The Great Sindhi Exodus (Nakba??)

……When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing…..‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that…..
I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’
…..

….


We mean Sindhi Hindus of course, driven out by the irreversible logic of the two nation theory. 
….

….
If it is any solace, in two generations time-span they have occupied the first row of Indian business, politics, art….one giant Sindustrialist called* the late, lamented C-Sarkar as “apni dukan.” Also the fact that BJP has conquered Delhi today is because of the effort of these four (horse) men: AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, MM Bhagwat, and ND Modi. Such a transformation from rags to riches is nothing short of astonishing.
……………..
…Narayandas Malkani was then a 57-year-old Congress worker, who had
worked closely with Gandhi in Delhi’s Bhangi Colony.
He had narrowly
escaped being attacked during the Karachi pogrom. After this, he and
Govardhan Vazirani, secretary of the Congress, were deputed to fly to
Delhi to convince the Congress high command to evacuate Hindus from
Sindh. 

Narayandas Malkani recalls:

“On arrival, I met Gandhiji
and other senior leaders and I told them face to face about the Karachi
riots. I was there for a week, and I met everyone about two or three
times. Pandit Nehru told me to go meet Bajpayee, the secretary general
in the main office. I met him, and I briefed him about the conditions in
Sindh; I told him that the time had now come for the Hindus to be
evacuated from Sindh and resettled in India by the government. He
listened to everything attentively and then I took his leave.

“Finally
Vazirani and I came to the conclusion that our work was done and that
we could return to Karachi by air the next morning, that is 31 January.
Before returning, I went to meet Gandhiji for the fourth and last time,
to take his leave. It was about four in the evening, and he was sitting
outside Birla House in the sun, with a straw hat on his head.

“His
voice was not weak any longer, and his bare body shone, burnt in the
sun. When I rose to touch his feet and take his leave, he clapped me
firmly on my back. This clap on the back used to be his blessing. He
said, ‘Now you go and evacuate people from Sindh. You leave only after
evacuating everyone else. Make sure you don’t leave before that. Give Mr
Khuhro a message that I will come to Sindh and make efforts towards
securing peace in Sindh. But for that, he will have to take Mr Jinnah’s
permission and send me a telegram.’”

Malkani used to stay with
Gandhi’s son, Devdas, whenever he visited Delhi. Shortly after he
returned to Devdas Gandhi’s home, they were informed of Gandhi’s
assassination. A grieving and distraught Malkani flew back to Karachi
the next day, where he was astonished to find that staff from the Indian
High Commission had come to receive him in a car, and that he had been
appointed additional deputy high commissioner in Karachi, specifically
for the purpose of evacuating Hindus and Sikhs from Sindh. Malkani
supervised the work of evacuation in Karachi and Hyderabad, by turns,
and also toured other towns in Sindh, to assess the situation of the
Hindus there.

Special trains were run from Hyderabad and Mirpur
Khas to Pali and Marwar Junction in present day Rajasthan, where refugee
camps were set up. These trains went directly – and safely – from Sindh
to Rajasthan and had no need to traverse Punjab, with its history of
violence. Moreover, the organised evacuation of Hindu and Sikh refugees
from West Punjab by rail had been completed by the first week of
December 1947,and now the Indian government could divert its attention
and resources towards refugees from Sindh.

Owing to the
determined intervention of the Indian government, and the assistance of
Sri Prakasa, the Sindh government was obliged to facilitate the
relatively smooth departure of non-Muslims from the province. The Sindh
government announced that there would be no more searches of women among
the departing Hindus and Sikhs.

Also, a large number of Hindu
government employees now wanted to either resign or to go on leave. The
Sindh government relaxed its rules, permitting these employees to
withdraw advances from their provident fund, and granted them long
leave, thus enabling them to escort their families to India.

The Sindh government was keen to avoid congestion in Karachi of Hindu
emigrants from the interior of Sindh: by the end of January 1948 there
were about 40,000 Hindus in the city waiting for passage to India, and
many more in the hinterland. In order to control and slow down the
passage of Sindhi Hindus through Karachi, and so minimise chances of
renewed violence, [Chief Minister] Khuhro imposed a permit system on 15
February 1948, whereby no Hindu could leave his or her town of origin
without a permit issued by the local authorities. While this was meant
to preserve law and order, it only caused greater distress to the
Hindus, impatient to leave.

More often than not, local officials
demanded bribes in order to issue permits. Sri Prakasa [India’s High
Commissioner in Pakistan] recalls the flood of Sindhi Hindus who came to
his office, requesting permits to travel to India:

“In the
office of the High Commission, we had to encounter heavy crowds. It was
difficult to regulate them. Everyone wanted to get a permit as soon as
possible so that he could go away. Everyone wanted to reach India […]
as soon as possible.

“The High Commission, however, had to act
warily and to keep all practical considerations in view. We could give
permits at a time only to as many persons as could be provided with
trans-port. Even this tragic scene was not without its lighter side.

“One
day I was looking after the arrangements myself. A woman came up to me
and quietly told me that a particular young lady of her family was in an
advanced stage of pregnancy. The child may be born any day. In these
circumstances, would I think of giving priority to her? I did so; but
the very next day, a strange scene presented itself before me. I found
that all women suddenly found themselves in an advanced stage of
pregnancy!

“They came to know that the High Commissioner was
partial to women in that condition, and was willing to treat them with
particular consideration. They thus found a good opportunity of saying
that all of them were in the self-same condition. It was obviously
impossible for the High Commissioner to get them medically examined!

“I
had smilingly to tell them that I did not think it was possible that
all of them would suddenly find themselves in such a delicate condition,
and I was therefore compelled to give these permits in the ordinary
course without making any distinctions between one person and another.”
 

By
the middle of June 1948, 10,00,000 Hindus had been able to migrate to
India; 4,00,000 more remained in Sindh. In August 1949, there were
incidents of renewed communal violence in Shikarpur and Sukkur, giving
new impetus to the exodus. Evacuation continued for three whole years,
finally tapering off in 1951. By this time, the transit camp set up at
Karachi still had 644 evacuees waiting to leave, but Sindh was largely
emptied of its Hindus: It was estimated that a scant 150,000 to 200,000
remained in their home province.

Sri Prakasa tells us, ‘On my
tours in the interior, I saw what appeared to have been flourishing
townlets before, complete with houses, temples, fields, now entirely
deserted, the whole of the population – evidently all Hindu – gone to
the last man.’

Yet, it should be noted that the stream of Hindus
fleeing Sindh only thinned down to a trickle by 1951, and never dried up
entirely. There has been a continuous migration of Sindhi Hindus from
Pakistan to India from the 1950s to the present day, varying in
intensity over the decades.
……………
Here is the narrative of a Sindhi
Hindu’s departure in 1949, which depicts the large crowds still in the
process of migrating to India. Kirat Babani, the prominent Sindhi author
and journalist, was a young man of 25 in 1947, working with the
Communist Party in Karachi. He and his other Communist friends decided
not to migrate, but many of them were arrested in 1948. Babani was
jailed for 11 months and released on the condition that he would be
externed from Karachi.

Later, in 1949, he thought he would visit
his family, which had migrated to India, and then return to Sindh. When
he boarded the ship at the Keamari docks, government officials searched
his belongings extremely roughly, and then served him a legal notice of
exile from Pakistan. He recounts his departure from Sindh in his
autobiography:

“Evening has fallen as I sit on the empty steel
trunk. I have no idea when the ship weighed anchor and set sail towards
its destination. My belongings are still scattered around me, and there,
on the entire deck, people are scattered. Entire families, mostly from
villages in the interior of Sindh, have been thrown here.

“They
are from the poor and middle class, their dress and behaviour is Sindhi.
Some mothers also have suckling children with them, whom they are
nursing, covered with their dupattas, and with their backs to the men.
This transgression of custom must cause them mental agony. […]

As
night falls gradually, and as the ship starts to careen up and down and
sideways like a rocking horse, subjected to the blows of the forceful
waves of the deep sea, the condition of the travellers on deck begins to
worsen. Many begin to feel dizzy and their stomachs start to churn.
Many are retching, and some are actually vomiting. The crying and
wailing of the children has cast a pall of gloom everywhere.”

…….

Link (1) : http://scroll.in/article/671669/The-Making-of-Exile:-Sindhi-Hindus-and-the-Partition-of-India

……
 
* Mukesh Said, Haan Yaar, Ranjan, Congress To Ab Apni Dukaan Hai’.

Link (2): http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Mukesh-Said-Haan-Yaar-Ranjan-Congress-To-Ab-Apni-Dukaan-Hai/268088

…..

regards

0

“Crossing the river by feeling the stones”

…..what Zia claimed to base his economic policies was ‘social
justice’….
involve economic growth…..stable prices and macroeconomic stability…..safety nets such as
food vouchers for the needy….programmes for human development….development of the marginalised sections.
….Social justice, I would contend, is what Sen says Bangladesh is better at than India……
……………

……
Blogger-badshah and king of economists Jyoti Rahman makes the (convincing) case that Ziaur Rahman is the true father of modern-day Bangladesh, whose efforts have directly contributed to the (relatively) advanced social parameters as well a number of foreign policy achievements.  

Indeed JR goes so far as to state that Bangladesh can be an inspiration to all the struggling Arab countries/people.
……….

….
Paraphrasing JR, while ZA Bhutto promised Islamic socialism in Pakistan, Ziaur Rahman actually implemented the same in Bangladesh; Sheikh Hasina (current PM) is now promising Islamic secularism. Perhaps Imran Khan will be better inspired by looking east instead of west.
……

The problem we have with Zia (and the other Zia as well) is that he rejected the concept of a secular republic. [ref. Wiki] The secularism principle was removed from the constitution in 1977 by Ziaur Rahman and declared Islam as the state religion. In 2010, Bangladesh Supreme Court restored secularism as one of the basic tenets of the Constitution but also kept Islam as the state religion.  

While such a step may have been considered to be pragmatic (80% muslim pop) the practical impact has oscillated between bad and (mostly) worse.

While Islamic socialism/secularism has been good for Bangladesh it has not been so good for its Hindu minority which has pretty much one viable option: surrender your property and move to India. It has not really mattered which regime was ruling, military or civilian, Begum (1) or Begum (2). At least when the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) is in power, the atrocities against Hindus are highlighted (by Awami League aligned liberals). In contrast when the communal fires burnt recently in Jessore and in Chittagong there was not much ink spilled (analog or digital).

Also this. The only people in India who care to talk about ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh are the Hindutva brigades. The fall-out from this (in the states/districts bordering Bangladesh) has been fairly predictable. As the (mostly) secular left fades away, the communal right is taking its place. Today, migrants from Bangladesh are under the gun everywhere (often literally, as in Bodoland).

Unless people find a way to reconcile thousand year old hostilities and neutralize poisonous ideologies, things will go from bad to worse, everywhere.
………………….

