Alan Hart, a new friend and ally
on the need to ‘sacrifice’
[0]
by G.S. <george.salzman@umb.edu>  5 August 2009
this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05.htm


Alan and Nicole Hart with Yasser Arafat at his headquarters in Tunis, 1985, some time after publication of Hart's first book, Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker?

Alan Hart's focus is pretty much the same as mine, though his scope is much broader. His impact is, as it deserves to be, far greater. I wrote him a month ago (today is 4 Sept 2009)


Oaxaca, Mexico, Wednesday 5 August 2009
Dear Mr. Hart,
      I just finished the first volume of your Zionism: The real enemy of the Jews yesterday and, in the early hours of this morning, unable to sleep, I reread your Appeal to the American People. You are a wonderfully courageous human being to undertake your mammoth project. I am a relative latecomer to this most crucial struggle of our era. Please add me to your mailing list if you maintain one. It is through Clarity Press that I learned about your book.
      Your head-on effort to demolish the still-prevailing but faltering ideological mask of Zionism is absolutely in the right direction. You don't, in my opinion, go deeply enough in challenging ideology. You seem to believe that if the American people were well enough informed they could make the government change its course. That would indeed be great, a manifestation that representative democracy is not fatally flawed. In brief, I love you but you're not radical enough. We need to challenge the entire dominant global ideology and the prevailing system of values it encompasses.
        In one of my essays I say,
       I would begin then by rejecting the part of the value system that makes food a commodity to be bought and sold. Access to adequate basic nutrition should be a human right, taken for granted . . . [To see the rest of this note, go to [1] in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm ]
      Much to my surprise and delight, despite the incredible level of committed activity that his website makes clear he's involved in, the next morning I found a long and thoughtful response to my late night note, which began,

Subject: More radical?
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 11:17:45 +0100

Dear George (please, I'm Alan),
      Many thanks for your very kind comments after reading Volume One of the American edition of Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews.
      I think I might be more radical than you imagine . . .
      I hate all labels and isms with the exception of humanism. I've never belonged to any political party or group and I've only voted twice in my entire life (on both occasions Liberal for the sake of putting two fingers up to the others). As I sometimes say on public platforms, I don't give a damn about being British. I'm a citizen of the world. Period. My vision, like yours, is for a realisation of "The Brotherhood of Man" (bollocks to being politically correct and saying humankind)
      As I also say on public platforms, I believe the real struggle on Planet Earth is (should be) not between Right and Left (does the Left still exist in North America and Western Europe?) or even rich and poor. It's between, on the one side, leaders, governments and the powerful vested interests which pull their strings, and, on the other side, the citizens of nations. If and when I get around to writing a book about my own life and global learning experiences, I'm going to say that modern life is a de-humanizing process and that the prime task of each and everyone of us is to claim back our humanity.
      Democracy? As I also say and write, it doesn't exist anywhere on earth and in some important respects least of all in America . . . [To see the rest of this note, go to [1] in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm ]


Subject: We are 'brothers under the skin'
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 11:29:08 -0500

Dear Alan,
      Thank you for writing back and welcoming my interest. I assure you that I need your work (and hence you) more than you need what I am capable of doing. Almost surely you are far more radical than I realized when I wrote, much to my delight. We are, as my good friend Joe Bageant wrote me a few years ago when he discovered my website, 'brothers under the skin'. This will be only a brief note because I want to return to your website and continue watching the videos with your interviews. It was midnight when I got through the first few minutes of your first interview with Pappe and I was exhausted. The correct link to my essay, Looking for a way towards civilization -- I, is http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/s/2008-07-27.htm. Sorry I had it wrong.
      I am, as I said, a latecomer to this ideological struggle, having learned about Zionism only a few years ago . . . [To see the rest of this note, go to [1] in http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm ]


      The most striking aspect of this exchange is the fact that in the course of two days, August 5th and 6th, Alan and I established a high level of mutual trust without ever having seen one another face to face or even spoken by telephone, trust based primarily on e-mail. Naturally it required substantial effort, but that's true of any relationship in formation. Of course, I had read his book and spent a little time on his website, but I believe Alan read little of mine except my e-mails. Initially I learned of him only because Clarity Press advertised his book about Zionism, which stimulated me to order and read it at once. During the month now elapsed since that first contact we have shared some of our dreams, e.g. Alan would like to see a regular newspaper, perhaps being published weekly initially, available globally in a host of languages, which presented the news people need if we are to understand the social reality in order to act intelligently in order to change it so as to better the lives of all peoples who now suffer from the effects of the 'advanced' capitalist generated gulf between the impoverished majority and the privileged.

