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January 20, 2006

Your Turn: And Today’s Lesson Is Brought To You By The Letter Tha

Hamas-Tv

(click image for beastlier view)

Emboldened by the encouragement of the BAG community, I’m taking a few days off to attend to family and professional obligations.  In the meantime, I’m turning the seminar over to you.  I’ve been holding on to two images that I find quite evocative.  This one is a portrait of Uncle Hazim, who might be described as the Hamas answer to “Mr. Rogers.”

Hazim Sharawi has been a big hit with the kids on the radio, and now — with the launch of the new Al Aksa network — he’s going to have his own TV show.  If I understand him right, Hazim’s agenda is two parts Sesame Street and one part intifada.

To really plumb the image, I recommend you read the article first (Warm and Fuzzy TV, Brought to You by Hamaslink ).



(image: Khalil Hamra for The New York Times.  Gaza.  January 18, 2006.  nyt.com)

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Ok, I haven’t much for this one, but….
    Sometimes you get the Bear and sometimes the Bear gets you?
    Or this could be a play for “the Palestinian Womb”. The idea that Palestians will outnumber Israelis and that by mobilizing does numbers the Palestians will gain victory over Israel

  • itwasnt me

    Gee, I can’t wait until BUSHCO gets a load of this and produce something like it as the anti-Sesame Street!!! Boys ‘n girls indoctrinated into the only true political party at an early age!!! Wow!!!!!!

  • jt from BC

    ITWASNT ME, guess who’s waiting by the phone for the call ?
    Bennett’s best-known written work may be The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories (1993), which he edited including The Children’s Book of Virtues “In self-discipline one makes a “disciple” of oneself…”
    In Spring 2003, it became widely known that Bennett was a high-stakes gambler who reportedly had lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas.
    Excellent resume don’t you think.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_J._Bennett

  • alex

    The pose of the figures seems out of place for a children’s TV show. The plush figures seem threatening and dominating. There is something tawdry and disturbing about the fact thaat their hands are bare. The light in this photo is inordinately harsh- it looks like an interrogation.

  • jt from BC

    Additional qualifications for Billy (formerly 1,2,3)
    1) Sec of Education.
    2) “The Drug Czar”.
    3) Director National Humanities Center.
    4) PNAC.
    5) No to affirmative action-school vouchers- multiculturalism etc.
    This guy comes close to pulling rank on the Veep.
    Surly Rove and The VOA have been in touch by now.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Of course *American* television programming for children is completely virtuous, free of bias, and never promotes just an American point of view. (And it goes without saying that a man dressed in a purple Barney suit is so much less creepy than Bob the Fox.) So Craig S. Smith, the writer of this seriously sarcastic NYT article, seems to think.
    A less shallow thinker than Smith (he also wrote the piece on the riots in France, which I remember because it too sucked) might have actually explored something that “Uncle Hazim” said: “Our television show will have a message, but without getting into the tanks, the guns, the killing and the blood.” Yup, that sounds like a terrible idea — giving children the option that their world might be free of tanks, guns, killing, and blood.

  • Lisa

    American television programming for children may be commercialized but at least it isn’t teaching them songs about killing others.
    Palestinian Authority TV has had a long history of indoctrinating Palestinian children to hatred which is child abuse in my opinion. Like many Arab language TV stations, it has shown anti-Semitic movies, specials and commentary. Here are just a few examples from PATV and other Arab stations..
    PA TV Children are combatants
    PA TV Children’s Club
    Hizbullah TV’s Children’s SPecial: Jews turn into apes and pigs …
    Palestinian Authority – Jews are a virus resembling AIDs
    Hizbullah TV – Jews Drink the Blood of Christians
    It remains to be seen whether or not Hamas TV will continue in their footsteps.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Thanks for the backstory links and your careful conclusion, Lisa. It’s not clear from his article whether Craig S. Smith knows the topic as well, or if he just gets paid to jump to conclusions. Also not clear if he knows the difference between reporting and editorializing. We already know the Times doesn’t know the difference.
    What also remains to be seen is whether children will grow up to have minds of their own.

  • marysz

    An article in today’s WaPo points out that
    Hamas is reaping the benefits of years of grass-roots social work and political organizing in the West Bank and Gaza as it prepares for its first national election. It opposes Israel’s right to exist and has vowed to maintain its armed wing, which has carried out attacks and suicide bombings inside Israel and the territories.
    The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, is suffering from a reputation for corruption, divisions within Fatah and a continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank that has made Abbas’s pursuit of a negotiated peace settlement unappealing to many Palestinians.

    This kid’s show photo shows how effective Hamas is at being part of the everyday life of ordinary Palestinians–Hamas comes right into their homes and puts on a friendly face. Does the Palestinian Authority provide the same level of social services that Hamas does? Has it done the “grass roots organizing” that Hamas has? The Palestinian female voters whose families are dependent on Hamas could end up being the key voters in this election.

  • http://web.media.mit.edu/~nvawter noah

    In the United States of Amnesia, even the most wholesome-looking Arab you
    have ever seen could be the voice of terrorism. Even the guy who can’t defend
    himself from two stuffed bears.
    And wow! Hamas invented suicide bombing? Someone better tell the Japanese that…
    And while you’re at it, better tell them Moslems invented flying airplanes into things, too.

  • itwasnt me

    Oh, yeah, jtfrombc, I remember! Bennett, when he dethroned himself from the “czar” position, said that the “drug war had been won.” I wondered when the gov’ment would stop funding it…

  • readytoblowagasket

    noah, Craig S. Smith’s exact words were: “. . . Hamas, the people who helped make suicide bombing a *household term.* ” (emphasis is mine) Remember that Household Term study someone did a while back? I think he’s referring to that.