Had he not been killed in 1981, Ziaur Rahman would have been 76
today.  Despite the twists and turns of politics, over three decades
from his death, when things actually work in Bangladesh, they work along
the path set by this military strongman turned a very popular
politician.  And they work because the politics of synthesis crafted by
Zia had continued from the work of his predecessors, and his successors
saw the merit in keeping them.



….
Amartya Sen has noted how Bangladesh has better social indicators than
India despite having only half the per capita income.  This theme has
been picked up by a number of 40th anniversary pieces that note that
Bangladesh has done pretty well when it comes to human development,
despite unfriendly nature and dysfunctional politics.   

As it happens,
the beginning of pretty much all the examples of ‘good results’ recorded
by Bangladesh can be traced to the Zia era.




Take
population control for example.  In the 1970s, population was growing
by 3% a year, and was expected to double to 150 million by the
mid-1990s.  That has been delayed by well over a decade, and population
growth rate is now between 1-1.5%.  At the time of
independence, Bangladeshi women on average had 7 children.  By 2008,
according to the World Bank, fertility rate had fallen to 2.3 — close to
replacement level that stabilises population.  



….
And unlike in China or India, the decline in fertility rate hasn’t
been accompanied by grotesque discrimination against female infants
(effectively female infanticide in places). 
In fact, on metrics related
to living standards of poor women, Bangladesh tend to pretty well
compared with its peers.



….
The reason for this includes concerted government efforts — something
again initiated by the Zia regime, and continued by everyone since. 
But activities of the NGOs and the emergence of the ready made garment
sector have also played their part.   

Of course, both the first Aarong
shop and Desh Garments (first RMG factory) started when Zia was the
president.



What about self sufficiency in food?  The green revolution came to Bangladesh under Zia.


What about the remittance boom that has kept Bangladesh afloat for the past decade?  The Gulf labour market opened under Zia.


….
I would contend that Zia succeeded not because his task was easier,
but because he was a pragmatic technocrat who eschewed ideology and
grandiosity, and adopted ‘whatever works’.  Thus, for example, he
facilitated the NGOs to expand not because there was an ideological
dispensation for it, but because he recognised that these agencies were
providing a service that the state machinery was incapable of
delivering.



….
From all accounts, Zia’s pragmatism seems to be
heavily influenced by Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy of ‘crossing the river
by feeling the stones’.



Instead, what Zia claimed to base his economic policies was ‘social
justice’
– সামাজিক ন্যায়বিচার in Bangla.  Now, social justice has never
actually been defined formally.  But we can guess what he would have
meant by this from the policies and developments adopted and initiated
under his watch.



….
I would contend that social justice would involve economic growth,
which translated into jobs and income from the rural and urban poor and
less affluent classes.  I would contend that social justice would mean
stable prices and macroeconomic stability.  I would contend that social
justice would mean government programmes that ensure safety nets such as
food vouchers for the needy. 

…..
Social justice, I would suggest, would
involve active government programmes for human development, and
particularly development of the marginalised sections of the society.



….
Social justice, I would contend, is what Sen says Bangladesh is better at than India.


….
Interestingly, across the Muslim world, parties that are coming to
power with popular mandate seems to contain ‘social justice’ or related
terms such as welfare or development in their names.  It seems that
Ziaur Rahman pioneered a synthesis that is still all too relevant not
just in Bangladesh, but in other similar countries too.

…….

Link: http://jrahman.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-politics-of-synthesis-2-society-and-economy/

……

regards

0

The Fiddler (on the Roof) and his son

…..At the service, I began my eulogy with an anecdote from a few years
earlier…..My father and stepmother were en route from New York to
Westport, Connecticut, when he began feeling ill……by the time they
arrived, an EMS crew was waiting……
“How do you feel?” asked the head EMS guy.“I don’t feel so good.” “What hurts you?” “It hurts me that George Bush is president.”…..
…………
Dad, Joel Stein, was a (jewish) communist then a (jewish) progressive in middle-class America. Son, Harry Stein, was a (jewish) lefty and switched over to the evil (jewish) neo-con side. Dad would be asked by his friends: when did your son become a fascist?
…………..


The life-story of dad, famous playwright, memorable for his creation: Fiddler on the Roof, where crisis overtakes a tradition bound (jewish) family when a daughter falls for a gentile boy.

As Stein explains reality was not so different after all: My parents never cared that I dated out of the faith or that the
woman I married is about as Jewish as her Mayflower forebears. The only
remark on the subject I ever heard from my father (for whom the closer
to the truth, the funnier) was: “Why don’t you ever bring home a black
girl, so we can show how liberal we are?”

What we liked best was this death-bed humor from an old, tired man: It was Carl Reiner….“It’s
incredible, it should be in the Guinness book of records! I told Mel
[Brooks], and he said, ‘It’s impossible, no 98-year-old could possibly
fall down 14 steps backward and survive!’ ”
…..He listened for a moment as Carl repeated
what he’d told me.
….“Tell Mel,” he replied wearily, “that not only is it
possible; there are several people to whom I’d highly recommend it.”


………….
My father, playwright Joseph Stein, was so vital for so long that when
he died in October 2010, at 98, some people were actually taken by
surprise. Nearly half a century after his greatest success, Fiddler on the Roof, he had been hard at work on a new musical.

At the service, I began my eulogy with an anecdote from a few years
earlier. My father and stepmother were en route from New York to
Westport, Connecticut, where one of his old shows was being revived,
when he began feeling ill. They called ahead, and by the time they
arrived at the theater, an EMS crew was waiting.


“How do you feel?” asked the head EMS guy.

“I don’t feel so good.”

“What hurts you?”

“It hurts me that George Bush is president.”


The line drew a roar from the huge crowd at Riverside Memorial
Chapel, as I knew it would. These were his people, New York theater
folk, as reliably left a bunch as you’re likely to find anywhere outside
a university campus.


….
It was my parting gift to a man I’d loved greatly and—over the
previous decade or so, since moving to the right—had argued with
incessantly. Though anyone with a passing acquaintance with my father
knew that he was almost preternaturally good-humored, someone able to
wring a laugh from even the direst of circumstances, this was something
he just couldn’t wrap his head around.


….
It was a situation surely familiar to others in families sharply
split along ideological lines, though the generational divide generally
runs in the opposite direction. My father simply couldn’t fathom how any
thinking person, let alone someone who’d imbibed politics at his knee,
could have ended up a . . . well, he never actually used the word, at
least not directly. The closest he ever came was reporting the reaction
of a friend, one of Broadway’s better-known composers, who had come
across something I’d written: “When did your son become a Fascist?”



For my part, I understood his worldview far better—a Communist in
young adulthood, he’d been a proud progressive ever since—but I found
him no less frustrating. In other respects thoughtful, even wise, how
could he not see the damage that today’s aggrieved and self-righteous
Left was inflicting on the country we both loved?


….
To the contrary, having lived to see Barack Obama elected and his
health-care plan bludgeoned to passage, my father was delighted with the
drift of things. Indeed, a few months before he died, he confided, only
partly joking, what few others on his side of the political spectrum
would be honest enough to admit, assuming that they were astute enough
to grasp it: “I never moved, the Democratic Party came to me.”


….
On September 22, 1964, when Fiddler opened
on Broadway, I was two months shy of my 16th birthday. For a
stagestruck kid, the timing was perfect—I was old enough to sneak into
rehearsals on my own but innocuous enough that no one seemed to care. 

I’d watched the show’s development pretty much from the beginning;
watched my father labor over the initial drafts of the script in his
office in our suburban home and rush off to meet with his collaborator
buddies, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick; sat in on backers’ auditions in
our living room; slipped into those rehearsals, evading the laser gaze
of the martinet/genius director, Jerome Robbins; attended, along with my
then–best friend, Frank Rich, every performance of the show’s
Washington tryout, as new material came and went almost nightly; and at
last, sat thrilling at the New York opening—and then, the next morning,
with the appearance of the first reviews, watched the line snaking down
West 45th Street from the Imperial Theater.


….
By then, I figured that I knew everything there was to know about Fiddler, including every word of dialogue and every song cut from the production. So I was caught short by much in Wonder of Wonders,
Columbia Journalism School professor Alisa Solomon’s exhaustively
researched account of the show’s history and cultural influence, one of
several books timed to its 50-year anniversary. 

Solomon uncovered memos
between my father and the composers as they struggled with the daunting
task of moving Sholem Aleichem’s Old World characters from the page to
the Broadway stage. I never knew they’d considered replacing the story
line of Chava, the daughter who breaks her father’s heart by marrying
out of the faith, with an even more tragic one about another daughter,
Sprintze; or that my father, aware that everyone in the business,
including his agent, regarded the material as “too Jewish,” toyed with
giving the daughters less “exotic” names like Rachel and Sarah; or that
early on, the show’s ending had Tevye’s family moving to America while
he, “too old” and “afraid of new things,” and knowing that “survival is
his strongest trait,” stays behind in Anatevka. 

I’d long known that it
was director-choreographer Robbins who instinctively grasped that Fiddler had
to be not just about a family with marriageable daughters and unlikely
suitors but also the story of an entire people; and that, in a flash of
inspiration, he seized upon the unraveling of long-standing traditions
as the backdrop against which such a theme could play out. But the
eye-opener was how explicitly anti-tradition the show was meant to be.



The show left no doubt as to how vital had been the rites of the
shtetl, both secular and religious, in preserving the identity of a
despised and beleaguered people. Yet the most fiercely adhered-to
social/religious tenet of all—the injunction against marrying outside
the faith—was meant to be depicted, in a changing and more sophisticated
world, not merely as outmoded but as outright bigotry. In fact, wrote
Robbins of Tevye’s initial refusal to accept Chava’s Gentile mate, the
conditions “he has lived under have made him become as prejudice[d] as
his attackers.” 

In early rehearsals, the director—who, during the run-up
to West Side Story, had segregated the actors playing Jets from
those playing Sharks—even instructed the mixed religious couple to think
of themselves as Southern blacks “buying a book in a bookstore where
blacks are not allowed.” 

He told Bert Convy, the actor playing Perchik,
the revolutionary who embarks on a dangerous anti-czarist mission, to
imagine that he’s setting off to register black voters in Mississippi.
As those familiar with the show know, Tevye mostly comes around in the
end, giving his grudging blessing to the union as he and the rest of the
family embark for America. It’s a deeply affecting moment, one that, as
Solomon observes, in its depiction of “tolerance and equality as
supreme values,” nightly moved the overwhelmingly secular Jewish
audience whose experience it affirmed.


….
True to form, my father, always averse to the merest hint of the
maudlin, followed up that moment with a laugh—one equally telling, in
its way. As the two youngest daughters begin dancing about, chattering
about the trip they’re about to take, their sharp-tongued mother cuts
them off: “Stop that! Behave yourself! We’re not in America yet!”


….
The show’s ending worked, of course, Robbins’s staging of the
departure scene making it one of the most effective in musical history.
That Tevye’s love for his child finally outweighed all else gave the
show a remarkable universality. My father often described the reaction
of an audience member in Japan, where the conflict between old ways and
modernity had particular resonance: “Do they really understand this play
in America? It’s so Japanese.”


