Thursday, May 17, 2018

File: 2009 -- Israel/Gaza Notes & Links

Old blog posts occasionally have material that seems timely again, if only to better understand the present. The following is recycled here from my old blog with a few changes. Some of the links no longer work and a few parts have been snipped out. As I write now, nearly a decade later, we are living in a very different world.
Most of this material is of no value except as the sharp contrast it bears to today's miserable conditions in Gaza. 

The part that I will never forget is the NPR story about cars in Gaza. 
I was delighted when I found the link is still active. Scan the rest, but do give that link a listen. 

ONE-State Solution for Israel-Palestine

Monday, January 26, 2009
A post at 3Quarks, together with a few other links, has me thinking about how poorly the "two-state policy" has proved to be. For starters, the geography of the problem is multi-directional, not two-fold. Palestinians are not in one place but three and those three are not contiguous. There are pissed-off Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Southern Lebanon. If there were no Mediterranean Sea Israel would be completely surrounded by angry Palestinians.

(I guess that's what happens when people try to remain tribal way past the time when the rest of what passes for civilization starts surveying and driving down claim stakes. Indigenous people all over the world have learned that lesson too late. Whether Native American, Brazilian, Australian, African or Chinese... its a global phenomenon of our time, the aftermath of imperialism East and West.)

The most famous recent failure of a two-state solution is Pakistan. Even with the former East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh, that other Pakistan remains a geo-political messy construct festering away in South Asia, as the world still cannot understand with why they all just can't get along.

Back to the one-state solution...

It would not be one state, really, but some kind of confederation. None of the discussions I have read at this point include the Palestinians in Southern Lebanon, but their existence, in time, will have to be included part of the formula. With Hezbollah's creeping legitimacy (I read they hope to do well in the next Lebanese elections, whatever that means.) the next stage in Palestinian unity will be the same path for Hamas, although they themselves seem not to have officially admitted that obvious reality. During the recent "unpleasantness" a few rockets came from Southern Lebanon into Northern Israel but Hezbollah was quick to deny any part in that and everyone else was quick to let the matter pass without comment. (Denial, maybe, that angry Palestinians were in Southern Lebanon? Looks to me like no one in that part of the world, including other Arabs, wants anything to to with Palestinians. I can't figure out what that's all about. They are treated like Gypsies.)

Here are some snips from the 3Quarks discussion....

Israel-Palestine: Suppose a Confederation

A confederation would not mean the disappearance of the national collective polity and identity of each people: within some version of the pre-1967 territories, that is the Green line, Israel would remain a Jewish state, with its language, and holidays and elections; but it would share power in military, security, intelligence, currency and trade matters with the Palestinian state. Likewise the Palestinians would have their own language, holidays and elections, but the two peoples would develop some form of joint school curricula particularly in the teaching of history which did justice to historical truths and to the suffering of both peoples. Children of a new generation would learn to have empathy rather than hatred for each other. There would be some equalization of socio-economic and welfare rights in this confederation so that everyone would not want move into the wealthier Israeli provinces; religious pluralism and liberal civil rights would be respected equally for all Jews, Muslims, Christians and all people of other faiths. For the religiously observant who would want to have their personal affairs to be administered by religious authorities there would be optional religious courts but there would also be a shared Bill of Rights for all peoples which would guarantee equal civil and political rights.

That quote was taken from this next link:

What is Israel’s End-Game?

Hamas, much like the beginnings of the Islamist movement in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East, represents an egalitarian and redistributionist vision of Islamic solidarity which is also deeply authoritarian and anti-liberal. In the 1980’s, Hamas was supported by Israel as an alternative to the more secular and militant Fatah, much like the USA had supported Osama bin Laden and the Mujaheddin against the more secular and socialistically inclined Fedayyin in Afghanistan. In both cases, the genie flew out of the bottle, and now Israel, as well as the USA, are stuck with the shifting of allegiances by Hamas, and the much more formidable Hizbollah, from Islamic social work to Islamist militarism, from Sunni patrons such as Saudi Arabia to Shi’ite ideologues in Iran. There is nothing in this constellation which should give comfort and hope to progressives and Leftists. Our commitment to the equality, self-determination and solidarity of peoples must, therefore, remain a critical principle and must not be sacrificed to blind partisanship for one group or another.

