Category Archives: Peace

Who Can Never be President (of the United States)

Well, we’re certainly making progress. If by “progress” you mean “a repeat of racist opinions time and again.” When JFK was running for president back in the late 1950’s the thought of the pope calling the shots with a Catholic in the White House was a huge obstacle to the Kennedy campaign.

I need not say much about President Obama’s ‘first African-American in the White House’ as the racist feedback loop, which started at first mention of his run, continues to this day. Conspiracy idiocy such as the Birther Idiocy and the Secret Muslim Drivel abound. Over a quarter of Americans (the shallow end of the gene pool) believe that one.

Now we have surgeon cum wannabe Evangelical Ruler Ben Carson picking up the stinking turdball of racism and xenophobia and trying to move it along with claims that America can’t have a Muslim president. Because the pope’s rule over America in the early 60’s was such a travesty. And the Black Man made a mess of the White (man’s) House.

Christians of different flavors have always been in the White House. Some, like President Lincoln, were cagey about their beliefs. President Jefferson was famous for his literal cutting and pasting of the bible, removing all references to miracles. And Episcopalians, who hie to the Church of England, are in the ranks of American Presidents (most puzzling, that one!).

The rumblings about possibly having a Jewish President (technically, Bernie Sanders is Jewish) hasn’t hit the airwaves, and I predict that even if he’s nominated to run on the Democratic ticket, it won’t be mentioned in polite company. After all, the American Jewish machine has inoculated American society for a massive immune system response to even the appearance of anti-Semitic slurs.

UntitledWhat we need now is a moderate Muslim political organization, one focused on Muslims in America, separate from the politics of the Middle East. Interfaith organizations have had success in building grass-roots connections, but Muslim leaders and, more importantly, Muslim politicians at all levels, must stand up now, make waves, and present the true, peaceful face of Islam, in a true, centuries-old American context, as Jewish Americans have done with increasing success since the founding of America.

Acceptance of the other, and a rejection of xenophobia brings a more honest peace than all the platitudes and treaties in the world. And in what the media have portrayed as an increasingly fractious American religious landscape, it’s worth non-Muslims helping such an organization to develop. And for American Muslims to accept that help, even if it comes from Jewish sources. (After all, Jewish and Muslims have worked well together many times in the past, including at the height of Muslim expansion and the Moorish Empire — sometimes referred to as the true Caliphate.)

The King is Dead… Why Was He a King?

FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Army on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, the most wanted Iraqi fugitive, former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri , is pictured on the deck of cards put out by the U.S. military to help capture most wanted officials of Saddam Hussein's regime. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (U.S. Army via AP)

King of clubs was killed several months ago. Much happened since, but it’s still worth bringing up.

An aged Saddam regime bigwig, reduced to scuttling around the dessert, planning and plotting, was killed. When the US was arrogantly stepping into the marshes and deserts of Iraq, destabilizing the entire region, this man was dubbed the King of Clubs. Gamification, a buzz word for technology over the last few years, is, like most else in the geek world, merely a dusting off of old ideas.

 

Even back in the 17th century cards were used to “pillory” people. The power of media can’t be stopped, and it can teach, inform, and corrupt. And frequently, the second and third are intertwined.

Was this man guilty of crimes? Yes. War crimes? Yes. Should have been captured and brought to justice if possible? Absolutely.

In this case, the card went to the discard pile. But it’s far easier to attack a foe when they’ve been reduced to a face in the shuffle, the object of studied scorn.

Stepping Up, Stepping In

Available housing in Europe as of February 2014.

Today the pope called on all institutions under his control to accept refugees fleeing the ongoing horror in the Middle East. Notable in beating the pope to the punch are some EU countries, Germany at their fore. Equally notable in their rejection of refugees is the UK, battling their influx through the only land connection, the Chunnel.

us_wallThe United States, with a rather larger body of water separating it and a frenetic tempest around illegal immigration and religious ethnocentrism, is having little to nothing to do with the millions probably permanently displaced in the years-long battle to eliminate Alawite control over Syria, which has turned into a war against the cancer that is DAESH. To say nothing of Chad, Mali and other African countries where terrorism in the name of religion metastasizes as the ripples of America’s destabilization of a quarter of the world in 2003 continues. America’s avoidance of social responsibility for its previous actions not only shames it, but reduces America’s standing among the nations of the world. If it — we — want to make a difference, we need to be part of the solution to this wave of immigration, not just the instigator. And throwing money at immigration and relocation efforts, while a poor way to do it’s share, would at least show the America is part of the family of nations.

Germany isn’t just accepting newcomers out of the guilt of its post-Holocaust heart: it’s doing it because new immigrants work hard, provide a steppingstone for existing citizens to move up in their professions and generally make the economy larger.

french_ghettosFrance’s immigration experiment has failed for a number of reasons, including treating non-“true” French as outsiders for generation, creating ghettos that surround Paris and other major cities, and a cognitively dissonant government policy of acknowledging Christianity while vociferously suppressing religious expression. Combine the negative birth rate of “native” French and a social system exceeding every other EU country in payer to beneficiary ratio, France is ill-prepared for an influx of even more people of passion about their religion requiring all manner of basic services.