….
Of the more than a dozen Broadway shows—musicals and
comedies—that my father wrote over his long career, none ever sounded
more like him or more fully reflected his social and political views.
Every time I see the show, I’m struck by how much he’s there in
Tevye—his playfulness, his sardonic optimism, his habit (so irksome to
Golde, as it could be to my mother) of kidding around even when the
occasion calls for the utmost seriousness. But I’ve no doubt he
identified equally with Perchik, the young revolutionary and
good-natured smasher of tradition—in many ways, the noblest character in
the piece.

PERCHIK: In this world, it’s the rich who are the criminals. Someday, their wealth will be ours.
TEVYE: That would be nice. If they would agree, I would agree.

One of the odder ideological back-and-forths I had with my father
involved his abiding contempt for business and businessmen. “You make
them sound,” I laughed, “like the little guy with the monocle and top
hat in Monopoly.” For once, he didn’t smile back. “Exactly! That’s just
who they are!” 

Knowing how much he’d have enjoyed it, I regret that he
didn’t live to see Occupy Wall Street.


….
My parents never cared that I dated out of the faith or that the
woman I married is about as Jewish as her Mayflower forebears. The only
remark on the subject I ever heard from my father (for whom the closer
to the truth, the funnier) was: “Why don’t you ever bring home a black
girl, so we can show how liberal we are?”


….
What might seem odd about this is that my
father’s own life was the very essence of the American dream—a Horatio
Alger tale if ever there was one, the poor, scrappy kid making it big in
America by virtue of talent, hard work, and moxie. A child of
immigrants who never mastered the language or any but the rudiments of
American life—and never had to, so self-sufficient was their
Yiddish-speaking neighborhood—he was passionately engaged by this
wondrous country from the start. I have a diary he began at 15, in 1927.
On page after page, he goes on excitedly about the events of the day,
the plays and novels he’s been reading, the latest bon mots of columnists in the New York World, and the fortunes of his beloved New York Giants.


….
Then, again, the explanation is pretty straightforward. To be New
York Jewish in the first third of the twentieth century, living entirely
among refugees from the poisonous anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe and
their offspring, was by definition to wind up on the left—accepting as a
given that the world was basically divided into exploiters and
exploited, the selfish and those working for the betterment of all; the
only question was how far one wished to go.
 


It wasn’t until my father graduated from James Monroe High School
(class of ’29) and started commuting to City College that, having
rejected his parents’ religious orthodoxy, he adopted leftist politics
as his defining creed. In those Depression years, CCNY was the
campus for radical activism, with Communists in the lead. My father (and
mother, and everyone else in their circle) seems to have uncritically
accepted that, if perhaps not the paradise on earth proclaimed by some,
Stalin’s Russia was certainly the best hope for humankind.


….
Four decades later, when, though still on the left myself, I’d ask
them how they could have been so credulous as to accept the approved
line on the Soviet show trials of the 1930s or gone along with the
Party’s about-face on the Nazi threat after Stalin’s notorious pact with
Hitler, my father would revert to jokester mode. How could anyone not
trust Stalin, he would ask, with that “cute mustache”? 

But my mother
would get wistful, talking about the idealism of those years and how far
ahead the Communist Party was on civil rights—with its defense of the
Scottsboro Boys and other victims of virulent racism—and on women’s
rights. In fact, it was the Communists who’d coined the term “sexism,”
she said. More than a few in their crowd underwent abortions—including
her. Once, when I asked her what she thought of Gone with the Wind, she said she’d never seen it. “I was out front picketing.”


….
Little wonder that, within a few years, like so many other “red
diaper” babies, I emerged as a leading troublemaker on my college
campus; or that, a few years after that, just out of journalism school
and intent on writing a book, I chose as my subject an oral history of
the American Communist Party. Tentative title: Saving the World Together.
Thankfully, it never came to pass. 

But I do have to live with the
embarrassment of my first published magazine piece, an interview with
Earl Browder, the Party’s elderly former head. It appeared in the
December 1971 issue of my favorite magazine, American Heritage.
Having dragged my reel-to-reel tape recorder out to Princeton, where
Browder lived with his son, the head of Princeton’s mathematics
department, I sat nodding as he lied to me about everything from the
Party’s independence from Moscow (total!) to the innocence of the
Rosenbergs.


…..
Since, by the 1950s, my parents were basically Stevenson Democrats,
it had taken me a while to learn about this aspect of their past. It
began to come out when I was in sixth grade. I had a wonderful teacher,
Mr. Hubley, who would often fulminate about the evils of Communism, with
particular emphasis on Nikita Khrushchev—regularly identified as “a
cold-blooded murderer”—and the Red Chinese. 

I was going on about the
Chinese one evening at dinner when I noticed my parents exchanging
concerned looks—red-baiting at their own dinner table!—after which they
cautiously explained how, not long ago, the people of China had been
starving. So I should bear in mind, they counseled, that Mao Tse-tung
and Chou En-lai had also done some very fine things.


….
My political education continued in 1960, when I was called upon to
debate on John Kennedy’s behalf in history class against some kid
representing Nixon. The night before, my father offered a primer on what
a vile monster the Republican candidate was, closing with a key piece
of advice: “If you get in trouble and don’t know what to say, just ask,
‘What about Alger Hiss?’ ” 

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the next
day, I used the line—and was gratified to see our teacher nodding in
agreement, before declaring me the winner a few minutes later. This was
my first clue about how much it can pay off to be on the left.


….
Within a few years, I was savvy enough to challenge my father, or at
least give him a hard time. There was, for instance, the evening I first
ran across that old diary of his in the bottom drawer of a filing
cabinet. I read it in wonder, startled that at my age, he could know so
much and write so well. 

Wandering to my parents’ bedroom, I found my
father watching TV and asked, “Dad, do you remember the Sacco and
Vanzetti case?”

“Of course I do.”

“What did you think at the time?”

“What do you think? I was a good left-wing kid—I completely supported them.”


…..
At which point, I started reading him entries from the diary, starting with:

“Aug. 10, 1927. A subway station has been bombed in London. This is
the sixth of a series of bombings this week, a protest against the
sentence against Sacco and Vanzetti. . . . The efforts to save them have
resulted in damage more costly than the lives of these two men, it
seems. Editorial writers are storming about ‘Justice for all’ and
‘reasonable doubts,’ radicals are threatening destruction to the nation,
lawyers are arguing about ‘constitutional rights.’ . . . I cannot see
the reason for terming the guilt ‘reasonable.’ I would call this ‘Much
ado about nothing!’ ”


….
By now, my father was fuming, demanding that I hand over the diary,
but I skipped away, keeping it at arm’s length. “Aug. 23,” I continued.
“Sacco and Vanzetti are executed at last. It is about time. All these
reprieves only excited radical sentiment all the more. Now there will be
a hubbub which will gradually simmer and die down. Then, the case will
be generally forgotten. This should have been done a long time ago.”


….
That my father wasn’t blacklisted was
largely a matter of happenstance. He originally wanted to be a
journalist, but as the Depression deepened, he instead became a social
worker, remaining one for nearly a decade. He didn’t so much fall into
comedy writing as grab at the flimsiest reed of possibility. 

At a Bronx
dinner party of fellow thinkers, another guest, a small-time comic named
Zero Mostel, mentioned that he’d just landed a local radio show and
could use some funny sketches. “I write those,” my mother was astonished
to hear my father pipe up. Back home late that night, he wrote his
first. Within a few years, he’d quit social work and was writing for
radio full-time, and several years after that, with TV taking off, he
joined Sid Caesar’s legendary writing staff.


….
By then, the blacklist was established fact, but in Caesar’s shop, at
least as my father told it, it was less a source of terror than a game
of keep-away, with the willing participation of the network brass. 


“Every so often, some NBC functionary would call asking why no one had
signed the loyalty oaths, and we’d say we lost them, so they’d send over
another batch, and we’d immediately lose those.” 

Presumably, my father
never found himself under more direct threat because, as a social worker
during most of his time in the Party, and a member of the Bronx rather
than the Manhattan branch, he was not well-known to many in the business
(including those naming names).



Not everyone we knew was so lucky. One of my earliest memories is of a
writer-director named Aaron Reuben, a close friend of my parents and
one of the sweetest guys in the world, hiding out in our suburban home
to avoid a subpoena. Aaron would go on to produce such subversive
programming as The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, and Sanford and Son.


….
This is the conception of the blacklist with which I grew up, and the
one that has generally taken on an aspect of religious truth in the
decades since: that it was an unconscionable targeting by the
reactionary Right of entertainment-industry progressives, singled out
for their enlightened views. 

And, to be sure, a great many of those
whose careers and lives were wrecked by the blacklist fit the
bill—guilty, whether Communists or not, of nothing at all, save possibly
naïveté; and, yes, often their persecutors were not just indifferent to
the constitutional niceties but, as products of the opposite end of the
yawning American cultural divide, clumsily unknowing about who or what
they were dealing with.


….
Only years later did I come to grasp, as the formulation has it, that
some of the witches were real; or at least, that they were less
principled idealists than pitiless ideologues and
apparatchiks-in-waiting for their dream of a Sovietized America. There
was, for instance, V. J. Jerome, who, as the Party’s longtime cultural
commissar, served as its ideological enforcer and hatchet man in
Hollywood. 

As Howard Husock has chronicled in these pages, the Communist
effort to harness “culture as a revolutionary tool,” using left-leaning
artists and intellectuals “to insinuate the Marxist worldview into the
broader culture,” found its “bluntest expression” in Jerome’s pamphlet
“Let Us Grasp the Weapon of Culture.” (See “America’s Most Successful
Communist,” Summer 2005.) 

Husock focused on Pete Seeger and the singer’s
attempts to bring that aim to fruition in the musical realm, and it’s
shocking to learn of the extent to which he succeeded; just as it is
startling (and amusing) to know that screenwriter Lester Cole,
blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten, once put Spanish Communist icon
La Pasionara’s famous cry that it was “better to die on your feet than
live on your knees” into the mouth of a high school football coach.


….
My father, for all his political conviction, regarded such
propagandizing as offensive and bizarre. His allegiance always was to
the work, his comic sensibility, as Solomon observes, grounded “in the
absurdity of situations and in the sure-fire Jewish outsider stance.”
While the stories he told reflected his values, his characters were his
most honest expression of what those people would say and do. 

This was
as much the case when, in late middle age, he was writing the musical Zorba—its title character intent on resisting the ravages of time—as it had been with Tevye or Perchik.


His closest friends in the business were the same way: very funny and
very liberal. Leaving New York for Hollywood, they became the
generation that revolutionized television comedy. In doing so, almost
inadvertently, by being true to themselves, they played a key role in transforming—and liberalizing—American culture.


…..
The show that irrevocably altered the family sitcom was the one created by Rob’s father, Carl, the much beloved Dick Van Dyke Show.
As old friends and New Rochelle neighbors of the Reiners from the
Caesar years, we were fans from the first episode, and we always got a
special thrill when Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura mentioned that someone
wasn’t around because they were “over at Sadie and Joe Stein’s.” 

