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Postcards from the End of America
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
As published at OpEd News, CounterCurrents and Information Clearing House, 12/19/14:
In 1948, Israel had its strange birth, and the newborn was greeted immediately by soldiers from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as they tried to snuff out the monster in its crib. They failed spectacularly, and an ink-drawn Star of David flag was raised on the shore of the Red Sea. Screw you, Arabs!
Twenty years later, Tahseen Al-Khateeb was born in Jordan to a Palestinian refugee family. Without ever living in a English-speaking country, Al-Khateeb made himself comfortable enough with the language to render Charles Simic’s The World Doesn’t End into Arabic. He has also translated a handful of my poems, with an interest in doing a full-length book. Recently, Al-Khateeb approached me for an interview, and of course I agreed. Our conversation would be translated into Arabic and published in a Jordanian newspaper.
Outside of Israel, Jordan has the largest number of Palestinians at 3,240,000, and Jordan also hosts over 600,000 Syrian refugees and 200,000 from Iraq. When Jews and Americans raise hell, Jordan is there to absorb refugees, and for this service, Jordan receives substantial aid from the United States. Working with the CIA, Jordan operates two black sites where “detainees” can be “rendered” to be “enhancedly interrogated.”
After its initial hostility to Israel, Jordan became the second Arab nation to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish Homeland. There is a 2010 Reuter photo of Jordan’s King Abdullah II shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While Bibi sits, the King stands and so must bow, and the caption also states that it’s the Jordanian Monarch who greets Bibi, not the other way around. Reproduced at Iran’s Press TV, this photo is greeted with derision. “You can clearly see in the picture who is acting as a master and who is as servant.” “What, does the next picture show Abdullah kissing his ring?” “Everyone knows the scum works for the Brits; so was his father & his [granduncle] Faisal. He is just receiving instructions.”
Propped up by the Brits, Faisal was King of Syria, then Iraq, and this forgettable figure is on record as saying, “We Arabs look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.” For his part, Abdullah II is half British, and from kindergarten through college, was educated entirely in the UK and USA. He even served in the British Army after graduating from England’s Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. English is Abdullah II’s primary language. What we have, then, is a line of rent-a-king for the West. For the right price, I’m sure you can hire a Jordanian King for your kid’s bar mitzvah or church’s nativity scene. Traditional costume and camel will cost extra.
Like Al-Khateeb’s parents, I’m also a refugee, and like him and so many others, we’re merely history’s lesser victims, for we’ve only been uprooted, and not killed or maimed. Do we have a common enemy? Do you and I? It was my hope that the interview would be a vehicle to explore this question.
Tahseen asked, “As you have been lately involved in politics, how do look at the horrors done by the American Administration (s) to other nations: the invasion of Iraq and of Afghanistan, for instance? And what about their endless support for the Israelis despite their shameless war crimes against the Palestinians, whether in Gaza, or elsewhere?”
I began by stating the obvious, “Oil and Israel are the two reasons for American criminality against the Muslim world. Without these factors, Muslims would not be so demonized and attacked by Americans, and this pattern will continue as long as Israel and oil remain. Israel is an unprecedented historical mistake, for it makes no sense to claim a right of return for Jews after 2,000 years, but deny the same to Palestinians after six decades, though many have lost their homes much more recently, for this land grab is an ongoing process that won’t end until all Palestinians disappear from ‘the Jewish homeland.’ It’s tragic and farcical that a Chinese Jew can move to Jerusalem tomorrow, but not an exiled Palestinian who still has the key to his ancestral home. Israel is a violent concept that is executed and maintained with terror, and by this I mean American-sponsored Jewish terror, though these world class terrorists are so relentless with their propaganda, they have made ‘terrorist’ nearly synonymous with their enemy, the Muslim. There is hope for Palestinians, however, for as the USA implodes, Israel will also go up in smoke. Working in tandem, the US and Israel have collapsed several Muslim governments and generated millions of refugees. The same fate awaits Israel, though its dissolution should be permanent, for only then will peace come.