The One-State Solution
appeared January 24, 2009 in the NY Times.
It bears the by-line of (are you ready for this?) Muammar Qaddafi! As the saying goes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. He made up a name for the new country he describes, Isratine. I don't give the neologism much of a chance, but the idea behind it is not altogether crazy.
[Qaddafi would be killed two years later when Libya fell apart.]
It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 — violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace. [It's hard to know if Qaddafi was really that ignorant or was knowingly revising the account on one of history's ugliest events, the savage expulsion of Palestinians known as Nakba.]
Assimilation is already a fact of life in Israel. There are more than one million Muslim Arabs in Israel; they possess Israeli nationality and take part in political life with the Jews, forming political parties. On the other side, there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli factories depend on Palestinian labor, and goods and services are exchanged. This successful assimilation can be a model for Isratine.
If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Jewish-Palestinian coexistence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of the recent violence and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under one roof is the only option for a lasting peace.
Bernard Avishai's What's Love Got To Do With It? - Part Two is the second of a two-part examination worth reading in full. This is from that piece.
Palestine is not Hamas and Israel is not its settlers, though the trends are depressing. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Palestinians still want peace with Israel: Palestinian elites look forward to cooperation with Israelis on advanced businesses, higher education, construction, and tourism; they may even have some affection for Israelis; they know that their economic dignity and secular life depend on staving off Hamas.
And a majority of Israelis still want peace with Palestine, skeptical as they may be of Palestinian political institutions. Israeli elites are stirred by globalization and know that West Bank business infrastructure cannot development with 500 checkpoints. They know their own economic growth and cultural vitality depend on peace; their children, many of whom are leaving the country, hate guarding and paying for settlements.
Finally, it is clear that commerce and business remains alive and well in that part of the world despite a landscape littered with the residue of military conflict. I saw TV reports last week that showed the tunnel business returning to "normal" within hours of the most recent ceasefire. Smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt with superficial damage at the openings were rapidly being repaired and put back in service as soon as possible, and those that were not damaged were soon to be up and running. The precision of the IDF may have been exceptional when targeting individual addresses above ground, but efforts to put the tunnels out of business was as unscientific as swatting flies.

Here is a great story that NPR ran four years ago that caught my attention at the time. It describes a curious symbiosis between Israel and Gaza reflected in how automobiles were tagged in Gaza City. This was prior to Sharon's removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza, making me wonder if some of them may have had a surreptitious part in the story.

The local government in Gaza issues a unique kind of license plate: one for stolen cars. Driving school owner Raeed el-Sa'ati decodes the region's vehicle license plates.

SIEGEL: Last week, as we were riding through the streets of Gaza, our interpreter, Hosam Arhoun(ph), pointed out something that is, so far as we know, unique to that isolated strip of Mediterranean coast. It's a kind of license plate. I thought he was kidding. We would be behind a car, and he would say, `See that pair of Arabic letters on the tag? That indicates this is a stolen car. And that one,' he said, `that's an official stolen car.'

Well, we dropped in on Raeed el-Sa'ati, who owns the Ekhlas Driving School in Gaza, to get more details. And he explained that Gaza license plates can be red for official, green for taxis, and white for private vehicles. The lower the number on the red plates, the higher the position of the official. The number 30 designates a truck.

All this is pretty conventional stuff for license plates. But then...

Mr. RAEED EL-SA'ATI (Ekhlas Driving School): (Through Translator) And then the cars which, written in Arabic, the letters M and F, it is the stolen cars.

SIEGEL: The stolen cars?

Mr. EL-SA'ATI: (Through Translator) And then there is these plates which, M-H-F--it is stolen cars, but working at the authority, means, aha, it is a stolen governmental car. There's also another kind, but this is the same plates; the numbers are different. The numbers which started with 25, it is a stolen car, but it is allowed to work as taxis. This is a very modern law in the world.

SIEGEL: As you can hear, our man Hosam could hardly stop laughing as he translated this.

It turns out this system is a legacy of the most efficient but embarrassing example of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the 1990s: auto theft. The Palestinian Authority took over Gaza, and the Israeli police were out, so Israeli car thieves fenced thousands of stolen cars into the Gaza Strip, about 15,000 of them, where they were then sold. Thousands are driven by Palestinian security and other officials. A lot of them are in that stolen taxicab category, vehicles that provide income while costing a lot less than a legal yellow minivan.

When their cars were stolen, the Israeli car owners would get reimbursed by their insurance, and they would go buy new cars. So in effect, Israeli insurance companies were paying for Gaza's used car trade. When the insurance companies sued, the Palestinian Authority settled, and the settlement cost was offset in part by much higher registration fees for cars that had been stolen. So to designate those cars, they were given special license plates. According to the Transportation Department in Gaza, the news is that the Authority has decided in principle to end stolen car plates. Everyone will pay the same registration fees. But since this may put a lot of self-employed taxi drivers out of work, no one is saying how long it will take to abolish the license plate that says, `This car was stolen.'

