Aron Kader’s War Against War

aron kaderI am going to wage peace upon everyone who disagrees with me. It will be an aggressive, offensive and hostile strike that will continue until I inflict the final death blow to misunderstandings and conflict. I will gather all my available resources & weapons for this assault. I will never surrender until the foes of harmony surrender. I declare war on war. I will inflict peace on everyone and occupy your fear with understanding. You will suffer under my brutal campaign of tranquility. The enemy will endure the horrors of justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. I will indoctrinate the aggressors with acceptance until the resistance is futile. I will show no mercy for hate. If you are not with me you are against warmth, love and little furry baby animals.

This brief manifesto was posted on Facebook earlier today by Palestinian-American stand-up comedian Aron Kader, followed by this update:

My war against war begins tomorrow. I will be on CNN tomorrow on the Brooke Baldwin program to talk about the murder of my cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the police beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir. Also my plea for ceasefire in Gaza and how you will never convince me we cannot have peace.

To say I’m an instant fan doesn’t begin to cover it.  Finally, a war I can support!


Gaza City

And now…?

gaza city

Photo:  Wissam Nasser for the New York Times

Gaza Morgue

I still have no words that I trust.  Only this photo of a doctor weeping in the overflowing morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza:

Gaza doctor

(photographer: Oliver Weiken, for the New York Times).

Gaza Beach

My disgust with the Israeli government is so deep that I don’t trust myself with words.

But really, two articles in today’s New York Times say it all.

In the first, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is quoted advocating the Israeli invasion of Gaza in order to ensure “a normal summer vacation for our kids”  (the quote is way down in the 14th paragraph of the story).

In the second, we see what appears to be Lieberman’s idea of a kids’ summer vacation in Gaza:  four boys, ages 9, 10, and 11, killed by Israeli bombs while playing soccer on the beach.  It’s accompanied by this photo by the award-winning Tyler Hicks:

gaza beach

Reports from eyewitness foreign journalists here.

June 28, 1914

In Flanders Field the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row.

World War I began a hundred years ago today.  In the next four and a half years, seven million civilians and eight and a half million soldiers were killed, and twenty million were severely wounded.  And 25 years later, World War II began.

Here’s one of the northern France killing fields today:

red poppies

And here’s one of the cemeteries.  Most of the headstones are inscribed “A Soldier of the Great War, Known Only Unto God.”  There are not enough red poppies in the world for this:

mil cemetery

(Photos are from “A Conflict That Shaped the World” in today’s NYT.)

Who Has Kidnapped Who?

From a column in today’s Ha’aretz by former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg, speaking directly to Israelis focused entirely on three yeshiva students kidnapped in occupied territory:

All of Palestinian society is a kidnapped society. Like many of the Israelis who performed “significant service” in the army, many of the readers of this column, or their children, entered the home of a Palestinian family in the middle of the night by surprise, with violence, and simply took away the father, brother or uncle, with determination and insensitivity. That is kidnapping, and it happens every day. And what about their administrative detainees?

What is all this if not one big official, evil and unjust kidnapping that we all participate in and never pay the price for? That is the fate of tens of thousands of detainees and others under arrest, who stayed, or are staying, in Israel’s prisons – quite a few of them for no good reason, falsely imprisoned on false pretexts. The vast majority of them have been exposed to the appendages of military justice, and none of us cares a whit.

All these things have turned the topic of the prisoners into the main subject in the lives of the occupied society. There is not a single household without a detainee or prisoner. So why is it so difficult to understand their joy and our pain, fears and worry notwithstanding? It was, and can still be, otherwise.

However, as long as the Israeli government shuts all the gates of freedom, flees from all real negotiations that could solve the conflict, refuses to make good-will gestures, lies and blatantly violates its own commitments – violence is all that remains for them.


That’s Entertainment?

Does this television sequence sound familiar?

Night time. A woman brushing her teeth in the bathroom. A dark shadow appears behind her. A gloved hand clamps over her mouth. A struggle. A knife. Cut to morning. Bloodied body on the floor. Enter detective, with dumb ‘witticism’ along the lines of “Had a hard night.” Cut to commercials.

Pcriminal mindsrime-time television makes a fortune out of women being stalked, beaten, raped, tortured, and murdered.   All in high-def detail, of course. Programs such as Law and Order’s sleazy ‘Special Victims Unit’ spinoff and the even sleazier Criminal Minds are huge money-making franchises, every episode sold on first to cable and then throughout the world.

patinkinMandy Patinkin, one of my favorite actors, walked out on Criminal Minds after its first two years, calling it a huge mistake to have ever accepted a starring role on it. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year,” he said. “It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.”

It is very destructive to all our souls and personalities.

So why don‘t all the other actors walk out? (I know — money makes their world go round). Why in fact does anyone watch these programs? (I may not really want the answer to that.) Why do advertisers pay to be in those commercial breaks? (oh yes: because people watch.) And what exactly is going on in the minds of those who write and produce and air such programs?  Doesn’t anyone in television-land realize that they‘re presenting violence against women as entertainment?

Or worse still, do they realize it very well?

No, I’m not saying that such programs create rapists and murderers, or that they present rape as okay.  Their ostensible focus is on the horror of rape, and at least on the surface, they seem to be raising consciousness of how brutal a violation it is.

Beneath the surface, though, there’s a deeply creepy fascination with rape, one that feels darkly voyeuristic.  So what I am saying is that such programs are a very visible part of a world-wide culture that still does not take rape with full seriousness — a culture that still doesn‘t register it for what it is:  not “sexual assault” nor “sex crime,” but brutality.  Rape is not about sex; it’s about brutalizing women.

There has to be someone out there who is as pissed as I am at this but with far better organizing skills.  Someone who can get at those who make such programs where it really hurts:  not in their balls, but in their pocketbooks.  Someone who can create a campaign to pressure advertisers to stop supporting programs that use violence against women as entertainment.

Imagine a boycott of the goods and services of all such advertisers.  Imagine stickers pasted on toilet paper and antacids and “feminine-care” products in supermarkets saying “This product pays for rape as entertainment.”  Imagine the publicity, the “bad PR,” the panic this would induce among directors of marketing.  They’d cave.

What Mandy Patinkin did, we all need to do. We all need to walk out on this sleaze.



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