(August 14, 2006)
[Ed. As a reminder to Letter writers: If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Also, please, enter in the subject line of your e-mail "letter to the editor," and specify the article or the subject on which you are commenting. Thank you.]
Why no Response to Jacob Amir's insanity?
Hey, Monsieur d'Aymery,
With all due respect, may I ask the reason, or reasons, why you did not respond to Jacob Amir's insane letter? The "good doctor," as you call him, deserved a "good" whap on the face or a strong kick in his unholy ass. How can a "good doctor" justify the morbid destruction wreaked by Israel upon its neighbors? Has he lost all decency? Can he fathom the hatred that this horror is going to create for generations to come?
It's tough to keep a light-hearted smile on one's face these days. I can't joke no more, no more, no more... Too much killing. Too much hate.
Where is this all going? World War III...and I'm still in my twenties...
Allez, give 'em hell...or love (your choice).
Paris, France - August 5, 2006
A Very Appropriate Response to last issue's Letter to the Editor by Dr. Jacob Amir; and an as-Appropriate Comment to Charles Marowitz's delusion on Al Gore
To the Editor:
As you have declined to respond to Jacob Amir's letter defending the Israeli assault on the Lebanese people, I would like to offer up a short response of my own. I won't attempt to challenge, dispute, or even question the accuracy of the statements Dr. Amir has made regarding both recent and historical events in the region. It's not a subject I have studied closely, and it is obviously one that he has. I will, however, characterize all of his statements as lies, in the sense that they are gathered and presented in service to the ultimate lie, that the violent and deliberate imposing of suffering on a targeted group of human beings can be, in certain circumstances, an acceptable and appropriate response to a legitimate given grievance. Clearly, all parties existing in the Middle East have a rich history of past suffering and violent death inflicted upon them by other parties. If murder committed yesterday by one particular party is held to legitimize the commission of murder today or tomorrow by another party, what hope can we hold for an end to the cycle? Violence will always beget further violence until one party chooses to step away from the lie and behave rationally by refusing to any longer accept bloodletting as an appropriate response.
Having married a Jewish woman some thirty years ago, and having spent many hours over those intervening years in conversation with various members of her family, I have become pretty well versed in the mythology of a constantly threatened and embattled Israel, surrounded by mortal enemies who will never accept anything less than the complete elimination of the Jewish people from the region. I refer to this perspective and the various historical evidence that attends it as a "mythology" not because of any feelings I may have concerning its actual validity, but because of the manner in which it finds expression and is passed along to subsequent generations. The depth of its emotional purchase has come to undermine any concern about the validity of its premises. In its gradual transformation from argument to myth to article of faith, this defense of hostility has achieved a status by which its adherents have become both indifferent and impervious to any application of reason or critical examination. The truth, whatever it may be in a constantly changing world, is no longer relevant to the argument. As an outside and emotionally detached observer, it appears to me that the greatest genuine threat to the safety and security of the Israeli people lies in their own government's reckless addiction to the easy options offered by the deadly superiority of their military apparatus.
The call to arms, in our times, is always initiated by those empowered to profit from the waging of war while remaining, themselves, remote and secure from any of the consequences engendered by it. They have been able to successfully sell their schemes and atrocities to the general population, who are ultimately the ones to absorb the ensuing cost in pain and suffering, by relentlessly promoting an irrational and unfounded hatred of an enemy chosen for them while exploiting their capacity for fear in the exaggeration and invention of false threat at the hands of this enemy. I have a good friend who calls Lebanon his homeland. Although he married a German woman many years ago and has made his home in Munich ever since, all of his family and many of his lifelong friends remain in Lebanon. This is a man who appears to have ample excuse today for bitter anger and resentment, but when my wife recently asked Youssef how his family has fared under the attacks there, he would only reply that the means of communication were unreliable, and that events in the region have left him "distressed and deeply saddened." As a pacifist, Youssef has come to recognize the damage done by the endless cycles of anger and vengeance and has chosen, instead, to reject the hatred that others would have him feel. Perhaps a day will come when Dr. Amir will find within himself the human capacity to become sufficiently distressed and deeply enough saddened by the unnecessary suffering and deaths of innocent children to reject the lies that generate hatred and fear, and will then give up on parsing out his justifications for war in order to lend his most eloquent voice to the declaration of a justification for peace.
