Straight talk 2, with Shamir and others
by firstname.lastname@example.org 2009-06-15
this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-06-15.htm
The e-mails have been coming in like crazy -- I haven't even been able to sort them, let alone respond and prepare this follow-up post. But it's clear there's lots of interest. Many people who want to fix the world. And who are fed up with all the lying and coverup efforts of the Israeli and U.S. governments. Not to speak of other governments and of course of so-called 'international organizations', like the United Nations, which was set up to be dominated by the 'big powers'.
On 8 June 1967, the USS Liberty, a high tech spy ship, was attacked and almost sunk by the Israeli air force. It was during the Six-Day War that Israel planned and was executing against Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War]. Israel's pretext for war was Egyptian president Nasser's closing of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. The Liberty was monitoring the conflict. If not for 23-year old crewman Terry Halbardier, who in an act of true heroism managed to get a makeshift radio antenna functioning and to send out an international SOS (all the regular communications had been jammed by those oh-so-clever scheming Israelis), the already torpedoed ship, still under savage attack, would have gone to the bottom with almost 300 Americans, as Democrat president Johnson essentially ordered. The photo shows Terry Halbardier almost 42 years later being awarded a Silver Star for gallantry by California Republican congressman Devin Nunes on 27 May 2009. See Ray McGovern's account at http://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2009/06/01/navy-vet-who-foiled-israeli-attack-honored/. See James Ennes' account at http://wrmea.com/archives/May-June_2007/0705026.html and the USS Liberty website at http://www.ussliberty.org/index2.html.
Yes, I'm outraged, but it's not patriotic outrage.
Thanks to the internet, which is running circles around the largely Jewish-influenced corporate print media, the truth about the suffering long inflicted on the surviving crew members of the US spy ship Liberty by the US and Israeli governments is being widely exposed to Americans. Finally the truth about Lyndon Johnson's treasonous effort to place responsibility on Egypt for the attack is becoming widely known. I'm outraged because ordinary human beings, in this case Americans, have been - and still are - being fucked over by what's supposed to be 'their own government'. All the patriotic hoopla about these brave, noble American sailors is the usual garbage promoted by the ruling interests. They were just ordinary guys who were in the navy, doing what they were ordered to do. Like the German crews on U-boats, the Nazi submarine fleet that raised hell with Allied shipping in World War II. Ordinary guys -- not heroes or cowards, not devils or angels, not crazed murderers or eager saviors.
One of the beliefs Israel Shamir and I most likely share is that patriotism, by which I mean uncritical ra! ra! enthusiasm for a particular nation, is not good. He is critical of nationalism, which is of course the basis for patriotism. He says, "Nationalism is not a wonderful thing, in my book, for perfect man with his roots in his native place and in his native culture has no need for nationalism. Nationalism comes as a sign of deficit - deficit of roots, culture, faith. However, we live in the world of deficit: due to industrialisation and modernity since the railways were built more and more people are born and bred with lack of roots. That is why they take nationalism as a city child takes vitamins instead of sun and fruits. It is a defence . . ." [in his note of 30 May 2009 to me]
Yes, there are good Jews, I've been assured.
In several recent e-mails good, compassionate, thoughtful non-Jewish friends went to special lengths to remind me that indeed, there are many fine people who are Jewish. I realize that my postings have been openly venomous towards those Jewish people who adhere to the program of the Zionist Nazi state, and that if one reads carelessly and misses my qualifications it's possible to mistakenly think I am anti-Semitic. My friends of course know me better than to think that. Here are some of the messages affirming that there are good Jews. I'll continue numbering, starting with 9 (since the first 8 were in Straight talk with Israel Shamir, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-06-05.htm
). But I will give up trying to keep them chronologically arranged, as I did with the first 8.
Note numbered 9, from Manuel Garcia, Jr in California
Subject: Re: Gaza
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2008 21:50:20 -0800
. . . I really feel for you, being a Jew and feeling the anguish of seeing SOME of your fellow Jews acting out the maddest of madness, the same disease Hitler and too many others in the past have had. My old fluid mechanics professor, Ira Cohen (Univ. of Penna) died a year ago (cancer), and I learned of it in June; I cried for eight hours. He set me on my professional course. Years ago, my mechanics professor, Jacob Abel, died (cancer), and I've missed him since; he set me on a course that led to a successful college education, and a good build-up of skills to qualify for good graduate schools (Princeton). Today, my piano teacher is a Russian Jewess, and my wife's voice teacher is an American Jewess, and my old college room mate is a Long Island Jewish lad, and I've been surrounded by, and immersed in Jewish culture all my life. I have learned too many wonderful ideas and compassionate attitudes from Jews known and Jews read, that it is impossible for me to wish ill to Jews. Granted, I've met some real Jewish schmucks, but then I met schmucks of equal disagreeableness of every ethnic and religious description. There is no limit to the variety of asshole. It took me a while to begin noticing Palestine, because I didn't pay too much attention to "criticism" of Jews. But, reality is reality, and as I gained facts and applied all those wonderful principles I'd learned about, AND was politically educated by such admirable teachers like Chomsky (who is obviously not a "self-hating" Jew) it became clear to me that there are Jews and there are ZIONISTS, and it is these latter that are a pox on humanity. I feel for you, carrying an unpopular message to many self-satisfied Western Jews, and suffering their angry denials. You have a big heart, a real mensch.
