Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 29th, 2016

Democrats try to bury Palestine in middle of the night

In the early morning hours of 25 June, while many Americans were asleep, Hillary Clinton allies on the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee blocked a motion that called for an end to Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlement enterprise.

The vote came after several grueling hours of bickering between members named to the committee by Clinton and Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the one hand, and those appointed by Senator Bernie Sanders, on the other.

The video above shows highlights of the heated exchanges surrounding the vote.

Deeper struggles over Israel taking place within the party have been brought into the open since Sanders named prominent supporters of Palestinian rights to the committee that is writing the party’s general election platform.

Clinton, who appears likely to clinch the party’s presidential nomination after a hard-fought primary battle with Sanders, named members who back her staunch pro-Israel lin

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Despite the tragedy of the other guy winning, this is the platform of the presumptive democratic nominee:
“Clinton surrogates shot down motions endorsing universal health care, a carbon tax, stronger support for raising the minimum wage, forceful opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a moratorium on fracking.”
That’s Not even addressing the debate among delegates on calling the occupation of Palestine what it is.
Cornel West abstains from voting to support the platform, and drops the mic with “That’s how I roll.”

Sanders reps make passionate pleas, but are outvoted by Clinton surrogates. 

Dark of night

Throughout the day, Clinton surrogates shot down motions endorsing universal health care, a carbon tax, stronger support for raising the minimum wage, forceful opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and a moratorium on fracking.

While these defeats took place during the day, committee organizers waited until the dead of night to deliberate on issues related to Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

The vote appeared to be deliberately timed to garner as little attention as possible.

It was the very last section raised and by then it was nearly 1am.

Ironically, holding votes in the middle of the night has been a Republican tactic for passing right-wing measures with as little public scrutiny as possible.

But if the purpose in this case was to suppress public debate over Israel, it doesn’t seem to be working.

End the occupation

Arab American Institute president James Zogby, a Sanders appointee, introduced an amendment to revise the language in the Israel/Palestine section of the platform.

Zogby proposed deleting a drafted pledge to oppose so-called delegitimization of Israel at the United Nations or by the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

He also proposed removing a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.

Zogby pushed for wording that called for

1.  “an end to occupation and illegal settlements so that [Palestinians] may live in independence, sovereignty and dignity,”

2.  “an international effort to rebuild Gaza which the UN warns could be uninhabitable by 2020” and

3. recognition that Palestinians, like Israelis, “deserve security, recognition and a normal life free from violence, terror and incitement.”

Sanders “had direct input” in crafting the amendment, Zogby said, arguing, “the term occupation shouldn’t be controversial.”

Indeed, there was nothing radical about the amendment, which left the pledged US commitment to subsidizing Israel’s military machine and the reference to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” intact.

Even the supposedly liberal pro-Israel lobby group J Street did not object to the word occupation. Although the memo it circulated to members of the platform committee urged them to adopt language opposing BDS.

Champions of occupation

Clinton appointee Wendy Sherman, a lobbyist who effectively sells access to government officials, accused BDS and the UN of “creat[ing] anti-Semitism.”

Former congressman turned lobbyist Howard Berman framed opposition to Israel’s occupation as “one-sided” and suggested that Palestinians bear some responsibility for Israel’s illegal conduct.

Bonnie Schaefer, former joint-CEO of the jewelry chain Claire’s Stores, didn’t even bother addressing the issues raised in the amendment. Instead, she engaged in pinkwashing.

“As a gay Jewish Zionist, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, as we all know, the only place in the Middle East that I can walk down the street with my wife hand in hand and not be afraid,” Schaefer said.

A Clinton supporter and major donor to the Democratic Party, Schaefer was named to the committee by the DNC.

“Tell the truth”

Zogby fired back, while “you can go and walk down the street of Tel Aviv holding the hand of your wife, I can’t get in the airport without 7 hours of harassment because I’m of Arab descent.”

