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Partition

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The attitudes of policy-makers (often elected) still have the same attitudes toward resources and people that lead to mad-made disasters like these.
Policy decisions have effects on people that often last a long time.

The Dole Blog

On November 15, 1884 “an international conference was opened by the chancellor of the newly-created German Empire at his official residence on Wilhelmstrasse, in Berlin,” Patrick Gathara tells us. The purpose of the conference was to determine the future of Africa.

The West Africa Conference began on November 15, 1884. Gathered in Berlin, capitol of the newly-created German Empire, the conference lasted 104 days, Patrick Gathara tells us in “Berlin 1884: Remembering the conference that divided Africa.”

The Conference (also referred to as the Berlin Conference) “established the rules for the conquest and partition of Africa, in the process legitimising the ideas of Africa as a playground for outsiders, its mineral wealth as a resource for the outside world not for Africans and its fate as a matter not to be left to Africans.”

Monty Python | GIFGlobe
Image from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”

The Powers at the Conference – which…

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On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

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Happy Armistice Day. This is a day to remember peace and to strive to end all war.

The Dole Blog

On a day that should have ended the war to end all wars “early on November 11th [1918], the Germans met the Allies near Paris to sign an Armistice ending the fighting. The agreement set 11:00am Paris time as the moment the truce would begin – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

But, as the World War I Centennial Commission adds:

The fighting continued until the last possible moment. As a result, there were 10,944 casualties, including 2,738 deaths, on the war’s last day. Most occurred within a period of three hours. The last soldier to be killed in World War I was Henry Gunther, an American of German descent, who was killed just sixty seconds before the guns fell silent.

The agreement between the armies to stop fighting – the armistice – lasted long enough to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

It sounds…

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The Declaration of Balfour

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Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

Arthur James Balfour

This Declaration, since it was issued a hundred five years ago, has been one of the most influential, and in some ways, the most destructive statement and issue since these few words were written.

The British government facilitated the “Jewish Zionist aspirations” of establishing “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. It doesn’t matter that at the time of the Declaration that the land of Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, and neither Britain nor the Zionists had any control over the land of Palestine. It doesn’t matter that Britain – at the time in the middle of the Great War (WWI) – had already negotiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement to bifurcate the Middle East between itself and France, or that Britain had already agreed through the McMahon Correspondents to help establish a pan-Arab national movement that would have encompassed the land of Palestine. At the time of the Declaration more than 90% of the inhabitants of Palestine were Arab Muslims who had good relations would the Jewish community that lived in Palestine (this community did not consider itself Zionist).

The Declaration helped create a mass movement of European Jews to the land of Palestine. As more European Zionist Jews took land from the Arabs and violated long-standing customs between Muslims and Jews in the land signs of conflict emerged. Despite Britain’s effort, during the Mandate period, to please both the Jews and the Muslim Arabs by issuing the Balfour Declaration and “endvouring to facilitate the achievement of this object” guaranteed that there would be an unending conflict.

Between 1947 and 1949 the Zionist Jews of Israel by force, or by fear or force, forced about 750,000 Palestinians to permanently flee from their homes. They were forced into refugee camps into which they, and their decedents, still live as refugees under international law. During this time Britain ended its Mandate over Palestine, and a day later, in May 1948 Israel declared itself a state. Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948, like the Balfour Declaration, promised equality for all of Israel’s citizens and assurance that everyone could participate in democracy.

Britain issued the Balfour Declaration at a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. By the time Britain ended the Mandate in 1948 the United States was the English-speaking superpower. The United States took on the role of protectorate of the Zionist cause – to have a state in Palestine. The political and financial support the U.S. provides Israel is rarely questioned. Under Obama, the U.S. has committed $3.8 billion each year to Israel, no questions asked through 2026. (about $1million per day). Israel is sometimes, especially in times of increased violence, provided millions of dollars more.

It’s an irony that today happens to be election day in Israel. Approximately 80% of the Palestinians live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and can’t vote in Israeli elections, and of the 20% that are Israeli citizens and can vote many are inclined not to vote, because the choice is oppression. The indications from the polls suggest that Netanyahu – under investigation for fraud – might be back in office as Prime Minister, and that the extreme religious right (yelling “death to Arabs”) did fairly well. Regardless of who’s in office, the oppression and military occupation of the Palestinians will continue and the judicial system will praise members of the military, or settlers, who harm or kill Palestinians.