  • Chad

    There is something sinister about these costumes. More than anything, I’m reminded of the creepiness of 1950’s American children’s programming–Howdy Doody comes to mind. While the bears are scary (especially the white one) it’s nothing worse than a man in frigging clown make-up. The low budget stands out more than any cultural difference.

  • jt from BC

    Following along on the animal theme and children, remember at the height of the cold war there was “Bert The Turtle says duck and cover” In Canada we watched with amazement and hilarity at the US propaganda instructed children how to survive the atomic bombs, the ridiculousness as they practicing rolling into ditches and not to look at the blast…
    The local response here was, if it happens bend over and kiss you ass goodbye. We were of course the meat in the nuclear scenario sandwich. We also didn’t have Michigan Joe and that other bigger beast the Military- Industrial Complex to feed.
    How about the origins of the Boy Scouts ?!?
    The seeds of the idea of Scouting began during the Siege of Mafeking, South Africa, during the Second Boer War of 1899–1902, where Baden-Powell served as the commanding officer. Baden-Powell defended the town against the Boers (later known as Afrikaners), who outnumbered his troops eight to one. Volunteer boys in the town were formed into the Mafeking Cadet Corps, to help support the troops, carry messages, freeing up men for military duties and keeping the boys occupied during the long siege. The boys acquitted themselves well, helping in the successful defence of the town (1899–1900) over several months. Each Cadet Corps member received a badge, a combination of a compass point and a spearhead. This logo was similar to the fleur-de-lis, which Scouting later adopted as its international symbol.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts

  • ummabdulla

    I wondewr of this photo comes from the show itself, or if it was the actors joking around while they were being interviewed by the New York Times.
    In any case, it looks like the Palestinian goverment is shutting the station down.
    The Western perspective of Hamas is that they’re simply “terrorists”, and it’s as if they think they’re some aliens who came from another planet and then infiltrated the population. Of course, they’re local Palestinians who grew up and live and study and work like everyone else. They do run a network of social services; I don’t know where their financial support comes from, but I know that a lot of people who would want to help Palestinians wouldn’t trust their money to the Palestinian Authority. (Who knows what happened to all the money that Yasser Arafat controlled and had hidden away? Money that was contributed to help the Palestinian people…) Those social services aren’t a front for terrorism; an Islamic organization has many facets, and if they’re in an occupied country, then resisting the occupation is obviously one facet.
    I wonder if Lisa would care to tell us about the racism and hatred taught to Jewish Israeli children about Palestinians… probably not.

  • readytoblowagasket

    jt_from_BC: Thank you for the much-needed view of American propaganda — I mean, culture from outside the States. I realize I have never heard the Canadian perspective on American duck-and-cover drills before!
    Also, your comment about an animals-and-children theme made me think once more about the creepiness (to me) of people wearing animal suits to entertain children. As a child I watched Captain Kangaroo, which was mentioned in the article as some sort of stark contrast to Uncle Hazim. But I always thought Captain Kangaroo himself was terribly creepy, with his scary-hairy sideburns and too-short bangs, and accompanied by the weird, lurking Mr. Green Jeans and the completely obvious handpuppet bunny. The CK show’s antics and all the characters were like a slow-motion fever dream. I’m not sure Uncle Hazim and Captain Kangaroo are really so far apart.

  • Lisa

    Ummabdulla,
    You asked me to speak on racism in Israel, I shall oblige. It does, of course, exist. I have witnessed first hand how my Israeli Arab friends were treated with suspicion by strangers. It reminded me very much of the way people in the Southwest look at Native Americans or people in the Southeast look at African Americans. It is not acceptable. It is also a problem that Israeli society is trying to resolve, although not as fast as I would like.
    There is a very small minority who would like to trade some of the Arab populated regions for the settlements. I doubt that will ever happen; they are Israeli citizens and the law will forbid that.
    Israeli Arabs have their own school system and before you scream segregation, let me explain. There are four unique school systems in Israel: secular, religious (which teaches Judaism) , Arab and “private” ( for what we call the ultra-orthodox). All school systems except the Arab teach primarily in Hebrew and require students to learn some Arabic (as it is one of the two official state languages). Parents can send their children to the school of their choice though in less populated areas there may not be a real choice. Arab children can and do attend secular schools though for obvious reasons one is not likely to see them in either of the two religious school systems. I do not know if Islam is taught in the Arab schools. There are some schools which have been designed to be have a mixture of Jewish and Arabic students (I presume also Christian though they are a smaller minority) and split instructional time between Hebrew and Arabic. These seem to be growing in the more liberal areas of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
    There has been some discrimination against Arabs with regards to purchasing property, especially in Jerusalem. This is illegal the same way it is illegal here to refuse to rent or sell to African Americans. I don’t think this is motivated so much out of racism as it is fear that if Jerusalem loses its Jewish majority Israeli might lose Jerusalem. Before you judge so harshly, please remember the importance of Jerusalem. It was built by the Jews, it has been their only capital (except Tel Aviv for 20 years) before the Diaspora and since the 48, it is a place that they have carried within their hearts for thousands of years.
    Of course, having said all this, Israeli Arabs are full citizens in a democratic government. They can join the military, own property, vote, run for the Knesset, and travel freely (except perhaps to Gaza and the West Bank.. there are some restrictions for everyone there). Women have equal rights and the honor killings so often ignored in the West Bank, Gaza and the rest of the Arab world are prosecuted and there are safety nets in place to protect women in danger of such killings.
    I have to say that the rights of an Israeli Arab are greater than the rights Jews have had at any time living in Arab countries and frankly, greater than the rights of many Arabs in other countries.
    I would really love to hear Ummabdulla discuss the rights of dhimmi’s, or why Jews will never be allowed to live in the West Bank despite families who have lived there for thousands of years (that seems incredibly racist to me that Israel has a 20% Arab population and Palestinians would not tolerate a 2% Jewish population without killing them), or the treatment of Palestinian Christians at the hands of Palestinian Muslims, or honor killings, or why Muslim women in some countries are not allowed to work outside the home, drive or even go outside without a male relative, or even the wonderful educational programs of Hamas which dress up little Palestinians as terrorists complete with guns and grenades. I doubt it.
    Lisa

  • readytoblowagasket

    Lisa: Can you speak directly to the issue of Israelis killing Palestinians? It’s something you never mention. Almost like it never happens.

