Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: February 2010 (page 1 of 3)

A Call for Genocide?

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” – Dante

I’ve tried many times to write about why I refuse to take what some of my American friends believe is a more “neutral,” or non-objective stance when it comes to Israel and Palestine, but each time I find myself frustrated by the options, and end up deleting the post. As you may or may not know, I subscribe to the theory that a bi-national (one-state) solution with complete and total equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is the right answer. I also write often from a very non-objective stance, because yes, I have a strong agenda: equality and human rights. And yes, I know and believe that Hamas has done some horrible things too (derivative of the situation that has existed in Gaza for over 60 years), and no, I won’t answer the “why do you care so much about Palestine/Arabs?” question because I think it’s stupid.

Here’s one of the many reasons I refuse to take a neutral stance: At the Herzliya Conference, Harvard Weatherhead Center Fellow Martin Kramer made a speech, later followed by a blog post, that referred to Gaza’s young male population as “superfluous young men.” You can view the video in its entirety there, but here’s the most important quote:

Aging populations reject radical agendas, and the Middle East is no different. Now eventually, this will happen among the Palestinians too, but it will happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status. Those subsidies are one reason why, in the ten years from 1997 to 2007, Gaza’s population grew by an astonishing 40 percent. At that rate, Gaza’s population will double by 2030, to three million. Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim—undermine the Hamas regime—but if they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth—and there is some evidence that they have—that might begin to crack the culture of martyrdom which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men. That is rising to the real challenge of radical indoctrination, and treating it at its root.

It sounds like Martin Kramer, who refers to himself as an “authority on the Middle East,” just called for genocide against the Palestinian people. The international definition of genocide is as follows:

It defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by (bold is mine):

* Killing members of the group.
* Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
* Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
* Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
* Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

From where I’m standing it appears that Martin Kramer quite clearly supported verbally, and possibly called for, imposing measures intended to prevent Palestinian births, in an effort to slow the Palestinian population’s rapid growth and thus prevent more “superfluous young men” from turning to extremism. Also known as incitement to genocide.

I’m not the first to say so – Ali Abunimah did here (as did the site he co-founded, Electronic Intifada), Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg blogged it here, and Philip Weiss here. Of course, Kramer is aware of that, but rather than address the issues, he chooses to smear all of the aforementioned commentators as “people who daily call for Israel to be wiped off the map of the Middle East,” which could not be farther from the truth (I’m not entirely sure about Rosenberg, but Abunimah and Weiss are both supporters of a bi-national state in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians would both live equally–a main tenet of modern, secular, anti-Zionism efforts).

This is why I’m so frustrated. I honest-to-God simply do not understand how anyone–anyone–regardless of identity or belief, regardless of whether or not they support one state or two states, and regardless of whether or not they believe Israel is divinely the land of the Jews can believe that advocating against births within an ethnic community is okay. It baffles me.

So try, whomever you are reading this, for a moment, to simply forget everything else and answer this one question: Is calling for sanctions and diminishing birth rates amongst a single ethnic population supporting genocide?

If so, then please don’t remain silent.

On Memorability

Once in a few years occurs a single, unforgettable night. Sometimes it’s filled with romance, and other times it’s just…a crazy night. I’ve had many of these over the years, but there’s one that I can’t forget…

I’d returned from Senegal a day before, my hair in kinky, bright blonde braids, my figure as svelte as ever, my spirit intact and particularly adventurous. I wanted to go to Boston that day; a singer I liked was signing posters at the Virgin Megastore (once Newbury Comics, now Best Buy), and just had to go. I remember arguing with my dad in the driveway about going on my own, but I ended up taking the commuter rail into the city.

I don’t remember much until I was at the store, and purchased a copy of the performer’s CD and a souvenir poster, then waited in line for an autograph. As it turned out, the boy in front of me was rather cute, and we ended up talking a lot. He asked about my braids; I told him I’d just gotten back from Senegal, he told me about his youth in Japan and his years in Hawai’i; this was his first time living on the mainland (though he was a US citizen). We got our posters signed and headed toward the train station together. With time to spare, he asked me if I wanted to grab dinner. We ate at Hooter’s (my first time), he paid. I was hooked.

A couple of weeks later, we went to Montreal together to see John Mayer (don’t laugh, it was 2002) in a small club. We had a good time, shared a room with two very separate beds, then returned home. I remember what I was wearing and I remember the hotel. I remember certain sights and I remember the concert. I have one photograph.

