Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't Call Me Bigot, Whitey

A few days ago, I was unlucky enough to read one of the horribly racist and offensive Obama-bashing emails that have been traversing the cybertubes and scaring ignorant Americans into fearing big bad Barack because his name is typed out in close proximity to the bogus term "Muslim male extremist."

Needless to say, it made me furious. Frustrated with the rampant racism of America and demonization of "the other," I decided to pen a response, in the style of the original, that speaks to fears of a nation and encourages learning from history. Whom should we really fear and how should that influence our vote come November 4th?

To read the original email, click here.

Here's my reply:

READ THIS PEOPLE, DON'T BE BLIND.

I knew there was something I didn't like now I know what it is. If you plan on voting, read this first.


This is not a matter of opinion. Opinions are subjective. These are facts.

My personal opinion? I agree with facts because they're factual.

If after reading this email you disagree, please, feel free to reply back to me. Your opinion is yours and that's fine, but you should be able to justify it, don't you think?

*******************************

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine that America can inflict horrific damage upon the rest of the world without any facing any consequences.

Moreover, there seems to be a whole lot of fear-mongering going around these days, exploiting the xenophobia, racism, mistrust and misunderstanding of "the other," and the cultural and ethnosupremacy of many white Americans, who are the descendants of European Christians.

So, please, pause a moment, reflect back.

These events are actual events from history.

They really happened!!!

Do you remember?

1. 1095-1291: The Crusades, a series of religiously-motivated military campaigns with the intent of brutally conquering and claiming the Holy Land and fought primarily against Muslims, were waged by white Christian men. Death toll: 3-5 million human beings.

2. 1478-1834: The Spanish Inquisition, a bloody effort to create a politically and religiously homogeneous kingdom wrested from the hands of Muslims and Jews through forced conversion, censorship, repression, and torture, was sanctioned and carried out by white Christian men. Death toll: 32,000 human beings.

3. Over the course of four hundred years, beginning in the fifteenth century, witch hunts led by white Christian men were responsible for the deaths of about 60,000 human beings.

4. 1562-1598: For thirty-six years, religious battles were waged in France among different factions of white Christian men. Death toll: 2-4 million human beings.

5. 1618-1648: The Thirty Years War, also fought among conflicting factions of white Christian men, cost the lives of about 7 million human beings.

6. 1803-1815: The Napoleonic Wars, immediately following the French Revolutionary Wars, had a death toll of upwards of 6 million human beings and were waged by white Christian men.

7. 1415-1914: Over the course of five centuries, white Christian men consistently, compulsively, and competitively conquered and colonized the majority of five continents, in an effort to expand economy, exploit resources, subjugate native populations, and exert unabashed hegemony, imperialism, and chauvinism upon the non-European world.

8. The conquest of the New World by European explorers, beginning in earnest in 1492, led to the systematic and deliberate genocide of over 100 million human beings, an unspeakable act of ethnic-cleansing in the name of Manifest Destiny and perpetrated by white Christian men.

9. 1500-1880: The African Slave Trade in the Americas was responsible for forcibly removing over 24 million human beings from their homes. Fewer than 50% survived the trip to the New World and spent the rest of their lives in brutal bondage. This abhorrent crime against humanity was funded, executed, promoted, and fought for by white Christian men.

10. Over the course of 150 years, beginning in 1770, the indigenous population of Australia (who had lived sustainably on their own land for over 40,000 years) was all but wiped out, due to colonization, violent re-settlement, disease, and cultural disintegration inflicted by white Christian men.

11. Even after the abolition of slavery in the United States, Jim Crow Laws that limited or denied the civil rights and liberties of minority groups were in place for almost a century, until 1965. This legalized racism, segregation, and the paradoxical bigotry of the "separate but equal" doctrine were conceived and enforced by white Christian men.

12. 1899-1902: U.S. Marines slaughtered over a million Filipino civilians, as a result of the American occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, one of the first imperial exercises of the United States government, which was controlled (as always) by white Christian men.

13. 1938-1945: Well over 30 million civilians were killed by the Nazis and Fascists during World War II, an estimated 12 million of those in concentration camps. Who's to blame for this genocide? Yup, white Christian men.

