Lessons Not Learned

I am reading about Nelson Mandala’s funeral. People are praising him for his courageous stand against ignorance and oppression. Not in attendance: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who cannot get a visa from South Africa. Why? Because China is a major trading partner with South Africa, that’s why.

And someday when the world is eulogizing HH the 14th DL, Tenzin Gyatso, they’ll praise him for his courageous stand against ignorance and oppression. It would be really nice, though, if people would just stop being ignorant and oppressive. Standing up to China and its Tibet policy while HH the 14th DL is still alive would be a start.

50 thoughts on “Lessons Not Learned

  1. Trade, ignorance, and oppression, and the people profiting off of them, trump peace and enlightenment.
    It was always so.
    Take a look at The New Testament.

  2. I think the use of the word ignorance is too generous a term to use when applied to the policy of apartheid. Apartheid is a willful act of indifference to humanity. To me, the claim of ignorance only provides an excuse for what we all are as human beings required to question in establishing our moral values. An honest look at the policy of apartheid instinctually tells us it’s wrong and immoral if we have any attachment to humanity.

  3. Also not in attendance Bebe Netenyahoo. Apparently Israel needs more aid from us so they can afford to send a statesman to a funeral, or maybe they just need a statesman, or maybe its that whole Apartheid thing?

  4. I have read that Mandela was an admirer of Yasser Arafat and that he described Israel as a “terrorist state” among other things. Those views do not, in my opinion, diminish Mandela’s manifest greatness, but I can understand why Israel would not go out of its way to honor him.

  5. A fair point — Israel’s relationship with the apartheid South African government was, to put it mildly, not something to be proud of.

  6. “I can understand why Israel would not go out of its way to honor him”

    Yeah I agree it might look a bit awkward to honor a man that fought against Apartheid, what with that “separation barrier” and check points for the Palestinians.

  7. @Uncledad — An ugly necessity, the separation barrier was built in 2002 following a spate of murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinians from the West Bank. As it was constructed, the murders largely ceased. By preventing terror attacks, the barrier saved the lives of Israeli civilians and of West Bank civilians who would doubtless have been killed in retaliation for such attacks. It has nothing to do with “apartheid,” as further evidenced by the million-plus Palestinians on the Israeli side of the barrier.

  8. Gator90 – Do an objective impartial comparative body count of Israeli casualties to Palestinian violence vs Palestinian casualties to Israeli violence. Before you make a false accusation, I don’t condone violence against Israeli civilians but I’m not too crazy about Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians either. It looks like terrorism either way. But look at the body count. Not only is this a case of the kettle trying to label the pot – the Israeli kettle is 10 or 20 times blacker. There is a proposal that could put a dent in the violence – a two-state solution. Israel signed onto that and has reneged – Israel has never repudiated the agreement they will not honor.

  9. If they discover oil in Tibet, the US State Department will suddenly become engaged in the situation in Tibet, and probably very sympathetic to the DL. Corporations who are asserting the right to have religious beliefs will convert to Buddhism.

  10. @Uncledad — “Thanks for making my case.”

    Is it your case that Israel and the West Bank are not a unified country? That is not exactly news; nor is it “apartheid.”

  11. Doug – It is probably fair to say that Israel and the Palestinians have both engaged in terror by variious means, with the Israelis having superior firepower and hence more lethal capacity. Of course the Palestinians have sustained more casualties. The so-called “apartheid” wall has saved many Palestinian lives by preventing these asymmetrical exchanges.

  12. I thought my case was clear? The Israelis have decided to separate a group of people from another, look up the definition of Apartheid? Calling them terrorists is the easy way out, Ronnie Raygun and De Klerk called Mandela a terrorist as well.

  13. OT – And since I am chewing up Maha’s bandwidth in excess tonight.. Ed Kilgore an excellent editorial on Paul and Ryan’s opposition to extending unemployment benefits. One paragraph expressed the issue so succinctly, I am envious.

    “Where Paul and Ryan alike go fatally adrift is in identifying economic success with virtue, and lack of success with a lack of virtue. Thus we are to believe that when the housing and financial markets collapsed late in the Bush administration, many millions of people suddenly lost their character along with their financial assets and their jobs. And so many conservatives think using public resources to help them is by definition the subsidization of vice.”


