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Is Bill Maher Coming Around on the Israel Lobby’s Influence?

5:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I’m not a fan of Bill Maher.  His movie Religulous, left out how the nuttiness of some practitioners of one major religion, influence the politics of Israel, for instance.  His reputation for being a mild misogynist is pretty firmly established.  He’s somewhat of an Obamabot.

Back in 2010, he confronted Oliver Stone, when the latter was defending Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation:

Maher’s argument in the above case was effectively countered by Stone, who brings up AIPAC. Rachel Maddow sat on her thumbs throughout the whole exchange on Israel-Palestine. Maher’s problem in the exchange, like that of so many, is to obfuscate when it comes to individual Palestinian rights per se.

Yesterday on his show, Maher, defending Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, seemed upset about undue influence by people and organizations supporting Israel over U.S. policy making. The GOP being the case:

The two segments show possible signs of evolution by Maher in respect to the conventional narrative about that pesky little country.

What do you think?

Lupe Fiasco Makes Powerful Musical Statement for OWS and Palestinian Rights at BET TV Hip-Hop Awards

8:32 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Black Entertainment Television’s 6th Annual Hip-Hop Awards were presented from Atlanta yesterday.  I missed it, rehearsing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Anchorage, instead.

Although I’m known as a “classical” composer and musician, I’ve had a longstanding interest in hip-hop, particularly female artists and their music-poetry. Hip-hop was a “social network” long before my space, facebook and twitter. Many texting and sexting terms have been stolen from rappers, and the interchange is now a broad four-lane, two-way street.

Yesterday’s rapperfest was an opportunity for this most immediate genre of popular music to pave a new lane to Occupy Wall Street.  A lot of bands missed the bus.  Lupe Fiasco all but made up for it, though.  Here’s his September speech on the Palestinian UN bid:

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On the Second Anniversary of Cast Lead, I Reach Out to a Young Gazan Writer

11:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Two years ago, On December 27th, 2008, the Israeli military began their campaign, Operation Cast Lead,  against the people and infrastructure of Gaza. About 1,500 Palestinian people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed.  Many children were killed.  Far more were wounded, traumatized, orphaned, or lost a parent, sibling or siblings.

Americans have to look hard to see the horrific details of what actually occurred during the operation that inspired many Zionist Israelis to lament afterward, “This time we went too far.”   Not that this momentary pang of guilt will keep the next Gaza event from happening.  It is already in the planning stages, according to the Jerusalem Post.

One of my strongest beliefs and hopes is that young people – Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Turkish, Egyptian and American – can help us find a way out of this awful endgame of war in which Gazans are trapped.  The young American, Rachel Corrie, in one of her last emails before she was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza in 2003, wrote:

I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity.

I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

Since then, I’ve met many Palestinians in the USA and in the UK.  Today I introduced myself to a young Palestinian woman at her blog, I Am.  She wrote back.  I can now write about that, in hopes that now, not someday, you will meet these people too:


I posted your story at my blog, Progressive Alaska. I’d also like to post it at the American blog, firedoglake, but they probably won’t let me print your entire story, unless you say that it is OK.

I’ll pray for your successful future as a writer, and as whatever you want to be.

It was night time in Gaza when I wrote.  In the morning she replied:

Mr Philip Munger, I can’t but thank you for your great effort publishing Palestine and letting others know the truth. of course I don’t mind posting it at the American blog it will be an honor for me to have told just a little about what Palestinians have been through in here. Thank you for being here. I, we all appreciate it deeply.

I initially read Rawan’s story this morning at the blog Mondoweiss, where her article had been entered in an ongoing contest, called Gaza Two Years Later.

Here is Rawan Yaghi’s story of what happened in her mother’s arms two years ago, when she was 15 years old:

A Little Girl

Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I’ll hold you so firm
You’re here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
You’re my….

My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap.

Some minutes passed; however, she didn’t continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.

sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn’t stay in her lap.

“Mama, why is the man outside crying?”.

She didn’t answer. She kept listening.

I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower. When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that’s why I didn’t try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder.

I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.

Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad’s white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn’t listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.

