Puhuin erään tuttavani kanssa IRL blogeistamme. Kerroin etten ole jaksanut pitkään aikaan kirjoittaa, koska työ vie niin paljon aikaa eikä kirjoittaminen tunnu tarpeeksi palkitsevalta, koska aihe on sellainen, että se ei  peruskirjoittajaa, joka kertoo "mielialanvaihtelustakuukautiskierronerivaiheissa" jaksa innostaa.

Naispuolinen ystäväni kuitenkin vaati minua jatkamaan ja katsomaan tilastoja, jotka osoittavat sen tosiseikan, että blogissa käy jatkuvasti valtavasti väkeä. Tuttuni tunnusti itsekkin lukevansa sitä säännöllisesti. Kysyin, että "miksi sitten et kommentoi enemmän, enemmän kuin 2-3 kommenttia näin suurella vaivalla kirjoitettuun tekstiin tuntuisi mukavalta ja poikisi jatkokeskusteluja". Vastaus tuli nikottelematta, "No, kun se on niin vaikeaa, että en uskalla sanoa mitään".  Sanoin, että minullahan on korkean tason kaupallinen koulutus, joten ei minunkaan pitäisi mitään näistä asioista ymmärtää, mutta olen opiskellut kun historia on aina kiinnostanut ja 6 vuoden itseopiskelun jälkeen tiedän yhtä sun toista lähi-idästä ja Palestiina/Israel kriisistä.  Sitä paitsi voi kirjoittaa tunteella, sen minkä järki sanoo, vaikka ei ekspertti olisikaan. Usein sillä kerrotaan paremmat totuudet kuin yksikään nk. akateemikko suustaan laukoo. Kommentoinnissa ei siis ole mitään pelättävää.


Sitten hän vielä vetosi täällä vierailleeseen israelilaiseen kommentoijaan, joka oli omien sanojensa mukaan vuosikymmeniä ollut rauhanaktivisti ja kiitti, että tällainen blogi on vihdoin olemassa myös Suomen kielellä. Tähän naisparka parahti, että miten hän nyt uskaltaisi kommentoida jos kerran oikeat Israelin rauhanaktivistitkin ovat niin tehneet, mitä sanottavaa hänellä enään voisi tähän olla. Sanoin, että paljonkin, koska hallitusten ja hallitusten tapaisten elinten jouduttua lähi-idässä täyteen umpikujaan ovat ruohonjuuritason keskustelu ja projektit ainoa toimiva kanava ihmisten rauhanomaisen yhteiselon edistämiseksi tällä hetkellä. Jokaisella on siis sanottavaa riippumatta siitä mitä tietää Qibyan kylän tapahtumista, jokainen voi vedota rauhan puolesta ja tämä on ainoa blogi/tietopankki, joka on suomeksi keskittynyt tähän aiheeseen. Se on hyvä pitää mielessä.

Pitänee vielä palata omaan historiaani lähi-idän asioiden opettelusta. Joskus kaukaisella 1990-luvulla jouduin keskustelupalstoilla Pro-suurIsrael, TAP, Kristityn vastuu, moledet, Karmel jne. (Välimeri-Jordan, kaikki Israelille) pourukan hampaisiin ja lähes käännyin. Propaganda kun heillä on todella vakuuttavaa. Olisinkin varmaan lähtenyt heidän kelkkaansa jollei heidän kauttansa saatava informaatio olisi ollut niin pirun yksisilmäistä, että ajatteleva ihminen rupesi sitä kyseenalaistamaan. Myöskin yritin turhaan saada läpi pointtia, että kai nyt Israelissakin jotain vikaa on. Mutta ei! Kaikki on vain arabien vika, vuodesta 1948 jokainen arabi on uhrannut elämänsä haaveilaaksen Israelin tuhosta, mikä on sikäli ironista, että jokainen arabi jonka itse olen tavannut ei ole tällaista haavetta esittänyt, ainoastaan toivonut palestiinalaisvaltiota -67 miehitetyille alueille.