14. February 13-15, 1945: In an unjustified and unnecessary series of air raids, the U.S. and British Air Forces dropped about 4,000 tons of bombs on the city of Dresden, destroying about 13 square miles and at least 30,000 human beings. Who gave the orders? White Christian men.

15. August 6 & 9, 1945: After six months of devastating firebombing of almost 70 other cities, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing the deaths of over 220,000 human beings. These criminal acts of civilian murder, and the only attacks using nuclear weaponry in the history of the world, were carried out by an executive order by a white Christian man.

16. For over 40 years, beginning in 1948, the Apartheid system in South Africa legally dictated the domination of one race over all others via institutionalized discrimination and segregation that affected citizenship, identity, freedom of movement, living locations and conditions, marriage, education, employment, and health care. As in the U.S., people of different races were prohibited from using the same restaurants, restrooms, and swimming pools. This violation of human rights, with its wholesale contempt and rejection of equality, freedom, and justice, was enacted, supported, and administered by white Christian men.

17. Between 1950 and 1975, militaries led by white Christian men caused the deaths of over 7 million civilians in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Over 2.5 million tons of bombs were dropped on Laos and Cambodia alone, more than double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany and about 14 times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.

18. Since 1893, the sovereign governments of Hawaii, Cuba, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, Greece, Iran, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chile, Grenada, and Panama, among many others have been overthrown by U.S. government and CIA-supported coup d'etats, incited by white Christian men.

19. Since its creation in 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has advocated white supremacy and violently supported their racist agenda with intimidation, lynching, murder, terrorism, and hate speech. At its peak, the Klan boasted over 4 million members, all of whom were (and still are) white Christian men.

20. The recent illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, including atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, bombings of wedding celebrations, massacres in Haditha and Mahmudiyah, and the Blackwater shootings in Baghdad, committed by and the behest of white Christian men, have cost the lives of well over a million human beings and have displaced over 3 million others.

21. Assassins John Wilkes Booth and Charles Guiteau, serial killers Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Jeffrey Dahmer, dictators Augusto Pinochet and Francisco Franco, terrorists Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh, bigots Billy Graham, James Hagee, Rush Limbaugh, and David Duke, cult leaders Jim Jones and David Koresh, as well as every single U.S. President and Vice President in history have all been white Christian men.

Clearly, there's a pattern here. As a result, I think all Americans should be very wary of electing another leader of such dubious character and affiliation.

The next U.S. President will be the commander-in-chief of the most active and most expensive military on the planet. The U.S. spends over $600 billion dollars a year on its military, more than the rest of the world combined (Our nearest competitor, China, spends one-tenth what we do). The U.S. sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation, has more than 700 military bases in 130 countries around the world and over 6000 bases in the U.S. and U.S.-controlled territories.

Would you want to place this devastating amount of power in the hands of another white Christian man?

Have the American People completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason?

Also, in response to the bogus claims of the "Book of Revelations" prophecy...

The ridiculous statement, as repeated in numerous e-mail forwards attempting to link Barack Obama's popularity to the end of the world, is as follows:

"The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40's, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal....the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, he will destroy everything."
Ok, just some simple corrections:

1. There is no "Book of Revelations" in the Bible. It's called the "Book of Revelation." Singular.

2. Nowhere in "Revelation" is the word "Anti-Christ" mentioned.

3. There is also no mention of a man in his 40's (or of any age for that matter).

4. The mention of a "Muslim" is clearly absurd considering Islam (and thus the term Muslim) was a religion founded in the early 7th Century, about five hundred years after the New Testament was written. Nice try, idiots.

5. The subsequent descriptions of the so-called Anti-Christ are found nowhere in the Book of Revelation. They are pieced-together ideas from disparate parts of the Bible, taken completely out of context, and filtered heavily through End Times theology and Rapture mythology.

Basically, the whole thing is made up. Kudos, racists.

It would behoove all those flag-waving church-over-state patriots to remember the words of our founding father Thomas Jefferson, from his Notes on Virginia:
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites."
Too wordy? Maybe this other Jefferson quote sums it up better:
"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
And what about this gem from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason:
"Of all systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity."