The Amalthea Nears Gaza – Flotilla 2010, Round Three

4:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Libyan-chartered, Moldovan-flagged freighter, Amalthea, is about 95 miles due north of Alexandria, traveling at 8.5 knots, on a course of about 106 degrees. It is about 250 miles from the Gaza shore. At course and speed, that should put it near the area where the Rachel Corrie was seized by the IDF last month in about 24 hours.‘s news wire reports:

A pair of Lebanese NGOs are already raising funds for a trip, which will carry a large number of journalists and even a few European MPs. A small Jewish group from Germany is also planning to send a small aid ship.

These are just the groups farthest along in their efforts, and other groups across the Muslim world and indeed, the world in general, are looking to challenge the long-standing blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s pledges to stop them all notwithstanding, they look to have an uphill battle in contending with so many aid groups, and so much international pressure.

In Rare Show of Bold Diplomacy, Israeli PM Netanyahu Publicly Kicks U.S. VP Biden “In the Balls”

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Not my words. Andrew Sullivan’s. He also claims today, "Joe Biden was kicked in the balls as he came to Israel, with a simultaneous "fuck you" by the Israeli government announcing new settlements – 1600 houses – in East Jerusalem."

No sooner did Biden boldly make Netanyahu wait 90 minutes for Biden to show up for dinner, than Biden totally accommodated the Israelis by delivering a message designed to show our properly deferential role to Israel in dealing with those pesky Palestinians:

United States Vice President Joe Biden warned Israelis in a direct address from Tel Aviv on Thursday that the status quo in the Middle East was not sustainable, and vowed that the United States would do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He also urged both Israelis and the Palestinians look toward direct negotiations to end the long-standing conflict.

"The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country," said Biden in his speech to foreign dignitaries, Israeli officials and students at Tel Aviv University. "The status quo is not sustainable."

"To end this historic conflict, both sides must be historically bold," he said.

That’s pretty bold, eh? The Israelis’ answer to Biden’s challenge to be "bold"? This announcement, made early today:

Some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval, planning officials told Haaretz. They said Jerusalem’s construction plans for the next few years, even decades, are expected to focus on East Jerusalem.

Most of the housing units will be built in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, while a smaller number of them will be built in Arab neighborhoods. The plans for some 20,000 of the apartments are already in advanced stages of approval and implementation, while plans for the remainder have yet to be submitted to the planning committees.

The planned construction includes the 1,600 homes in the ultra-Orthodox East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo that were approved Tuesday. Saying the decision undermines peace talks, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has publicly condemned the move, which the Interior Ministry announced during his visit to Israel.

Sullivan goes on to write:

I cannot read Netanyahu’s mind. But I can observe Israel’s actions. They intend to occupy and colonize the entire West Bank for ever. [emphasis added] They may allow some parceled enclaves for Palestinians, but they will maintain a big military presence on the Eastern border of West Bank, and they will sustain this with raw military power and force. I certainly cannot see any other rationale for their actions these past few years that makes any sense at all. Many Israeli politicians now use the term "apartheid" for this future.

The Israelis’ bold move may be intended to do more than just kick the Vice President of the United States in the nuts.

Biden mentions "bold." The Israelis accommodate him. But the Palestinians are quite limited in the range of ways they can show "boldness."

It may well be a provocation designed to not only make it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to negotiate at all with the Israelis, but also to force the level of demonstrations in the West Bank to escalate beyond their current relative peacefulness, to levels where the IDF can claim it has to perform a Cast Lead type operation in the regions where the expansionism is already going ahead full bore.

The Israeli government is mounting an intense campaign in the United States to keep Americans from being allowed to stop militant expansionist Zionism. Without even attempting to hide the direct links between the Israeli government and the campaign’s enablers, militant Zionist expansion organizations have pretty much taken over the anti-BDS campaign, with a lot of Israeli (and American) money.

This article at mondoweiss, links to a paper being disseminated now by something called the "BDS Working Group." The pamphlet is called "Delegitimization of Israel: “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions,” and is credited to Co-Chairs: Dr. Mitchell Bard and Professor Gil Troy.

Go to mondoweiss and read the document. If you teach college, are involved in union activism, or will be participating at upcoming Democratic Party caucuses, you may begin to see the products of the "BDS Working Group" real soon. Mixed in with more rhetoric about bombing Iran.

And just so it is clear, I am not in favor of the BDS campaign as it is now configured.