Totalitarianism is not a good thing

by fp on June 2, 2010

in War and Peace

There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism.Chris Hedges

With the whole world watching, the USA compromised itself further by tacit support of its ally Israel, a country lately committed to brutality as a substitute for diplomacy. Americans can only sigh in shame at our government’s inability to say or do anything that isn’t compromising.

Is there any act of brutality that Israel could do short of nuking Gaza that would surprise us? Did Bibi warn Obama that the shit was going to hit the fan on Memorial Day? Was Obama’s measured response a tacit admission that piracy and murder are the norm, that we expect a vicious barbarity from our allies in their single-minded opposition to the existence of a free Palestine?

Are the excesses of Hamas sufficient reason for the Israelis to murder foreign nationals on a mission of mercy? Hamas and Israel are committed to the destruction of each other. When the Israelis commit acts of piracy and terrorism, what distinguishes them from Hamas? Does Bibi Netanyahu have a free rein to “manage” the situation or is there some possibility that we, the US, could use our influence to open up relations between Palestine and Israel?

Paradoxically, Bibi is an elected jack-booted thug. If the Israeli people didn’t affirm his policies and approve of his practices he could be overthrown in a free election. Or could he? Does he have any opposition today? The whole “strong man” thing is troubling. The world can see Bibi behaving like Stalin when he ran rough-shod over the kulaks. Is there an effective response to this emerging totalitarianism?

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Doug's Dynamic Drivel » No kool-aid here
June 4, 2010 at 8:53 am


don harvey June 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

“…nuking Gaza?” “…piracy and murder?” “…foreign nationals on a mission of mercy?” “…jack-booted thugs?” “…like Stalin?”
At least the Israeli soldier was only tossed halfway overboard. Your rhetoric has taken the full fall. Jesus, Frank. The last time I drank that much hyperbolic kool aid I woke up dead in Jonestown. You must have missed the video of your mercy boys wildly kicking the shit out of the Israeli paint ball team before somebody finally drew a real weapon.
Allow me to submit that you failed to notice the dedicated band of hate mongering provocateurs prowling the upper deck in hopes of implanting a lead pipe in the first Jewish head that appeared on board. I’d have to be a fool to believe that the primary purpose of the flotilla was to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to the starving citizens of Gaza (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But come on Frank. We both know that every drop of precious gruel on board could have passed without incident into the hands of the Palestinians.
But in this case the aid was, for the most part, incidental. And the incident itself was the desired outcome. Yet, despite the obvious, and to my personal amazement, it seems to have stirred the atavistic ashes of antisemitism across the world.
Now, I know you’d believe I’m intentionally exaggerating in the extreme were I to suggest that the very “mercy missionaries” you describe would happily dislodge the pipe from the head of the nearest dead Israeli soldier and with a hearty Alah Ahkbar lodge it once more in your own corpulent western unbelieving ass. But I’m certain you’d forgive my excess…given your own.

Doug Alder June 4, 2010 at 8:39 am

Talk about drinking the kool-aid Don

Melissa Abramovich June 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Frank, I don’t know you. What I do know is that Israel has a right to defend itself. Remember land for peace? Doesn’t seem like that worked out very well, although the Israeli’s went along with that not once, but twice. Frankly, the ability to check and make sure arms are not going in is completely within their rights. Kennedy did no less for America. Personally, I think the Israeli’s waited until they had no other choice, and I think they waited too long. They should have responded with more force, and sooner, like, as soon as any semblance of a weapon was pulled on them (chains being waved over their head prior to boarding would be an indication of this). People seem to hate Jews, and I don’t think it matters that their actions are just and justified. No one will believe them, because they are Jews. But I would submit this to you, Frank. You are far better off with the likes of Jonas Salk (polio vaccine) than Saddam Hussein (crazy ass mass murderer).

Doug, what are you on?

Doug Alder June 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

The truth Melissa – it was an act of terrorism and piracy on the part of Israel and not to mention a war crime.

Betty Jo June 6, 2010 at 7:58 am

With all respect,
Thing about diplomacy is you’ve gotta have someone on the other side of the table willing to talk. What do you suppose would happen if Hamas acknowledged Israel’s
right to exist? Bet conditions in Gaza would improve immensely. What would happen if Hamas stopped lobbing rockets over the border? Bet the blockade would be history in a minute.

Seems to me pretty clear that the ‘mercy’ ship flotilla had nothing to do with getting supplies into Gaza, since the Israelis begged them to land the supplies where they could be inspected and transferred into Gaza. Seems to me that “peace activists” with lead pipes are a what do you call it? Oxymoron.