[Manuel was answering my note from earlier that day, namely]
Dec 31, 2008, at 7:01 PM, George Salzman wrote:
Pienso que no es vale la pene escribiendo a los cretinos incorregibles. Como he escribí, "If ever there were actions calculated to generate massive generalized (i.e. unfocussed indiscriminate) anti-semitism, the grinding, deliberate destruction of the indigenous Palestinian society by the Jewish state of Israel must surely stand in first place. . . the dominant Israeli Jews and all their supporters, particularly among the English-speaking Jews of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are even more despicable than were the German supporters of the Nazi Judeocide. We Jews know very well what the Israeli government is doing. We are far better informed than many Germans were during the Hitler regime. The internet has largely opened up and supported a flood of honest, non-corporate, non-government news sources. Moreover, Germans who criticized and/or more actively opposed the Nazi extermination of Jews and other untermenschen (subhumans) placed their own lives at risk. We English-speaking Jews in the half-dozen countries mentioned can voice our criticisms of Israeli policies at no risk to our lives . . ."
El cobarde en Vancouver tiene miedo de revelar su nombre. ¿Por qué? Falta un entedimiento de su apoyo al antisemitismo global.
Note numbered 10a, from Gordon Arnaut in Ontario, Canada
Date: Mon, 4 May 2009 19:41:44 -0700 (PDT)
. . . We live in a society that is steeped in racism. There is a HELL of a lot of racism and anti-semitism among the WASP proletariat especially. It has not gone away and is not going anywhere. The capitalist and colinialist West is an ideological framework that rests on a foundation of racism. All those centuries of conquest and exploitation have been driven by a supremacist chauvinism -- they have a god-given right to take whatever belongs to the untermenschen of the world, and to exterminate them while they are at it.
. . . I have heard my next-door neighbor, a typical hillbilly septugenarian fulminate against the Indians, who have basically been exterminated in their own land, and still they are to blame . . .
. . . I frankly think it is disgusting that our good fight against colonialism and capitalism should attract . . . anti-semites. That is the danger by focusing exclusively on the Palestine issue. We are doing as much harm as good by feeding into the prejudices of a the WASP "silent majority."
George, I know I am not going to dissuade you, but I think we should be focusing more on the fight against capitalism and Western imperialism than this one instance, which is Israeli colonialism.
We are simply stoking the fires of anti-semitism. What we need to do is to take down capitalism and imperialism. It is the only way to stop the colonialism in Palestine anyway. You will not stop what is going on there by focusing only on that situation, any more than you will save a man whose cancer has spread to his bones by amputating his pinky. . . .
[I responded to Gordon's 10a]
I certainly don't shrug off your concern Gordon. Obviously at a deep level there's no question in my mind that you are correct in seeing the entire structure of capitalist (and with it colonialist) culture needing to be attacked head on and done away with. But how to do this is the problem. To many folks I'm concerned that it may seem too abstract, whereas the horror that Israel and the US are actively perpetrting is a real, immediate issue. When I've tried talking even to people who think of themselves as radicals (and in many ways are) my experience has been that if I mention doing away with money, measured exchange, banks, centralized governments, their eyes just glaze over as though I'm a well-meaning, friendly old guy who's gone off the deep end. Usually they're quietly polite, I suppose in deference to my age. But we need traction to get folks to rethink the fundamentals. So I'm not sure how best to proceed. Unfortunately, privileged people, to which group most of the Jewish people I know belong, do think of themselves as somewhat elite . . . you are right in saying that by focussing on the Israel-Palestinian conflict we might be stirring anti-Semitism. I've tried to be very expicit in what I've written that my criticisms are not focussed on Jews as Jews
, but still I get labelled sometimes with that absurd tag, a self-hating Jew. Many people are not in the habit of reading very carefully.
Note numbered 10b, from Gordon Arnaut in Ontario, Canada
Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 05:06:27 -0700 (PDT)
. . . In 1986 I traveled to Yugoslavia . . . I was in my 20's and Yugoslavia was an intact, multicultural, socialist country where even the Roma people [in the U.S. they are often called Gypsies.] had full rights to their language and culture as full citizens -- probably one of the only countries in Europe where this was actual fact and not just on paper . . . One of the most significant stops was at Jasenovac, site of a WW2 extermination camp run by the Nazi puppet state of Croatia.
There was a "holocaust" museum on this site, which no longer stands. It was taken down in the early 1990s as soon as the new state of Croatia gained its independence with US and European sponsorship. Notice I use the lower-case "h" above to distinguish it from the Jewish Holocaust, because the majority of the 600,000 or more souls who were slaughtered there -- according to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust -- were not Jews, but Serbs, Roma, communists, homosexuals, etc. About 30,000 Jews were murdered there, no small number to be sure.
I also traveled to a small town in Bosnia where . . . [e]ntire families, father, wife and children . . . were simply exterminated in a single night in a pogrom that extended throughout Bosnia and the Serb enclaves of Croatia and claimed one million lives . . . The lady who showed this to me . . . told me in detail the story of how she survived this pogrom at age seven . . . The Holocaust must never be forgotten . . . even though the imperialist West has done everything possible to expunge the holocaust (lower-case) from the historical record.
It is particularly sad for Serbs and other victims of the Nazi holocaust that some Jews have turned their backs on their brothers in arms. I was raised protestant, although I have long since become atheist . . . sometimes . . . I hear some of the older folks especially talk about seeing with their own eyes how Serbs and Jews died arm in arm, when the Hungarians or Croats would carry out their village pogroms. Every ordinary Jew I know is sick about this, but the Jewish "leadership" are not really Jews. They are apparatchiks in the imperial project now. The Jewish ethos does not exist for them.
