Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 2021

This hapless Buffer Zone of the pseudo-State of Lebanon.

Pseudo-citizens of Lebanon had to submit to all kinds of ignominious and murders for an entire century.

Mind you that Lebanon and Jordan Monarchy States were created before the State of Israel in order to become “buffer zones” for the “security” of the programmed creation of the colonial powers implanted colony of Israel in 1948. And both States delivered according to program.

At least Jordan is still in this program, but Hezbollah in Lebanon reshuffled the cards and became a mighty counter fighting power to Israel repeated aggressions on Lebanon.

Safia Saadi published her article in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar and she is a university professor and one of daughters of Leader Antoun Saadi who founded the Syria National Social Party in 1936 and was executed in 1948 without even a trial.

لبنان المنطقة العازلة

دور «لبنان الكبير»: بداياته ونهاياته

لو لم تقرّر بريطانيا العظمى إقامة مستعمرة استيطانية صهيونية على أرض فلسطين، إبان الحرب العالمية الأولى، لما وُجد «لبنان الكبير» عام 1920.

دور «لبنان الكبير» الأساسي تمحور، آنذاك، حول كيان مسيحي يُفترض به أن يلعب دور «منطقة عازلة» بين دولة «يهودية»، ودول إسلامية مجاورة.

وأكثر ما صبا إليه المستعمران الغربيان إلغاء أيّ فكرة لبناء دول وطنية / قومية من رؤوس سكّان المنطقة، والحفاظ على المبدأ الديني / الطائفي كهوية لها الأولوية المطلقة على كلّ ما عداها.

ساعد تاريخ السلطنة العثمانية الملي في تعبيد الطريق أمام الاستعمار البريطاني الذي لجأ إلى استقدام عائلة آل شريف الحسيني من الجزيرة العربية، وتنصيب أبنائها على دول الهلال الخصيب باسم الهوية الدينية ومركز العائلة الديني، شرط تنازلها عن فلسطين، أي أنّه لم يتم تعيين رؤساء عراقيين، أو سوريين، أو أردنيين، لقيادة بلادهم، بل استُقدمت عائلة من خارج المحيط «السوراقي» وهي مدجّنة بالكامل، ومنصاعة للإرادة البريطانية كونها لا تمثل شعباً، بل مجرّد رمز ديني.

أمام قصر الصنوبر في أول أيلول/ سبتمبر1920: اللقطة الشهيرة التي وثقت إعلان «دولة لبنان الكبير»، وبدا المندوب السامي الفرنسي هنري غورو متوسطاً البطريرك الياس الحويك والمفتي الأكبر الشيخ مصطفى نجا
في موازاة ذلك،

ومنذ منتصف القرن التاسع عشر، تعلّق العرب المسيحيون بالهوية العربية وأعادوا إحياء اللغة العربية، بعدما كانت العثمانية اللغة الرسمية، وباشروا في ما بعد بتحديد معالم القومية العربية، وكانوا على رأس الأحزاب القومية التي تتبنّى التراث العربي،

فوجد الغرب أنّ هذه التيارات القومية / الوطنية تمثّل تهديداً لوجوده الاستعماري، وبدأ بمحاربتها عبر تقسيم السكان في لبنان إلى مسلم ومسيحي.
منذ إنشاء لبنان – المنطقة العازلة – بدأ تركيب أيديولوجيا خاصّة بهذا الكيان المسيحي لفصله عن محيطه، فإذا به فينيقي الأصل، غربي الهوى، يتكلّم أبناؤه المسيحيون اللغة الفرنسية في منازلهم ومع أبنائهم، ويفاخرون في عدم تمكّنهم من اللغة العربية التي يأنفونها ويعتبرونها أدنى مستوى،

كما تُظهر أسماؤهم تعلّقهم بالحضارة الغربية، فهُم بيار وريمون وبول وجانيت وكوليت… وساهمت مدارس الإرساليات في ترسيخ هذا المفهوم ومعاقبة كل من يلفظ كلمة باللغة العربية، فتلاشى التيار العربي الذي كان سائداً بين المسيحيين حتى نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية وعمل الغرب على وأد هذه الفكرة،

ودعم التيار الذي يؤدلج إلى أنّ العربي هو مسلم بالضرورة، وبُتر تاريخ الحضارة العربية من جذوره الوثنية والمسيحية، وحتى الإلحادية، فلا هوية للعربي إلّا الإسلام،

ووقعت الدول العربية في فخ إلغاء نفسها وأصولها تماماً كما خطّط لها المستعمر الغربي. وها هي أعداد كبيرة من رجال الدين والحركات الإسلامية تنفي صفة العربي عن ما هو خارج دينها، وتحرّض على قتله، أي قتل الهوية الوطنية / القومية. وهذا تماماً ما حصل في خضم الحرب الأهلية عام 1975.
عمل الغرب الاستعماري، خلال الفترة الممتدة بين عامَي 1920 و1975، على دعم لبنان الكبير المسيحي والمنطقة العازلة التي هي بمثابة مساحة جغرافية تمتص ارتدادات المواجهة الإسلامية – اليهودية. ليس هذا فقط، بل أيضاً تحويل لبنان إلى منطقة ترانزيت وسوق عكاظ يتم عبر مصارفه الأجنبية تسييل النفط إلى دولارات، وتدجين أبناء النخب العربية عبر جامعاته الغربية، فيصبح المسلم متقبّلاً للغرب ومنقاداً له.

دور المدارس والجامعات الأجنبية
واكبت الإرساليات الأجنبية الهجمة الاستعمارية الغربية على المنطقة، وعملت على إثارة النزاعات الدينية المتطرّفة عبر التبشير الديني في المدارس، والتفرقة بين الطلاب المسيحيين والطلاب المسلمين كي لا تتبلور الأفكار والطروحات القومية التي تقود إلى اندماج المجتمع، وتهدّد الوجود الاستعماري،

فالوعي الوطني / القومي سيخلق وحدة بين جميع المكوّنات والفئات في ما يختص بالتمسك بالأرض واعتبارها مُلكاً لجميع المواطنين بمعزل عن دينهم.
كانت النتيجة أنّ الفئة الأكثر تعلّماً وتمرّساً في اللغات هي الفئة المسيحية التي انخرطت بكثافة في هذه الإرساليات، خصوصاً أنّ بعض هذه الإرساليات عمدت إلى التعليم المجاني لاستقطاب الطلّاب، كما أُنشئت جامعتان تبشيريتان أجنبيتان: الكلية السورية البروتستانية (الجامعة الأميركية في بيروت)، والجامعة اليسوعية التي أمّها الموارنة.

لن يؤدّي تمسّك السلطة التقليدية بالدور الذي لعبه «لبنان الكبير» في العقود الماضية إلّا إلى مزيد من الانهيار


بالرغم من أنّ غاية هذه المدارس هي التبشير، إلّا أنّ نوعية المواد والبرامج التعليمية كانت متفوّقة، ولا تزال، على كل المدارس العامة في دول المشرق العربي، ولهذا السبب تقاطر إليها المسلمون في ما بعد، كما المسيحيون.

هنا يبرز التناقض الأكبر: هذه مدارس وجامعات غرضها استمالة الطلاب لدولها الغربية، لكنّها في الوقت ذاته توفّر مستوى علمياً متفوّقاً، وفكراً يرتكز على المنطق والنقاش وهو ما ليس متوفّراً في المدارس العامّة، وبدلاً من أخذ الفكر العلمي وتبنّيه للتطوّر والتقدّم، نشأ تيار يرفض هذه المدارس الأجنبية، لكنّه في الوقت ذاته يشمل برفضه المنطق والعلم والعقل على أساس أنّه نتاج غربي!

