Thursday, November 16, 2023

Oppenheimer and the War on Palestine


There is a scene in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer that is considered by many the master scene. It’s after the atomic bomb has been used and Oppenheimer delivers a victory speech to the cheers of a crowd. In the scene, we can see his mind start to wander, to silence, to a recognition of what he has done with the murder of over 200,000 people. That moment is his awakening, the introduction of guilt, and for that reason, that he grew a conscience, Oppenheimer was viewed as a hero. After all, this guilt meant that he was human.

But Oppenheimer is a true western hero. He is someone that is fighting his guilt after the atrocity committed, not during, not before. After they were all dead there is a sense of guilt. Yet in that movie there is no humanization of those he killed, just the guilt at the forefront and the celebration that such humane thoughts have seeped into his soul.

That afterthought, that guilt is the true mark of western society. The protagonist is always them, it’s always how they feel, how they process what they’ve done, it’s never about those they have hurt. That’s why we can see the parallels in today’s world. Genocide first, and then perhaps when a great many Palestinians have died, suffered and have been displaced, the ancestors of western societies, or perhaps even their current leaders might be again the true heroes when they feel a little guilt. Maybe invading Iraq was wrong, maybe too many innocent people have been killed. Yet still Iraqis are never human, Palestinians are never human. Humanity is reserved for the killers and the compassion they might feel or even remorse after they’ve committed and supported a genocide.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

The War on Humanity

 A collection of tweets on Gaza

I one asked a German friend to imagine that Gaza was inhabited by Jews and that those placing their city under a blockade were something else, bombing their civilians. Her answer was that she couldn’t, and that to me epitomizes the problem we have today. The idea that you are not even able to do the mental exercise of imagination speaks volumes of where we are now. I think that is the current problem with those supporting the genocide in Gaza.

Peace is not possible if the oppressor continues to oppress, no matter how much everyone in power convinces us that the status quo is fair.

The Ukrainians and Belarusians supporting the ethnic cleansing to be carried out by Israel in Gaza are the most baffling to me.The people in Ukraine have every right to fight for their freedom against those trying to take away their land and agency. Now replace Ukraine with Palestine.Western governments are Ukranian when it comes to Ukraine but are Russians when it comes to Palestine. There are people who support Ukraine because they are principled, there are people who support Ukraine because they are racist. Palestine helps us understand who is which.

Mainstream western punditry will pretend that Israel hasn't been an occupier, hasn't been attacking Palestinians, hasn't been committing injustices and will just condemn Palestinians, but what's new, they offer the same story no matter what actually happens on the ground. So many people support Palestine in western countries but their governments and media make it impossible to voice their support to influence the mainstream. People in the west can lose their jobs and likelihood if they support Palestine. Many live in fear.

My solidarity with Palestine grew not because they're Arabs and not because of any other mainstream narrative but because Israel has occupied their land, deprived them of basic rights and continuously oppress Palestinians. My solidarity is against injustice. Always.

The EU stands with Israel. The EU strongly condemns Palestinians breaking out of their cage and refusing to suffer and die in silence.

Bernie condemns Palestinians for breaking out of their cage. I suppose he just thinks that everyone should stand up against those depriving them of dignity and a better life but with the exception of Palestinians.

The dividing line in the Israel - Palestine conflict is this. Do you accept all people in this region to have equal rights no matter their ethnicity, race or religion?

Of course the west supports apartheid, they always have. Germany has kind of outlawed BDS, a form of peaceful resistance against Israel's continued abuses against Palestine and Palestinians.

Israel retaliates disproportionately, kill civilians, commit war crimes and the international community will continue to support Israel and never lift a finger to hold them accountable. But that happens anyway whether Palestinians attacked them or not.

Collective punishment, carnage, indiscriminate killings, targeting civilians, cutting off electricity, cutting off water. The west cheers on.

I guess the world is now getting ready to sanction a final solution regarding Palestinians.So much for the 'Never Again' motto.

Funny thing, when Israel retaliates and commits the most heinous crimes, the trope "has a right to defend itself" continues to echo. When Palestinians respond to decades of oppression, international law is invoked. The fact that people say Israel has a right to defend itself but Palestine does not, is one of the most racist bigoted tropes of our time.

Logic won't win an argument but the least we can do is have a sound moral position. This means that we can't ignore things at will. Occupation factors into every analysis. Ignoring it will turn Palestinians into aggressors, including it will turn them to freedom fighters.

