DE LA PAIX
December 24-25 2016
Father Jacques Hamel, 86, slaughtered in his church in France
Hyper Cacher - « What is Enlightenment ? »
Imagine a very discreet façade of a modest shop in a narrow street in the North of Paris. The window is painted white. You only find two words, in pale black letters, above the door : HYPER CACHER. Hyper Kosher. Almost a hidden store. I walked in to buy candles, halva, chocolate. A pressing need for fast sugars and lights.
Your heart squeezes the instant you step in, with a mixed feeling of angst and oppression. People's faces are tense, you can read fear and tension in their eyes. The people who are there, on Christmas eve, are all scared for their lives. They're afraid of what happened in that other Hyper Cacher store, almost two years ago, on January 9, 2015. When a man walked in with an automatic gun, to exterminate them, for being Jews.
Elsewhere, in the city, stores are overcrowded, and the tension is different (although present, due to rising anxiety : in Berlin, on December 19, the truck driver who rammed into the crowd of a Christmas market did it for the same kind of "reasons" : "to attack the Crusaders, the Infidels, wherever they areé. Elsewhere, the fear is more diluted, less precise.
Here, it is concentrated, condensed in the memory of everyone : those who are here have always known that to be Jewish is exactly this : to be exposed, yesterday and today, to massacres, to blood-thirsty hatred, to pogroms - it has always been like this.
So, in 2016-2017, in France, you risk your life just wearing a skull-cap, a David star, entering a kosher shop ? And those who persecute them dare do it in the name of Allah ?
As they dare slaughter Christians, slit their throats, for being Christians, shrieking "Allahu Akbar" ?
Wishes for 2017 : Despite it all, Hope, Enlightenment
Despite the renewed state of emergency in France, despite the bereaving and the pains, first and foremost, Hope. Like in the story of this uprising at the time of the second Temple in Jerusalem, when there was not enough consecrated oil left in a vial, except for one day at most, and this minute quantity lasted eight days, time enough to find some more. The "multiplication of loathes" on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, like the "multiplication of oil" : when there's nothing left, that's when you find some more...
You thought you'd never make it, and yet you're getting there, against all odds. as if miraculously !
When push comes to shove, you go so fast it's bound to be a crime... Where's the helping hand when indifference has become the norm ?
And there goes 2017... Back on the trail of wishes... Like in the days of old, when people would send their wishes to those they love, to those who matter. This humble force, made of desire, for the others and for self, made of simple joys, continued innocence, and sharing.
With the audacity of wishing, desiring, moving to meet the Other one, confiding, daring...
And if the news of the world are not those we need, we shall create our own networks of news, for the sheer fun of it, the strength, and the reliability.
« Dare to use your own undesrtanding," the motto of Enlightenment...
3- The good news from France
More and more, people think : why should we go on acting as law enforcers, gendarmes du monde, in Africa, Sahel, and the Middle East, when it is so hard to enforce the law on our own territory ?
Do we really need to read Sun Tzu's Art of War, to admit that you "should never get invovled in wars that you foresee you will not win" ?
4- The Dirty Dozen
To decide upon the others' life and pain : Cain's mark. As long as the dead and the wounded, in their vast majority, are Africans or Easterners, it is always a "just war"... Just another war.
« Daesh: 50,000 jihadis killed since 2014 » printed Le Figaro on December 9, 2016, « after nearly 16,600 air strikes since August 2014". The NGO Airwars has numbered « more than 1,900 civilians killed by these airstrikes » - the wounded are never accounted for. Actually, how do you distinguish a civilian in a fatigue from a combatant in a fatigue at bombing altitude ? As early as August 3, 2015, Le Monde published this warning ; "Hundreds of civilians pay the price of the airstrikes against the Islamic State/" Kill them all, Allah will recognize His folks ?
Now it is the siege of Mossoul. But Mossoul has been under siege for a dozen years or so... You should read about it from Sara Daniel (Voyage to a stricken land - in French Voyage to Al-Qaida's land). Her testimony about what the American invasion of Iraq did to Tikrit, Mossoul, from 2003 onward... Al-Qaida's land in the Middle-East : an American story since 2001-2003.
« War against the Islamic State : the United States has spent almost 10 billion dollars" (Le Monde, November 8, 2016). Roughly 200,000 $ for a dead jihadi. Where has the money gone ? To which accounts ?
As early as 1965, another distinguished war reporter, Jean Lartéguy, had titled one of his books "One million dollars for a Viet-Cong". Isn't it strange, the way some journalists sometimes report about what wars cost to the tax-payer, never who pockets the money ?
In the French weekly Paris-Match, on the eve of the atrocious truck-ramming of July 14, 2016, you could find these figures, in billions of euros made from French arms sales worldwide :
We're simply trying to understand. What for. Whom for.
In our pevious Newsletter (October-November 2016), we had published the list of the "12 World Brigands" : the main countries exporting weapons. Brigands, for lack of a better word. In the 80ies, they used to talk a lot about "rogue states". In 2001 there was a list, which at some point had included Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan... The criteria were : detention of WMDs - weapons of mass destruction, disregard for the essential laws of humankind or of... American interests.
