This is genocide:

CROW AGENCY, Mont. – Ta’Shon Rain Little Light, a happy little girl who loved to dance and dress up in traditional American Indian clothes, had stopped eating and walking. She complained constantly to her mother that her stomach hurt.

When Stephanie Little Light took her daughter to the Indian Health Service clinic in this wind-swept and remote corner of Montana, they told her the 5-year-old was depressed.

Ta’Shon’s pain rapidly worsened and she visited the clinic about 10 more times over several months before her lung collapsed and she was airlifted to a children’s hospital in Denver. There she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, confirming the suspicions of family members.

A few weeks later, a charity sent the whole family to Disney World so Ta’Shon could see Cinderella’s Castle, her biggest dream. She never got to see the castle, though. She died in her hotel bed soon after the family arrived in Florida.

“Maybe it would have been treatable,” says her great-aunt, Ada White, as she stoically recounts the last few months of Ta’Shon’s short life. Stephanie Little Light cries as she recalls how she once forced her daughter to walk when she was in pain because the doctors told her it was all in the little girl’s head.

American Indians have an infant death rate that is 40 percent higher than the rate for whites. They are twice as likely to die from diabetes, 60 percent more likely to have a stroke, 30 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.

American Indians have disproportionately high death rates from unintentional injuries and suicide, and a high prevalence of risk factors for obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome, teenage pregnancy, liver disease and hepatitis.

While campaigning on Indian reservations, presidential candidate Barack Obama cited this statistic: After Haiti, men on the impoverished Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere.

This leads to genocide

Four Muslim men also pleaded their innocence before a judge in a White Plains, N.Y., courthouse after being accused of plotting to blow up a pair of synagogues and down military aircraft with a shoulder-fired missile. The feds had been keeping tabs on the men for a year and sold them the missile and explosives, which had been deactivated. The four were reportedly angered over the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan at the hands of U.S. forces.

A note on the second one – this is not an example of Muslims being evil. This is an example of oppressed groups being encouraged to scapegoat Jews for what those who are actually in power are doing. In other words, this is how anti-Semitism works.

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Afraid of Muslim Arabs? Blame the Diaspora!

A recent issue of the New York Review of Books contained an essay about the West Bank separation wall, which included this quote by an Israeli man:

It’s incredible but the country still feels provisional. Of what other state can this be said? I notice that when I am in Britain that you plan for 2038, you say there will be this railway or that airport. But no Israeli plans so far ahead without feeling a pang in his heart which asks whether we shall be here at all. We look so strong from the outside, we have such a large army, so many nuclear weapons, we’re so certain in our expansion, and yet from the inside it doesn’t feel like that. We feel our being is not guaranteed. You might say we have imported from the Diaspora the Jewish disease – a sense of rootlessness, an ability to adapt and make do, but not to settle. After sixty years, Israel is not yet a home.

Sometimes Israelis are good for a laugh.

Let’s think about this. You live in a country that has been at war for 60 years. You’ve been occupying another country for the past 40 years. You’re currently building an 8 meter high, 436 miles long wall to keep the people you’re occupying away from you, and visitors have to ask you to keep your stamp out of their passports if they want to visit one of your neighbors.

In a completely unrelated matter, you’re not sure your country will exist in 30 years. Why? Because Diaspora Jews are diseased. Yup – us poor Diaspora Jews are so pitifully damaged and rootless that even the gleaming sabras have inherited our taint.

Look, I know the speaker’s trying to be poetic and all, but he fails on a couple of counts. First off, even if it’s a metaphor, it’s still a cop-out. Notice how he manages to eloquently explore Israel’s sense of fragility and existential fears without mentioning the occupation at all? I’m sorry, but poetry that isn’t honest simply isn’t good poetry. Secondly, there’s no way a statement like that can be separated from the weak Jew/strong Jew narrative that Israelis have been pushing for decades.

What you hear going bump in the night isn’t your ancestors’ fault. It’s yours. And it’s long past time to deal with it.

The Israeli Settlement Database, via Ha’aretz

Jewschool brings us this news article from Ha’aretz, where they find themselves with the complete database of settlement construction from the Israeli government. The link to the article can be found here.

As pointed out in Jewschool, these findings directly contradict the Israeli’s government claiming it does not requisition private lands for the purpose of building settlements – many of those settlements were built on private land seized for “military purposes” and this allegedly includes Talmudei Torah (religious schools).

The bottom line here, basically, is that this will lend major legitimacy to legal claims against settlement building, which really seems to be the only avenue through which these illegal settlements will be shut down since the government has not shown any willingness to do so, aside from in Gaza.

