Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 14th, 2016

Never forget the Deir Yassin massacre by Israelis in 1948.

Dina Elmuti The Electronic Intifada Chicago 8 April 2013

The author’s grandmother, Fatima Radwan (right) and her younger sister Sakeena at the Dar al-Tifl school four years after the Deir Yassin massacre.

Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years.

From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.

I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope.

This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.

Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history.

My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget.


Thursday, 8 April, ended like any other in the small, quiet village. My grandmother and her younger sister returned home from school to complete their composition assignment entitled Asri’ (meaning “to hurry” in Arabic). She recounts that detail animatedly.

Like other children their age, she wanted to complete the assignment in order to enjoy the next day off. (Fridays are the official day-off, along with Sundays in mixed communities)

The excitement, however, was short-lived. I can’t help but think of the irony in the assignment’s title. Asri’ — it’s almost as though it were a premonition of sorts.

The following day, entire families ran hurriedly in sheer terror, fleeing the only homes they had ever known to escape a bloodbath. By dawn on that Friday morning, life as they had known it would never be the same again. Deir Yassin would never be the same again.

Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, execution style.

Beloved teachers were savagely mutilated with knives. Mothers and sisters were taken hostage and those who survived returned to find pools of blood filling the streets of the village and children stripped of their childhoods overnight.

The walls of homes, which once stood witness to warmth, laughter and joy, were splattered with the blood and imprints of traumatic memories.

My grandmother lost 37 members of her family that day. These are not stories you will read about in most history books.

Bitter symbol

The Deir Yassin massacre was not the largest-scale massacre, nor was it the most gruesome.

The atrocities committed, the scale of violence and the complexity of the methods and insidious weaponry used by Israel against civilians in the recent decade have been far more sadistic and pernicious. But Deir Yassin marks one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history.

A bitter symbol carved in the fiber of the Palestinian being and narrative, it resonates sharply as the event that catalyzed our ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), marked by the forced exile of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating the largest refugee population worldwide with more than half living in the diaspora.

Deir Yassin is a caustic reminder of the ongoing suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, 65 years and counting.

When the village was terrorized into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine, laying the blueprint for the architecture of today’s apartheid Israel.

Sacred ground

The author’s great-uncle, Muhammad Radwan, outside of the family home in Deir Yassin.

I have been fortunate enough to see Deir Yassin and step foot on its sacred ground. Deir

Yassin remains a permanently cemented and rigorous reminder of the spirit that has never permitted defeat. Despite the illegal settlements, pillaging, plundering and human suffering that took place, my grandmother’s home stands with resolve just as she does today.

The silence of her home and the original stones laid by my great-grandfather’s hands remain haunting reminders of life that once existed behind the cold facade.

Standing outside her home I studied the horizon intently and found solace, irrespective of the large wooden Star of David hanging on the window.

This scathing and unholy reminder of the ethnic cleansing that took place there could never conceal the insult, injury and history it attempts to erase.

In fact, it is a reminder of the inflicted wounds that remain open and the memory that remains very much alive. All the flags, banners and stars in the world, all the inconvenient truths, dehumanizing myths of exceptionalism and litany of crimes, will never succeed in drowning out the truth or erasing the memories.

My grandmother is an intrepid survivor and living proof that neither the old nor the young will forget. She and survivors like her endure with a steadfastness that will live long after they’re gone. Their narratives may not be recorded in our history books but they have left indelible impressions that will remain inscribed in our hearts and minds.

The narratives of these survivors will continue to run through the veins of every Palestinian child who carries them in their blood. And so long as our hearts beat, the eloquent symbols of Palestinian life — resistance, resilience and hope — will continue to run strong.

No amount of fear-mongering, lip service or pontificating will ever keep these narratives of resistance from circulating, because becoming comfortable with our own silence and anesthetizing our minds to all that has passed will never be options.

After all, we are the children of generations of strength. Our grandparents and parents are refugees and survivors, and the blood of Deir Yassin courses through our veins. We are like the olive tree with its tenacious roots in the ground, remaining unshakable and determined to stand its ground with patience and a deeply-rooted desire to remain.

