Mahmoud Darwish’s Passing

Darwish_3A year ago, the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish passed away. At the time, I wrote this obituary for and thought I would share today with PULSE readers.

It is impossible for me to express what I feel about the passing of Mahmoud Darwish. Like many Palestinians, I had grown up reading his poetry in order to express how I feel about whatever significant events happen to Palestinians. I turned to his writings to understand the periods of Palestine’s history that happened before I was born. If ever anyone in history deserved the title of a Poet Laureate, it was indeed Darwish, who spoke the mind of his people in a way I doubt anyone has ever been able to do for any other people. Today, I wake up missing my voice. The real travesty of Darwish’s death is that it revealed to me that he is no longer there to eloquently express to me how I feel about such travesties.

An often underemphasized aspect of Darwish’s life is how he truly lived every single episode of modern Palestinian history, and lived in all the significant locations and periods of Palestinian life. He was born in 1942 in Al-Birweh, Galilee, before the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine that made him a refugee in Lebanon in 1948. His father decided to return his family to Palestine in 1949, risking murder by Zionist militias that had murdered countless Palestinians who attempted to “escape home”. Somehow, Darwish succeeded in returning, and thus lived the years of his youth as a second-class Israeli citizen. He would then leave to study in the Soviet Union in the early 1970’s, joining the growing Palestinian Diaspora in Europe. His political activism lead to Israel stripping him of his second-class citizenship, and thus returned him to the ranks of Palestinian refugees and the Diaspora. He would then live in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, getting to savor the experience of the homeless Palestinians wandering across the Arab World.

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The winds of change?


Two bits of very good news emerge today.

First, following on the publication of Dennis Ross’ new book on how to use negotiations to launch a war against Iran, Haaretz is reporting that Ross is being relieved of his duties as Obama’s point man on Iran.  It is as if this current Obama administration will not offer all the support possible to warmongers to kill as much Muslims as possible!  Poor Ross must be pining for the good days of American foreign policy, where lust for war against Muslims seemed like a precondition for joining any foreign policy team.

Second, the American people, it seems, have had enough with the incestuous relationship of their government with the regime of Tel Aviv.  In a few months, the percentage of Americans who say the US should support Israel has dropped from 71% to 44%.  The Israel Project (a propaganda outfit that makes AIPAC look reasoned) conducted the poll, though it refuses to publish its results officially. Could it be the mass murder in Gaza? The apartheid in the West Bank? Or could it be the rhetoric of Bibi and his fascist buddies? Or was it, perhaps, the Israeli ministerial calls for regime change in America?

Not all is well in America’s Zionistan.  Are these two bits of news a turning point in the American-Israeli relationship? We’ll have to wait and see.

Talking to Iran will make it “easier to sell” war on Iran, says man responsible for talking to Iran

Dennis Ross

As Iranians go to the polls to repudiate (it seems) some of the most pernicious aspects of Ahmadinejad’s rule, America’s Iran point man continues to make Ahmadinejad look like a reasonable peacenik.

The newly released book by Dennis Ross, President Obama’s special adviser on Iran, reads like a how-to manual for launching a war on Iran, marketing the war successfully, and making sure the Iranians cop all the blame for it.  Ross will have none of Bush’s incompetent warmongering on flimsy pretenses of democracy and WMD’s; when Ross launches his illegal war on Iran, it will be stage-managed to within an inch of its life.

“Tougher policies – either militarily or meaningful containment – will be easier to sell internationally and domestically if we have diplomatically tried to resolve our differences with Iran in a serious and credible fashion,” writes Ross.

Note that there is no way to read this sentence but to see that the goal is to attack Iran.  America trying to diplomatically resolve its differences with Iran is not a goal in itself; it is merely a means to more easily sell war and sanctions.

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Regime change comes home to roost

Yossi Peled
Yossi Peled brings us news that Israeli minister Yossi Peled is seeking sanctions and regime change… against the USA!

Peled is calling for the Israeli government to seek to influence American elections and cutting trade ties with America.  This, let’s remember, is coming from a minister of the country that has received more aid from the US than all of Sub-Saharan Africa combined.  Israeli politicians are now so comfortable with their relationship with America they talk about America in the same way America talks about minor Latin American rogue states.

For those, like me, who are skeptical of whether the Obama Administration is going to offer any real change on US policy towards Israel, stories like this offer cause for optimism.

Team Obama may not do enough to pressure Israel, but with fundamentalist misanthropes filling every cabinet post in Israel, there is every chance that it is the Israelis who will bring about an Israeli-American split with their antagonism.

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Obama’s Beguiling Jaw-Jaw Still PR Amid War-War

We welcome Saifedean Ammous to PULSE. Saif occasionally blogs at The Saif House and is a busy scholar and keen football aficionado.

Obama and Mubarak
President Hosni Mubarak and President Barack Obama

The real problem with Obama’s speech, simply, is that everyone is talking about it.

The PR geniuses who ran the greatest presidential campaign since FDR seem to have now been handed the reins of Obama’s foreign policy. PR campaigners are an improvement over the warmongers of the Bush Administration, but that, obviously, is not saying much.

For almost a month, everyone everywhere has been talking about Obama’s speech in Cairo as if it actually matters for anything. Obama’s PR/Foreign Policy team have built it up to be such a giant spectacle that people seem to have forgotten that at the end of the day, it is nothing but a speech by a man who has given several hundred speeches over the last two years. It is a collection of sounds coming out of a man’s mouth. It matters for nothing. He said nothing new, added nothing new, and affected nothing real in any real way.

If there was anything important in this speech, he could have announced it at any point in the last few weeks of build-up and gotten it over with. But creating this giant spectacle turned this speech into a global quasi-religious interpretation-fest where everyone and their dog analyzed, with ridiculous detail, every last word Obama said, how he said it, and how he looked when he said it.

So we now know what Obama’s new foreign policy is going to be: talk, speeches, platitudes, oratory and rhetoric. The good news, as Churchill would have it, is that “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”. I’d gladly sit through 12 Obama speeches a day over one of Bush’s wars. The bad news, however, is that this jaw-jaw-fest has very sneakily turned everyone’s attention from what the US Government does, to what its talismanic leader says. There is no better recipe for stalling, doing nothing and maintaining the status quo.

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