Archive for July, 2014

No Need To Apologise, Putin!

me1It feels funny, sitting here in the relative tranquility of a small Dutch town, with nothing more dramatic going on than a bunch of workmen laying new electricity cables just outside my front door, to write the words “we are living in troubled times”. But living in troubled times we are. In fact, we’ve never not lived in troubled times, for whenever all seemed well with the world in prosperous, well-ordered Holland there were always other places in the world where war, pestilence and natural disasters were taking their macabre toll. Our news media report every bit of human misery in exhaustive detail and I’m sure we’d all become clinically, suicidally depressed had Mother Nature not provided us with a clever defense mechanism: indifference. It’s a wonderful invention, based on the “us and them” principle. Roughly this works along the lines of  ‘the closer to home people are being killed, the more disastrous I believe it to be’

Many of us would deny this, of course, claiming that a picture of a dead Palestinian child in Gaza would affect them as deeply as one of a Dutch toddler who perished in the Malaysian airliner crash. But you only need to look at the tremendous outpourings of grief, the wave of outrage and fury that has washed over this country in recent days to know that 192 Dutch victims have a stronger grip on our emotions than the now 500+ dead in Gaza. Blood is thicker than water isn’t it? What’s wrong with that? Well, what’s wrong with that is that, not knowing any of the Dutch victims or any of the people directly affected by their death, I can’t say I feel much closer to them than to a blown up inhabitant of Gaza City. Or a dismembered Hutu.

And who’s to blame? I could scarcely believe it but within a few hours of the crash Western fingers were pointing towards Moscow, more specifically our current favourite whipping boy Vladimir Putin. Never mind the fact that Russian militias in the crash area blamed Ukraine; Kiev said “it was the Russkis what done it” and -the West being Ukraine’s best friend since the unceremonious ousting of a democratically elected pro-Moscow president- that was all the proof that was needed. The predictable claim by a Ukrainian leader of debatable legitimacy was immediately embraced as the unvarnished truth. Well, in the absence of independently produced, conclusive evidence, it is certainly possible that it was Russian militias who brought the airliner down. moordenaars

In which case the next question is: deliberate or accidental? Many people seem to find this distinction irrelevant. ‘MURDERERS’ thundered a Dutch newspaper, dispensing with such legal niceties as ‘intent’, ‘innocent until proved guilty’ and ‘due process’. It was a view echoed by many around the social media and the press, On Sunday -when even less was known than on Monday- the British Murdoch paper The Sunday Times ran an editorial comment with the rousing title “Make Putin The Pariah Pay For This Outrage”. Just how this could be done is not entirely clear: something to do with freezing assets and what the paper called  ‘concerted pressure’. Well, I wish everybody luck.putin smile

It’s not, by the way, as if Ukraine doesn’t have previous in the aircraft-downing stakes. In 2001, a Trans Siberian airliner carrying 66 passengers and a 12-man crew plummeted into the Black Sea after being struck by a Ukrainian missile. No one survived and, perhaps ironically, most of the victims were Israelis. The eventual verdict: a horrible mistake. Case closed. So if this turns out to be a mistake, what should Putin do? Apologise? No, no, no! If he is the true patriot I think he is he could express regret at the loss of life. Words of sympathy with the victims and their families, fine. But an apology? No way. He needn’t worry, for in refusing to bow in the dust he will be in good company. In July 1988, an Iranian Airbus carrying 290 passengers and crew (most of them Iranian) was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz by a US naval vessel, the USS Vincennes. The aircraft, on a short hop to Dubai, was flying at low altitude and could easily be identified as civilian. Not a single occupant of the plane survived, among the dead were 60 children. You remember the incident and no doubt the bitter tears you shed on that occasion. Your outrage and fury were red hot, I bet. Was there a Dutch newspaper thundering ‘MURDERERS!’ in July 1988? I can’t remember. Must have been, surely. What I can remember is then US Vice President George Bush (senior) giving us a memorable example of contrition, American style:

“I will never apologize for the United States”, he said on the 2nd of August, “I don’t care what the facts are. I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”American-Eagle

Over to you, Vladimir.

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Running Out Of Time, Obama!