الدور الاقتصادي
إنّ تركيبة الوفاق الوطني ما بين السنّة والموارنة، عام 1943، هي أيضاً صنيعة الغرب، وخصوصاً البريطانيين الذين كانوا يهدفون ليس فقط إلى إقامة منطقة عازلة تفصل بين المسلمين واليهود، بل أن يلعب لبنان دوراً اقتصادياً كمنطقة ترانزيت بين دول الخليج التي لا تزال في بداية تطوّرها العمراني،

فكان المرفأ والمطار والمصرف والجامعة، وكلّها في خدمة دول الخليج الثرية نفطاً، والمتخلّفة تنموياً.
وجد الغرب الاستعماري في لبنان واحة لتواجد استخباراته ولتدريب جواسيسه وتعليمهم اللغة العربية (مركز شملان مثلاً)، من دون أية عوائق أيديولوجية كون المارونية السياسية قد شدّدت في تعاملاتها الدولية على ترسيخ الهدنة بينها وبين إسرائيل،

كما عملت بعض النخب على الادّعاء بأنّ هذه الأخيرة ستأتي إلى نجدة لبنان في حال تعرّض لمضايقات سورية، وتأكيداً على حياده، رفض لبنان إلصاق أي هوية عربية به.
إنّ دور «لبنان الكبير»، المنطقة العازلة، والمهادِن لإسرائيل كما أراده سايكس وبيكو، عام 1920، انتهى مع بداية الحرب الأهلية عام 1975. حتى ذلك الوقت، كان الاعتقاد السائد بأنّ الأمور ستبقى على حالها في لبنان، وأنّ مآل القضية الفلسطينية هي التصفية، وأنّ الأردن سيكون الوطن البديل لهم.

لكنّ دحر الكفاح الفلسطيني المسلّح في الأردن عام 1970 في ما عرف بـ»أيلول الأسود»، وانتقال «منظمة التحرير» الفلسطينية مع مقاتليها إلى لبنان غيّرا دور هذا البلد، فلم يعد منطقة عازلة ومحايدة ومهادنة، بل أرض مواجهة وتحدٍّ، ما أدّى إلى انهيار دور لبنان المصرف – المرفأ – المطار – الجامعة، واختفاء أبناء وبنات النخب العربية الذين كانوا يؤمّون الجامعات والمدارس، واضمحلال الطبقة الوسطى المسيحية بعدما سارع شبّانها وشابّاتها إلى مغادرة لبنان بشكل نهائي.
قضت الحرب الأهلية على الدور الذي لعبه الكيان المسيحي كمنطقة عازلة، وتدخّلت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من أجل مواصلة الهيمنة عليه، لكن هذه المرة عبر السُّنّة فكان الاتفاق الأميركي – السعودي – السوري، وإنتاج دستور جديد (اتفاق الطائف) ينزع الكثير من صلاحيات المسيحيين ويعادلهم بالمسلمين.

ومنذ عام 1990 وحتى عام 2005، أصبحت السعودية، عبر رئيس الوزراء رفيق الحريري، هي التي تقود البلاد بدعم أميركي واضح، لكنّ دور لبنان المسهّل للاندماج مع الغرب انتقل إلى الإمارات وعلى رأسها دبي، وافتتحت أهم الجامعات الأميركية فروعاً لها في دول الخليج لتأمين الكادرات التي ستعمل لاحقاً في بلدها.
ركّز رفيق الحريري سياساته على الدور السياحي للبنان، وعمل على تأمين كلّ المقوّمات المطلوبة من أجل هذه الغاية، وكان مؤمناً بأنّ الصراع العربي – الإسرائيلي قاب قوسين أن ينتهي بفضل السيطرة الأميركية على العالم إثر سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي، وقبول الدول العربية المعنية بالمشاركة في مؤتمر مدريد، كما واعتراف «منظمة التحرير» الفلسطينية بإسرائيل في أوسلو.

اعتقد الحريري بأنّ الهيمنة الأميركية نهائية، وبنى سياساته على هذا الأساس، خصوصاً أنّ أهم مفكري العصر أدلَجوا للانتصار المطلق للولايات المتحدة الأميركية و»نهاية التاريخ».
لم يدم استقرار الوضع في لبنان أكثر من عقد من الزمن، ففي عام 2006، حاولت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية قلب الطاولة لمصلحة إسرائيل، لكنّها فشلت في كسر محور المقاومة، كما فشلت من قبل في العراق (2003)، ومن بعد في سوريا (2011)،

ومع تبوّؤ ترامب للرئاسة تغيّر التكتيك الأميركي باتجاه إقامة جبهة مكوّنة من دول الخليج العربي وإسرائيل في مواجهة محور المقاومة الممتد من إيران إلى لبنان، ما قضى على دور لبنان السياحي والمالي الذي كان ينشده الحريري. إنّ إقامة بعض الدول الخليجية علاقات طبيعية مع إسرائيل، أدى إلى النتائج التالية:
أولاً، نهاية دور «لبنان الكبير» كما خُطّط له عام 1920، فلم تعد الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بحاجة إليه، فحتى لو عاد لبنان واصطف مع دول الخليج كالبحرين والإمارات، كما يأمل العديد من المتمسّكين بدوره القديم، فإنّه لن يعود إلى وضعه السابق المميّز والفاصل بين «مسلمين» و»يهود».
ثانياً، إنّ الضغوطات والعقوبات التي مارسها ترامب على لبنان تهدف إلى تركيعه وانصياعه لإسرائيل، أسوة ببعض الدول الخليجية، إلّا أنّ الثمن الذي سيدفعه لبنان، بعكس تلك الدول، يمسّ سيادته، وأرضه، وماءه، ونفطه. فلإسرائيل أطماع في الأرض اللبنانية صرّحت بها علناً منذ إنشائها عام 1948؛ فهي تريد ضم الأراضي اللبنانية للاستيلاء على الماء،

ومع الانحباس الحراري أصبح هذا المطلب قضية حياة أو موت لها. كذلك الأمر بالنسبة إلى النفط والغاز والحدود البرية والمائية، المتداخلة مع فلسطين المحتلّة، ولولا وجود مقاومة شعبية لاستولت إسرائيل على الغاز وبدأت بإرساله إلى أوروبا.
ثالثاً، بما أنّ بعض دول الخليج أخذت دور لبنان الكبير وفاقته ترحيباً بالمستوطنين الإسرائيليين، لم تعد ثمة حاجة لمرفأ بيروت، ومن الأرجح الاستعاضة عنه بمرفأ حيفا السليب. كذلك، لم يعد من حاجة إلى تطبيع العلاقات بين الغرب والجزيرة العربية،

فالجامعات الغربية افتُتحت فيها، وأصبح أهل الجزيرة متعلّمين وملمّين باللغات الأجنبية، أما أولاد الأثرياء فما عادوا يأنفون من متابعة دراساتهم في الدول الغربية، كما انتفت الحاجة إلى توظيف أموالهم في لبنان.
رابعاً، حتى المهارات اللبنانية والمتخصّصة في الحقول شتّى أصبحت متواجدة في دول الخليج لثرائها، وإمكانية العيش برفاهية في أرجائها، ولا رغبة لها بالعودة إلى لبنان، بل أصبحت تنتقل من الخليج إلى الغرب للإقامة الدائمة،

وقد ترى في القريب العاجل منافسة شديدة لطردها من قبل الكفاءات «الإسرائيلية».
يقودنا ذلك إلى الاستنتاج بأنّ تمسّك السلطة التقليدية بالدور الذي لعبه «لبنان الكبير» في العقود الماضية، لن يقود إلّا إلى مزيد من الانهيار، لأنّ هذا الدور انتهى، ودوره اليوم بالنسبة إلى الغرب هو منع وصول أيّ دولة من الجبهة الشرقية إلى شواطئ البحر المتوسط، لأنّ ذلك يهدّد مصالحها. هو،

إذن، ساحة صراع قد يمتدّ لسنوات طويلة بين قوى متعدّدة الأقطاب، وفي خضمّ هذه المواجهة الشرسة سيقع على كاهل لبنان استنباط قيادات جديدة، واعية، تستطيع استشراف المستقبل لتبنّي خططها على هذا الأساس.

* أستاذة جامعية

Revolution will not be funded: NGO-ization of Palestine, Ford Foundation

Posted November 22, 2013

While NGO-ization is a more recent phenomenon, it is part of a legacy of outside interests attempting to shape a liberation struggle in a way that support imperial forces rather than the Palestinian people.

While many organizations have responded to such pressures by abandoning their principles for expediency’s sake, INCITE! instead responded in two ways:

1. it engaged in a revision of its fundraising strategies, looking for more grassroots sources rather than foundations; and

2. it organized an anthology of essays by activists and organizers that addresses the “deleterious effects foundations can have on radical social justice movements.

The essays are collected and published under the title, The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

YAMAN  posted in Kabobfest this JANUARY 21, 2010

The NGOization of Palestine

In 2004, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence received an e-mail from the Ford Foundation.