Set
equally in our hometown and my father and Carl’s old workplace, the show
not only sounded like us—no talk of malt shops here—but it was also
unmistakably, if subtly, liberal in the best, generous-spirited (which
is to say, now nearly antique) sense of the term. One of its most
memorable episodes, the premiere of season three, had a younger Rob
Petrie, in flashback, nearly hysterical because he’s convinced that
they’ve brought home the wrong newborn from the hospital, their infant
having been confused with one named Peters. 

At the end, he opens the
door to greet the Peterses—and they’re black. This was still daring
stuff for a sitcom broadcast nationwide, just a month after the March on
Washington. As the New York Times observed on the episode’s 50th
anniversary, it “perhaps nudged the needle of social change toward
integration and inclusiveness.”


As Andrew Klavan observes, it is now “almost an
unwritten law of Hollywood that any glancing reference to real-life
politics in a film or television show must be slanted left.” Just as
viewers can safely assume that the straightlaced businessman on
contemporary crime shows will turn out to be a bad guy, it’s an
excellent bet that, far from knowing best, today’s sitcom dad will be a
hapless lunkhead, while his fictional kids will be gung-ho
environmentalists. 

………..
If Ned Flanders of The Simpsons stands as TV’s idea of a do-gooding religious traditionalist, no one is fairer game on award-winning shows like 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation
than real-life conservative pols, with Sarah Palin an especially
attractive piñata. (Of course, President Obama is off-limits.)


For some of us on the right, this is a profound source of
frustration, a key reason that we are not only losing the culture war
but not even in the game. The problem is not so much a lack of comic
targets on the left—why not a sitcom set on one of today’s insanely
politically correct campuses or in a lapdog mainstream newsroom? Why no
gags at the expense of a Joe Biden or Harry Reid?—as it is a shortage of
network executives and creative types to make it happen.


……..
I never discussed any of this with my father. While he agreed that
there was too much pointless sexual innuendo on lots of today’s shows—he
hated cheap laughs like poison—he otherwise wouldn’t have grasped what I
was complaining about. Like most everyone else on the left, he saw the
attitudes and values so pervasive on TV today as unobjectionable, since
they mostly reflected his own. And, as far as comedy was concerned, all
that mattered to him was whether something was funny—and with that,
politics notwithstanding, I wouldn’t have vigorously argued.


….
It’s not as if we didn’t have enough to fight about, anyway. We could
go back and forth about almost anything—Giuliani or the Clintons, the
Koch brothers or Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh or the New York Times;
global warming or the Middle East or race. For a while, the most
innocuous comment was apt to trigger an outburst. One of our ugliest
fights, over dinner in an Italian restaurant, involved the Duke lacrosse
scandal, set off by the sight of a kid at another table wearing a
Carleton College lacrosse T-shirt.


….
When I was a liberal, he’d taken pride in the pieces I published in places like the New York Times and
in the invariably favorable reviews of my books in that revered
publication. Now, I often maintained a discreet silence about what I was
writing; he learned of the existence of one book, a largely comic take
on conservatives marooned among the smugly intolerant in America’s
deepest blue precincts, only a month after it appeared—with predictably
unhappy results. And this time, “Relax, Dad, at least it’s funny” didn’t help.


….
More than once, we got into it about Israel, too. My father, who
never would have brooked a word against the Jewish State when I was
young, was now just as adamant that in its treatment of the
Palestinians, Israel had turned away from a reverence for justice that,
for him, was the essence of Jewish identity. He blamed the despicable
pols of the Israeli right, the “religious crazies,” and, especially, the
“racist” settlers.


….
Still, even knowing his feelings on the subject, I was caught by surprise at the premiere of Fiddler’s
2004 revival by a change he’d made to the dialogue. It occurs late,
when the Jews, expelled from Anatevka, are bidding one another farewell,
and Yente is asked where she’s going. She’d long replied: “I’m a
matchmaker, no? I’ll arrange marriages, yes? Children come from
marriages, no? So I’m going to the Holy Land to help our people increase
and multiply. It’s my mission.” But, as Solomon observes, since those
lines might have been taken “as an endorsement of the idea of a
‘demographic war,’ ” Yente is now going to the Holy Land because “I just
want to go where our foremothers lived and where they’re all buried.
That’s where I want to be buried—if there’s room.”


…..
Indeed, each time I saw my
father, we began afresh. And particularly toward the end, we battled
less, as for different reasons—he for the fun of it, I because so much
of it was new—we were both eager to talk instead about the old days: his
start in radio, the remarkable range of showbiz luminaries he’d known,
the early years of TV comedy, the ups and downs of his many shows.


…..
So it’s unfortunate, if oddly appropriate, that our last exchange was
an unpleasant one about politics. It was October 2010, a few weeks
before the midterm elections, and sitting up in his hospital bed, he
asked, “If you lived in Delaware, you wouldn’t vote for that idiot
Christine O’Donnell, would you?”

“Well, Dad,” I replied, “I’m afraid I’d have to.” Just as, disbelieving, he started furiously to object, we were
interrupted by a nurse, shooing me from the room to perform some tests.
The next time I saw him, he was in a coma.


That’s why I prefer to remember another episode, in a different
hospital room not long before. Trying to do too much, both hands full,
he’d fallen backward down a long flight of stairs, landing on his
shoulder. He was to have surgery the next day, when the phone on his
bedside table rang, and I picked up. It was Carl Reiner. “I heard what
happened to your dad,” he exclaimed, more excited than alarmed. “It’s
incredible, it should be in the Guinness book of records! I told Mel
[Brooks], and he said, ‘It’s impossible, no 98-year-old could possibly
fall down 14 steps backward and survive!’ ”


….
I tried handing the phone to my father, but he demurred, whispering
that he was too tired. But I knew his old friend would cheer him up, so I
held the receiver to his ear. He listened for a moment as Carl repeated
what he’d told me. “Tell Mel,” he replied wearily, “that not only is it
possible; there are several people to whom I’d highly recommend it.”

…….

Link: http://www.city-journal.org/

…..

regards

0

“Police were there but just watching the burning”

….The number of accusations is rising….In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in
2011 there were 80…..2014 looks
set to be a record…..
In May 2014, 68 lawyers were charged with
blasphemy for using the name ‘Umar’ in protest slogans against a police
official of the same name.
In the same month, prominent human
rights lawyer Rashid Rehman defending a Pakistani university professor
accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers….

……………………
It does not matter if it is India or Pakistan or Sri Lanka, or Bangladesh, or….The news of late is remarkably monotonous and grim.

We remember the case of Rodney King from our time. He was viciously beaten up by LAPD officers, and the officers were initially let go by a white jury. The acquittals are considered to have triggered the Los Angeles riots of 1992 which were responsible for 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more
than 7,000 fires, damage to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in
financial losses [ref. Wiki]. During the riots, King appeared on television and offered what would later be his famous plea, “Can we all get along?”

In South Asia there is not much point in asking can we all get along. The least the powers that be can do is to protect minorities by building more secure ghettos (aka open air prisons). Electrified fence, dobermans, paramilitary, whatever it takes. But please ensure safety (and a bit of prosperity). Is that too much to ask for?
………..
Three female members of the Ahmadi community, including two
minors, were killed late Sunday and eight others were severely injured
when an angry mob attacked and burnt five houses, a storage building and
several vehicles over alleged blasphemy.
Those killed in the attack include a 55-year-old woman Bashiran, a minor girl Kainat and 7-year-old girl Hira.

The victims were rushed to the district headquarters hospital and the condition of few wounded was reported as critical.

Deputy
Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the People’s Colony Circle as saying
that the trouble started with an allegedly blasphemous post on Facebook
by an Ahmadi youth.

The son of a Imam of a local mosque along with
his friends reached the house of the youth where they entered into a
scuffle and were allegedly fired upon.

The Imam’s son and his
friend sustained gunshot wounds following which a mob gathered and began
protesting which eventually attacked and damaged homes and other
property belonging to members of the Ahmadi community.

Gujranwala
CPO Waqas Nazir, Civil Lines SP Zeeshan Siddiqi and DSP of CIA Rashid
Sindhu reached the spot and began negotiations with members of both
communities to bring the situation under control.

“Later, a crowd
of 150 people came to the police station demanding the registration of a
blasphemy case against the accused,” said another police officer who
declined to be identified. “As police were negotiating with the crowd,
another mob attacked and started burning the houses of Ahmadis.”

The youth accused of making the Facebook post had not been injured, he said.

Civil
Lines SP Zeeshan Siddiqi said the victims died of suffocation and that a
woman miscarried during the riots and was being provided medical
treatment.

Salimuddin, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said
it was the worst attack on the community since simultaneous attacks on
Ahmadi places of worship killed 86 Ahmadis four years ago.

“Police
were there but just watching the burning. They didn’t do anything to
stop the mob,” he said. “First they looted their homes and shops and
then they burnt the homes.”

According to police and eyewitnesses,
there were seven to eight houses of the Ahmadi community in the
vicinity. However, following the violence all Ahmadi families in the
area managed to flee.

Fearing further incidents of violence and
arson Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco) suspended the supply of
electricity in the area.

Ahmadis have been arrested in Pakistan
for reading the Holy Quran, holding religious celebrations and having
Quranic verses on rings or wedding cards. Four years ago, 86 Ahmadis
were killed in two simultaneous attacks in Lahore.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law does not clearly define
blasphemy but says the offence is punishable by death. Anyone can file a
blasphemy case claiming their religious feelings are injured for any
reason.

The accused are often lynched, and lawyers and judges
defending or acquitting them have been attacked. Rights groups say the
laws are increasingly used to seize money or property.

Two
politicians who suggested reforming the law were killed, one by his own
bodyguard. Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he came to
court.

The number of accusations is rising, according to a 2012
study by the Islamabad-based think tank, the Center for Research and
Security Studies. In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in
2011 there were 80. No more recent figures are available but 2014 looks
set to be a record.

In May 2014, 68 lawyers were charged with
blasphemy for using the name ‘Umar’ in protest slogans against a police
official of the same name.

In the same month, prominent human
rights lawyer Rashid Rehman defending a Pakistani university professor
accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers.

 
……..

Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1122143/mob-attack-over-alleged-blasphemy-three-ahmadis-killed-in-gujranwala

…..

regards

0

The future is (of) Asia (minus MENA)

Globalization and the hunt for natural resources have made this vast continent compact enough to form competing blocks which hopefully will not fight hot wars (China just blinked on the off-shore rig off Vietnam). 

OTOH there will be plenty of hot-wars in the MENA which will make the region unbearable (for staying) and unprofitable (for trading anything except oil).

….
From the Pew charts we observe that for the most part Asians love the USA. The important exceptions are China, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia manages to identify USA as the biggest ally AND as the biggest threat. For Pakistan the USA is a bigger threat than India. OTOH India is the biggest threat for Bangladesh.

