Sabrosky Responds: On Palestine, Israel, America and the Strategic Void

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by Dr. Alan Sabrosky

 

I’ve had a more diffuse and sometimes different reaction to the original article on this topic “Palestine, Israel, and America: The Strategic Void” than I anticipated, although one I thought possible.

And while I don’t usually respond other than with brief replies to individual comments, I thought it useful at this point to address certain issues, both to encourage some to re-read (or at least read through) the initial article, and to “clear the conceptual decks” before the second and third parts of the trilogy appear.

Disbelief and Denial

One thing that appears in a number of comments and private emails to me is a pattern of disbelief and denial. That is, if someone read through to the last section (“Doing Better”), they understood generally where I was going and why I started the way I did. But many didn’t get past the introduction, and did not like it at all — although if they decided to take another look, based on what I had written before, they generally read through to the end.

Responses to the next two pieces may well be better, because they won’t be a critique of the anti-Zionist movement and people in America and elsewhere, and defensiveness won’t generally be a problem. But if people don’t accept the premises and the critique in the first installment, that won’t matter in a practical way.

Look at it this way. To Israel and its supporters, there are three essential benchmarks of their status and success: (1) their military power, (2) the number of settlements and settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and (3) the extent and durability of their control (or leverage) over the US Government. All else is detail.

Now, no matter what anyone thinks of justice for the Palestinians or the efforts to date to help them, or actions to counter Zionist activity in Palestine and Washington, or anything else along these lines, just look hard at those benchmarks and ask yourselves if any single one has been weakened even slightly by our efforts over the years. The answer is no, without any qualification whatsoever.





Compared to even five years ago, Israeli military power is significantly greater, there are significantly more settlements and settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the 29-ovation response of the US Congress to Netanyahu’s diatribe coupled with Obama’s reaffirmation of eternal US support for Israel speak for themselves.

Since what we have been doing is manifestly inadequate and unsuccessful, even if it makes some people feel good as they give press conferences and jet around the world organizing things, we need to wipe the slate clean and start over with something different that might do better. I tell you this: absent some incidental successes with the BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) campaign, it is hard to see how we could do worse by trying a different approach.

I think it might help people reading my work to understand that I am a pragmatist and not an ideologue in a political, philosophical or theological sense. I want to win and I want to do things that work, whatever their origins – monarchist, Marxist, or whatever. This is not an affirmation of “the end justifies the means,” because that can all too often be used to excuse the inexcusable.

For instance (to upset a lot of Americans and British), had I been in some “Supreme Command” during WWII and been approached by Air Marshal Harris (RAF Bomber Command) and General LeMay (his US counterpart) with a plan to break the morale of the German Army by killing their families in burning cities behind them, I would have had both of them put against a wall and shot. The concept was unbelievably savage – and if one wants a pragmatic reason for rejecting such things, they also don’t (and in this case, didn’t) work. So I guess while I am a pragmatist, it is within definite ethical limits.

Diverse Localities

Further, several people pointed out that I was way too cavalier in pointing people to focus on local areas, because Zionist influence was significant there, too. And I concede that I did not carefully define my terms, so I will make an extra effort to do so in the future.

But this is one of those areas where both I and the others were and are correct. Within the US, in many large metropolitan areas (e.g., Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles) and many prominent university towns (e.g., Berkeley, CA and Ann Arbor, MI) the Jewish population is several times the national average and the Zionist influence correspondingly more significant. But in many smaller cities (e.g., Lansing, MI and Jackson, MS – both state capitals) and almost all smaller towns everywhere, that is not the case. So I’d modify my initial suggestion to recommend side-stepping the former category – why do an uphill fight if it isn’t necessary? – and concentrating on places in the second category.

Israel and Palestine

Finally, it should be understood that I am not and have never been in the camp of those who say “I am not anti-Israel, I am pro-Palestinian.” I am the opposite: I am not pro-Palestinian, I am anti-Israel. I am not pro-Palestinian, because while their suffering is and has been very real, that of many others out there was or is much worse (one need think for openers of Somalia and Darfur and Chechnya and Zimbabwe and Rawanda, for instance, in different ways). More importantly, their “leadership” with or without reconciliation is an incompetent, self-serving, corrupt, autocratic mess, and always has been. But principally it is because most of them have shuffled off without a fight — hell, if the Palestinians had fought half as hard and as well against Israeli occupation as the Iraqi resistance or the Afghans did and do against the US and its allies, there would likely be no settlements anywhere and Israel would have been beleaguered and embattled from within as well as from without long ago.

“The Lord helps those who helps themselves,” a saying in Protestant Christianity goes, and I am more than willing to fight with and for people who fight as well as they can with what they have (which is why, not discounting the above, I do incline slightly toward Hamas and not Fatah), but I am NOT willing to pick up a load for those who mostly throw their hands in the air and cry “pity me, help me.” The fact that the Arab states, one and all, have squandered many opportunities to use their wealth to leverage their own international positions (and that of the Palestinians), preferring to spend it on luxuries and infrastructure while the Israelis took a more pragmatic view of their priorities, just underscores that point. That the Arab states are largely a collection of quasi-medieval monarchies (albeit with a modernizing element) and secular dictatorships doesn’t help.

And I am anti-Israel, but not because it is or wants to be a Jewish state, or because of what it does to the Palestinians and its neighbors. Race, ethnicity and religion are utterly irrelevant to me, in both personal and professional terms. Moreover, show me a country that never in its history oppressed an internal minority (ethnic, religious, whatever) or beat up on a weaker neighbor, and I’ll show you a country without an internal minority or any weaker neighbors — maybe Fiji and Monaco? I am anti-Israel because of what it has done to the US in the furtherance of its own goals (the USS Liberty incident and 9/11 obviously stand out), and because of the leverage it has acquired over the US Government and its policies through the machinations of the domestic Jewish community here.