In the e-mail, the foundation rescinded a $100,000 grant it had awarded the group, explaining “that it had reversed its decision because of the organization’s statement of support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.”

The collection is a rigorous analysis and interrogation of the non-profit 501(c)(3) model of organizing. The political costs associated with such forms of incorporation and the loss of accountability associated with a duty towards large donors rather than the constituencies that organizers purport to care about.

The essays study how large foundations — like the Ford Foundation, which was funded in part by the CIA [Edit: To clarify the foundation itself was not funded by the CIA but some of its grants were. Moreover there was extensive collaboration between CIA and Ford Foundation during the Cold War.]– control social justice movements through the power of the purse.

The essays are an important and thought provoking read for all US-based activist concerned with social justice, and even those on the verge of graduation who believe that non-profit work is the most progressive route for change.

Having attended the Al Fakhoora Student Conference in Doha last weekend, I am posting an excerpt of the chapter The NGOization of Palestine, which includes interviews with Professor Hatem Bazian of American Muslims for Palestine, Professor Zeina Zaatari of the Global Fund for Women, and Atef Said an Egyptian human rights lawyer.

Having attended, I thought it worthwhile to consider the issues raised in these interviews and by the book in general.

How have non-profits impacted Palestinian and other Arab liberation struggles?

Hatem Bazian: NGOs control the purse strings. Through this funding or through the staff they hire, they assert their political agenda. For example, the largest coalition of organizations that work on Palestine do not insist on US divestment from Israel or devote organizing resources into achieving this agenda.

But look at the solidarity movements that developed around apartheid South Africa and Central America: they made divestment central to their struggle.

These movements recognized that economic sanctions and pressure are central to change a government’s policies. When it comes to Palestine, NGOs do not want to offend certain segments of the liberal Zionist community.

So they shift their focus to changing Israel’s mind without making Israel suffer. This kind of strategy was dismissed as ineffectual in the South African and Central American solidarity movements.

The Palestinian struggle (which does not differentiate between land stolen from Palestinians in 1948 and land stolen in 1967) has demanded the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and calls for Palestine to be a complete whole.

(Mind you the UN decision in 1947 divided Palestine into 2 States. While the Jews were barely 40%, they were given 57% of the land)

But today, almost all NGOs and foundations call for a “two-state solution” that insists Israel, as it’s currently constructed, must exist as is, and that Palestinians must learn to accept colonization and occupation.

The two-state solution defends Israel’s “right” to define itself on racially exclusivity criteria, and hence exist as a racially apartheid state.  

By proposing that Palestine exist as a divided, demilitarized state whose resources are fully controlled by Israel, this approach effectively eliminates the possibility of Palestinians having a real state that encompasses their historical and international rights. In other words, this “solution” would essentially dispense with the 6 million Palestinian refugees.

In other solidarity movements, there is often the understanding that they exist to support liberation struggles, not to dictate the terms of those struggles. However, when it comes to Palestine, NGOs feel they have the right to tell Palestinians what to do.

In their framework, the problem is Not Israeli colonization and occupation; the problem is that Palestinians need to be trained to develop “civil society” and learn to cooperate with Israel.

Consequently, funding is often focused on developing joint “Israeli-Palestinian” ventures and projects rather than address the issue of occupation.

The NGOization of the solidarity movement in the US has been so thorough that anyone who criticizes this position is silenced and marginalized.

(For instance, in the Bay Area there used to be an annual demonstration for Peace, Jobs, and Justice throughout the 1980s, and No speakers on Palestine were allowed to speak , Nor they supported the two-state solution.)

Without exception, every foundation that funds work on Palestine (from the most conservative to the most “progressive”) does so from the understanding that Israel, as it currently exists, should stay intact, and the solution is to change Palestinians aso that they will adapt to their colonial situation.

For instance, the [Open Society Institute] wants to bring Palestinian intellectuals to the US to “train them.Train them to do what?

Train them to see the situation in the way the US does and facilitate the continued colonization of Palestine?

Zeina Zaatari: Organizations that are able to operate and function and have enough resources to hire staff–these organizations are careful and strategic about what they say. There are lines they do not cross, or else they are penalized.

United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) has more foundation support than Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), although both coalition efforts organize against war.

A big  difference is that ANSWER includes Arab organizations with a clear political view, groups UPFJ doesn’t invite into its leadership.

Basically, it is not okay for organizations to address Zionism or historic Palestine. You can talk about occupation, but you cannot talk about discrimination within the Israeli state or the right to return.

For instance, San Francisco Women Against Rape lost funding when it started to address the issue of Zionism in its organization. On the issue of Lebanon, it is okay to send money for support services, but it is not okay to talk about liberation.

If you talk about violence, you must denounce the liberation movement in Lebanon; you cannot focus on the violence perpetrated by Israel. 

Follow the money track, and it’s clear that foundations are driving these and other political agendas.

For another example of how deeply foundation funding impacts this movement, compare the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) with the National Council of Arab Americans.

The ADC works with the FBI, supports US interventions in Afghanistan, does not take clear stands on Palestine, and works with US government officials (such as Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright) who are responsible for killing our people. Its focus is to make Arabs acceptable to the mainstream US, not grassroots organizing.

Meanwhile, The National Council of Arab Americans calls for an end to the colonization of Palestine, addresses Zionism, and does not support the two-state solution. Consequently, it has a much more difficult time getting funding. Additionally, as a result of the Patriot Act, even individuals are afraid to support Arab liberation organizations because they are targeted by the US government.

Atef Said: In Egypt, NGOization often competes with grassroots organizing  work. or instance, in labor organizing, NGOs encourage workers not to clash with business owners, thus pacifying labor struggles.

Sadly, most NGO leaders were previously involved in the country’s Left movements, but were seduced into the NGO world  because they can be funded (including personal benefits like travel and luxury hotel accommodations) and incur less trouble with the establishment.

A significant problem with this model, of course, is that NGOs depend on foundations for their resources, not the people.

Thus, they spend little if any time organizing and are instead accountable only to their funders. For example, since NGOs err dependent on foundation support, directors of NGOs focus on quantity rather than quality of work (that is publish  more reports in less time).

In 1997 and 1998, I started to observe from my work in these human rights NGOs that they are a bit isolated, and while they claim to defend people’s human rights, they are not invested in the question of social change and social justice.

For instance, if we look at the case of workers who are fired or o n strike–a labor organizer would work with them to continue their activism and organization. But the NGO legal aid staffer would ask to be authorized legally to sue the employer on the worker’s behalf. In other words, the NGO asks the worker to stop her/his activism: “Go home and just authorize me to sue him.

After 1998, I continued to work in these NGOs with no big hope that they will really do genuine human rights work. I started to work voluntarily with labor as well as the Palestine solidarity movement, and it  became clear that my work for human rights NGOs was just a paid job.

On the positive side, because of growing social movement that are not NGOized, particularly those in support of Palestine, some NGOs are focusing more on grassroots work, even if it impacts their funding.

Historically, how has the NGOization of the Palestinian struggle developed?

Hatem Bazian: Beginning in the 18th century, Christian missionary workers emerged in the middle East and set about influencing policy through education. Banking institutions also developed that became involved with Christian elites.

European countries, in turn, often claimed themselves as the protectors of Christians in the area to justify political intervention in the region. Using educational exchange programs, England, France, and later, the US aspired to create an elite within the region that would support their interests.

After Israel was created in 1948, the Palestinian liberation movement was often shaped by Arab states. They tried to control the movement and its interaction with Israel so that it would not negatively impact their diplomatic relations with Western countries.

The PLO, which was constructed from outside Palestine,  mirrored the authoritarian structure and corruption of the neo-colonial Arab states. However, since the uprising of the 1980s, the shaping of this movement has shifted from outside Palestine to inside of it.

It is now less susceptible to being co-opted into the Arab state structure and can assert a different vision for struggle. This vision, of course, is fluid and the movement has diverse sectors.

After the 1970s, NGOs emerged as key shapers of the movement. But they too attempted to influence the movement in ways that accorded with US and Western interests.

So, while NGOization is a more recent phenomenon, it is part of a legacy of outside interests attempting to shape a liberation struggle in a way that support imperial forces rather than the Palestinian people.

