15 July 2006

"A balance of fear"

"Scenes from the Lebanese Front" by Ramzi Kysia, an Arab-American essayist and peace activist, should be syndicated, but unfortunately, will be read by the too-few who read Counterpunch.

At a time when Americans still don't get it, voices like Kysia's and fellow American Rabbi Michael Lerner's try to be heard, but views like theirs as well as international friends of America and Israel who might be critical of policy are nixed in policy-making and the US mainstream press (and let's face it. US policy is part of the problem and could be part of the solution). There is a strong tone in the US press and American response of what they would call French nihilism if it weren't so homegrown.

Today's so-let's-not-concern-ourselves headline from CNN is "Decades of Conflict between Israel and Lebanon".

This isn't a time to be passive, nor to feign ignorance. It is a time to read read read read read read read read; to think about the difference between cant and reality, rhetoric and resolve; to speak up and to act, as Lerner urges in Israel has crossed a Moral Boundary. Here is an excerpt.
... Moreover, the outrage in Israel about this "kidnap"reflects a huge level of systematic denial going on in the consciousness of Israelis and many who support its policies because virtually every human rights group including the various Israeli human rights organizations has chronicled tens of thousands of acts of "kidnap" of this sort by the IDF against Palestinian civilians, who are then kept in detention for as long as six months without a trial, often facing brutal torture, and then released without ever having been charged with any crime. Of course, and I thank God for this because I care for the well being of the people of Israel , and as a Jew I am deeply tied to the success and safety of this particular Jewish society, the Palestinians have never been able to punish hundreds of thousands or millions of Israelis collectively for these systematic violations of human rights. To the extent that they do so through acts of terror, I condemn those acts.
This is a defining moment in our relationship with Israel for all Americans of whatever faith. Just as we need to make clear to our own government that its human rights violations in Guantanamo and Iraq are unacceptable, so we need to communicate to the Israeli people that the mass punishment of a million people for the acts of a few is as unacceptable when it comes from a democratic society as when it comes from the willful oppression of entrenched authoritarian dictators...
No nation has shadowed American policy post-9/11 (to the despicable orange jumpsuits) as much as Australia, yet:
The moral legacy of the Holocaust has now passed into history. It can no longer be leveraged, in any way, in contemporary politics. The idea that members of the Jewish Diaspora can only be the victims of racism, rather than the practitioners of racism, like every other group, is now a dead letter and untenable.
I write this as someone who has given support to Israel, and taken a hard line against Muslim racism, but can no longer draw any other conclusion than that the combustible policies of the Israeli Government have become a danger to Australia and to Australians everywhere."
— Paul Sheehan, A petty crim who took on the world: Several dangerous trends are intersecting in the war on terrorism, The Sydney Morning Herald
"It seems we're never gonna find peace in this region," says an Israeli (with two passports and a New York accent) behind me on the TV as I write this. Last night, however, the TV showed other Israelis in Israel, holding up signs to stop what could be called the inevitable. They didn't want it to be so. One brave guy's sign read, "Stop the madness."

I wrote this poem in 2000, and am disgusted that it is relevant as ever:


Nightingale Holocaust


As now as the next breath but one,
as everywhere as air:
Remember Us, Remember Us.
The Holocaust and milking it is hot hot hot.
The Mother of all Victims rules aloof
her jewelry of numbers blue
not earned by other victims too insignificantly nothing
to tattoo.

Enough already of Never Again.
If this sounds like a fart in shule
maybe I better bubble out again
until I fill the holy space of ark and torah scrolls with gas enough
to force a flight outdoors
and down the marble steps
into the arms of ghosts of dead
Armenians Cambodians Tutsis Balkans mixed
Ebos as remembered as a swarm of gnats long dead.
Lebanese abandoned. For their friendship with the Jews they'll disappear
but please don't concern yourself.
Of Diasporas, again there's only one.
Not Palestinians as freshly wronged as your last breath
by the helluva rousing echo of the Song of Lebensraum.

Who can talk?
We, who must.
Those of us who are
the tribe itself.
My great-grandfather rabbi stirs.
Sing, he says. For why is our might different than
any other's might when used so wrongly?

For We, he says,
are not the only ones pogrommed against,
the only Unwilling Wanderers
the only holocaust worth a flame.
Holocausts aplenty simmer now.

Swiss banks weep now. Stolen artworks creak.
But of those who sole possession was: themselves,
not even individuals but groups of bugs exterminant
how do lawyers settle the worth of life?
They don't. Never a gain.

My great-grandfather's name was Soloveichik
(Nightingale)
In his name I sing today
a short and many-noted Kaddish for all the Holocausts that were,
lit by tribal hate or maniacal despotism towards a people by their own.
And now, Enough Already for the dead, all equal in their tragedy of death.
With all the power of one little throat
I lift my voice for all the Holocausts to come.

Sir Richard: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis. In Stage One we say that nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Two, we say something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard: Stage Three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Four, we say maybe there is something we could have done, but it's too late now.
A Victory for Democracy, in Yes, (Prime) Minister by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay
This scenario doesn't need Sirs, nor that Foreign Office. All it needs is good people who do nothing.

1 comment:

Vera Nazarian said...

Shivers going down my spine for the truth in your words, Anna.