Let Them Eat Cake: a Journey into Edward Said’s Humanism

The title is an essay by Ted Steinberg published on September 6, 2019 at counterpunch.  He’s kindly given me permission to reprint it all, after I'd explained that it’s not only one of the best pieces (a dual hero journey) I’ve read in a long time, but it really should be read all of a piece.   Had I needed to retell some it, surely I’d have made a hash of it.  It’s chock-full of the many epiphanies both he and Edward Said had experienced along their roads less traveled.

Mr. Steinberg uses plain-speak, non-academic language throughout, perhaps because the vignette begins with himself at age 13, and he weaves ‘the cake’ motif as a central touchstone throughout the progression, and along the way discovers that the indigenous in Israel had been airbrushed out of history in his Hebrew school.  I hope you’ll think it’s a brilliant as I do, and appreciate it even half as much.

As a side note, I’ve struggled not to bold or italicize any text I’d wanted to draw emphasize, and it’s been hard (smile).  Enjoy!

‘It was April 27, 1974, the day of my bar mitzvah. The food at the reception was unremarkable with the exception of the dessert, a big yellow cake in my honor that happened to be shaped like the state of Israel. I liked cake, especially yellow cake.

I don’t know who among the guests got served a piece of the West Bank. But those slices came shaded with hatching formed out of lines of brown icing. The baker must have been studying Middle East affairs in night school because not only the West Bank but other swathes of contested land such as the Sinai and the Golan Heights and even the small Gaza Strip—all seized in the 1967 Six-Day War—had been marked off. Miniature Israeli flags had been planted in the cake to underscore the triumph of the Jewish people in what is certainly one of the most fraught pieces of earth on the planet. Why the cake was partly shaded was a question that never crossed my mind.

We had learned in Hebrew school that Israel was a land without people for a people without land. Perfect, I thought. People gave me bar mitzvah gifts including certificates for trees planted there in my honor. A land without people suggested barrenness to me. Trees seemed like a sensible idea.

* * *

In 1976 I visited Israel and was escorted around by a fellow named Alex who understandably enough called me by my Hebrew name. We visited a number of the places marked off with hatching on the cake including Hebron, located in the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

When we arrived in the Golan Heights I stepped out of the car and threw up, though I was not making any kind of political statement. Alex had a heavy foot. I saw trees on our journey but none planted in my name as we sped toward a kibbutz named Kfar Giladi located near the border with Lebanon. The next day we drove south to Jerusalem through what Alex called a “liberated area.” I am sure I had no idea what that meant. I only wanted to get to Jerusalem without throwing up again.

I learned that when the Zionists arrived they found an empty land, a wasteland in desperate need of improvement. And improvement is precisely what the industrious Jews did, making the desert bloom. Everywhere we went, Alex told the same story: Before the Jews came, there was nothing here. Now look at it. A beautiful, domesticated landscape humming along to the tune of modern life.

* * *

In college I figured out that there were these people. Call them the Palestinians. Golda Meir, the prime minister at the time of my bar mitzvah, famously said that as for the Palestinian people, “they did not exist.” No one ever spoke about Palestinians in temple or on the trip to Israel. It was always Arabs that I heard about, never Palestinian Arabs.

There was this guy circulating around Cambridge, Massachusetts, near where I went to college, who routinely talked about these mysterious Palestinian people. I thought he was called Norm, as in Norman Chomsky.

Chomsky referred to the Palestinians as an indigenous people. No one had told me. He said the Palestinians had a legitimate claim to my bar mitzvah cake, though he didn’t quite put it that way.

I was wandering around a Cambridge bookstore when I stumbled onto a book called “The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians” (1983). The author was Noam Chomsky, a professor at M.I.T., the same person I had once seen holding forth on the Palestinians. He certainly had a different understanding of Israel’s role in the world than Sanford Saperstein, my rabbi back home, who called Israel the lone democracy in an embattled region beset by terrorists seeking to push the Jews into the sea.