. . . in the mid-1980s I never would have believed what the forces of imperialism had in store for that tortured country. Reviving the Nazi project and allying with the same people against whom WW2 was fought, the West has succeeded where Hitler failed -- to carve fascist mini-states out of a socialist Yugoslavia, all the while blaming the victims and creating a falsified historical record that turns the truth on its head.
More than 1 million Serbs have been driven out of Croatia and Bosnia since the 1990s, thanks to the "democratic" West which armed, equipped and led them into battle. They were ethnically cleansed from their farms, homes and hearths just the same as the Palestinians.
And what about the Indians of Latin America? In Mexico, Columbia and elsewhere they continue to be driven off their lands, so white robber barons can continue to amass the biggest private landholdings in history.
What about the human tragedy in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will that bleeding end even if pressure from Jewish intellectuals somehow succeeds in stopping the colonial expansion in Palestine?
When I see people like yourself, Joel Kovel, Prof. Finkelstein, Robinson, Judith Weisman and many others, it is both very heartening and sad in a way. I understand what these brave souls are trying to do, they are taking up the fight for principles in their own little corner of the world, academia. And this is important -- crucial.
At the same time it is very sad to know that these efforts will only be seized on by various kinds of racists who are just waiting for an opportunity to hurl rocks at Jews and other "subhumans."
I know only one thing. The cancer of capitalism must be stopped because it continues to mutate and become ever more ugly. It is draining mankind of what little is left of its humanity.
Note numbered 10c, an added note from Gordon Arnaut in Ontario, Canada
Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 07:26:59 -0700 (PDT)
Do you know Robert Jensen? He is a prof of journalism at U of Texas. http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html. He is doing tremendous work attacking imperialism head-on. I am considering writing to him about the Circles of Trust project to see if he has any thoughts and would perhaps like to sign on. I think he has stayed quiet on the Palestine question -- but very loud, and effective, against imperialism and racism. This brief article . . . is worth the five minutes it will take to read.
Beyond grief and rage: Palestine and the politics of resistance
by Robert Jensen
Austin American-Statesman online, January 15, 2009 [http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/01/16/0116jensen_edit.html]. Also posted on Counterpunch, January 12, 2009 [http://www.counterpunch.org/jensen01132009.html], and distributed as a ZNet Commentary [http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3741].
[A version of this essay was delivered to the "Day of Action for Gaza" gathering in Austin, TX, on January 10, 2009.]
We need to analyze and strategize about political realities, but let's begin with an emotional reality: For the past few weeks the scenes from Gaza have been driving many of us mad.
For all the horrors in the world, there has been something especially brutal and barbaric about Israel's use of fighter jets and other sophisticated weapons to pound this small strip of land, to target the 1.5 million people crowded there, to destroy a society. Out of that grief flows rage, not just at the sadistic Israeli violence but also at the "we must stand with Israel" declarations coming from Republican and Democratic politicians alike.
The grief is achingly real, and the rage is morally justified. But it's also true that for anyone who is aware of the suffering of this world, such emotions are part of daily life. To know -- to make the choice to know -- about the extent of injustice and the depth of misery all over the planet is to accept that we will wake every morning to that grief and rage.
Our task today is to think about how to channel the power of those emotions into effective political action. That is no small task after so many years of struggle and so many failures to change our government's policies.
Let's start by remembering the other places where that suffering has been so intense: Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America, southern Africa, southeast Asia. I mention those places in particular because much of the suffering there has been a result, directly or indirectly, of U.S. economic, military, and foreign policy. Those are some of the places that have borne the brunt of the U.S. empire's violence since the end of World War II. As a U.S. citizen, those are the places to which I have the clearest moral connection; those of us who claim the United States as home must come to terms with that suffering.
"The West" has been involved in empire-building for 500 years, and for the past 60 years the United States has led that imperial project. It is a project soaked in blood. One of the great apologists for the empire, the late political scientist Samuel Huntington, was at least honest in acknowledging that: "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do."
Our first task is to refuse to forget, which means recognizing that, in the context of U.S. policy, there is nothing special about Palestine. It is one place where the West and its surrogates have used organized violence to achieve political and economic aims. U.S. support for Israel's occupation of Palestine has to be seen as part of that imperial project; those of us in the United States who want to defend Palestine have to resist the U.S. empire.
Too often activists in the United States have ignored this. For example, the group "If Americans Knew" has done fine work to distribute information about the occupation, but consider this sentence from its mission statement: "It is our belief that when Americans know the facts on a subject, they will, in the final analysis, act in accordance with morality, justice, and the best interests of their nation, and of the world."
If only that were true. In fact, many Americans routinely endorse actions in support of the U.S. empire that are immoral and unjust but which they believe are in their best interests, the world be damned. Many others work hard not to know -- a willed ignorance -- in order to avoid having to face difficult issues. To trust in the moral sensibilities of the U.S. public is to ignore history; in the realm of moral vision, Americans are not special.
Let's recognize that resisting the U.S. empire puts us in conflict not only with the politicians from the major political parties but also with the majority of U.S. citizens. The problem is not simply that many Americans do not know the real history of the Israel/Palestine conflict (though it's true that they don't) or that the U.S. corporate news media outlets present a consistently distorted view of the conflict (though it's true that they do). The problem goes deeper, to the core of this country and to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves.
So, to work for justice for Palestine is to work against the U.S. empire. And to work against the U.S. empire is to dig in for the long haul. Our task is not to play to Americans' sense of being special, but to help this country come to realize that if there is to be a decent future for anyone -- indeed, if there is to be a future at all -- the United States has to step back from its position of arrogance and affluence. We must imagine what it would be like to live as one nation in the world, not as an arrogant nation that attempts to dominate the world. We must imagine what a good life would look like if we were to give up our commitment to affluence and work toward a just and sustainable world at the end of the high-energy/high-technology era.
