Passing anecdotes and thoughts on politics, history, lit, sports or whatever...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Total War

How quickly the world changes, generally for the worst. I am quite shocked by Israel's latest excessive antics, manifesting itself in hyperbolic rhetoric and disproportionate agressive actions. Hamas kidnaps an Israeli soldier in Gaza a few weeks ago; undoubtedly, this is to arrange a prisoner swap. Israel, in an attempt to seize the soldier, has bombed a power station that was owned by the USA incidentally. They have also killed over 80 Palestinians as they have run frequent bombing sorties into Gaza. Today, Palestinians blew a hole in the wall seperating Egypt from Gaza: when a resident of Gaza is that desperate to get away, you know it is bad. I don't think everyday life is entirely that pleasant in the Strip.
Actually I mispoke, the whole was blown open to let Palestinians back into Gaza...

This excesive response really references the techniques of former fascist regimes that the Jews are quite acquanted with: the Nazis. If a prisoner escaped from Sachenhausen or Auschwitz, the gendarmes would often kill 10-50 prisoners as a reprisal. This lets you know that your people are going to suffer for your actions. I am not trying to equate kidnapping a young soldier to escaping from a prison camp, rather the similarity in punishing other innocents in reprisal for the actions of unrelated individuals. This technique to dissuade will only lead to further escalations of violence. What do the Palestinians really have to lose at this point?

While watching the film Munich recently, I had a thought about the development of Israel. I have recently moved away from the usual poorly thought out left wing stance automatically condemning Israel as evil without thinking about the nuances of the conflict, or attempting to empathize with their experience and situation in the world. I recently read Amos Oz's book "A Tale of Love and Darkness." One begins to understand the real struggle that the Jews experienced in finding a safe place to exist. There were the massacres on the Pale settlements in Galicia during WW1. There were vicious massacres in the Ukraine in 1919. Moreover, the usual virulent anti-semitism that pervaded the cultural climate of fin-de-siecle Europe symbolized by the Dreyfus Affair in France. Jews were migrating to Palestine throughout the early 20th century. The Germans were more than happy they were leaving, but still felt the need to air radio broadcasts to the arabs which incited violent reprisals from Palestinians. Palestinians revolted about the growing number of Jewish refugees and many were killed by the British protecting the Jews. Following WW2, there was much rhetoric by the Palestinians about another genocide and a desire to fire up the ovens again. Well, this is just a little bit insensitive considering the events that just took place right?

1948, Israel declares independence, kicking off the conflict that will dominate the post-war world: the arabs vs. Israel. Egypt, TransJordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attack Israel and Israel triumphs at the cost of 6,000 casualties. I believe that this constant state of attack that Israel endured created a Holocaust mentality that informs domestic and foreign policy. Israel needs to come to an understanding that they aren't in survival mode anymore. They cannot strike with such force because a total of 3 people have been kidnapped. They need to show some restraint and diplomatic finesse before they start bombing airports and engaging in the belligerent operations in civillian areas. Yes Haifa was hit, the damage was minimal. After 9/11 the USA even managed to show some restraint; we didnt start carpet bombing Kabul the next morning.

Some other interesting developments:

Israel is claiming that the missles that crashed into Haifa were made in Iran. The subtext is that Israel is trying to find a reason to hit Iran. Also, they fear that Hez and Hamas are transferring their prisoners to Iran. So what if the missles were made in Iran... Does this mean that Lebanon should be able to hit the USA as Israeli missles that crashed down on their airport were American made? Can the Turkish Kurds bomb the USA as the Turks use American helicopters to annhilate their villages?

Watching CNN last night, I heard an anchor (filling in for Anderson Cooper) say that one of the real tragedies is that the people of Haifa no longer feel safe nor know what is coming. I dont know when the last time a denizen of the Gaza Strip felt safe...

Bush has declined to intervene in a cease fire and "refuses to pressure Israel to cease." He has "promised that he will urge Israel to limit damage." Uhhh when did he plan to do that, when there are done levelling Beirut? He is concerned about the stability of the Lebanon goverment. How ethical of GW.

I am not trying to deny the suffering of Israeli citizens at all; nor do i think that the government there necessarily represents their country anymore then our government represents anyone I know. Israel has a much larger capacity to inflict conventional war wounds and needs to give diplomacy a chance. I know they are trying to geographically move Hez off their northern flank, but the people that live in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon are the ones that will pay.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barret

I see that I have been chastized for not writing on my blog enough. Well, my lame excuse is that work was a bit frantic for awhile... I am rededicating myself!

I am really sad to see that Syd Barret passed away a few days ago. Here is a story at the BBC:

Syd Barret was one of the most influential and brilliant musicians to emerge in the 1960's. He started Pink Floyd while in art school in 1965: they were the offspring of his original unsuccessful project the Abdabs. Most of the quality music he wrote came within a 6 month period. Although he completely lost his mind by 1968, he managed to record some brilliant instrumental and pop works. At first his lyrics have a sing-song melodic appeal, but always with an unsettling undercurrent:

Jugband Blues - It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here.
And I never knew the moon could be so big
And I never knew the moon could be so blue
And I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes
And brought me here instead dressed in red
And I'm wondering who could be writing this song.
I don't care if the sun don't shine
And I don't care if nothing is mine
And I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the winter.
And the sea isn't green
And I love the Queen
And what exactly is a dream
And what exactly is a joke.

The catatonic, meditative guitar sequences punctuate all of his pop and instrumental pieces. He develops a stacato- violent improvisational strain, that fades in an out of white noise, in the long intstrumental "Interstellar Overdrive." "Astronomy Domine" is similar in theme, featuring an ominous and expansive instrumental break. Barret broods the wistfully melancholic Joyce poem, "Golden Hair," capturing an elusive moment as it passes.

He is also the subject of many tales the must border on urban myth. One describes how he is questioned on live television, but does not answer. He begins to slowly lunge toward the camera in silence with a blank look on his face until the network cuts to another piece. Another story emerges that states: he poured out a jar of Mandrax, smashed the pills into tiny pieces and mixed the crumbs in with a jar of Brylcreem. He then poured the bizarre concoction onto his head and walked on stage. As he was playing, the pill-paste started to melt under the heat of the stage-lighting and dribbled down from his scalp so that it looked like his face was melting. He would refuse to get off the tour bus, only to come up on stage and stare into space, playing the same chord over and over again. Unfortunately, I have also read that he would hit his girlfriend as he inched closer to madness.

In the end, he lived an anonymous life in Cambridge; I believe that he lived with his mother for quite sometime. It is sad to see him go.