There you have it. Amen.

********************************

So, hey, if you've gotta vote on November 4th, it's safer to vote against the white guy. Those fuckers are dangerous.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Pander, The Racist Schlep:
Fighting Racism with More Racism

Is a youth movement that attempts to bring truth and tolerance to its elders actually encouraging the deep-rooted bigotry of the very population it is hoping to influence? Can the movement’s good intentions be undermined by its own unconscious racism?

As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha!"

The last several weeks have seen a growing mobilization on the part of the Jewish Council for Education and Research and its election year pet project JewsVote to get out a pro-Obama elderly Jewish vote in the Sunshine State come November 4th. It's called The Great Schlep and is, as its own website states, aimed at having "Jewish grandchildren visit their grandparents in Florida, educate them about Obama, and therefore swing the crucial Florida vote in his favor." The grassroots campaign is supposedly focused on discrediting false information, allaying undue fear, and dispelling mudslung mythologies about the Junior Senator from Illinois.

Unfortunately, The Great Schlep's seemingly noble concept, whimsical Yiddish name, and immensely popular endorsement video by comedienne Sarah Silverman hides a disappointing truth. Not only are many of the grandparents of self-described progressive Jews apparently extremely racist, xenophobic, and ill-informed, but their grandchildren, who are signing on to this project in droves, are hardly any better informed - they just think they are.

The Great Schlep is explicitly Rovian in its desire to exploit cultural bias in a coordinated effort to manipulate a specific demographic to vote a certain way come election time. It makes no attempt to dismantle the general racist ideologies of certain elderly Jews or to actually disseminate any factual information or analysis beyond simple ethnocentric bullet points. The tact of appealing to the lowest common denominators of Jewish and American exceptionalism and extreme Zionist jingoism is troubling and does a great disservice to the project's mantra of education, truth-telling, and myth-debunking.

According to its own helpful Talking Points guide, aimed at facilitating a discussion with one's elders by having fun facts at the ready, The Great Schlep's Weltanschauung is that of noble American imperialism and hegemony, frightening and untrustworthy schwartzes, evil Arab terrorists, and Israeli righteousness - essentially the exact world view shared by the ignorant "Country First" crowd. Pandering to the fears and racist beliefs of this segment of the population, even in order to swing a vote from the inevitable Fascism of a McCain administration to the slightly better pseudo-Fascism of an Obama administration, is dishonest and serves only to solidify and further enable the offensive ideologies of a misinformed community.

These Talking Points, as well as Silverman's video clip, are awash with pandering statements and arguments, made-to-order for a discussion based on incorrect assumptions and oft-repeated lies, all which carefully (and purposefully) side-step the underlying issues of whether or not the assumptions themselves are false and racist. The Great Schlep, in a bombshell, affirms American (not only elderly Jewish) racism while attempting to project Barack Obama as "one of us" rather than the scary and unpredictable "one of them." Obama is shown to be a friend to the Jews, intent on blindly supporting Israel, a black man cut from a whiter cloth than those radical activists who fought for equal rights and the abolition of segregation. Obama is presented as safe and palatable for an audience (and citizenry) who prefers white American and Jewish superiority to continue to dominate the globe, while avoiding criticism, resistance, or outrage. The Great Schlep is designed not to promote Obama's unifying strengths over racial and divisions, but instead to fit Obama's political platforms and statements into an already established racist framework. Rather than demonstrating Barack's ability to transcend race, it proves that he can be just as racist as you are. At the bottom of some squalid cesspool in hell, George Wallace is laughing his ass off.

