war is over, although as with Hizbullah, it may have provoked popular resentment for bringing Israeli fire down on the heads of the civilian population: there was little Palestinian popular support for the firing of rockets at Israel in the months before the Israeli offensive. It is doubtful, moreover, whether any Hamas leader will be as shrewd as Hassan Nasrallah after the 2006 Lebanon war, when he admitted that had he known the damage Israel would do, he would not have offered the pretext that triggered its onslaught.

Israel began a propaganda campaign several months ago, when it closed Gaza to journalists in what appears to have been an effort to remove witnesses from the scene before the crime took place. Cell phone transmission was interrupted to prevent the circulation of photos and videos. The result, in Israel and the US, has been an astonishingly sanitised war, in which, in a bizarre attempt at 'balance', the highly inaccurate rocket attacks against Israel and their three civilian victims since the fighting began on 27 December have received as much attention as the levelling of Gaza and the killing of more than 1000 Palestinians and the wounding of nearly 5000, most of them civilians. But Arabs and Muslims (and indeed most people not living in the US and Israel) have seen a very different war, with vivid images of those trapped in the Gaza Strip, thanks in large part to Arab journalists on the ground.

During the large demonstrations that erupted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen, condemnation was directed not only at the usual targets, Israel and the US, but also at the passivity, even complicity, of Arab governments. Stung by the protests and fearing popular unrest, several Arab states sent their foreign ministers to New York, led by Prince Sa'ud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, and forced through a Security Council resolution in the face of American resistance. Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv; Qatar broke off ties with Israel and offered $250 million for the rebuilding of Gaza. At the same time, Egypt made limited concessions, taking some wounded Gazans to hospitals in Egypt, providing medical supplies, and belatedly allowing a few medical personnel into the Strip through the Rafah crossing. Yet the Mubarak regime has otherwise continued to play the role of even-handed mediator.

As I write, its proposals for a ceasefire have met with a positive response from both Hamas (which has significantly modulated its criticism of Egypt) and Israel. It is still unclear how Egypt will respond to Israel's demands that it halt arms smuggling through tunnels into Gaza; when and if the crossings will be fully opened; under what arrangements, and how reconstruction aid will be channelled to the devastated area; and indeed how an Egyptian-brokered arrangement, should it come into force and endure, will be regarded by Egyptian and Arab public opinion.

For the moment, the shaky legitimacy of Abbas's government in Ramallah, and of the authoritarian Arab governments that have cast their lot with Israel and the United States in the regional contest with Iran, appears to have grown shakier still. Should Iran and Syria succeed in rapidly establishing new relationships with Washington under the Obama administration, these governments will be further weakened. Moreover, their inability (or their unwillingness) to do more to resolve the Palestine question, or even to alleviate Palestinian suffering, has been exposed once again. It contrasts starkly with democratic and non-Arab Turkey's robust support for the Palestinians. Palestine has been a rallying cry for opposition movements in the Arab world since 1948, and in the decade after the first Arab-Israeli war a series of domestic upheavals, revolutions and coups took place in several Arab countries, including Egypt, where veterans of the Palestine war led by Nasser came to power in the 1952 coup against King Farouk. The repressive capacities of a government such as Egypt's, whose secret police is said to employ more than a million people, should not be underestimated. But several unpopular regimes may face serious consequences at home for having aligned themselves with Israel.

Rashid Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia.

Yitzhak Laor

We've been here before. It's a ritual. Every two or three years, our military mounts another bloody expedition. The enemy is always smaller, weaker; our military is always larger, technologically more sophisticated, prepared for full-scale war against a full-scale army. But Iran is too scary, and even the relatively small Hizbullah gave us a hard time. That leaves the Palestinians.

Israel is engaged in a long war of annihilation against Palestinian society. The objective is to destroy the Palestinian nation and drive it back into pre-modern groupings based on the tribe, the clan and the enclave. This is the last phase of the Zionist colonial mission, culminating in inaccessible townships, camps, villages, districts, all of them to be walled or fenced off, and patrolled by a powerful army which, in the absence of a proper military objective, is really an over-equipped police force, with F16s, Apaches, tanks, artillery, commando units and hi-tech surveillance at its disposal.

The extent of the cruelty, the lack of shame and the refusal of self-restraint are striking, both in anthropological terms and historically. The worldwide Jewish support for this vandal offensive makes one wonder if this isn't the moment Zionism is taking over the Jewish people.

