I love looking at cameras, even cameras that I would never want for myself. This site is by an American in Japan who takes pictures of cameras that people are carrying around. One of them even had one of my straps on it.
Israel's rampaging through the Gaza concentration camp continues. Israel is talking about a unilateral cease fire just in time for Obama's inauguration. The death and destruction that Israel has done is monstrous but you wouldn't know it from the coverage of the American press. None of which has any one reporting from Gaza. The only international news organization reporting from inside Gaza is Aljazeera. Of course none of the cable companies carry Aljazeera, which has an English channel. They wouldn't want to actually report on anything other than what the Israeli military wants the world to hear. But you can watch Aljazeera online via a viewer you can download called Livestation. You can watch it on the Livestation site but the downloaded Livestation viewer gives a much better version. Download it now and see inside Gaza and what Israel has destroyed.
Increasingly Jews inside and outside of Israel are voicing their horror at what is being done in their name. This video of a Jewish British Parlementarian, a child of Holocaust survivors, is a must watch.
They link about what is happening in Gaza but also about the response of Jews worldwide. While the majority of Jews support the massacre in Gaza, many are speaking out. Many who hadn't spoken out before. They are waking up. And they will need to wake up because this government will not do anything to stop Israel as long as Jews in America are in lock step with the Israeli government. Like the German citizens under the Nazis, Jews who support Israel are not seeing what they don't want to see. Let us hope more courageous Jews speak out and act out. The will give our government cover to save Israel because Israel can't survive as it is now. It has lost.
Repeating behaviors that have produced catastrophic failures and expecting a different result is insane; and when a person’s psychotic behavior puts himself and those around him in immediate physical danger, the responsibility of those who claim to be his friends is to restrain him. But even as Waltz With Bashir shows in multiplexes across the world as a grim reminder of the precedent for Israel’s brutal march of folly in Gaza, the U.S. (and the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post) insist that there is a sanity and rationality to sending one of the world’s most powerful armies into a giant refugee camp to rend the flesh and crush the bones of those who stand in its way — whether in defiance or by being unlucky enough to have been born of the wrong tribe and be huddling in the wrong place. By fighting its way to their citadel, they would have us believe, Israel can destroy Hamas and usher in a golden age of peace. Or, to borrow from the casual callousness of Condi Rice during the last such display of futile brutality, we are witnessing, again, the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Israel failed in 2006, just as in 2002 and 1982. This time, they tell us, will be different.
And then the horror unfolds, as it always does — the hundreds of civilians accidentally massacred as they cowered in what they were told were places of safety, mocking Israel’s torrent of self congratulation over its restraint and its brilliant intelligence — and the hopelessly out-gunned enemy manages to survive, as he does every time. And by surviving, grows stronger politically. No matter how many are killed, the leaders targeted by Israel’s military are endlessly regenerated in the fertile soil of grievance and resentment born of the circumstances Israel has created. Circumstances it has created, but which it, and its most fervent backers refuse to acknowledge, much less redress.
Arafat is dead and gone. So are Sheikh Yassin, and Rantissi. And Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyeh. Israel’s ruthless efficiency at killing the leaders of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups is second to none, and yet, no matter who it kills, there are always thousands more, ready to declare, “I am Spartacus”. That’s because those who step up to lead these organizations are acting not out of personal ambition — leadership in Hamas is a death sentence. The endless stream of Palestinians willing to sacrifice themselves in the role, then, is a symptom of the condition of their people. And Israel’s leaders know this. Asked when running for Prime Minister a decade ago what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian, Ehud Barak — the man directing the current operation in Gaza — answered bluntly, “I’d have joined a terror organization.”
By the logic of his own instinct on the campaign trail in 1999, Ehud Barak should know that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza cannot succeed, except, perhaps, in reviving his own political prospects. No matter how many leaders, militants and ordinary civilians Israel kills in Gaza, Hamas — or something like it — will survive.