  14. Gatorgo – “It is probably fair to say that Israel and the Palestinians have both engaged in terror by variious means, with the Israelis having superior firepower and hence more lethal capacity. Of course the Palestinians have sustained more casualties.”

    Let’s extend the rationale here. There is only one reason Israel has superior firepower – the US has armed them to the teeth, and by implication you seem to admit they have used the weapons we provided to inflict punitive civilian casualties. If Israel won’t pursue peace through diplomacy and they will use the weapons we so generously provide to kill civilians, shouldn’t the US arm the Palestinians so they can defend themselves? The moral arguments of the 2nd Amendment seem to apply – they are entitled to have the capacity to defend women and children on their own turf – in their own neighborhoods, and the US has provided the tools for Israel to inflict greater civilian casualties, so we have a moral obligation to equalize the strength of the combatants.

  15. “Because China is a major trading partner with South Africa”

    I’d wager that had South Africa had the western world by the economic balls the way China does, Nelson Mandela would have rotted in jail to little fanfare.

  16. with the Israelis having superior firepower and hence more lethal capacity

    Huh? Where is the Palestinians firepower? They’ve got no Air Force, no armored divisions, no tanks, no artillery, no helicopters, no army, no nothing. They’ve only got small arms and maybe a few smuggled in old Soviet rockets. They are a beaten down, defenseless, and oppressed people…and to claim that Israel has “superior” firepower is to suggest that the Palestinians have some form of real firepower or something that even approaches parity. Which they don’t, they’re essentially helpless . And their only means of fighting back against their oppressors is viewed as terrorism.

    And if it wasn’t for Ariel Sharon I’d swear that God is unjust.

  17. I knew in early ’70’s that when Nixon “opened the door” to China, the consequences would be a disaster for everybody but the “1%” in both countries. Sadly, I have been proven correct. The UN’s continuing abandonment of Tibet is a disgrace. The world’s cowardly “looking away” during Tianamen square, also, has condemned a billion plus people to “serfdom”. With China sitting on the UN security council, the only clear way forward is a “China Spring”, and, after Syria, the idea of relatively “easy” uprisings seems way less certain.

  18. Swami — “And their only means of fighting back against their oppressors is viewed as terrorism.”

    I do not accept the premise that murdering civilians is the Palestinians’ only means of “fighting back,” or even that it constitutes “fighting back” at all. It is murder, plain and simple. It does not advance any Palestinian cause; it only harms any cause they may have. Other oppressed peoples have found other ways to protest and effect change.

  19. Doug — “you seem to admit they have used the weapons we provided to inflict punitive civilian casualties.”

    I do admit that.

    “If Israel won’t pursue peace through diplomacy and they will use the weapons we so generously provide to kill civilians, shouldn’t the US arm the Palestinians so they can defend themselves?”

    You imply that the only obstacle to peace is Israel’s alleged refusal to pursue it. I’m not sure it’s that simple. I am fairly certain that escalating the intensity of the conflict via a US-fueled arms race is not the answer.

  20. Regarding escalating the violence in the Israel vs Palestinians conflict…

    A long time ago, when the Vietnam war was winding down, I was in the Navy deployed our of Subic Bay in the Philippines. Outside of the base was a town – the main street was clubs and bars further than the eye could see. In the afternoons, when things were slow, Marines with time on their hands took to brawling with sailors in the bars. It was never a fair fight. A gang of jarheads would prowl til they found one or two hapless sailors and the gang of 6 or more marines would beat them senseless. Word trickled up through the chain of command and the Navy base commander contacted his Marine counterpart to request action. The decorated Marine commander replied that they were ‘combat’ soldiers (and the Navy isn’t by implication) and they were just unable to help themselves. I’m not saying it was organized but, there are a LOT more sailors than Marines at a Navy base. Sailors took to traveling in packs in the afternoon hunting Marines. A few incidents sent Marines to sick bay and the Marines were afraid to go into town unarmed. (Which is prohibited except for MPs) It was the Marine commanders turn to contact the Navy base commander to request a ‘cease and desist’ order on kicking the you-lknow-what out of Marines.