* * *

A few years later, I ran across “Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question” (1988). One of the co-editors was someone named Edward Said.

Born in West Jerusalem in 1935, Said had left Palestine for Cairo in 1947. Four years later, he moved to the United States, where his parents had connections. (Said’s father studied at Case Western Reserve University, where I currently teach.) A transgressive child who took his share of beatings, Said attended a boarding school in the Connecticut River Valley, a natural environment that—given his upbringing in a desert—only seemed to add to his sense of alienation (“snow signified a kind of death,” he would later write). Moving on to study at Princeton and Harvard and then joining the Columbia University faculty in English and Comparative Literature in 1963, Said, who met Chomsky during the height of the protests over Vietnam, emerged as one of the most prominent dissident intellectuals of the twentieth century.

An immensely learned man who saw the intellectual as humanity’s best defense against an “ahistorical, forgetting world,” Said took a hard left turn after the Six-Day War. He recalled finding Martin Luther King’s warmth toward Israel’s triumph in the battle vexing, presumably because it was based on the assumption that the Palestinians simply did not exist. As Said wrote in 1968, “Palestine is imagined as an empty desert waiting to burst into bloom, its inhabitants inconsequential nomads possessing no stable claim to the land and therefore no cultural permanence.” For this and similar attempts to overturn establishment views, Said was vilified as an anti-Semite and a “professor of terror.”

Said was living proof that my Hebrew school education wasn’t an education at all. A land without people? Empty? Palestinians don’t exist? Israel’s public relations onslaught, designed to overturn the fact that the founding of the country entailed the dispossession of the indigenous peoples, worked brilliantly.

A year after my bar mitzvah, Said had testified before a committee of Congress. Imagine, he said, “that by some malicious irony you found yourselves declared foreigners in your own country. This is the essence of the Palestinians’ fate during the twentieth century.” Said titled his 1999 memoir “Out of Place” in reference to his life spent struggling with the pain of exile.

Said’s humanity allowed him to see the struggle in this corner of the world in terms that captured the true tragedy involved. As he wrote, “The dawning awareness all around was of two peoples locked in a terrible struggle over the same territory, in which one, bent beneath a horrific past of systematic persecution and extermination, was in the position of an oppressor towards the other people.” Though advocating for the rights of Palestinians, Said always acknowledged the reality that Zionism evolved as it did because of the persecution and genocide that the Jews suffered.

After the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Said uncovered something Chomsky ignored: that despite the imbalance in power, the Palestinians had agency, a point underscored by the First Intifada, a sustained anti-colonial insurrection that began in 1987, the year before I sat down to read Mr. Said.

Said’s intellect, his political engagement, and, most of all, the actions of ordinary Palestinians seeking liberation helped to change how the Israeli authorities viewed the Palestinian people—they were no longer rendered nonexistent, for how could a resistance movement not have some unifying identity? Israeli leaders in the 1980s began to describe the Palestinians variously as “jackals” (General Moshe Dayan), “grasshoppers” (Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir), “vermin” (Prime Minister Menachem Begin), and “roaches” (General Rafael Eitan). Said wrote: “Perhaps we can someday look forward to achieving the status of cattle or of monkeys.”

In 1988, Said participated in an event held in New York with the philosopher Michael Walzer of the Institute for Advanced Study. A Jew known for his progressive politics, Walzer criticized Said for harping on the past when, he argued, the issue with respect to the Palestinians was the future. Said was speechless. At which point a woman in the audience named Hilda Silverstein went on the attack, asking Walzer: “How dare you say that to anybody. Because of all the people in the world, we ask the world to remember our past. And you’re telling a Palestinian to forget the past? How dare you?”

Said would not return to his place of birth until the evening of June 12, 1992, forty-five years after he last stepped foot there. He had no way of knowing about my cake and subsequent romp around his homeland where I felt eminently welcomed.