History did not begin with the Qassam rockets. But for us, the Israelis, history always begins when the Palestinians hurt us, and then the pain is completely decontextualized. We think that if we cause the Palestinians much greater pain, they will finally learn their lesson. Some term this "achievement."
Nevertheless, the "lesson" remains abstract for most Israelis. The Israeli media prescribes a strict low-information, low-truth diet for its consumers, one rich in generals and their ilk. It is modest, and does not boast of our achievements: the slain children and the bodies rotting under the ruins, the wounded who bleed to death because our soldiers shoot at the ambulance crews, the little girls whose legs were amputated due to horrible wounds caused by various types of weaponry, the devastated fathers shedding bitter tears, the residential neighborhoods that have been obliterated, the terrible burns caused by white phosphorus, and the mini-transfer - the tens of thousands of people who have been expelled from their homes, and are still being expelled at this very minute, ordered to cram into a built-up area that is constantly growing smaller and is also under sentence of incessant bombing and shelling.
machinery has exaggerated the danger of the military threat that the Palestinians pose to us. When they moved from stones to rifles and from Molotov cocktails to suicide bombings, from roadside bombs to Qassams and from Qassams to Grads, and from the PLO to Hamas, we said with a whoop of victory, "We told you. They're anti-Semites." And therefore, we have the right to go on a rampage. What enabled Israel's military rampage - the proper words to describe it cannot be found in my dictionary - was the step-by-step isolation of the Gaza Strip. The isolation turned Gaza's residents into abstract objects, with no names and addresses, except the addresses of the armed men, and no history, aside from the dates determined by the Shin Bet security service.
The siege of Gaza did not begin when Hamas seized control of the Strip's security organs, or when Gilad Shalit was taken captive, or when Hamas was elected in democratic elections. The siege began in 1991 - before the suicide bombings. And since then, it has only become more sophisticated, reaching its peak in 2005.
All of the suffering in Gaza -- indeed, all of the suffering endured by Palestinians under Israeli occupation for the last eight years -- could have been avoided if Israel negotiated a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat when it had the chance, in 2001.
What chance? The official Israeli position is that there was no chance, "no partner for peace." That’s what Israeli leaders heard from their Military Intelligence (MI) service in 2000 after the failure of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David. Arafat scuttled those talks, MI told the leaders, because he was planning to set off a new round of violence, a second intifada.
Now former top officials of MI say the whole story, painting Arafat as a terrorist out to destroy Israel, was an intentional fiction. That’s the most explosive finding in an investigative report just published in Israel’s top newspaper, Ha’aretz, by one of its finest journalists, Akiva Eldar.
Much like our own CIA, Eldar’s sources say, Israeli military intelligence has two versions of every story. MI analysts give their findings to government policymakers in oral reports that simply tell the political leaders what they want to hear. Meanwhile, the analysts keep the truth secret, filed away in written documents, waiting to be pulled out to cover MI’s posterior if the government’s policies turned out to be failures.
Much of the information in the Ha’aretz report comes from Ephraim Lavie, an honors graduate of Israel’s National Security College who rose through the ranks in MI's research section and eventually became head of MI's Palestinian research unit during the era of the Camp David talks. "Defining Arafat and the PA as 'terrorist elements' was the directive of the political echelon," said Lavie. "The unit's written analyses were presenting completely different assessments, based on reliable intelligence material."
The idea that "there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about," simply because Arafat rejected the Israeli offer at Camp David, just wasn't true. But it was what the politicians wanted to hear.
The events in Gaza have resulted in the producution of more media than any one person could digest in a lifetime. And since few of us have more than a small part of the day to learn about what's going on, it's almost certain that you might have missed some of the absolutely superb essays written in recent weeks that give the big picture.
Here's a quick guide to some of the best essays I've read on Gaza and the larger questions posed by the recent violence.
Israeli Uri Avnery in CounterPunch argues that after witnessing the events in Gaza, even through the distorted lens of televised mass media, "seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a bloodstained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for [Israel's] long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet."