And as long as I'm at the keyboard, I might as well weigh in with a brief rebuttal to the faith that Charles Marowitz has expressed in the highly principled candidacy of Al Gore. As much as I've consistently enjoyed and admired the articles written by Marowitz and published in Swans, I'm a bit reluctant to enter a stand against his thinking. But I just can't get comfortable with a point of view that places hope for our future in any guise associated with the Democratic Party. If the principles informing Gore's political agenda really ran any deeper than the posturing of an ambitious candidacy, he would long ago have denounced the Democratic Party for the strategic opting of both its leadership and its general rank and file for the abdication of any role of opposition to Republican graft and exploitation in exchange for a smaller, but still lucrative, space at the corporate trough. The fact that Gore still holds party membership severely compromises any application of the notion of integrity to his intentions or motivation. The philosophical edifice of capitalism is founded on principles of social and moral isolationism that are inherently antithetical to any notion of commonality or spirit of cooperation. As such, its practical application tends to cultivate a good deal of greed and corruption. It should not surprise that a system of capitalism as geriatric and deeply entrenched as our own has managed to elevate corruption to a legitimized institutional process. No one any longer even bothers to try to conceal that all of our legislation is dictated in the marketplace of corporate lobbying. So it really isn't going to matter that much whether we hand over the reins of government to capitalists from the Democratic Party or ones from the Republican Party. The policies and results (notwithstanding the current insane excesses of a waning gang of neocon wingnuts) are going to end up looking pretty much the same to those of us standing on the outside.
Rockford, Illinois, USA - August 7, 2006
It's always the Arabs, or the Persians, or the terrorists, or the Islamofascists, of course, of course... Letter to the Editor by Dr. Jacob Amir.
To the Editor:
Jacob Amir proves that everything I said about him earlier is correct. Like all right and proper Zionist defenders of Israel he deals with Israeli aggression, occupation, and war crimes by laying ALL blame on the Palestinians, the Lebanese, Hezbollah or simply "the Arabs." He never deals with the links and other evidence provided by Gilles d'Aymery. Instead, Amir demonstrates his ardent support for collective punishment claiming that the Palestinians must live (or die) with the consequences of their actions (i.e., whatever Israel decides to do to them).
It is good to know that despite its continued violation of numerous UN resolutions Israel has finally found a UN resolution it can back: UN resolution 1559. It is also good to know that Dr. Amir supports the right to defense at least when undertaken by Israel. "No sovereign country can tolerate firing of rockets at its citizens and the killing and abduction of soldiers from its territory, without an appropriate response" writes Dr. Amir righteously. Lebanon must not be a sovereign country then since it is expected to acquiesce quietly as Israel bombs its ports, roads, harbors, houses, airports, hospitals, bomb shelters etc., even using cluster bombs, white phosphorus, and vacuum bombs. All this because Israel allegedly cannot negotiate with Hezbollah even though Amir himself shows that negotiations were conducted before. I will end here with the observation that Gilles d'Aymery's mother gave good advice. One really cannot do justice to the implicit racism and hysteria of Amir and other propagandists of his ilk.
Northampton, Massachusetts, USA - August 11, 2006
P.S. For an antidote to the nonsense Dr. Amir spouts about Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon I recommend the piece, "Respecting Lebanon's Sovereignty."
For Amir's similar nonsense about Gaza here's another recommended piece by the same author:
P.P.S. I note that in his earlier review of Michael Neumann's book Mr. Amir states that "nobody in Greece has ever claimed Turkey." This ignores all the events of the irredentist expedition against what is now Turkey as an aftermath of WWI, when the Greek fleet and army did invade, egged on by the usual suspects (Brits, US, etc.) Since this disastrous attack ended in the population exchanges of Lausanne and the mass murder of Asia Minor's Greek population it was not an entirely small event. I guess these events were "trivial enough" that they did not raise Dr. Amir's historical attention.
If Israel as a Whole Were a Mirror Image of the West Bank....
To the Editor:
If Israel as a whole were a mirror image of the West Bank....
....the view would contain five million Jews embedded among twenty-five million Palestinians -- the Islamic majority corralled into 60% of the terrain (separate and not equal), not even permitted to drill new wells on their own aquifer, daily travel an obstacle course nightmare through sometimes open/sometimes closed checkpoints; a couple of hundred thousand family homes (paralleling twenty thousand in the territories) bulldozed for newcomer security, typically on five minutes notice.