THE GOOD, THE BLACK, AND THE ZIONIST

According to The Great Schlep's organizers, the only type of black man fit for the highest office is one who will strengthen American hegemony, disassociate himself from the black community, and credit his success and the progress of the civil right movements to American Jews. Basically, this means a black guy who behaves like a Zionist white guy. This effort to whitewash Barack Obama's true ethnicity is evident in bullet points such as this one from the Talking Points memo:

Obama represents a different kind of black leadership, less interested in the confrontational tactics favored by many who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.
It is obvious that a community that idolizes Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon for promoting ethnic cleansing and selective democracy would shun or denounce the tactics of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Medger Evers and Bobby Seale that fought against discrimination, white supremacy, police brutality, and espoused a primarily socialist ideology? Perhaps Florida Jews should pay more attention to the Guess Who's Coming To Dinner style comments of self-described Zionist Joe Biden, who referred to Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The Schlep's Talking Points, too, clearly point out that Barack Obama is a new breed of educated black man, someone different than Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright, one passive enough to ignore the glaring injustices in this country but will pledge undying fealty to Zionism and the oppression of foreigners, intent on "dramatically increas[ing] America’s influence with other nations" and unafraid to engage in "aggressive diplomacy coupled with a willingness to use force when necessary." Peaceful candidates need not apply. The language of violent nationalism and military intervention apparently speaks to those elderly folks who suffered from perhaps the most horrific ethnic oppression and racially-motivated genocide in modern history.

One of the very first issues for Schleppers to address with their racist elders, we are told, is that Barack Obama "is a Christian and has never been a Muslim." This frantic disassociation with one of the world's most popular religions is disgraceful and offensive. Sure, Obama and his supporters should correct the misperceptions, the simple truth being that, no, Obama is not a Muslim. But this McCarthy-esque statement, echoed emphatically on Obama's own website ("Obama is not and has never been a Muslim"), clearly reveals that being called a Muslim in the current American atmosphere is a "smear" tantamount to being a terrorist, an anti-Semite, and a threat to national security. Nowhere on the Schlep site (or on Obama's site for that matter) does it condemn the broad racism that underlies the statement in the first place. Jews, having been victims of the same kind of blind bigotry, should know better and not be at all susceptible to such racist propaganda. The Great Schlep’s perspective is that being a Muslim is a bad thing, something to be condemned and abhorred, a sign of anti-American and anti-Semitic treachery and malevolence. Whereas John McCain is rightly castigated for claiming that Arabs or Muslims are mutually exclusive of decent, family-oriented, or law-abiding American citizens, elderly Jews seem to get a pass on the same matter, as if the trauma of the Holocaust somehow justifies their anti-Islamic suspicions. For the record, let's just remember that absolutely none of the Germans in concentration camp watchtowers and at gas chamber controls were Arabs or Muslims. They were all Christians.

The xenophobia of both the grandparents and grandchildren involved in The Great Schlep is evident in the following statement by Sarah Silverman in her endorsement:
"You know why your grandparents don't like Barack Obama? Because his name sounds scary, it sounds Muslim, which he's obviously not. Yes, Barack Hussein Obama, it's a super fucking shitty name...The name Barack is a Hebrew word, it means lightening."
Not only does this blithely offensive statement demonstrate the lack of understanding and clarity of the Schlep, but it's also patently untrue. Obama's first name is not the same as the Hebrew word "barak," which does mean "lightening" (though, granted, they sound identical); it is a Swahili derivative ("baraka") of the Arabic word "bariki" meaning "blessing." Its Hebrew equivalent is actually the word "baruch." Sorry, Sarah, you should do your homework.

[Incidentally, Obama's own website feels the need to go one step further by asserting that the candidate's middle name is not Mohammed, a fact they repeat three times in quick succession, with no other explanation: "OBAMA'S MIDDLE NAME IS NOT MOHAMMED. Barack Obama's Middle Name Is Not Mohammed. Barack Obama's middle name is not Mohammed." Check it out, it's weird.]

The most important issue raised by the Schlep (under the Talking Points title: Obama ♥ Israel And So Do You) addresses the actual fears of Jewish retirees from Boca to Palm Beach: Is Barack Obama good for Israel? With this question should come a bevy of counter-queries, rather than a race to scream "Yes!" at the top of one's Zionist lungs. First, is what's good for the United States the same as what's good for Israel? And also, what exactly does "good" mean?

Realistically, can a history and institutionalized policy of genocide, displacement, illegal immigration, land theft, house demolitions, arbitrary incarceration, paramilitary violence, martial law, military conquest, colonial expansionism, occupation, apartheid, limiting freedom of movement, collective punishment, and a total disregard for international law or human rights of a native population be good for Israel?