Many are citing international law to condemn the attack on Israel, but the greater majority ignore international law when it applies to Israel. They don't recognize the right of Palestinians to fight for freedom and turn a blind eye to Israel targeting children and journalists.

We live in a world that legitimizes some types of murder and criminalizes others. What a petty fight to determine what is the moral way of taking a life.

There are two main reasons why people support Israel's apartheid practices and settler colonialism. Ignorance or racism or a combination of both. In Germany they can be combined with guilt.

People are describing the events of last Saturday as an attack, but in reality it's best described as a prison break. Now the wardens are bombing up the open air prison they created, like they would a riot, except with no obligation to keep the prisoners alive.

I think the people who understand the plight of Palestinians most are Jews, when the world had turned their back on them and masses cheered for their eradication. I hope one day it will be recognized how wrong it is now as it was back then to cheer for their oppression and death.

EU aid to Palestine is conditioned on them being slaughtered in silence.

I agree with everyone about not targeting civilians, but what I find baffling is shifting the focus to it only when it happens to Israelis and completely ignore it when it's happening to Palestinians. Israel does this a lot more and consistently gets away with it.

First Europe went after the Jews, now they go after the Palestinians. Many today wonder how people in the past could support genocide. Those who support the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians can find the answer within themselves.

Funny to see people trusting the same journalists and outlets that claimed Iraq was building a nuclear bomb.

The people who condemned the entirety of Gaza to death because of false reports of beheaded babies, do nothing to condemn the targeting of children and paramedics by Israel's strikes. It's as if they're only looking for excuses to justify the murder of Palestinians.

Berlin police violently put a child in cuffs yesterday on behalf of Israel. These people are capable of becoming monsters in an instant and they raise a flag of righteousness while they do this. It should be sickening to the world but the world is thirsty for blood these days.

The license for genocide is when those who are seen to uphold any kind of morality stop caring about any of it. Do not be complicit in the genocide planned for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

After all the years of fighting, the real demand that can end this is equal rights for all. It seems like not a lot to ask, but in reality it's asking for the impossible.

If this was a different topic, some people would have asked for Joe Biden to be impeached for his brazen lies.

The British Foreign Minister James Cleverly stood by while his counterpart dehumanized Palestinian civilians. What a horrible racist.

We are witnessing ethnic cleansing in the making, I hope it is averted as people realize they are repeating the ugliest history of the world.

Western powers are lying, censoring, arresting, oppressing anyone who offers a balanced perspective about Palestine and with all the war mongering and support of ethnic cleansing, terrorizing people who have a different view point and yet they dare call others terrorists.

Amnesty's Crisis Evidence Lab has verified that Israeli military units striking Gaza are equipped with white phosphorus artillery rounds. We are investigating what appears to be the use of white phosphorus in Gaza, including in a strike near a hotel on the beach in Gaza City.

Europe had the blood of Jews on their hand. Now they have the blood of Palestinians on their hand.

You think that permitting Israel to killing Palestinians in mass will undo the mass murder of Jews that's embedded in Europe's history? It won't and it will just add to the list of atrocities perpetrated by Europeans.

A shit ton of corrections from news outlets and the Whitehouse about spreading the lies about beheaded babies, yet none of them are calling for Israel to cancel their ethnic cleansing plan. Racism goes on, don't let facts get in the way.

Israelis should be ashamed that the same rhetoric used to annihilate Jews is being used by Israel against Palestinians.

Western leaders are probably thinking, let's support ethnic cleansing now and then throw money at academic programs that study our atrocious history later.

End the occupation. End apartheid. Free all prisoners on all sides. Equal rights for all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Shattered Revolution


#Jan25. Illustration by Ann Kiernan

With every passing anniversary, on the 25th of January, we try and remember a day that shook the world, a day where young people lead a defiance of years of apathy and depoliticization as well as a brutal police apparatus to try and dream of a better future.

The act of remembering is often a snapshot. After all, many other things that have happened in the world since then. So each year, there’s a snapshot of politics, economy, the fine young revolutionaries being thrown in and out of jail after a great many of them were killed. The state of police, judiciary and military. 