“We have to be able to call it what it is. It’s an occupation that humiliates people, that breeds contempt, that breeds anger and despair and hopelessness, that leads to violence,” Zogby added.

Civil rights activist and celebrated public intellectual Cornel West, an outspoken supporter of BDS appointed by Sanders, expressed outrage.

“When the IDF [Israeli army] kills innocent people, over 500 babies in 51 days, no matter how many shields they say Hamas uses, it’s wrong,” said West, referring to Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza.

The “Democratic Party must tell the truth,” West implored. “We can never fully respect the Palestinians unless we can name … the boot on their necks.”

“I come from a people who’ve been hated,” West added, drawing an analogy between the long history of denying the horrors inflicted on African Americans and the refusal to recognize the oppression of Palestinians.

The motion was nonetheless defeated in an 8-5 vote, with Sanders’ representatives being the only committee members to back it.

That vote, combined with other defeats throughout the day, prompted West to abstain from approving the platform altogether.

“[If] we can’t say a word about [Trans-Pacific Partnership], if we can’t talk about Medicare for all explicitly, if the greatest prophetic voice dealing with impending ecological catastrophe can hardly win a vote and if we can’t even acknowledge occupation as something that’s real in the lives of a slice of humanity … it just seems to me there’s no way in good conscience I can say take it to the next stage,” West said.

“I have to abstain. I have no other moral option, it would be a violation of my own limited sense of moral integrity and spiritual conscience,” he added. “That’s how I roll.”

West’s and Zogby’s advocacy for Palestinian rights has been so insistent that the Clinton wing of the party has attempted to neutralize them through the most cynical form of identity politicking.

“Concerned that Zogby and West’s viewpoint may be gaining traction at least in the public narrative, Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina representative and now a CNN commentator, sent a letter signed by 60 African American politicians around the country to the co-chairs of the platform committee last week urging them to stick to the traditional language on Israel,” CNN reported.

This move was meant as a “counterpoint to West, a prominent member of the Black community.”

Fundamental disconnect

“Even though ending Israeli military occupation and settlement building have been explicit US policy goals since the early days of the George W. Bush administration, and even though Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s Secretary of State tried to advance these goals, Clinton appointees to the Democratic National Committee’s platform drafting committee outvoted Sanders appointees to exclude these very same goals from the Democratic platform,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told The Electronic Intifada.

“As Dr. Jim Zogby, a Sanders appointee, noted in the debate last night there is a fundamental disconnect between official US policy and the unwillingness of the Democratic Party to back it,” Ruebner added.

The US Campaign is calling on activists to urge both the Republican and Democratic parties to support Palestinian rights in their platforms.

Who Am I? (2002)

The Earth:  Where death and life are.

The universe:  A monster wind whirling forever.

I:  The mind.

We:  The system.

We and I:  New species

Neither the I nor the We can communicate with these monster species.

Where is the beauty of being a misfit?

To those who feel like they don’t belong: there is beauty in being a misfit.

Author Lidia Yuknavitch shares her own wayward journey in an intimate recollection of patchwork stories about loss, shame and the slow process of self-acceptance.

“Even at the moment of your failure, you are beautiful,” she says. “You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That’s your beauty.”

Lidia Yuknavitch. Author. In her acclaimed novels and memoir, author Lidia Yuknavitch navigates the intersection of tragedy and violence to draw new roadmaps for self­-discovery. Full bio

Speech of Feb. 2016

So I know TED is about a lot of things that are big, but I want to talk to you about something very small. So small, it’s a single word.

The word is “misfit.” It’s one of my favorite words, because it’s so literal. I mean, it’s a person who sort of missed fitting in. Or a person who fits in badly. Or this: “a person who is poorly adapted to new situations and environments.” I’m a card-carrying misfit. And I’m here for the other misfits in the room, because I’m never the only one. I’m going to tell you a misfit story.

