German recession sees resurgance in left-wing violence

Via Der Spiegel:

German Interior Ministry crime statistics for 2009 show a 53 percent jump in the number of left-wing attacks, the largest increase seen in many years. Police recorded a total of 1,822 left-wing acts of violence in all of Germany, considerably more than those committed by right-wing extremists.Those statistics include, among other things, the burning of several hundred cars in Berlin, a large-scale attack carried out by masked individuals on a police station in Hamburg in December and an attack on vehicles belonging to the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, in Dresden in April 2009, which saw equipment worth €3 million ($3.7 million) go up in flames.


In memorium

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust Mahnmal in Berlin, Germany.

Updated: “Outspoken” features anti-Zionist poet(s)

I was Googling the participants in tonight’s Diversity Comissionsponsored Spoken Word event Outspoken. Infuriatingly enough, of the three participants, only one, Andrea Gibson, has a Wikipedia page. But another, Kevin Coval, had another platform; publication on the Huffington Post. The seventh item to return a Google search for Coval’s name produces the article, “Why I am not a Zionist,” originally published Nov. 3, 2009:

Last week I was disinvited from my second Jewish conference in two months for poems I’d written in solidarity with Palestinians, poems that make an unapologetic call for justice. Subsequently I, and the poet I was to read with at the conference, wrote a response to being censored. People from all over the country wrote to us supporting free speech, supporting art as a tool for change, supporting real talk about the degradation of Palestinians, and people wrote to let us know they disagreed. Some more thoughtfully than others.

We decided to hold our reading anyway in Washington, DC during J Street’s inaugural conference at an alternative location. We were hosted by Busboys and Poets. The room filled with a spectrum of ideas. We read our poems and during the Q&A, no one was shouted down. Not the Israeli army Refusnik, not the liberal Zionist apologist, not the Palestinian student who asked us to include more about the Palestinian people in our poems, not just the land or idea of nation-state, a point beautifully made and incredibly profound. No one shouted down moderator Lalia Al-Arian, brilliant journalist and activist, whose father was a Palestinian political prisoner in America, now freed because of his daughter’s persistence. The crowd was cool and civil, though broad in opinion.

The third of the next three sentences I had to read several times to believe:

Since the Second Intifada I have thought, wrote, and spoke about these issues, but over the course of these last several weeks, I have arrived at a new beginning. Prior to now, I muddled this issue in complexity. But I have come to realize it is actually simple and clear.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict “simple and clear”? It would be a “simple” issue if the Palestinians were peaceable, quietist sufferers, but that is not the case. Since 2001, Palestinians have fired over 8,600 rockets into Jewish-populated areas. One of the primary Palestinian political parties is the terrorist organization Hamas. And the taste of political power hasn’t softened or moderated that party, either. I remember several years ago reading about Hamas’ first electoral gains; one of their legislative representatives openly discussed helping her son prepare a suicide vest.

Coval continues:

I am a Jewish-American man in solidarity with Palestinian people. I am in solidarity with Israeli and American and all people who work and risk their lives and livelihood for justice. I am not restricted to working within the confines of the Jewish-American community. Justice and the resistance to imperialism is a global, human concern for all people down to struggle. For Jews, yes, but not Jews alone. For Palestinians, yes, but not Palestinians alone. It will take us all to push and demand governments and corporate interests to create fair, equitable living conditions. It will take all people to hold history accountable for the atrocities that occur.This is analogy. America celebrates Columbus day even though Columbus and American settlers killed, enslaved and pushed Indigenous people off land they lived on. Tragically Indigenous people have been nearly wiped out of existence and pushed to the furthest margins of our culture that revels in amnesia. Main St., mainstream American culture does not expect Native Americans to celebrate Columbus, nor care or know or imagine if they do or not. Native Americans are not a demographic population Hallmark cares to account for. It is preposterous to think Jews would celebrate Kristallnacht, the night of glass when SS troops stormed and terrorized their German ghettos. In Israel, Independence Day is called Yom Ha’atzmaut. Communities gather to play music, dance and watch fireworks. The Chief Rabbinate has declared this day a Jewish holiday in which prayers should be said. But Palestinians remember 1948 and the formation of the State of Israel as al-Nakba, The Catastrophe. A day of murder, displacement, and forced Diaspora. A day families are torn apart and ripped away from their homes. A state sanctioned celebration of their dehumanization and second-class citizenship. For this reason alone, I cannot believe in the integrity of the Zionist project.

This is not a complex issue. There is the brutality of government(s) and the need for the liberation of a people, all people. I am a Jewish person who stands with Palestinian people relegated to second-class citizenship and Israeli soldiers who refuse to enact racist militarism. I am not a nationalist; therefore I am not a Zionist. I am against the oppression of any person and people. I am not a builder of walls. I believe in equity and democratic practice, therefore I am not pro-Israel. I am an advocate for truth, justice and reconciliation. I believe in this. I believe in this now. I believe in the work ahead.

