Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - PA and the Palestinians

I. A nice anonymous commenter at a recent PA post wrote:

Phil, I don't understand your preoccupation with Palistine. How about giving some balanced blog space and advocacy for the oppressed people of countries such as North Korea, Tibet, China, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, etc.?

I'll take them in order, using points that may apply to more than one of these countries, who, along with others, routinely violate the human rights of their own citizens:

We don't send hundreds of billions of American tax dollars to the North Koreans so that they can drop or shoot white phosphorus onto schools and hospitals, where kids like the one at the upper left have to end up dead or looking like him.

We don't write tax policies that enable the Han Chinese to invest in housing projects that eject Tibetans from their homes in Lhasa.

We don't have a White House with a chief of staff named after a Chinese terrorist who was killed smuggling arms to kill British Soldiers.

We don't cater to lobbyists from Sudan who constantly encourage us to go to all-out war against a neighboring country that hasn't attacked one of their neighbors in generations.

We don't have a Pentagon whose offices are stuffed with people with dual Somali-American citizenship, who manufacture false premises to march us into a series of wars in the heart of Africa.

We aren't experiencing a time when a small group of ruthless Burmese generals and politicians have hijacked Buddhism, turning it into a militant version of what had once been a great religion, and branding anyone who doesn't believe in a Myanmar expansion version of Buddhism as anti-Burmese or anti-Buddhist.

Additionally, no North Korean, Chinese, Sudanese, Burmese or Somali general, politician, general or warlord is openly bragging that the United States is fighting two wars and threatening to start a third one, on their behalf.

Also, and importantly, there is no large body of American people who openly believe that we need to foster violence in North Korea, Tibet, China, Somalia, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan or Burma, so that we may enable the second coming of Jesus Christ, and implement a new age. And there is no cynical tie-in between Columbian politicians who hope to bring money to their country because of some apocolyptic religious myth, and American fundamentalist sects who total in the tens of millions of misguided believers.

Finally, I have been drawn into this conflict on a personal level since I began creating The Skies Are Weeping in 2003. I continue to be involved with continuing performances of the work, which are used to raise money for Palestinian and Israeli causes. One of the results of the conflict around attempts to perform, or the performances of that work, has been that I have made well over a hundred friends in the USA, Israel, the Occupied Territories, Europe, Canada and beyond, who are knowledgeable about Palestinian rights issues. I feel I have an obligation to share from my unique perspective among Alaskans in that area.

II. Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by Alaska Progressive blogs:

This may be a more touchy subject than defending PA's own coverage of this set of subjects. Essentially, the other progressive Alaskan blogs rarely cover this and never pose questions or conduct polls, as has PA.

I don't blame them. It is obvious, reading through the comments at some of my colleagues' blogs, that to bring this conflict up the way PA has would probably disrupt their commenting community. I have many friends and a few former friends with whom I agree on every progressive issue, but when it comes to the I-P conflict, we are in total disagreement.

The only Alaska progressive blog that has taken up the Palestinian rights or the Gaza conflict issue more than once has been The Immoral Minority. Here's a link to the Israel-tagged articles. Here's a link to the Palestine-tagged articles. There is no Gaza tag at IM.

Shannyn Moore has found occasional context to take up this conflict on radio, but a web search indicates no known articles about the I-P conflict per se at her blog, Just a Girl from Homer. The same goes for The Mudflats, and for What Do I Know?

Again, I don't fault these blogs for shying away from the most divisive subject there is among American progressives. I've discussed the conflict on occasion with each of these blog's proprietors. All are aware of my open and enduring advocacy for Palestinian rights, and this has not caused a conflict I'm aware of. We've certainly had bigger arguments over other subjects.

III. Where we have found a lot of common ground, though, on a closely related subject, is that of the dangers of religious fanaticism. I despise militant religion that claims to be so powerful it can take the lives of people, be it a warped Islam, warped Christianity, warped Hinduism, warped Judaism, or warped Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. These sects are indulging in human sacrifice.