But the real issue is that since 1991, and even more since the Oslo agreements in 1993, Israel has played on the idea that it really is trading land for peace, while the truth is very different. Israel has not given up the territories, but cantonised and blockaded them. The new strategy is to confine the Palestinians: they do not belong in our space, they are to remain out of sight, packed into their townships and camps, or swelling our prisons. This project now has the support of most of the Israeli press and academics.

We are the masters. We work and travel. They can make their living by policing their own people. We drive on the highways. They must live across the hills. The hills are ours. So are the fences. We control the roads, and the checkpoints and the borders. We control their electricity, their water, their milk, their oil, their wheat and their gasoline. If they protest peacefully we fire tear gas at them. If they throw stones, we fire bullets. If they launch a rocket, we destroy a house and its inhabitants. If they launch a missile, we destroy families, neighbourhoods, streets, towns.

Israel doesn't want a Palestinian state alongside it. It is willing to prove this with hundreds of dead and thousands of disabled, in a single 'operation'. The message is always the same: leave or remain in subjugation, under our military dictatorship. We are a democracy. We have decided democratically that you will live like dogs.

On 27 December just before the bombs started falling on Gaza, the Zionist parties, from Meretz to Yisrael Betenu, were unanimously in favour of the attack. As usual ­ it's the ritual again ­ differences emerged only over the dispatch of blankets and medication to Gaza. Our most fervent pro-war columnist, Ari Shavit, has suggested that Israel should go on with the assault and build a hospital for the victims. The enemy is wounded, bleeding, dying, desperate for help. Nobody is coming unless Obama moves ­ yes, we are all waiting for Godot. Maybe this time he shows up.

Yitzhak Laor lives in Tel Aviv. He is the editor of Mita'am.

John Mearsheimer

The Gaza war is not going to change relations between Israel and the Palestinians in any meaningful way. Instead, the conflict is likely to get worse in the years ahead. Israel will build more settlements and roads in the West Bank and the Palestinians will remain locked up in a handful of impoverished enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank. The two-state solution is probably dead.

'Greater Israel' will be an apartheid state. Ehud Olmert has sounded a warning note on this score, but he has done nothing to stop the settlements and by starting the Gaza war he doomed what little hope there was for creating a viable Palestinian state.

The Palestinians will continue to resist the occupation, and Hamas will still be able to strike Israel with rockets and mortars, whose range and effectiveness are likely to improve. Palestinians will increasingly make the case that Greater Israel should become a democratic binational state in which Palestinians and Jews enjoy equal political rights. They know that they will eventually outnumber the Jews, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This proposal is already gaining ground among Israel's Palestinian citizens, striking fear into the hearts of many Israelis, who see them as a dangerous fifth column. This fear accounts in part for the recent Israeli decision to ban the major Arab political parties from participating in next month's parliamentary elections.

There is no reason to think that Israel's Jewish citizens would accept a binational state, and it's safe to assume that Israel's supporters in the Diaspora would have no interest in it. Apartheid is not a solution either, because it is repugnant and because the Palestinians will continue to resist, forcing Israel to escalate the repressive policies that have already cost it significant blood and treasure, encouraged political corruption, and badly tarnished its global image.

Israel may try to avoid the apartheid problem by expelling or 'transferring' the Palestinians. A substantial number of Israeli Jews ­ 400 per cent or more ­ think that the government should 'encourage" their fellow Palestinian citizens to leave. Indeed, Tzipi Livni recently said that if there is a two-state solution, she expects the Palestinians inside Israel to move to the new Palestinian state.

Why would American and European leaders intervene? The Bush administration, after all, backed Israel's creation of a major humanitarian crisis in Gaza, first with a devastating blockade and then with a brutal war. European leaders reacted to this collective punishment, which violates international law, not to mention basic decency, by upgrading Israel's relationship with the European Union.

Many in the West expect Barack Obama to ride into town and fix the situation. Don't bet on it. As his campaign showed, Obama is no match for the Israel lobby. His silence during the Gaza war speaks volumes about how tough he is likely to be with the Israelis. His chief Middle East adviser is likely to be Dennis Ross, whose deep attachment to Israel helped squander opportunities for peace during the Clinton administration.

In a recent op-ed about the Gaza war, Benny Morris said that 'it would not be surprising if more powerful explosions were to follow.' I rarely agree with Morris these days, but I think he has it right in this case. Even bigger trouble is in the offing for Israel ­ and above all ffor the Palestinians.

John Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.