……
What is interesting will be the upcoming role of Indonesia. It has just elected a populist leader who hails from the lower ranks (sounds familiar?). Given all the provocations from the Chicoms it is still fairly positive about China. As a fellow muslim medium-weight power (also Malaysia) it has a friendly outlook towards Pakistan.

….. 
The other country of interest is Bangladesh. As patriotic Bengalis are wont to say…it can be the next Switzerland. Bangladesh can play the Big Power game to its advantage (India against China and vice-versa). But that requires fairly astute political leadership and a national sense of purpose which seems to be missing right now. Bangladesh (as we see it) will be well-positioned in the Indo-China buffer zone, not as part of a pan-Arab empire (the Bangla expat communities will OTOH integrate comfortably with their cousins in the Ummah).

 
Following our imagination, the China-Pakistan-Malaysia-Indonesia combine balances nicely against Japan-India-Vietnam-Philippines. Bangladesh, Burma, Singapore, Australia and Korea occupy the co-friendship zone. It goes without saying that USA will play a key role but the countries involved may not need/want hand holding.

 
………….


Link: http://qz.com/234709/six-charts-that-show-asian-countries-love-america-and-fear-china-except-where-its-the-opposite/

…..

regards

0

The Return of the Butterfly

….her mother’s new ‘phone
wallah’, who replaced the guy who called her ‘Huzoor’ and ‘always did
jhuk ke salam’, ‘barges into her sitting room….and ‘calls Mummy “Anti”…..
It’s enough to make Mummy want to leave,
till Butterfly reminds her: ‘with your passport you have only two
choices….Afghanistan or else, Upstairs to Him’. One
of Mohsin’s many masterstrokes….

……… 
Hilarious stuff about how South Asian elites think and talk, kind of like an extended article from the Onion….

It is a shame that for a long. long time we have not had a single, decent brown humorist. It is all high drama, betrayal, politics, …and we are sick of it. Our best wishes to Moni Mohsin and we look forward to many such installments.
…..
Some of my favourite moments in The Return of the Butterfly—the
third in Pakistani journalist Moni Mohsin’s immensely popular series
chronicling the life and times of Butterfly, a malapropism-spouting
Lahori socialite—
remind me of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch in which four
men, comfortably off, try to outdo each other’s accounts of humble
beginnings. One says, “We lived in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture,
half the floor was missing.” Another responds, “Eh, you were lucky to
have a room! We used to have to live in the corridor!” 


The Pakistani
equivalents of this (admitting to humble origins, make no mistake, is
tantamount to social suicide) are seemingly fantastical descriptions of
how wonderful things were. You can’t escape it in drawing rooms: stories
of cabarets at Karachi’s grand Metropole hotel, people insisting their
grandmothers cycled to college in shorts, the ghastly socialite I once
found myself seated next to on a Karachi-Lahore connection who took one
look at the other passengers and conspiratorially told me: “In the good
old days, we used to know everyone on these flights.” 

Or, as Butterfly
says of her mother’s youth: ‘when both of them wore saris and beehives
and meat was ten rupees a ton and only the deserving had cars and even
those who took their six children to school on a bicycle had happy
smiles and only nice prayers for their car-driving betters’.



Indeed, if anecdotal evidence is to be believed, Pakistan’s finest
hour was one in which it was so utopian that pesky irritants like social
mobility simply didn’t exist. Now it’s so bad her mother’s new ‘phone
wallah’, who replaced the guy who called her ‘Huzoor’ and ‘always did
jhuk ke salam’, ‘barges into her sitting room and stands on her carpet
without even removing his shoes’ and ‘calls Mummy “Anti”, as if, God
forbid, he was related to us’. 

It’s enough to make Mummy want to leave,
till Butterfly reminds her: ‘with your passport you have only two
choices; either you can go to Afghanistan or else, Upstairs to Him’. One
of Mohsin’s many masterstrokes.



Starting in 2009 with Benazir’s assassination when Butterfly’s
husband Janoo—the very model of rectitude and foil to Butterfly’s
frivolity—heads to his ancestral lands to campaign for Benazir’s party,
lest her death be in vain, The Return of the Butterfly takes us
through the worst of times. In doing so, Mohsin provides a timely
reminder that even in countries free-falling into chaos and despair,
life, in all its sublime and ridiculous forms, still goes on. 

And so,
while Janoo starts exhibiting signs of clinical depression watching
everything he loved about Pakistan slip away, Butterfly buys Birkins,
attends and critiques lavish weddings, plans summer holidays in London
and trades ‘Ramzan’ for ‘Ramadan al Kareem’—succumbing to the
Arabisation of Pakistan (which the press describes as ‘creeping’,
whereas it’s making a mad dash at one in the manner of a bull to a
matador).



Mohsin hits the target every time. Butterfly goes to ‘the pools’ to
vote after Benazir’s death, saying ‘Thanks God we live in Gulberg and
not some slump type area where we would have to vote alongside all the
bhooka nangas’. 

She is shaken by former governor of Punjab Salman
Taseer’s murder and much of the country’s grotesque reaction: ‘Even
friends of ours whose kids are in college in the US and who serve drink
in their home and would sell their grandmothers for a green card, even
they are saying that he wasn’t a good Muslim.’ She attends candlelight
vigils but only the ones for ‘khaata peeta types’. 

In 2011, she goes the
way of her more vapid friends and ‘feels a deep connection with Imran
Khan’ because ‘Imran is also a PLU, na’ and ‘he will do sullah with the
Taliban so they will aik dum drop their weapons and become all lovey
dovey with us’. But even Butterfly can’t swallow the theory that
‘Amreekans’ shot Malala because they ‘want to give Pakistan a bad name’.



While Butterfly’s concerns are still her wardrobe, her horror of
upstarts, and the distress caused by the local supermarket running out
of avocadoes, the book is at moments just too horribly true to even
laugh along with. You can tell the country’s really gone down the tubes
when even Butterfly’s diary saddens as much as it entertains.



(Faiza S Khan is a critic and editor based in New Delhi)
…..

Link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/the-truth-behind-the-laughter

…..

regards

0

The Dargah of Anuradhapura (no more)

….dargah built to honour Sikkandar Waliullah, a Muslim
saint….dargah had found mention in literature for at least 400 years…
green blankets of cloth covered Waliullah’s tomb; these are yanked off
and burned….a couple of Qurans….one of them was thrown down a well….other was added to the
bonfire…. 

In India (primarily Uttar Pradesh) riots are so frequent now that it is difficult to keep count. Earlier there was Muzaffarnagar, now Saharanpur is burning. It is not just Hindus against Muslims, it is Muslims vs. everyone else. As usual you have to read between the lines since Indian press reports are deliberately kept ambiguous.
….

Three persons were killed and 26 injured in communal clashes in
Saharanpur
on Saturday, prompting the district administration to impose
curfew and issue shoot-at-sight orders. The Army has been put on alert.
….Members of one community began construction at a vacant plot near
Gurdwara Road
in the Qutubsher police station area allegedly without the
permission of the Saharanpur Development Authority.
…Members of the other community objected to this, saying the land, near a graveyard, belonged to them.
…………………

The violence is said to be a fallout of a dispute between two communities over ownership of a vacant plot.

According to Daljeet Singh Kochar, an advocate in the Saharanpur civil
court, one Moharram Ali Pappu filed a petition in the court 10 years
ago, stating that a mosque had been built on the land and it must not be
used by the gurdwara.
But, Mr. Kochar said, the Additional District
Judge passed an order in May 2013 stating the land belonged to the
gurdwara.


Kulveer Singh, a member of the Gurdwara Prabandhak Samiti, said “the
land where the samiti was constructing an extension to the gurdwara
premises was the place from where the violence started around 4 a.m. on
Saturday.”
He alleged that a mob of more than 700 people approached the gurdwara and started throwing stones.

…..

WHEN I MOVED TO SRI LANKA
in the summer of 2011, I thought I wanted to write a book about the
island’s past troubles. The civil war had ended two years earlier,
suddenly presenting a chance to gather the sorts of personal stories
that could neither be collected nor told easily over the previous three
decades, when the conflict was still ablaze. But during my time there,
Sri Lanka’s stock of strife replenished itself, and fear and violence
rode forth from unexpected quarters. The furious swell of Sinhalese
nationalism that had closed out the war with such brutality was now
starting to poison other relationships in Sri Lanka.

One evening in Colombo, my friend Sanjaya dropped by, intending to
collect me on our way to someplace else. I offered him a drink—beer, I
seem to remember now, but given how the next two hours slipped clean out
of our hands, more likely it was arrack. Arrack did that to you: it
greased the passage of time. We sat around my dining table, Sanjaya
telling stories and I listening. He told yarns tall and magnificent,
embellishing on the run and possessing such a fondness for the absurd
that he giggled as if he were hearing the tale and not narrating it.
When he laughed, his eyes narrowed into letterbox slits, he quivered
noiselessly, and his shoulders heaved. His mirth was tectonic.
“You heard they pulled a Muslim shrine down?” Sanjaya asked.
It had happened in the previous week in Anuradhapura, the ancient
capital of Sri Lanka, and the most holy of towns for the island’s
Buddhists. A group of Buddhist protesters—a busload, or two busloads,
according to conflicting media reports—had arrived with crowbars and
hammers and taken apart a small, old dargah. In this enterprise, they
had not been stopped by the police or local administrators. Anuradhapura
now bristled with communal tension.
“We should go there,” I said.
“We should,” Sanjaya said thoughtfully. “I know a guy who caught the whole thing on video.”
During the final years of the civil war, Sri Lankan Buddhism had
developed a muscular right wing. First, in 2004, there was the launch of
the Jathika Hela Urumaya, a political party led by Buddhist monks, some
of whom admitted quite freely to being racists and bayed for a
destructive, damn-the-consequences annihilation of the guerrillas of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Nine of its monks entered parliament,
and the party became a member—and an ideological heavyweight—in the
coalition that ruled Sri Lanka. After some years, even the JHU was
deemed by some to be too timid. In 2011 and 2012, two other sets of
monks splintered from the JHU and started the Sinhala Ravaya (the
Sinhalese Roar) and the Bodu Bala Sena (the Army of Buddhist Power),
hijacking for themselves the shrill energy of Sinhalese Buddhist
nationalism. On the flag of the Sinhala Ravaya, a lion bounds forward,
holding a sword thrust forward in attack. The Sinhalese roar is
practically audible.
During those two years, the Buddhist right developed a taste for
straight thuggery. The Tamils, cautious and defeated, living under a
crushing military presence in the country’s north and east, posed no
present threat to Sinhalese Buddhism. So, instead, the Bodu Bala Sena
and the Sinhala Ravaya—as well as the JHU, their milquetoast
cousin—retrained their energies upon Sri Lanka’s Muslims, who form
roughly 10 percent of the population. Unlike with the Tamils, no long
skein of ancient hatreds between Buddhists and Muslims could be
unspooled out of the island’s ancient Buddhist histories; no rankling
grouses could be invoked as justifications for this new animus. But this
did not matter. The Muslims were demonised, accused of eroding the
country’s Buddhist heritage. In the absence of ancient hatreds,
chauvinism can easily rustle up modern ones.
Through the months after I came to Sri Lanka, and in the years after I
left, the country’s newspapers filled with reports of violence, and
with pronouncements from Buddhist leaders on how they expected Muslims
to behave. The JHU demanded the closure of Muslim-owned butcheries that
sold beef, and forced the government to ban the certification of halal
meat across the country. The Bodu Bala Sena attacked a popular
Muslim-owned apparel store in Colombo, an incident that rose to
prominence because of the size and popularity of this particular
emporium. Other anonymous groups painted pigs on the walls of mosques.
Some protesters stormed into the Sri Lanka Law College in Colombo,
claiming that its examination results were doctored to favour Muslims.
Calls went around for particular mosques and Muslim shrines around the
island to be razed, ostensibly for being situated too close to Buddhist
temples. Even proximity was unacceptable now. In the town of Dambulla,
the chief priest of a local Buddhist temple led a protest to “relocate” a
mosque. In the process, he warned, “Today we came with the Buddhist
flag in hand. But the next time, it would be different.” No one stood up
to these threats; Sri Lanka absorbed them passively and sailed on. It
was a frightening, sickening time, plump with hatred and hostility.