Those living outside the US can’t fathom the American media’s extreme bias towards Israel. During the 2014 attack on Gaza, for example, American television viewers were only shown images of Palestinian buildings being blown up from afar, as if there were no people working or living in them. No corpses were seen being pulled from rubbles. While Palestinian victims stayed invisible, a single missing Israeli soldier had stories about him, with his portrait featured to emphasize his humanity. Unlike Palestinians, this Jew had a face. Female Israeli soldiers were shown sobbing over their fallen (male) comrades. When the massacre of Palestinians was finally over, there were articles about how quickly Gaza had gotten back to normal, so it was no big deal, you see, this butchering of 2,192 people (as compared to 77 deaths on the Israeli side). As if to prove this point, photos were shown of bustling Gaza streets, with kids happily playing.
On American television, there’s a peculiar show called Inside Israeli Basketball. Since the level of hoops in Israel is not particularly high, and its b-ballers are entirely unknown to an American audience, there is no sporting reason for this program, except that basketball is only a pretext to display Israel in a banal, and hence benign, light. Game footage and practice scenes make up only a small part of this show, for the camera often follows the players or coaches of Maccabi Haifa, the featured team, all over Israel. (Everywhere, of course, except Gaza and other troubled spots.) In one scene, one might visit a lovely beach, while in another, enter a Palestinian restaurant. Here, two teammates, an Israeli and a black American, enjoy camel rides, and one can see that they’re very chummy with each other. The American, Ike Ofoegbu, gushes, ‘Here in Israel, the guys are very nice. They speak English, first of all, so they can interact with you. They’re really friendly […] To finally be here in Israel is very exciting. I’m just blessed to be here.’ Highly unusual for a reality show, there is no rancor or argument in Inside Israeli Basketball, and no trashy behavior at all. Here, you won’t find any screaming, backstabbing, jealousy or drunkenness, though these are the staples of just about every other reality show on American television. Always depicting Israel in an idyllic and harmonious light, this show is no more than propaganda, then, a carefully crafted mask to hide the endless violence needed to maintain this sham nation.”
Al-Khateeb followed up, “And what about what is happening now in Syria?”
I continued, “The US is trying to unseat Assad because he’s a long time ally of Russia and Iran, as well as an enemy of Israel. Similarly, in trying to wrest Ukraine from the Russian orbit, the US has destroyed yet another country. Drenched in blood, the US kills, slanders, stages false flag incidents while fabricating charges against its enemies. With Syria, it’s the poison gas accusation against Assad, while in Ukraine, it’s the Malaysian Airliner that was likely shot down by America’s Kiev puppets, and certainly not Russia. I’m not sure who first described this sanctimoniously immoral nation as ‘The Empire of Chaos,’ but it’s very appropriate. As Vladimir Putin said, ‘Anything the US touches turns into Libya or Iraq.’
Waging actual and/or economic war against much of humanity, the US has also destroyed meaningful discourse in the international arena, for it and its allies seem incapable of telling any truth. Whatever the US says, you can almost be certain that the opposite is true, for Uncle Sam is a habitual inverter of reality. Trapped among warped mirrors, it’s no surprise that most Americans have become deranged. Though many half suspect their rulers don’t have their interest in mind, they continue to vote for the same criminals or their fresher faced proteges. Though voting itself sanctions the entire rigged process, they dutifully line up and jerk a lever that may or may not register their non-choice, for an American voting contraption, like a slot machine, is responsive only to its own programming. The slithering media are now offering American progressives a new darling in Elizabeth Warren. Touted as an outsider, Warren will take the country in a new direction, it is said, so let’s give her a listen. After voting to fund Israel during the last Gaza massacre, Warren explained that the Jewish State absolutely hated to cause civilian casualties, ‘but when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.’