  • ummabdulla

    Gee, you make it sound like “Arab Israelis” (i.e., Palestinians) are treated pretty well; unfortunately that’s not the way I’ve heard it.
    E.g: “There has been some discrimination against Arabs with regards to purchasing property”. This is such a ridiculous understatement that I’m tempted to laugh, except that it’s not funny…
    Palestinian Christians know that their problems stem from Israelis, not from Palestinian Muslims. Anyone who doubts that can read the writings of prominent Palestinian Christians like Edward Said or Hanan Ashrawi.
    Here’s a website created by American Christians who support the Palestinian cause. There’s a book there called The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict that’s worth reading.
    Speaking of racism, this is an interesting quote from that book:
    “Gush Emunim rabbis have continually reiterated that Jews who killed Arabs should not be punished, [e.g.]…Relying on the Code of Maimonides and the Halacha, Rabbi Ariel stated, ‘A Jew who killed a non-Jew is exempt from human judgement and has not violated the [religious] prohibition of murder’..The significance here is most striking when the broad support, both direct and indirect, for Gush Emunim is considered. About one-half of Israel’s Jewish population supports Gush Emunim.” “Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky’s “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel”
    I don’t want to be baited into the off-topic discussion of your untrue (no surprise there) statements, but I will say briefly that the number of Muslim countries where women aren’t allowed to work outside the home is ZERO; the number where women aren’t allowed to drive is ONE; and the number where women aren’t allowed to go outside without a male relative is ZERO. I realize that you get your information from MEMRI and so you’re not actually interested in reality, but there is is.

  • Shaun

    Quite an image: I can’t help but feel a connotation between the white animal to the right and Israel, as if its some kind of totemistic spirit assaulting him in one ear, and then on the right is the brown, more friendly looking creature draped over him almost like a boxing coach…
    As for the unrelated debate: Gush Emunim?! When you’ve resorted to that, you’ve lost the argument. But don’t worry, I’ve got an idea: Since the US and Israel are so evil and authoritarian, why don’t you take your ‘liberal’ solidarity movement to Riad, or maybe Syria or Jordan, or some other enlightened middle-easter society where they’ll appreciate it? Good luck.

  • jt from BC

    LISA, you’ve got you hands full so I’ll not add to your challenges, here gently is some personal advise from me a geriatric in training :
    “He (she) who fights with monsters should look to it that he (she) himself (herself) does not become a monster.” F.N.
    SHALOM

  • readytoblowagasket

    Thanks, Shaun, but I think we’ll pass on that idea.

  • Asta

    For some reason, my mind shuts down when it comes to the Middle East, and when someone mentions Zionism, I go into seizures because I just don’t know enough about the histories and the cultures to be able to have any opinions.
    However, I do have opinions about scary animal costumes, and Chad’s and RTBAG’s posts struck a chord. I’ve always felt there was something sinister about an adult trying to play make-believe with children, dressing up in costumes…uh oh, here’s comes that image from “The Shining” when the ghost couple, dressed as animals, are interrupted while having animal sex, so to speak…I digress but I think you may get my point. Come to think of it, the photo above has a certain Kubrick style to it. I definitely do not feel comfortable looking at that photo.
    I never watched Capt. Kangaroo or Howdy Doody either, because I found them to be creepy. Oddly enough, however, I adored Soupy Sales, and I always wondered what White Fang and Black Tooth really looked like because all the viewer ever saw of them were their paws.
    Sometimes I think I’ve lived too long, all this stuff is getting too freakin’ weird.)

  • Lisa

    The killing of Palestinians? Yes, it happens unfortunately and as I have stated before, when a soldier wrongly shoots someone (ie.. a child is killed, someone who isn’t shooting at them or hasn’t been launching rockets or isn’t targeted for assassination), it is investigated and the person responsible is dealt with. Even more unusual, their commanding officer usually will face consequences as well (this always makes me think of Abu Ghraib).
    Israel walks a very fine line. The line between protecting your country and brutality can be very thin in such circumstances; it is of much discussion and much concern within Israel. Occassionally, that line is crossed but as the so called massecre of Jenin taught us, when Palestinians scream brutality, one should look at the evidence before one screams with them.
    Of course, there are the settlers and their very small group of supporters. These people should be removed from the West Bank as they were removed from Gaza despite the fact this will force Jews to leave towns which their families have lived in for hundreds of years (Hebron comes to mind). Frankly, their behavior in cutting down trees is deplorable, criminal and to my mind violates Jewish law. Those committing violent acts should be jailed for life.
    There have also been some incidents amongst where Israeli Arabs have been injured or killed by police inappropriately. This is shameful BUT it is not tolerated by the public. You see the same outrage there that you saw here when an unarmed black man was killed in his doorway.
    What bothers me the most about this conflict is that it seems some people hold Jews (and lets be honest, when anti-Zionists are complaining about Israel, they mean the Israeli Jews) to a higher standard than Palestinians. Despite the vocal way the “anti-Zionists” are up in arms about the actions of Israel, I never hear them criticize the suicide bombers, the rockets or other attacks. The worst criticism I can recall (and I could be wrong here) from members of the Palestinian Authority was that the bombings aren’t helpful or just hurt the Palestinians. Why can’t they just say it is wrong to kill the innocent?
    In Israel, there is a loud and vocal debate on the actions of the government on a regular basis. Israel is not perfect, the same way we are not perfect. Sometimes bad laws are passed or sometimes the government does something wrong but they have a court system that offers redress. There have been many incidents when Palestinians have won in the High Court of Justice against the Israeli government. Where else in the Middle East would you see that?