“OK Barack, say after me: ‘Israel…..'”” “Eh, Israel…..” “….is…..” “….is…..” “wrong.” “…weahhh…..frrrrr……bromm….” “No, wrong. Say: wrong.” ‘Wroammmm….bongbollah…..drannnnn…whoooobaradabangabangbalooba.” “Oh dear. Seems we’ve got a problem. Let’s try this. Say: ‘North Korea is wrong.'” “North Korea is wrong.” “Fine, fine. Now this. Say; ‘Iran is wrong.'” “Iran is wrong.” “Now we’re getting somewhere. What about BP?” “Wrong. But we’ll get their ass.” “Al Qaeda?” “Wrong. Probably the wrongest bunch on the planet.” “The Taliban?” “Wrong. Jeez, are they wrong.” “Hamas?” “Wrong. Seriously bad and dead wrong.” “Splendid. Now again: ‘Israel is….'” “Weahhh…..frrrrr…….brommmm…….”       Careful what I say now, I don’t want to be branded an antisemite or a holocaust-denier again. But what is careful? Am I to overlook the fact that the war-hungry part of the Israeli nation (which just happens to call the shots there) has no desire for a fair, equitable settlement with the Palestinians, believing instead that a few homemade missiles from time to time and the occasional suicide blast is a price well worth paying for the permanent enslavement of an entire people? Am I to believe, seriously believe, that yet another full-scale military assault on the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing mostly civilians, constitutes a legitimate act of self-defence? Can anyone explain what the strongest military power by far in the Middle East has to fear from anyone? For many years now, every Palestinian pinprick (that’s what they are, no more) has been met with retribution of outrageous, brutal force and still the world’s politicians haven’t the guts to come to any conclusion other than that this is a battle between equals, that both sides have comparable weaknesses and strengths. So they wring their hands and call on both sides to please be reasonable. REASONABLE?                                                                                           We’ve been here before, of course, and we’ll get to this point again unless…. Unless an American president comes to the fore who is not afraid of the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States, who is willing to put his own job on the line in a bid to settle this historic obscenity once and for all. Sixty-two years have seen the West move from outright, unquestioning, guilt-ridden support of Israel to the middle of the road, where Palestinian violent excesses are roundly criticized and met with concerted sanctions and Israel’s murderous transgressions are likewise bemoaned, although they have consistently remained unpunished. Mach shabbes damit, my late father would have said. And watch another UN resolution get crumpled up into a ball. Such is the hold that Zionist blackmailers have on us that, 65 (69) years after the end of World War II, hysterical Israeli accusations of antisemitism still faze us, despite the fact that there are very few Jews left who have any conscious recollection of the period, just as there are very few Germans left who are old enough to have played an active part in the Holocaust. Of course this horrid episode in Man’s history must not be forgotten and lessons must be learned from it. But today, in 2010 (2014), I -a 69 (73)-year old half Jew from Amsterdam- reserve the right to call Benyamin Netanyahu a vicious thug, the settlers a bunch of wild-eyed fanatics and Israel a rogue state that gives the finger to anyone who urges restraint. I tell you, if today antisemitism is alive and well it isn’t because of an old and long discredited view of Jews as vermin or hook-nosed moneylenders and babysnatchers, but because of the modern perception of Israelis as benders of the truth who cock a snook at the rest of the world, pursue what they see as their self-interest with the most brutal means and then cry bloody murder when anyone dares to object. I share that perception, so maybe I’m an antisemite after all. Anyway, I’m on record as a great admirer of Barack Obama, a man of deep intellect, great humanity and all the right instincts. His first year and a half (five and a half years) in office have failed to bring all the great achievements I’d been hoping for but boy! Did he have the tide running against him! No, I can’t blame him for not doing the impossible. I blame him for not doing the achievable. An example: if I had been elected in Obama’s place I would, within weeks of my inauguration, have normalized relations with Cuba. Castro’s revolution is now (more than) a half century in the past, the man himself is no longer in charge, Cuba   -no longer enjoying the comfort of the Soviet Union standing shoulder to shoulder-  poses no credible threat of any kind. For God’s sake Obama, with America still squeezing the lifeblood out of that proud but underfed island, no wonder the Israelis think it’s OK to do the same to Gaza! As for the Middle East: take it from me that no solution will ever be possble until and unless the state of Israel is taught that it can no longer rely on western support whatever the circumstances. Erase the word ‘unconditional’ from your Hebrew-English dictionary. Let Jerusalem know that the next time it oversteps the mark it can expect sanctions. Nothing military, you understand. We can’t have Israelis kill US troops with the very weapons Washington supplied to them. No, economic and diplomatic sanctions are the only ones that will do the trick. Cut off the money supply, boycot Israeli produce (I’ve been doing that for quite some years now), recall your Ambassador, that sort of thing. Tell all your western mates to do the same. Oh, and send a detail of the US fleet into the eastern Med to run humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Should be fun.                                            Get it, Obama? The key to the solution to this 62 (66)-year old problem lies in your ability to tell the Israelis that they are wrong. That they’re wrong and that things are going to change whether they like it or not. Do not tie your geopolitical future to that of Bibi Netanyahu or some day he’ll drag you into a regional conflict worse than your (or your successor’s) worst nightmare.

 

 

(This is a re-post of a blog published four years ago, to illustrate the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed. How many dead Palestinian men, women and children will it take before our politicians will decide that enough is enough? On reflection: don’t answer that! See you in another four years.)

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Running Out Of Time, Obama!