April 11 Addendum: More material regarding a "one-state solution"

Helena Cobban in IPS News Agency

From 1982 - the year the PLO’s leaders and guerrilla forces were expelled from Lebanon - until recently, the main dynamo of Palestinian nationalism has been located in the Palestinian communities of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But in recent years, those communities have been severely weakened. They are administratively atomised, politically divided, and live under a palpable sense of physical threat.

Many ‘occupied’ Palestinians are returning to the key defensive ideas of steadfastness and “just hanging on” to their land. But new energy for leadership is now emerging between two other key groups of Palestinians: those in the diaspora, and those who are citizens of Israel. The contribution those groups can make to nationwide organising has been considerably strengthened by new technologies - and crucially, neither of them has much interest in a two-state outcome.

Not surprisingly, therefore, discussions about the nature of a one-state outcome - and how to achieve it - have become more frequent, and much richer in intellectual content, in recent years.

Palestinian-Israeli professor Nadim Rouhanna, now teaching at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is a leader in the new thinking. “The challenge is how to achieve the liberation of both societies from being oppressed and being oppressors,” he told a recent conference in Washington, DC. “Palestinians have to… reassure the Israeli Jews that their culture and vitality will remain. We need to go further than seeing them only as ‘Jews-by- religion’ in a future Palestinian society.”

Like many advocates of the one-state outcome, Rouhanna referred enthusiastically to the exuberant multiculturalism and full political equality that have been embraced by post-apartheid South Africa.

Progressive Jewish Israelis like Ben Gurion University geographer Oren Yiftachel are also part of the new movement. Yiftachel’s most recent work has examined at the Israeli authorities’ decades-long campaign to expropriate the lands of the ethnically Palestinian Bedouin who live in southern Israel - and are citizens of Israel. “The expropriation continues - there and inside the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem,” Yiftachel said, explaining that he did not see the existence of “the Green Line” that supposedly separates Israel from the occupied territory as an analytically or politically relevant concept.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Alaa al-Aswany Columns

Few Americans have heard of Alaa al-Aswani but I was made aware of him about ten years ago by an Egyptian expat I met who was excited about al-Aswani's then latest book, The Yacoubian Building, which has since become an award-winning movie in Egypt. This, of course, was several years prior to the wave of protests now known as the Arab Spring in 2011. I don't know Arabic and have not found his columns in English, so I have been reading his columns via Twitter using browser translation. This blog post is where I stash a collection of Facebook posts and translations.I

My collection starts with the Trump administration: "Alaa al-Aswani is a tireless advocate for democratic movements in Egypt, and this first link is my Christmas Day gift to all who seek more democratic alternatives to authoritarian systems. His message carries special importance this year with America herself facing a nakedly authoritarian administration."

Do not stop when you hear the siren.