If Britain wanted to live up to the full commitment of the Balfour it’s time that “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” remain part of the what we remember about the Declaration. The United States has taken the lead in providing the political and financial support for Israel and any facilitation for the achievement of this object by the United States would be useful. Israel once said that everyone in Israel would be equal, and that everyone could participate in democracy. As Israel continues to expand and annex the land Palestinians hope would comprise a Palestinian state Israel should commit itself to creating a true democracy. The Balfour Declaration, without which Israel would exist, calls for protecting “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Israel should be what it claims to be, not what it is.

A minor Betar dispute

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In 1925 Ze’ev Jabotinsky founded the World Union of Zionist Revisionists, or Revisionist Party, in order to revise a Zionism he believed had been diluted. It has evolved into the Likud Party. The youth wing of the party was called Histradut-Noar ha-Zioni ha-Activisti al Shem Joseph Trumpeldor (Organization of Zionist Activist Youth in the Name of Joseph Trumpeldor), Bruce Hoffman tell us in Anonymous Soldiers.  It was referred to as Brit Trumpeldor, or shortened even further to the acronym Betar.  Betar affiliates “were soon active throughout Poland and neighboring eastern European countries”.  The first Betar training school, which consisted of military preparedness, political awareness seminars, and “attention to personal appearance,” opened in Tel Aviv in 1928.  Many of the Jewish immigrants who arrived in Palestine during 1929 were Betar trainees, and they were instrumental in the violence of that year.[1]

“The catalyst for the turmoil that would engulf Palestine at the close of the 1920s was a minor dispute that erupted over Jews bringing chairs and benches with them while worshiping at Jerusalem’s Western Wall,” Hoffman tells us.  Detailing the significance and history of the Wall as “Judaism’s most sacred landmark” and “Islam’s third-holiest shrine” Hoffman reminds us that “the prevailing consensus in the 1920s” was that it, the Wall, “belonged to Muslims.”  Jews were allowed access to the wall “by sufferance and custom, rather than legal right.”  To Muslims, he said, the effort by Jews “to alter the status quo by bringing chairs and benches to the wall, however modest, were harbingers of further designs to rebuild the Jewish temple”.[2]

According to David Brog,

During the centuries they ruled Jerusalem, the Muslim Ottomans never permitted Jewish worship on the Temple Mount. In fact, they even restricted Jewish worship at the Western Wall – that small portion of the Temple Mount retaining wall where Jews were permitted to pray. In particular, Jews were not permitted to make any physical changes – even temporary ones – to the area allotted for their worship.[3]

Brog, head of Christians for United for Israel until recently, tells us that the the British, during the Mandate period, “decided to maintain this discriminatory status quo.”  Mentioning nothing of the Betar, Brog merely informs us that as the Jewish population expanded in Jerusalem during the 1920’s they became more resentful of the “restrictions”.

On September 23, 1928 – the eve of Yom Kippur – Brog informs us that “a group of Jews gathered at the Western Wall for prayer. Some brought a makeshift partition made of wooden frames covered with cloth to separate between the male and female worshippers as required by Jewish law. Nearby Muslim officials were quick to notice the partition and to demand that it be removed. The British police did so the following day.”[4]

Brog considers fault only with the leader of Palestinian Arabs at the time, Haj Amin al Husseini.  Al Husseini, Brog says, “was not satisfied with this victory.”  Brog says al Husseini accused Jews of ‘unlimited greedy ambitions’ against Islam’s holy sites “and warned that they intended to destroy the Temple Mount mosques and rebuild the Temple.”  Brog suggests “the only greedy ambitions on display were Husseini’s ambitions to rid Palestine of its Jews”.  In the year that followed, “Husseini used this imaginary threat to raise his profile abroad and his power at home,” Brog tell us.  Not mentioning Betar or any actions by Jews in Palestine Brog informs us merely that “On August 23, 1929, this steady drumbeat of incitement finally boiled over into violence.”[5]  It was at this time that ‘The first real revolution on Palestinian land’ began, according to Palestinian researcher Ziad al-Hassan.[6]