  • Lisa

    Here is some reading attacks on Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Muslims….
    CBN: Palestinian Christians Face Persecution
    Christianity Today: Justus Reid Weiner on Palestinian Christians
    Telegraph: Islamic Mafia accused of persecuting Holy Land Christians
    It does not appear that Israel is Palestinian Christians biggest problem.
    I also have to ask, has there ever been a Palestnian Christian suicide bomber? I can’t recall one in recent years, maybe one of you has a better memory than I do. If not, I really would like to know why.

  • Lisa

    Ummabdulla,
    You are right.. most of what I was thinking of was the Taliban, which we stopped. I apologize for mispeaking.
    But while we are on the subject…
    Tell us your perspective on honor killings, clitorectomies, arranged marriages and polygamy in the Arab world.

  • jt from BC

    LISA,– Bertolt Brecht, I can’t vouch complete accuracy from memory, but without picking sides muse a moment over a bagel with these two thoughts:
    They are such charming people
    if you leave them well alone
    while their fighting to recover
    what has never been their own.

  • Cactus

    Lisa, you commented about conditions “here” (the U.S.?) but you claim to have forceful knowledge of conditions on the ground in Israel. I’d like to know in which country you are living.
    Also, you might have a stronger argument for whatever your position is if you didn’t throw all the vegetables into the basket with the fruits and nuts. The sense I think we get is that your position is weakened so you start throwing in more things to argue about.

  • jt from BC

    Lisa you finally hooked me with your Afghanistan comments;
    Great Justices Installed by Bush
    As the Alito confirmation hearings begin, it is worth considering some of the judicial consequences of George W. Bush’s various campaigns.
    When the US overthrew the Taliban and installed the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Bush administration implied that everything had changed.
    What few observers seem to have noticed is that Hamid Karzai immediately appointed as Afghanistan’s chief justice, Fazal Hadi Shinwari, whose philosophy of life was little different from that of the Taliban!
    One can only imagine that Bush, who kept thousands of troops in the country and oversaw the evolution of the Afghanistan government, had no objections to the man’s judicial philosophy.
    Among Shinwari’s rulings:
    Amputation of hands and stoning to death will continue to be the punishment for thieves and adulterers in post-Taliban Afghanistan, country’s new Chief Justice Fazal Hadi Shinwari was reported today as saying.
    http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020113/world.htm#3
    Afghan Chief Justice Bans Cable TV.
    http://www.rawa.org/cable-tv.htm
    Afghan chief justice wants co-ed schools to be shut.
    http://www.hvk.org/articles/0203/256.htm
    Fatwa for “Blasphemy” Journalists: The supreme court proposes the death penalty for two journalists who criticised Islamic practice
    http://www.aidainternational.nl/agenda/diversen/Fatwa%20for%20Blasphemy%20Journalists.html.
    Was all this to make his own nominees to the Supreme Court, who merely want to install a king-president over Americans, uphold the privileges of rich white males, and work against women’s rights and one-person, one-vote rights for racial minorities, good in comparison?
    http://www.juancole.com/
    And if this is inadequate read the latest Drug figures from the CIA, 85% meeting European needs…you do know that the Taliban totally eliminated them in their areas of control right (this doesn’t mean I support the Taliban but the War Lords are our friends so its business as usual.
    About eugenics, forced sterilization and other unsavory practises the US initiated and funded such initial project and practises, of course we all know who carried these practises forward

  • readytoblowagasket

    Lisa, thank you for making the effort to answer my question. I want to respond to your answer, but as it is so complex and charged, I think I can’t do that in one post (and certainly not at this late hour).
    I do want to say something about this comment: “. . . when Palestinians scream brutality, one should look at the evidence before one screams with them.” You believe, I finally realize, that there are just two positions — with you OR with the Palestinians. In my view, and I think in the view of some others on this site, those are not the only choices.
    But first, Cactus made an astute point about weakening your position when you “start throwing in more things to argue about.” I recognize now that you do that as a pre-emptive defense against what you expect someone’s argument will be — the “screaming with them” argument. The weird thing is, when you strike pre-emptively and don’t let people express what they really would like to say about the issue, you force them to take a position against *you.* There are some things I for one would like to say (or even debate) on this topic that might be different from what you are expecting. I could be wrong about this — maybe you have heard it all before. But maybe not.

  • ummabdulla

    Gosh, Lisa, Israel sounds like some kind of Paradise… and those Israelis sound like the most wonderful people on earth. Actually, though, when Palestinian children are killed by Israelis (which happens fairly often) there is rarely an investigation (and the deaths are rarely even mentioned in the American media). They did make an exception in the case of 13-year-old Iyman Hams, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot at close range, but then even that wasn’t enough, so the commander sprayed her dead body with automatic gunfire to “confirm the kill”… They charged him, but in the end, he was acquitted of all charges. (According to this article, “She was one of 30 children killed during the 18-day Israeli offensive in Gaza at the time”.)
    Shaun, I was born and raised in the U.S. and lived there for 30-some years, and I’ve lived in an Arab country for 14 years, and I have absolutely no desire to go back. It’s really not the miserable hellhole that some people imagine.
    Rafael, the idea that Palestnians will outnumber Israeli Jews seems to be what’s driving the policies of leaving Gaza, bulding the wall, encircling East Jereusalem (Al-Quds) with more Jews while kicking out Arabs, etc.