It is often difficult to remember or even imagine that the plethora of images of Tahrir square filled with people numerous days during the active revolutionary years are actually comprised of individuals, each with their own story. The big picture is often seen in an aerial photo, a hastily written article to meet the publishing deadline or a human rights report that details victims and abuses by the state. Yet outside these bulletins, the lives of these people that contributed to the mosaic-like photos continue and for the most part remain under reported. But there is no real reason to report these untold stories. Those living these stories know them and don’t need them reported and the bigger picture remains clear with every human rights report and every arms sale and business transaction between the west and Egypt’s government.

Yet there is value in remembering that the large mosaic image of the revolution and its defeat is made up of countless tiles of humans who put their lives and futures on the line, many of whom still exist despite the disappearance of the Egyptian revolution. They still form a mosaic image, but one that is not captured in an aerial image or a news report. The image is far less visible than the collection that once gathered in Tahrir, in fact, it’s hardly an image, it’s faint dots dispersed all over the globe, barely audible, yet the sound they make sometimes tells a story; of the rise of hope, the euphoria of revolution and the survival following its defeat.

Often times using the term mosaic is a cliché, but in this case, perhaps it’s adequate to think of the people who have been a part of the revolution as shattered glass. Each of them unique, colored and sharpened by their experiences and yet shattered. The picture they paint is that of defeat and groups of them share some of the same attributes, some of the same colors, some of the same flavors of escape.

From a distance, you may look at those who have stopped their politics, trying to get by with ordinary jobs, jobs that come directly in contact with the military, who have turned business in Egypt into a monopsony, a term used to describe an economy where there is only one client, where the armed forces is the only client.  There are others who sought refuge in studying abroad, or finding work there. Others have taken various different routes to survive.

I would not paint a picture based on these clusters, but rather on where they are mentally with processing this experience. How can we understand where they’re at? It’s unfortunate that there is no outlet for this sort of study or information, but you can see it in the stories of people you’ve known for a long time, on their presence or absence on social media, on the quality of content they post, in their travels and in what topics they choose to engage with. To those of us living the aftermath of the revolution’s defeat, it’s clear simply by looking at ourselves in the mirror or at those we’ve known along the years. To an outside observer the changes would be simply observed at the moment of their observation if they’re not doing so over time.

Still there are pockets where you can find some of that story, if you look closely enough. One such reflection of this ongoing story was a podcast that has been narrowly circulated in 2019 called Mesh Masmou, which means not heard.

In this podcast, we follow some of the voices from before the revolution, into their experiences and then finally into how they processed some of it and where they’re off to next. All of this is discussed on an abstract mental level, without the details you would find in a feature article, with some sort poster child.

That mosaic audio is one of a shattered revolution, like a Rubik’s cube gone into complete disarray, a far cry from the image painted by an overflooded Tahrir square.

This is the sort of snapshot worth taking today, the shattered pieces of a shattered revolution. Maybe a conversation with those in exile has been one angle, but more of the story is to be told looking at the ordinary voices of extraordinary people who were present at some point during the revolutionary years. What do they think of their past experiences? What do they think of their present? Of their future? But what do they think of the revolution itself.

Collectively we struggle, we fall and grow. At every point in my personal journey through dealing with the revolution, I’ve seen others who are going through something similar. We can still relate even though there is no longer a common place to meet, or even a shared goal to achieve. The places we keep remain in our minds and in our memory but more importantly in our journey. 

Paradoxically the revolution had given us all a glimpse of what we could be and then took it all away. It allowed ordinary people to rise to the ranks of creative heroes, knowledgeable experts with a fame mostly on merit. They rose against the will of those in power. When the revolution was quashed, they were targeted to vanish from the public sphere. Countless talented people had no choice but to withdraw to obscurity or an even more dumbed down version of their former self. The only way to survive is to return to building once again from scratch. Many of those who stayed on in Egypt have realized that success under these circumstances is not within reach. Silence alone does not suffice. Compliance along with moderately positive statements about Egypt is not enough. There is only room for the talentless, the opportunists, the hypocrites.

The revolution now is a story of wasted potential. It’s the story of all the things that could have been but have not, all the people that could have been and have not.

It is a time where people are bearing the brunt of poor economic policies throughout the years, and even some of the staunchest supporters of the Egyptian state have realized the economic catastrophe. But the people have already been divided and there is nothing new for old revolutionaries who have seen this coming from the start. The fear is that the greatest of dreams have turned into cynicism and in a sense, that would be the true defeat.

Everything is boiling beneath the surface, but that surface is fortified and no one knows how solid or brittle it is in the face of the unknown, unseen, unheard quantities suffering beneath it.