* * *

I wonder whether I would remember my bar mitzvah cake were it not for the photographers from Field Studios located in Brooklyn. They produced a small monument in honor of the affair: a four-inch thick album with eighth-of-an-inch-thick gilded-edge pages that immortalized the confection. There I am in my first suit with a large fuchsia bowtie (clip-on) exploding from under my chin. The photographer had me pose with my arms resting on the table, which caused me to lean in and gaze at the expansive Israeli state rendered in beige, brown, and red icing.

For years that turned into decades, the hulking bar mitzvah album sat on the shelf in the family room of my childhood home. These were the inter-cake years when the confection slipped into the recesses of my personal history. And there it rested until it vaulted into consciousness again in the spring of 2010.

By this point in my life I was a college professor and had been for more than two decades. I was in an unfortunate meeting about the propriety of including a donor on a university hiring committee for an endowed professorship in Judaic studies when I launched into a discussion of my thirty-five-year-old cake. The hiring committee also included, astonishingly, a faculty member in physics who just happened to be a Zionist, and who had no academic credentials for weighing in on the matter.

Edward Said long ago exposed the ways in which intellectuals helped to legitimize the status quo. Allowing a donor and a scientist to help hire a humanities scholar was a recipe for more legitimation. Bringing up the obnoxious cake was my way of drawing attention to the offensive process.

Apparently the vulgarity of my holy land confection fell on deaf ears because a few years later, in 2015, two donors from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland—committed in its own words to “support Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”—participated in another university job search in Judaic studies. This faculty position was funded with a gift, mandating donor participation, named in honor of Abba Hillel Silver. As Walter Hixon shows in “Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict” (2019), Silver played a key role in linking Jewish identity to the Zionist project and emerged as one of the architects of the Israel lobby, which has worked relentlessly to undermine justice for the Palestinian people. How fitting that Jewish Federation donors should help vet the job applications! Mercifully, Said, who by this point was buried in the mountains of Lebanon, missed all of this.

* * *

I recently incorporated the settler colonial cake into a lecture titled “Who’s Afraid of Edward Said?” The talk tries to address this question while offering the example of my own personal shift in thinking about Israel and the Palestinians as a way of illustrating that our version of truth is shaped not simply by logic and evidence but by our experiences in life. My cake was the perfect foil to Said’s vision of a more equal and democratic world based on shared access to the earth, self-determination, and mutuality. The cake’s flags and lines are about nationalism and possession, about what divides us from one another, a grim world that is as hopeless as it is bankrupt.

Who is afraid of Edward Said? The list is long and goes well beyond celebrities like Alan Dershowitz who used the occasion of Said’s death from cancer in 2003 to compare him, in probably the most tortured analogy ever to be concocted, to Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, a violent anti-Arab, Jewish nationalist group.

Around the same time, neoconservative Martin Kramer also indicted Said, whom he called an “aggrieved Palestinian.” Kramer resented Said for helping to give birth to postcolonialism, which examines imperialism and radically unequal relations of power in the shaping of the world. In Kramer’s bizarre rendering, postcolonialism overturned Middle East studies and sent it into a tailspin that ended by eliminating what he called “disinterested objectivity.” It apparently never occurred to this highly pedigreed chap, with three different degrees from Princeton, that politics and scholarship are not two separate departments in the game of intellectual life. “No one has ever devised a method for detaching the scholar from the circumstances of life,” Said wrote in his 1978 classic “Orientalism.” Which explains why Kramer is associated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank closely tied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a group that markets itself as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby.”

These are the kinds of donnybrooks that periodically break out in the academic world; it is easy to dismiss them. But then I learned of a Columbia alumnus, who had studied English, but who refused to take a class with Said because his rabbi portrayed him as the devil incarnate. The student, who went on to graduate school at Emory University, finally figured out the truth about Said. Indeed, the student felt so guilty about his misconception that when Said visited Emory he tried to apologize by bending over backward in order to convince Said to let him take him to the airport.

