Let the Talking Begin

We die over trivialities. The leaders of both Israel and Hamas refuse to make the faithful concessions that would allow peace talks to begin, because each side has labeled the other side beyond the moral pale, inhuman. This principled refusal to begin the process of peacemaking only provides a disgraceful excuse with which to continue to oppress the people of Israel and Palestine (all of whom are suffering under circumstances they didn’t choose).

Let the talking begin, and it doesn’t matter on what terms. Six and a half months ago, I posted on LitKicks about the controversy over whether the cease-fire that began this summer should be allowed to begin. Many “pro-Israelis” (I’m not so sure about this) said that Israel should never negotiate with Hamas, because Hamas will eventually break any truce. I wrote: “if it lasts one week with no rockets and no tanks, then that’s one week with no rockets and no tanks”. It turned out to be six months with no rockets and no tanks.

Meanwhile on American television news, from CBS to ABC to NBC to CNN to MSNBC to Fox, I look for news of Israel and Gaza, and here’s what I get: Obama, Roland Burris, Sarah Palin, and Joe the Plumber. Mostly Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama. Enough already. I’m as excited as anybody else about Obama, but there are serious events occurring right now. The refusal of mainstream American news to cover international news is even worse than the refusal of mainstream American publishing to print translated books.

Okay, anyway, some literary links for today …

1. Harcourt Mifflin Harcourt rehires an important editor after Gunter Grass, Umberto Eco and others intervene.

2. The Moroccan Drift Generation Poets

3. Gandhi’s now in the public domain. His autobiography, which includes a lot of wisdom, fruits and nuts, is the best place to start.

4. Chasing Ray seems to like A Mystery for Thoreau by Kin Platt.

5. The Written Nerd seems to like Scrooge McDuck.

6. Sylvia Plath’s little-known play Three Women is being produced in London.

7. Via New Yorker, a Dante’s Commedia exhibit.

8. I love this: Phil Buehler has published the psychotic repeating-sentence novel Jack Torrance was writing at the Overlook Hotel that winter as a real book.

9. Ectric on Irving.

10. Richard Nash on The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

13 Responses

  1. About the 6 month ‘Calming
    About the 6 month ‘Calming Down’ period between Gaza and Israel – it was definitely quieter, but there were still qassams being thrown our way. Of course, they were much fewer, but we in the area bordering Gaza were always listening for a potential boom and there were enough to keep us on alert.

    Still, it gave me hope that in that interim, some form of logical peace process would begin, or, at least, the gov’t would see fit to provide us with some form of protection. Only in December, the 6th month of the 6 month period, did the gov’t okay funding to build us shelters.

    So, this Operation has begun with no serious forms of shelter. We’re all experiencing fear, both sides are traumatized. Let the peacetalks begin. Please!

  2. Not since the Nixon
    Not since the Nixon administration has America had a government that would embrace foreign policy intelligently.
    Now the news media are similarily distracted, it is not much short of a derelict disgrace.
    In the meantime, war makes prisoners of us all.

  3. Thanks for the note from the
    Thanks for the note from the battlefield, Judih.

    Duncan, I’m not sure about that Nixon guy either. He and Kissinger were effective in developing the strategy of isolating the Soviet Union from China that would eventually lead to the Soviet Union’s fall — but at the cost of an alliance with Mao Zedong, the single cruelest and most genocidal leader (just count the bodies) of the 20th Century. Nixon and Kissinger also hold responsibility for some of the CIA’s worst and most damaging interventions in Latin America.

    Jimmy Carter was my idea of a visionary foreign policy president, though he was not able to be effective enough or win over the confidence of the American people. Still, the Egypt/Israel peace treaty that was his best legacy remains in force today. That’s something.

  4. I’ve only just started to get
    I’ve only just started to get some sort of handle on this disturbing and politically radioactive conflict and can only sympathise with the Palestinian people for what must be a hellish situation. Israel’s position is unreasonable, almost comically so, and is, historically, the agressor of this conflict. The level of denial is astonishing. When asked why they blew up a school earlier this week, killing women and children, an Israeli defence minister (I think) said that Hamas were in the school using civilians as human shields, so the dead’s families should blame Hamas! They’ve illegally occupied Palestinian land for forty years now (the pre-’67 borders are, or should be, the two-state solution which most people believe could help end hostilities), have created the concentration camp that is the Gaza strip, and are targeting (in the loosest sense) a democratically elected government (though wings of it are anti-semetic) which has in its defence against the Israeli F16s and smart bombs, far inferior rockets which apparently, though highly ineffective, are ‘symbolic’. Anyone that thinks this is a war of equals has obviously got a fertile imagination; Robert Fisk’s estimate of the number of Israeli fatalities around the Gaza area in the last ten years is 20; while nearly 800 Palestinian are dead in just over a week.