All of that is hard to focus on when Israeli bombs are dropping on Gaza, as the U.S. government continues to provide military, diplomatic, and economic support to Israel. It is difficult to take the long view as the grief of the people of Gaza intensifies by the moment.
But I believe that authentic hope lies in seeing one movement with many fronts. The goals must be justice and sustainability, which are inseparably linked. The struggle goes on in Palestine and Iraq, in Venezuela and Bolivia, in Oakland and Austin. The targets are the empire and economic interests it serves. We have to continue to struggle against the corrosive effects of arrogance and affluence, in others and in ourselves.
We all have limited time and energy for political work, and we direct that energy toward activities that are meaningful to us. One person cannot do everything, but each one of us can work within our political groups and communities to develop the analysis needed to integrate these many campaigns for justice and sustainability, linking our efforts with others'.
With that analysis, there is the possibility of authentic solidarity. And that solidarity is our only way to tame the rage, our only way to live with the grief.
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book, All My Bones Shake, will be published in 2009 by Soft Skull Press. He also is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005); Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (City Lights, 2004); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang, 2002).
Jensen can be reached at email@example.com and his articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), p. 51.
[I responded to Gordon's 10b and 10c notes that day]
Date: Tue, 05 May 2009 12:23:19 -0500
The easy part is to acknowledge how truly excellent is Robert Jensen's article, which I had not previously seen. Thank you for sending it. The Austin American-Statesman link says it's not available (fyi).
Now, backing up to your second note this morning, by all means you should not feel constrained because of me about contacting Jensen or anyone else you think might be appropriate regarding the Circles of Trust. I honestly do not feel at all possessive and don't think of it as 'my' project.
As to what you see as my too narrow focus on the Israel-Palestine conflict, I would be in agreement if not for the fact that this particular horror (and the closely related horrors in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) are very much in the consciousness of many millions of the world's people, thanks to the internet's instant graphic global dissemination. I'm sure you're correct in seeing that the revulsion ordinary people feel in witnessing (almost live) the destruction of other ordinary people by the Israeli military can be used as a Trojan Horse to stimulate largely unjustified anti-Semitism and not only largely justified anti-Zionism. But that's not enough of a reason for me to avoid my criticism of Israel. The larger truth -- that this is but one example of the horrible consequences of the capitalist system of values that largely dominates the globe -- does not in my opinion justify ignoring the smaller truth -- that the nation-state of Israel is one of those horrible consequences. In a recent note (I don't recall to whom) I was explicit that the Jewish Israelis and the Palestinians are, globally considered, numerically insignificant, and that as Arundhati Roy pointed out, 50 million or so poor people [in India] were driven from their homes by the flooding of the Narmada Valley by a string of huge dams intended to generate hydro-electricity (and profit for giant American engineering construction firms), part of the global neo-liberalization process.
Always it's rich against poor. I will need to reread your first letter today and think about it before I can begin to react intelligently. So, for the moment that's it.
11 Note numbered 11, from Miguel Martinez in Florence, Italy
Subject: Israel Shamir
Date: Sun, 07 Jun 2009 20:17:03 +0200
I read your fascinating exchange with Israel Shamir on the net. I'd like to talk with you about the topic and my experience and feelings . . . I see you lived in Rome, like I did, I now live in Florence. And I am Mexican, while I see you have to do with Oaxaca, where the wonderful woman who took care of me as a child came from.
[I responded to Miguel the same day]
Date: Sun, 07 Jun 2009 14:45:04 -0500
I'm somewhat swamped with e-mails, but will be interested to hear about your experiences. If we do correspond, I would want to be able to use the content, but [could] remove . . . information that identifies you personally. I have done this before, as [for example] at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/s/2008-12-29.htm. . . [F]ire away. Ah! Firenze.
[Miguel then wrote]
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 2009 09:49:52 +0200
Just a few general reflections . . .
1) Shamir opened up worlds for me. Most people are interested, in one way or another, in his reflections on Judaism, Palestine, etc.; but for me, it was a wider kind of opening.
2) Unlike most people "in the opposition" to the way things are going, Shamir is quite aware we are coming into a totally new kind of world, and anybody who stays stuck to old categories and classifications is doomed to live like a vampire haunting his own tomb.
3) He has an uncanny skill at turning poison into antidote: he goes into a Communist/Christian/Muslim/Kabalist/ecologist/whatever "mood", and turns the best of each into something new and useful for resisting in the new world. Every time, he speaks to the kind of people who really exist, who are not classic intellectuals, working on their inner mechanisms and getting them to stop fighting each other over dead causes.
4) If one understands this about Shamir, all the polemics about him seem silly. People keep trying to fit him into some comfortable category that already exists, and he just won't fit. Who cares whether, in one of his "moods" he said something excessive here or there? There are a lot of single examples he makes I don't agree with, a lot of individual positions he takes which over-simplify things, and I'm sure he often contradicts himself; but I think all of this is irrelevant to his immense mind-opening capacity.
That's all, basically. . .
[I wrote back to Miguel]
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 2009 11:03:09 -0500
You've put it so succinctly. I'm not caught up by his logical prowess, but by his spirit. He's not, as I'm often correctly labelled, a linear thinker . . .
And yes, there are 'bad'people of all 'ethnicities'.