Zeina Zaatari: Oslo helped set the framework for what is and is not acceptable. Pre-Oslo, or during the first intifada, political movements were still strong, organizing within Palestine, and, to a lesser extent, in refugee camps outside Palestine.

But Oslo isolated the Palestinian issue as unrelated to larger Arab-Israeli conflicts, and transformed the movement by shifting its focus from liberation to statehood  and from decolonization to peace.

Funders supported the Oslo agenda by rewarding projects concerned with mutual coexistence, and forced the collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian groups.

Within Palestine, organizations previously concerned with a broader vision for justice — such as freedom for historic Palestine ,the right of return, and the land — turned their attention to smaller issues such as social services and other structures necessary for statehood, representational politics, and constitutional development.

Donors put much money behind this kind of work, and the work of liberation became much more compartmentalized: for instance, the issue of refugees became separated from the larger liberation struggle, its emphasis redirected in the post-Oslo political and funding climate from the right of return to humanitarian relief.

“A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson (written on September 25, 2007)

To make the protein called “collagen” you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence which means you need 1,055 spinning wheels with 20 symbols in each wheel to coincide exactly for the jackpot! Thus, the odd that any protein was formed by hazard is nil.

Any protein cannot reproduce itself and it needs DNA, which is a whiz in replicating itself.

DNA can do nothing but replicate proteins. And proteins are useless without DNA.  Are we to assume that these two organisms arose simultaneously with the purpose of supporting each other?

No atom or molecule has achieved life independently; it needs some sort of membrane to contain them so that they come together within the nurturing refuge of a cell

Without the chemicals, the cell has no purpose. 

It is little wonder that we call it the miracle of life. 

Forming amino acids is Not the problem because if we expose water to ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and methane gases and introduce some electrical sparks, as a stand-in for lighting, then within days you will have amino acids, fatty acids, sugar and other organic compounds.

What was needed is a process of a few of these amino acids to procreate and then cluster to discover some additional improvement.

What do we know about cells so far?

A single cell splits to become two and after 47 doublings you have 10 thousand trillion cells and ready to spring forth as a human being.  Each cell carries a copy of the complete genetic code, the instruction manual for your body, and it knows far more about you that you do, and is devoted in some intensively specific way to your overall well-being.

The human body has at least a few hundred types of cells and they vary in shape, size, and longevity; we have nerve cells, red blood cells, photocells, liver cells that can survive for years, brain cells that last as long as we live and they don’t increase from the day we are born but 500 die every single hour, and so forth.  The components within a cell are constantly renewed so that everything in us is completely renewed every nine years.

The outer casing of a cell is made up of lipid or light grade of machine oil but on the molecular level it is as strong as iron, then the nucleus wherein resides the genetic information and the busy space called cytoplasm. The cell contains about a thousand power plants or mitochondria that convert processed food and oxygen into ATP molecules or battery packs.

A cell would use up one billion ATP molecules in two minutes or half the body weight every day. The electrical energy activities in a cell is about 0.1 volts traveling distances in the nanometers; or when this number is scale up it is the equivalent of 20 million volts per meter or the amount of what a thunderstorm is charged.

Each strand of DNA is damaged 10,000 times a day and swiftly repaired, if the cell is not to perish by a command received from a hormone. When a cell receives the order to die then it quietly devour its components. For example, nitric oxide is a formidable toxin in nature but cells are tremendous manufacturers of this substance which control blood flow, the energy level in cells, attacking cancerous cells, regulating the sense of smell, and penile erection among other things.

Our body contains 200,000 different types of protein and we barely understand a tiny fraction of them. 

Enzymes are a type of protein with tasks to rebuild molecules and marking the damaged pieces and other protein for processing. 

A cell might contain 20,000 different types of protein.

In the 1860s, Louis Pasteur showed that life cannot arise spontaneously, but come from pre-existing cells. 

Israel destroys nature reserve, uproots 10,000 trees

January 28, 2021

The Israeli army yesterday destroyed a natural reserve and uprooted at least 10,000 trees in a military campaign in the northern West Bank in a move that Palestinians termed a “crime”.

Moataz Bisharat, who is responsible for monitoring Israeli settlement activity in the Jordan Valley, told Anadolu Agency that the occupation army pushed military vehicles and dozens of soldiers into the Ainun area in Tubas city in the morning and destroyed a nature reserve built on an area of about 400 dunums (98 acres).TUBAS, WEST BANK - JANUARY 27: Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians after trees were destroyed by Israeli forces in Tubas, West Bank, January 27, 2021. Israeli forces destroyed thousands of trees in the woods on the grounds that they were at the military exercise area. ( Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency )Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians after trees were destroyed by Israeli forces in Tubas, West Bank, January 27, 2021. [Nedal Eshtayah – Anadolu Agency]

The occupation army “chopped down and destroyed about 10,000 forest trees and about 300 olive trees,” he said.

Trees were planted in the nature reserve 8 years ago as part of the Greening Palestine project supervised by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and funded by the Venezuelan consulate in Palestine.

Bisharat stressed that the occupation alleged that the destruction of the reserve came as it was classed as a military zone even though it was Not more than 300 metres away from residential areas and it served as an “outlet” for residents.

In a statement, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Colonisation and Wall Resistance Commission said Israel “has formed a special unit whose mission is to wage war on the Jordan Valley.”

Caught between covid and settlers: How a West Bank school is struggling to survive

“A security apparatus has been formed to oversee construction and agriculture in Area C and it has undertaken to wipe out the Palestinian presence,” the statement read.

The commission described the incident as “a crime and a campaign of eliminating trees, buildings, livestock and sources of income.”

What is happening, it added, is “part of a war waged by a terrorist Israel State that is burning green areas.”

Caught between covid and settlers: How a West Bank school is struggling to survive

The Palestinian commission called for “international protection for the Palestinian presence in Area C,” calling on the international community to stop discrimination in dealing with the crimes of the Israeli occupation.

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“A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson, (part 1)

Posted on October 22, 2008 (written on September 25, 2007 before joining wordpress.com)

This is a voluminous book of 575 pages that describes and explains the scientific achievements that tried to comprehend Earth and the life processes.

I will try to summarize the discoveries chronologically, each discipline taken separately such as physics, chemistry, and geology and so forth. 

It is a long undertaking but it would be useful for me in this assimilation process and quick review of science on the march, to explain, and to conquer.

The manuscript is divided into 6 parts: lost in the Cosmos, the size of the earth, the new age, dangerous planet, life itself, and the road to us.  I am including a few quotations of scientists that preface each main part.

A few quotes might set the tone:

Hans Christian von Baeyer in “Taming the atom“:

The physicist Leo Szilard announced to Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: “I don’t intend to publish.  I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God”   Bethe asked him: “Don’t you think God knows the facts?”   Szilard replied: “God knows the facts, but Not this version of the facts

The Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy describing the solar system:

They’re all in the same plane. They’re all going around in the same direction.  It’s perfect, you know.  It’s gorgeous. It’s almost uncanny”.

Alexander Pope in an epitaph intended for Sir Isaac Newton: ” Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said: “Let Newton be!” and all was light”

An anonymous: “A physicist is the atoms’ way of thinking about atoms”

The British geologist Derek V. Alger: “The history of any one part of the Earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror

Freeman Dyson: “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming

Remark of the wife of the Bishop of Worcester after Darwin’s theory of evolution was explained to her: “Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is Not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known”

Byron in “Darkness”: “I had a dream which was not all a dream

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander…”

Lonely planet

Earth is not the easiest place to be an organism, even if it is the only place in our nearest galaxies. 

The portion of land mass or continental area we are able to live in is only about 12% because we are not adaptable to hot or very cold weather.  Apparently, the most recent super volcano eruptions occurred at Toba in Northern Sumatra, about 74,000 years ago and almost annihilated human kind.

Maybe a thousand human survived, which account for the lack of our genetic diversity.

Greenland ice cores show that the Toba blast was followed by at least six years of “volcanic winter” and many poor growing seasons after that. 

There are currently 13 active super volcanoes and Yellowstone in the USA is the only continental one.  Yellowstone is estimated to erupt every 600, 000 years and is ready for another of his monstrous feat; the last eruption was estimated to spew enough ash to bury the State of California under 6 meters of ash

Ash covered the whole western states of the USA and a large part of Canada.

