Saturday, 31 December 2011

Visions of yesterday, today and tomorrow

From Paul J. Balles:

Have you chilled your bubbly for the New Year's toast? Thought about resolutions you want to make, and will probably break?

Before getting carried away with tomorrow and what can make the New Year a happy one, give a few moments to the year only hours from passing.

Twenty two years ago Taylor Addison wrote in Blue Mountain Arts, “Time for New Beginnings”: 

"This is a time for reflection as well as celebration.  As you look back on the past year and all that has taken place in your life,

Remember each experience for the good that has come of it and for the knowledge you have gained.

Remember the efforts you have made and the goals you have reached.

Remember the love you have shared and the happiness you have brought.

Remember the laughter, the joy, the hard work, and the tears.

And as you reflect on the past year, also be thinking of the new one to come. Because most importantly, this is a time of new beginnings and the celebration of life."

In his reflections, Addison includes only general reference to the things many of us have focused on—but not specifically on the violence of protests, the death and destruction of wars, the hardships of failing economies and natural disasters, and the injustices of occupations.

These should not be forgotten as we look back, but they should be put into the perspective of what can be gained from reporting and commenting on the bad news.

If your vision of the past has been to recollect the ills, now is the time to reflect on the gains, the achievements, the satisfactions, the learning and the happiness brought by the struggles endured to improve someone’s thinking or behaviour. 

We're only hugs away from making and sharing our wishes for a Happy New Year. A timely anecdote for the event is this “Recipe for a Happy New Year”:

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancour and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness.

In short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavour of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing—don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humour.

That's about as good as recipes get.

In closing, William Arthur Ward’s poem “A New Year” merits some thought:

Another fresh new year is here--
     Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
     To love and laugh and give!

This bright New Year is given me
     To live each day with zest--
To daily grow and try to be
     My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
     Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
     And sing more joyful songs!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

There can be no surrender to bullying by Zionists and “anti-Zionist” pretenders

From Laura Stuart:

Not the first time that I have felt compelled to write about the phenomenon of outrageous bullying tactics used against Palestine activists and indeed anyone who is prepared to stand up and speak or write the truth about Israeli/Zionist crimes.

There can be no dispute about the fact that Israel – "the Jewish state" as it calls itself –  is a perpetrator of terrible human rights abuses and as a consequence has attracted more condemnations against it from the United Nations than any other country, least of all one which claims to be a democracy and ironically claims it's occupation forces as the "world’s most moral army".

Yesterday I attended the protest outside the Israeli embassy which takes place on the anniversary of the massacre named "Cast Lead". I am sure the many widows, orphans and parents who lost their children in Gaza during that 22-day offensive are enough of a testimony to the occupation forces’ so-called “morals”. The Samouni family, which lost so many members, is a prime and very tragic example. The fact that Judge Goldstone crumbled on his report under Zionist attack is a further testimony to the evil tactics of Zionist bullying and the pressure they can bring to bear.

More about Zionist bullying. It was with great interest that I read an article written by Ilan Pappe on the Electronic Intifada titled "Confronting intimidation working for justice in Palestine". I hope everyone will read the article and start to appreciate the levels of bullying that go on at every level from government down to activists like myself. It is no secret that the US leaders will always shamefully grovel to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and can be counted on to veto any resolution at the United Nations which might force Israel to be held accountable for the consequences of some of its actions. But we do not even need to look overseas; we need only reflect on the fact that 80 per cent of the UK’s ruling Conservative Party MPs are Friends of Israel.

No surprise to anyone who has read Gilad Atzmon's blog detailing the efforts the so-called “anti-Zionist” Jews will go to in hounding anyone who would share a platform with Gilad and the tactics of bullying and harassment involved, which includes being emailed and called repeatedly. Furthermore, any venue provider can expect the same treatment. Even I have been sent anonymous emails of a rather sinister nature and have many emails from such so-called “anti-Zionist” Jews as Tony Greenstein who even finds it somehow appropriate to blog about my clothes and post my photo on his blog describing me as the epitome of a "liberated woman", even though he had never met me and does not know me. You should well be asking what business what I choose to wear is of Tony Greenstein’s? I usually associate such Islamaphobic and fascist views with the likes of the EDL or Sarkozy. Just another example of an attempt at character assassination and bullying.