  • Lisa

    “I do want to say something about this comment: “. . . when Palestinians scream brutality, one should look at the evidence before one screams with them.” You believe, I finally realize, that there are just two positions — with you OR with the Palestinians. In my view, and I think in the view of some others on this site, those are not the only choices.”
    Actually, I am very frustrated by the way the Palestinian side of the story is accepted as truth. Remember Jenin? For a significant amount of time, the world honestly believed that there had been a massacre there because that was what Palestinians told them never mind what Israel said.

  • Lisa

    I am currently in the US. I have lived in Israel (during the second intifada) and we have friends/family there.

  • Lisa

    Ready to blow a gasket,
    what would you like to say? You don’t simply have to respond to me.

  • Asta

    Why would anyone think the Taliban has been stopped?

  • mugatea

    This is a great example of a comment thread gone off subject.
    Or, has it? This is very interesting. Black diamond Baggin’.
    Be nice.

  • http://areyoudressed.blogspot.com momly

    mugatea,
    This is also a great example of how single issues work, which is why it is so difficult to talk to some people. Someone gets a single issue in his/her mind which informs everything and therefore is the only thing of importance and makes one the center of the universe.
    Maybe single issue people are really narcissists…..? Hmmm. Which makes me think that the best way to deal with a beautiful flower (narcissus) is to leave it to bloom in its place (until it withers) and go admire all the other flowers in creation. I like a big boquet of wildflowers, myself.
    What were we talking about?

  • Asta

    Momly and Mugatea, maybe what we’ve witnessed here is the hijacking of a thread.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Regarding hijacking, I see the thread connecting to the image on two moral issues. The first is a general moral issue, asking: what propaganda do we teach children and how do we lure them into listening? A second (and more volatile) moral issue is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and The BAG has invited us to that moral issue by posting this bizarre image and accompanying slanted NYT story about Hamas. (NB: I am not implying anything about The BAG’s intentions when I describe the image as bizarre and the story as slanted. *I* just see them that way.)
    Lisa’s approach to the second moral issue is the cluster-bomb approach: fly over and drop as many cluster bombs as possible, blowing the discussion to bits before anyone has a chance to articulate their undoubtedly anti-Semitic viewpoint. No matter that no such views have been voiced, blow everything up anyway. It’s a very distracting and effective method: it kills the discussion either before it starts or not long after.
    ummabdulla and I both invited Lisa to comment further, and she did. I’m not sure that qualifies as a highjacking.
    I am trying to understand Lisa’s moral position. I’m not sure I do or ever will.
    Lisa, you seem to be saying that killing people is okay when you can justify it (using the “they killed first” argument). Did I get that right?

  • Lisa

    I think Israel’s primary goal has been to stop terrorism not to kill Palestinians as many Palestinians as possible. On the other hand, the actions of the terrorists groups are intentionally designed to kill as many as possible. Do I think the Israeli position the lesser of two evils? Hell yes. I think the Palestinian position would be less immoral if they restricted their violance against the IDF but they have deliberately chosen to target civilians.
    I think it would be interesting to compare the number of Palestinian deaths in times of calm to those in times of terror. I suspect (and I could be wrong on this, it is only a hunch) that the number of Palestinian deaths in time of calm were relatively few. I looked for data on the number of Palestinian deaths at the hand of Israelis since 1967. I can’t find it. The only fatality data I have been able to find from the beginning of the Intifada.

  • Asta

    I guess my definition of “hijacking a thread” is when one screen persona moves in and totally dominates the discussion and takes it way off course.
    RTBAG, I totally understand your concern about propaganda aimed at children, which has happened, is happening here. It’s called advertising and it really has to stop because it’s purpose is to create future consumers. Not future scientists or engineers or doctors or artists, but consumers. I am referring to American advertising. Perhaps the propaganda overseas is to recruit a different kind of consumer, I don’t know.
    And I am going to make a statement which is probably flawed all to hell, but when I look at the Big Picture, my impression is countries that have been manufactured by the victors of world wars tend to want to kill each other and anyone stepping on their property lines. Please correct me if I am wrong, because I said earlier that Mid East Politics sends me into fits, but Israel is a “created country.” As is Iraq, as is Bosnia, as is (fill in the blanks).
    I don’t think this nation building stuff works, and I think the United States of America is beginning to show the same symptoms of nation building illness.

  • The BAG

    At a few points throughout the thread, questions were raised about how much the discussion was still germane to the image. Overall, my inclination is to let the conversation play out, regardless. That said, readers who have been around longer know that I had been completely unwilling to take on Israel/Arab-Palestinian (visual) subject matter until fairly recently. Personally, I’ve been very proud of the fact I got over it. I should also say that I’m proud that BAG readers can hold such deeply felt and opposing views, and still manage extended and fairly high minded intellectual debates over them. I do worry, however, that the subject matter might be having a divisive influence on the site and the community (especially when I link to the NYT, which I’m really coming to appreciate has a pro-Israel bias.) Always thinking of the site as a collective, I throw the question open to you as to how much or little — going forward — I should consider the inclusion or exclusion of similar images.

