(Photo is of my son Joe and my granddaughter Mena asleep in the drive-through line of In-N-Out Burgers. We need to spend more money on protecting American children and less money on over-kill weaponry!)
I've been receiving a lot of e-mails lately, asking me why I'm always hatin' so much on poor Israel. "Its leaders are only trying to do their job and keep their country safe -- but you just keep picking on them." And I've even begun to wonder about this myself. Geez Louise. What if I really am becoming anti-Semitic? I sincerely hope not...but maybe? And then yesterday I read an article by Ira Chernus that put everything back into perspective for me (Thank you, Ira!)
I'm not being anti-Israeli. I'm being anti-American! Whew.
Churnus pointed out that when Israel was formed, the Zionists only wanted their own nation, just like almost every other ethnic or linguistic group in the world had their own nation too. "The early Zionists," wrote Churnus, "assumed what all Europeans of their day assumed: Every nation-state is the political expression of a specific ethnic group -- France for the French, China for the Chinese, etc. In their day that was not considered racism. It was just common sense. So they concluded that the Jews would be normal only when they had their own nation-state, with Jewish prostitutes, Jewish pimps and Jewish police to arrest them (or take bribes to look the other way). For most of these early Zionists, the important point was not morality but nationalism. They wanted all the roles in their new society, moral or immoral, to be played by Jews."
And for Israel to be a normal nation like almost every other nation in the world, it thought that it had to play hardball too. "After all," Churnus continued, "what does it mean to be 'normal' in the world of modern nation-states, all modeled on the states of Western Europe and North America? It means not merely to have cops and criminals but to have governments that get the most power they can, by any means necessary.... Normal governments in the modern world use their power for lots of reasons, but ultimately it's always about extending their control over both their own people and others."
Okay. I got it. Israel is only trying to be America's "Mini-Me". And they are succeeding, too. And, therefore, I am always picking on Israel for the same reason that I'm always picking on Washington. Hey, I'm not anti-Semitic. I'm anti-WAR!
For instance, America gives Israel seven million dollars a DAY, earmarked solely to be spent on weapons and military solutions to its problems with the Palestinians. If you assume that there are approximately 1.5 million Arab and Christian Palestinians living in an area that even Ben Gurion himself referred to as "Palestine," then that comes out to approximately 4.66 American dollars per Palestinian that are currently being spent on bombs, white phosphorus, bullets, tear gas, etc. $4.66. Every single day. For every single man, woman and child in the Occupied Territories. (So much for Palestinian "Natural Growth").
But for convenience's sake, let's round that $4.66 up and make it five dollars a day.
So. What can we safely say is the current American and Israel policy toward Gaza and the West Bank right now? "Palestine on $5 a day"! Spending that much money on weapons aimed at a mostly-civilian population, 52% of whom are under the age of 18, is like shooting fish in a barrel -- only these are human beings being destroyed, not sardines.
But let's pull back a little bit here and look at this from Israel's perspective. They want to be a nation-state? They want to be America's "Mini-Me"? Well, then, just look at their role model. According to The American Prospect, "The U.S. defense budget for 2009 is $655 billion." Assuming there are six billion people living on the planet right now, that comes out to $109.66 dollars per DAY that America is spending for every man, woman and child on the planet -- spending it on ICBMs, tanks, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, nuclear warheads, pre-imptive strikes, riot gear, tear gas, and other things that go bump in the night. You name it. If it destroys human flesh, we got it!
"The World on $110 dollars a day"!
So now, thanks to Ira Churnus, I have finally come to terms with my issues about Israel. It just wants to be like its Big Brother. However. If spending just $5 a day per person in Palestine has turned Palestine into a grim open-air concentration camp and killing field, then just imagine what spending $110 a day per person would do right here in America!
Yep. I am DEFINITELY anti-war.
PS: I just got another e-mail from a Marine mom who is keeping me informed about what's happening in Afghanistan. "Well, I guess we can pretty much see why we are building that huge permanent Camp Leatherneck," she wrote. "You ought to go there and see it being built! Marines in tents, and Seabees building the largest structure since WWII!!!" It sounds like we are in Afghanistan to stay.
"Gen. McChrystal and Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson saying we are there to secure civilians from the Taliban. But that could be done with the Ugandan guards such they had at Al Asad airbase in Iraq. Just send some Ugandan guards to the villages, with some of those Afghan forces we have been busy training for the last eight years. I have great faith they will secure the villages. Marines should be only used to fight a war, not for occupation or to 'secure' villages." Yeah. We need to keep our Marines fresh and ready so that if we ever really need them to defend us here at home, they can do it -- and won't be all wasted after spending years out in the middle of nowhere, defending some corporate CEO's wet-dream of owning the Silk Road.
PPS: The business section of Bloomberg has just announced that DynCorp and Fluor just won five-year contracts serving our troops in Afghanistan. These contracts are "worth as much as $7.5 billion.... DynCorp will take over services KBR provided for tasks such as laundry, food services and maintenance for existing base camps in southern Afghanistan. It also will build new bases as needed to accommodate an increase to about 68,000 troops from about 57,000 today. Fluor will take over similar services in northern Afghanistan."
Why in the world would global corporations like DynCorp and Fluor even think about wanting the war in Afghanistan to ever come to an end!
PPPS: People also keep reminding me about all the wonderful things Israel has achieved in academic and scientific fields. According to them, Israel has probably even invented the wheel! I'm not arguing with that. Go them! They are also America's "Mini-Me" in that respect. America has achieved many amazingly wonderful things too. In that regard, I am proud of my country -- and proud of Israel as well.
The part of the American nation-state that I am NOT proud of, however, is the part that killed approximately one million Iraqis -- after Bush and & Cheney deliberately falsified critical information justifying Shock and Awe. And the part of the Israeli nation-state that I'm not proud of either is the part that has caused the deaths of approximately one million Palestinian civilians since 1948, including victims of various ethnic cleansing campaigns, the carpet-bombing of Gaza City, the violent attacks on Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin, and lack of access to food, water, jobs and medical care.
America and Israel should stick to trying to find cures for cancer, solving global warming and stuff like that -- then they both can evolve away from being just your typical run-of-the-mill, been-there-done-that, Banana Republic nation-state and become IDEAL nation-states. Why settle for less?