In using the term 'bad' I have in mind a particular group of people whose behavior is destructive of the social fabric. Specifically, since a healthy society is impossible without a climate of mutual trust, I mean here by the term 'bad people' simply those who act to destroy that trust. Most such people, I want to emphasize, are not at all monsters, and in all respects quite normal, decent folks. But destroying trust always involves lying, and most of us do it. Of course no one lies without a reason. In an earlier essay, Mutual Aid and Mutual Trust, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Grass/Infra/Infra-5.htm
, I explored this a bit, as follows:
WHY DO PEOPLE LIE?
You've probably heard it said, about someone who apparently lies effortlessly, that so-and-so is a "born liar", as though it was a particular genetic attribute rather than something that had to be learned. Of course that's not so. No one is born a liar. Clearly, from the very beginning of its life an infant is embarked on a miraculous search for understanding -- everything -- a search to comprehend the world of which it rapidly gains consciousness. Long before it can verbalize, long before it can decipher the sounds of speech, it discovers, much to the pleasure of adults, that it can smile and that its smile invariably elicits smiles in return, and human warmth. And it learns to cry. You have only to watch a small baby held by a parent or other familiar person if its eyes suddenly discover you in its field of view. With its eyes rivetted upon you, the intense, unabashed scrutiny to which you are subjected is one of total curiosity, a focused effort to understand you. The child tries to fit you into its perception of the universe. Clearly, at this stage, a small child is nothing if not totally open, totally honest.
At a later stage of childhood, each of us learned that people say things that are untrue, and we learned that we could sometimes benefit, for example by avoiding punishment, if we denied the truth. THE MOTIVATION TO LIE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, TO GAIN SOME PERCEIVED BENEFIT. The immediate consequence of a particular lie may be entirely insignificant, or it may be disastrous. But the pervasiveness and universality of lying has the cumulative effect of making everyone, when no longer very young, distrustful. That is a catastrophic circumstance of our lives. That is why it will be so difficult to build mutual trust within our global grassroots infrastructure. We need to recognize how enormous the task is, and also how vital it is that we succeed if we are ever to build the kind of social order we want.
We ought, I think, to distinguish between people who are simply 'bad' and people who have become truly evil. But this is trodding on very dangerous, slippery ground. Labelling people 'devils', beings beyond salvation, is a practice with a long bloody historical record. Probably in fact no one is irretrivably evil. I remember thinking that an appropriate 'punishment' for Augusto Pinochet, who was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of Chileans, would have been to compel him to listen to and converse with the surviving relatives of the victims of his terrible regime, for a good number of hours daily -- to answer, so to speak -- for his crimes. This would have been a prolonged 'real confessional' to people without any status in the Catholic hierarchy.
In my book I would judge as evil those individuals who knowingly and deliberately act, by willfully committing or causing to be committed, acts of torture, murder, kidnapping, etc. against other humans in order to gain personal advantages, whether of money, status, control, privilege, etc. Rather than try to formulate a precise definition, it's simpler to give some examples of people I consider 'evil'. In no particular order, Augusto Pinochet, John Foster Dulles, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Allen Dulles, George Herbert Walker Bush, George Walker Bush Jr., George Soros, Henry Kissinger, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, and on and on with the big capitalists -- Rockefellers, Fords, etc., the Zionist Nazis governing Israel, and, sad to say, the big black con-man with the charming gift of intelligence at the service of the American Empire, Barack Hussein Obama. Right across the board, they come in all 'ethnicities'. Each of the people just listed is without any reasonable doubt guilty of the greatest single crime against humanity -- holding a position of power as a major perpetrator of global capitalism.
One more name comes to mind, George F. Kennen, who in 1948, during the Truman administration famously penned an honest, abhorrent, U.S. policy statement when he was Director of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department. The conclusion of this call for U.S. greed unlimited reads: "We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction . . . We should cease to talk about such vague and [--for the Far East--] unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."
For more info, go to http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-08-17.htm. The U.S., regardless of the party 'in power', has relentlessly pursued precisely this policy.
Carlos Slim, who once took offense at being incorrectly listed (probaby by Forbes) as less wealthy than Bill Gates, if I remember correctly, probably prefers not to think of himself as a powerful violator of human rights. But, here's a picture of one of his workers.
“Detención” de Jorge Salinas Cardón por la Policía Federal
Preventiva, Atenco, 4 de mayo, 2006.
Jorge Salinas es luchador sindical del Colectivo de Telefonistas Zapatistas. Se opone control charril que Hernández Juárez ejerce sobre el Sindicato de Telefonistas de la República Mexicana; y al saqueo a la nación ejercida por el dueño de TELMEX y de Grupo Carso, Carlos Slim, el hombre más rico del mundo.
“Arrest” of Jorge Salinas Cardón by the Federal
Preventive Police in Atenco, 4 May 2006.
Jorge Salinas is a union militant of the Zapatista Collective of telephone workers. They oppose the crude control that Hernández Juárez exercizes over the Telephone Workers Union of the Mexican Republic, and the theft from the nation effected by the owner of TELMEX and the Carso Group, Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world.
To see the e-mail I got with the above picture and caption, and some additional information, go to http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-10-02.htm and scroll down a bit.
12 Item numbered 12, my 'Randolph S. Selig of New York City' file
[This file was initiated by an e-mail that was forwarded to me, to which I responded as follows:]
Subject: Straight talk, an open letter about Randolph Steven Selig
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 15:29:12 -0500
From: George Salzman firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Randolph S. Selig Esq. email@example.com
Cc: Michael Santomauro firstname.lastname@example.org, Israel Shamir email@example.com>, John Spritzler firstname.lastname@example.org, Fredrick Toben email@example.com, Norman G. Finkelstein firstname.lastname@example.org, Mohammed Omer email@example.com, Mohammed Omer firstname.lastname@example.org, Gordon Arnaut email@example.com, Kenneth Ring firstname.lastname@example.org, Mazin Qumsiyeh email@example.com, Khalid Amayreh firstname.lastname@example.org
Oaxaca, Mexico, Monday 15 June 2009
Regarding Mr. Selig,
After my posting of 5 June 2009 titled "Straight talk with Israel Shamir", at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-06-05.htm came to Mr. Selig's attention, he forwarded it on 6 June to Reporter Notebook email@example.com, a site edited by Michael Santomauro, with his gratuitous misinformation, namely
There is no "George Salzman" listed in UMass-Boston's faculty and staff directory.