Gryph at Immoral Minority has written about this often, with passion, knowledge and acumen. Shannyn Moore has written about it, and brought guests onto her radio presentations who are experts on the dangers of religious fanaticism. Bent Alaska, Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, Alaska Real, The Alaska Commons, What Do I Know?, The Ester Republic and Henkimaa have written eloquently about the real hardships caused to real Alaskans by religious bigotry, hatred and political influence.


funkalunatic said...

Maybe I'm naive, but I always figured that this issue was only controversial outside of the progressive community. I would hope that anybody both knowledgeable and supportive of Israeli policy would be laughed out of the room if they tried to pass themselves off as progressive.

Philip Munger said...


Some national progressive blogs avoid discussing the ongoing fallout from militant Zionist expansionism and its effect on our domestic and international politics and media.

Daily Kos, for instance, never recommends a pro-Palestinian or even Palestinian-support diary to the top tier, even if it has several hundred comments. It is too big a community of diarists to stop people from writing about the issue, though.

Hiuffington Post, which isn't ardently progressive in the first place, is openly pro-Zionist. Talking Points Memo is very conflicted. Last year, Josh Marshall, the blog's founder, who is Jewish, almost had an epiphany during the Gaza invasion, but seems to have since backed off.

From the mainline progressive blogging community, firedoglake has dealt with the cognitive dissonance of progressives on both sides of the issue the most creatively over the past five years.

By far the best blog from within the national progressive community on I-P is Philip Weiss' blog, mondoweiss.

Anonymous said...

Well, Phil, question asked and answered. Thank you for sharing more of your perspective and reasons for focusing on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I always learn something when reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

I am always fascinated about what excites a blogger. We do not all care about the same things, nor do we all agree, even if we are in the same political spectrum..

I am actually a fairly fiscally conservative person, but care deeply about environmental believe in personal destiny in the social issues realm(in other words, I dont want to legislate what someone else does with their uterus or whom them love) and am dismayed how people who call themselves fiscal conservatives seem to just love the bankers that are going to run our finances into the ditch again (because its a democrat in the white house and they wouldnt want him to actually succeed at anything)...

I admit that I am for the most part a pacifist and non interventionist in other countries politics, but found your post on this issue, deeply interesting... I will be reading more... Thank you for being another intelligent voice that I like reading...

Makabit Bat Guriel said...

So tell me Gusty...where did you get the picture of the kid with the tubes in the nose and pus running from her/his eyes?
I'll take a wild guess and say probably from the same sources that Hal Turner gets the pictures he likes to post when he does his anti-Israel rants.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

I'm afraid the Ester Republic blog has been left abandoned for a bit. I've not been posting as much since I stated using Facebook. However, I have published quite a few articles, opinion pieces, and book reviews on Palestine, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan in the Ester Republic paper.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Munger:
Please accept my gratitude for this article. It is shameful that your thoughts are not given wider distribution.
We are supporting an unsupportable Israeli expansionism which mirrors the "Lebensraum" philosophies of Germany in the 1930s.

There is an old saying:
"When the oppressed are freed,
they become the oppressors".


Anonymous said...

I get your point.

Just want to make a correction. The photograph is an Afghan little girl in a U.S. hospital in Bagram, a casualty of a NATO airstrike in March 2009.

8-year-old Razia from Kapisa province who was burned when a shell her father says was fired by Western troops exploded into their house, enveloping her head and neck in a blazing chemical. Now she spends her days in a U.S. hospital bed at the Bagram airbase.
"The kids called out to me that I was burning but the explosion was so strong that for a moment I was deaf and couldn't hear anything," her father, Aziz Rahman, told Reuters (May 8, 2009).

No relationship to Israelis or this issue.

You didn't credit the Reuters photo because you got it from an American pro-Palestinian 'public awareness' website.