At another extreme in regard to openness was a high school student from the Bronx who took the 2010 English AP test. The exam included a quotation from Said that read: “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and its native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” There is no reference to Israel or Palestine in the passage. But the mere mention of Said’s name caused the student to object to the question, calling it “very reflective of the widespread use of education and testing as a platform for anti-Israel propaganda.”

Above all, Said’s greatest commitment was to humanism, which he defined as the attempt “to dissolve Blake’s mind-forg’d manacles so as to be able to use one’s mind historically and rationally for the purposes of reflective understanding and genuine disclosure.” Embracing humanism means rejecting state power in the name of critical thought. It means, as he wrote near the end of his life, “a process of unending disclosure, discovery, self-criticism, and liberation.” Said held humanism in such high regard that he viewed it as “the only, I would go so far as to say, the final resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.” The quotation is inscribed around a mural erected at San Francisco State University in Said’s honor.

Humanism is not about rallying around a flag or “the national war of the moment,” as Said once put it. It’s not about scarfing down a cake that celebrates dispossession and exile, but about what unites us as human beings on this pale blue planet: our attachment to place; our connections to each other; our ability to feel emotion and experience an essential humanity in the face of whatever differences we might have.’

Ted Steinberg teaches history at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America.

Ted’s CV and oeuvre are at CWRU (in Cleveland, OH) are here on their faculty page.

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

Share
up
0 users have voted.

Comments

edg's picture

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about a possible mutual defense treaty between the two nations, a move that could bolster Netanyahu's re-election bid just days before Israelis go to the polls.

"I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries," Trump said on Twitter.

Netanyahu thanked Trump, saying in a tweet that Israel "has never had a greater friend in the White House," and adding that he looked forward to meeting at the U.N. "to advance a historic Defense Treaty between the United States and Israel."

Source: Trump floats possible defense treaty days ahead of Israeli elections -- Thompson Reuters Foundation

Isn't that wonderful? How many more American serviceperson lives and how many more trillions of dollars can we give to support Israeli aggression and apartheid? Never enough, amirite?

up
0 users have voted.
Lily O Lady's picture

@edg

from the presence of Mike Pence and other evangelical nut balls who are trying to bring about the Second Coming through intervention in the Middle East. Scary.

up
0 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady I don't think you can blame that on the useful idiots of the Christian right. They undoubtedly would support such a disastrous policy, but I doubt they instigated it. It is curious to me how seven million or so Christian Zionists have so much political power when many other Christians groups in far greater numbers have far less.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

(christians united for israel, pastor john hagee): follow the money.

up
0 users have voted.
Lily O Lady's picture

@davidgmillsatty

could change your mind.

up
0 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

wendy davis's picture

@Lily O Lady

CUFI ('pastor' jonh hagee) equals megabucks for israel. but i do believe the idea came from lindsey graham (same ilk, bomb iran first, sort it out later) first (in my link), but here's ‘Apocalypse Now: Why Pastor John Hagee Has Never Been More Politically Powerful — or Terrifying’, sept. 10, 2019

dunno if it's included, as he seems to have changed his message, but his rant was allegedly from his take on some chapter of Revelations that 'once israel stands alone, christ will return'. Hope she's a woman, if so. ; )

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@edg

we can thank lindsey graham for that great idea. an actual treaty would be much harder to pull out of for future presidents than say the JCPOA that bibi had bragged he'd caused Boss Tweet to shred for amerika.

see: ‘Lindsey Graham wants a bilateral defense treaty with Israel’, wendy davis, august 28, 2019

but other than that, mrs. linclon; how did you enjoy the play (OP)?

up
0 users have voted.

I think you intended the second paragraph to begin "Mr. Steinberg" not "Mr. Shapiro."

An engaging essay.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

fixed it. ay yi yi: i'd been answering an email concerning conservative, alleged libertarian 'ben' shapiro as i was writing the preface.

up
0 users have voted.