THE ANURADHAPURA DEMOLITION happened early in
September 2011. We went there in the very last days of the month,
Sanjaya and I and another friend named Dinidu. From Colombo, we caught a
night train to Anuradhapura, practically sticking our heads out of the
open window for all five or six hours because our compartment was so
stifling and airless. The train arrived at 3.30 am, and we were the only
people to alight at Anuradhapura’s small, low station.

“During the war, whenever they wanted to make a film in which the
Jaffna station appeared, they would use the Anuradhapura station
instead,” Sanjaya said. He stood for a few minutes and looked up at the
building’s facade, pearl white by moonlight.
In the morning, we visited Sanjaya’s contact Rizvi, himself a local
journalist. He was a middle-aged man with brawny forearms and white
stubble. Either he had known that we would be videotaping him or he was a
punctilious dresser even at home, because he wore a white shirt with
knife-sharp creases and a neat blue-and-white checked sarong. His first
language was Tamil, but he spoke to Sanjaya and Dinidu in fluent
Sinhalese. Whenever Rizvi said something significant, one of them would
aim a translation in my direction. I sat off to the side, on a divan
next to a window, scribbling.
It appeared that Rizvi was immensely fond of recounting the turns of
bureaucratic wheels: petitions filed, orders issued and appeals
counter-filed, deeds issued, public meetings held and reports written.
From any mess of administrative detail, he was certain, a clear and
potent truth would emerge. For Rizvi, everything had a procedural
history, and for this reason he started the story of the dargah
demolition by describing how he moved house in 1974.
Rizvi and his family used to live in a jumble of Muslim residences in
the Sacred City, a zone wrapped around a giant Bodhi that was grown,
according to legend, from a cutting of the original tree under which the
Buddha attained enlightenment. Some families had been living in the
area for more than a century. “We moved out because the drainage in that
place was so awful. But, technically, we still owned our house there.”
In May 2009, a minister in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government
ordered all the houses to be knocked down, without compensation. Two
weeks later the civil war ended, but Rizvi’s family felt no joy because
they were so distressed about the demolition of their home.
The dargah had been in the very heart of this neighbourhood, and once
the houses were stripped away, it shone through prominently. It had
been built to honour Sikkandar Waliullah, a Muslim saint and healer who
had been buried in Anuradhapura. No one had precisely established the
antiquity of Waliullah’s life, although Rizvi claimed that the dargah
had found mention in literature for at least 400 years. “Every year,
there was a festival here, an urs, when holy men used to come
to the dargah and hit themselves with hammers or stab themselves with
knives, to prove the power of the shrine,” Rizvi said. “This at least, I
know, had been happening for more than 50 or 60 years, because my uncle
remembered seeing it when he was a boy.”
The very existence of the dargah now rankled the Buddhist right, as a
plainly Islamic commemoration on Buddhist turf. The night before the
Poya—or full-moon—holiday in June 2011, seven men on motorcycles drove
up to the shrine. A Sinhalese man living in the vicinity realised they
were armed with tools and crowbars, and he alerted the dargah’s
caretaker. On that occasion, some tiles on the dargah were damaged, but
the job couldn’t be completed. A band of Muslims confronted the seven
men, the police turned up, and the wrecking crew was hustled out of the
site. In response to the incident, a new, permanent police post was
installed near the dargah, for additional security. “You can see it in
the video of the dargah’s final destruction,” Rizvi said. “You can also
see that the policemen are doing nothing.”

ANURADHAPURA WAS HUSHED and wary after this
episode, bracing itself for more trouble. Around this time, hysterical
pamphlets started to circulate within the town. Rizvi had saved three of
them for us. Two were anonymous, but the third was signed by
Amithadamma Thero, a Buddhist monk who was something of a firebrand
among the local clergy. “I was surprised to see that monks were
involved,” Rizvi said. “I would never have thought it possible.” The
leaflets—all in Sinhalese—sealed the dargah’s fate.

The first pamphlet called the Sinhalese “the fastest vanishing race
on the face of this earth,” and it worried that the country’s biggest
threats came from its Muslims, who were “breeding like pigs.” There were
further descriptions of Muslims, consisting of astonishing filth, and
then:

We need a pureblood king who can proudly
say to the world that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist nation. He should
be brave enough to say: “The other races that live here have to live by
those rules, or they can leave.” We don’t need multicultural,
multi-religious ideas. There has to be one Sinhala Buddhist country in
the world. This is that country …
Do not sell your land and businesses to
the Muslims. They are able to buy things for higher prices because of
the money they get from their mosque and the Middle East for the
breeding of their kind. You and I will die soon, but it is our duty to
save this sacred land for the future generations …

The closing sentence was an instruction: to circulate the leaflet among Sinhala Buddhists only.
In the second pamphlet, the authors attacked the district
administration for allowing the Sacred City to be defiled by the dargah
and other non-Buddhist enterprises. To prevent a religious war, it said,
the dargah needed to be removed. “Don’t you cow-killing, beef-eating,
Tamil-speaking people already have a mosque in Anuradhapura behind the
post office? Don’t make a joke out of our Buddhist heritage.”
The final leaflet, signed by Amithadamma Thero, was dated 2 September
2011. Calling the dargah a “mosque,” Amithadamma raged that its very
presence in the Sacred City polluted Anuradhapura.

Who is responsible for this?
Corrupt politicians and certain
robe-wearers who bow their heads and tangle a yellow robe about them but
don’t even follow the Five Precepts. Shame on the Sinhala Buddhist
policemen who protect this mosque …
Shame on the IGP [Inspector General of
Police] who is using the police to protect this mosque. May Mahinda and
Gotabhaya who are good followers of Buddhism become aware of this soon!
Pious monks and followers:
To save the Anuradhapura Sacred City from this Muslim invasion, come to the Dakkhunu Dagoba on the 10th of September at 1 p.m.

There was no mistaking that final line. It was a loud, clear call to action.

JUST AFTER NOON, Rizvi interrupted his slaloming
narrative to go collect his daughter from school. While Sanjaya and
Dinidu sat on in the living room, paging through a trove of documents, I
wandered outside. On the verandah, I ran into Mohammad, Rizvi’s son, a
teenager studying for his A Levels. Who were we? he inquired, out of
curiosity. I told him, and then, just to make conversation, asked who
their neighbours were. He pointed out house after house; at the end he
indicated a bungalow two doors away, where a Tiger suicide bomber had
killed Janaka Perera.

Perera, a distinguished army general, had campaigned for the post of
chief minister of the North Central Province in 2008. He had lost, but
he was still an opposition leader, and he had opened a party office on
this street.A crowd had collected at the formal inauguration of the
office, and Rizvi’s brother, as well as his sister and her husband, had
all popped over. They were standing outdoors, on a covered verandah very
similar to where Mohammad and I now stood and talked. A man staggered
into the throng, gibbering and gesticulating, pretending to be mad. Then
he blew himself up. “His head had split into two,” Mohammad said, “and
they found parts of his limbs on trees outside the house.”
Rizvi’s sister and her husband died on the spot. His brother was
taken to the hospital. A shard of homemade shrapnel—the bolts, nails and
broken razor blades that had been sewn into the suicide bomber’s
vest—had embedded itself in his heart. But even this he might have
survived, Mohammad said, had these fragment not been coated
painstakingly with cyanide. “He was also a journalist, like my father,
and he dropped his video camera right there. A metal piece went into
that too.”
I realised I had seen this camera, a Panasonic that Rizvi still used.
It had been sitting on a cluttered dining table all morning, charging.
When I went back inside the house, I looked more closely at it, and I
could see the path ploughed by the shrapnel, a deep furrow running just
above the tape deck.
When Rizvi returned, I asked him about the bombing that had killed
three members of his family in one fell morning. He gave me a thin
smile.
“Not just them,” he said. Then he counted away, on his fingers, the
number of people his family had lost to the Tigers. His sister’s
father-in-law had died in a Tiger massacre of Sinhalese civilians in
1985, near the great Bodhi tree; 146 people died in three separate
attacks in Anuradhapura that day. This man’s son—the brother-in-law of
Rizvi’s sister—had been a civil servant in Muttur, in the east, when he
was shot dead by the Tigers. Then there were Rizvi’s brother and sister
and her husband; Rizvi had run out of fingers on that hand. “Now I am
the only one left,” he said. I felt like I had picked at a loose floor
tile and found a stash of corpses buried beneath.

IN RESPONSE TO AMITHADAMMA’S LEAFLET, a couple of
hundred people, under the bounding lion banner of the Sinhala Ravaya,
assembled near the dargah. A large bus turned up as well, bearing men
with tools and a few dozen monks. “Some friends had called me, saying
that there was some trouble, so I had gone there with my camera,” Rizvi
said. A squad of 50 policemen had cordoned off the dargah, but Rizvi
discovered that this was to prevent the public from getting closer,
rather than to protect the shrine. He tried to get nearer, but one of
the policemen prevented him. “He told me: ‘Don’t go. These people aren’t
here to speak or to listen to reason. They’re behaving badly.’” Rizvi
stood with a tight, fearful knot of Muslims on the shoulder of the road,
a hundred metres or so from the dargah.