David Green does not consider the Jews blameless for the “disturbances” of 1929.  He lays much responsibility, though, on the grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who pushed “mutual fear and suspicion,” spreading the familiar threat through the decades that  “the Jews intended to conquer the Temple Mount and to desecrate or even destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque.”[7]

A regular demonstration “in defense of the wall” organized by Jews on August 14, 1929 led to the situation in Palestine to spiral out of control.  While six thousand people gathered in Tel Aviv, Hoffman says, denouncing the Mandatory government to the chant of ‘the wall is ours!’ later in the day three thousand Jews “converged on the wall for a prayer meeting and vigil that lasted until midnight.”  The next morning “the pious Jews coming to worship at the wall were joined by some three hundred Betarim wielding truncheons.”

________________

Before I continue to describe the events of 1929, and the surrounding years, further, it’s important to understand why it matter and why I’m telling describing this. The violence that began over a “minor” dispute during The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) tells us that while the Day of Atonement is important, it is a Day like any other day in which humans choose disputes, violence, and retribution. I would hazard a guess that nobody involved the violence of that Day of that year actually apologized, much less atoned, for what happened. Few probably ever thought about the enduring consequences of that time. To truly atone we must understand the consequences and we must work to make amends.

________________

Several days later the violence spread to Hebron.  A city where Arabs and Jews had lived in peace for four hundred years, no one thought there would be violence in Hebron.  The “carnage” led to sixty-four dead Jews and fifty-four wounded, and the end of the ancient Jewish community in Hebron.  “The remaining 435 persons were evacuated three days later ‘practically naked and barefoot’ having lost everything,” Hoffman says of the community.[8] 

Of all the violence that began on August 23, David Green says, “the worst of the violence against Jews took place in Hebron.”  Green refers to Hebrew University professor Hillel Cohen, who suggests that because of 1929 the difference between Sephardic Jews who had been neighbors and acquaintances of the Arab population and the recent arrival of the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe “lost its significance in 1929.”  Following the devastation of August, 1929, all the Jews “were seen as part of a movement that intended to create a Jewish majority, if not an actual state, in the land.”[9]

On August 29, for reasons that Hoffman can only provide conjecture, in the spiritual and immune-to-violence city of Safed “an Arab mob rushed into the Jewish quarter and within twenty minutes had killed fifteen Jews and injured thirty-three others.”

What had begun, eleven months earlier, as a dispute over furniture, Hoffman says, “ended in August 1929 with the deaths of 133 Jews and injuries to 339 others.  Arab casualties were nearly as high – 116 killed and 232 wounded.[10]

In response to the widespread violence a commission sent by the British Government found that ‘Jewish immigration and land purchases’ lead Arabs to ‘fear for their economic future’ in which ‘they may be deprived of their livelihood and placed under the economic domination of the Jews.’  Although “the commission’s report called for an explicit policy regulating land and immigration that would have, in effect, curtailed the Zionist program in Palestine” this was postponed until further study of immigration, land settlement, and development.[11]

Because the Shaw Commission in March was postponed, it was left to the Hope-Simpson Report, issued on August 30, 1930, to provide recommendations to the British Government.  The findings of the Hope-Simpson commission included that fact that “almost 30 percent of Palestinians were landless, presumably because of Jewish land purchases, and that Palestinian unemployment was exacerbated by a Jewish boycott of Arab labor.”  The conclusions of the Hope-Simpson Report were incorporated in a policy paper – the Passfield White Paper of 1930 – “which recommended restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases consistent with the economic absorptive capacity of Palestine.”[12]

Although these conclusions that Tony Greenstein called, in 2018, devastating, the recommendations to the British Government were never implemented. Greenstein, an anti-Zionist British activist says that the Hope-Simpson Report found that “despite the warm words of the Zionists about how much they valued the Arabs, their policies were designed to systematically exclude them from the land and employment.”  In fact this was the policy of Labour Zionism.  The right-wing Revisionist Zionists “were happy to employ Arabs as cheap labour” while “the Labour Zionists fought to exclude Arabs regardless of cost.”  Although a true socialist answer would have been for Jewish-Arab workers to combine to fight for high wages,” he says, this was anathema to Labour Zionismt, which was more racist than the Jewish right-wing.  Citing an internal memorandum of the Histadrut Greenstein says ‘the Jewish Labour Movement considers the Arab populations as an integral element in this country’ and that displacing the Arabs would ‘run counter to the moral conception lying at the root of the Zionist movement.’  Here, Greenstein says, is an early example of Zionist hasbara (propaganda) at its finest.  Zionism historically, he reminds us, “has always proclaimed its adherence to peace whilst waging war.”  To understand Zionism it is best to assume the opposite of what it says.[13]


[1] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, pp 27-28

[2] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 25

[3] This is slightly different than, but appears to agree with, Bruce Hoffman’s statement that in the 1920s “Jew were allowed access to the wall by sufferance and custom, rather than legal right”.

