Verbal Self-Defense 2

I wanted to say a few more things about Suzette Haden Elgin’s system for ‘verbal self-defense’. The central idea she presents is that we can use language to create an abusive environment, or we can use language to create a non-abusive environment. Where the ‘self-defense’ comes in is when you’re in a situation with someone who is being abusive – there are some ways to feed the abuse or escalate it, and other ways to basically deprive it of oxygen.

Elgin has made an overview handout here.

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Verbal Self-Defense

I think political debates are often important. I would do more debates if I had appropriate venues. I engage in debates even when they are unpleasant. But I often get the feeling that they are unnecessarily unpleasant. The unpleasantness, in other words, isn’t a function of the disagreements, or of the vehemence of the disagreements, or even, in some cases, of the vileness of the people involved. I have, after all, had reasonably smooth interactions with people I think are vile (and no, I’m not going to name names) and with people who I suspect had nothing but contempt for me.

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The next phase of the war

So, I assume everyone understands that the war isn’t over? And since the war isn’t over, let’s not talk yet about anyone having ‘won’.

The ‘ceasefire resolution’ was a joke. It was a resolution that was based on Hizbullah surrendering. The only problem is that Hizbullah has no reason to surrender, not having been defeated. But if the war not being over means Hizbullah hasn’t won, that doesn’t mean Israel has won. They hoped to divide Lebanon and failed, and I doubt a phony ‘ceasefire’ while they continue to occupy and slaughter people is going to bring them closer to their political goal. They hoped to destroy Hizbullah and failed. They hoped to demonstrate their might and failed. They want a ‘ceasefire’ based on a Hizbullah surrender, but Hizbullah was ready for a reasonable ceasefire from day one, and is as able to fight in spite of an unreasonable ceasefire now as it was on day one.

What it means is that Israel will be in Lebanon to continue its destruction and killing and to prevent the refugees it has created from going home safely. In the process, they’ll claim Hizbullah is violating the ceasefire. I suppose people some believe them.

Those who do believe them are unlikely to listen to Eqbal Ahmed’s talk from 1982, another talk that could almost have been given today. Eqbal never forgot the link between what the Palestinians were facing and what Israel was doing in Lebanon and elsewhere. He noted the differences between Israel’s intentions towards the two groups: colonial towards the Lebanese, genocidal towards the Palestinians.

Eqbal Ahmed was courageous and did things that one had to respect.

On that subject, did you know that Venezuela has recalled its ambassador to Israel? See the note below from the Stop the Wall Campaign.


from Stop the Wall Campaign

The Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, the Palestinian grassroots movement against the Wall that ghettoizes our people, would like to thank the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its president, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, for their principled decision to call back the Venezuelan ambassador from Tel Aviv. This courageous step is valued by all of our people as the model of action we would expect the world to take to protest against the continued war crimes, the Occupation and the colonial apartheid regime Israel represents.

The support for the struggle of the Palestinian and Lebanese people against the Zionist project of ethnic cleansing has been expressed by you on many occasions. The fact that it has been translated this time in concrete action installs gratitude and hope in the people in Palestine and Lebanon. In the Arab world and far beyond, the people are expressing their appreciation for this act of solidarity in their slogans and the placards in their mobilizations.

For more than 58 years the Occupation has continuously violated Human Rights, international conventions and all UN resolutions relating to Arab rights.

Since the creation of Israel, the world nations have passed over hundreds of resolutions demanding that the Occupation respect the rights of the Palestinian people and the people in the other Arab states. Yet, Apartheid Israel has continued its aggressions against the Palestinian people under the excuse of “self-defense” in order to consolidate its grip over Palestine and the region. Israel’s latest war in Lebanon is certainly not the first time the Occupation has expanded its aggression beyond Palestine to other Arab states. The recent and ongoing bombings of Beirut are reminiscent of the destruction of the city and the mass killings of its people in 1982, just like the recent massacre in Qana which has an eerie resemblance to 10 years earlier when over 100 civilian residents of Qana were killed.

While the world is watching, horrified by the war crimes against the Lebanese population, the Occupation continues its policies of expulsion and killings through the wanton bombings and attacks on the Gaza Strip and the accelerated construction of the Apartheid Wall aimed to ghettoize the Palestinians within the West Bank.

Governments all over the world have given out statements but none of them has been willing to take concrete action. This inaction – or complicity – of international diplomacy betrays our people and our calls to exert clear pressure on the Occupation and contradicts the international conventions and treaties these same governments have ratified.