In his article on DW Arabia, Alaa Al Aswani analyzes the way Egyptians think now. 
At first it seemed an ordinary scene... A middle-aged lady... go to uncover the Eye Clinic Vtgdaa crowded, waiting in the middle of the sick and suddenly reverberating whistle if all patients - except for Ms. - standing and then sitting .. surprised Ms. shall not be suspended. After a few blaring siren again and when taken sick and sitting .. repeated it three times and the fourth time when reverberating beep if Ms. stands with patients and sit with them and repeated with every whistle and then go out patients but Ms. continue to stand up when you hear the beep and is alone in the waiting lounge.
This experiment was conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania. Volunteers have demonstrated that they are sick and they became stand and then sit down when you hear the siren in order to react woman who is really sick test. After telling the truth Ms. researchers asked her why she was standing when you hear the siren replied:
- I felt that I should do like the others, otherwise I would be excluded as and when I did that I just felt much more comfortable.
This experiment explain some sort of human behavior called "peer pressure."
Peer pressure...
Where individuals tend to imitate any act or thinking embraced by most people Faihson comfortable because then behave in a different way worried about. Peer pressure theory depends upon the authoritarian regime in the formation of public opinion where they are in complete control of the media veiled from the people the facts and does not allow them at all independent thinking, but promotes lies and frequency continuously until most people are convinced that it Hakaiq..andiz According to the theory of "peer pressure," Van individuals the few who are still in their ability to retain independent thinking will join the majority opinion among the public and so people's mind the whole turns into a soft material in the hands of the media posed as he pleases.
Usually it is praising the dictator and the people sing majesty but distrust in the ability to distinguish a child and is considered naive mind, such as the empty box stuffing views must sound rather than Ahacoh opponents of the regime subversive ideas. Only in despotic regimes went dissidents charged with a rubber fake, such as incitement against the state and create confusion and disturb social peace.
Since President al-Sisi came to power, has full control over the media Vtm exclude all independent media and set the media loyal to their job praising Chairman assisted by the so-called strategic experts who carry out security instructions: no longer the goal of the media tell the truth, but obliterating or altering the service of propaganda that wants the system consolidation constant urgency even turn into reality in the minds of viewers who have ratified or pretended to ratification because they do not bear the psychological cost for independent thinking.
Here are some examples:
1. Truth: President al-Sisi received support from the Gulf states more than $ 25 billion has been spent entirely in just two years, prompting the government to borrow from the International Monetary Fund $ 12 billion harsh conditions borne by the poor alone.
Publicity: Sisi implemented projects will make Egypt a great country in the future and all those who object to it as a traitor to borrow from the IMF is evidence of the strength of the Egyptian economy.
2. has been spending billions in a project to expand the Suez Canal, but he did not bring any income which confirms the feasibility studies for the project were not correct.
Publicity: the new Suez Canal giant historic project stands to fruition our children and grandchildren and all those who question my brothers in the project either a terrorist or a traitor
3. The truth: in the era of repression Sisi is worse than ever and there are numerous reports of horrific abuses in prisons and that increasing numbers of detainees dying from torture.
Publicity: policemen die in defense of us in the fight against terrorism and all of their mistakes lurking conspirator goal of toppling the state so that we, like Syria and Iraq, but Egypt will not fall and will not kneel.
4. The truth: the heinous massacre that took place in the church caused by the Petrine ministry shorten security and clear
Publicity: It is not talking about any national security interest of shortening the police morale while fighting terrorism.
Dear reader .. Try to face your colleagues or your neighbors previous facts will refund you most of the people with propaganda that has been planted in their minds because they believe the media or because they feel comfortable if they think like the others. All who live in Egypt now Sidhishh that people are all, with the exception of rare individuals, adopt the same views on all issues and no longer able or willing to see clear as the sun Facts .. brainwashing this has happened to people in all authoritarian regimes usually wake up from one of the two ways: either by raising awareness or disaster reveal to them the truth.
In 1967 we ratified the Egyptians, we will take Israel into the sea and drink tea in Tel Aviv, according to the publicity enshrined in the minds of Nazareth media even agreed to defeat. Never.
We hope that this catastrophe occur in Egypt wake us to reality and therefore our duty to strive to spread awareness among the people so that they see everything for what it is away from the regime propaganda. Our duty to reject the lies of the media and defend the truth even if it is seen against the majority. We should refuse to stand up when the siren blaring even if others stop all of them.
Democracy is the solution.

"Trying to develop a society under a tyrannical regime is like building a palace of sand, no matter how hard it is to build it, one wave of the sea is enough to remove it from existence."
Link here to this browser translation...…/%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8…/a-43602306