At 3.45 pm, a local bureaucrat named GA Kithsiri—an assistant
government agent, equivalent to a deputy district collector—entered the
scene. “He came past us, and he said to me: ‘This is foolish. This is
foolish.’ I told him: ‘That’s right. Please go and end this.’” Kithsiri
strode away, towards the dargah. Rizvi watched the remainder of the
afternoon play out at a distance. The wind snatched away so many of the
voices that the events seemed to be part of a tragic silent film.
The monks had been squabbling with the policemen when Kithsiri
arrived. He engaged animatedly with them; Rizvi could see hands being
flung about, and shreds of shouting blew occasionally towards him. Then
Kithsiri pulled out a cell phone and dialled a number. In the video,
Kithsiri moves away from the dargah and paces back and forth, plunged
into conversation. There is no way to tell who was on the other end of
the line. Later, Rizvi heard that Kithsiri had first tried to calm the
mob, telling them that he already had orders from the ministry of
defence, run by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa—the president’s brother and the
country’s most frightening man—to demolish the dargah in the next three
days, assuring them that he would attend to it. When the men insisted on
finishing the job themselves, and right away at that, Kithsiri called
his superiors and asked them what to do.
In any event, in the video, he appears to have received some set of
definitive instructions. He hangs up and walks—reluctantly, to my eyes,
as if his feet weighed many tons—back to the dargah, to speak to one of
the policemen. Some new commands are snapped out. Then the police cordon
ebbs, and the destruction commences.

WE CLIMBED INTO RIZVI’S VAN, and he drove us
through the Sacred City towards the location of the dargah. The Buddha
loomed over us, in the form of the head and shoulders of a gigantic
white statue visible above the line of scrub and low trees on the side
of the road. Rizvi pointed out where his family’s houses had stood
before they were rubbed out in 2009. The access path to the dargah, from
the main road, was blocked by an army barricade; we were allowed no
closer. Rizvi didn’t stop, for fear that soldiers would come over and
question us; instead, he crept on slowly but steadily. From the van, we
could make out only the low wall of the dargah’s compound and some
Buddhist bunting that had been looped around the trunks of trees. There
was, of course, no dargah to see.

In Rizvi’s video, the dismantling of the dargah is clinical and
coordinated, and it holds a perverse allure that makes it difficult to
look away. The monks are attired in their orange habits, but the other
men wear white work gloves and carry just the right tools for the job.
They have come fully prepared, and also fully confident that they will
not be stopped.
First the men hang Sinhala Ravaya flags from the branches of nearby
trees; it is important to advertise the organisation under the auspices
of which these activities are being carried out. They peel away the
sheets of tin that form part of the shrine’s modest roof, chucking them
over the waist-high compound wall with a clatter. Large, Islam-green
blankets of cloth covered Waliullah’s tomb; these are yanked off and
burned. Somebody found a couple of Qurans within the shrine, Rizvi told
us; one of them was thrown down a well, and the other was shredded and
added to the bonfire. We can’t see this in the video, but the earth
around the fire is littered with white rectangles that might be pages
ripped out of books. A monk stands over the fire, superintending it with
such care that he resembles an attentive chef stirring and peering into
his pot. Another man, with a long metal bar, is trying to take down, or
at least damage, the compound wall, and his pounding upon the brick
sounds tinny and melancholic.
At some late point during the hour-long demolition, Rizvi managed to
creep closer to the site and continue filming it in brief bursts. By
this time, the dargah has been pulverised into a mess of masonry. The
fires have reduced and expired, and helices of smoke seep out of the
embers. Much of the mob vanished after the shrine was pulled down,
although on the soundtrack we can still hear the occasional jab at the
still-standing compound wall, or the thunder of the tin sheets. The
drama of the afternoon has leaked out, but a dazed air hangs over the
small set of muttering onlookers; they are like the audience at a
mystifying play, still trying to make sense of the plot, hanging around
the theatre in the hope that an epilogue will provide some explanation.
But, by 5 pm, it is all clearly over. In one of the last frames of the
video, Rizvi pans away from the rubble and captures the police post that
had been set up for supplemental security, a dark-blue booth with the
words “Solex Water Pumps” painted on it. A solitary policeman stands
nearby. He dusts his hands off by slapping them against each other,
looks towards Rizvi’s camera and then looks away again. He is relaxed
and calm. No strife seems to have stained his world at all.

This essay is adapted from Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War, published this month by Penguin India.
– See more at: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/print/4564#sthash.OiRE7dBF.dpuf

It looks like the UP state govt is not inclined AND is unable to protect ordinary citizens from violence. In the next election it is likely that the Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav will be wiped out and it will be a fight between the Bahujan Samaj Party (dalits led by Mayawati) and the BJP (forward + middle caste). That will be poetic justice. But as usual for the victims of today, it will be too late.
…..

Justice will not be available to the muslims of Sri Lanka as well, anytime soon. A high HDI country (relatively speaking) well advanced in the quest of racial purity and single community (that magic word again) domination. Shameful, but with precedents all over South Asia (we include Burma and Afghanistan in this). And when a separate country is not possible the Sikhs and Jains are creating purity enclaves as well. Cant really blame them.
……

One evening in Colombo, my friend
Sanjaya dropped by, intending to collect me on our way to someplace else. I
offered him a drink—beer, I seem to remember now, but given how the next two
hours slipped clean out of our hands, more likely it was arrack. Arrack did
that to you: it greased the passage of time. We sat around my dining table,
Sanjaya telling stories and I listening.

“You heard they pulled a Muslim
shrine down?” Sanjaya asked.

It had happened in the previous week
in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, and the most holy of towns
for the island’s Buddhists.
A group of Buddhist protesters—a busload, or two
busloads, according to conflicting media reports—had arrived with crowbars and
hammers and taken apart a small, old dargah. In this enterprise, they had not
been stopped by the police or local administrators. Anuradhapura now bristled
with communal tension.

“We should go there,” I said.
“We should,” Sanjaya said
thoughtfully. “I know a guy who caught the whole thing on video.”

During the final years of the civil
war, Sri Lankan Buddhism had developed a muscular right wing. First, in 2004,
there was the launch of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, a political party led by
Buddhist monks, some of whom admitted quite freely to being racists and bayed
for a destructive, damn-the-consequences annihilation of the guerrillas of the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Nine of its monks entered parliament, and the
party became a member—and an ideological heavyweight—in the coalition that
ruled Sri Lanka. 

After some years, even the JHU was deemed by some to be too
timid. In 2011 and 2012, two other sets of monks splintered from the JHU and
started the Sinhala Ravaya (the Sinhalese Roar) and the Bodu Bala Sena (the
Army of Buddhist Power), hijacking for themselves the shrill energy of
Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism. On the flag of the Sinhala Ravaya, a lion
bounds forward, holding a sword thrust forward in attack. The Sinhalese roar is
practically audible.


During those two years, the Buddhist
right developed a taste for straight thuggery. The Tamils, cautious and defeated,
living under a crushing military presence in the country’s north and east,
posed no present threat to Sinhalese Buddhism. So, instead, the Bodu Bala Sena
and the Sinhala Ravaya—as well as the JHU, their milquetoast cousin—retrained
their energies upon Sri Lanka’s Muslims, who form roughly 10 percent of the
population. 

Unlike with the Tamils, no long skein of ancient hatreds between
Buddhists and Muslims could be unspooled out of the island’s ancient Buddhist
histories; no rankling grouses could be invoked as justifications for this new
animus. But this did not matter. The Muslims were demonised, accused of eroding
the country’s Buddhist heritage. In the absence of ancient hatreds, chauvinism
can easily rustle up modern ones.


Through the months after I came to
Sri Lanka, and in the years after I left, the country’s newspapers filled with
reports of violence, and with pronouncements from Buddhist leaders on how they
expected Muslims to behave. The JHU demanded the closure of Muslim-owned
butcheries that sold beef, and forced the government to ban the certification
of halal meat across the country. 

The Bodu Bala Sena attacked a popular
Muslim-owned apparel store in Colombo, an incident that rose to prominence
because of the size and popularity of this particular emporium. Other anonymous
groups painted pigs on the walls of mosques. Some protesters stormed into the
Sri Lanka Law College in Colombo, claiming that its examination results were
doctored to favour Muslims. Calls went around for particular mosques and Muslim
shrines around the island to be razed, ostensibly for being situated too close
to Buddhist temples. 

Even proximity was unacceptable now. In the town of
Dambulla, the chief priest of a local Buddhist temple led a protest to
“relocate” a mosque. In the process, he warned, “Today we came with the
Buddhist flag in hand. But the next time, it would be different.” No one stood
up to these threats; Sri Lanka absorbed them passively and sailed on. It was a
frightening, sickening time, plump with hatred and hostility.


In the morning, we visited Sanjaya’s
contact Rizvi, himself a local journalist. He was a middle-aged man with brawny
forearms and white stubble. Either he had known that we would be videotaping
him or he was a punctilious dresser even at home, because he wore a white shirt
with knife-sharp creases and a neat blue-and-white checked sarong. His first
language was Tamil, but he spoke to Sanjaya and Dinidu in fluent Sinhalese.
Whenever Rizvi said something significant, one of them would aim a translation
in my direction. I sat off to the side, on a divan next to a window,
scribbling.

It appeared that Rizvi was immensely
fond of recounting the turns of bureaucratic wheels: petitions filed, orders
issued and appeals counter-filed, deeds issued, public meetings held and
reports written. From any mess of administrative detail, he was certain, a
clear and potent truth would emerge. For Rizvi, everything had a procedural
history, and for this reason he started the story of the dargah demolition by
describing how he moved house in 1974.

Rizvi and his family used to live in
a jumble of Muslim residences in the Sacred City, a zone wrapped around a giant
Bodhi that was grown, according to legend, from a cutting of the original tree
under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Some families had been living in
the area for more than a century. “We moved out because the drainage in that
place was so awful. But, technically, we still owned our house there.”

In May 2009, a minister in President
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government ordered all the houses to be knocked down,
without compensation. Two weeks later the civil war ended, but Rizvi’s family
felt no joy because they were so distressed about the demolition of their home.

The dargah had been in the very
heart of this neighbourhood, and once the houses were stripped away, it shone
through prominently. It had been built to honour Sikkandar Waliullah, a Muslim
saint and healer who had been buried in Anuradhapura. No one had precisely
established the antiquity of Waliullah’s life, although Rizvi claimed that the
dargah had found mention in literature for at least 400 years. 

“Every year,
there was a festival here, an urs, when holy men used to come to the
dargah and hit themselves with hammers or stab themselves with knives, to prove
the power of the shrine,” Rizvi said. “This at least, I know, had been
happening for more than 50 or 60 years, because my uncle remembered seeing it
when he was a boy.”


The very existence of the dargah now
rankled the Buddhist right, as a plainly Islamic commemoration on Buddhist
turf. The night before the Poya—or full-moon—holiday in June 2011, seven men on
motorcycles drove up to the shrine. A Sinhalese man living in the vicinity
realised they were armed with tools and crowbars, and he alerted the dargah’s
caretaker. 

On that occasion, some tiles on the dargah were damaged, but the job
couldn’t be completed. A band of Muslims confronted the seven men, the police
turned up, and the wrecking crew was hustled out of the site. In response to
the incident, a new, permanent police post was installed near the dargah, for
additional security. “You can see it in the video of the dargah’s final
destruction,” Rizvi said. “You can also see that the policemen are doing
nothing.”