We will see a free and just Palestine because we will have a hand in making it so. Deir Yassin may have catalyzed our catastrophe but 65 years later it also continues to catalyze our devotion and enduring love for a people, a cause and a home that will never be relinquished or forgotten.

All images courtesy of Dina Elmuti.

Dina Elmuti is a social worker researching the impacts of chronic traumatic stress and violence on the physical, mental and pyschosocial health of children in Chicago and Palestine.

No, the USA don’t lose in any trade deal

The United States does not have a trade agreement with China, Not yet.

April 8, 2016 

Expanded trade with China over the past 15 years has cost the United States at least 2 million jobs.

Cracking down on trade with China, by taxing the cheap consumer goods shipped to our store shelves, could cost millions of additional jobs. That both of these things can be true is the conundrum of trade, the breakout issue of the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats have long debated globalization and its consequences in their primary campaigns, particularly in the Rust Belt, a tradition Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are continuing.

But Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are suddenly bashing trade, too.

On both sides, the issue has become a leading scapegoat for lost jobs and stagnating working-class wages, and rejiggering “bad” deals has become a common promise to restore middle-class prosperity. Many of the campaign promises, though, rest on myths. Here are the most egregious of them.

1. America is “losing” in bad trade deals, particularly with China.

“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal?” Trump asked in his campaign launch last summer, using a line he repeats in some form in nearly every public appearance. “They kill us.”

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan wrote this year that “to understand why Detroit [looks] as it does, while the desolate Shanghai Richard Nixon visited in ’72 is the great and gleaming metropolis of 2016, look to our trade deficits.”

The United States has increased trade with China over the past two decades, and that increase has cost more than 2 million U.S. jobs, according to calculations by a team of economists led by MIT’s David Autor.

There is a lot of evidence that the Chinese have manipulated their currency over much of that period, effectively making it easier for Americans to buy their products and harder for Chinese consumers to buy American products, thus artificially inflating the U.S. trade deficit.

(It’s worth noting that in the past year, China has allowed its currency to rise in value against the dollar.)

Still: The United States does not have a trade agreement with China, neither a bilateral or a multilateral deal — much less a good one or a bad one.

The two countries trade on baseline terms set by the World Trade Organization;

Trump has long criticized America’s decision under President Bill Clinton to agree to China’s entry to the WTO. If the next president wants to change those terms, he or she would need to enact change at the WTO (nearly impossible, in the short term), negotiate an agreement directly with the Chinese (not remotely on the table) or pressure China through other means, such as officially declaring it a currency manipulator (theoretically possible and relatively simple procedurally).

But when Trump says he would “immediately start renegotiating” America’s trade deal with China, he’s talking about something that doesn’t exist.

2. America is “losing” in auto trade with Japan.

In a Michael Crichton-esque throwback to the 1980s, Trump loves to toss Japan into his triad of great trade villains, along with China and Mexico — especially in terms of automobiles. “You look at Japan,” Trump told The Washington Post. “They send their cars in here by the hundreds of thousands. You go to Los Angeles, you look at those docks, and these cars get driven off those boats at 40 miles an hour. You’ve never seen anything like it. They just come pouring into our country.”

That’s a widely held view in former auto-manufacturing strongholds such as Michigan, where Japanese cars are still hard to find.

Such places have suffered “from car buyers’ turn away from patriotic consumerism,” author Edward McClelland argued in The Post last year.

But while it’s true that Japan exports cars to the United States, it doesn’t do that nearly as much as it used to, even though Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans dot the list of best-selling automobiles.

Today, many Japanese brands build vehicles in the United Statesmore than twice as many autos as those shipped from Japan into U.S. ports.

In the mid-’80s, America imported 3.5 million cars from Japanese factories every year. By 2013, those imports were down by 50 percent.

3. Getting tougher on trade would supercharge the U.S. economy.

Trump’s economic plan boils down to cutting taxes and renegotiating trade deals, including the nonexistent China agreement.