In the 1920s. The Faculty of Medicine (Al-Qasr Al-Aini) was run by a college board consisting of an English president and members of all English doctors except for two famous Egyptian doctors, Dr. Naguib Mahfouz, professor of gynecology, and Dr. Ali Ibrahim, professor of surgery. One day the College Council announced the need to appoint a pathology professor ) And submitted to the position of many doctors and met the College Council to examine their requests, but the President of the Council began the meeting, saying:
- Dear Colleagues. I tell you that the British government's knowledge counselor has sent a candidate of his acquaintances to fill the job, and I suggest accepting the Chancellor's candidate because we all trust him.
Dr. Naguib Mahfouz objected:
- We must examine all applicants for the job and in the end we will choose the best as required by the rules of the college.
The President of the Council tried to d. He defended his opinion but insisted that he put the subject to the vote, so all the members of the Council support Mahfouz. All applications were examined and the job went to a doctor who was nominated by the knowledge counselor, and then repeated as a professor of bacteriology. At the time, Lord Allenby, the British High Commissioner, proposed a doctor of his knowledge to the post, but Naguib Mahfouz did the same for the first time and was supported by all the professors, forcing the President to implement the regulation and writing an apology to Lord Allenby.
This incident, which was mentioned by Dr. Naguib Mahfouz in his memoirs, makes us wonder: What prompts an Egyptian doctor to challenge the British knowledge adviser and the British High Representative, who was then the actual ruler of Egypt? What drives British doctors to support an Egyptian doctor against their British citizens with positions and influence? What prompted them to take their position is their concern for the application of justice. They of different nationalities and religions did not allow their conscience to participate in the injustice of candidates for the job. Those who read this incident must compare the behavior of the members of the College of Medicine faculty a hundred years ago and their behavior now. Many medical professors now in Egypt consider their natural right to appoint their children to teach at the university, regardless of their competence. They do not feel the slightest embarrassment when their sons take over jobs that others have been entitled to. The phenomenon of the inheritance of children is not limited to medical professors, but unfortunately includes the holders of senior positions in most areas.
Why did we hold on to justice and defend it a hundred years ago, and we have become oppressed by others so that we can have privileges for our children? Why did our morals change? Ethics is not just a personal affair and morality is not improved by repeating sermons. Morality is a social phenomenon that can not be explained away from the political system that governs us. The system is the board of directors of the homeland that can emerge from the people better or worse morals. A hundred years ago, Egypt was under British occupation and the national movement was fighting for the evacuation of the occupier and the establishment of democracy, but the Egyptian man was not subjected to the terrible repression exercised by his Egyptian rulers.
Arbitrary arrests, electric torture, fabrication of charges and enforced disappearance are all the achievements of the military government, which Egypt has been in control since 1952. In the shadow of tyranny, generations of Egyptians grew up who were not treated fairly and did not witness any kind of justice. They realized early on that the law was not applied to everyone in Egypt, but rather selective.
When a person discovers that there is no justice, the first thing he does is take whatever he wants in any way. Those who seek to inherit their children in positions know very well that their children will not get their rights anywhere else because there are no rules for fair competition. Why do not Egyptians respect the rules of traffic in their country and respect them outside Egypt ..? Because the traffic law does not apply to everyone in Egypt, but there are groups in society will never pay fines no matter how the traffic law violates.
The tyranny destroys the system of justice in the community so that the causes do not necessarily lead to the results. A violation of the law does not necessarily lead to punishment and diligence does not necessarily lead to promotion and efficiency does not necessarily lead to the assumption of positions. Instead of just fair competition, tyranny teaches people a set of perverse skills they get what they want. Bullying then turns into courage and hypocrisy to tact and fraud in the exam to generous help and spy on colleagues in favor of security turns to national action.
Under deformity and deviant behavior, a dictatorial country can never advance or rise. Anyone who reads our modern history will see that the Egyptians and the Arabs have always paid a high price for the decisions of the wrong dictator, starting with the defeat of 1967, which caused Nasser to the decision to occupy Iraq to Kuwait, which was taken by Saddam and led eventually to the occupation and destruction of Iraq, and in Egypt Sisi decided to give up two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia And signed a document in which he agreed to establish the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which would lead to a water disaster in Egypt.
Trying to develop a society under a tyrannical regime is like building a palace of sand, no matter how hard it is to build it, one wave of the sea is enough to remove it from existence.
Democracy is the solution

Speak because your silence will kill you ...

In this article Alaa al-Aswani writes about public opinion in a tyranny society.
This is an experiment by the American psychologist Solomon Ash (1907/1996) SOLOMON ASCH. He summoned seven volunteers, seated them in a room and then presented them with two cards. The card is drawn with a single vertical line and the other card is marked with three vertical lines of varying length. Dr. Asch asked volunteers to choose a line from the second card that was similar in length to the line on the first card.
The test was easy for any child to successfully pass, but Dr. Ashe had agreed with six of the seven volunteers to choose the wrong answer, meaning that they would always choose from the second card a longer or shorter line than the line on the first card and confirm that it was identical in length. There was in each group one true volunteer who is the seventh volunteer.
Dr. Ashe repeated the experiment several times on different groups. The six volunteers always chose the wrong answer based on the agreement. Here, the surprise came: in 75% of the cases, the true seventh volunteer chose the wrong answer, like his colleagues, that is, he was lying to agree with his colleagues.
The conclusion of this experiment is that a segment of people are willing to yield to the prevailing opinion in society even if they disagree with their convictions. If we imagine that Dr. Ashe's experiment was conducted today with some change: that a volunteer who violates the opinion of his colleagues will be immediately arrested and tortured, and that the rate of compliance with others will exceed 75%.
This important experience explains to us how public opinion is formed in a society of despotism. In democratic societies, freedom of expression allows all different views to be presented to the citizen who thinks about them all, and then has his own opinion. In a society of despotism there are no different views, but there is one true opinion in every area that all people must embrace.
The dictator does everything to form the public opinion as he wants, he monopolizes the media and the elimination of all the independent media and silence all opinion, there is only the hypocrites and students left. The media then turns from a means of transmitting information to a propaganda trumpet of the dictator and a means of mobilizing people to support it. By means of targeted media, truth is hidden and an alternative truth is created, a set of lies and illusions that are propagated intensively so that the people believe in them.
In the end one opinion is created in everything and anyone who disagrees with this view is treated as a traitor to the homeland in military dictatorships or an enemy of religion in religious dictatorships. The question here is: Does the dictator's media really succeed in convincing the whole people of the lies he is repeating? The answer is absolutely negative. There are millions of smart people who know the truth and know that what the media is saying is nothing more than propaganda lies.
In contrast to the millions of Germans who supported Nazism, there were millions who considered Hitler a thief and rejected the Holocaust. There was definitely among the Italians who rejected the fascism of Mussolini and his criminal and there were among the Egyptians who refused Nasser's repression of his opponents. Nowadays, it is certain that many Arab citizens refuse to suppress the ruling regimes and their corruption. They know that most of what the Arab ruler says is lies that cover his crimes. Why do not those dissenters speak out against the lies of the dictator?
They are silent about safety and fear of being abused as a punishment for their views. Like the seventh volunteer, they do as they do to the mainstream view for fear of the consequences of violating it or because they think it is more useful to object to the opinion of most people. Those who are hostile to the silent lies about the truth are responsible for the continuation of tyranny.
No matter how powerful the dictator is, he will never withstand real popular resistance if it expands. There are no prisons that are sufficient to imprison millions of people, and there is no punishment for the killing of innocents. The moment the people are ready to die in defense of their freedom and dignity, the dictator's regime inevitably collapses. History has shown that there is no dictator capable of subjugating the people alone, but there is a subjugated people.
The Western peoples have learned from their harsh experience with tyranny, no longer allow any dictator to take power and refuse tyranny in principle without waiting for its consequences. We, the Arabs, are still subject to authoritarian regimes and we still consider the ruler above the level of criticism and accountability. And while we see the heads of democratic countries subject to the accountability of the people and put to trial if they commit any error, the Arab rulers are definitely the happiest despots in the world. They are plundering their peoples' money without any accountability and they practice repression, detention and torture. To thousands of dissidents without ever having to worry about the idea that they might one day be held accountable for their crimes.
The tyranny is the disease of the Arab world while poverty, corruption, ignorance, extremism and terrorism are all symptoms and complications of the disease can not be treated before the treatment of the disease itself. The Arab citizen who realizes the truth does not do like the seventh volunteer in the experience of Dr. Ashe. Speak because your silence will kill you.
Democracy is the solution