  • fallinglady

    I was thinking about posting this yesterday, but was worried it would be too explosive. So after TheBAG’s post, I’m posting it very timidly.
    I’m not Jewish, and this has been controversial among my Jewish friends, so I know how sensitive it is. However, it does follow on something that Asta said, about created countries. I lived for years in a Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles (the husband of a friend escaped the camps), and I knew Jews of all ages, some with numbers on their arms. This was barely 15 years after WWII and it was still raw. I do have empathy for them and the need to have a country to call Israel.
    BUT, it is now more than 60 years after the war and it is time we all grew up. I think we must start treating Israel as a country, like any other country. Not a religion. Not holy site. Not a place for the second coming. Just a country with good and bad. And we can’t keep treating the Palestinians like a tribe that is just in the way. A little more sensitivity and even-handedness will go a long way to calm things. At least that is my hope. And the view from my little alluvial plane.
    Yeah, I know, not bloody likely with the crew now in office. But one can hope, right?

  • readytoblowagasket

    You ask big questions, The BAG. I think it’s good you stepped in to ask them. I feel inadequate to answer them but compelled to say something.
    One of the first times I experienced a divisive exchange about this topic, I hated it. That exchange made me wonder if I would continue to hang out here. (I think — though of course I don’t know — that M. Gonzo was a casualty of it, and that saddens me.)
    But I stayed because I value this forum immensely and I have great respect for you and the community. And I decided the way I would deal with it the next time would be to challenge myself to advance my own thinking about this particular dialogue. These issues are not going to go away. The divisiveness here is the same as it is out in the world, and I watch in amazement as it unfolds both places the same way every time. I perceive differences in this thread, however; I see some people making a huge effort. And that gives me slightly more hope for the possibility of advancement here than I do for anywhere else. But it certainly won’t be a comfortable process. I personally think we should continue to deal with difficult topics. But I can’t evaluate the cost — if any — only you can. FWIW.

  • ummabdulla

    Lisa: “I think the Palestinian position would be less immoral if they restricted their violance against the IDF but they have deliberately chosen to target civilians.”
    From what I understand, the position of Hamas is that they didn’t target civilians, but they changed that after Baruch Goldstein (an Israeli settler from Brooklyn) attacked Muslims while they were prostrating during the dawn prayer in a Hebron Mosque, killing 29 and injuring 125.
    Lisa: “I suspect… that the number of Palestinian deaths in time of calm were relatively few.”
    What does “time of calm” mean? Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky, among others, have written about how when Israelis are killing Palestinians, it’s barely reported and considered a “period of calm”, but when an Israeli gets killed by Palestinians, it’s a major story and described as shattering the “period of calm”.
    For example, from a ZNET article by Noam Chomsky: “The veto took place during a 21-day period of calm — meaning that only one Israeli soldier was killed, along with 21 Palestinians including 11 children, and 16 Israeli incursions into areas under Palestinian control”.
    And from this article about a bombing in Tel Aviv: “It also brought to a close the period of calm that followed Mahmoud Abbas’s ceasefire declaration at the Sharm El-Sheikh summit on 8 February.
    “Calm is relative of course. Since 1 November, 170 Palestinian men, women and children have been killed by Israeli army and settlers. Twenty-five have been slain since Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (AMB) announced a de facto moratorium on military operations on 23 January.”
    In general, many times more Palestinians have been killed by Israelis than the other way around.
    Asta, Israel is not only a created country, but unlike Iraq, for example, it was created by evicting the people who were already there (which we would now call “ethnic cleansing”). And while they can’t go back to the land they owned for generations, they see people from New York or Russia or Ethiopia being wooed to come to Israel and live on their land.

  • mugatea

    Mr. Gonz is missed here too.
    Are there any bears in the region? The bears give the image a “northern hemispere” feel.
    Do bears play into children’s stories in the mideast or are these the first kid friendly costumes they could find?

  • readytoblowagasket

    I think the white animal might be the fox — Bob the Fox — referred to in the article, so mugatea’s question about bears would apply to foxes, too.
    ummabdulla: I just want to say I admire your contributions to this dialogue. When I figured out that Lisa had difficulty accepting your numbers (of Palestinians killed by Israelis), I wanted to know if she could acknowledge *any* numbers at all. So I asked. She can, but with great reluctance and only if the numbers of dead are under 10.
    But Lisa is not unique in her point of view. Perhaps the fierceness of her denial is related to the fundamental, unswerving immorality of solving problems by killing people (and I am not going to call it “violence” or any other abstract term). Of course I have no idea if this is right, but I am curious.
    The argument in this thread is portrayed in a thought-provoking recent movie called “Paradise Now” (which everyone here should see), about two Palestinian suicide bombers. The characters scream the essence of this debate at one another, getting nowhere as well. But the movie gets under the surface to reveal much about why the reciprocal killing doesn’t ever stop. Besides addressing the emotional reasons (one of which is the idea that when you kill a child’s father/brother/uncle/cousin, that child never gets over it — something the U.S. will have do deal with when Iraq’s orphans grow up), the movie also reveals the actual mechanics of participation — by Israelis as well as Palestinians — in the bombings themselves. In the movie, the Palestinians have to gain access to densely populated public places with the help of “collaborators” — people on both sides who help facilitate the cycle. Fascinating. And chilling.

  • jt from BC

    Appreciate the insightful comments of UMBADULLA & RTBAG, now back to the animals;
    The Cold War Bear was the USSR, tyranny in East European Countries, Communist world domination plus all other evils real or imagined.
    So as GWOT is now compared to past wars (totally inaccurately IMO ) why not throw in the bear for association purposes.
    Grappling with images propaganda aficionados chuck the kitchen sink going with what sticks.
    Mummy bear Poppa bear and Baby bear might enjoy a romp in the White House with my third cup of coffee.
    However I’ll tell my grandchildren about the nurturing qualities of the Bear as understood by The Native Peoples.