      My enthusiasm for being in working contact with Alan stems from my view of him as, first of all a totally compassionate person, a well-informed intellectual (I think everyone is intellectual, i.e. every human being thinks, whether so labelled or not), and a person driven to act -- not only to understand, one who still has hope of effecting social changes. He is indeed, as he said at once, more radical than I had imagined! I highly recommend his book. Here he is chairing a panel discussion he had organized in London a few years ago.


Panel discussion, "Why anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism" at the Islam Channel, London, 15 June 2006. Panel members, left to right, Palestinian scholar Ghada Karmi, Rabbi Ahron Cohen, panel chairman Alan Hart, Univ. of Haifa historian Ilan Pappe [2], and Hajo Meyer, board member of Another Jewish Voice, which is part of the European Jewish Alliance for a Just Peace. Photo by Johnny Paul [3]

Building circles of trust and communication

      The world today, as we all know, is one of lying and deceit throughout the public domain. [4] This condition makes it extremely difficult to know what is actually going on. It serves the interests of the elites who are better able to maniplate the population at large. Governments and mega-corporations employ the services of 'public relations' and 'legal' firms for the express purpose of generating disinformation campaigns -- supposedly within the limits allowed by law -- to confuse and mislead the general public.

       In opposition to the wealth of deliberately generated ignorance and misinformation stands the uniquely human trait, the natural desire to understand, to comprehend the world. We are, not just in name but in fact, the species homo sapiens. [5] Historically, every available mode of communicating information (and of course misinformation) was seized upon as soon as it became available. Both by those who wanted to maintain their control over society and those who were struggling to gain their freedom to thrive, in opposition to the ruling power structure. Now, with the development of high speed communication technology, epitomized by the global internet, we are seeing another example of the same contest between the dominant and the dominated. Information is a key component of our lives.

    Because of the ease with which enormous quantities of information and disinformation can be (and are being) disseminated over the internet, the question of distinguishing truth from falsehoods takes on a possibly new urgency. For me it's a particular problem because I'm a very slow reader and my memory is not so great. That's why I'm hopeful of getting help in doping out contemporary reality from a small circle of people who are intellectually astute, well informed, and who share my humanitarian concerns. John Spritzler characterized such a group as a 'Circle of Trust'.

      The Circle of Trust that I've been trying to initiate is the most recent of my attempts at systematic communication using the internet. Prior to this effort I set up
1. Websites I and II of an anarchist physicist, [6], and
2. a weblog that is a 'mirror' site of the above Website II [7].
3. On the homepages of Websites I and II of an anarchist physicist I had written: Additional earlier materials are on 1. a weblog "For Better lives for our children's grandchildren", at http://pwgd.org/gs/, where you are welcome to post appropriate items. However the link is inoperative as of 2009-09-07. [8]
4. I set up a listserv Notes of an anarchist physicist [noaap] with open archives, at https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/noaap. [9]
5. I set up a listserv Oaxaca pro-Palestinians group [oppg] with open archives, at https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/oppg. [10]

      As is evident, I felt compelled to try to communicate with many other people. In addition to the above initiatives, I maintained a substantial e-mail correspondence. Eventually -- within the past few months -- I decided to try to concentrate on a smaller group than the thousand-odd subscribers to my Notes of an anarchist physicist list. For this purpose I use five categories that I chose arbitrarily: 1 Anarchy and Theory; 2 Ecology and Food; 3 General, Varied foci; 4 Oaxaca and Mexico; 5 Paestine-Israel focus. These categories, totaling 129 individual addresses as of 15 August 2009, make up my 'small group list'. And more selective still is my 'circle of trust' list with 38 people as of 2009-08-31.