0:54 Somewhere in my early 30s, the dream of becoming a writer came right to my doorstep. Actually, it came to my mailbox in the form of a letter that said I’d won a giant literary prize for a short story I had written.

The short story was about my life as a competitive swimmer and about my crappy home life, and a little bit about how grief and loss can make you insane.

The prize was a trip to New York City to meet big-time editors and agents and other authors.

So kind of it was the wannabe writer’s dream, right? You know what I did the day the letter came to my house?

Because I’m me, I put the letter on my kitchen table, I poured myself a giant glass of vodka with ice and lime, and I sat there in my underwear for an entire day, just staring at the letter. I was thinking about all the ways I’d already screwed my life up. Who the hell was I to go to New York City and pretend to be a writer? Who was I?

Patsy shared TED link

 To those who feel like they don’t belong: there is beauty in being a misfit.

“Even at the moment of your failure, you are beautiful. You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That’s your beauty.”|By Lidia Yuknavitch

 I was a misfit. Like legions of other children, I came from an abusive household that I narrowly escaped with my life. I already had two epically failed marriages underneath my belt. I’d flunked out of college not once but twice and maybe even a third time that I’m not going to tell you about.

And I’d done an episode of rehab for drug use. And I’d had two lovely staycations in jail. So I’m on the right stage.

 But the real reason, I think, I was a misfit, is that my daughter died the day she was born, and I hadn’t figured out how to live with that story yet.

After my daughter died I also spent a long time homeless, living under an overpass in a kind of profound state of zombie grief and loss that some of us encounter along the way. Maybe all of us, if you live long enough.

You know, homeless people are some of our most heroic misfits, because they start out as us. So you see, I’d missed fitting in to just about every category out there: daughter, wife, mother, scholar. And the dream of being a writer was really kind of like a small, sad stone in my throat.

 It was pretty much in spite of myself that I got on that plane and flew to New York City, where the writers are.

Fellow misfits, I can almost see your heads glowing. I can pick you out of a room.

At first, you would’ve loved it. You got to choose the three famous writers you wanted to meet, and these guys went and found them for you. You got set up at the Gramercy Park Hotel, where you got to drink Scotch late in the night with cool, smart, swank people.

And you got to pretend you were cool and smart and swank, too. And you got to meet a bunch of editors and authors and agents at very fancy lunches and dinners. Ask me how fancy.

 I’m making a confession: I stole three linen napkins — from three different restaurants. And I shoved a menu down my pants.

I just wanted some keepsakes so that when I got home, I could believe it had really happened to me. You know?

 The three writers I wanted to meet were Carole Maso, Lynne Tillman and Peggy Phelan. These were not famous, best-selling authors, but to me, they were women-writer titans.

Carole Maso wrote the book that later became my art bible. Lynne Tillman gave me permission to believe that there was a chance my stories could be part of the world. And Peggy Phelan reminded me that maybe my brains could be more important than my boobs. They weren’t mainstream women writers, but they were cutting a path through the mainstream with their body stories, I like to think, kind of the way water cut the Grand Canyon.

 It nearly killed me with joy to hang out with these three over-50-year-old women writers. And the reason it nearly killed me with joy is that I’d never known a joy like that. I’d never been in a room like that.

My mother never went to college. And my creative career to that point was a sort of small, sad, stillborn thing. So kind of in those first nights in New York I wanted to die there. I was just like, “Kill me now. I’m good. This is beautiful.” Some of you in the room will understand what happened next.

First, they took me to the offices of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux was like my mega-dream press. I mean, T.S. Eliot and Flannery O’Connor were published there. The main editor guy sat me down and talked to me for a long time, trying to convince me I had a book in me about my life as a swimmer.

You know, like a memoir. The whole time he was talking to me, I sat there smiling and nodding like a numb idiot, with my arms crossed over my chest, while nothing, nothing, nothing came out of my throat. So in the end, he patted me on the shoulder like a swim coach might. And he wished me luck and he gave me some free books and he showed me out the door.