He told The Post he could generate revenue to pay off $19 trillion in federal debt within eight years without raising taxes.

“The power is trade,” Trump said. “Our deals are so bad.” Sanders suggests the same thing in calling for his own protectionist policies: “We should have a trade policy which represents the working families of this country, that rebuilds our manufacturing base.”

As leverage to cut better deals, Trump has threatened tariffs on China and Mexico. Sanders has also raised the threat of tariffs.

Economic models don’t generally predict that such ideas would rev up the U.S. economy, though — quite the opposite.

A model by Moody’s Analytics, prepared at the request of The Post, predicts that Trump-style tariffs would push our economy into recession and throw millions of Americans out of work. A more optimistic model, from economist J.W. Mason of the Roosevelt Institute, estimates that tariffs would probably reduce America’s gross domestic product by about 1 percent — not a huge effect but also not the growth boom that opponents of free trade predict.

4. Better deals would bring back lost factory jobs.

This is an explicit Trump promise that blue-collar workers would love to come true.

He’s not the only candidate who believes this: “I’m going to stand up for fair trade,” Sen. Ted Cruz said in an ad he aired before the Wisconsin primary this past week, “and bring our jobs back from China.”

But that argument rests on two dicey assumptions:

1. that companies would move production back to the United States in the event of a trade war and

2. that the “re-shored” production would create as many new jobs as were lost to begin with.

Many economists doubt that companies would move much factory work back from China. They wouldn’t be certain how long tariffs might last, for example, and wouldn’t want to be stuck with higher U.S. production costs if trade flows picked up again under a future president. They’re more likely, Moody’s economist Mark Zandi says, to move factories to Vietnam, Cambodia or other developing nations, unless America is set to restrict trade with all those countries, too.

And in any country, the trend in manufacturing is toward automation of production: Factory output has risen much faster in this recovery than employment has.

5. There’s no way this debate ends well for the American worker.

That’s the conclusion you might draw as economists and business leaders continue to insist that some lost jobs are an acceptable price to pay for the faster economic growth and cheaper consumer goods that trade brings to the country. “If we are not engaged in the global economy, we will lose more jobs,” Julie Granger, the senior vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, told McClatchy.“There’s no going back.”

But that’s myopic, too. An emerging consensus among trade-focused economists is that the United States needs to do a lot more to compensate the workers displaced by increased trade, through much more aggressive retraining or direct government subsidies to affected workers.

What those workers really need are new, good-paying jobs. Oddly enough, expanded trade of a different sort could help foster the creation of those jobs.

As the liberal economist Dean Baker frequently argues, large swaths of U.S. workers remain mostly shielded from foreign competition, thanks to various licensing requirements to work in their fields here. Those include many high-paid professionals, such as doctors and pharmaceutical executives.

Allowing more foreign-born professionals to compete with native-born Americans in those fields, Baker contends, would push salaries down for some of our highest-paid workers, and prices would fall for consumers.

Income inequality would shrink, the average worker would have more money to spend and the economy might run more efficiently. And perhaps more middle-class jobs really would rush into the economy — at Trump’s 40 miles per hour or otherwise.

Jim Tankersley covers economic policy for The Post. He’s from Oregon, and he misses it.


The Book. Burning The Book 

Note:  This poem was written more than 10 years ago and is relevant any time, anywhere.  

In any upheaval, books are burned first.  Next comes burning of people.  

1. Friend, I don’t resent that you found the Truth,

The whole truth, in a book, The Book, or a few books.

I don’t mind that your book is

About faith, sciences, or philosophy.

2. I want you to know that

I do enjoy total Certainty,

Certainly not for a lifetime.

I do enjoy complete comfort in the mind,

One night at a time.

I cherish reading a different book a day,

To disturb my soul a bit longer;

To sharpen my suspicion,

In your stand, a tad deeper.

3. I hear that you don’t mean

To abridge my liberty for seeking knowledge,

To impinge on my freedom of opinion,

To impress your truths on me,

To burn down my libraries,

To limit my range of personalities.

I like to believe that you don’t mean it;

But if you don’t, what do you really mean?




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