IT’S NO SECRET that the past several decades have witnessed growing economic inequality and deepening economic insecurity for a very large section of working people both in the U.S. and other capitalist countries around the world. Yet what most analysts miss are the hidden injuries of class that become dramatically intensified when the underlying psychological and spiritual dysfunction of global capitalism interacts with economic insecurity.
Our misguided ‘wars of choice’Jeffrey D. SachsThere is one foreign policy goal that matters above all the others, and that is to keep the United States out of a new war, whether in Syria, North Korea, or elsewhere. In recent days, President Trump has struck Syria with Tomahawk missiles, bombed Afghanistan with the most powerful nonnuclear bomb in the US arsenal, and has sent an armada toward nuclear-armed North Korea. We could easily find ourselves in a rapidly escalating war, one that could pit the United States directly against nuclear-armed countries of China, North Korea, and Russia. Such a war, if it turned nuclear and global, could end the world. Even a nonnuclear war could end democracy in the United States, or the United States as a unified nation.
The Power of Pictures:
Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film
The Jewish Museum, New York
September 25, 2015–February 7, 2016
National Tour: Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; and Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Review by Roslyn Bernstein
As critics of contemporary fiction, drama, and the arts know full well, finding the narrative in a work can often be an elusive search. Characters appear and disappear, images surface and dissolve, and the story lurches forwards and backwards, pushing and pulling the reader, the viewer, and the audience in disparate directions. What does it all mean? we ask. Where are we going?
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The United States and Terrorism: An Ironic Perspective
Rowman and Littlefield, 2015
This is a deeply insightful analysis of how self-destructive and dangerous to all humanity U.S. responses to and engagements with terrorism have been. For many decades, Ron Hirschbein has been an intellectual architect of Concerned Philosophers for Peace. He asserts that the U.S. campaign against terrorism has helped produce the very violent world it was supposed to prevent. Terrorism is most widely understood as the intended infliction of violence upon noncombatants or civilians, so it is ironic that most of the Western media fail to notice that the United States and its allies have been engaged in terrorism since World War II, despite sanctimoniously condemning the terrorist actions of others. Hirschbein gives us an alternative history of the past seventy years.
The Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has reached the phase where no one seems to care any longer about jus in bello (justice in the course of warfare), let alone reducing the levels of brutality. Restoring trust or fidelity between the belligerents seems irrelevant to the parties concerned—the most we can hope for is restoring sanity, especially with regard to mercy and sensitivity toward human life and suffering. However, such a process requires sincere and honest efforts currently unavailable, so it seems the only way to restore a semblance of restraint is to force both sides to follow the requirements of international law. In this category I include the Geneva Conventions (and their additional protocols), the Hague Conventions, and first and foremost, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. I concern myself here with one particular example of the aggression and brutality of the conflict: the Israeli accusation that Palestinians used civilians as human shields during “Operation Protective Edge,” the Israeli military’s code name for the confrontation that raged in the summer of 2014.
The current Israeli government has no interest in any plausible version of a two-state solution. The current government also has no intention whatsoever of affirming equal citizenship of the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank within the overall Israeli control system. So what now? The inclusion of Isaac Herzog in a unity government would not have altered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s interest in the perpetuation of the current state of affairs, which can best be described as either indefinite occupation or a system tending toward apartheid. Neither is acceptable either morally or in current international law.
The new Israeli government, a coalition of ultrareligious, fundamentalist, racist, and neoliberal ideologues and placeholders, ensures that settlements will continue to expand. The lives of Jerusalem Arabs, Negev Bedouin, and Area C Palestinian residents will be embittered and endangered by intensive expropriation and Judaization campaigns. Every two years or so a military operation in Gaza, Lebanon, or the West Bank will “cut the grass”—
that is, cause enough destruction to plunge Palestinian society into misery and discourage any plans to mobilize violently against Israel in the near future. Some key demands of settlers, including construction of Jewish housing in the E1 zone between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem and expansion of ultranationalist Jewish presence on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, will be pushed aggressively. Israeli foreign policy will continue to characterize the Middle East as a polarized battleground between civilization and Islamist barbarism, to stick its fingers in the eyes of European critics and the Obama administration, while also seeking effective but under-the-table alliances with antidemocratic forces in Egypt, the Arab Gulf, and elsewhere in the region.
In medical genetics, the field in which I specialize, we believe the correct diagnosis is the best guarantee of selecting the right therapy and improving prognosis. I’d like to offer a diagnosis of the injustice in Palestine/Israel: the morass that we are in was created by an ideology called Zionism, which overlooked the immorality of transforming a multireligious and multicultural Palestine into the Jewish State of Israel. The immoral ideology of Zionism is now being reevaluated in order to chart a better course forward instead of dealing cosmetically with its symptoms. Jews who have accepted this false idol of Zionism are leaving it in droves. Those with some conscience who still cling to Zionist notions are mostly driven by fear and are noting major setbacks in their ill-fated efforts. These efforts previously focused on giving us Palestinians a sliver of our lands and denying the most important right we need for peace: the right of refugees to return to their homes and lands.
Ever since it became clear that the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, had failed to cajole the Israeli and Palestinian leaders into finally ending their conflict, the pressing question has been, what next? Now, with the Israeli prime minister being reelected on a “no-two-state platform,” the need to answer this question is more pressing than ever before. For over twenty years process has trumped outcome, but it is now in danger of being out-trumped itself by the total collapse of the only internationally recognized paradigm for a solution to the conflict. A new international strategy urgently needs to be devised as an alternative to failed bilateral negotiations. Our proposal takes as its starting point the need to resolve two crucial ambiguities regarding Israel’s control of the West Bank and Gaza, its rule over the Palestinians, and the colonization of their land.
As it now stands, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is lucrative rather than costly. No nation in possession of territory it seized from another has been known to give up that territory merely because of a change of heart. The Israeli people will not support withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories unless the continuation of the Occupation causes them to suffer, whether materially or in terms of their standing in the world. One way in which the continuation of the conflict benefits Israel is that it helps Israel test and sell more of the weapons and security systems it manufactures.
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Bringing about the conditions needed for a durable two-state deal would necessitate currently unthinkable shifts in some long-standing assumptions held by Israeli Jews. A deal sufficiently durable to withstand post-agreement pressure from Palestinian dissidents would need to include three components:
Territorial integrity. Even a deal that accommodated land swaps along the 1967 borders would require some combination of moving and removing many, if not all, of the Israeli Jewish communities living in the territory of a Palestinian state. It would require an arrangement for mobility between Gaza and the West Bank. Defensibility.
The decorative mosaic adorning the ancient synagogue floor
is innocent of its future. Good luck, it means to say, or
my swastika hands miming perpetual motion wish you
everlasting peace and prosperity. And what coincidence
sends my son running across the plaza, blowing again
and again on his precious pinwheel toy? Say what you mean,
I want to shout. I am listening to the politicians
in the courtyard, excavating for small truths buried
beneath thick stratum of tedious lies.
Entheogens, Society & Law: Towards a Politics of Consciousness, Autonomy & Responsibility
by Daniel Waterman
Review by Stephen Mo Hanan