As Palestinian people struggling for our existence against the fourth most powerful army in the world and the last apartheid regime, we need to know that we are not alone. The withdrawal of the Venezuelan ambassador has given us new confidence and hope that the solidarity with our cause is gaining strength until Justice will prevail over Impunity.

However, this move should not remain isolated. It is crucial that the other governments of this world start to listen to the people they are representing and to respect the treaties they have signed. The people in Spain, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, South Africa and many other countries have started campaigns to ask for the interruption of diplomatic ties with the Occupation. In many Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Uruguay and Panama, the people in their mass mobilizations have clearly chosen the side of the occupied people denouncing the discourse of equidistance between the colonizer and the colonized, resistance and state terrorism.

We are thus calling upon all governments to follow the example of the Bolivarian Republic to use their diplomatic and economic power until the respect of the full rights of the Palestinian and Lebanese and all other Arab people is ensured.

Words are not enough. As we are continuing to struggle against the definitive ethnic cleansing of Palestine, it is time to act to end Israeli impunity. The current silence and inaction of the world leaders are a form of complicity that will weigh on all of Humanity.

We ask the world to continue to engage in sustained action to isolate Apartheid Israel until our struggle achieves Liberation, Justice and Dignity for our people and the refugees can return to their homes.

End Israeli Colonialism and Racism!

End the massacres in Palestine, Lebanon and all over the Middle East!

Isolate Apartheid Israel! – Free Palestine!

——- – Visit the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign web site.

N. and the Memory Wall (On a day in the future)

N., a young Palestinian/Israeli Jew, was late for her meeting with her friend H., the child of Palestinian Muslim refugees who had returned from Lebanon on a bus a few years before. N. was still preparing her gift for H., a hat to cover his prematurely bald head. She was meeting him at the new Museum of Jaffa, which she called the Museum of Tel Aviv.

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Whatever else happens, let’s make sure we forget about Gaza

Israel didn’t stop its starvation of Gaza, nor its attacks on Gaza, simply because it also took up destroying and invading Lebanon.

No, indeed, Gaza’s people are still starving and dying in their electrified prison. Consider this statement by a group of Canadian Health Professionals, organized by Science for Peace:

As Canadian health professionals, we are deeply concerned by the silence of the Canadian government and the Canadian media about the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. We are calling on the Canadian government and the media to truthfully recognize the humanitarian situation and to respond with compassion and effective help.

Even before the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006, and even before the election of the Hamas government, the humanitarian situation in Gaza was dire.

* When the settlers left Gaza in August, 2005, the Israeli army left 40 percent of the land covered in millions of tons of rubble, rendering it unusable for cultivation. Israel continued to control all access to Gaza and continued to control water resources.

* After the Hamas government was elected, the Palestinian health system collapsed due to the freeze of tax revenues by Israel and the stoppage of international aid (led by Canada). Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reported at the time that Israel is responsible for the outcome of the collapse of the Palestinian civil society in general and the health system in particular. Specific to Gaza, PHR-I stated that Shifa Hospital, the central hospital in Gaza, has not received (for at least a month) the essential medicines it needs for basic care , such as furosemide (a diuretic medicine that reduces fluid pressure on the lungs and other organs) and erythromycin (broad-spectrum antibiotic). In Shifa Hospital four patients already have died as a result of the reduction in the number of their dialysis treatments from three per week to only two. James Wolfensohn, Special Envoy for Disengagement to the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee, stated on March 15, 2006, that the collapse of health services and the education system, which addresses the needs of one million children, would be a total failure for the new government, and would have tragic consequences for the Palestinian people. This should not be permitted under any circumstances.

* Six months before the capture of Cpl. Shalit, PHR-I filed a petition and a request to the Israeli Supreme Court for a temporary injunction to stop the sonic booms, deeming it a collective punishment of the civilian population that particularly traumatized children. The petition was rejected and the sonic booms persist. According to /The Guardian Weekly/ (June 16-22), daily life was violent: 3000 Qassam rockets were fired into Israel over the past five years from Gaza, killing five people; on the other side, Israel dropped 6,000 shells on Gaza since the beginning of April, claiming the lives of elderly farmers, children, and women as well as the family of Huda Ghalia on the Gaza beach; no figures were given about Israeli ground assaults in the same five year period. The June 8th report of MSF-USA, however, reports that Israeli bombing in north Gaza was particularly intense, in one incident killing 45 cows which affected the food supply; MSF continues that bombing since the beginning of the year was so intense in the north that people could not access health-care facilities. Extra-judicial executions and kidnappings by the IDF persisted, and the day before Cpl. Shalit was captured, the IDF kidnapped a Gazan doctor and his brother.