[4] David Brog, November 19, 2014, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-temple-mount-between-now-and-1929/

[5] David Brog, November 19, 2014, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-temple-mount-between-now-and-1929/

[6] See an article by the AlJazeera staff, November 11, 2015 found at https://www.aljazeera.com/program/al-jazeera-world/2015/11/11/jerusalem-dividing-al-aqsa

[7] David B. Green Aug 23, 2016 7:51 AM https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1929-hebron-massacre-begins-1.5427655

[8] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 32-34, describing Hebron

[9] Green again cites Hillel Cohen’s work, in which Shmuel Y. Agnon (1888-1970) as saying about the Arabs following the massacres of 1929 that ‘my attitude is this. I do not hate them and I do not love them; I do not wish to see their faces’.  Agnon was likely living in Jerusalem at the time.  For the quote see David B. Green Aug 23, 2016 https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1929-hebron-massacre-begins-1.5427655

[10] Bruce Hoffman, Anonymous Soldiers, p 32-34, describing Hebron and Safed.  David Brog confirms these numbers, calling the violence of 1929 pogrom a pogrom against the Jews.  David Greene adds that of the 110 dead Palestinian Arabs, nearly all had been killed by British forces.  See David B. Green Aug 23, 2016 https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/1929-hebron-massacre-begins-1.5427655

[11] The quotes and description of the Shaw Commission of March, 1930, can be found at https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/shaw-commission

[12] The quotes and description of the Hope-Simpson Report can be found at https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hope-simpson-commission-1930

[13] Tony Greenstein on June 15, 2018 http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/socialist-zionist-eating/ accessed 7/1/18.  Emphasis and in the original.

Quote of the day

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Power is the collective will of the masses transferred to rulers selected by open or tacit consent

– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

This, combined with Tolsoy’s statement, “modern history is like a deaf man answering a question nobody has asked,” are great insights as Tolstoy tries to figure out why Napoleon was one minute a genius, and the next a fool, and why hundreds of thousands of people followed, and then in the next moment condemned Napoleon. It isn’t merely about Napoleon; these are great, constant thoughts about power and history.
(Tolstoy goes on to question his statement about what power is)

The battle of Borodino

Down With the AUMF

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In 2021 the House of Representatives “voted overwhelmingly to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF and has now included this repeal in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.”
The catch, of course, is that the Senate also has to vote to repeal the AUMF, and then the repeal is signed into law by the president.
President Biden, according to the FCNL petition, is in favor of signing to repeal the AUMF. To get there the Senate must actl the FCNL petition helps you send a pre-written letter to your Senators.
Besides being a bad idea, the AUMF also seems to me to be illegal. It is Congress, not the president, who can declare war.
Contact your representatives – in this case the Senate – to ask them again to repeal the AUMF

The Dole Blog

Effective October 16, 2002, the 107th Congress passed the Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq. Signed by George W. Bush on that day the act has remained in force – pun intended – for the last eighteen years with Congress repeatedly updating and approving what has been called the Iraq Resolution.

President George W. Bush, surrounded by leaders of the House and Senate, announces the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, October 2, 2002. – From Wikipedia

An authorization of use of military force (AUMF) is meant to provide temporary, limited, ability to conduct war. This differs from a complete, or total war; the war is meant to limited in scope. Clearly, the length of a limited war (oops, authorization of force) differs; and article posted recently by Heather Brandon-Smith of the Friends’ Committee on National…

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Badly damaged – Abu Akleh files

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The U.S. Security Coordinator investigation over the murder of AlJazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who is U.S. dual citizen, concluded the bullet that killed her, fired by an Israeli solider, was “badly damaged,” and this prevented a clear proof of the origin of the bullet.