Because Hamas is so deeply committed to “democratic practice”. And they’re so utterly and completely opposed to nationalism, militarism, and, especially, racism.


I’m not denying that Isreal has committed some military and policing actions which could be considered atrocities in its history. But it is revisionist in-of-itself to claim the Palestinians are mere victims. Israel’s military has overreacted sometimes, but this is to be expected when 8,600 rockets rain on your civilians in a decade.

And of course, the Diversity Comission can host anyone they want to yadda yadda and Coval is entitled to his opinions yadda yadda. But I have to wonder if the Comission’s was aware of Coval’s crassness. (And I do think it is fair to say anyone who declares the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “simple” in print is crass.)

I don’t know if Coval will be discussing the Middle East tonight. But the show starts in about fifteen minutes. Hopefully I’ll have time to do at least a brief writeup afterwards. I’ll also be writing a review of it for a class; I might seek permission to publish that here.

Update: 10:04 PM April 10 2010-I spoke with a Diversity Commissioner. She said the DC had not heard of Coval, but only invited him upon the recommendation of the event’s host, Dasha Kelly.

Coval himself did not mention Israel tonight. Coval didn’t, but a verse of Andrea Gibson’s spoke of “turning Palestine into a gas chamber.”

I hope I don’t have to elaborate into the irreducible distastefulness of comparing Israeli policing policy, however overzealous it can sometimes be in its implementation, to the Nazi’s extermination factories.

For shame, Gibson! Granted, her pieces on anti-gay bigotry and sexual violence are brave and commendable. But she lacks any world-historic perspective or, curiosity for the motivations of people she declares villains.

Tiller’s murderer gets life sentence

Via the LA Times:

Scott Roeder, the antiabortion extremist who murdered George Tiller, one of a handful of American physicians who performed late-term abortions, was sentenced to life in prison in a Wichita, Kan., courtroom Thursday and will not be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.

Besides the brute fact of a man’s murder in front of his family, what frustrates me most is Roeder’s choice of targets. The vast majority of the late-term abortions Tiller performed were initiated because either the mother’s life was in immediate danger, or because the fetus was unviable. They’re the “exceptional cases” who all but the most dogmatic abortion opponents would admit as justifiable. (“[T]hese abortions, given their excruciating moral and personal choices, may be the most defensible in context of all abortions,” wrote Andrew Sullivan, who gathered the above-linked anecdotes and himself has a highly ambivalent position on abortion.)

Our ally in the war on terrorism

Moreau's illustration to the Société des publications illustrées 1846 edition of Voltaire's play "Mohammed the Prophet, or The Fanaticism"

Saudi Arabia has convicted a televison “psychic” of sorcery and condemned him to death by beheading.

I am brought to mind to Voltaire’s play, which saw an attempt of revival in France shut down by religious protesters four years ago; and of a passage of Lucretius that the the philosophe predicted would last as long as the world does:

But ’tis that same religion oftener far
Hath bred the foul impieties of men:
As once at Aulis, the elected chiefs,
Foremost of heroes, Danaan counsellors,
Defiled Diana’s altar, virgin queen,
With Agamemnon’s daughter, foully slain.
She felt the chaplet round her maiden locks
And fillets, fluttering down on either cheek,
And at the altar marked her grieving sire,
The priests beside him who concealed the knife,
And all the folk in tears at sight of her.
With a dumb terror and a sinking knee
She dropped; nor might avail her now that first
‘Twas she who gave the king a father’s name.
They raised her up, they bore the trembling girl
On to the altar- hither led not now
With solemn rites and hymeneal choir,
But sinless woman, sinfully foredone,
A parent felled her on her bridal day,
Making his child a sacrificial beast
To give the ships auspicious winds for Troy:
Such are the crimes to which Religion leads.
And there shall come the time when even thou,
Forced by the soothsayer’s terror-tales, shalt seek
To break from us.

Moscow train bombing kills 38

It was conducted by female suicide bombers. Norther Caucus Islamists are suspected.

The sickness of American political discourse

Within a few hours of his death, suicide bomber Joe Stack has 442 fans on Facebook.

(As of 12:32 AM 2/19/2010.)

Update: As of 7:35 AM 2/19/2010, Stack has 580 fans.

Update: As of 9:46 AM 2/19/2010, Stack has 656 fans.

Update: As of 2:17 PM 2/19/2010, Stack has 871 fans.

Update: As of 7:18 PM 2/19/2010, Stack has 1,175 fans.

Most of the people in the group claim to disavow Stack’s terrorist actions. This is incoherent. The “philosophy of Joseph Stack” that they have become fans of terminates at the logical conclusion “[V]iolence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” Many people believe there are dysfunctions in our political system. Many people resent paying taxes. Many people believe our collected tax dollars don’t help those who most need it. None of these ideas originate with Stack. His only unique contribution is the prescription “Violence is the only answer” to improving the system.