In the United States, there are several layers of controlled dissent, with none effective at thwarting any of the country’s prolific criminality. On television, you have highly paid buffoons such as Jon Stewart, real last name Leibowitz, and Stephen Colbert. In the ‘alternative media,’ there’s the articulate and moral-sounding Democratic Party apologist The Nation, the politics-as-somewhat-edgy-entertainment Huffington Post and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. Yes, there are genuine and highly astute observers such as Pepe Escobar, Dmitri Orlov, John Michael Greer, and Paul Craig Roberts, etc., but they’re only read by a tiny percentage of the country, so even though they’re crucial to our grasp of what’s going on, they’re negligible as inspiration for effective revolt. In short, Americans are in no shape to save themselves from their own government, much less curb their nation’s evilness on the rest of the world.
Moreover, there’s no resistance if there’s no recognition of the enemy, and most Americans still think of their federal government as inept and bickering, and not essentially evil and working against them at every turn on behalf of the criminal banks, war profiteers and Israel. Saluting the stars and stripes, they send their sons and daughters to kill and die for the masters of war, fiat money crooks and Israel.
Stuck in a quicksand economy, Americans are becoming increasingly angry, but their rage has been deflected to false or, at best, secondary targets. Some blame the President, who’s no more than a sock puppet, while others seethe at white racism, black criminality, illegal immigrants, China, Russia or, most preposterously, crazed Muslims.
With ISIS, the insane Muslims narrative has a new chapter, and though the idea that Muslims simply despise the USA because ‘they hate our freedom and democracy’ has never made any sense, too many Americans still believe it, but then again, they also swallow their government’s explanation that novice amateur pilots can steer Boeing 767’s into skyscrapers at 500mph, or hit the 77-feet-tall Pentagon from the side. They don’t shake their heads at the sight of a 52-story building, World Trade Center 7, collapsing at free fall speed without being hit by anything.
The entire story about Bin Laden is also nonsense. Without any proof, he’s accused of being the mastermind of 9/11, then Navy Seals supposedly killed him in a heroic raid, all without any physical or even photographic evidence. By now, everyone is familiar with the iconic Situation Room photo, but if Obama and company could watch the episode in real time, why can’t the US produce a single still from that footage to prove that Bin Laden was there at all? What about the huge, mangled chunk of an American helicopter stuck on a brick wall? How many Navy Seals died in that crash? From a botched mission that didn’t involve Bin Laden at all, the US has fashioned a chest-thumping fairy tale to celebrate its supposed greatness. Further, if Bin Laden was such a feared leader of a terrorist organization, why was he shot on sight? For intelligence purpose alone, wouldn’t it be imperative to catch the old man alive? Long suffering from kidney failure, Bin Laden couldn’t have survived until 2011 anyway, but to point this out is to incur the blood curling wrath of not just flag-waving, rah-rah Americans, but even progressive commentators, such is the level of brainwashing in this country.
We are drowning in photographs, most of which we can do without, yet the one image that everyone wanted to see then, of a Bin Laden dead or alive during the raid, was not available. Instead, we were treated to a wealth of irrelevant information. We were told that ‘a hero dog’ was involved; that Obama and company had turkey pita wraps, cold shrimp, potato chips and soda, bought from Costco, the cheapo outlet, that Obama had met to congratulate his commandos, all highly intelligent and responsible family men between the ages of 30 and 40. Whatever.
The Bin Laden photos would not matter if there was a corpse, but that too, was missing. Less than six hours after news came that he had been killed, it was announced that Bin Laden had already been tossed into the ocean. The official explanation: The US must respect the Islamic tradition that a corpse be buried within 24 hours, and since no country was willing to be his final host, not even Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden had to be dumped where he could never be exhumed. How convenient. Case closed!
Such respect for a Muslim corpse from a country that seems to be fighting Muslims everywhere, that kills, imprisons and tortures Muslims, whose soldiers draped panties and smeared shit on Muslim heads, raped Muslim women and collected Muslim ears as trophies. America hasn’t exactly been shy about abusing Muslims, dead or alive, so why this sudden delicacy? Remember also that Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed by American troops on July 22, 2003, then buried on August 2, 11 days later.”