Italy… well, the pope has spoken for his domain, but it’s doubtful the Italians, whose government rivals that of Greece is some ominous ways, can take in massive numbers of immigrants and successfully integrate them into their society.

Which brings me to he most interesting EU country in terms of immigration: Spain. The country has an almost death spiral of rural population, with entire towns up for sale or even being given away as people flock to the cities. It has a very small population relative to the size of the country, and, with its Moorish history, makes it an interesting choice for fleeing Syrians. I propose that EU countries not willing or able to host refugees pay for their relocation, en masse, to parts of Spain, including the rural northwestern provinces. There’s an existing infrastructure, their culture shock can be ameliorated, it’ll be easier to provide social services and it is not the start of a ghetto: it’s a chance for people to start a new life in a less traumatic way. Sure, there are possible issues, but the tragedy of migrant deaths are more pressing than the longer, generational issues of integration of immigrant populations into society.

Housing is available throughout Europe: countries need to step up and bring in the next generation of future, hard-working citizens.

 

Dealing with the Devil: On Deals, Compromises and Hope

It’s been a couple of weeks since the treaty between… well, between Iran and the Western World. And it’s not a done deal yet, nor well appreciated[1][2] (although what could happen if it falls through is not good[1][2][3]).

Things to consider:

  • Countries make treaties with enemies. That way they can, in the future, just be agreements.
  • Iranians want the same material things the West wants. And with materialism, as the extremists in ALL religions say while gesticulating wildly, come “Western ways.” Which translates to a yearning for the freedom to pursue one’s passion.
  • I daresay that the ramblings of the religious in the United States as well as Iran sound amazingly similar.
  • Ten years is a long time. The Middle East has government-level issues that, by then, will make regional supremacy a different issue. Fighting over water, fresh water, will be critical. Israel’s water supply is already tapped. The Mediterranean Sea is nine times saltier than the Atlantic so it’s not a source. Power will be an issue to compensate for a much larger economy, and fortunately, Iran has all the raw material for making nuclear power plants. Which are far more attractive than nuclear weapons for Iran’s GDP, which, now that there looks to be a deal, will be important to them.

Security Through Fear, Denial and Obfuscation

None provide security, any more than a blankie or stuffed animal do for a child. They share the idea of appeasing the rulers, keeping citizens focused on staying within the bounds. True security involves teaming with others: for kids, parents and peers: for teens, mentors. For young adults, mentors and thought leaders.

Americans guard liberty, privacy and independence. Terror seeks to eradicate all of these, replacing them, in DAESH’s case, with enslaving, intrusive and totally submissive populaces.

Total openness doesn’t work — security of the many requires a loss of privacy of the few.

The checks and balances of the American government, however we can warp them temporarily. keep us in a swaying balance, like the scales of justice. Guantanamo Bay is an example, as are the ongoing privacy violations of the NSA in communications and subverting American technology to make them more susceptible to covert surveillance — or control.

In the long run, however, liberty, and independence do provide security. even in a world changing as fast as ours. And, ultimately, it is all our world. Not DAESH’s, not Iran’s, and emphatically not the United States’.

Mercy — رحمة: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Should Live

There’s no doubt that Tsarnaev committed the crime of murder. Whether he did it for religious reasons, or “under the spell of his older brother” is irrelevant. A person is judged by her or his actions.

And yet here is an opportunity for רחמים — mercy. It is the sign of a strong society to have that capacity, something DAEASH entirely lacks. We cannot let this murderer go free. And to kill him would be to make him a martyr in the eyes of DAESH and those that pervert the Prophet of Peace.

No, the truest punishment would be for him to spend the rest of his life at Pelican Bay, in permanent isolation. No one to gloat over, no one to hear him. No one but himself. Give him a prayer mat, a Koran, and an arrow pointing him towards Mecca. Perhaps in communing with Allah, and his prophet, he might find peace. And still know that he will ever be a forgotten soul, except by those he maimed and the families of those he killed.

Caliphatonoma

CaptureDAESH has sent recruiters to Afghanistan. It urges attacks in its name, and claims what it can in Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. Where is this caliphate DAESH is so passionate to build? In the middle of the desserts and cities of Iraq and Syria? The desserts of Libya? In the desserts and cities of Tunisia?

Cartography doesn’t seem to matter much to them: it’s a nation-state with no intended borders. It’s a state of mind. Of terror. The comparison between cancer and terrorism is almost trite, but the damage of DAESH, the organization that styles itself as ISIS, is similar to the disease that’s killed several of my friends, and assuredly will kill more.

Cancer are body cells gone insane. Islam, nationalism, tribal pride, ethnicity, culture: all these have an honored place in defining a people in a place and at a time. Like the top of the picture, these are large numbers of people living in (relative) harmony with one another. Those self-same components of cultural or ethnic identity, removed of reason or rational breadth become the death not only of those healthy around them and, ultimately, all culture, ethnicity, nationalism and even tribal identity. Where people stood, persons act out, displacing the normative for the insane. And where DAESH walks, all but the conquerors cower. And the conquerors can come from any nation, culture, or ethnicity — so long as they can spread the disease of fanatical, fatal extremism in the name of selfish, personal power over others.