Dear citizen: "Al-Sama'i" .. You are the reason
In his article * DW Arabia discusses Alaa Aswani the spread of audio culture in Egypt.
Etienne Dolaboisier (1530-1563) was a French thinker who lived in the sixteenth century and died young after he wrote one book entitled "The Letter of Voluntary Slavery" in which he analyzed the phenomenon of tyranny. I wrote about Labouisse more than once and then wrote about the stable citizen we suffered in the Arab world. The stable citizen prefers stability to justice and freedom, which is the first reason for the failure of the Arab revolutions so far. "Stable Citizen" is therefore an expression of my work, but I was surprised by many programs in different television channels that broadcast sections of my articles and then refer to the term stable citizen of the thinker Dolabwassier. The problem is not in the abuse of my literary rights, but in the question: why did not one of the broadcasters or broadcasters himself read a book of Dolabuasi or even a simplified summary available on the Internet ?.
The answer is that the stomachs, like many Egyptians and Arabs, make up their knowledge through hearing rather than reading. The auditory knowledge is usually incomplete and distorted, but it often reflects an obscene ignorance. Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941) has a famous novel called "Oles" [Ulysses] very difficult to read because Joyce applied a theory in literature called "stream of consciousness."
Once I chose a group of intellectuals (some of them famous) and asked each one of them about the novel of Ulysses, praised them with enthusiasm and when I asked him if he read it surprised that most of them read simple parts of the novel or articles about them, that they were glorifying a novel they did not read mainly. This audio knowledge spread among Egyptians and Arabs is all that is needed by authoritarian regimes to succeed in washing the minds of citizens.
The Arab dictator monopolizes the media and puts it under the control of the security services and prevents people from any independent source of information and then begins to promote lies and people believe them and consider them facts because they are not used to reading and scrutinizing what they hear. How many times have we heard that Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, when he was president of the IAEA, caused the occupation of Iraq as a result of the report he wrote on Iraq and read it in the Security Council? Anyone looking for a bit will discover that Dr. ElBaradei has clearly stated in his report that IAEA inspectors found no trace of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
How many times have we heard that the April 6 movement is funded from abroad to bring down the state? If you look a little, you will discover that the Sisi regime, which is opposed to the youth of the revolution, did not direct the April 6 movement to the funding charge. The April 6 movement once filed a complaint against itself and obtained from the Attorney General an official document confirming that it had not received any foreign funding. Because they went to the Fairmont meeting and called on the Egyptians to elect Mohamed Morsi. If you read a little, you will discover that the Fairmont meeting was held after the polls were closed, so the Vermont meeting did not affect the election result simply because it was over.
How many times have I heard that revolutionary young man Ahmed Douma has admitted to burning the Academy in a television program with media Wael El-Abrachi? If you see the episode you will discover that Doma did not admit at all to burn the scientific complex and if you look a bit you will discover that Professor Wael al-Barashi testified in the court that Duma did not recognize the burning of the scientific complex. The examples are endless and all emphasize the spread of the model of the "hearing" citizen who hears and immediately believes what he heard without research, reading or thinking. What causes the spread of the phenomenon of the citizen hearing in our country ..? The prevalence of illiteracy and the failure of the educational system based on indoctrination, not thinking and the scarcity of reading between learners and the society of one-opinion tyranny.
All of these are valid reasons, but in my opinion do not exempt the citizen from hearing responsibility. What does the hearing citizen do if he receives an offer to hold a contract in the Gulf or does someone present his daughter's speech? Is it enough to have quick, superficial information on the subject? No, of course, he then conducts thorough research before making his decision .. The citizen hears false lies not only because he is little aware but simply because he is not interested in public affairs. The citizen is a stable citizen who needs change and does not want to pay for it. His family is his only true circle, which prefers to live under a dictator who oppresses him but achieves the desired stability. A hearing citizen does not seek the truth because his knowledge will entail duties he is not prepared to do. He delivers his mind to the lies of the media because it relieves him of responsibility and makes him satisfied and satisfied with his ears.
Education reform, awareness-raising and encouragement of reading are all solutions that will inevitably help to get rid of hearing knowledge. But most importantly, a stable hearing citizen must be convinced that the struggle for freedom is not a political act but a humanitarian necessity and that those who give up their dignity for a living will lose their dignity and the The Arab citizen is interested in rigging elections and violating the constitution as much as he cares about marrying his daughters and the result of his children in high school. Only then will we be transformed from vulnerable subjects at the mercy of our rulers, to true citizens who live in freedom and dignity in a nation we own and decide on.
Democracy is the solution