The list goes on and on. One activist, Nahida Izzat, wrote about the use of character assassination as a political tool after she suffered terribly at the hands of the so-called Jewish “anti-Zionists”. Others have their had their academic careers curtailed, such as Norman Finkelstein. Here on Paul Eisen's blog is a story of how people can be smeared by Zionists and let down by the leaders of the solidarity movement who somehow don't really understand the concept of solidarity. There seem to be absolutely no limits as to how far the Zionists and the self-proclaimed Jewish “anti-Zionists” are prepared to go in their attempts to discredit those who speak out.

Having described the environment in which activists for Palestine and indeed activists for justice against the Zionist/neocon so-called "war on terror" operate and the frequent attacks on them, which can be very damaging both at a personal and career level, I would suggest we need to be very alert and very steadfast in not giving in to Zionist bullying. All Palestine activists should be able to show at least a semblance of the sumoud – or steadfastness –  that Palestinians themselves are famous for.

In particular, organizations that claim to represent the "solidarity" movement of Palestinian activists need to be ever vigilant of Zionist and self-proclaimed “anti-Zionist” attempts to control them from both the inside and out. While I agree that many people are working hard on many different levels to bring justice to Palestine, it would be sad to see our biggest “solidarity" organization fragment as some regional branches choose to go it alone. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link and all of us would hate to see a Zionist victory using the old divide and conquer tactic.

Finally to end on a more upbeat note, I can't wait to hear more about the new forum called "deLiberation" which will shake off the Zio chains and take the discourse to new levels.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pioneers have a vision of something better

From Paul J. Balles

Many of us devote much effort to commenting on what’s wrong with America and the rest of the world. Occasionally it helps to look at the glass that’s half full rather than half empty. The column attached focuses on America’s pioneering spirit.

Having been a frequent critic of what I've seen wrong with America, it's time to reminisce about some of what’s great about my country.

One of the most admirable traits of Americans is that we're pioneers. That's more than just praise for the rugged settlers who came to America from Europe or those who migrated from east to west.

Not everything about settling America is praiseworthy; but apart from the reprehensible treatment of some Indians on their land, the pioneering spirit became ingrained into the American psyche.

Going into unexplored territory in search of a new life became intrinsic to American culture. The pioneering spirit drove explorations and discoveries of every possible dimension from early medical research to travel in space.

What distinguishes the pioneering spirit that Americans are rightly proud of?

Pioneers are not happy with the present. They visualize something better beyond their immediate world and way of life.

People like Charles Lindberg who flew across the Atlantic for the first time looked forward as much as the later astronauts who blasted off into outer space for the first time.

The medical professionals who risked their lives in first-time experiments with drugs or procedures exemplified the nature of the pioneer.

Pioneers don't depend on others to guide their lives and futures. As someone once said, they "promote the exercise of one's own goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance."

Every once in awhile an individualist appears in politics. In America, we have two notable figures, both in the congress: Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. Both Paul and Kucinich have constituents who appreciate their individualism. Unfortunately, the US Congress and the general electorate do not.

Pioneers exercise independent judgment, often in opposition to conventional wisdom. This has been true of many American business men and women.

Author Ayn Rand provided an excellent example of individualist thinking in her novels, the most famous of which is The Fountainhead.

The novel's hero, Howard Roark, agrees to provide the architectural design for a housing project on the promise that nothing be changed.  When the city's fathers permit changes to save money, he blows up the project. Rand's defence is a remarkable justification of Roark’s action. 

Nothing I've said so far is meant to imply that individualism is exclusive to America. Furthermore, many Americans exemplify collectivism.

Individuals use their ingenuity to develop inventions, innovations, enterprises and new ideas.  Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple provide excellent examples of innovative, pioneering American individuals.

To achieve their goals and desires, pioneers value independence and self-reliance. They are risk-takers, often with the courage to travel down untrodden paths and into perilous territory to reach their goals.

Last March, Forbes magazine ran a story on 39 gutsy entrepreneurs, executives, celebrities, politicians and athletes about the greatest risks they ever took.

As a result of their efforts, pioneers improve life for themselves, and they make the world a better place for the rest of us.

In America, the frequency and importance of our discoveries have distinguished the country's achievements.

In one of his speeches, President John F. Kennedy said about pioneering choices we make:

...not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win ....

I’m proud of the pioneering spirit America instilled in me.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Raw footage – aftermath of shooting of Palestinian protestee Nabi Saleh – 9 Dec 2011

A Palestinian protester is seen seriously injured after being hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired directly at him by an Israeli soldier at the weekly protest in a-Nabi Saleh.