Options are real limited when both parties operate from a siege mentality as the Israelis and Hamas do.

don harvey June 6, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Frank, don’t blow this opportunity. Two hot jewish girls and you and me. Just like we fantasized in high school. Please, agree with whatever they say!!

fp June 7, 2010 at 9:39 am

First an apology. I don’t know if Bibi wears jack boots. The reference was metaphorical.

I sort of agree with Betty Jo, who says, “Options are real limited when both parties operate from a siege mentality as the Israelis and Hamas do.”

This map, showing some of the shifting political geography in the middle east, informs my concern:

The Turkish flotilla set out to break the blockade and to draw international attention. They failed to break the blockade, but with the help of an ill-timed and poorly executed assault in international waters, they succeeded in drawing international attention to the situation.

That situation is enormously complex and I’m quite sure I don’t understand it all. What I do understand is far too complicated to address here in the comments. But I’ll go along with Michael Chabon when he says, Now is the moment to acknowledge that the 62-year history of Israel, like the history of the Jewish people and of the human race, has been from the beginning a record of glory and fiasco, triumph and error, greatness and meanness, charity and crime.

don harvey June 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Well said, Frank. Well said. I knew you’d recognize that Times piece as something very special.

Melissa Abramovich June 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Frank, reasonable, Betty Jo, well said…Doug: In the words of Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men), “You can’t HANDLE the TRUTH!” I didn’t say Israel was perfect, however, they did board and search several other ships without incident, and it’s very clear (we have videos!!) that it was totally instigated (Hello? McFly?). For a good parody, check this out:
“We con the World”.

Doug Alder June 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

Truth Melissa? – that is something you are a total stranger to it appears – and that parody is a vile piece of racism – that you appear to have found it enjoyable speaks volumes about your character. The reason for the blockade has little or nothing to do with Hamas being in power – it has everything to do with the billions of dollars of natural gas sitting in the waters off of the Gaza strip, 60% of which were (and still should be) controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Israel wants that gas and that’s why they have turned Gaza into their own version of the Warsaw Ghetto.

fp June 10, 2010 at 10:10 am

Let me just offer a quick observation. Melissa, your attack on Doug is unwarranted. Reasonable people can construe what happened in the attack of the IDF on the Turkish flagged vessel Mavi Marmara as an act of war, an act of piracy, a violation of international law, murder, or all of the above.

The video you offer is in my view ill-informed, racist trash. The parody of Arabs is over the top. Jews would not accept such a broad-brush and offensive portrayal of their accents or other markers of ethnicity (prayer shawls, yarmulkes, Hasidic garb, etc.). Why should Arabs/muslims be demeaned this way?

I suppose this would be funny if I were an Israeli sympathizer, but I am not. I see it as polarizing propaganda. LatmaTV has a winner with this one though. Over two million views on YouTube so far.

The only straight, non-Israeli news I could find about the sketch came from French and Swedish sources. They were not amused.

Melissa Abramovich June 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm

We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and grievous injuries that resulted from the flotilla interdiction.

• What is particularly disconcerting is that this outcome could have been easily avoided. Those leading the flotilla should have agreed to dock at the Port of Ashdod to allow Israeli officials to examine the cargo onboard. All legitimate humanitarian items would have been forwarded into Gaza without incident.

• However, it is clear that the purpose of the flotilla, organized by groups associated with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, was not essentially humanitarian, but rather it was to undermine Israel’s blockade.

• The purpose of the Israeli blockade, which is legal under international law, is to prevent rearmament of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization backed by Iran, which openly seeks Israel’s destruction and over the years has launched thousands of rockets into Israeli cities.

• In addition to its terrorist activity, Hamas has been holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hostage for almost four years and, contrary to the Geneva Conventions, denies all access to him.

• While Israel’s fundamental right of self-defense must be respected, questions have been raised about the execution of the interdiction. The highly respected Maj. Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland has been appointed to head a team of experts, including foreign observers, jurists and former diplomats, to explore the flotilla operation and to derive lessons from it.

• Conditions in the Gaza Strip are difficult, no doubt, and this is due to the fact it is controlled by a terrorist organization with which much of the world does not want to engage. But there is no humanitarian crisis or starvation as some suggest.

• Israel, along with Egypt, which also controls Gaza’s borders, and the international community are looking for ways to improve the humanitarian conditions without strengthening Hamas’ ability to wage terror against Israeli civilians.

• Ultimately, only an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which leads to a broader Middle East peace, is the long term solution to this sad situation. Unlike the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which accepts the two state formula and has brought about a dramatic improvement in the economy and security there, Hamas rejects such an outcome and works tirelessly to undermine peace efforts.

• We support the efforts of the United States to advance the peace process and to encourage the parties to engage in direct negotiations over the issues that divide them.