 Next, they took me to the offices of W.W. Norton, where I was pretty sure I’d be escorted from the building just for wearing Doc Martens. But that didn’t happen. Being at the Norton offices felt like reaching up into the night sky and touching the moon while the stars stitched your name across the cosmos. I mean, that’s how big a deal it was to me. You get it?

Their lead editor, Carol Houck Smith, leaned over right in my face with these beady, bright, fierce eyes and said, “Well, send me something then, immediately!” See, now most people, especially TED people, would have run to the mailbox, right? It took me over a decade to even imagine putting something in an envelope and licking a stamp.

On the last night, I gave a big reading at the National Poetry Club. And at the end of the reading, Katharine Kidde of Kidde, Hoyt & Picard Literary Agency, walked straight up to me and shook my hand and offered me representation, like, on the spot. I stood there and I kind of went deaf. Has this ever happened to you? And I almost started crying because all the people in the room were dressed so beautifully, and all that came out of my mouth was: I don’t know. I have to think about it.” And she said, “OK, then,” and walked away. All those open hands out to me, that small, sad stone in my throat …

 I’m trying to tell you something about people like me. Misfit people — we don’t always know how to hope or say yes or choose the big thing, even when it’s right in front of us. It’s a shame we carry. It’s the shame of wanting something good. It’s the shame of feeling something good. It’s the shame of not really believing we deserve to be in the room with the people we admire.

 If I could, I’d go back and I’d coach myself. I’d be exactly like those over-50-year-old women who helped me. I’d teach myself how to want things, how to stand up, how to ask for them. I’d say, “You! Yeah, you! You belong in the room, too.”

The radiance falls on all of us, and we are nothing without each other.

Instead, I flew back to Oregon, and as I watched the evergreens and rain come back into view, I just drank many tiny bottles of airplane “feel sorry for yourself.” I thought about how, if I was a writer, I was some kind of misfit writer.

What I’m saying is, I flew back to Oregon without a book deal, without an agent, and with only a headful and heart-ful of memories of having sat so near the beautiful writers. Memory was the only prize I allowed myself.

And yet, at home in the dark, back in my underwear, I could still hear their voices. They said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tries to get you to shut up or change your story.” They said, “Give voice to the story only you know how to tell.” They said, “Sometimes telling the story is the thing that saves your life.”

Now I am, as you can see, the woman over 50. And I’m a writer. And I’m a mother. And I became a teacher. Guess who my favorite students are.

Although it didn’t happen the day that dream letter came through my mailbox, I did write a memoir, called “The Chronology of Water.” In it are the stories of how many times I’ve had to reinvent a self from the ruins of my choices, the stories of how my seeming failures were really just weird-ass portals to something beautiful. All I had to do was give voice to the story.

There’s a myth in most cultures about following your dreams. It’s called the hero’s journey.

But I prefer a different myth, that’s slightly to the side of that or underneath it. It’s called the misfit’s myth. And it goes like this: even at the moment of your failure, right then, you are beautiful. You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That’s your beauty.

11:58 You can be a drunk, you can be a survivor of abuse, you can be an ex-con, you can be a homeless person, you can lose all your money or your job or your husband or your wife, or the worst thing of all, a child. You can even lose your marbles.

You can be standing dead center in the middle of your failure and still, I’m only here to tell you, you are so beautiful.

Your story deserves to be heard, because you, you rare and phenomenal misfit, you new species, are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would. And I’d be listening.

9 suicide bombers hit the town of al Qaa twice in a day

At 4:30 am, 4 suicide bombers successively detonated themselves amid the people coming to the rescue.

At 10 pm, another 4 suicide kids detonated themselves in front of a church preparing the next day funeral of the martyrs.

The town of Al Qa3 is on the north-east border with Syria in the Bekaa Valley

If al-Qaa were in Beirut, would we have cared more?