That same summer I had a lot going on. I drove to Poughkeepsie for the 4th of July to see a boy I’d met the semester before. I was working two jobs, making decent money, and hanging out with my hometown friends. And then one night, he called.

I don’t know what inspired it, but I agreed to meet him in Boston for a movie. I hopped onto the highway in my own car, drove the hour and a half, and met him at the movie theater. I remember the film, Minority Report, and I remember strange details; how bumpy the road was, the fact that we shared a large popcorn. After the film, I remember driving into downtown Boston in his clunky van with Hawa’ii plates, finally finding a spot on Newbury Street, hopping out, and walking around until we got tired. We got back in and drove around again, searching for a restaurant and finally settling on some all-night breakfast place. I ate blueberry-banana pancakes, he laughed at me, and I was happy.

Afterwards, he drove to a cemetery in Lynn and we sat talking for hours until the sun came up. I was tense; the attraction (for me, anyway) was palpable, but there was something about him that was untouchable, and I was 20 and virtually clueless. By the end of the night, I’d given up waiting. He drove me back to my car, and I drove home, stopping for Dunkin’ Donuts on the way. I got home and crashed, sleepy and satisfied.

We saw each other only one more time. It was a weekend in New York, but I wish I could pause time, change my mind, forget that. It’s unmemorable. What I want to remember is this huge city night, this night of anything, of this feeling of endlessness. I’ve only had it once or twice since. I can only imagine that it’s a rare phenomenon, something that happens a limited number of times in one’s life.

There have been a few more, of course, but both propriety and inhibitions change, and they become impossible to write about. I have this fear that there’s a finite number of those nights in a person’s life, something counted down, something we must resign ourselves to as we settle into predictability…or maybe not. Maybe we create them; maybe it’s our personalities that allow us to create memories like that, I don’t know. I can only hope for more.

“Terrorism in that capital T way”

Just on the heels of my post yesterday, a plane crash in Texas. I wish I’d been home to turn on the TV, because I’m sure there were some media gaffes. A coworker pointed out this article by Brian Stelter in the NYT demonstrating that networks used the word terrorism “with care” in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Stelter writes:

…Mr. Scott on Fox started using the phrase “domestic terrorism,” and he mentioned Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber.

“This appears to be, at this point, some kind of, I guess you would call it, domestic terrorism,” he said just before 1 p.m. Eastern.

The subtext on cable news today is this: what is the definition of terrorism?

At a news conference in Austin during the 1 p.m. Eastern hour, a local police chief said categorically that the incident was not an act of terrorism.

There are “a couple of reasons to say that,” the NBC correspondent Pete Williams observed on MSNBC. “One is he’s an American citizen. But that doesn’t rule out an act of terrorism. Timothy McVeigh, of course, was an American citizen as well, and that was the biggest act of terrorism in the U.S. before 9/11.”

There’s a definite problem with using the word “domestic” in this sense: Nidal Malik Hasan was an American citizen like Timothy McVeigh, but he didn’t get the “domestic terrorist” treatment. No, “domestic” decidedly means “American,” which means “white” (or, I suppose, “black”).

A piece in the Klaxon (which I have never heard of) claims that the Austin crash “defines new domestic terrorism”:

The FBI has defined terrorism as, “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” The Rand Corporation’s Brian Jenkins has defined terrorism as, “The use or threatened use of force designed to bring about political change.”

By definition, Stack is a domestic terrorist.

In practicum, he is a sad, mal-content saturated in baby-boom victim speak, and absolutely sure that his problems and set-backs have come by the hand of his government.

So, terrorism is political, that makes sense. But wait–the Department of Homeland Security (what do they have to do with this?) says this is not terrorism, according to FOX:

The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday it does not believe the crash was an act of terrorism.

“This is an isolated incident, there is no cause for alarm,” a spokesman for the Austin Police Department said during a news conference.

Terrorism is political but not isolated? So, what defines isolated? Acting alone, or acting with a singular ideology? Nidal Malik Hasan acted alone, but the fact that his ideology is shared by others defines him, but not today’s pilot, as a terrorist? By that definition, Scott Roeder is most certainly a terrorist. So where was the media when he shot Dr. George Tiller in cold blood?

I think the NYT explains it best, in this gem of a quote from Fox correspondent Catherine Herridge: “They mean terrorism in that capital T way.” Ah yes, that capital T terrorism. Why didn’t you just say so?

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