We belong to the portion of living things that decided 400 million years ago to crawl out of the sea and become land-based and oxygen-breathing creatures. 

We abandoned the vast seas for a more restricted area with the advantage that we can climb over 7000 meters and live at very high altitude while the feat of the Italian Umberto Pelizzari recorded 72 meters under water.  We cannot bear the pressure of the water; for every 10 meters of depth we add one atmosphere.

A few professional divers, aided by weight to descend up to 150 meters, their lungs are compressed to the dimensions of a Coke can

Since our body is mostly water and water cannot be compressed by water, it is the gases in our body that is fatal in the depths.  At a specific depth, Nitrogen in our system starts to bubble and enter our bloodstream and obstruct the tiny blood vessels, depriving cells of oxygen.

Human technology was able to send a diving vessel to the deepest point in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific at 11.3 kilometers down; they discovered a type of crustacean similar to shrimp but transparent.  There are particular microbes that thrive in water at temperature over 70 degrees Celsius.

Observers have identified two dozen fortunate breaks we have had on Earth to create the living organism. 

If the Sun was larger it would have exhausted its fuel before Earth could be formed because the larger the star the more rapidly it burns.  If we were two light minutes closer to the Sun we would be like planet Venus that cannot sustain life; Venus surface temperature is 470 degrees Celsius and all its water has evaporated driving hydrogen away into space.

If we were 1% further from the Sun we would be like frozen Mars. If our core didn’t contain molten liquid we would not have magnetism to protect us from cosmic rays.  If our tectonic plates didn’t collide to produce more gases and continually renew and rumple the surface with mountains then we would be under 4,000 meters of water.

If our moon was not large enough, one fourth the size of Earth, then Earth would be wobbling like a dying top with unstable climate and weather.

It is to be noted that the Moon is slipping away at a rate of 4 centimeters a year, relinquishing its gravitational hold.  If comets didn’t strike Earth to produce the Moon or asteroid to wipe out the Dinosaurs or if we didn’t enjoy enough stability for a long time, human would not be what they are.

Earth contains 92 naturally occurring elements and barely 6 of them are of central importance to life.

Of every 200 atoms in our body, 126 are hydrogen, 51 are oxygen, 19 are carbon, 3 are nitrogen and the remaining atom is divided among all the other elements such as iron to manufacture hemoglobin, Cobalt for the creation of vitamin B12, Potassium and Sodium for the transmission of electrical charges in the nerves, Molybdenum, manganese and vanadium to keep the enzymes purring and Zink to oxidize alcohol.

Oxygen is the most abundant element on Earth crust of about 50%, then silicon, and aluminum the fourth.  Carbon is only the 15th most common element or 0.05% of Earth crust, but is the most promiscuous since it adheres to almost every atom and holds extremely tight, and is the very trick of nature to build proteins and DNA.

What we marvel at is not that Earth is suitable to life but that it is suitable to our life. 

A big part that Earth seems so miraculously accommodating is that we evolved to suit its severe conditions. 

When elements don’t occur naturally on earth, like plutonium, we have evolved zero tolerance for them.  Selenium is vital to all of us but is toxic at a little higher level. Even tiny doses of arsenic, lead, copper and other natural elements we have managed to tolerate, but industrialization is not allowing the natural tolerance process in evolution to absorb these huge amounts of noxious elements in our artificial environment.

The building blocks of life might be the 20 amino acids that combine in certain sequences to form the 700,000 kinds of proteins in our body; the number of proteins discovered is increasing and might be in the range of one million kinds.

Hemoglobin is only a chain of 146 amino acids long, a runt by protein standards in length, and yet it offers 10 at an exponent of 190 possible amino-acid combinations in order to have the exact sequence of the different kinds of amino acids.

To make the protein called “collagen” you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence which means you need 1,055 spinning wheels with 20 symbols in each wheel to coincide exactly for the jack pot! Thus, the odd that any protein was formed by hazard is nil.

Any protein cannot reproduce itself and it needs DNA, which is a whiz in replicating itself.

DNA can do nothing but replicate proteins. And proteins are useless without DNA.  Are we to assume that these two organisms arose simultaneously with the purpose of supporting each other?

No atom or molecule has achieved life independently; it needs some sort of membrane to contain them so that they come together within the nurturing refuge of a cell

Without the chemicals, the cell has no purpose. 

It is little wonder that we call it the miracle of life. 

Forming amino acids is Not the problem because if we expose water to ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and methane gases and introduce some electrical sparks, as a stand-in for lighting, then within days you will have amino acids, fatty acids, sugar and other organic compounds.

What was needed is a process of a few of these amino acids to procreate and then cluster to discover some additional improvement.

What do we know about cells so far?

A single cell splits to become two and after 47 doublings you have 10 thousand trillion cells and ready to spring forth as a human being.  Each cell carries a copy of the complete genetic code, the instruction manual for your body, and it knows far more about you that you do, and is devoted in some intensively specific way to your overall well-being.

The human body has at least a few hundred types of cells and they vary in shape, size, and longevity: we have nerve cells, red blood cells, photocells, liver cells that can survive for years, brain cells that last as long as we live and they don’t increase from the day we are born but 500 die every single hour, and so forth. 

The components within a cell are constantly renewed so that everything in us is completely renewed every nine years.

The outer casing of a cell is made up of lipid or light grade of machine oil but on the molecular level it is as strong as iron, then the nucleus wherein resides the genetic information and the busy space called cytoplasm. The cell contains about a thousand power plants or mitochondria that convert processed food and oxygen into ATP molecules or battery packs.

A cell would use up one billion ATP molecules in two minutes or half the body weight every day.

The electrical energy activities in a cell is about 0.1 volts traveling distances in the nanometers; or when this number is scale up it is the equivalent of 20 million volts per meter or the amount of what a thunderstorm is charged.

Each strand of DNA is damaged 10,000 times a day and swiftly repaired, if the cell is Not to perish by a command received from a hormone.

When a cell receives the order to die then it quietly devour its components. For example, nitric oxide is a formidable toxin in nature but cells are tremendous manufacturers of this substance which control blood flow, the energy level in cells, attacking cancerous cells, regulating the sense of smell, and penile erection among other things.

Our body contains 200,000 different types of protein and we barely understand a tiny fraction of them. 

Enzymes are a type of protein with tasks to rebuild molecules and marking the damaged pieces and other protein for processing. 

A cell might contain 20,000 different types of protein.

In the 1860s, Louis Pasteur showed that life cannot arise spontaneously, but come from pre-existing cells. 

Nothing changed: Bi-Weekly report (#28)

Posted on:August 7, 2009

Walid Jumblatt has exited from the March 14 alliance (opposing Hezbollah and those seeking Syria support or March 8 alliance) two days ago: he has 11 deputies in the Lebanese Parliament.

Simple arithmetic shows that the previous majority in the Parliament is now the minority. The designated Saad Hariri PM failed to form a government in over 45 days while he was the leader of the majority. 

The President of the Republic should recall all the political blocks to designate another person for the job.

Walid Jumblatt exit is not solely based on political divergences but mainly on his apprehension that the delay in forming the government is encouraging Israel to start another wave of political assassinations to destabilize Lebanon in this extended political vacuum

Actually, for two months Israel has been escalating its war threats in frequent speeches and in actions along Lebanon’s south borders.  After Jumblatt split from his previous alliance, Israel toned down its threats.

Israel never dared launched its frequent offensive wars on any people that is united under unity national governments.

Walid Jumblatt knows that in matter of Lebanon internal security, in the balance, Syria out weight all the world States diplomacy combined.

There was a period of an entire year after the assassination of Rafic Hariri in 2005 where Syria seemed on the defensive and refrained from interfering in Lebanon’s endemic problems. This is when the alliance of March 14 was created to salvage the international court and make sure that Syria withdrew from Lebanon.

For three years, this March 14 alliance went as far as condemning Hezbollah defensive war against Israel in July 12, 2006 and sucking up to Bush Junior and Condalisa. 

This period is witnessing a major shift of rapprochement toward Syria.  Saudi Kingdom policies are becoming closer to Syria’s policies than Egypt of Mubarak.  Mubarak has been keeping the formation of our government hostage to his senile policies. 

The fact is Egypt under Mubarak has retreated from the “Arab” States issues, is out of the Arab world and out of Africa too.  Moubarak is not even able to get the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah to agree on a few common denominators.

