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Monthly Archives: September 2010

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 

POSTED COMMENT TO AN EDITORIAL IN THE TELEGRAPH

‘Well the Jews were there 3,000 years ago, 1,600 years before Islam even existed.’

That is typical of the kind of uninformed statements repeated over and over in defense of Israel’s current brutish behavior.

First, there is no history of Jews in Israel 3000 years ago. At that time, they were likely still part of ancient Mesopotamia, lands we today call Iraq, the place where they are thought to have originated.

But even more importantly, when people write about Israel’s additional territorial claims in terms of Hebrew Scripture, for most of the world’s people it makes as much sense as modern Greece claiming Turkey owing to the stories in the Iliad, Homer by the way actually going back about 3000 years and singing of still earlier events.

If you can quote Scripture as authority in Middle East affairs, you can justify literally anything, including killing all non-Jewish residents, for that is what the Biblical Hebrews were enjoined to do, over and over, supposedly by God but actually by their own prophets assuming the authority of God.

Many countries could have a claim on the territory we call Israel if this cloudcuckooland approach were valid, including the Egyptians who long, long ago ruled there, the Lebanese, viewed as the descendants of the ancient Phoenicians who also ruled there, and perhaps even the Iraqis, whose antecedents conquered the territory.

Go back far enough, and you can claim the territory we call Israel for the decedents of the early people who migrated out of Africa many tens of thousands of years ago.

The silliness of this ancient-writing-based claim is made even greater by the important research of an Israeli scholar who says that the Palestinians are, for the most part, the actual descendants of the ancient Israelis.

When Rome conquered territories, it typically did not remove the inhabitants, and it did not interfere with their religion, so long as they accepted Roman rule. Just because, after two turbulent millennia of history, most of the Palestinians are Muslim does not invalidate this concept. Moreover, DNA testing is tending to support this view.

So what we are really talking about with Israel’s modern activities is removing the descendants of ancient Israel who have lived there countless centuries in favor of new immigrants from New York or London. If that isn’t imperialism, I don’t know what is.

On still another level, Biblical claims must be rejected simply because they are dangerous and de-stabilizing. Greater Israel as it has been defined by Zionist scholars – and mind you, there are no maps in the Bible – includes the West Bank and Gaza and pieces of Syria and Lebanon. Does claiming that, or any portion of it, resemble anything but a certain formula for endless war and unrest?

Personal religious views and 2,500 year-old books have no place in international affairs.

In the end, if Israel wishes to be regarded as a state like any other state, then it must behave as we expect other states to behave, and that does not include undefined borders which constantly ooze out over the property of others.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN THE TELEGRAPH

The principle of the schoolyard bully – might makes right – has been reinforced and given ugly new life. It is the only real winner in Iraq.

Saddam, for all his faults, killed only a fraction of the people America killed in Iraq.

Iraq was the most prosperous and advanced country in the Arab world in many social aspects. Its growing middle class virtually guaranteed the day would come when democratic values took hold.

Today, it is in ruins, set back for at least a generation. No jobs, no electricity in many areas, and no clean water. Depleted uranium dust blankets many parts of the country. One of the world’s greatest archeological collections was pillaged and half wrecked.

And since the main purpose of the illegal war was to benefit Israel’s position – something still not widely understood or acknowledged – we see Israel, swaggering as perhaps never before, acting the role of bully in its part of the world. It has adopted precisely the part of miniature geo-political replica of the United States.

It is a very dismal outlook we have now: mass murder and terrible abuse by the United States, and the same on a smaller scale by Israel, promise no reason and decency and human values in world affairs for years to come.

Obama has proved himself the captive of America’s establishment, his full-of-hopes election now faded to meaninglessness.

Fifty thousand troops left in Iraq, new air bases, and a fortress-like new American embassy – a regional headquarters for the thugs in the CIA – plus a new level of 150,000 in Afghanistan show clearly that elections in America just do not matter anymore to change the ugly direction of American policy.

And anyone who says that the godawful waste in Iraq had nothing to do with our financial and economic disaster just does not know what he or she is talking about.

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian had it absolutely right, more so than any other mainline journalist, Iraq was “a trillion dollar catastrophe.”