      I hope to avoid making people 'sick and tired' of being flooded with stuff from me. Lately I've received only a few requests to be removed from my [noaap] list and none from either the 'small list' (129) or the 'circle of trust' (38). That's encouraging, though I realize that sometimes people get annoyed, but not enough to bother asking to be removed. At any rate, my urge to reach out remains, and I'm ready to modify what I try doing.

Prominent on my list of ‘truth tellers’

      It's always heartening to find another person who I can feel confident says only what he or she truly believes. Here's a partial list of my 'truth tellers', arranged in no particular order. Alan Hart, William Blum, Mazin Qumsiyeh, John Pilger, Naomi Klein, James Herod, John Spritzler, Gordon Arnaut, James Petras, Immanuel Wallerstein, Jeffrey Blankfort, Manuel Garcia Jr., John Ross, Norman G. Finkelstein, Dahr Jamail, Mohammed Omer, Joe Bageant, Robert Fisk, Khalid Amyreh, Al Giordano, and of course others, many others. Today's note is intended to specifically introduce Alan Hart to those who are, as I was until recently, not familiar with his work.

NOTES

[0] 'sacrifice'. Alan Hart as an ally on the need to 'sacrifice' in the essay's title arose right after I sent him my essay "Another dimension — indigenous! Seeking a true civilization" and he responded enthusiastically to the entire piece, in which I took up the issue of privileged people's behavior and its social consequences. In that essay, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-09-03.htm I wrote, "Finally, I've got to tackle the hardest obstacle, trying to convince [privileged] friends to think hard about some of the things they enjoy, the social consequences of those pleaures, and whether perhaps they ought to consider giving some of them up."

[1] Early correspondance. See note [1] at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm

[2] Ilan Pappe. See note [2] at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm

[3] Panel discussion, "Why anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism". See note [3] at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-08-05N.htm

[4] Lying and deceipt in the public domain. In an essay, Changing History, 1, I acknowledge "Of course one can't change what has happened in the past. One can only wish it had been different. What's done is done." I then continue, "But for the present and the future, we do have choices. This paper is the start of an effort to discover how we, the entire human species, can maximize our chances for robust humane survival here on the earth." This essay makes as strong a case as I can for the value of continuing our efforts to change the course of history. It is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-09-05.htm.

[5] homo sapiens. My old (1963) Funk and Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary, published by Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, defines it: The scientific name for the only surviving species of the genus Homo; modern man. And indicates its Latin derivation: homo man + sapiens wise.

[6] Websites I and II of an anarchist physicist. These are, respectively, at
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/, and
http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/s/00.htm

[7] weblog as a 'mirror' site of Website II of an anarchist physicist, at
http://www.georgesalzman.org/

[8] The weblog "For Better lives for our children's grandchildren". The first item was 1. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Evo Morales, Indigenism and Identity Politics, posted 15 Feb 2006. The blog was very active for at least some months, perhaps for more than a year, with postings by a few other contributors besides me. I am trying to have access restored. As of 9 September 2009 I do not know why it was made inaccessible.

[9] Notes of an anarchist physicist [noaap]. This listserve, begun with an initial posting on 28 November 2007, currently goes to about 1,200 e-mail addresses. I use it to let this group know about new postings on my website and of other announcements that seem timely. My goal is to post to it more or less monthly -- not more than twice a month, in order not to inundate subscribers with e-mail.

[10] Oaxaca pro-Palestinians group [oppg]. This listserve, begun with an initial posting on 1 February 2008, was intended to be bilingual (Spanish and English), aimed at mobilizing support among the sympathetic population here for the struggle by Palestinians. This listserv has been inactive since 5 July 2008.


George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an Emeritus Prof of Physics, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.
All comments and criticisms are welcome.    george.salzman@umb.edu

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Last update of this page: 9 September 2009