We certainly would like to see the lists coincide, of "rogue states" and double standard states, Janus states who have a vested interest in war as foreign policy. One masked face and sweet mouth for freedom in theory, one hidden face and sour mouth for war as endless business.
As far as massive destruction goes, and the weapons that will take you there, you could borrow a title from film-director Robert Aldrich : The Dirty Dozen. Naming the twelve main exporters of WMDs is one thing. Something else is to divide the profit they draw from their trade by the number of inhabitants in each of the twelve countries.
The U.S. do not lead anymore, for the last recorded year (2014), but tiny Israel, followed by equally tiny Switzerland (go figure) and Russia. Had the profit of this trade been equally divided among the people, each Israeli would have pocketed 132$ in 2014, each Swiss 42, and each respectable Swede, each Russian 40. Next you find the gentle Dutch : 35, the Americans : 31 $, the brave British : 19, the proud Spaniards : 17.5, followed by the industrious French : 16.5, the Ukrainians : 16, the gentle Germans : 13.5, and the honorable Italians : 13 (source : SIPRI)
Sure thing, nobody ever saw one cent of that money (except the right people in the right places), be it in Israel, France, Switzerland or Russia. The right places ? Let's name the six first firms worldwide : Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE, Raytheon, Northrop, General Dynamics– all of them American except British BAE.
We're simply trying to understand.
Another question, as Le Monde journalist Soren Seelow put it : why is France both "the main source and target for terrorists" ? Occasionally there are terror attacks in England or Germany, but not on the same scale, and none in Poland, Portugal, Greece or Romania (which do not belong to the "masked states". Any relation there ? Wouldn't any unbiased observer want to investigate into a close connection there, one of reciprocal adpatation, objective between those who make huge money selling weapons en masse, and these terrorists that make you wonder : where exactly do they all come from ? How are they manufactured ?
A matter-of-fact codependency between the exporters, as commercial agents, and the agents provocateurs. Are you looking for a way to "deradicalize" the youth attracted to jihad ? Show them that the kouachis (who slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo team in January 2015), the nemmouches (who sprayed people with bullets at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014), and all those who dream of emulating Bin Laden, actually work for Lockheed Martin, BAE, Raytheon, Airbus, Dassault...
Without Bin Laden, without Al Qaida in Maghreb or Syria, Arabia, what excuse would the arms salesmen of the "coaliton" find to test, sell and spread their products ? How could they ever justify their instllations and bases so far from home ?
5- Good news from the East : "you have this power"« vous avez ce pouvoir »
To discover a land hitherto unknown, or neglected. In its rank naked beauty.
A land without the national stigma, bearing only the fruits of human labour, of the sweat of the men and women who toil it, daily, silently.
It's been going on for so long... for one thing. Something else is the rule of numbers. The casualties of this conflict have been limited to 10,600 killed (9,360 Palestinians, 1,220 Israelis) from September 2000 to November 2016. In the same period, there were 60,000 killed in Libya in 8 months in 2011, and more than 300,000 victims in Syria in 5 years. In Iraq, the n.g.o. Iraq Body Count has numbered 184,500 killed during the American occupation of the land from 2003 to 2013. In Egypt, in a single day, on August 14, 2013, on Square Rabia Al-Adauïa, 640 people were killed according to the authorities, 2,600 according to the opposition. To this day there are around 40,000 "dissenters" detained in Egyptian jails.
Relatively speaking, the 7,000 Palestinians detained in Israel "don't count" as much and have fallen into oblivion, except for their families.
You may well erect more walls : this is not the Middle Ages anymore, you find cellular phones in prisons even.
At the end of this very long, very hurtsome day, this is not only a matter of land, of territory, but rather of humankind side by side, of populations inextricably interwoven, a matter therefore of compatibilities : of daily coexistence between those who pray one way, and those who pray another way (between Hamas Palestinians and secular Fatah people, or between Orthodox Jews and secular Jews); between those who want it all for themselves, and those who have learnt to deal with others; between the loud ones and the silent ones; between the greedy and the sober; between the brutes and the gentle ones; between those who hold human life to be sacred, and those who shed blood as they would bad coffee...
As was not the case with Mairead Maguire (Irish Peace Nobel Laureate),with whom we organized a trip to Bethelehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv in January 2002), who's been known as tilting more to one side, Leymah Gbowee had a meeting with President Rivlin, as a token of her impartiality. The idea now is for her to meet with President Abbas, and that the long awaited negotiations between Ramallah and Jerusalem start at last... The question remains : how can "Jerusalem" negotiate with a a people divided in its midst ? The other question being : how much longer will the Gaza blockade last ?
If you want to know more about Leymah Gbowee, you should read Mighty be our powers (How sisterhood, prayer, and sex changed a nation at war). Also see the documentary film Praying the devil back to hell.
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