@wendy davis Know who he is. Funny mistake to make.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

it twice. (srsly, if i had the time and energy, i'd show you how to avoid that.) not starting with a duplicate @wendy davis would be a start. ; )

yeah, but shapiro is a nutbar among many other nutbars.

up
0 users have voted.
Cassiodorus's picture

-- besides his genocidal antisemitism -- was to want for Germany in its invasion of the Ukraine what the United States claimed for itself in the 19th century and what Israel claims for itself in the West Bank now. Of course, the Nazis were more brutal about it than either the United States or Israel was, but the concept was the same; wipe out the natives and leave a few on reservations while "your people" take over the land. Some concepts just don't age well over time.

up
0 users have voted.

"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

@Cassiodorus
towards North America's original inhabitants, than Hitler was towards ... well, just about anybody. In the era of Manifest Destiny our politicians and their enforcers treated the populations of the plains and the west almost exactly as they treated wolves and prairie dogs: Vermin to be exterminated.

up
0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

@UntimelyRippd There is no question that what we did was bad to the native Americans but the archaeology is clear that the vast majority of the native Americans were wiped out by disease they had no immunity to, particularly to the domesticated animals the Europeans brought over. The only animal the native Americans had domesticated was the llama and so all the animals the Europeans brought over just decimated the native populations.

Had it not been for this lack of immunity, the Europeans would probably have never been able to colonize the Americas. Guns, which took a minute to reload, made Europeans highly susceptible to archers who could easily shoot five times as many arrows in a minute.

The Europeans were not able to conquer any other continent like they did the Americas; the indigenous people elsewhere were simply too formidable.

That said, what we did to the native Americans was horrible. But for the times it was not all that unusual or horrific. The Europeans had just come out of the dark ages and the age of enlightenment had just begun.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

you're one of those?

‘Part of the main plan of imperialism... is that we will give you your history, we will write it for you, we will re-order the past...What's more truly frightening is the defacement, the mutilation, and ultimately the eradication of history in order to create... an order that is favorable to the United States.'

~ Edward Said

in other words: the victors write the historical narrative. first americans recite their histories very differently.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@UntimelyRippd

the west bank as i understand it, not first american genocide. that was i.

up
0 users have voted.

@wendy davis
the emphasized (by me) part of this, which I think was Cassiodorus's formulation:

as to want for Germany in its invasion of the Ukraine what the United States claimed for itself in the 19th century and what Israel claims for itself in the West Bank now. Of course, the Nazis were more brutal about it than either the United States or Israel was, but the concept was the same; wipe out the natives and leave a few on reservations while "your people" take over the land.

After reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, with its recounting of relentless, merciless, sadistic butchery even of Native Americans doing their best to mind their own business, even under the outrageous terms set for them by the US government, I just don't see how it gets any worse. At some point, I've remarked in the past, there is no further value in trying to rank degrees of evil-doing. When you're slaughtering children in front of their mothers, and raping, slaughtering, and defiling the bodies of their mothers, well ... congratulations, you've made the all-star team.

up
0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

wendy davis's picture

@UntimelyRippd

what he'd meant, but as i told him below (in the wrong place) was that i hadn't known of that history. as for 'reservations', that term might be more generic that US and canadian indigenous reservations, as in the golan heights, and the 'palestinian and arab balkanization' apparent in the leaked I/P 'deal of the century' with checkpoints and roads connecting them. but he might explain if he comes back.

on later edit: a dim bulb lights once in awhile. i see now, this was his referencing amerikan genocide of first americans; i'd made it too much of a whole:

...was to want for Germany in its invasion of the Ukraine what the United States claimed for itself in the 19th century... (which is when the genocides began).

good on you for finishing dee brown's book; mr. wd had as well. my memory of it is that i just couldn't finish it, but for other first american holocaust deniers (or diminishers), here's a list of books i'd found. i'm sure dee covered the trail of tears, the long walks, an other forced relocations when gold and/or uranium was found on 'reservation land'.

he likely told the stories of promises of 'commodity' food to be delivered to those herded onto reservations...that never arrived (yet firewater did), or massacres that followed a few hunters leaving their reservations to hunt for meat to prevent starvation. or chivington's sand creek massacre, while black kettle's band and some arapaho were camped under a white flag of surrender/truce.