Yonatan Mendel

It's very frustrating to see Israeli society recruited so calmly and easily to war. Hardly anyone has dared to mention the connection between the decision to go to war and the fact that we are only a few weeks away from an election. Kadima (Tzipi Livni's party) and Labour (Ehud Barak's) were doing very badly in the polls. Now that they have killed more than 1000 Palestinians (250 on the first day ­ the highest number in 41 years of occupation) they are both doing very well. Barak was expected to win eight seats in the Knesset; now it is around 15. Netanyahu is the one sweating.

I am terribly sad about all this, and frustrated. On the first day of the operation I wrote an article for the Walla News website and within four hours I had received 1600 comments, most calling for my deportation (at best) or immediate execution (at worst). It showed me again how sensitive Israeli society is to any opposition to war. It is shocking how easily this society unites behind yet another military solution, after it has failed so many times. Hizbullah was created in response to Israel's occupation of Lebanon in 1982. Hamas was created in 1987 in response to two decades of military occupation. What do we think we'll achieve this time?

The state called up more than 10,000 reservists, and even people who had not been called also travelled to military bases and asked to be sent to Gaza. This shows once again how efficient the Israeli propaganda and justification machine is, and how naturally people here believe in myths that have been disproved again and again. If people were saying, 'We killed 1000 people, but the army is not perfect, and this is war,' I would say it was a stupid statement. But Israelis are saying: 'We killed 1000 people, and our army is the most moral army in the world.' This says a lot about the psychology of the conflict: people are not being told what to think or say; they reach these insights 'naturally'.

Since I was a soldier myself ten years ago, I worry I might be called up as a reservist. If I were to refuse now, when Israel is at war, I would be sent to prison. But still, I tell myself, that would be so much easier than being part of what my country is doing. Apparently, every single Jewish member of the Knesset, except one from the Jewish-Arab list, believes that killing more Palestinians, keeping the Gazan population under siege, destroying their police stations, ministerial offices and headquarters will weaken Hamas, strengthen Israel, demonstrate to the Palestinians that next time they should vote for Fatah, and bring stability to the region. I have no words. Only one Jewish member of the Knesset, out of 107, went to the demonstration that followed the deliberate bombing by the Israelis of an UNRWA school being used to house refugees, resulting in the deaths of 45 civilians. Once again, the Israeli slogan is 'Let the IDF win' and once again everybody agrees. People have short memories. By 2008, two years after the Second Lebanon War ended, Hizbullah had more soldiers than before, three times more weapons, and had dramatically improved its political position. It now even has a right of veto in parliament. The same could happen to Hamas, but once again military magic enchants Israeli society.

I have a friend whose brother is a pilot in the IDF. I asked to speak to him. I told him what I thought about Israel's behaviour and he seemed to agree with my general conclusions. He said, however, that a soldier should not ask himself such questions, which should be kept to the political sphere. I can't agree. But the second thing he told me was more important. He told me that for pilots, a day like the first day of the war, when so many attacks are being made simultaneously, is a day full of excitement, a day you look forward to. If you take these words into account, and bear in mind that in Israel every man is a soldier, either in uniform or in reserve, there is no avoiding the conclusion that there are great pressures for it to act as a military society. Not acting is damaging to the IDF's status, budget, masculinity, power and happiness, and not only to the IDF's. This could explain why in Israel the military option is almost never considered second best. It is always the first choice.

Ha'aretz too is a source of unhappiness for me, since in wartime the paper is part of this militaristic discourse, shares its values and lack of vision. Ha'aretz did not criticise Israel when its troops deployed to Lebanon in 2006. Nor did it have anything to say when the same soldiers bombed Gaza's police, schools and people. Even when there was a demonstration against the war, with more than 10,000 people taking part, both Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Ha'aretz website chose to publish a picture of a counter-demonstration, in which a few hundred participated, waving Israeli flags and shouting: 'Let the IDF win.'

I have problems speaking to my closest friends and family these days, because I can no longer bear to hear the security establishment's propaganda coming from their mouths. I cannot bear to hear people justifying the deaths of more than 200 children killed by Israeli soldiers. There is no justification for that, and it's wrong to try to find one. Usually I feel part of society in Israel. I feel that I am on one side of the political map and other people are on the opposite side. But over the last few days, I feel that I am not part of this society any more. I do not call friends who support the war, and they do not call me. The same with my family. It is a hard thing for me to write, but this is how it is.

Yonatan Mendel was a correspondent for the Israeli news agency Walla. He is currently at Queens' College, Cambridge working on a PhD that studies the connection between the Arabic language and security in Israel.