• We also support the efforts of the international community to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons capability, a development that would make peacemaking in the Middle East much more complicated.

Melissa Abramovich June 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I didn’t say the parody was “funny”. However, the definition of “parody” is an accurate word for that song:

A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule. See synonyms at caricature.
The genre of literature comprising such works.
Something so bad as to be equivalent to intentional mockery; a travesty: The trial was a parody of justice.
Music. The practice of reworking an already established composition, especially the incorporation into the Mass of material borrowed from other works, such as motets or madrigals.

And this IS a travesty. You don’t know anything about me, you’ve decided that because I have “Jew” attached to me, I’m automatically awful. Actually, my poor white mother gave me up for adoption, and the most kind, gentle Jewish couple took me in and raised me as their own.

I’ve spent my life in America, being told I’m a “dirty Jew”, that I “killed Jesus”, and now apparently I’m also an awful person.

Well, since you’ve already made up your minds, I can’t change them. The truth you can’t handle…this tiny little country is doing what it can to survive, including making sure more rockets don’t make it in to kill their innocent citizenry.

The people you are spending so much time defending, want me, my children, my sister, my husband, and almost everyone I know dead, so I’m sorry if I don’t come out like a bleeding heart. My bleeding heart is for childhood cancer cures, and lung disease cures, and helping people to make healthy choices in their lives, not for those who wish me and those I love harm.

The people you have so much sympathy for send rockets over, killing innocents, and yet I hear NO OUTCRY for that.

The people you want to give Israel over to are more than willing to strap bombs onto themselves to kill INNOCENT CIVILIANS, and still, heartfelt sympathy is directed to them, and not to the victims of those atrocities.

Even with all of that, still, Palestinians and Arabs are regularly the recipients of medical help in the bosom of Israel, a fact you seem to be completely missing.

And yet, while I can’t even truly claim to be a Jew (Dutch, Finnish, Polish, Austrian), The Jews have been responsible for more than their share of Nobel prizes and award winning discoveries.

Talk about bigotry.

fp June 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm

David Weinberger has a blog post that pre-dates the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara. The post begins,

We went last night to hear a conversation between Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel and the Chief Rabbi of England, Jonathan Sacks.

Reading David’s post after your comments, Melissa, I feel a little choked with emotion, a sadness and yet gratitude that our problems can be addressed by people of good will seeking to understand the world. I’m grateful for seekers and teachers like Rabbi Sacks (and David for that matter), people with vision broad enough to embrace differences and faith strong enough that they believe that the world can indeed be healed.

Weinberger says of the Rabbi,

“He thinks the only hope for Israel’s future is to embrace plurality among Jews and among all who live in the area. We need to learn to live together. (He did not go into detail about what that would mean politically.)”

This perspective is enough to make me somewhat optimistic, even in the face of undeclared and therefore unregulated Israeli nuclear weapons, and an obstreperous foreign policy bookended by the USS Liberty “incident” in 1967 and the 21st century IDF excesses in Gaza (including Rachel Corrie’s death and the nine dead on the Mavi Marmara).

don harvey June 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm

OK! OK! Settle down kids! Melissa, now that I know you’re adopted, I want you to know that I’m totally forgiving you personally for “killing Jesus.” But answer this. If you didn’t do it–who did? And just how do you explain the Shroud of Turin? Unless I’m wrong that was made from a bunch of yarmulkes stitched together with hemp from the Israeli outback. So it’s hard to believe that a stoned Rabbi wasn’t at least a little involved near the end. Now, I’m not saying he pulled the trigger or anything but I think you’ll have to agree it’s really something to think about.

fp June 10, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I always thought it was a keffiyeh draped over the body by some anonymous wandering Arab. But I’ve been wrong before.

don harvey June 10, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Frank, please forgive me if I didn’t get all choked up by the teachings of Rabbi Sachs. Thank the Messiah I didn’t waste an hour in that seminar. I can hardly wait for his next book which will address the “fundamentalist atheism of Dawkins and Hitchins.” I’ll bet Dawkins and Hitchins are trembling in anticipation. As for me…I’ll be publishing my own response; “Why Bad Shit Happens to Complete Idiots.”

fp June 10, 2010 at 9:46 pm

As for me, I’m learning patience and tolerance…. you know, so I can put up with idiots and assholes.

don harvey June 11, 2010 at 4:57 am


Betty Jo June 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

re: ““Why Bad Shit Happens to Complete Idiots.”

might I commend to your attention the following:

“Within These Portals Lurk 836 Enterprising Demises.
In honor of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool…by accidentally removing themselves from it. The Award is usually, by necessity, bestowed posthumously. “

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