There is little doubt that two illegal invasions and occupations, the use of private mercenary armies, unconstitutional domestic spying and wiretapping, offshore torture, extraordinary rendition, and an unwillingness to conduct genuine diplomacy with countries that won't backdown to American bullying and aggression has not been good for the United States. Just look at the damage it's done to the economy and our reputation around the world.

Do checkpoints, expanding settlements, segregated roads, and a separation barrier ensure the safety and security of the Israeli population? Is it not obvious that brutal occupation, rampant militarism, cultural destruction, and systematic dehumanization justifiably breed fear, anger, resentment, and resistance in the oppressed society? Shouldn't Jews, with their own tragic history, promote equality and human rights above all else, strive to create a unified society that values and rewards diversity, tolerance, and justice, and eschew fierce nationalism, cultural superiority, and racial exclusion at all costs?

But these questions are never asked. Israeli actions are assumed to be noble. US-backed and bankrolled military strength is paramount. Resistance groups and legitimate political parties like Hamas and Hezbollah are labeled "terrorist" entities. Iran is called an existential threat to the state, and the word “Palestinian” appears nowhere in the Talking Points. What is the result of these repetitive and spurious claims? The organizers and supporters of The Great Schlep become just another conservative mouthpiece, using the language of the Bush administration and the McCain campaign to promote American Empire and Israeli hegemony and reinforcing the long-established framework of dangerous US foreign policy and Zionist mythology. This is not the sort of change we should count on because, obviously, this is no change at all.

In her four-and-a-half minute YouTube presentation, Schlep-supporter Sarah Silverman asserts that "Jews are the most liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsy people there are. Yes, that's true, but you're forgetting a whole, large group of Jews that are not that way.” While she is clearly generalizing and referring only to Jewish septua-, octo-, and nonagenarians living out their twilight years in stubborn suspended animation, Silverman would be more accurate if she just said what the UN General Assembly stated back in 1975: Zionism, by its nature of exclusion, aggression, militarism, colonialism, and nationalism, is “a threat to world peace and security,” a “racist and imperialist ideology,” and “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Zionists, young or old, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, are racists.

The Great Schlep's intentions are clearly to sway a vitally important demographic in a key battleground state with a dubious voting history into favoring an obviously superior, more qualified and dignified candidate into the White House. But in its effort to assuage the damage done by McCain's negative rumor mill, the movement absentmindedly adopts the same hateful language and racist prejudice of the very campaign its attempting to defeat. In so doing, The Great Schlep utilizes racial stereotypes to undo others.

And, by legitimizing the hypocrisy of their Jewish elders, Schleppers feed the fires of Jewish nationalism and reaffirm the false and racist mythologies that plague much of the elderly Jewish community. Unfortunately, members of The Great Schlep don’t seek to teach old dogs new tricks, but rather to trick the old dogs into throwing them a bone.

*****

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Debate & Switch: A Palin v. Biden Preview

Are you going to watch the VP debate in order to learn about the candidates, or in order to see just how stupid Sarah Palin actually is and how badly Joe Biden can blow a perfect opportunity? Why has politics turned into a Real World/Road Rules challenge? Would the debate get better ratings if Biden was debating William Hung? How would Hung fair against the Alaska governor (no flutes allowed)?

The answer to all these questions is kill me.

In anticipation of tonight's sad entertainment (no, not The Joe Girardi Show on the YES Network), here's a quick run down of what we're all in store for:

mentions "diplomacy": 4

mentions "killing Bin Laden": 1

mentions "justice": 0



mentions "The Bridge to Nowhere": 1

begins sentences to nowhere: 16

mentions "hardworking Americans": 6



refers to various dark-skinned foreigners as "terrorists": 4

praises Israel: 2

scratches crotch/picks wedgie: 3



mentions "victory in Iraq": 5

refers to various dark-skinned foreigners as "terrorists," "evil-doers," "bad guys," and/or "people who wish us harm": 8