Gabriel Piterberg

Israel's onslaught on Gaza may well do permanent damage to one of the most effective tools in its propaganda kit: the image of the morally handsome, 'shooting and crying' Israeli soldier.

Three weeks after the 1967 War, Avraham Shapira and Amos Oz, then a rising young author, were summoned to Labour Party headquarters. They were asked to make the demobilised soldiers from the kibbutzim break the wall of silence and discuss their war experience. Soldiers' Talk (Siah Lohamim), the collection of interviews they edited, was a national and international success. The book, which forged the image of the handsome, dilemma-ridden, existentially soul-searching Israeli soldier, was a hymn to that frightening oxymoron, 'purity of arms' and the ideal of an exalted Jewish morality.

It was also a kind of 'central casting' from which Oz drew many of his fictional protagonists. Rabin (when he was ambassador to Washington) and Elie Wiesel read extracts in the US 'in order to present the Israeli soldier's profile'; and Golda Meir called it 'a sacred book': 'we are fortunate to have been blessed with such sons.' The latest version of Soldiers' Talk, in terms of register and success, is Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir.

Given the might of Israel's warriors and the vulnerability of their targets, now that the country no longer engages in wars against other state armies, the image is hard to keep alive. At the same time it no longer matters in the way it once did: for political and military elites in Israel, and the War on Terror constituency in the US, the killing of Arabs and Muslims no longer requires any weeping or soul-searching. It's just what freedom-loving people do. The war adulation of the recent pro-Israel demonstrations in Los Angeles is chastening but you couldn't call it hypocritical.

Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, the attack on Gaza will be seen as the action of a colonial power that is running out of ideas; not unlike France in the final stage of the Algerian war.

Gabriel Piterberg teaches history at UCLA. The Returns of Zionism was published last year.

Eliot Weinberger

1. Who remembers the original dream of Israel? A place where the observant could practice their religion in peace and the secular would be invisible as Jews ­ where being Jewish only mattered if you wanted it to matter. That dream was realised, not in Israel, but in New York City.

2. The second dream of Israel was of a place where socialist collectives could flourish in a secular nation with democratic freedoms. Who remembers that now?

3. 'Never again' should international Jews invoke the Holocaust as justification for Israeli acts of barbarism.

4. As in India-Pakistan, blaming the Brits is true enough, but useless.

5. A few days ago, to illustrate the Gaza invasion, the front page of the New York Times had a large pastoral photograph of handsome Israeli soldiers lounging on a hill above verdant fields. Unquestioning faith in the 'milk and honey' Utopia of Israel is the bedrock of American Judaism, and reality does not intrude on faith.

6. Any hope for some sort of peace will not come from the US, even without Bush. It must come from within an Israel where the same petrified leaders are elected time and again, where masses of the rational have emigrated to saner shores and have been replaced by Russians and the American cultists who become settlers. It is hard to believe that this will be anytime soon.

7. It is hard to believe that two states will ever be possible. So why not a new dream of Israel? A single nation, a single citizenry with equal rights, three languages­ English as a neutral third­ €" and three religions, separate from the state. Give it a new nameâ€" say, Semitia, land of the Semites.

Eliot Weinberger's recent books include What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles.

Michael Wood

A New York Times reporter describes the 'lethal tricks' of Hamas in Gaza. I don't doubt the existence of the tricks, but the implication is that the far more lethal directness of the Israeli attack is not only justified but morally superior to the enemy's underhand modes of action. This is an adaptation of an old paradigm, in which Israel gets to play the role of the rational modern state. The straightforward, civilised West meets the endlessly devious, backward Orient, and takes care of things in its up-to-date efficient way. What's wrong with that? They are always 'they'; their deaths don't count as ours do.

When does an invasion become a massacre? How many Palestinians have to die just because they are Palestinians before we recognise another old paradigm? Herzl thought the native population of what was to become Israel would have to be 'spirited' across the border; now the very deaths of that population are being spirited off into arguments about the right to self-defence. If self-defence includes the bombing of ambulances and feeling no qualms at killing such an astonishing number of children, then we have entered a moral territory from which there may be no return. Unless of course we have merely returned to the imperial 19th century, a world of brutal and unapologetic conquest, where force was the only argument that mattered and our only choice was whether to be hypocritical about it or not.

Michael Wood teaches at Princeton. His most recent book is Literature and the Taste of Knowledge.

www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/sieg01_.html

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