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Kierkegaard: A Pinch of Spice

Several times over the last few years I have linked to the following piece, thoughtfully made available at a link that is no longer active. I forgot how I came by it, but I post it here for future reference, both for myself and whoever has need of it. 
As a skillful cook says of a dish in which there are already a great many ingredients: "It still needs just a little pinch of cinnamon" (and we perhaps could hardly tell by the taste that this little pinch of spice had been added, but she knew precisely why and precisely how it affected the taste of the whole mixture); as an artist says with a view to the color effect of a whole painting which is composed of many, many, colors: "There and there, at that little point, it needs a touch of red" (and we perhaps could hardly even discover the red, so carefully has the artist shaded it, although he knows exactly why it should be introduced). So it is with Providence. 
O, the Providence of the world is a vast housekeeping, a grandiose painting. Yet he, the Master, God in heaven, behaves like the cook and the artist. He says: There must be a little touch of spice here, a little touch of red. We do not understand why, we are hardly aware of it, since that little bit is so thoroughly absorbed in the whole. But God knows why. 
A little pinch of spice! That is to say: Here a man must be sacrificed, he is needed to impart a particular taste to the rest. 
These are the correctives. It is a woeful error for the one who is used to apply the corrective to become impatient and try to make the corrective the norm for others. That is an attempt to bring everything to confusion. 
A little pinch of spice! Humanly speaking, what a painful thing, thus to be sacrificed, to be the little pinch of spice! But on the other hand, God knows well the man he elects to use in this way, and then he knows also, in the inward understanding of it, how to make it a blessed thing for him to be sacrificed, that among the thousands of divers voices which express, each in its own way, the same thing, his will also be heard, and perhaps especially his, which is truly de profundis, proclaiming: God is love. The birds on the branches, the lilies in the field, the deer in the forest, the fish in the sea, countless hosts of happy men exultantly proclaim: God is love. But beneath all these sopranos, supporting them as it were, like the bass part, is audible the de profundis which issues from those who are sacrificed: God is love.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (b.1813, d. 1855) was a profound and prolific writer in the Danish "golden age" of intellectual and artistic activity. His work crosses the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, devotional literature and fiction. Kierkegaard brought this potent mixture of discourses to bear as social critique and for the purpose of renewing Christian faith within Christendom. At the same time he made many original conceptual contributions to each of the disciplines he employed. He is known as the "father of existentialism", but at least as important are his critiques of Hegel and of the German romantics, his contributions to the development of modernism, his literary experimentation, his vivid re-presentation of biblical figures to bring out their modern relevance, his invention of key concepts which have been explored and redeployed by thinkers ever since, his interventions in contemporary Danish church politics, and his fervent attempts to analyse and revitalise Christian faith. Kierkegaard burned with the passion of a religious poet, was armed with extraordinary dialectical talent, and drew on vast resources of erudition.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Noah Smith After-Hours Diversion

Basically Hanson asks "If you want to redistribute money, why not redistribute sex too?" Here is the quotey-quote:

So, most people's reaction to this is probably going to be "FUCK YOU ROBIN HANSON WOMEN DON'T OWE YOU SEX!!!" And that's a good and legitimate reaction.