Even CNN – and NYT, citing CNN – acknowledged that a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier killed Abu Akleh, and that it was done intentionally. Israeli analysts with former roles in the government agree, and said the order to kill a journalist (who was reporting on Israeli “military incursions”) came from high levels in the government.

Accountability is cool, but we already know who did it and who ordered it.

The subsequent attacks on Palestinians during Abu Akleh’s funeral
(from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/14/israeli-police-attack-on-shireen-abu-akleh-mourners-sparks-outcry)

Ordering the murder of a journalist, especially while they are doing their job, is a war crime.

This is not complicated.

Aborted

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There is no fury like scorning half the population

It will do little good to dwell on the ideology that led the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade today, but it’s worth reflecting on how we got here.

All of the current members of the Supreme Court have been nominated by recent presidents, although some recent nominees never made it to Court (McConnell prevented the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016).

In an election that will not soon be forgotten, in 2016, Trump defeated Hilary Clinton. It shouldn’t be lost on us that Bill and Hilary Clinton urged Trump to run, sure that he would be easily beaten. More importantly, this meant Trump nominated to the Supreme Court people who would match his ideology.

Although she was out of touch of the basic interests and needs of the people in the U.S. Hilary was able to make to the general election with a lot of help from the DNC.

If you’re wondering how we have arrived at today – a day that the Supreme Court endangered, subjugated, and harmed a good portion of the population – look at the politics and political infighting that has led us here.

If you’re wondering how to move on from today and create a system that ensures people’s rights, safeties, and liberties, then work to change politics as we know it. The politics, policies, and infighting that got us here will not get us out of here.

The Championships

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Tennis might have originated in France but it is very much a British sport. Of the four majors each year it is Wimbledon that is called The Championships.

This year, in the midst of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, Wimbledon chose to ban Russian players from competing; Belarusian players were also banned because Belarus supports Russia.

Rather than resolving an international dispute, this created more conflict in the tennis community and the broader international community that watches tennis.

It’s clear that Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian players because the British government gave them no choice. Both the WTA and the ATP quickly issued statements condemning the decision, pointing out that preventing a player to compete based on nationality is against their guidelines. Very few professional tennis players were pleased with the decision.

Some would suggest that Wimbledon – with a little pushing the British government – was engaging in ‘sports diplomacy.’ The Championships at Wimbledon was merely trying to pressure Russia to stop the invasion of Ukraine in the same sense that tennis in Apartheid South Africa was an issue.

If Wimbledon is banning Russian players because Russia (not the players) attacked a sovereign country this raised the question for many people why players from the U.S. aren’t banned for the wars the U.S. fights, along with players from countries allied with the U.S. in these wars. Most of Europe, inducing Britain, France, Germany, and The Netherlands, plus Australia and New Zealand have all contributed troops or aid to unending wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places. The answer is that there would be no tennis players left.

The WTA and ATP doesn’t control the Grand Slams. But the two organizations representing the players do control the points that determine rankings. Individually, in response to the ban, both organizations announced that no points would be awarded during Wimbledon.

There’s still a lot of money to be made at Wimbledon, with the winner winning about $3,000,000. Without the points awarded, some top players indicated that they no interest in playing despite the money.

Wimbledon has made a mockery of itself. Everyone calls this a lose-lose situation. At this point Wimbledon has become nothing more than a glorified exhibition tournament. I’m not even sure why any players would play; the players should support one another and if some can’t play because of their nationality all the players should refuse to go.

E – – – H Day

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HAPPY E – a -r -t – H DAY

As the bumper sticker says, “Earth without ART would be “EH”.

We have a choice every day that we’re reminded of once a year on Earth Day. That choice is what kind of Earth we want to live on.

We currently live in a world dominated by war and and dependent on fossil fuels. Our dependence on oil means that every year it gets warmer in the summer than the previous year, and colder in the winter than the previous year. And the weather becomes more erratic and stronger.

Instead we could live a life not dependent on oil. Our life could be filled with art – art of our choosing. It could be full or writing and poetry, song, music, and paintings. We could spend our time doing none of those things, and still have a prosperous, enjoyable life.

This day is a good reminder to decide which life we want. Do we want a life of EH, or do we have a life of ART and an E-A-R-T-H? Choose well.