But then, the name "Israel Shamir" is itself fictitious.
Don't you feel foolish, taken in, suckered?
Mr. Santomauro forwarded these falsehoods to me on 7 June and I wrote Selig the same day, asserting that his communication was clearly both stupid and false. He wrote back that same day. Here are the two exchanged notes between Selig and me.
Subject: Re: Fwd: Straight talk with Israel Shamir
Date: Sun, 07 Jun 2009 03:56:21 -0500
To: Randolph Selig firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: Michael Santomauro email@example.com, Israel Shamir firstname.lastname@example.org, John Spritzler email@example.com, Fredrick Toben firstname.lastname@example.org
Oaxaca, Mexico, Sunday 7 June 2009
Dear Randolph Selig,
Before you rush around crowing about your brilliant investigative abilities to Michael Santomauro and whoever else gets the mail at Reporter Notebook, you should, regarding your statement of my non-existence on the UMass-Boston faculty, take a look at the bottom of the page with URL: http://www.physics.umb.edu/faculty.htm, where you will find
Faculty - Retired John Shane, Associate Professor, 617-287-6050, S-3-105, John.Shane at umb dot edu
George Salzman, Professor Emeritus, 617-287-6050, S-3-105, George.Salzman at umb dot edu
Your communication, highlighted in color below [it's above here], is clearly both stupid and false. The internet is a great place for propagating lies, not as good as the so-called mainstream media but still very good.
There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that you have bought into nonsense with your assertion that Shamir is fictitious. Another self-anointed smart-ass New York Jew. Why are you so ready to lie? Would you do anything to prevent criticism of the Zionist project, no matter how much you have to debase yourself? For your information, I'm a real flesh and blood 83-year old WWII U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran. I grew up, first in Queens County, NYC, at 2220 Lincoln Place; the Marguerite Arms apartment building; and 82 Empire Boulevard, all three in Far Rockaway, and then, when the Great Depression forced us to move, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn at 68 St. Pauls Place. My Army Serial Number is 42070654. Imagine that, I come from the same area that that fucking Jewish lawyer Alan Dershowitz does, so eager to destroy Norman G. Finkelstein for telling the truth. The social conditioning of lawyers is disgraceful -- dedicating oneself to winning an argument, the truth be damned. So, tell me who you are, if you've got the balls.
Sincerely angry that you doubt my authenticity, obviously without having bothered to read anything that I've written over the years, much of it posted on my website. So, what kind of shyster lawyer are you?
[I included, just after the above, the rest of the Forwarded message from Mr Santomauro.]
Subject: Re: Fwd: Straight talk with Israel Shamir
Date: Sun, 7 Jun 2009 13:12:56 -0400
From: Randolph Selig email@example.com
Smartass or no, better a real Jew than a fake one. I am a resident of Queens County, a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and a former prosecutor. That is all the information I find it appropriate to share.
Every bit of biographical information given by this "Israel Shamir", beginning with his name, is a fiction. NONE of it can be trusted. This person or group of people has certainly used the internet to spread lies.
I on the other hand pointed out that there is no "George Salzman" on the current faculty at UMass-Boston, and that is true. O, pardon me for not searching through every department until the name "George Salzman" turned up!
Norman Finkelstein has written a valuable exposé on the Holocaust racket--a slim volume which I bought for $.99 and sent on to some relatives who were being conned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. However, Marxist Finkelstein's views on the subject of Israel are distorted by disappointment at Israel's failure to become a Communist country.
His obsessive view of Israel as a mere tool of American imperialism forms a bizarre mirror-image to the accusation that it is Israel that tells the United States what to do--a charge so often repeated by the Holocaust deniers and other assorted racists and reactionaries.
On that subject, were you in the ETO during World War II? Did you go overseas at all? Do you agree that the Holocaust is just a construct of the Jewish Lobby? Or perhaps you feel, as so many admirers of "Israel Shamir" do, that the United States was wrong to enter World War II on the side of the Allies.
Whatever you're smoking down there in Oaxaca, I'd like a ton of it!
Randolph Selig's response is what one expects from a dishonest aggressive lawyer. The first question one would want to have answered is: Why did Selig 'alert' Michael Santomauro firstname.lastname@example.org about my posting on Israel Shamir, and send false, unsubstantiated information? What was his motivation? It's noteworthy that on this key question Selig is silent. Nevertheless, I think it's possible to dope it out with a little background information. Most evident is his desire to discredit Israel Shamir. Shamir has been one of the most forceful, effective voices coming from the 'Jewish Camp' - although he has renounced his Jewish ethnicity - speaking for a single state in which Palestinians will have absolutely equal status as Jews enjoy. That of course is anathema to the Israeli Zionists and their foreign supporters, principally in the English-speaking Jewish American, Canadian, British, South African, Australian and New Zealand populations.