Chris Hedges has a sublime touch when it comes to writing about the insanity we are capable of when warmaking consumes a society. We all saw, and most of us, if you believe the polls, personally experienced this madness most recently during the onset of the U.S. invasion in Iraq. In his latest essay, in TruthDig, "The Language of Death," Hedges writes,
"[T[he assault on Gaza is about creating squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians will be barely sustainable. It is about building ringed Palestinian enclaves where Israel will always have the ability to shut off movement, food, medicine and goods to perpetuate misery. The Israeli attack on Gaza is about building a hell on earth. This attack is the final Israeli push to extinguish a Palestinian state and crush or expel the Palestinian people. The images of dead Palestinian children, lined up as if asleep on the floor of the main hospital in Gaza, are a metaphor for the future. Israel will, from now on, speak to the Palestinians in the language of death. And the language of death is all the Palestinians will be able to speak back."
Dana Goldstein, whose thoughtful condemnation of the Gaza slaughter after years of reserve I welcome, is a little uncomfortable with the embrace. She points out that I have identified myself as a non- or anti-Zionist, and says that anti-Zionism is redolent of antisemitism. She's a post-Zionist, she says. Goldstein's comments deserve a response, especially at this moment in intellectual life, when so many people are crowding the doorways of this conversation.
I also used to say post- or non-Zionist to avoid being negative. The playwright David Zellnik told me that anti-Zionist felt to him like a denial of Israel's considerable achievements and I respected David's view. Now I've come to say that I'm an anti-Zionist for several reasons.
First: My feelings are not neutral about Zionism; I don't like it. As a Jew, I think about it a lot and there is nothing I can really feel positive about outside of the Jewish pride and its historical significance of it and its visionary component. All these elements have lost their value: Zionism privileges Jews and justifies oppression, and this appalls me. Saying I'm anti-Zionist is a sincere expression of my minority-respecting worldview.
Second, Post-Zionist strikes me as an evasion. At this moment, Zionism reigns in historical Palestine and in American Jewish leadership. To say you're a post-Zionist is like saying you're a post-Communist during the Stalin purges. You are tastefully separating yourself from the world, dainty as an English person drinking tea with their little finger in the air. Zionism remains a very powerful force in Middle East affairs and American society. It's not helpful to those who are trying to understand these matters to evade this fact or suggest that post-Zionism is actually a real factor in, say, the life of Gaza City. I urge people to take a stand if they find Zionist beliefs that privilege 6 million Jews over 5-6 million non-Jews and that have entailed apartheid on the West Bank and ethnic cleansing a supportable ideology, especially in the age of our mutt president-to-be.
Third, anti-Zionism is an idealistic Jewish tradition. In fact, it draws on the same visionary and If-you-dream-it feeling that Zionism did 100 years ago, before the militants ruined it, and engages the same young restless sensibilities and liberationist feeling as Zionism did by imagining Israel as a state of its citizens, not a Jewish state. We anti-Zionists can say with honor that anti-Zionists like Rabbi Elmer Berger identified the problems with Zionism 60 years ago, accurately when he said that Zionism meant contempt for the Arab population, dependence on a backroom lobby in the United States, and the introduction of dual loyalty into American Jewish life. All true. Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin and Norman Mailer all opposed Zionism to one degree or another out of concerns with ethnocentrism--didn't like its Is-it-good-for-the-Jews backbeat. These problems are larger today than ever, especially post-Iraq-war and the Iraq war's idiot stepson, Gaza.
Still busy after all these years. And it's good! Camera strap sales at gordy's camera straps have been very strong this month but there were a couple of slow days and I finished a new product that I have been working on for some time: strap bumbers.
You would think that such little things wouldn't take long to design. You would be wrong. But they are done and I still have some tweaks to make with them. I also have 6 rolls of film to scan and print. Hopefully, some of those pictures will appear here.