Näin katkaisin välini tähän porukkaan ja päätin muodostaa oman totuuteni mahdollisimma erilaisista lähteistä. Se todella kannattaa, lähi-itä ja sen ongelmat avautuvat aivan uudella tavalla kun ei enään ole "paleja, jotka ovat synnynnäisesti taipuvaisia pahaan" tai "ilkeitä sionisteja, jotka elävät vain varastaakseen muiden maat". Massiivinen väestönsiirto ei enään onnistu 2000-luvulla ilman maailman murskaavaa tuomiota talouspakotteineen, joten molemmat pysyvät pyhällä maalla. Siellä heidän on myös opeteltava olemaan keskenään.

Näimme äskettäin toivonipilkahduksia, pitkän tulitauon jne. Kun ibanonista ja Gazasta on pöly laskeutunut voidaan virallinenkin rauhanprosessi toivottavasti aikaisempaa reiluummin ehdoin saada taas liikkeelle. Ikävä kyllä Sharon ei enään ole puhaltamassa taikahuiluunsa, jota Israelin kansa seuraisi vaikka vetäytymisen loppuun. Kannattaa lukea Uri Avnery ja Pillipiipari, linkistä pääsee.



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Niille, jotka asiaa haluavat opiskella laitetaan tästä perusasioita. Mitä informaatiota kannatta välttää ja mitä suosia: (englanniksi) (This is for educational purposes only)

Teksti on pitkä, mutta siinä on lähes kaikki mitä lähi-idästä oppia haluavan tulee tietää. Mitä tulee välttää ja mitä taas suosia. Suosittelen läpi kahlaamista lämpimästi niin tietää ainakin mikä on dis-informaatiota ja mikä taas oikeaa analyysia.

Understanding Middle East Events and History I:

Talking Points versus Understanding

Most people do not pay attention to politics and history until they intrude rudely on their every day lives. When a dramatic event occurs, a few will rush off to find sources of information that will explain, in “capsule summaries,” what has happened. Media and Web sites provide many glib and conflicting opinions, designed to boost circulation and promote a viewpoint, not to inform. The opinion makers are polarized according their political bias, and rarely change their ideas because of facts. They assemble facts to suit opinions. Depending on whom you read, the latest disaster is the fault of the Jews, the Moslems, the infidels, the Arabs or the United States. If we believe the pundits, the latest crisis, whatever it is, has inevitably proven both that the anti-Zionist Noam Chomsky and the pro-Zionist Charles Krauthammer were absolutely right in their analyses. The Gush-Shalom movement, the Yesha Council, United Rabbis for Greater Israel, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, all claim that they knew and warned of the impending disaster and all of their contradictory analyses and solutions could have averted it if adopted in time. Likewise the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), CAIR and the Arab League can explain to you exactly how they predicted what would happen, and how it came about because nobody listened to them. If you do not believe it, read what they write.

You may get reinforcement for your ideas from such summaries. You may get “talking points” that will allow you to become part of the great parade of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations that substitute for thinking and dialog in our region. In this way, you can impress your friends and dialog partners with pseudo-facts or one line quotes from Gandhi or Herzl or Haj Amin El Husseini or Osama Bin Laden and win arguments: “The Jews became a nation in 1312 BC - there is no such thing as a Palestinian People” or “Jabotinsky said that we have to broom all the Arabs out of Palestine.” It may impress people, but it is probably not a way to find the truth. It is not a way to solve the problem. It is a way to become part of the problem, a soldier in the armies of hate and disinformation.

If you are new to the Middle East and want to find out “who is right?” and what to do about it in three easy lessons, you will be either disappointed or misled. To get a fair idea, you will need to study the original sources, not just summaries prepared by partisan groups such as Electronic Intifada, the ZOA or the Arab League or “experts,” or lists of embarrassing quotes. You will need to understand their meaning in the context in which they were produced, and you will need to verify that the people actually said the things attributed to them. Though there are dozens of supposed "quotes" of Israeli PM Ariel Sharon from an interview he supposedly gave to Amos Oz in 1984, Sharon was never interviewed by Amos Oz!!