They must have been very scared when they were children. I wonder what would these men be had they been raised with love, peace, acceptance and cultural and family identity?

On Lies and Liars — and Truth

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu helped up his voting by doing what rulers across the world have always done before elections: scare the electorate right before the election, then walk their fearmongering back once they’ve got the mandate. The day before elections Netanyahu spoke of the Right being in danger, that “the Left” was busing Arab voters to vote. That so long as he was in power, there would be no Palestinian state.[1][2]

The day after the elections Netanyahu blithely and without any shame walked back that latter statement. While he might see this as something completely normal, it’s raised worries even among staunch Israeli supporters. As well it should: lies and fearmongering are a hallmark of a “sick” politican movement, one that believes it can’t rely on truth and facts to make its case.

Of course, in Israel, things are more complicated. While this author very much wants two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side, with _all_ of Jerusalem as their joint capital, currently this is not possible. Throughout the ’90s and 2000s any “moderates” in the Palestinian camp have been eradicated[3][4][5], leaving populists like Abu Mazen and non-negotiators like Hamas holding the reins of power in with West Bank and Gaza Strip. I don’t trust Netanyahu to act in good faith, but I certainly don’t trust terrorist groups who’ve vowed to destroy Israel to honestly participate in the creation of a two-state solution.

But the current situation should not be the basis for blanket statements, and Netanyahu, in making a blunt (and, for once for him, honest) statement about a two-state solution, showed his true colors. Even if an Abba Eban, a Mohatma Ghandi, a Mother Theresa were all to arise from within the Palestinian leadership, he would not reach out to create peace. An that is more dangerous to Israel and the entire Middle East than someone who is willing to honestly deal and honestly speak. Dancing the sidestep might look pretty in a movie, but a person’s word is their bond. Break that bond enough times and there’s not even an empty, angry suit left.

Living Life in Color, Not the Black and White of Absolutism

حياة

DAESH lives in a crisp, black and white world: Semahat or Haram — allowed or forbidden. So do Neo-Nazis, apparently. Extremists see the world with few hues or shades outside their world view. Many things influence someone to reach that point, and intervening with that person, their family and their community is a proven way to disrupt this path. The BBC profiled Hayat this week: It’s an organization that works to intercede on behalf of friends or families of someone on the path to radicalization. (If you want to read a detailed of how their program works, here you here.)

Hayat is based directly on another very successful program in Germany called Exit, which has helped hundreds of people leave the neo-Nazi movement. According to Daniel Koehler, who runs the program, relief from family and neighborhood violence, exposure to moderate voices of religion (his group makes no attempt to change a person’s choice of belief) all combine to leach the fear and anger from a person, emotions that would otherwise send them down extremist — and violent — paths.

American interest in funding mental healthThis solution would never work in America today. Eliminating violence from the home and community requires investment is education, mental health and community-based solutions to violence. In the current extremist congresses in many states, money to do good is trumped by the need to build prisons and turn even minor criminals into sources of revenue at the local, county and state levels. And the levels of extremism for which Hayat was founded to defray is the same level in many right-wing political and religious groups firmly embedded in many American politicians at the state and federal levels.

Until Americans decide that “home improvement” is a worthwhile action, we’ll continue to empower the radicalization of our most disenfranchised citizenry.

Netanyahu and his High Horse

I’m taking a (short) break from Peace as a concept to focus on the real here and now. I’ll be back to discussing issues surrounding Daesh next week.

Colonel Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu א”ש. Died rescuing kidnapped civilans a continent away from Israel.

Bibi the Blowhard (Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister) blew into office on the strength of his commando brother Yonatan’s brand identity, as said brother died rescuing kidnapped Jews held in Entebbe, Uganda. His command of English, his ability to bend and twist with the political wind, all combine to make the perfect empty suit. He’s the rich white guy that makes Christians in America feel oh so comfy, and his dismissal of everything to his left and fear-mongering keep the Israeli equivalent of the American Focks Gnus sycophants cheering.

pistachio+vector+LARGEYou don’t negotiate for peace with friends: you do it with enemies. The time is _never_ right, and the leadership and circumstances are always sub-par. Unlike the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in Iran we have a political and governmental entity with whom treaties (and embargoes) work. And the fruits of such a peace are sweet, and filled with fistukim (pistachio nuts, an Iranian export). The price Israel (and Egypt) paid for peace was high, and continues to have a cost. But it beats having a state of war and a frighteningly long border, something even total French Jewish immigration wouldn’t help.


Even if Netanyahu is right and it’s a 10-year hiatus for Iran to “get ready to start again,” that’s ten years to change minds and hearts of entire countries. Give peace a chance. Or, to use Nasreddin‘s parable, over that time perhaps the horse might sing!