A second significant background fact is that Michel Santomauro is the Editorial Director of Theses and Dissertations Press (TADP). This group is energetically represented as engaged in promoting Holocaust Denial, although TADP represents itself as a scholarly effort. Santomauro writes in his 7 June 2009 e-mail, "Founded in 2000 the publishing company TADP is at the center of a worldwide network of scholars and activists who are working -- often at great personal sacrifice -- to separate historical fact from propaganda fiction. The founder of TADP is Germar Rudolf. Who is currently serving prison time for his published works and will be released on July 4, 2009. He will no longer be associated with Holocaust studies upon his release.
"As the new director of TADP.org, I wish to express my outrage that the Holocaust, unlike any other historical event, is not subject to critical examination. Furthermore I deplore the fact that many so-called democratic states have laws that criminalize an examination and understanding of the Holocaust. It is my position that the veracity of Holocaust assertions should be determined in the marketplace of scholarly discourse and not in our legislatures bodies and courthouses."
I believe it likely that Selig, eager to discredit Israel Shamir and, to a lesser extent me, sent his misinformation to Santomauro in the hope that because of Shamir's and my open and extremely critical views of the actions of the Zionist Nazis against the Palestinians, the TADP would perhaps disseminate our criticisms along with its own literature and thereby lead uncritical Israel-firsters to dismiss us, along with TADP, as belonging to the Holocaust Denier madhouse. If this was not Selig's motivation, it is up to him to give a convincing explanation. I doubt there is one. Probably he is simply unscrupulous and, like that disgusting lawyer Roy Cohn (Jewish) and his equally disguting boss senator Joseph McCarthy (Catholic), deserves to have his shit-flinging ignored just as Welch, the Army's chief legal counsel in the dramatic 1954 Army-McCarthy Senate hearings cut off McCarthy with his famous angry query, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
In his 7 June note, Selig states, "Every bit of biographical information given by this "Israel Shamir", beginning with his name, is a fiction. NONE of it can be trusted", but he offers not a scintilla of evidence to substantiate this damning accusation. Though he has now given up his suggestion that I might be fictional, even in his clumsy backhanded admission he tries to put himself in a better light by boasting, untruthfully, "I on the other hand pointed out that there is no "George Salzman" on the current faculty at UMass-Boston, and that is true." In fact, his initial statement was "There is no "George Salzman" listed in UMass-Boston's faculty and staff directory", a statement that is untrue. By slipping in the adjective 'current' he tries to fuzz up the record by altering his original untrue statement into one that he thought he could pass off as truthful. On this attempted sleight of hand Selig gets a grade of F, not only because it was dishonest to slip in the adjective 'current' but also because in fact an emeritus professor is a faculty member, which is why I am listed on the page titled
in the category Faculty - Retired. Unlike Israel Shamir, who's totally open and honest, Randolph Steven Selig is just another slippery lawyer, like McCarthy's Roy Cohn.
Selig, an authentic schlemiel, in an apparent effort to divert me from the lack of substance thus far in his response, plays the chameleon with a few words of praise for one of my heroes, saying "Norman Finkelstein has written a valuable exposé on the Holocaust racket", and refers to "some relatives who were being conned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center". So much confetti to suggest that maybe, after all, Selig is politically OK by my lights. But he then jumps into the Joseph McCarthy-Roy Cohn anti-Communist boat with his assertion, "However, Marxist Finkelstein's views on the subject of Israel are distorted by disappointment at Israel's failure to become a Communist country.
"His obsessive view of Israel as a mere tool of American imperialism forms a bizarre mirror-image to the accusation that it is Israel that tells the United States what to do--a charge so often repeated by the Holocaust deniers and other assorted racists and reactionaries." Oh, is he critical of 'racists and reactionaries'? But not of the State of Israel? I think his knowledge of Norman Finkelstein's comprehension of the the world too uninformed for him to judge Finkelstein to be an obsessed Marxist with a distorted view of Israel. In brief, Selig's ignorance is matched only by his smug arrogance, a man modelled after the infamous junior senator from Wisconsin. But one who hasn't managed to make a splash in the world.
And finally, as the clever prosectuing attorney he would like to think he once was, in a complete non-sequitur, he launches a series of leading questions, pretending that they flow naturally from his comments on Finkelstein, writing, "On that subject, were you in the ETO [European Theatre of Operations] during World War II? Did you go overseas at all? Do you agree that the Holocaust is just a construct of the Jewish Lobby? Or perhaps you feel, as so many admirers of "Israel Shamir" do, that the United States was wrong to enter World War II on the side of the Allies." Selig provides evidence that, as my friend Manuel Garcia Jr. affirmed from his experience, assholes come with all ethnicities. Mr. Selig is part of the Jewish contribution to this category. If he is really interested in knowing the answers to his questions, he can find them on my website, which consists of two parts:
Website I of an anarchist physicist (en español) at
Website II of an anarchist physicist at
Unlike the secretive Mr. Selig, about whom I have limited information, my site, like that of Israel Shamir, is wide open with facts about my life. Selig's cryptic first paragraph in his note to me is pathetically guarded: "Smartass or no, better a real Jew than a fake one. I am a resident of Queens County, a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and a former prosecutor. That is all the information I find it appropriate to share." This is a man who is afraid of the daylight. Why does he feel the need to hide? Aside from these scraps of information the website
adds a bit:
Randolph Steven Selig
Address registered with New York State bar
8510 120th St
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Street map of area at:
Licenses: 31 years since Randolph Steven Selig was first licensed to practice law in NY.
License status - Currently registered
Year acquired - 1978
Last updated by Avvo - 09/19/2008
We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
I have no reason to question any of this, including the final sentence. Lying is of course not considered professional misconduct by lawyers, but standard practice, an integral part of their indoctrination in the profession.