The way to knowledge and understanding is a long and arduous process, and that “understanding” must keep changing as events unfold, and as we learn more. That is why so much of the materials at MidEastWeb are not concise summaries or political proclamations but resources: news from different sources, maps, bibliography and historical documents.

Read the sources with care and skepticism. Make sure you understand the context of the sources. Be wary of catchwords such as “terrorist,” ‘Apartheid regime,” “Fascist,” and “ethnic cleansing.” In their original meaning they are perfectly good words. For example, a member of the German National Socialist Workers (Nazi) party, or a follower of Benito Mussolini, was a self-declared Fascist. Some Zionist dissident radicals expressed sympathy with Fascism, and some Palestinian leaders such as the Mufti Haj Amin El-Husseini, were Nazi sympathizers and collaborators. However, the mainstream Zionist movement and the current leaders of Israel, as well as present-day Palestinian leaders, do not advocate Fascism.   When they are misapplied in a deliberate way, the purpose of these terms is not to inform you but to confuse the issues and substitute emotion for reason.

If any one person, viewpoint or source had the “straight story” about the Middle East, it would an easy matter to solve all our problems. It is easy to read a biased summary of “talking points” regarding any issue and march off on a crusade, disseminating more biased opinion and rallying followers to the attack. We have far too much of that in the Middle East. If you read a “fact,” consider the source. If you hear a news story, check that that it is true. If you see an outrageous quote, make sure the person really said what is attributed to them, and check what else they said and in what context it was said. Getting the facts straight is the beginning of knowledge. Making sure that everyone gets the same facts - all of them - is the beginning of dialog and understanding.


Understanding Middle East Events and History II:

What's in a Word?

The Israel-Palestinian Conflict and the World of Words

The area of Israel and Palestine is not rich in resources. We have our famous conflict. It is our conflict, and we are happy to export it. It is our second greatest export.

What is our greatest export? It is not oil, as there is no petroleum here to export. But we have words, and have had words since words first created civilization in the middle east.  The middle east is famous for exporting words. The Old Testament, the New Testament, the propaganda of two sides in the conflict, and fittingly enough, software, are our greatest exports in all history. For the Bible and the propaganda are programs for humans, and people and history are "programmed" by them, as well as by that other great program for the human computer, the Qur'an.

The Word told Abraham to go to Canaan, and the Word told the Hebrews that Canaan is theirs. The words were written down in a book, and the book was the Old Testament and it became holy to the Jews, who built a kingdom in Jerusalem.

Then there were more Words, and the Words said that Muhamed is the prophet of Allah, and that Mohamed had made Jerusalem holy to Islam. The Christians received words too. Bishop Eusebius of Caesaria wrote that the Jews were cursed and could not rebuild Jerusalem. It was against the will of God.

History was written like a television series from the old days. "Unfortunate minorities" got bad parts - cleaning people, servants, Christ killers and money lenders. The Jews were written out of the coming episodes entirely. "A world without Jews," wrote Marx. Every culture and people would have its own home - self determination, but the Jews were to be written out of modern history. They didn't play well. "A moribund civilization," wrote Arnold Toynbee.

The Jews for their part, kept repeating the words "Next Year in Jerusalem" each year, and asking God to return them to their home each day. The words became a program for action. Theodore Herzl wrote a book, a nineteenth century utopia in the style of nineteenth century utopias, impossible places. The book was called The Jewish State. A very little book, a pamphlet, by a powerless man. Herzl organized a congress in Basle. More words, and a tiny resolution. He wrote in his diary in 1897, "...at Basle I founded the Jewish State... if not in 5 years then in 50..."  The Zionists tended to write the Arabs out of the action. They didn't fit, didn't play well, and spoiled the plot.

The words of the powerless man became flesh. Here is one way of telling about it:

Europeans came to colonize Palestine in the 19th century.

Here is another way:

Jews returned to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years.