i understand this completely:

At some point, I've remarked in the past, there is no further value in trying to rank degrees of evil-doing. When you're slaughtering children in front of their mothers, and raping, slaughtering, and defiling the bodies of their mothers, well ... congratulations, you've made the all-star team.

not my favorite of her songs, but cree buffy sainte marie memorialized it this way:

i used to know which senators she speaks about, and i can even see one in my lame brain...but no his name.

santee sioux john trudell (RIPower) talking poetry speaks of the truth of the continual genocide of the indigenous.

amerika: built on genocide and slavery. a fine definition of Amerikan Exceptionalism.

up
0 users have voted.
Cassiodorus's picture

@UntimelyRippd in that he killed a lot of people quickly. Hitler admired the US in its ability to kill off native peoples, of course.

up
0 users have voted.

"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

@Cassiodorus
That's why we went with it when we needed to defeat Japan and Germany.

up
0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

wendy davis's picture

about hitler:

@Cassiodorus

...was to want for Germany in its invasion of the Ukraine what the United States claimed for itself in the 19th century and what Israel claims for itself in the West Bank now.

the 'leaked' portions of the kushner/bibi 'I/P deal of the century' (i've forgotten the details) is intended to give an amerikan imprimatur to all of the continual land grabs (h/t jonathan cook). bibi's facing another election, and so his twitter feed makes his beliefs seem like policy fait accomplis, and i haven't kept up with cook who writes from jerusalem, as there are so many places our heads swivel. but a complete balkanization of plots with sorta connecting roads with checkpoints, all 'security' provided by the IDF.

but via email, ted and i were speaking of course of the fact that the US was empty as well, given that the first americans were godless savages and not quite human, of course. pogrom after pogrom as well as genocide by other means. figures vary as to how the population of the indigenous in pre-columbian times, but of course the indian wars never ended. (bruce cockburn, dunno who did the mix)

and this pope francis, allegedly a liberation theologist, made the dark-hearted (some say genocidaire) junipero sera 'providing sanctuary to the indigenous') a saint. many west coast tribes we eradicated, or at least just a few members survived.

thanks cass. but edward said was quite the revolutionary (yeah, i've been reading your ché guevarra notes in my 'spare' time.) ; )

Humanism. quite a concept.

up
0 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

@wendy davis

Smallpox and other European diseases decimated the Mexican and Inca empires, and made heavy inroads across southern North America, while the Mayflower colonists found the Plimoth area completely deserted, probably due to leptospirosis.

It wasn't quite the same story at Jamestown (everyone always forgets Jamestown), but it didn't take long for relationships to sour there too. The Powhatans tried and failed to starve the Europeans out (they came thisclose to succeeding, and it was only the coincidental arrival of a relief flotilla under Lord de la Warr that made the Euros give it another try).

But once the Euros *had* that foothold....

up
0 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

wendy davis's picture

@TheOtherMaven

diseases (smallpox, influenza, measles, and even chicken pox) as accidental genocide allowed toe-holds to the further barbaric inhumane genocides.
every academic who's anyone is willing to give percentages of indigenous eradication by disease.

but 60 million buffalo killed on the plains for their hides with meat left to rot? the 'smallpox blankets to induns' bio-warfare is a myth: except here, then 'a myth' here, and so on.

that academics have the fucking nerve to use the phrase 'during the settlement of the west' is outrageous calumny to me.

the mormon mountain meadow massacres of indigenous? i doubt there's been one true published account, account, but at least there are accounts of kit carson's dastardly doings, including burning down the peach orchards in canyon de chelly, AZ as the final demoralization of the dineh/navajo who finally relocated more easily.

ah, well, at least there are books calling it genocide. but i did have to laugh a bit at 'european rifles were slow and one-shot, where five arrows could be launched in the same time. among other things, for many plains indian, bravery was determined by 'counting coup', or touching the head of a soldier or militiaman. as well, 'scalping' was taught by the soldiers and others who'd received bounties for each 'indun scalp'. they hage them on their belts as trophies until they turned them in for cash.

kill the chirren as policy? 'nits make lice!' slice open a pregnant woman's belly to remove the child inside as at the sand creek massacre? just for fun and revenge, i reckon.

how many arabs/palestinians including women and children has the IDF killed and wounded during the March(es) of Return? even firing on the Aid Tents. 'but they threw rocks at us'; even edward said had thrown a rock.

up
0 users have voted.