It's worth remembering that Hanson is an extremely creepy guy, who once asked what's so bad about "gentle, silent rape":
It occurred to me recently that we can more clearly compare cuckoldry to gentle silent rape. Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret. Now drugging someone against their will is a crime, but the added rape would add greatly to the crime in the eyes of today’s law, and the added punishment for this addition would be far more than for cuckoldry.
Yes, Hanson does seem to think of women as objects, so I guess it makes sense that he'd want to redistribute them. That's bad.

But just because a question is motivated by EVIL doesn't mean it's STUPID. And Hanson's question, though seemingly motivated by evil, is an interesting one. Why *don't* we care about equality of sex?

But there's a big problem with that simple answer. Most of the things we associate with the word "sex" aren't actually things that could be bought from a prostitute. Or in any market.

"Sex" is actually a bundle of many different goods. Too many to enumerate, but they include: 1. Sexual arousal, stimulation, and orgasm. This is actually not scarce at all! With free internet porn you can masturbate to your bliss point. Done.

Other goods included in "sex": 2. The happiness of knowing someone is attracted to you 3. The happiness of giving someone else pleasure 4. The bond of love and intimacy that many people get from having sex 5. The social respect some people get from relationships etc. etc. etc.

These things can't be bought. No matter how much money you pay someone, they can't be more attracted to you, they can't enjoy sex with you more, they can't love you, etc. And THESE things are scarce.

If you read the forums of the "incels" who started this whole discussion, it's clear that they don't just want intercourse, stimulation, orgasm, etc.
Some want love, others want a feeling of being attractive, others want social respect.

And yes, some of them want creepy bad things like power, domination, and a feeling of superiority, that nobody should have. Yes yes. BUT, the important point here is, most NORMAL human beings want all those positive intangible, non-market goods that come with "sex".

And these nonmarket sex goods are scarce. They are unevenly distributed in our society. As the communist dude says in Enemy at the Gates, "There will always be rich and in love...poor in love..." Then he kills himself. Dammit incels! Anyway.

Should it make us sad to see people without love, without the feeling of attractiveness, without social respect, without the satisfaction of giving others pleasure? HELL YES IT SHOULD MAKE US SAD!!!

Now the question is: What do we, as a society, do about it?? Even if we wanted to, we can't actually redistribute these things by government fiat (thank fucking God). No policeman or judge can force one person to love another, to be attracted to another, to respect another.

So we have to do other things. Indirect things. We can give people gyms so they can work out and get more attractive. We can give people Coffee Meets Bagel so they can meet people more easily. We can give people internet forums so they can learn how to have relationships.

We can give people psychotherapy so they can deal with emotional issues. We can give people bars and clubs and Reddit and comic book stores etc. so they can join subcultures and meet people and form social bonds. And we can give people MONEY to buy all this stuff!!

So the answer to Hanson's evil-but-not-stupid question is: THIS IS ONE REASON WE WANT INCOME REDISTRIBUTION IN THE FIRST PLACE! So people can afford to buy things that will help them create better human connections!

But we, society, government, The System, etc., can only do so much. This bridge can only take you halfway there, as Shel Silverstein wrote.

The last few steps you'll have to take alone. YOU have to go figure out how to love people and be loved, pleasure and be pleasured, respect and be respected. It's really hard, and it's not something you can buy with money, and it takes most people most of their lives.

The government cannot do this for you. Your friends and family, if you're lucky enough to have them, can help, but there's a certain amount they can't do for you either. Redistribution is great, but people *have* to do some part of life for themselves.

And thus, no matter how much we want equality, the communist dude from Enemy at the Gates is right - there will always be some inequality. Perfect redistribution can't possibly happen. So we do the best we can.

Our society can do lots of things to help people be emotionally healthy. We can prevent rape and child abuse. We can reduce violence. We can try to help families stay together. We can give people money so they can have stable lives free from want and fear.

But in the end, we can't force our way all the way to a world of perfect equality, sexual or otherwise. (end)
@latenitenoah is described as...
A group of 5 to 9 people writing under the pseudonym of "Noah Smith"

Friday, April 27, 2018

Alisa Harris Twitter Thread on Homeschooling