Saad Hariri has lost the confidence of the Lebanese people as the appropriate PM at this junction. Hariri squandered all the good will and patience that the opposition was willing to extend.  Hariri opted to wait for external powers to agree among themselves, instead of uniting Lebanon under a unity national government. (Nothing changed in his attitude: he is still waiting for foreign powers to give him the Green Light to form a government in 2021)

I coined a quote: “You want to go into politics in Lebanon? Warnings! Observe Saad Hariri. First you don’t think much, then your mind quickly slides into deep coma.”

Note 1: Lately, with the Syrian uprising in 2011, Walid crossed the Rubicon and sided squarely with the rebels: He hates the Assad family because the late Hafez Assad assassinated Walid father, Kamal Jumblatt.  The Druze in Syria didn’t respond to Walid’s calls to join the insurrection…

Note 2: In the current government of Mikati PM (2012), Walid is boasting that he is the power broker between the two majority blocks in the government, but is mostly siding with Mikati and the opposition March 14 alliance of the Mubarak.

Just How Much Fallacy is “Your To Quoque”?

Posted by danielwalldammit Nov. 7, 2020

We all learned that two wrongs don’t make a right when we were kids, didn’t we? (Like 2 negative identities pronouncement don’t make a sustainable positive identity)

And we learned that ‘you too’ arguments are a fallacy back in Freshman logic class. Right?

Maybe not everybody side with this logic, but this is a lesson a lot of us probably have in common.

Most educated people ought to know that there is something wrong with answering a criticism by saying “you do it too!” or some variation thereof. Hell, most decent people ought to know better than that regardless of their education.

Why do we do it? Since almost everybody does it on at least some occasions.

To be fair, some people do it more than others. They will do it every chance they get. Others try not to, most of the time anyway.

The penchant for answering a serious concern with a quick ‘you-too’ gambit varies from one person to another, but I don’t know that anyone avoids it entirely.

This tactic also comes and goes with the times. It’s been particularly common for the last 4 years, so much so that folks even coined a new term for it; ‘whataboutism.’

The “Your side does it too” gambit has made a regular appearance in public debate for a long time, but it’s been particularly common for the space of about one presidential administration (or an administration plus the campaign before it). So, the internet collectively coined a new term to describe it.

Why is this kind of argument so common? One reason is that it is Not always a fallacy. Another is that for some people, it really is a way of life.

Variable Relevance: The (ir-)relevance of ‘you too’ games varies in a couple of interesting ways.

If someone corrects my behavior and I respond with “you do it too?” am I really engaging in a fallacy?

Variable Conclusions: If I mean by that you-too response that I am not really wrong, because you do it too, then yes. Hell yes!

If that’s what I mean, then I am absolutely engaging in the tu quoque fallacy. If, on the other hand, I mean; “Okay, I need to correct my behavior, but so should you, because you do in fact do this too,” then my response is not entirely unreasonable. I’m not denying my wrong-doing in this instance. I am just asking you to correct your own behavior right along with me.

Alternatively, I could employ a ‘you-too’ argument by refusing to accept a rule that I have good reason to believe others are not going to follow themselves.

Let’s imagine we are playing a game of soccer and you tell me I should stop touching the ball with my hands. I could then say you do it too as a means of insisting either that you stop yourself or that we are just going to continue playing an odd game of soccer in which both of us are allowed to touch the ball with our hands. In this case, I am refusing to play by unfair rules, or unfair application of those rules.

It seems that there are at least some conclusions which could be reasonably drawn from a premise beginning with an assertion that is essentially saying “you do it too.”

Plus Alternatives: There is another context in which “you too” starts to become more relevant than it would otherwise be. In this case, the tu-quoque fallacy has some company, because the False Alternatives fallacy comes in here right along with it. This is the context of constrained choices.

If I tell you that apples bother my teeth, so I don’t like eating them, it would normally be quite foolish to respond by telling me that cookies have too much sugar. Whether or not cookies have too much sugar, apples still bother my teeth (always feels like I am biting into styrofoam). That does not change if cookies are bad for me. So, the cookie-themed response seems quite irrelevant.

…unless I want a snack, and I have exactly 2 options!

If my universe of possible choices includes an apple and a cookie, then problems with one might very well be a reasonable answer to my expressed concerns about the other. It’s not so much a logical inference as it is a conversational implicature.

A possible respondent hears me complaining about the apple, realizes I have offered it as a reason for choosing the cookie instead, and responds by reminding me of a good reason to avoid the cookie

Of course apples and cookies don’t make these arguments themselves, so if this is a concern about false alternatives, how does it relate to the tu-quoque fallacy?

Well, it comes into play when the apples and cookies do make these arguments themselves, or at least when we divide ourselves up into an obviously apple camp and a clearly cookie camp.

Or maybe when we try to pick a President.

If I say that Donald Trump has been self-dealing throughout his Presidency as a means of saying he is a terrible President, it wouldn’t normally help matters to say that Hillary does it too (using the Uranium One story about her charity foundation for example).

Neither would it help to raise the prospect of similar corruption on the part of the Biden family.

These become relevant during elections precisely because the obvious alternative choice is understood, and so the range of viable possibilities is narrowed sufficiently to make these normally irrelevant arguments matter after all.

And here, 3rd party-proponents will have an obvious complaint of their own.

What if there are better choices?

What if you can point to a candidate that doesn’t have a history of self-dealing (or, more to the point, a history of having the charge of self-dealing leveled at them by political opponents)?

That’s a reasonable concern and one that speaks directly to the very kind of problem that logicians are trying to call our attention to when speaking about ‘false alternatives’ and ‘tu-quoque’ fallacies.

Part of the concern here lies in just how viable the third parties really are and what you are trying to accomplish with your vote, both of which speak to the question of just how constrained the alternatives here really are.

If a 3rd party might really win, then it would be quite illogical to respond to a criticism of one major party candidate as though it were an obvious endorsement of another.

Conversely, you may know that the 3rd party is going to lose but choose to vote for them anyway as a means of signaling to the major parties that they should take you own political values more seriously.

If enough others vote the same way, this could become leverage in the next election.

If a 3rd party candidate is, however, not a serious contender for winning an election, and the election is just too important to risk on a symbolic statement, then we may be back in the realm of 2 real choices and dirt on one viable candidate really will have to be weighed against dirt on the other.

In such cases, “your guy does it too” and “the alternative is worse” start to become relevant again.

Where your choices are constrained, criticisms of one choice can provide a meaningful response to criticisms of another, but this is still problematic. Such arguments don’t erase problems, and they don’t disprove initial claims.

If you tell me, for example, that Hunter Biden was using his father’s position as Vice President under the Obama administration to make money, reminding you that the Trump family profits from his role as President (e.g. through fees paid by the Secret Service to Trump properties during his visits, use of political leverage to get Ivanka’s patents in China, or simply the profits made when foreign diplomats choose to stay at Trump properties while negotiating with him) will not prove the claims about Hunter Biden are untrue.

If I want to do that, then I have to provide an argument directly debunking the claims about Hunter Biden activities. What do I get out of calling attention to similar shenanigans about Trump? I get an argument about the significance one relative to the other. I get an argument about how each balances against the other when we assume both criticisms are of roughly equal merit.

That may not be the best argument I could produce on the topic, but it would not be fallacious. It’s in this context that ‘you too’ (or at least ‘your guy too’) arguments start to make a little more sense.

One fascinating thing about this is the way that the relevance of such arguments comes and goes.

I understood claims about Uranium One, debunked as they are, as a concern in the 2016 election. It was fascinating to me, however, seeing Trump fans continue bringing this up in response to criticism of his actions well into the Trump administration.

I found myself saying; “well let’s impeach her too” then, by which I hoped to suggest that this was no longer a relevant means of answering concerns about Trump’s own actions.

As the 2020 election heated up, concerns about Biden became a more viable means of offsetting those about Trump (at least to those who care nothing about proportion or credibility of the sources). In terms of addressing the choice at hand, it was useful for the Trump camp to have a claim about political corruption in play precisely because they knew many such claims could be held against Donald.

What the merits of each claim really are is of course a debatable question, but having comparable accusations on the table makes possible a kind of argument about how one wishes to weigh one relative to the other.