“OK Barack, say after me: ‘Israel…..'”” “Eh, Israel…..” “….is…..” “….is…..” “wrong.” “…weahhh…..frrrrr……bromm….” “No, wrong. Say: wrong.” ‘Wroammmm….bongbollah…..drannnnn…whoooobaradabangabangbalooba.” “Oh dear. Seems we’ve got a problem. Let’s try this. Say: ‘North Korea is wrong.'” “North Korea is wrong.” “Fine, fine. Now this. Say; ‘Iran is wrong.'” “Iran is wrong.” “Now we’re getting somewhere. What about BP?” “Wrong. But we’ll get their ass.” “Al Qaeda?” “Wrong. Probably the wrongest bunch on the planet.” “The Taliban?” “Wrong. Jeez, are they wrong.” “Hamas?” “Wrong. Seriously bad and dead wrong.” “Splendid. Now again: ‘Israel is….'” “Weahhh…..frrrrr…….brommmm…….”       Careful what I say now, I don’t want to be branded an antisemite or a holocaust-denier again. But what is careful? Am I to overlook the fact that the war-hungry part of the Israeli nation (which just happens to call the shots there) has no desire for a fair, equitable settlement with the Palestinians, believing instead that a few homemade missiles from time to time and the occasional suicide blast is a price well worth paying for the permanent enslavement of an entire people? Am I to believe, seriously believe, that yet another full-scale military assault on the densely populated Gaza Strip, killing mostly civilians, constitutes a legitimate act of self-defence? Can anyone explain what the strongest military power by far in the Middle East has to fear from anyone? For many years now, every Palestinian pinprick (that’s what they are, no more) has been met with retribution of outrageous, brutal force and still the world’s politicians haven’t the guts to come to any conclusion other than that this is a battle between equals, that both sides have comparable weaknesses and strengths. So they wring their hands and call on both sides to please be reasonable. REASONABLE?                                                                                           We’ve been here before, of course, and we’ll get to this point again unless…. Unless an American president comes to the fore who is not afraid of the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States, who is willing to put his own job on the line in a bid to settle this historic obscenity once and for all. Sixty-two years have seen the West move from outright, unquestioning, guilt-ridden support of Israel to the middle of the road, where Palestinian violent excesses are roundly criticized and met with concerted sanctions and Israel’s murderous transgressions are likewise bemoaned, although they have consistently remained unpunished. Mach shabbes damit, my late father would have said. And watch another UN resolution get crumpled up into a ball. Such is the hold that Zionist blackmailers have on us that, 65 (69) years after the end of World War II, hysterical Israeli accusations of antisemitism still faze us, despite the fact that there are very few Jews left who have any conscious recollection of the period, just as there are very few Germans left who are old enough to have played an active part in the Holocaust. Of course this horrid episode in Man’s history must not be forgotten and lessons must be learned from it. But today, in 2010 (2014), I -a 69 (73)-year old half Jew from Amsterdam- reserve the right to call Benyamin Netanyahu a vicious thug, the settlers a bunch of wild-eyed fanatics and Israel a rogue state that gives the finger to anyone who urges restraint. I tell you, if today antisemitism is alive and well it isn’t because of an old and long discredited view of Jews as vermin or hook-nosed moneylenders and babysnatchers, but because of the modern perception of Israelis as benders of the truth who cock a snook at the rest of the world, pursue what they see as their self-interest with the most brutal means and then cry bloody murder when anyone dares to object. I share that perception, so maybe I’m an antisemite after all. Anyway, I’m on record as a great admirer of Barack Obama, a man of deep intellect, great humanity and all the right instincts. His first year and a half (five and a half years) in office have failed to bring all the great achievements I’d been hoping for but boy! Did he have the tide running against him! No, I can’t blame him for not doing the impossible. I blame him for not doing the achievable. An example: if I had been elected in Obama’s place I would, within weeks of my inauguration, have normalized relations with Cuba. Castro’s revolution is now (more than) a half century in the past, the man himself is no longer in charge, Cuba   -no longer enjoying the comfort of the Soviet Union standing shoulder to shoulder-  poses no credible threat of any kind. For God’s sake Obama, with America still squeezing the lifeblood out of that proud but underfed island, no wonder the Israelis think it’s OK to do the same to Gaza! As for the Middle East: take it from me that no solution will ever be possble until and unless the state of Israel is taught that it can no longer rely on western support whatever the circumstances. Erase the word ‘unconditional’ from your Hebrew-English dictionary. Let Jerusalem know that the next time it oversteps the mark it can expect sanctions. Nothing military, you understand. We can’t have Israelis kill US troops with the very weapons Washington supplied to them. No, economic and diplomatic sanctions are the only ones that will do the trick. Cut off the money supply, boycot Israeli produce (I’ve been doing that for quite some years now), recall your Ambassador, that sort of thing. Tell all your western mates to do the same. Oh, and send a detail of the US fleet into the eastern Med to run humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Should be fun.                                            Get it, Obama? The key to the solution to this 62 (66)-year old problem lies in your ability to tell the Israelis that they are wrong. That they’re wrong and that things are going to change whether they like it or not. Do not tie your geopolitical future to that of Bibi Netanyahu or some day he’ll drag you into a regional conflict worse than your (or your successor’s) worst nightmare.

 

 

(This is a re-post of a blog published four years ago, to illustrate the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed. How many dead Palestinian men, women and children will it take before our politicians will decide that enough is enough? On reflection: don’t answer that! See you in another four years.)

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