Al-Khateeb, “What about Arab Spring?”
Me, “Popular protests are often infiltrated or hijacked by the targeted government or, worse yet, an outside power to serve its own end. Sometimes it’s stoked right from the beginning by a hostile foreign country. In Libya, for example, the US revealed its involvement almost immediately, and street protests quickly turned into a civil war, with plenty of weapons and bombing runs supplied by the Empire of Shameless, Endless Lies and Chaos. In Syria, street protesters were replaced by foreign terrorists armed and coordinated by the US and its allies. In Bahrain, a staunch US client with its huge US Navy base, 1,500 soldiers from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were sent in to help government troops squash the protest. With America turning a blind eye, they killed 93 civilians and wounded roughly 3,000. They also locked up 2,929 and tortured most of them. In Tunisia, where Arab Spring began, the upheaval was sparked by Mohammed Bouazizi. Angry that the police had confiscated his fruit cart, he set himself on fire. The black market always thrives among desperate people, and so you’ll see it in every slum, refugee camp and prison. In New York, Eric Garner sold loosies, untaxed cigarettes, while in Ben Arous, Mohammed Bouazizi tried to survive by peddling apples, oranges and dates. Having made such people dirt poor in the first place, the state will criminalize these wretches, arrest them and take away their pitiful capital outlay. Meanwhile, from high above, the state-sanctioned uber criminals look down, snort, touch themselves then exhale. The Tunisian protest did succeed in ousting Ben Ali, but it’s too early to claim the people’s gain as enduring. Three years on, Tunisia is still trying to find its footing, and one can be sure that if the new administration proves to be unaccommodating to the Sick Empire’s greed and geopolitical design, it will do all it can to ostracize Tunisia, if not subvert it through another ‘revolution.’”
So far so good, I thought, and I assumed we would get round to exploring what could be done to combat our common foes. Before the PLO was chased out, Jordan was the center of Palestinian resistance to Israel, but the remaining Palestinians appear neutered, just like, well, Americans here. When several days went by without a follow up question, I simply assumed Al-Khateeb was busy with some other obligations, but then he sent me this most unexpected response, “Dear Linh: to be honest with you. Your opinions about the Syrian regime and Iran are not related to any fact on the ground. I live in this part of the world. Bashar Assad is a criminal: He kills his own people, with cold blood. Iran is head of the snake. The Syrian Regime and Iran never shot a single bullet towards Israel. The Syrian regime (and of course Iran) is not any enemy of Israel! In fact, the Syrian regime is guarding the borders of Israel. This is the fact, my friend, and not the Iranian and Syrian propaganda! I can’t publish the question related to this subject: talking about Assad as the enemy of Israel. This is against facts and also against the policy of the newspaper where the interview will be published.”
Astounded, I answered, “Frankly, I’m quite shocked to hear you say that Iran and Syria are not enemies of Israel. Israel and Syria have fired millions of bullets at each other, and that's just history, not propaganda, and the Israeli government has also threatened Iran constantly over its nuclear program.”
I should have said “billions of bullets,” what with Israel’s violent founding, Six Day War, annexation of the Golan Heights, Yom Kippur War, Syria’s support of the PLO during the Lebanese Civil War, Operation Orchard to wipe out Syria’s nuclear capability and, in the last five years alone, seven major Israeli air strikes against Syria. As America’s allies gang up against that Arab country, Israel is providing refuge and medical care to more than a thousand anti-Assad terrorists. To support the al-Nusra Front, Israel even shot down a Syrian fighter plane inside Syria.
I haven’t heard back from Al-Khateeb, and it’s actually for the best, for one can’t have a proper interview with certain premises or opinions disallowed. Since Al-Khateeb hadn’t quite researched my political opinions, he was blindsided by my answers, and for my part, I shouldn’t be surprised to see reality so twisted and unrecognizable, for as Americans, we’re subjected to that each second of each day.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
- Linh Dinh
- Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.