When we were all expected to weigh Donald Trump’s character against that of another person, complaints about that other person could pass a certain test of minimal relevance to complaints about him. So, the relevance comparison to other people to criticisms of Donald Trump came and went over the course of his Presidential administration.

When he was operating on his own, and the only viable question was about his own competence and integrity, they should have gone away.

Of course they didn’t.

Constraining Personalities: This brings us to one last point; some people thrive on the sort of constrained choices I am describing here. When they face an open range of possibilities, they work very hard to create the illusion of constrained choices anyway.

Yes, I have Donald Trump in mind here.

I am also writing about his many fans.

There is a reason the Trump camp was such a source of whataboutism claims throughout his Presidency. This is both a feature of the base to which he consciously pitched his politics and to personality of Donald Trump himself.

Audience: There are people who live in a world of artificially constrained choices, and you can see it their responses to a broad range if issues.

Did you say Fox news got something wrong? Well then you must be watching too much MSNBC. If there is a problem with capitalism, well then why don’t you just go try China? Don’t like Christianity? You must be an atheist!

Is the American healthcare system broken? Well then, let me tell you the horror stories coming out of Canada! Concerned about police brutality? You must support riots in the streets! Don’t like coke? Shut up and drink your Beer!

And so on…

Perhaps all of us fall into this way of thinking from time to time, but some people really do seem to think in such terms on a regular basis.

They live in a world of social Manichaeism, a world in which 2 rival forces contend with one another for control of the world and of our loyalties.

Anything said against one can clearly be understood as support for the other, because all questions of value must be measured according to the standard of which force one wishes to align oneself with.

Other options are always illusory. You are with the lord of light or you are with the lord of darkness, and if you don’t declare your loyalties openly, then that is a good reason to suspect you are on the wrong side of this conflict.

In effect, such people keep making use of the false-alternatives fallacy because they actually do live in a world in which their choices are always constrained. Their assumptions about the world around them and the choices available to all of us consistently reduce all choices to a binary opposition.

Always!

Brief Technicality: I should add that the Not all binary opposition are equal. What typically happens here is that people looking at contrary relationships often construe them as contradictory relationships? What is the difference?

In a Contradictory relationship between two claims, they two have opposite truth values. If one is true, the other is false. If one is false, the other is true.

In a contrary relationship between two claims, on the other hand, one of them must be false, but it is at least possible that both will be false. (Two negative positions don’t make a positive stand)

In the case of either a contrary relationship or a contradictory relationship, you could infer the falsehood of one claim from the truth of the other, but you could only infer the truth of one claim from the falsehood of the other in the case of a contradictory relationship, not in the case of a contrary relationship.

Case in point: If I know that John is voting for Biden, I can conclude he is clearly not voting for Trump (unless he wants his ballot to be thrown out). If, on the other hand, I know he is not voting for Biden, I could not normally conclude that he is voting for Trump. He might be voting for a third party after all (and whether or not that is a good idea brings up all the points made above).

So, political loyalties are not usually well modeled on the basis of a contradictory relationship. Such loyalties are contrary at best even if specific choices made on the basis of those loyalties (e.g. voting) might be framed in terms of contradictory relationships.

Another example?

If you like capitalism, it’s probably safe to assume you are not in favor of communism, but could we really infer from a criticism of capitalism that you were a communist? No. You could be in favor of some alternative political economy.

Old fashioned trade guilds, perhaps coupled with mercantilism, subsistence economics (as practiced in many indigenous communities), or good old Georgism (which may or may not be a form of socialism, depending on who you ask), all come to mind. (So, does rejecting the terms ‘capitalism’ or ‘communism’ outright as being to vague and sweeping.).

Inferring support for one of these highly loaded terms from opposition to the other is hardly reasonable, and yet, people do it all the time.

People who should know better.

But people often treat contrary relationships as though they were contradictory, thus enabling a faulty implicature, the inference of a specific loyalty from criticism of an alternative commonly understood to be its opposite. This empowers both false alternatives and tu-quoque arguments. For some people this approach to decision making is just too gratifying to resist.

We sometimes encounter simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, and hence make choices between contradictory values, but much of our thinking takes place in a world with a broader range of possibilities.

Those locked into the mindset of Social Manichaeism are constantly pushing us to think in narrower terms to begin with. If all of us are prone to miss the possibilities from time to time, then some people seem to take this as a point of principle.

Personality: Enter a living train-wreck such as Donald Trump! He thrives on constrained choices precisely because his own actions and his own statements cannot stand up to scrutiny on their own merits.

Whatever the man may have been like when he was younger, he has long since accumulated a range of of bad deals, unpaid debts, and obvious lies in a personal history of chronically abusive behavior. His own credibility would never stand up to scrutiny, not from anyone making an honest effort.

So, how does he manage?

He always brings with him a broad range of bluffs and diversions, and one of the most important is a constant penchant for attacking someone in virtually any context, and for doing it in the most humiliating way possible.

Every claim he might make, every question one might ask, is then subsumed under the effect of this personal attack. For those under attack, this means trying to balance the need to defend yourself against the effort to address any objective issues that may be on the table.

For bystanders, it is a question of balancing concerns over Trump’s behavior against those he raises about others. In the ensuing hostilities, Trump can raise and drop any issues he wishes, make false claims, and set them aside at his leisure.

If he is caught flat footed, the solution is as simple as insulting the person who pointed it out or any source they may rely upon. The end-result is a choice between him or someone else, and any doubts about that other person whatsoever will be enough for Donald. He has spent his lifetime exploiting the benefit of the doubt. It is a benefit does not share with others.

The logic of the whataboutism gambit suits Trump’s style perfectly.

Is Trump University credible? What about Hillary?!

Did Donald tell a lie? Ask Obama if you can keep your insurance?!

Is he mistreating immigrants? What are the Dems doing to protect us?! (…and after 2016, ask Obama, because he did it first?)

Is the Trump family self-dealing through their position in government? Where is Hunter?!

You get the idea.

This is a man in deep need of enemies. The closest he will ever get to redemption lies in the hope that those around him will think him better than the alternative.

Small wonder that he preferred to keep Hillary on the table as a kind of shadow President, a mythic character he could use as a whipping woman even in the 2020 election. At the peak of his Presidency, when she should have been off the table entirely, she was still the answer to concerns about Trump, replaced only when Biden stepped in to become Trump’s new foil, and only partially so at that.

Trump has always needed a constrained choice to make a case for himself, because he is of no value on his own.

To know the worth of Donald Trump, one has always to ask what about someone else.

A man like that is made for the sort of strife we have seen this week, and throughout his Presidency. He is at his peak when the whole world has to think in terms of the constrained choices he seeks to bring about in all times and all places.

For most of us these moments come and go. For the likes of Donald Trump, such moments are the only ones that count.

Is Donald Trump the only person like this? Not by a long shot, but he is my exhibit ‘A’, and as he is still in a position to do us all harm, he seems to be a relevant example.

It was the dramatic nature of our recent elections that got me thinking about the way that certain arguments seem more compelling at some times than other.

I could just as easily have written an epitaph for nuance.

Perhaps that would have been more to the point.

Let us hope that subtlety finds room to breathe in all our minds sometime soon! It is one thing to say ‘no’ with conviction when that is what is called for, and it is quite another to live in a world that is polemics all the way down.

In the end, the point here is that there seem to be some folks who really thrive on the ability to reduce the world to a pair of choices under the assumption that to affirm one is to deny the other.

Elections may be a special time to such folks, a moment in which certain patterns of thought seem a little less flawed and a moment in which the rest of the world may just be happy to join in that same pattern of thinking.

We probably all engage in similar patterns of thought in many other contexts, sports rivalries and all manner of brand loyalties come to mind.

For my own part, I hope soon to set some of this aside and think about other things. I can’t quite say that i am ready yet.

I can’t quite say that the rest of America is either.

How George Washington was elected in his first Executive Functions… Part 3

Posted on January 5, 2014

By July 2, 1788, 9 States out of the 13 have ratified the Constitutional text.

On may 29, 1790, all the Stated signed on.

Between October 1787 and May 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Mason and John Fray published 85 open letters in New York dailies to explain their conception of the executive federal function.

These letters are collected in The Federalist in the Spring of 1788 in order to interpret the Constitution of Federation.