* Before the current offensive, UN aid relief workers were giving daily food rations to 735,000 Gazans, more than half the overcrowded territory’s population of 1.4 million people. 79 percent of households were living under the poverty line and unemployment was 40 percent.(U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, report July 12, 2006)

Since the capture of Cpl. Shalit, the situation is far worse in Gaza because of the destruction of the water, sanitation, food, health, and electricity infrastructure. As of July 8, 2006

* World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. WHO estimates that though hospitals and 50 percent of Primary Health Centres have generators, the current stock of fuel will last for a maximum of two weeks. WHO, based on UNRWA’s data related to communicable diseases, stated that the total number of cases of watery and bloody diarrhoea amongst refugees for the last week in June and the first week in July has increased by 163 percent and 140 percent compared to the same period last year (also reported in Defense for Children International-Palestine section). WHO estimates that 23 percent of the essential drug list will be out of stock within one month. WHO is also alarmed by the tightening of restrictions on patients needing to leave Gaza for treatment.

* The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that in June 70 percent of the Gaza population were already unable to cover their daily food needs without assistance. As of 8 July, WFP has 20 days of emergency food stocks to cover its expanded caseload of 220,000. Given the escalating crisis, there are growing numbers of people who now need assistance. WFP believes it is essential that a humanitarian corridor for relief items and personnel remains open to avert a further deterioration in the food security situation at this critical time.

* UNICEF reports that children are living in an environment of extraordinary violence, insecurity and fear. Care givers say children are showing signs of distress and exhaustion, including a 15 percent-20 percent increase in bedwetting, due to shelling and sonic booms.

* The Office of the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that since destruction of the electric plant, the lives of 1.4 million people, almost half of them children, worsened overnight. In the hottest time of the year, most Gaza residents have power for only 6-8 hours/day. In urban areas, water is available between 2-3 hours/day. The water authority has enough chlorine for two months. UNRWA reports that the Water Utility’s daily operation has been cut two thirds, resulting in water shortages and a critical situation at the sewage plants.

* On 19 July the Palestinian Human Rights Centre reports that since 28 June 2006, 115 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, 550 have been wounded, passage of food, fuel and medicine is denied, six bridges have been destroyed, and transportation and access to medical clinics is disrupted.

According to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions (1977), the onus is on the warring state to protect the civilian population from the impact of military operations. As the occupying power, the State of Israel is bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention Articles 19 and 50 to treat humanely Gaza’s wounded and sick, to protect hospitals, to protect and care for children. Article 55 states that the Occupying Power has the duty to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population. Article 56 states that the Occupying Power has the duty, in cooperation with the national local authorities, to ensure and maintain medical and hospital services, public health and hygiene. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, demand Israel’s immediate compliance with the Geneva Conventions and restoration of Gaza’s infrastructure.

The undersigned Canadian health professionals fear for the lives of Palestinian people. We ask the Canadian Government to demand that Israel fulfil its responsibilities as a signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention and take immediate and effective measures to provide protection of the civilian population in Gaza, to reduce severe risks to public health, and to secure appropriate medical care. We ask our own government for the immediate restoration of Canadian aid to the elected Palestinian government to ensure that water, food, medicine and the necessities of life are immediately available and accessible in Gaza.

Yours faithfully,

(as of July 28, 2006)

[~90 signatories follow]

On military strategy

A couple of good quotes from Uri Avnery:

‘And most of all: even the best army in the world cannot win a war that has no clear aims. Karl von Clausewitz, the guru of military science, pronounced that “war is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means”. Olmert and Peretz, two complete dilettantes, have turned this inside out: “War is nothing more than the continuation of the lack of policy by other means.”‘


‘Because it’s only with enemies that one makes peace.’

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Forget that big massacre, we’re moving on to new ones

In my city it this morning’s headlines were about a local heat wave, not blown up children and ugly quotes from criminals about how determined they are to keep up the slaughter.

Which is not to say that children aren’t being blown up. Israel blew up a kid and and an adult in Gaza today with a missile. That’s 177 total killed in the “Summer Rains” side of Israel’s two front massacre. 40 of those are children.

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