on koolaid

i’m so wiped out from grading this past week, but i finally finished. on my drama exam one of my students answered a question about the various dreams of the characters in lorraine hansberry’s raisin in the sun. in her answer she offered up her own dream, which i found rather disheartening. rather than talking about dreams of liberating palestine, her dream has become smaller: her dream was just to remove all the checkpoints. in some ways this is similar to hansberry’s play in the sense that the characters’ dreams are all related to their own lives: the right to live where one wants to live, the right to get an education, opening a business to have a means of supporting one’s family. their dreams are not of eradicating racism. so in some ways it is on par with what she saw in the play. but it says a lot about where many palestinians are in their thoughts: with the immediate obstacles of the israeli colonial project in the west bank.

unfortunately, exam week coincided with israeli apartheid week so most of our activities were centered around handing out leaflets. we were supposed to hold a talk in the auditorium (there is only one), but apparently all the dates we tried to book have been reserved. although our talk is approved, and hopefully will eventually take place on land day, which is the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions day, it was rather maddening to see who did speak on campus this week. today saeb erekat, palestinian collaborator who spends his time selling palestinian refugees’ rights down the river, spoke on campus. about what i do not know. nor do i really care. on monday it was some nimrod from the u.s. consulate who seemed to think that he could come here and lecture palestinians about president abraham lincoln as some great man who freed the slaves. of course this is a serious distortion of the history. it is the slaves themselves who resisted, the abolitionists who created the pressure needed for a law to be signed. but just because lincoln signed a paper does not make him a great man. especially when we know that slavery never really did end. for one thing, the end of slavery coincided with the u.s. building prisons in which to lock up african americans who would then continue slave labor from inside the prisons. this continues until now.

it seems the zionist state likes the worst parts of american history so much it is constantly trying to emulate those elements as with its current forms of slavery that have just been uncovered (thanks rania) :

The largest ever people-trafficking ring in Israel has been uncovered: Twelve members of the gang (all women) were arrested by police in Tel Aviv on 8 March following a two-year undercover operation.

The suspected traffickers are accused of smuggling hundreds of women from the former Soviet Union into Israel to work in the sex industry.

but back to the u.s. for a minute. of course i didn’t step foot in the auditorium where the u.s. consulate person gave his propagandistic talk. but i suspect that he is one of the many that was using this mythological narrative (yes, i heard reports of what was said) to suggest things about american democracy and freedom and a bunch of other khara. glen ford has a great essay this week–with a fabulous title: ‘left’ obamites prefer kool-aid to struggle–in dissident voice on the left and obama. here is what ford says about obama and foreign policy for those of you koolaid drinkers:

On the international scene (i.e., The Empire), Obama’s job — as Burnham says should be clear to “us” — is “to salvage the reputation of the U.S. in the world; repair the international ties shredded by eight years of cowboy unilateralism; and adjust U.S. positioning on the world stage [so far, so good, but here Burnham slips down the proverbial slope] on the basis of a rational assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the changed and changing centers of global political, economic and military power – rather than on the basis of a simple-minded ideological commitment to unchallenged world dominance.”

Obama’s military budget, bigger than Bush’s, his escalation in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the unraveling of his Iraq “withdrawal” promises, and his provocations in Africa all signal that this president has no intention of relinquishing the goal of global U.S. hegemony. To paraphrase his famous statement on war, “I’m not opposed to imperialism, just dumb imperialism.”

there are others who drink the koolaid. interestingly, alice walker admitted today that she had been duped by leon uris’ zionist propaganda extravaganza, also known as exodus as karen laub reports:

Walker said she believes Americans have mostly been exposed to the Israeli narrative since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and know little about the plight of the Palestinians. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled their homes at the time.

“We were indoctrinated to the song in that film Exodus, you know, `This land belongs to us, this land is our land,’ meaning the Israelis, the Jews, and for so long, we were told that nobody lived here, that it was a land without people, for a people without land,” she said.

a couple of years ago in the nation philip weiss wrote about the israel lobby author john mearsheimer in which he admitted that he, too, had been blinded by exodus:

Mearsheimer was hawkish about Israel until the 1990s, when he began to read Israel’s “New Historians,” a group of Israeli scholars and journalists (among them Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev) who showed that Israel’s founders had been at times ruthless toward Palestinians. Mearsheimer’s former student Michael Desch, a professor at Texas A&M, recalls the epiphany: “For a lot of us, who didn’t know a lot about the Israel/Palestine conflict beyond the conventional wisdom and Leon Uris’s Exodus, we saw a cold war ally; and the moral issue and the common democracy reinforced a strong pro-Israel bent.”

that was in 2006. since then the pressure of the israel lobby in the united states has been exposed again and again. this week it seems that the israel lobby has been reassured that it continues to enjoy having special friends in the white house as the co-author of the israel lobby, stephen walt, explains:

Fourth, the worst aspect of the Freeman affair is the likelihood of a chilling effect on discourse in Washington, at precisely the time when we badly need a more open and wide-ranging discussion of our Middle East policy. As I noted earlier, this was one of the main reasons why the lobby went after Freeman so vehemently; in an era where more and more people are questioning Israel’s behavior and questioning the merits of unconditional U.S. support, its hardline defenders felt they simply had to reinforce the de facto ban on honest discourse inside the Beltway. After forty-plus years of occupation, two wars in Lebanon, and the latest pummeling of Gaza, (not to mention Ehud Olmert’s own comparison of Israel with South Africa), defenders of the “special relationship” can’t win on facts and logic anymore. So they have to rely on raw political muscle and the silencing or marginalization of those with whom they disagree. In the short term, Freeman’s fate is intended to send the message that if you want to move up in Washington, you had better make damn sure that nobody even suspects you might be an independent thinker on these issues.

here is a report by shihab rattansi on al jazeera for some context:

charles freeman published his own statement in the wall street journal about the israel lobby’s libelous attack on him that led his name to be withdrawn:

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government – in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

in response the los angeles times editorial today stated they want a more normal debate on the zionist entity, though, problematically they still believe they have a right to exist:

Our opinion is this: Israel is America’s friend and ally. It deserves to exist safely within secure borders. We hope it will continue to prosper as a refuge for Jews and a vibrant democracy in the region (alongside an equally democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza). But we do not believe that Israel should be immune from criticism or that there is room for only one point of view in our government.

U.S. policy has been extremely supportive of Israel over the years, as have many of our policymakers. That’s fine. But theirs should not be the only voices allowed in the room.

interestingly, this week, there was another israel lobby effort in congress, though it did not receive as much media attention as the charles freemen debacle. this was senate bill 629 from arizona senator jon kyl who wanted to include a line in an appropriations bill about palestinian refugees from gaza being barred from seeking refuge in the u.s. here is what laura flanders said about it on grit tv:

what does all this have to do with koolaid? yes, it is true that most of these people in power in the u.s. bow down to the israel lobby because they think they cannot get elected without their support. but i don’t think it is only that. i think that the cultural texts like exodus, which ingrain a sympathy for zionism through a completely distorted, fabricated view of how jews came to colonize palestine, plays a role here. it’s the koolaid that enables the lobby to work so effectively. the specter of it keeps rearing its head even 40 years after the book and film were produced.


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