But I tell you this: if Ireland or Italy or India had done similar things to the US, and leveraged the US Government through the indigenous Irish or Italian or Indian communities here, and Israel had not done the same thing, then I would be anti-Ireland or anti-Italy or anti-India as I am now anti-Israel. None of them have done that, but you understand that the only thing I am “pro-” is “pro-American,” and I oppose those who harm — or try to harm — me and my people and my country. And if that includes lifetime politicians who have sold out to a foreign lobby, then I’d put them on the political chopping-block just as I would the country that did the bribing and blackmailing.

And so it stands. If you have reached this point, watch for the second and third parts of the trilogy, due out on June 27 (Demystifying 9/11: Israel and the Tactics of Mistake) and July 4 (tentatively Riposte Against Zionism: A Plan of Action), the latter focusing on the US but easily adaptable to other countries and cultures. Just stay tuned and keep an open mind.

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*Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at [email protected]

 

Review: Gingerbread makes Nexus S a smart cookie

AP Online December 16, 2010 | RACHEL METZ SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ?ˆ” For some people, the holidays go hand in hand with gingerbread, in the form of houses or cookie-cutter men. This year, you can add smart phones ?ˆ” specifically, the Nexus S, the first device running the freshest version of Google’s Android operating software, Gingerbread. go to site nexus s review

Developed by Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., the phone has a cool curved glass screen, back- and front-facing cameras and the ability to read special tags on such things as stickers embedded with Near Field Communication chips.

Combined with a fairly good price, it’s likely to be on a number of holiday wish lists.

Best Buy stores will sell it for $200 with a contract from T-Mobile, or for a more wallet-stretching $530 if you want it to work on either T-Mobile’s or AT&T’s network.

The Nexus S is the follow-up to the Nexus One, an HTC Corp. phone that Google trotted out early this year but stopped selling months later as plenty of similar Android-running devices became available.

Although Nexus One was a good phone, it wasn’t as amazing as Google thought it was. The company avoids this problem with the Nexus S, which is both a brainy and cool-looking handset.

First, let’s get to the brains.

There are a number of subtle changes that come with Gingerbread, such as zippier overall performance.

The most obvious update is with the on-screen keyboard. It is better than previous versions of Android at recommending words as you type, such as last names and other words that you’ve typed before, but hadn’t been in the phone’s original dictionary. The keyboard features more space between keys and a multi-touch capability that make typing easier and speedier than on Froyo, Gingerbread’s Android predecessor.

The copy and paste tools are simplified in Gingerbread, too, with a little slider that appears on the screen that you can move to select text.

The phone’s most-touted feature has been its inclusion of Near Field Communication, or NFC, technology, which is a short-range wireless technology for transmitting data. This could ultimately function as a wireless payment system, eliminating the need for your wallet.

For now, though, Google is only letting the phone read NFC chips inserted in objects, such as movie posters you might pass at a bus stop. Once you are nearly touching one of these tags, the phone will automatically read it and, say, pull up a link to a film trailer.

To give reviewers an immediate sense of how this works, Google included a “Recommended on Google” sticker with the Nexus S the company loaned me for this review. Whenever the screen on my phone was active and within less than an inch of the sticker, it would add the NFC chip embedded in this sticker to my collection in a little app called “Tags.” The tag contained a link to a YouTube video that explained the development of the Nexus S.

Cool, right? Too bad you can’t really use the feature right now unless you live in Portland, Ore., where Google is distributing these stickers to some businesses. I’m all for adding technology to handsets, but it would be nice if I could actually do something with it near my home in San Francisco. Hopefully this will change in the near future, but it’s still unclear. go to site nexus s review

More immediately useful is the Nexus S’ bright screen. Like the phones in Samsung’s Galaxy S series, it sports an AMOLED display, which basically means it will likely have higher color saturation than a standard LCD screen would.

This screen, which is 4 inches diagonally, is great for watching videos and surfing the Web, and it is super-sensitive to touch. It is a nice canvas for the latest version of Google Maps ?ˆ” out now for Android phones ?ˆ” which lets you use fingers to tilt the angle of the map and, in many cities, see 3-D buildings when you zoom in.

The screen is also easy to see if you’re not looking at it head-on, which is good if you want to share a video with a buddy. It was much brighter in sunlight than another Android phone I had on hand.

What makes the screen truly unique, though, is that it’s slightly curved in the center. It’s not clear to me why this is beneficial. The press release announcing the phone said it give the phone “a more ergonomic style and feel when held to the user’s face,” but my face couldn’t tell the difference between the Nexus S and a similar-sized smart phone.

Besides giving the phone a bit of a more interesting look and helping it stay slender, it could potentially help protect most of the viewing area if you drop it because only the very top and bottom of the frame would touch the ground.

Wanting to stay on-trend with the iPhone and several other Android-running smart phones, the Nexus S includes both front-facing and back cameras. The low-resolution front camera is handicapped because the phone doesn’t include any video chat software, and software I downloaded either wouldn’t work, or wouldn’t work properly on it.

The 5-megapixel back camera takes crisp shots, but has some shutter lag ?ˆ” that annoying gap between when you press the shutter and when the camera actually takes a photo. I missed having a dedicated camera button, as I felt awkward focusing a shot and then maneuvering a finger to the virtual button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

This camera is also surprisingly Spartan, feature-wise, with just a handful of white balance and exposure settings, but you can always make photos look more exciting by downloading a camera app from the Android Market (the free Retro Camera is a fun one).

Still, the Nexus S impressed me overall, especially with the freshening to Android that Gingerbread brings. You just may want to get one while they’re hot.

RACHEL METZ

Author Details
Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College.
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