@wendy davis

up
0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

wendy davis's picture

@UntimelyRippd

i'd used it as me committing similar thought crimes recently. ah! i'd also sent that one to ted steinberg as well, come to think of it. incendiary & subversive, bruce is. mr. wd saw him twice, and believe it or not, he'd come to perform our wee town in the four corners. he said he was hands-down the best guitarist he'd ever seen.

thanks, darlin'; i needed that!

up
0 users have voted.

@wendy davis
talking about how he would listen to Cockburn albums and think, "How the hell does he play that ... how does he get so much music out of just one guitar?", and then he went to a concert once, and Cockburn was using all these cool effects and stuff, and Browne was relieved, "Ah, I see, well, okay, sure I could do that too ..." and then the next time he saw Cockburn live, it was just Bruce and his acoustic guitar, and it turned out that yeah, he could do all that without the cool effects.

up
0 users have voted.

The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

wendy davis's picture

@UntimelyRippd

an acoustic guitar nails it. brewer and shipley played here once, all electric, but somehow they had some sort of gizmos that made each of their voices sound like two, and iirc, same for their guitars. but good on jackson brown for having admitted that; he's a good un. you'll like bruce's ode to the IMF: 'call it democracy' too. wonder what it's like to live in an actual democracy™? '...idolatry of ideology'. hmmmm.

up
0 users have voted.
Anja Geitz's picture

Thanks for posting. Woe is the state of affairs for anyone disputing Israel's view of their manifest destiny. I wonder if 200 years from now we will read about what Israel did to the Palestinians the same way we read about what the US did to the native Americans?

up
0 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

wendy davis's picture

@Anja Geitz

the thanks go to edward said and ted steinberg. i hope it's soon, not 200 years. nuclear conflagration over iran and other proxy wars seem to be at stake.

You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once—there has to be a limit
~ Edward Said

as with (self-loathing jews) PP & M's 'light one candle':

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago

Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts

on edit: i loved this simple passage, among many others:

When we arrived in the Golan Heights I stepped out of the car and threw up, though I was not making any kind of political statement.

i'm so glad you enjoyed the piece! it gave me pleasure shivers, and brought edward said to life for me. i've used some of his quotes here and there, but only really had his rather dry wiki entry to learn about him.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

i'd sent this to ted steinberg as emblematic of occupied palestine, and so many other places with white rule. he'd laughed that as i'd been born in cleveland (where he teaches) to stop by next time i was there and we'd bang out some bruce cockburn together. ; )

so...tonight's closing song (the lyrics are here):

g' night.

up
0 users have voted.

the same way again.

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

@HenryAWallace

but at least not 'yellow cake'. ; ) i loved this: "I liked cake, especially yellow cake." so simple, so first-day-as-officially-a-man. so richard brautigan-eque, come to think of it.

but as ted steinberg kept weaving the motif throughout his awakening, then his teaching...brilliant, imo. it's been a pleasure to get to him, as well as edward said better.

thanks for reading and commenting, amigo.

up
0 users have voted.

Real life snapshots of his awakening consciousness as a Jewish man highlighting Edward Said's effect on his growth, strung together with recurring images of his bar mitzvah cake. It's a sensitive and engrossing memoir; I read it outside last night and his prose made a gorgeous late summer night even more captivating.