Why would anybody expect twenty-five million -- or a few million -- dispossessed Muslims and their billion plus co-religionists to live in peace with an occupation that subjugates their choice for the "people of God" to literal imitation of the degradation portrayed in Schindler's List?
An Israeli officer cold bloodedly shoots a 13-year-old girl for wandering into a security zone (did not "pardon" her) -- is acquitted of minor charges -- and is awarded fourteen thousand dollars to compensate his court trouble. An assault-rifle-armed Israeli shoots up Palestinian bus riders -- is killed by a rescuing mob -- seven of whom are charged with "cold-blooded" murder for not detaining the shooter alive ("Goetz" is not an Arab name).
The Occupied Territories are not just back-water counties; nor are their original residents some scatterable desert bands. Their population is the size of Lebanon's, but more ethnically cohesive and more rebelliously unified.
Israelis should admit to themselves -- at least for a start -- that, if uninhabitable mountains existed where the Occupied Territories lie now, Israel would be permanently secure (Israel's friends would be too!). Afraid they cannot let go of what they started? -- they should at least wish they could let go: the beginning of reason.
The rationale for Israel's territorial metamorphosis is best summed up in Matthew Yglesias' American Prospect article "Friendly Advice" (July 25, 2006): "Were Israel's conflict with the Palestinians resolved, other challenges like Hezbollah would soon melt away. The idea of firing rockets into Israeli towns would appear absurd. Iran and Syria would have nothing to gain from supporting groups that behaved in that manner. Arab public opinion would no longer applaud the firing of rockets at random into Israeli cities."
Chicago, Illinois, USA - August 8, 2006
Al Gore, the "Savior" -- Err, come again: Charles Marowitz's The Next President
To the Editor:
Charles Marowitz is one of my favorite writers on Swans, because he is not obsessed with politics but has a life beyond it. And he's a fine writer, debonair where most of us are mostly choking with rage.
However, his essay on 2008 Presidential hopefuls, singling out Gore as the only one who has any moral stature at all, feels like a case of wishful thinking.
I think he is correct in saying that the public will believe that Gore, like any Democrat, will inevitably sink back into the slime which the Democratic Party has become -- "hamstrung by the system which created him." However, Marowitz seems to hold out the possibility that Gore won't, because of some principled toughness he has acquired in defeat. Unfortunately, I think the public is right on this one.
As I recall, Clinton arrived in the presidency with a fairly progressive agenda, but Robert Rubin took him aside early on and informed him that first he had to balance the budget or the financial community would lose confidence in him. That was the end of Clinton's progressive programs! There's something intimidating about being around the rich, and the Democrats seem to be fatally emasculated after too many years of it.
As for Hillary, much as I, like everyone else, can't stand her rush to the right on the two main issues of the day -- Iraq and Israel -- who is to say where she will actually end up if elected? I trust by now we don't really expect candidates to do what they say once in office. And while Hillary is certain to go on supporting Israel in some way or other, why would we suppose that Gore won't?
Of course I will vote for Gore, if he's a candidate. I just won't expect it to make any difference if he's elected. Even on the issues of climate change and oil dependency, I've already seen the oil giants, and labor, poised to jump in and co-opt those issues with their own self-serving pseudo-alternatives.
If you study the ascendancy of the military-industrial-congressional complex as the dominant force of American life for the past sixty years, it's clear that no president from Eisenhower to Clinton has made the slightest dent in it. Is Gore committed enough to change that? I doubt it.
Sausalito, California, USA - August 3, 2006
A Genuine Storyteller: Peter Byrne's Venice: Nobody's Town
To the Editor:
I was fascinated by the story "Venice: Nobody's Town." I thought it original and brilliant. Peter Byrne is a genuine storyteller with an incredible ability to bring people into his world. One could almost fall in love with such an ability to tell a tale.
"Post Cards" on the other hand was pretentious and Booo---rring. It reminded me of Ian McEwan which might not be insulting as he is one of our popular writers but who cares... The story tells us a lot about Peter Byrne but even that is not enough to make it worth reading.