Dear Non-Jewish Activists:

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to say this for a few days now, but I’ve finally decided to just point you toward Amp’s How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism. Replace “racism” with “anti-Semitism” and “white person” with “non-Jew” as you read it. Cheers! (I’m refraining from linking to individual conversations because I don’t want to make this about individual people.)

Now, sadly, in most instances I’ve seen, the only people calling out problematic statements are the anti-Palestine hawks who drop into leftist discussions just to make trouble. Nevertheless, amidst their snarling, I’m seeing legitimate points. It’s fair to ask why, if anti-Semitism on the left is a real problem, more Jewish liberals and radicals aren’t speaking up. Explanation #1 is that anti-Semitism is not a real problem, and that every accusation is a cynical ploy to squelch debate. Explanation #2, which I think is more likely, is that many Jewish liberals are reading problematic statements, getting that knot in their stomachs, and then – fearing the usual chorus of “every time anyone tries to criticize Israel they’re accused of anti-Semitism OH WHY can’t we have a debate without being accused of anti-Semitism?!” – either shutting up or rationalizing it away.

Because yes, there are people out there equating any criticism of Israel’s policies with a desire to see Jews killed. As other writers have pointed out, it’s the same cowardly tactic as the Bush administration’s assertions that liberals hate America. But the “ah HA!” response above has become thoroughly knee-jerk. Please, just listen for one second. To paraphrase Jay Smooth, it’s what you said, not what you are.


Meanwhile, I’ve also been trying to figure out what to say about the ground invasion.

I was talking to my husband’s family a few days ago, and his father said that he didn’t think he’d see peace between Israel and Palestine within his lifetime. He’s about thirty years older than I am, but I realized then that I don’t think I’ll see peace within my lifetime, either.

Because this invasion isn’t about the rocket attacks, just like the settlement expansion isn’t about… well, whatever people think that’s about. This invasion isn’t about Hamas; it isn’t about defense; it isn’t about the welfare of Israel’s citizens. (Where, for example, is Gilad Shalit? Dead, I’m guessing. Heckuva job, Ehud.) In 1846, the murder of a US soldier served as justification for the Mexican-American war, which led to the annexation of what’s now the southwestern United States. In 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor served as justification for an escalation of antagonistic acts against Japan that the US had already been engaging in for some time. In 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center served as (an especially shaky) justification for invading Iraq. And now, in 2008, the rocket attacks will have served as justification to install a compliant government in Gaza and possibly reoccupy it. (Matthew Yglesias compares Israel’s ideal version of Gaza to an Indian reservation – semi-autonomous, but economically handicapped and politically powerless.) Should the Japanese have killed US civilians? No. Should Mexican guerrillas have killed Colonel Cross? No (if that’s what really happened). Should Al-Qaeda have attacked the twin towers? Do I even need to answer that? And should Hamas be killing civilians? Of course not. But anyone who claims this invasion is nothing but an act of defense must think the Israeli government is profoundly stupid.

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

What We’re Giving Thanks For

I know this is ridiculously late, but I was visiting relatives in the Bay Area this weekend, and didn’t have much time to blog. Plus, traffic was so bad that each trip took over 9 hours. (Usually it’s around 7. A slog, sure, but doable.) For some reason, my husband and I thought we’d be the only ones zany enough to start the journey after work on Wednesday, but no, actually, everyone south of the damn Grapevine had that shitty idea. Who knew? It took us four hours just to get out of L.A. County. After midnight, when we finally decided to get a motel room south of Buttonwillow, we had to wait in line at the most crowded Motel 6 I’ve ever seen.


Plain(s)feminist and Nezua both wrote about the true origins of Thanksgiving, which I’d never heard before. (I’d always known that the Pilgrims-and-Indians-sitting-at-picnic-table version was more myth than fact, but I hadn’t known the extent of it.)

According to John Two-Hawks,

‘Thanksgiving’ did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial ‘Thanksgiving’ meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of ‘pilgrims’ led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out! Officially, the holiday we know as ‘Thanksgiving’ actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony’s men who had arrived safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut. They had gone there to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children, and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving complete with a feast to ‘give thanks’ for their great ‘victory’.

However, this is one of a few versions of the story (and none of them involve the damn picnic table). According to the LA Times (via Rye Drinker),

Although there were sporadic local Thanksgiving days in Colonial and early America, it was not until the middle of the Civil War — 1863 — that President Lincoln issued a proclamation making the last Thursday in November a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Lincoln’s statement suggested that thanks were being given as much for “the advancing armies and navies of the Union” as for a bountiful harvest, and the president urged special prayers for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.”

I’m all for a harvest festival that allows me the time to see friends and family living 400 miles away, but why do we have to perpetuate such a pernicious falsehood? What justification is there for this?

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)