Although Lebanon has been witnessing a rather cautious calm for the past year in light of the wave of terrorist attacks that mostly targeted its capital Beirut and surrounding suburbs in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and which left scores of civilians dead, this calm was broken on Monday when 4 suicide bombers blew themselves up among a group of civilians in the village of al-Qaa in the Bekaa.

All victims were civilians, while three Lebanese soldiers were among the wounded, the mayor of al-Qaa told Voice of Lebanon.

“al-Qaa is the gateway to the rest of Lebanon, and here we stopped a plan for a much bigger explosion,” said mayor Bashir Matar.

According to the Lebanese Red Cross, at least 5 people were killed and 15 were wounded, 4 of whom are in critical condition. Voice of Lebanon identified them as: Joseph Lewis, Boulous al-Ahmarm, Joseph Fares, Faisal Aad and Majed Wahbe.

A claim of responsibility has yet to be made.

Al-Qaa is a predominantly Greek Catholic village that nears the border with Syria.

A tragic history:

2006 war

This is not the first time this seemingly forgotten village bore the brunt of conflicts.

In 2006, dozens were killed when an Israeli air strike hit Lebanese and Syrian farm workers filling a refrigerated container with boxes of produce. Casualties were mostly Syrian who come to the border village looking for work.

The attack against al-Qaa was the result of geographic contiguity as the town falls close Hermel, a Hezbollah stronghold, which was hit by at least three Israeli airstrikes during the July 2006 war.

Civil War

Three decades ago, plainclothes Syrian agents went door to door seeking men, who were abducted and killed in a notorious chapter of Lebanon’s civil war. The residents of the town were set to observe and commemorate the tragic event that occurred on June 28, 30 years ago.

They were left to fend for themselves in the past, in the same manner in which they are today.

Complex dynamics:

Although the late [Hafez al-Assad] Syrian regime and its Lebanese culprits are largely blamed for the 1978 al-Qaa massacre, the village’s nearly 2,000 Christians now side with the [Bachar al-Assad] regime due to the rise of Islamist extremists on its porous border.

To them it’s a choice “between the bitter and more bitter.”

Standing between the militants and the village are Lebanese soldiers aided by Hezbollah troops, whose men are also fighting with the Syrian army.

Lack of governmental attention:

The village, like many others lacks development and governmental attention.

The dysfunctional Lebanese State has so far failed to provide protection, apt development and assistance to towns like al-Qaa and neighboring Ras Baalbeck and Arsal, who have seen a large influx of Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict.

Lack of national attention:

The lack of governmental attention largely mirrors our own. Two weeks ago a bomb explosion rocked the Verdun neighborhood of Beirut. Although no casualties were reported, save for two slight injuries, the media ran amok with analyses, and hours of live broadcasts.

Social media also played a part in fueling the already brewing panic with many sharing warnings allegedly issued by foreign embassies, all of which remain unverified.

Beirut succeeded in stealing the media spotlight, and the interest of social media users alike, a phenomenon which has yet to repeat itself in the same scale when it comes to towns and villages that already suffer from neglect and poverty.

Perhaps therein lies the root cause of many of our problems. This skewed view that grants more attention, more compassion, more empathy for areas deemed as more vital, and less to others, has gravely contributed to division and instability within our nation. And while this is certainly understandable since Beirut is the capital city, perhaps it is time for us to look beyond our own interests.

If al-Qaa, Rass Baalbeck, Hermel, Arsal at al., were in Beirut, would we have cared more? It’s a question I ask myself.

Note: Close to Al Qa3 there is a huge Syrian refugee camp (37,000) that settled in what is called Masharee3 al Qa3.

The Lebanese army has entered this camp and declared that the suicide bombers were Syrians who crossed the border from Syria, probably from the large town of Ersal. Apparently, foreign powers have decided to extend the insecurity to Lebanon.




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