So there we have it. Selig doesn't contest my categorizing him 'a smartass'. He thinks he's 'a real Jew', and by inference that Shamir and I are fakes, which to him means that he's 'better', more authentic. He lives in Queens County (one of the five boroughs that make up New York City), graduated from that highly regarded public NYC high school in the Bronx (another borough of NYC), and was once a prosecutor. More than that he's not prepared to divulge.
In my view, Selig ought to consider being proud of his status as a human being, a fact of paramount importance, rather than seeking self-respect in being what he calls 'a real Jew'. I know it's presumptuous to 'judge' Selig, knowing but little about him, but from what I've gleaned I am inclined to think he is what I call a 'bad' person, but not an 'evil' person. Bad because his lying serves to destroy the mutual trust necessary for a healthy society. But not evil because he is not doing it deliberately to hurt other people for his own private gain.
A few final remarks. If you haven't read Israel Shamir's essay, Carter and the Swarm, treat yourself to an insightful examination of the mode of attack against any significant critic of the Zionist State. He writes,
After Carter spoke, he was immediately counter-attacked by organised Jewry -- you couldn't miss it! In my native Siberia, in its short and furious summer, you can watch a swarm of gnats attack a horse, each small bloodsucker eager for his piece of the action. After a while, the blinded and infuriated animal rushes headlong in a mad sprint and soon finds its death in the bottomless moors. The Jews developed the same style of attack. It is never a single voice arguing the case, but always a mass attack from the left and the right, from below and above, until the attacked one is beaten and broken and crawls away in disgrace.
Each attacker is as tiny and irrelevant as a single gnat, but as a swarm they are formidable. Observe them separately: Dershowitz, an advocate of torture and of hostage killing, an apprehended plagiarist who never was elected to any position of authority and commands no respect, demands to debate the president. It is indeed beyond chutzpah; but Dershowitz is supported by other Jews in prime positions and his ridiculous demand is seconded by both university and media until this thieving nonentity gets equal time on a TV channel to present "his case". Another gnat is a Deborah Lipstadt, a nonentity brought forth by the Washington Post. Plenty of others are even smaller than these two . . . [http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Eng9.htm]
A brilliant observation in two small paragraphs. No wonder the Jewish gnats can't stand Shamir. Randolph Steven Selig is one of the "even smaller" gnats.
, carries plenty of bite. It is a blow at ones self-esteem. Perhaps it is my low self-esteem regarding my abilities vis-a-vis all the people I so much admire, like Wallerstein, that makes me so fanatic about not being lied to. At any rate, if I seem abnormal in this respect, maybe that is the explanation.
Now a bit of self reflection. If you're a normal person who nevertheless has had the patience and interest to read all the way to here, you might be wondering why I am so obsessed with lying. Especially because it is something we all, or nearly all of us, frequently do. Why do I make such a big deal of it? The rational reason I've already given -- it destroys the mutual trust needed to build a healthy society. But I think there may also be a psychological reason.
I seem to be driven by a great desire to understand society at as profound a level as is within my reach. It's a big challenge for me. Someone like for example Immanuel Wallerstein writes his remarkable analyses twice monthly with an evident detailed grasp of both contemporary day-to-day events and an enormous reservoir of historical knowledge at his fingertips. Of course I'm envious of his gifts of factual knowledge, excellent memory and evident instant recall that enables him to comprehend so much. If I were endowed with the same capabilities it might not matter to me personally if someone lied to me because I would be able to detect it immediately and simply ignore the liar. But the fact is that I'm not so endowed, with the result that I can be deceived. If I later discover the deception I am then resentful, feeling that I have been made a fool of. The crude sneer of Mr. Selig at Mr. Santomauro with which I started this open letter, Don't you feel foolish, taken in, suckered?
Third and final comment. What value, if any, is there in spending so much effort on Mr. Selig, someone for whom I have little regard? It's basically the same question I put to myself about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict. I know that Jews and Palestinians together make up only a numerically insignificant fraction of humanity. And the atrocities that the Israeli Zionist Nazis are perpetrating against the Palestinians pale in numerical comparison to those against other peoples in the present time and previously. Why not focus on the 'big' problems instead of the 'gnat-size' ones? The transcontinental neoliberal assault of global capitalism throughout South America and Mexico screams the urgency for humanity to end capitalism.
Looking in some detail at a 'small' problem can be valuable if it casts light on a 'large' problem. I think Mr. Selig's actions give insight to the social damage that comes from the assumption that ethnicity is a determinant of social behavior. I claimed earlier that "there's a need to give up 'being Jewish', by which I mean the pervasive ideology . . . that we Jews are special, a particularly gifted ethnic group . . . that [a] smart Jewish boy doesn't have to work with his hands. This cultivated elite attitude, that manual work is suitable only for intellectually inferior people, exists of course among all privileged groups . . . In my view, not only Jewish ethnicity ought to be considered illegitimate, but all ethnicities . . ." [5 Fifth note, from me to Shamir, in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-06-05.htm]. Shamir, who adopts a broader, more inclusive definition of ethnicity, disagrees with me here. To me it seems that the arrogance, hubris and absence of humility, combined with profound ignorance that characterize Selig's behavior is unfortunately fairly typical among many American Jews, possibly the majority. To the extent that U.S. foreign policy is influenced by people of this group, I believe the result is one of social harm, particularly of course to the Palestinians, but more generally to all peoples.
--15 June 2009 George
P.S. It's now 16 June and there are more letters. I'll include them in a continuation, Straight talk 3, with Shamir and others.
George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an Emeritus Prof of Physics, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.
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Last update of this page: 7 July 2009