    This will probably be (thought I really hope not) the first great betrayal by the Obama administration; unless Israel is severely admonished by America and threatened with a cut in aid and arms (as the UN have once again showed off their impeccably impotent credentials), Israel will not stop until Gaza is almost completely razed to the ground with god knows how many civilians dead. Is this not a war crime? If it was Hamas on the other side of the strip, it would almost certainly be roundly condemned as such.

    Having said (or, perhaps, regurgitated) all that, I hope I haven’t offended anyone too much by my depth of ignorance, and please correct me if I am dead wrong.

  5. Levi
    Sure Nixon was Nixon,

    Sure Nixon was Nixon, wartan’a;; amd he couldn’t have the devious intelligence that he had without thinkong outside of the American box.
    You are right about Mao Xedong-and Pol Pot another ally of the USA – Nixon knew they had to be engaged as opposed to isolated.
    As Churchill said Jaw Jaw is better than War War.
    You are right about Jimmy Carter, a really nice person, and there’s the rub, of American Presidents.They’re ‘nice’and ineffective presidents or they are quite nasty like Nixin but have a command of world politics.
    Plato’s point is still significant, we wont get better politics until we get better politicians.

    Small digression, since the UK is expected to be involved at the sharp end of American foreign policy. Cant we have a say in who gets the top job. If we can die for America, why cant we vote for America.

  6. Judih, it baffles my brain
    Judih, it baffles my brain and breaks my heart that so many leaders of countries, including my own, can’t settle disputes without bringing enormous harm to their citizens. May you be safe.

    I’m told that Jimmy Carter was critical of Isreal in his most recent book, which really bothered my conservative Christian friends, who believe Isreal can do no wrong, based on their frozen-in-time concept of Isreal as God’s chosen people. I don’t really know enough about it to point blame at either side, but I blame both sides and I blame world leaders in general for playing chess with human beings.

  7. On a different note, I’m
    On a different note, I’m always interested in what Richard Nash has to say about publishing. I think he is right about the need for more “artist-fan relationship forged through live events and virtual social networking… richer interaction” etc.

    May I add that another way authors and publishers can find markets for their products are to make the books themselves something special (without costing more!) such as really great artwork, fold-out designs, and so forth.

  8. USA needs to stop funding
    USA needs to stop funding Israel. There’s no reason for it, they are beyond dealing with the UN. Oh shit, so was the US, so it makes sense!

    Fuck, I am praying that we stop funding Israel.

  9. Archie, I think that presents
    Archie, I think that presents exactly half the story, and the half that it presents is correct.

    On the other side, the logic is just as compelling. Hamas absolutely, religiously, dogmatically rejects the right of Jewish people to live under a Jewish government on any land within the entire Levant. There are 14 million Jews living in Israel, who will fight to the death to continue living in Israel. As long as Hamas continues to physically attack and threaten Israel with rockets or any other weapons — even when they are small weapons — peace is not possible. Similarly, as long as Israel refuses to make the many necessary concessions towards Palestinian self-determination that they refuse to make, peace is not possible. This is closer, I think, to the complete story. It’s really very simple and transparent, once you get past each side’s propaganda and seek out a two-sided view.

    What are the only two things Israel and Hamas vehemently agree on?

    1. Don’t eat pork
    2. Don’t talk peace

  10. Would it not be possible to
    Would it not be possible to establish a UN protectorate in the Sinai; to relocate there all the Jewish settlers who are in Palestine; and all the Palestinian refugees who are in Lebanon and elsewhere; to dismantle Israel’s Berlin wall; disarm the JDF and all the other terrorists.

    Ehud Barak had peace at his fingertips – dismantle the settlements, return to the ’67 borders, grant Palestine statehood. He chose not to.

    Similarly, American politicians are scared to death of upsetting the status quo for fear of losing the Jewish vote. So…we sit back and watch the children die.

  11. I had hoped this discussion
    I had hoped this discussion was about why a guy would write a book with the sentence for 80 pages. Who buys such a thing? It’s a book only in this definition: a set of written, printed, or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.

  12. 80 pages, its a life sentence
    80 pages, its a life sentence from a three time loser. The other two were mere fifty page chunks of sentential minamalism.
    Sentences of that nature should be entitled ‘Smiles’ literature
    There’s a mile between the firsr and last letter, and they’re very similar, and a lot. of not a lot going on in between.

  13. Warren, my take on the 80
    Warren, my take on the 80 page repeating book is, it’s a novelty item that’ll be funny about as long as a humorous greeting card. Spencer’s Gifts will probably sell it alongside “cans of whoop-ass” and such gag gifts that don’t really do anything.

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