There are so many ways to look at the mess the Israelis have made of their attempt to create a safe homeland for the Jewish people. After being scapegoated so horribly throughout history, it's tragic what they ended up doing. Sometimes I fantasize how it might have turned out if they'd launched a massive charm offensive from the start, going out of their way to blend in with their neighbors, to help and support, share and grow in concert with the surrounding cultures and customs. But they seem to have been afflicted with massive, incurable PTSD. "Never again."

As for Trump, he's building on whatever was already set up between our two countries, and I think his approach is heavily influenced by family loyalty to his daughter and son-in-law. The Kushners are observant Jews and longtime friends of the Netanyahus. It's amazing that he would put that cold little man in charge of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. Here's hoping Jared surprises us.

up
0 users have voted.

Lurking in the wings is Hillary, like some terrifying bat hanging by her feet in a cavern below the DNC. A bat with theropod instincts. -- Fred Reed https://tinyurl.com/vgvuhcl

wendy davis's picture

@laurel

'snapshots'; yes, that's just right, as so many images stick in one's mind throughout his prose.

We had learned in Hebrew school that Israel was a land without people for a people without land. Perfect, I thought. People gave me bar mitzvah gifts including certificates for trees planted there in my honor. A land without people suggested barrenness to me. Trees seemed like a sensible idea.

he allows us to peer into the images in his own 13-year-old mind, even with a bit of help from that cumbersome photo album with gilt-edged pages.

bless you for having fantasized how differently it might have gone, but the first step should have been that it was an occupied land, as with turtle island (north america).

yes, trump also owes a lot to sheldon edelson and others. so the I/P deal of the century will be a balkanized version of a one-state solution. edward said would have been crazed by the 'leaked' deal (a strategic leak?). and it still hasn't been officially announced.

sigh. i made the mistake on chore breaks this afternoon of reading most of jeff blankfort's sept. 12 'A False Accusation of Antisemitism from Where You Would Least Expect It' at dissident voice. three opening paragraphs:

'It is not uncommon, of course, to be labeled “anti-Semitic” for calling attention to the inordinate power of the Israel Lobby over our political processes or suggesting that the Iraq War was launched on Israel’s behalf. The last place that I would expect to find such an allegation, however, was on the CounterPunch website to which I have contributed a number of articles on the subject over the years.

On August 2nd in an opinion piece by Ron Jacobs, headlined, “Israel—The Largest US Aircraft Carrier in the World,” those, like myself, who have described, in detail, on CounterPunch and elsewhere, the manner in which the Israel Lobby controls both Congress and the White House on issues relating to Israel, were accused of propagating “what is an essentially anti-Semitic argument concerning the nature of the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance.”

That Jacobs, a veteran of the Sixties as long of tooth as myself, a prolific writer and frequent contributor to Left publications, would make such an allegation, after what we have learned about the role of pro-Israel Jewish neocons in fomenting the Iraq War and following that, implementing crippling sanctions on Iran while agitating against the nuclear agreement with Tehran, is as mind boggling as it is insulting.'

...and he actually chronicles the extent of the washington-tel aviv necon alliance power on US foreign policy from PNAC forward. it's a hellish read. don't read it until you can emotionally afford to. (oh, sure, wd, after you've pointed an arrow at it...) sorry?

up
0 users have voted.
wendy davis's picture

i'd been tempted to add to laurel that the original charm offensive was to get (a perhaps modified) original 1917 balfour declaration between lord rothchild, the UK government, et. al. enshrined into law by the UN on nov. 29, 1948. this is the palestinian version.

in 1960, to seal in the importance of zionist israel came the very influential film 'exodus' (starring paul newman) made from a 1958 book by leon uris. i read all his books, loved the film.

in my early life, i was a goyishe zionist, devoured book about the holocaust, and cheered the state of israel's creation. it wasn't until long afterward that i'd actually discovered online the abysmal conditions of the original inhabitants were subjected to...and was appalled.

at any rate, rather than closing with a song, i'll bring my favorite oft-used quote from edward said:

'Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.'

g' night all; sweet drams if you're able.

up
0 users have voted.