For additional guarantees to individual freedom, 10 amendments are joined to the initial text, and by the end of 1791, the Federal Constitution goes into application.

It was George Washington that was in the mind of the delegates when they agreed on the presidential function and central power.

Born in 1732 in Virginia, Washington leads the local colony militia at the age of 22. He fought against the French during the 7 years European war. (France lost major colonies in Canada and India to England)

The Continental Congress designate Washington as military chief as the battles with the British started.

With the aid of the French, the 13 colonies gained independence from England.

Washington was not famous as a military strategist but his competence was recognized.

At the end of the War for Independence, Washington put down the New-burgh mutiny and retired to his property in Mount Vernon.

Washington had already presided the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention and is highly qualified for the executive function.

The delegates had to work hard in order to convince Washington to accept to be a candidate.

The electoral process begins on the first Wednesday of January 1789. The legislature of each State designates its two candidates for the Presidency. (Is that how the Senate was created?)

On the first Wednesday of the next month, the Grand Electors of each State select their choices. North Carolina, Rhode Island and New York didn’t participate in the election.

Among the 12 candidates are John Jay, John Adams and the governor of New York George Clinton.

The legislature election was done in January, but the voting on the President had to wait till April 6, 1789. Washington received 69 votes and in second place came John Adams with 34 and became the vice-president according to the Constitution.

Washington arrived to New York (the capital since 1785) on April 30, the Inauguration Day.

The ceremony of investiture is done in the Federal Hall at the angle of Wall Street and Broad street.

At noon, Robert Livingston, the chancellor of New York administers the Presidential oath.

This ceremony institutes two precedents that were not covered by the Constitution:

1. Washington swore with right hand on the Bible

2. And concludes “May God assists me

Washington’s inaugural speech was the shortest in history, and then they converge to St. Paul Church for mass.

Next post will cover how Washington transformed the executive functions and added by filling loopholes and gaps in the initial Constitution

Note 1: Read part 2 on power of Executive function https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/initial-constitutional-text-on-the-usa-presidential-institutionpart-2/

Note 2: Read “Les Presidents Americains” by Andre Kaspi and Helene Harter

EU anti-Semitism chief stands by blatant lie

Ali Abunimah Rights and Accountability 22 January 2021

This is a story about how European Union officials evade accountability when they are caught in a blatant lie for the benefit of Israel.

Earlier this week I wrote about a major legal victory for supporters of Palestinian rights in Spain.

In 2015, activists from the group BDS País Valencià (Palestinian Boycott, Divestiture, Sanctions of Israel settlement products) called on a music festival to cancel a performance by Matthew Paul Miller, the singer who uses the stage name Matisyahu, because he had made anti-Palestinian statements and had helped raise money for the Israeli occupation army.

Smiling woman sits at table
European Union anti-Semitism coordinator Katharina von Schnurbein (Chambre des Députés)

This month, a court in Valencia threw out hate crime accusations against the activists. The judges found that they were only contesting Miller’s presence in the festival because of his alleged views on Israeli policy, “not because of his Jewish status, religion or any other circumstance.”

The Spanish court also affirmed last June’s landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that calling for boycotts of Israel because of its crimes against Palestinians is not anti-Semitic and is protected political expression.

Although the facts about the incident in Spain have been clear from the start, the recent ruling is a total vindication of the activists by impartial judges.

Yet in recent years, the European Union has smeared the activists, falsely claiming that they only protested Miller because he is Jewish.

This false charge of anti-Semitism was made by Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s anti-Semitism coordinator, at a 2019 conference launching an Israeli government report smearing the Palestine solidarity movement.

It is repeated in a recently published EU “handbook” promoting the so-called IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

This misleading definition, backed by Israel and its lobby, conflates criticism of Israel’s racism and war crimes against Palestinians, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other.

Evasion

While I was writing my story, I emailed von Schnurbein asking whether she would retract the false claims she made about the 2015 Matisyahu incident.

The reply came after I had already published my article, but not from von Schnurbein herself.

Instead, Christian Wigand, a spokesperson for the European Commission – the EU’s executive branch – wrote to me:

“We do not comment [on] court judgments in our member states. As for the Commission’s – and in fact the European Union’s – position on the BDS movement, which was reiterated by our coordinator Ms. von Schnurbein at the event you mention, our position is very clear and has not changed.”

I can give credit to Wigand for a masterful example of bureaucratic evasion, but not for much else.

I had not been seeking a comment on the court judgment per se, but asked whether von Schnurbein stood by her own statements grossly mischaracterizing the 2015 Matisyahu incident.

Nor had I asked for the EU’s position on the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement.

The opinionated von Schnurbein

Yet even if I did want a comment on the court decision itself, the last person who can claim that she does not speak about such matters is Katharina von Schnurbein.

As her Twitter feed shows, von Schnurbein has regularly commented on court cases – some of them while they were ongoing

The highly opinionated von Schnurbein also regularly comments on decisions by the governments and elected assemblies of EU member states and their local authorities.

She has even been taken to task for publicly criticizing an elected member of the European Parliament – a flagrant breach of the neutrality she should observe as an unelected civil servant.

The citizens of EU states deserve better than to be bullied, smeared and lied about by bureaucrats in Brussels who appear to answer only to Israel and its lobby.

Tidbits #93

The big Baobab tree preserves large quantity of fresh water in its trunk. The baobab can reach 30 meters high, live more than 1,000 years and won’t need rain for 10 years to survive. Tribes learned to excavate an entrance in the trunk in order to extract badly needed water in dry seasons. The baobab is as good a source as aquatic wells.

As the dry season starts, chameleons all die. The hidden eggs in the deep soil will have to fend for themselves.

In the period between the first vaccine injection of Covid and the second inoculation the immune system drops dangerously. My conjecture is that the many varieties of Covid surfaced during the secret testing of the vaccine. Lebanon is the turntable of all the family varieties of Covid flocking from UK, South Africa, Israel and Danmark…

“The Israeli army arrested 41 Palestinians last week in 17 raids carried out across the West Bank in one night. Of those detained, 24 were from Mugayir and Kafr Malik, two adjacent villages northeast of Ramallah whose residents demonstrate every week against their lands being taken over by Israeli settler outposts.”– Amira Hass

Biden said what amount to: “we are Not going to demand from nations to do what we cannot give and apply as examples to follow”. Sure, Biden has the habit of Not quoting sentences that impress audiences. Hoping that older age agrees with good pronouncement.

Impotence is covering your violent heart with a cloak of nonviolence rhetorics.

“Traînée de poudre”, spreading Covid like wildfire: Lebanon actually reached contamination of 10,000 per day, the highest rate per number of population. Most of the cases, as everywhere else, are located in disinherited people living in crowded camps and shantytowns.

When 30% of the “working force” are employed in government institutions and most of them barely show up to work, and yet get paid…how can this State surmount its economic and financial deficits?

The worst among enemies (religious sects) are those branded “heretics” by the dominant religious sect. This label extends to political parties and ideologies. Most of the savage wars around the world and empires were conducted under the excuse of fighting heretics

Though most “Protestants”, of so-called Christian sects, adopt the Jewish mythological stories and barely rely on the New testament, they considered the “Jews” living in ghettos as “heretics”, and vice versa. Pogromes and persecutions had a deep connotation for the common people as Jews being heretics to the dominant religion in every nation.

Trump refused to fool the US voters that he learned to act as a President to all: he preferred to position himself as the Leaders of the hooligan factions

It was thanks to the campaign efforts of Obama and Sanders to rally the Democrats and select Biden as the party candidate to confront Trump. They figured out that this “lukewarm candidate” cannot be attacked convincingly by Donald as “communist” or left leaning. Obama had to settle in California in order to rally his supporters to vote for Biden as Dem. candidate as Biden was already considered the biggest loser in the initial primaries.

I agree with George Orwell: “If you cannot write, you cannot think (properly), and others will think for you”. I assume that Orwell meant: If you cannot observe (consciously observe what is going around you) and note down accurately what roil your set of values…then you are Not fit to write for others to think clearly.

Historical question if there are data: During the “Spanish Flu” pandemics that reaped over 20 millions within 2 years, I wonder when people started to wear the masks and how masks decreased the level of contamination.

General knowledge is important to know the context of speeches, articles and books, when context is Not directly provided. Without understanding of the context, what we hear or read fall within the abstract domain and is Not retained.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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