  • Shaun

    Personally I think I’ve learned a lot about the microdynamics of debate over the mideast conflict from this conversation: the predominant technique seems to be to ignore or gloss over the subtleties of the last post and return to your core allegations, ie “Israelis kill Palestinians (children), and you can’t argue with that,” etc… As such I feel the thread serves nicely as a microcosm of how Israel-Palestine is used as a proxy for all the other problems in the region and the world. You’ll notice especially how every time Lisa makes a point like “what bothers me is the way the Israelis are held to a higher standard” or “Tell us your perspective on honor killings, clitorectomies, arranged marriages and polygamy in the Arab world” or, what I think is perhaps her best point, “I have to say that the rights of an Israeli Arab are greater than the rights Jews have had at any time living in Arab countries and frankly, greater than the rights of many Arabs in other countries” these statements are never addressed by her opponents. Instead they simply make sure to keep her perpetually on the defensive.
    Why? Well that’s just the point: without Israel and indeed the Palestinians to serve as convenient scapegoats you’d have to face the cruel facts that Europeans not only gassed millions of Jews but continue to persecute both Jews and increasingly their own ghettoized Arab populations while deflecting their post-colonial misgivings onto the mess they’ve created.
    Meanwhile, the Middle-East obviously remains a backwards, racist, misogynist, violent place. Ummabdulla wrote: “Shaun, I was born and raised in the U.S. and lived there for 30-some years, and I’ve lived in an Arab country for 14 years, and I have absolutely no desire to go back. It’s really not the miserable hellhole that some people imagine.” Oh yeah, and your a Jew too? How inspiring!…oh wait, your not a Jew?…are you perhaps an educated Arab-American citizen? Maybe that’s why it wasn’t so bad? Come on Ummabdulla, face the music: most Arab states don’t give a shit about Palestinians or their lower classes and you know it. By the way, do you know how many people can vote in Kuwait, or how many Indian and yes, Palestinian servants they have waiting on them hand and foot? “Please America, save us from big bad Saddam Hussein, he’s trying to take our oil and we’re a democracy too…”
    But why, you retort, should we be discussing other Middle-Eastern countries, isn’t this a thread about Israel-Palestine? Uh-uh-uh, must I remind you, it started as a post about the Palestinians, not Israel. How ironic that supporters of an independent Palestinian state can’t make one post about Palestine without indexing Israel!
    Which is, I guess, a roundabout way of addressing The Bag’s question: I don’t blame you for wanting to go for the jugular. Jerusalem (Israel-Palestine) induces almost infinite semiosis; the place is just steeped in layers of symbolic meaning. But of course, its as equally controversial as it is fascinating. So, I guess the final choice will have to be yours, just know its gonna be the wheat with the chaff. (But I’m having fun: I vote go for it.)

  • ummabdulla

    Shaun, take a deep breath and calm yourself down. I’m not the one who brought up Israel anyway, and I don’t know what you see as “going for the jugular”.
    We’ve had discussions about threads going way off topic, so I’m trying to stick to the topic. I don’t know how other people think, but to me, in a post about Hamas (who seem to have won a landslide victory today, by the way), discussions about Palestine and Israel are on topic; discussions about the Taliban, female circumcision, Riyadh, servants in Kuwait, etc., are way off topic. Would you consider it off-topic to quote from Jewish writings about treatment of non-Jews, or Orthodox Jewish attitudes towards women? Actually, that would be more relevant to this topic than the Taliban or Riyadh (assuming that’s what you meant by “Riad”).
    (By the way, Shaun, if Lisa’s best point is that “Israeli Arabs” – i.e. Palestinians – are treated better than any Jews ever were in Arab countries, then she better not hope that anyone actually reads up on the status of Arabs in those “unrecognized” areas. And I do know about Kuwait; to answer your questions, all citizens over the age of 18 can vote, except for those who were naturalized less than 20 years ago, and I think those in the military. And Kuwaitis don’t have Palestinian servants. Many Palestinians were forced to leave after Yasser Arafat supported Saddam during the Iraqi invasion, but until then, Palestinians made up the bulk of the professional class; they were the engineers, teachers, accountants, doctors, computer programmers, etc., and they had all kinds of benefits that other foreign workers didn’t have.)
    RTBAG (I just figured out what that acronym was – before, I was thinking it had something to do with BAG), Lisa certainly isn’t unique in her views. Fortunately, though, there are many Jews who have different opinions – people like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Uri Avnery, etc. Their views can be read in Israeli newspapers, which actually provide a fuller perspective than U.S newspapers.
    From what I’ve seen, Arabic children’s stories are often sort of fables that use animals, and the animals aren’t necessarily native to this region. I don’t know of any significance of bears or foxes, although there is a desert fox that’s white.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Shaun, being critical of Israel *does not equal* anti-Semitism. It just doesn’t. Just like being critical of the U.S. government does not make one anti-American or unpatriotic. Or a Communist or an atheist or ANYTHING. Stop reading shit into what people say that’s even not there.

  • ummabdulla

    I just wanted to make a correction. I wrote that the voting age in Kuwait is 18; it’s actually 21, but there’s talk of changing it to 18.