Let's have more of the fascinating and one suspects the truly brilliant Peter who perhaps doesn't believe in his ability to fascinate us by letting us see the world through his eyes.
Paris, France - August 4, 2006
Free Wales and Scotland
To the Editor:
England has treated Wales with contempt for far too long. Not only are the British Government still refusing Wales a Scottish level of devolutionary powers but suddenly Wales requires a further "are you sure" referendum if such a decision is made in the future!
The new Welsh "adjusted devolution" bill offers slightly more powers but with a very disturbing caveat, Labour have fixed the PR system for Wales to improve their own chances!
Suddenly no candidate will be allowed to stand in both the list and FPTP elements, thereby avoiding a fair fight between Labour and Plaid Cymru. Expect this for Scotland next school term unless we take urgent action.
The very idea that somehow Wales deserves less powers than Scotland is completely absurd. Like Scotland, Wales is a nation and she has the same rights under international law to independence that Scotland has.
Thankfully it now looks like Wales is going to deliver her own answer to the devolution question! A poll a few days ago by a Welsh Sunday paper shows an absolute majority for independence of 52%! This follows a whole series of polls showing similar results in Scotland.
As the British imperialist state looks like drawing to a close, it is now perhaps appropriate to consider what it actually was.
The British Empire could be easily likened to a Vampire. It has survived by literally sucking the life blood and resources of other countries who it "colonised" or more accurately "controlled" through it's past military might. Luckily most have seem through it's disguises and have forcibly (and democratically) rejected it's advances.
In reality the Empire is stone dead however it survives as an invisible phantom in the imagination of our Prime Minister King Tony the first and his royal courtiers whose powers he upsurps to award his wee rich cronies with blood stained "honours" and membership to an absurd fraternity of British imperial fantasists. Who really wants to me a member of a non-existent empire?
Perhaps the sobriquet "Sir" should stand for Still Insane Really!
England as a country has sucked billions of oil from Scotland while claiming, in Orwellian fashion, that Scotland is actually bleeding it dry. This lie is repeated so often that even the English themselves now appear to believe it along with the more gullible of our fellow Scots.
In truth Wales and Scotland are rich nations with a valuable and distinctive contribution to make to the world as free and independent sovereign states. No matter how many drug filled crumbs are thrown in our direction and no matter how many lies are told, we have the absolute right to rule ourselves.
Britain will find that out next year. A stake will be driven through its heart and England will emerge to equality with its brother nations and the reality of the normality that all deserve but none need to surpass.
Blair and Cameron offer a future hanging onto America's new bloody imperial coat tails, that is no realistic future for anyone and we need to end their control over Scotland to stop it. There is one sure way to stop English Conservatism and pseudo Conservatism and that way is independence.
Both Scotland and Wales are wakening up to that easy option no matter how much our respective "national" papers avoid it.
Joseph Peter Middleton
Edinburgh, Scotland - July 31, 2006
When will it end?
Dear Mr. d'Aymery:
I ain't gotten into your expert expressions yet. That said, below is an e-mail I received just yesterday from one of the "major characters" in my just released book.
Diane lost her only brother in August 1968 during a "fiery" helicopter crash as they were looking for "the enemy." Diane lives only 12 miles from me but I ain't seen her in over two years since she was adamant that I make another fatal outreach to our -- my wife's and my son -- who spent two years and 18 consecutive days as a "BAMC trained combat medic" to stop the spread of communism in a country that only wanted to rid itself of colonialism.
We sent or let the nation accept as good a boy as walked the face of this nation. But when he returned we didn't know the son-of-a-bitch. Within two years he tries to kill his once loving sister, we live with his constant shit for 14 years and at a Christmas Eve dinner my wife had high hopes for in 1984 he tried to kill me.
At some point you have to separate yourself from all people.
Here is the message she sent me and transmitted it three separate times.
"We are at the edge of an abyss. Fall into the abyss we are in wwiii. There is no way out for anyone of us. If anyone dropps the big thermo nuclrear bomb, that's it. I have enough potassium chloride stored away to do us all in if we have too. See you in the great beyond.She is married with three children, but her husband met with a terrible electrical accident about 10 years ago. She has been diagnosed with PTSD and probably properly so.
Now we are being lead by purveyors of continued falsehood ideas. When will it end?
Willard D. Gray
Sumner, Illinois, USA - July 31, 2006
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