    We have the same situation writ large in Israel. If & when Palestinians are as well armed as the Israeli army and both sides include civilian targets, as Israiel also has with superior firepower, then Israel will fill the role of the Marine commander, seeking a fair resolution – which Israel will not consider while they can inflict huge casualties that their enemies cannot. If the US just offers to stand aside and allow the world community to arm the Palestinians for self-defense, Israel will suffer from political whiplash with the speed they demand peace talks begin.

  21. Marines are the bellhops for the Navy. 🙂 I saw that written on a latrine wall way back when.. Some Marine replied underneath it…The only belle I ever hopped was your mother.

    It’s all fun until somebody gets hurt.

  22. I spent some time at Subic Bay a quarter century ago when my father (a non-combat Navy man who avoided the clubs and bars) was stationed there. Interesting place.

    Your theory that a heavily militarized West Bank and Gaza would lead to peace rather than a ghastly high-tech death struggle is also interesting, but it rests on a rosier view of the Middle East and human nature than I possess.

  23. If anyone wants to witness a butt sucking love fest…C-span is carrying the live Congressional hearing for the Quantitative Military Enhancement Act for the State of Israel. It’s a real orgy of unbridled praise and devotion.. It’s sickening to listen to.. Only because I don’t understand the kink of mindless obedience and fealty to a foreign power.

  24. “The only belle I ever hopped was your mother”



    Your comments are crystal clear, you do not consider the Palestinians as humans, equals to the Israelis, given that, trying to reason with you in the context of Mandela and Apartheid is pointless.

    • uncledad — I read Gator’s comments, and I think your “you do not consider the Palestinians as humans” comment is out of line.

  25. Uncledad – “you do not consider the Palestinians as humans, equals to the Israelis,”

    A disgusting, ignorant and absolutely false slander, one I dare you to defend if you have the nerve.

  26. Uncledad, I have to go attend a function and will not be able to check back here for a while, but eventually I will check back and see if you have the guts to defend your cheap, scurrilous accusation of racism. I’m guessing you don’t, but perhaps you’ll surprise me.

  27. Gator – There’s a lot of emotion on the left about the Palestinians. On the left, we are aware of the nature of the ‘arms’ embargo Israel has imposed n the West Bank. I would recommend you read the most recent document by the UN on conditions, but I would not be misrepresenting the report to say hunger is widespread, increasing, and unemployment epidemic. The first recommendation by the UN to improve conditions is to ease the blockade which has crippled any chance of independent recovery. People on the left often refer to the West Bank as a ‘gulag’ or a concentration camp. What is being done along racial & religious lines is incomprehensible when you consider how the Jewish race was almost exterminated. The methods used to oppress the Jews in Europe should be repugnant to the State of Israel. If Uncledad crossed a line, do understand there are reasons for the outrage on the left.

    Why would anyone dump on you personally? You seem very comfortable with Israel oppressing a people, starving women and children, and killing them in one-sided ‘wars’ where the other side can inflict almost no causalities to the invading army because they are practically unarmed. I pointed the body count out to you early on and you conceded the point. Normally, I won’t waste a lot of time with a conservative because it’s frequently an exercise in futility, but you are willing to look at objective facts even if we interpret the importance differently.

    Don’t get into a flaming war – we don’t agree, probably won’t but we are exchanging ideas. I like that. I almost forgot – the UN document is –


  28. Doug – I don’t know if anyone will read this at this point, but your last comment merits a response as to several points.

    I am not at all “comfortable” with how Israel has treated Palestinians, and I have no idea what caused you to think that I am. It causes me profound discomfort. But I remain unpersuaded that militarizing the West Bank and Gaza would make anything better.

    There are certainly people on the “pro-Israel” side who view Palestinians as less than fully human (including, sadly, some people within my own family). But I am certain I am no longer one of them, and I take such an accusation very seriously and personally.

    Any attempt to analogize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians (however reprehensible it may be) to the Holocaust is obscene and constitutes a form of Holocaust denial.

    Your characterization of me as a “conservative” would be hilarious to anyone who knows me.

  29. I acknowledge my comment “you do not consider the Palestinians as humans” was over the top and fro that I apologize. Gator’s line of logic does lead me to believe that he considers violence by Palestinians as terrorism while violence by Israelis is justified defense. I consider that unequal at best, and in the context of Mandela’s passing it seems fair to compare it to Apartheid.