says that she'll "sure up" the economy: 3



repeats lie about Russia attacking Georgia: 2

stares in disbelief at his opponent's idiocy: 4

makes off-color, racist joke: 57



mentions "strong fundamentals": 2

mentions, but doesn't elaborate on, reform: 7

brings up freedom or 9/11: 9



lies about totally legal Iranian nuclear program: 2

lauds his own "good judgment": 4

mentions his affinity for Steeley Dan: 1



mentions Vladmir Putin (rearing head, optional): 2

is bewildered by straight-forward question and/or passes out: 24

says "Osama" instead of "Obama" accidentally on purpose: 1

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No Country For Olmert?
A Rosh Hashanah Shocker: Carterizing the Wounds of Palestine

In order to actually achieve a realistic and substantive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, a top Israeli government official has conceded that a near-total withdrawal from occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, encompassing West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, is the only viable solution to the seemingly intractable situation. He also admitted that the institutionalized militarization that permeates all of Israeli society is worthless and, in fact, destructive to any hopes for security in the region. He also called Israeli saber-rattling against a sovereign nation of 70 million people a symptom of Zionist megalomania and demonstrates a complete loss or lack of Israeli self-awareness.

So who is this left-wing, pinko nut job? Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Guh?

Yes, it's the year 5769 and it seems like the out-going Israeli Prime Minister might be taking the upcoming Yom Kippur atonement more seriously than ever. In an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot on Monday, Ehud Olmert expressed regrets and ideas that, until now, have never been uttered by a prominent (if any) Israeli leader - let alone by the top executive. Whereas none of his comments during the so-called "legacy interview" could be viewed as a complete paradigm shift of policy (say, from a staunchly pro-Kadima, ethnic democracy, Eretz Yisrael stance to a progressive, humanitarian desire to see a viable, binational one-state solution prevail), the solutions and revelations opined by Olmert are profound nonetheless.

After a military and political life dedicated to Israeli supremacy, Palestinian subjugation, and the maintenance and expansion of an illegal settler society, Olmert's interview took a startlingly pragmatic approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In fact, he sounded more like post-Zionist peace activist and former Irgun militiaman and MK, Uri Avnery, than the political partner of militarized right-wing ethnic cleanser Ariel Sharon - sort of.

Olmert's comments are a departure (though not necessarily an about-face) from a strict policy of avoiding responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians and the lack of Israeli security held by most pro-Zionist Israeli hard-liners. His statements, as Time's Scott MacLeod puts it, "form a swan song of historical importance. Peace advocates, Israeli dreamers, Arab skeptics and U.S. mediators in a future McCain or Obama Administration should read his words carefully and take note."

Such vital final status issues such as settlements and Israeli infrastructure (illegal according to the UN, Geneva Conventions, and the International Court of Justice) and land-for-peace "compromises" were discussed candidly (from a two-state solution point of view, that is), with the Prime Minister revealing,"We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories, including in East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights," adding, "We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace."

When pressed for a more specific indication of the territorial swap between the Israelis and Palestinians, were Israel to maintain control of major settlements on Palestinian land, Olmert said the exchange would have to be a "more or less one-to-one" ratio. This is certainly a shift towards reason, responsibility, and equality by an administration whose ideological doctrine is defined by the opposite.

Regarding the controversial (from the Zionist perspective only) issue of Jerusalem, Olmert revealed his (sudden?) realization that the Zionist fantasy of an undivided and ethnically cleansed capital of Israel is just that - a fantasy - saying,

"I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city. I admit it. I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.

"Whoever wants to hold on to all of the city's territory will have to bring 270,000 Arabs inside the fences of sovereign Israel. It won't work.

"A decision has to be made. This decision is difficult, terrible, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires, our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years."
Perhaps more surprising were Olmert's comments regarding the Israeli obsession with its own military capabilities and strength. Of the military generals and strategists who seem content with the 60 year old policy of the methodical conquering of foreign land, violent displacement of the native population, and the establishment and defense of settlements and Israeli outposts, Olmert said, "With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop," adding, "All these things are worthless. Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the state of Israel's basic security?"