  • Lisa

    By period of calm, I am talking about times when terrorism was rare. For example, in this last year, more Palestinians were killed by Palestinians than the IDF and this was in a time when terrorism was not infrequent.
    I am looking at a much earlier time period but I can’t find the data. Before the first Intifada would be a good time, many Palestinians worked in Israel during this time and made a good living and Israelis went to the West Bank to spend money and sight see.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Lisa: I have never been able to wrap my brain around the concept of a “period of calm” as being a period when “terrorism was rare.” To me, and to many other people, a period of calm is when *no one* dies, not when *fewer* die. I don’t care if that definition of “calm” is relative to the region; when it comes to loss of life, semantics should — and do — matter. I hold BOTH sides to those standards equally. The minute you accept anything less, you have degraded the value of all human life.
    Same thing applies, by the way, to the president’s definition of “progress” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Lisa

    Ready to Blow a Gasket,
    You are right, no death is acceptable. My point is that I suspect but am unable to prove that the number of Palestinians who die at the hands of the IDF has a direct relationship to the amount of terrorism currently experienced. I can find Israeli fatalities due to terrorism since 1967, there hasn’t been a single year in which Palestinian terror did not kill an Israeli. So I can’t look for an absence of violence, only a minimum of violence. I have not been able to find the same data for Palestinians. I wish I could.
    Sad isn’t it.

  • Shaun

    You guys missed my point entirely: I don’t actually care about Kuwait. Its just one example. You can pick nearly any country in the Middle-East (including the ones propped-up by the United States) and see that they’re all restrictive, inequitable, racist and violent regimes. How about Syria? It’s enforced an occupation of Lebanon for thirty years using car-bombings. They also treat the Kurds and women like trash, as do many Arab countries (to say nothing of the world’s most fetid, fascist and backwards nation, Saudi Arabia…)
    But, since you took the bait: Kuwait has not yet allowed women to vote in any elections though a recent decision finally granted suffrage subject to Islamic law…Also, in Kuwait “recently naturalized” means less than 30 years of citizenship, not 20. Currently 139,000 of 960,000 Kuwaitis can vote (that’s around 10%). http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ku.html
    Who do you think the rest of them are Ummabdulla? They’re slaves. Its a petro-dollar monarchy backed by an 80% non-Kuwaiti work force. It takes half a dozen Indian, and yes often Palestinian servants to get a cup of tea across a room. Its disgusting. Then again you make a good point that Palestinians are treated better there than in most other Arab states…
    Second: you can say what you will about the way Israel treats Palestinians but they’re not citizens of Israel. Ummabdulla, you are wrong in equating “Israeli Arabs” with Palestinians. That’s neither what Lisa nor I meant. Pay attention. ‘Israeli Arabs’ are Arab citizens of Israel (almost 20% of the population), ‘Palestinians’ are not. And, as Lisa pointed out and I reiterated, Israeli Arabs, though sometimes subjected to discrimination as are all minorities in all countries, are treated far better than Jews in any Arab country.
    Therefore I do not agree that “Jewish attitudes towards women and non-Jews” are in any way more relevant to a discussion of Hamas than are Arab attitudes towards women, Jews or other Arab minorities. This would seem self-evident given that Hamas is Arab! But as I pointed out your central strategy of misdirection is intended specifically to displace these embarrassing facts onto Israel.
    By the way “Riad” is an accepted spelling for the capitol of Saudi Arabia, as is “Riyadh.” http://www.encyclopedia.com/SearchResults.aspx?Q=Riad (Though I’m sorry if you confused the city with the numerous other uses of ‘Riad’)
    Finally, readytoblow, I never equated criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism other than abstractly by Europe as a whole but that doesn’t give you the right to be naïve: why don’t you tell it to Ahmadinejad?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Oh, Shaun, I truly wish I were more naïve — and less intimately familiar with anti-Semitism. But thanks for sharing your vitriol, it’s exactly what this conversation needed.

  • Shaun

    Fine, your right, that was a little over the line. I guess I just thought this was the vitriol room…

  • ummabdulla

    Shaun, I’ve lived in Kuwait for the past 14 years and frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m sort of chomping at the bit to refute everything you’ve said; unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I guess Palestinians are related to the topic, though, so I’ll say again that Palestinians don’t work as servants.
    I know what you mean by “Israeli Arabs”, but they consider themselves Palestinians. Israelis don’t usually like to call them that because some of them like to pretend that there’s no such thing as Palestine, and because they don’t want to foster any sense of unity between Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian community in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere.

  • Lisa

    Israeli Arabs are not a monolithic group. There are Druze, Beduin, Christian, Sunni and other sub groups. The differences between these groups is quite remarkable. If they were a monolithic group, one would expect there to be a single Arab party which recieved ~20% of the votes, 20% of the seats in the Knesset. In a coalition government, 20% of the seats would be formidable. However, there are several Arab parties and they do not hold many seats because most Arabs do not vote for them.
    Recent polliing suggests that 67% of eligible Israeli Arabs will vote in March and more than half of those are expected to vote for non-Arab parties (especially labor). This suggests to me that they see themselves as Israelis, not just Arabs. Other polls I have seen show a majority of Israeli Arabs would NOT want to be part of a new Palestine.
    The only group that I am aware of that calls itself Palestinians in Israel are those who live in the part of Jerusalem occupied by Jordan (why is it no one ever refers to Jordan’s holding of the West Bank and Egypts of Gaza as occupation? Without that there could have been a Palestine in 48) from 1948 to 1967, what is now called East Jerusalem. They were offered Israeli citizenship in 1967, most refused, and now they hold resident status only.
    With Hamas now running the PA (what an odd thing considering they do not recognize the Oslo Accords which created the PA!), it is likely that Israel will continue to act unilaterally and refuse to give up all of East Jerusalem. I do not know what will happen to those who have refused citizenship if they are living inside Israel’s new boundaries. I suspect they will once more be offered citizenship and if they refuse, who knows.

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