  30. Uncledad — “he considers violence by Palestinians as terrorism while violence by Israelis is justified defense.”

    I accept your apology, but I believe that my previous statement that “Israel and the Palestinians have both engaged in terror” was quite clear. Honestly, where do you get this stuff? If you’re going to characterize my views here, please at least read what I write.

  31. My observation is ‘gator likes to throw bait out in an effort to portray opposition to Israeli policy and action as antisemitic. The line about holocaust denial is rediculous. Be an antagonist and claim victimhood. The problems in the Levant are a direct result of sykes-picot, the Balfour declaration, and endless propaganda (along with graft and corruption of our political system); thus the “unshakable” bond between the us and Israel. This will never change in my lifetime, might as well get used to it.

  32. erinyes – You pretty much voiced my reaction on Holocaust denial. WTF? My observation was that the Jews in Europe 70 years ago DID suffer the most cruel persecution, including women and children, solely because of their race and religion. My point was that because of that racial experience, the State of Israel should be averse to what they are doing. I didn’t liken anyone to the Nazis or make an irrational gas chamber analogy. I only presented the idea that building a cage – even a large one like the West Bank – and exiling a people along racial lines to that cage and then starving them should seem especially wrong to the people of Israel even a couple of generations removed from the Holocaust.

  33. ‘gator likes to throw bait”

    Yes and I was dumb enough to bite? Oh and Gator my apology was directed at Maha and the regular readers of this blog, you can consider yourself a regular if you like but…………

  34. erinyes – “gator likes to throw bait out in an effort to portray opposition to Israeli policy and action as antisemitic.”

    Nonsense. I myself described Israeli actions as terrorism in this very thread. (Does anyone actually read my comments?) I do believe that comparing Israel to Nazi Germany (a staple of left-blogospheric rhetoric) is disgusting and wrong.

    When Doug describes the West Bank as a “concentration camp” and refers to Israel using “methods used to oppress the Jews in Europe,” the analogy being made is not exactly subtle.

  35. Uncledad – I assumed your apology was directed to the person you slandered, consistent with normal courtesy. In any event, I am certainly a regular reader of this blog and have been for years.

  36. I do believe that comparing Israel to Nazi Germany (a staple of left-blogospheric rhetoric) is disgusting and wrong.

    Gator…Two comparisons that I would make with Nazi Germany and Israel are the policies of reprisals and collective punishment. Although the particulars of those comparisons are not equal in the extreme, they are equal in the essence. The Nazis had a policy of reprisal against civilian populations for the actions of those that resisted occupation. They would execute civilians in retaliation for resistance. The Israelis have a policy where they bulldoze the homes of the families of those whom they arbitrarily claim are terrorists or support hostile actions against Israel.
    The second comparison, the one of collective punishment could be made solely— but not exclusively— on the fact that among the items placed on embargo into the West bank was cement. The claim to prohibit cement was that it was used to build tunnels in which terrorist organization could smuggle arms into the West Bank.
    In stopping the flow of cement into the West Bank the Israelis essentially crippled the economy of the West Bank. That is a collective punishment.
    I know it might seem silly to view an innocuous item like the embargo of cement as any big deal, but cement is one of the most essential items for any economy to grow and maintain.

  37. Swami – I agree that the Israeli policies you describe are morally repugnant. My question is, why is it necessary to invoke Nazi Germany in criticizing said policies?

    Many governments have done (and continue to do) bad things that might be similar in some way to something or other the Nazis did. But Nazi comparisons are reserved (at least on the left) almost exclusively for Israel. The reason is obvious and I find it obnoxious.

    For example, the USA waged a war of aggression under false pretenses in Iraq, and the Nazis waged a war of aggression under false pretenses in Poland. The Iraq War’s opponents, however, seldom if ever compared the USA to Nazi Germany. But when Israel is involved, it’s Nazi this and Nazi that. It’s a stick to poke Jews in the eye.

    I have no problem with people criticizing Israel; just keep the effing Nazis out of it, is all I ask.

  38. My question is, why is it necessary to invoke Nazi Germany in criticizing said policies?

    My reason for invoking Nazi Germany in the comment above is because I don’t know of another military that used policies like that. I’m not trying to make an association based on the bad historical reputation. If you have knowledge of another instance where those policies were implemented by some other army, please enlighten me.