In reference to the previous Israeli threats of a unilateral and unprovoked assault on Iran, professed numerous times by Olmert himself, the Prime Minister dispelled the rumors as empty, bellicose rhetoric and admitted, "Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here [in Israel] about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself." Truer words have never been spoken - by an Israeli Prime Minister, at least. One must wonder if war criminal John McCain, upon hearing this, rolled over in his soon-to-be-grave, crying in disbelief that people might say what they mean, "Now, you don't do that. You don't say that out loud!"

So, wait, is Olmert going to join the ranks of organizations like B'Tselem and Gush Shalom? Of course not. Scott MacLeod explains,
"Olmert is no Arab-loving pacifist. As Prime Minister, he ravaged half of Lebanon in 2006 in a military offensive after Hizballah killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. He has unmercifully turned the screws on Hamas-controlled Gaza. Olmert's comments reflect a profound shift toward realism among Israeli rightists, akin to what Palestinian and Arab nationalists started going through three decades ago, when Israel was in the prime of its strategic strength. The shift is evident not only in Olmert's prescription for a peace settlement, but also in his severe critique of a righteous Israeli mind-set that has turned out to be self-destructive.

"'Forty years after the Six-Day War ended, we keep finding excuses not to act,' Olmert says. 'We refuse to face reality ... The strategic threats we face have nothing to do with where we draw our borders.'"
Olmert even touched upon the issue of the Syrian Golan Heights, annexed and occupied by Israel since 1981, a move never legitimized by the international community. In reference to the "disputed" territory, Olmert said, "I'd like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights."

Maybe this is less of a surprise than it seems. As reported by Tim McGirk in Time, Olmert, in the last cabinet meeting of his tortured tenure as Israeli PM, "told his ministers that 'the notion of a Greater Israel no longer exists, and anyone who still believes in it is deluding themselves' — suggesting that Israel will have to give up settlements built outside its 1967 borders, often on the claim of a Biblical right, if its wants peace with the Arab world."

Also, as we recall, his commitment (in words, at least) to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is consistent and is based upon the fear that Israel may lose its "Jewish character," a racist notion central to the Zionist ideology. Last November, he warned during the Annapolis Conference that,
"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."
He continued, "The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents," thereby tacitly (or maybe explicitly?) admitting that the 41-year old Israeli policy of occupation, separation, humiliation, and Jewish supremacy in the Palestinian Territories is, in fact, comparable - if not tantamount - to Apartheid.

MacLeod writes that Olmert's interview seems to admit his feeling "that Israel never went quite far enough in accommodating the Palestinians' basic requirements for peace," and that "the realism behind Olmert's change of heart is of tremendous import, summed up by one sentence: 'The international community is starting to view Israel as a future binational state.'"
"Echoing views he initially expressed in 2003, Olmert reasons that without an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Jewish state faces the self-inflicted, mortal danger of being destroyed by demographics, overwhelmed by Muslim and Christian Arabs demanding political representation. Olmert fears that the international community could ultimately favor a one-state solution, thus spelling the death of the two-state partition that has been at the core of an acceptable Israeli-Palestinian solution for decades. "Time is not on Israel's side," Olmert says. "I used to believe that everything from the Jordan River bank to the Mediterranean Sea was ours ... But eventually, after great internal conflict, I've realized we have to share this land with the people who dwell here — that is, if we don't want to be a binational state."
In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter states that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land." It appears that Ehud Olmert has finally come around to the Carter way of thinking. But why? An attack of conscience after a lifetime of racism? Are these the desperate words of a disgraced lame duck? Now that he's on his way out, after being maligned at home and abroad and having enjoyed worse approval ratings than even his moronic American counterpart (due mostly to the clear defeat of the Israeli military by Hezbollah during the 2006 war on Lebanon), maybe he just has nothing to lose. And when you've got nothing to lose, why not tell the truth, right?

"What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me," Olmert said frankly. "The time has come to say these things."

Unfortunately, Ehud, the time was when you were still in power and every single day for the past 41 years. As Walid Awad, a Fatah official who termed Olmert's remarks "excellent, but too late," adds, "If he believed in these things why didn't he do them when he was properly in office?"

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