Which one is true? It is the same fact, but it leads to different conclusions about "why," and it leads to a different way of programming people. 

Arthur Balfour wrote a small letter, the Balfour Declaration, in 1917. Palestine became a homeland for the Jews. Thirty years later, in 1947, the UN wrote another document, General Assembly Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine, and Herzl's words came true.

Words and symbols are taken seriously here. A right-wing Zionist tract explains the reason that justifies the bloodshed: "Jews pray facing Jerusalem, Muslims pray with their backs to Jerusalem." It is not written in jest. Gulliver, in all his travels in Swiftian satire, never found a more exotic reason for killing people.

Never mind what the fact is, it depends what it is called. Is it "legitimate?" If the Palestinian house is "illegal," then you can demolish it. If the settlement is "illegal" then you can blow up the children who live in it. 

A man loses his brother to the enemy. He detonates an explosive charge in a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem, killing himself and a dozen others. Is he a "terrorist?" a "militant?,"  a "freedom fighter?" or a "martyr?" Is the suicide attack "terror" or "resistance?" If the suicide attack is in Manhattan, is it also "resistance?"  A tank destroys a house with children in it, because the house also includes people set to explode themselves in a suicide attack. Is it "conducting a defensive operation" or a "war crime?" Is a leader a "partner for peace" or a "terrorist?" If we add "war criminal" to his name and repeat it consistently, does it change the facts? Are the Zionists or the Palestinians just regular folks, or are they the same as the Nazis? Does it change the facts of what people did in history? Perhaps not, but it changes the actions we will take; it changes what people will do in the history they are making now.  

The words are also used to redraw history. Nowhere else is it more true that  the pen is mightier than the sword. Nowhere is "creative writing" more "creative." Partisans, intent on stirring up hate, crank out fraudulent interviews with Ariel Sharon, in which he states that he wants his soldiers to rape Palestinian girls and kill more Palestinians. A bit of satire by an Israeli writer is turned into a fact. The excuse given for the lie is, "There is no doubt, that what has been expressed in  the interview is the kind of dangerous thinking shared by Sharon and showing through in his policies." Reality is shaped by art. First the reality is reinvented, then it is acted upon. We are acting out a trashy historical novel, a comic book version of reality.  

What is not told, is as important as what is told. The pen of the Jewish extremist makes the massacre of Deir Yassin disappear - over a hundred dead people are banished to nowhere. The pen of the Palestinian partisan erases the siege of Jerusalem and the Arab invasion of 1948. A writer in the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, waves his magic pen and the Holocaust disappears.  None of it happened. The Jewish extremist erases the Palestinian refugees. Reality is rearranged for the convenience and needs of our ever-present defense mechanisms.

Time and again, words create reality and program actions. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery of the Czarist secret police, is enshrined in the charter of the Hamas, and propels Muslim extremists to their death. Osama Bin Laden wrote his Fatwas against America, and the words toppled mighty buildings. The Mufti of Jerusalem said "The Jews are destroying the holy Mosque of Al Aqsa" and the riots of 1929 began. The same rumor started bloodier riots in 1997, and again in September 2000 it created the "Martyrs of Al-Aqsa."  

At this moment, as is usual in our area, a battle is raging. The words are fighting alongside the tanks and the bombs. Partisans are busy rewriting history. Suicide bombers are being written out by one side, civilian casualties are being written out by the other. They do not play well. They will not sell. Words are changing history, and people are being programmed to act on the words, never mind what happened. So the words help to create reality.

The words are not meant to be aesthetic. They are tired, grating, writing. The same adjectives and pejorative words appear a dozen times in thousands of places. For some reason, the hacks cannot write "Arafat" without writing "terrorist" and they cannot write "Ariel Sharon" in less than four words: "War Criminal Ariel Sharon." The words are meant to program violence in human computers. Computer programs do not make good reading. They are bad literature. It is worse reality. The words programmed all these impossible things we see before us, good and bad. Can we use the words to "program" Israel and Palestine for peace?


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