    As far as the issue of tying the Nazis to Israel.. Doug explained the connection very well if you have an understanding of history between the Jews and the Nazis. They ( the Jews) are forever linked to the history of the atrocities that were committed upon them by the Nazis. And that history is a major component in the formation and being of the State of Israel.
    I understand your point about people tossing out simpleton comments with reference to the Nazis, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and any other monster that history has produced without an understanding or a connection to a current political issue. But I have yet to see anybody on this blog toss out a mindless reference just for the sake of distortion or effect. My observation and assumption is that the commenters here have taken the time and examined the reason why they see injustice toward the Palestinians and aren’t just to doing so in opposition to the right wingers who have pledged their undying support of the State of Israel.
    I take the position I hold because I see it as an injustice, not because I am an anti-Semite. As a matter of fact.. some of my best friends are Jews.. 🙂

  39. Swami- You think Israel and the Nazis are the only ones that have imposed collective punishments on civilians? What were Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden? We (the US) incinerated whole villages in Vietnam when we suspected collaboration with the VC. Before that, there was General Sherman, not to mention US military responses to Indian raids. I could go on and on with examples.

    I haven’t called you or anyone here an anti-semite, and I hope I’ve not implied it either. I try to be very judicious with that designation. But the Nazi stuff sucks.

  40. Gator…The anti-Semite comment was intended to address the general accusation made by some to those of us who are sympathetic to the Palestinians. I respect what you have to say and I’m not trying to put you in a corner for what you are expressing.

    The examples you cite as collective punishment do not meet my understanding of collective punishment. I should have been more specific in what I mean by collective punishment.. I meant a civilian population under occupation. The examples you cite have occurred during an active period of military engagement.. The example of Indian raids would be closer to a genocide than a collective punishment

  41. Swami- “The anti-Semite comment was intended to address the general accusation made by some to those of us who are sympathetic to the Palestinians.”

    I hear you. My father-in-law, who in most ways is a warm and lovely man, once declared to me that anyone who thinks Israel persecutes the Palestinians is probably an anti-semite. But dad, I said, Israel does persecute the Palestinians, of course it does. Are you calling me an anti-semite? Whereupon I was treated to a shake of the head, a roll of the eyes, and a muttering about things I “don’t understand.”

  42. One of the few times I respected John McCain was when he opposed torture by the US. He waffled on the position later, but for a time he showed backbone and integrity and his opposition carried huge weight because he was himself a victim of torture as a POW. I can have an opinion opposing torture, a neocon can have an different view but in that argument John McCain’s experience renders both our opinions weak. being the victim is no fun, but it give you authority, and responsibility.

    I did not mention Nazis. I mentioned the Holocaust. The Jews in Europe were the primary target and victims of that atrocity. Israel exists because of the Holocaust. These are facts, recognized by all. The policies of Germany which led to the Holocaust had certain traits. I see some of those traits in the policies Israel has imposed on the West Bank. I have not engaged in petty name calling or indiscriminately throwing out a ‘Nazi’ label for the negative connotation.

    It is my intent to make people uncomfortable by making the link between the Holocaust and the policies Israel has adopted. To the degree that the link of the two policies is solid (and not just rhetoric), it sways the opinion of a person who believes in Israels right to exist (and I do) to seriously doubt the justification and morality of polices that Israel, more than any other country on the globe, should know are wrong. The word ‘hypocrisy’ doesn’t describe the nature or degree of their offense.

  43. Doug — I acknowledge your good intentions, but lecturing victims about their responsibilities is remarkably presumptuous.

    You are essentially rubbing salt in a wound for rhetorical purposes. It should be obvious to any objective observer that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians (who have not exactly been angels of peace in their own right) is in no way comparable to the extermination of one third of the global Jewish population in less than a decade. Rhetorical overkill like yours is one of the reasons that many Jews close ranks around Israel, its various sins notwithstanding.

  44. One of the few times I respected John McCain …..

    Was when he chose Sarah Palin for a running mate. Such a selfless act of courage to raise the status of women in American society even when he knew that it would cost him his bid for the presidency..

Comments are closed.