on success

Rania sent me this brilliant joke:

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred once in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

A representative from Palestine began: ‘Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses.

When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, ‘What a good opportunity to have a bath!’

He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.

When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.

An Israeli had stolen them.’

The Israeli representative jumped up furiously and shouted, ‘What are you talking about? The Israelis weren’t there then.’

The Palestinian representative smiled and said ‘And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.

It is interesting to read this joke in light of a recent article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that also makes clear that, legally speaking, there are indeed no such thing as Israelis–only Jews:

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Yitzhak Shilo rejected Tamrin’s suit stating “a person cannot create a new nationality just by saying it exists, and then say he belongs to it.” Shilo then added the real reason: “I can fully declare that there is no Israeli nation that exists separately from a Jewish nation.”

If only it were true. If only it were a figment of my imagination and they did not exist and had never existed. But if that were the case I would not have had to endure the incessant Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF) flying over Nablus, and the rest of the West Bank (and possibly Lebanon) all day today (and in the past couple of days more frequently than usual). Even when I was in the depths of the library showing my students a BBC version of Othello today (which I do not recommend: how is it that Anthony Hopkins gets to play Othello? Really, quite a racist production overall), I still heard them, felt their vibration, breaking the sound barrier, terrorizing the people here. At one point I thought I had felt/heard a bomb from my office today, when I realized that it was just the ITF terrorizing us from the sky.

It’s amazing to me that the Zionist state can have such policies and and practices and get away with it. They can get away with lying, cheating, stealing, killing every day. All they have to do is tell the right lie often enough to their intended interlocutor and they can get away with it. Adolf Hitler called this the “Big Lie.” It seems that George Bush has gotten quite polished at doing this as well. Last night he gave a performance, aimed at Americans I imagine, to convince them that there is “success” in Iraq. Rami always accuses me of being too literal, but it seems to me that a dictionary definition is in order here. My Oxford English Dictionary tells me that “success” means: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Do we even know what the purposes was? They changed their line so many times it is difficult to recall: weapons of mass destruction (that Americans sold to Iraq), liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, fighting al Qa’eda (by the way: for the record there was no such thing called a’ Qa’eda in Iraq before the Americans occupied and invaded the country), shoo kaman? Unfortunately, most Americans are too ignorant and lazy to know that when Bush tells us “we” have been successful enough to bring 8,000 troops home, they don’t realize or research that this represents only 5.5% of the troops who are there anyway. And that taking these troops out will only reduce the numbers to before the so-called surge.

What does success mean when you have 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead and 100 times that number Iraqi and Afghan dead? What does success mean when there are 4.5 million Iraqi refugees–2.5 million internally displaced people and 2 million who fled the country? What does success mean when there are billions of dollars in infrastructural damage not to mention the type of damage done to a society that is centuries old; something Americans don’t understand and have no respect for. And what of the curious absence or silence around the contractors like Blackwater and KBR? Will there be a pullout of these people? Notice how no one talks about them when they discuss reducing an American presence: they only ever mention official troops.

Meanwhile Bush celebrates his “success” there is more death and destruction at the hands of the American-Israeli imperial regime (read: this is what success looks like in Iraq and Palestine):

DAMASCUS, Syria, September 10 (UNHCR) – The death of a nine-year-old boy in a road accident on the Iraq-Syria border has focused attention once more on the extremely dangerous and harsh living of hundreds of Palestinian refugees stranded at a makeshift desert camp.

The young refugee, Mohamed Kamal Ibrahim, was due to be resettled soon in Sweden with his family. He died late Tuesday afternoon in an ambulance headed for a hospital in the suburbs of Damascus after he was hit by a reversing truck in Al Tanf, a rag-tag gathering of tents and makeshift shelters housing some 920 Palestinians, including 355 children, in the no man’s land between Iraq and Syria.

An Israeli soldier was reported Wednesday as severely beating a Palestinian resident at the Israeli commercial crossing of Kissufim, south of the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian couple from the West Bank city of Nablus claimed Wednesday that an IDF soldier delayed them in a checkpoint when they were on their way to a local hospital, causing the woman – who was pregnant – to give birth to a stillborn baby.

Bethlehem/Nablus – Ma’an – Israeli forces seized two West Bank Palestinians early Tuesday morning, according to Palestinian Authority (PA) security sources.

Israeli forces raided homes in the Duheisha Refugee Camp south of Bethlehem before arresting 17-year-old Adil Kamal Hammash, a high school student.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that soldiers also ransacked the northern West Bank village of Kafr Qalil in an apparently unrelated raid. 20-year-old Salim Mansour was taken from his home during the early-morning raid.

Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza Strip’s only pharmaceutical factory is shutting down due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory, said Marwan Al-Astal chairman of board of directors of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat factories on Wednesday.

As the bus of 199 prisoners (a number oddly short of 200) pulled into Ramallah recently, many will have seen the images of crying mothers and waving Palestinian flags as yet another indication of Israel’s willingness to take risks for peace. Newspapers were filled with op-eds praising Israel for its bravery and courage while the usual international voices hailed it as a step in the right direction.

Much less coverage was given to the 1,751 Palestinians who have been arrested since the last busload of prisoners was released last November. Many of these prisoners were taken from their homes in the night and held without trial for months on end. For those lucky enough to face trial, they are subject to trial by a military court, which does not meet international standards, and are often convicted on secret evidence. It is fairly obvious, given the increase in the number of prisoners and the unjust conditions in which they are held, that Israel’s latest prisoner release has little to do with a change in policy.

Instead, Israel’s release of prisoners should be seen for what it is, yet another successful public relations coup in a long line of actions aimed at convincing the world that it is desperately seeking peace. Time and again Israel has acquiesced a bare minimum, flaunting it as ostentatiously as possible, to make the world believe that it is striving to meet its international commitments.

Israeli troops invaded the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Nablus and Jenin kidnapping five civilians on Tuesday dawn, local sources reported.

Soldiers invaded Duhaisha refugee camp located south of Bethlehem and launched a wide scale house-to-house search campaign and kidnapped Adel Hammash, 17, taking him to an unknown destination.

In Nablus district, in the northern part of the West Bank, soldiers invaded the nearby village Kufor Qalil and randomly searched and ransacked several houses before kidnapping Salem Mansur, 20.

Soldiers also invaded the northern West Bank city of Jenin and the Jenin refugee camp, and fired rounds of live ammunition and sound bombs before breaking into and searching a number of houses.

Troops kidnapped three residents from the area and took him to an unknown destination.

This is what “success” is to Americans and Israelis. It is what death and destruction is to Palestinians and Iraqis.

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