Around this time, hysterical pamphlets started to circulate within the
town. Rizvi had saved three of them for us. Two were anonymous, but the third
was signed by Amithadamma Thero, a Buddhist monk who was something of a
firebrand among the local clergy. “I was surprised to see that monks were
involved,” Rizvi said. “I would never have thought it possible.” The
leaflets—all in Sinhalese—sealed the dargah’s fate.

The first pamphlet called the
Sinhalese “the fastest vanishing race on the face of this earth,” and it worried
that the country’s biggest threats came from its Muslims, who were “breeding
like pigs.” There were further descriptions of Muslims, consisting of
astonishing filth, and then:

We
need a pureblood king who can proudly say to the world that Sri Lanka is a
Sinhala Buddhist nation. He should be brave enough to say: “The other races
that live here have to live by those rules, or they can leave.”
We don’t need
multicultural, multi-religious ideas. There has to be one Sinhala Buddhist
country in the world. This is that country …
Do
not sell your land and businesses to the Muslims. They are able to buy things
for higher prices because of the money they get from their mosque and the
Middle East for the breeding of their kind. You and I will die soon, but it is
our duty to save this sacred land for the future generations …

The closing sentence was an
instruction: to circulate the leaflet among Sinhala Buddhists only.
In the second pamphlet, the authors
attacked the district administration for allowing the Sacred City to be defiled
by the dargah and other non-Buddhist enterprises. To prevent a religious war,
it said, the dargah needed to be removed. “Don’t you cow-killing, beef-eating,
Tamil-speaking people already have a mosque in Anuradhapura behind the post office?
Don’t make a joke out of our Buddhist heritage.”

The final leaflet, signed by
Amithadamma Thero, was dated 2 September 2011. Calling the dargah a “mosque,”
Amithadamma raged that its very presence in the Sacred City polluted
Anuradhapura.

Who
is responsible for this?
Corrupt
politicians and certain robe-wearers who bow their heads and tangle a yellow
robe about them but don’t even follow the Five Precepts. Shame on the Sinhala
Buddhist policemen who protect this mosque …
Shame
on the IGP [Inspector General of Police] who is using the police to protect
this mosque. May Mahinda and Gotabhaya who are good followers of Buddhism
become aware of this soon!
Pious
monks and followers:
To
save the Anuradhapura Sacred City from this Muslim invasion, come to the
Dakkhunu Dagoba on the 10th of September at 1 p.m.

There was no mistaking that final
line. It was a loud, clear call to action.

IN RESPONSE TO AMITHADAMMA’S LEAFLET, a couple of hundred people, under the bounding lion banner
of the Sinhala Ravaya, assembled near the dargah. A large bus turned up as
well, bearing men with tools and a few dozen monks. “Some friends had called
me, saying that there was some trouble, so I had gone there with my camera,” Rizvi
said. A squad of 50 policemen had cordoned off the dargah, but Rizvi discovered
that this was to prevent the public from getting closer, rather than to protect
the shrine. He tried to get nearer, but one of the policemen prevented him. “He
told me: ‘Don’t go. These people aren’t here to speak or to listen to reason.
They’re behaving badly.’” Rizvi stood with a tight, fearful knot of Muslims on
the shoulder of the road, a hundred metres or so from the dargah.

At 3.45 pm, a local bureaucrat named
GA Kithsiri—an assistant government agent, equivalent to a deputy district
collector—entered the scene. “He came past us, and he said to me: ‘This is
foolish. This is foolish.’ I told him: ‘That’s right. Please go and end this.’”
Kithsiri strode away, towards the dargah. Rizvi watched the remainder of the
afternoon play out at a distance. The wind snatched away so many of the voices
that the events seemed to be part of a tragic silent film.

The monks had been squabbling with
the policemen when Kithsiri arrived. He engaged animatedly with them; Rizvi
could see hands being flung about, and shreds of shouting blew occasionally
towards him. Then Kithsiri pulled out a cell phone and dialled a number. In the
video, Kithsiri moves away from the dargah and paces back and forth, plunged
into conversation. There is no way to tell who was on the other end of the
line. 

Later, Rizvi heard that Kithsiri had first tried to calm the mob, telling
them that he already had orders from the ministry of defence, run by Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa—the president’s brother and the country’s most frightening man—to
demolish the dargah in the next three days, assuring them that he would attend
to it. When the men insisted on finishing the job themselves, and right away at
that, Kithsiri called his superiors and asked them what to do.


In any event, in the video, he
appears to have received some set of definitive instructions. He hangs up and
walks—reluctantly, to my eyes, as if his feet weighed many tons—back to the
dargah, to speak to one of the policemen. Some new commands are snapped out.
Then the police cordon ebbs, and the destruction commences.

WE CLIMBED INTO RIZVI’S VAN, and he drove us through the Sacred City towards the
location of the dargah. The Buddha loomed over us, in the form of the head and
shoulders of a gigantic white statue visible above the line of scrub and low
trees on the side of the road. Rizvi pointed out where his family’s houses had
stood before they were rubbed out in 2009. 

The access path to the dargah, from
the main road, was blocked by an army barricade; we were allowed no closer.
Rizvi didn’t stop, for fear that soldiers would come over and question us;
instead, he crept on slowly but steadily. From the van, we could make out only
the low wall of the dargah’s compound and some Buddhist bunting that had been
looped around the trunks of trees. There was, of course, no dargah to see.


In Rizvi’s video, the dismantling of
the dargah is clinical and coordinated, and it holds a perverse allure that
makes it difficult to look away. The monks are attired in their orange habits,
but the other men wear white work gloves and carry just the right tools for the
job. They have come fully prepared, and also fully confident that they will not
be stopped.

First the men hang Sinhala Ravaya
flags from the branches of nearby trees; it is important to advertise the
organisation under the auspices of which these activities are being carried
out. They peel away the sheets of tin that form part of the shrine’s modest
roof, chucking them over the waist-high compound wall with a clatter.  

Large,
Islam-green blankets of cloth covered Waliullah’s tomb; these are yanked off
and burned. Somebody found a couple of Qurans within the shrine, Rizvi told us;
one of them was thrown down a well, and the other was shredded and added to the
bonfire. 

We can’t see this in the video, but the earth around the fire is
littered with white rectangles that might be pages ripped out of books. A monk
stands over the fire, superintending it with such care that he resembles an attentive
chef stirring and peering into his pot. Another man, with a long metal bar, is
trying to take down, or at least damage, the compound wall, and his pounding
upon the brick sounds tinny and melancholic.


At some late point during the
hour-long demolition, Rizvi managed to creep closer to the site and continue
filming it in brief bursts. By this time, the dargah has been pulverised into a
mess of masonry. The fires have reduced and expired, and helices of smoke seep
out of the embers. Much of the mob vanished after the shrine was pulled down,
although on the soundtrack we can still hear the occasional jab at the
still-standing compound wall, or the thunder of the tin sheets. The drama of
the afternoon has leaked out, but a dazed air hangs over the small set of
muttering onlookers; they are like the audience at a mystifying play, still
trying to make sense of the plot, hanging around the theatre in the hope that
an epilogue will provide some explanation. But, by 5 pm, it is all clearly
over. 

In one of the last frames of the video, Rizvi pans away from the rubble
and captures the police post that had been set up for supplemental security, a
dark-blue booth with the words “Solex Water Pumps” painted on it. A solitary
policeman stands nearby. He dusts his hands off by slapping them against each
other, looks towards Rizvi’s camera and then looks away again. He is relaxed
and calm. No strife seems to have stained his world at all.

This essay is adapted from Samanth
Subramanian’s
This Divided Island: Stories from
the Sri Lankan War, published this month by Penguin India.

…..

Link: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/

….

regards

0

Neel Mukherjee for Man Booker

….Supratik attacks his mother
about food. “Don’t you agree we eat too much?”….”Everyone
eats like this.”….He attacks again: “not the servants, not the poor”……..the head servant, Madan, who is part of the
family, but remains separated from them…..”Boro-babu, the world
does not change, you destroy yourself trying to change it…Why cause
people who love you to go through such misery because of it?”…….
Communist Supratik feels “a surge of cold fury that he is being given a lesson in
political morality by the family’s cook”….

 ……………………………
We know that the Bong bhadaralok class (genteel folks) are a mighty sentimental lot. Many of them were up-rooted from erstwhile East Bengal in 1947. Then in the 1960s-1970s Bengal experienced extreme violence first from the left and then on the left (the most intriguing part of that story was left-on-left violence). Finally a bunch of super-castes migrated to the West with its attendant identity loss problems etc.

The literary output seems focused on these extreme events and that is only to be expected. However after what seems to be a million stories and plays and movies, we find the scope to be limiting (and exhausting). Is it too much to ask the writer class to pick up a wider lens?

There is a good story (we presume) to be written about the ups and downs of an unprecedented three decades of a popular vote backed communist rule which began with police torturing communists (1975-1977) and ended with communists (and police) torturing common people (2006-2011). The middle class essentially had to move out of Bengal to cities of opportunity to the north, west and south (Gurgaon, Pune, Bangalore).

How about the daring idea to divorce Kolkata (where only 20% people live) from the dialog?
You have the timeless culture of the Sunderbans, where Hindus and Muslims both pray to snake and tiger gods and where unique forms of agriculture and pisci-culture are in place and which has also experienced thunder-bolts via Force-10 cyclones? Then there is the Himalayan belt where the world-famous Darjeeling tea gardens have been devastated by mismanagement and where Hindus (Gorkhas/Nepalis, Bengalis, Tribals like Koch, Rajbonshi) are murdering other Hindus as part of a campaign for (or against) partition?
Speaking of larger than life personalities, why not put to pen the astonishing rise and fall of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy? He was born in (present day) West Bengal, he was the Premier of Bengal when the massive riots happened post Direct Action Day (1946), he became the (5th) Prime Minister of (unified) Pakistan (1956), forced to resign by Iskandar Mirza (1957), exiled by Ayub Khan and finally died in exile in Beirut (1963), never to see his homeland again. From the stand-point of Bengali Hindus HSS was a veritable monster (like one Great Leader today) who was fiddling while Kolkata was burning. By the same token he was a hero second to none for Bengali Muslims. But then to his credit (and to the confusion of extremists on both sides) he proposed (along with Hindu leader Sarat Bose) an United Bengal as one nation!! After all the madness, Bengali leaders still hoped to hold hands, the idea itself is madness, or was it??

Re: HSS there is a popular anecdote which concerns Gandhi. Legend has it that the mob had managed to corner HSS in Gandhi’s presence. The mob asked Gandhi to step aside so that they can finish him off. Gandhi kept his calm and told them that they would have to kill him first. The mob went away but the grievances were building up.

Ranting aside, we wish Neel Mukherjee all the best in his quest for Booker for “The Lives of Others”. The book (in our opinion) is very different in flavor to Jhumpa Lahiri’s 2013 “The Lowland” which covers the same ground (and lost the race for Booker). Strongly recommended.
……………………..
It begins in 1966 with a profoundly shocking sequence, emblematic of
the novel’s purpose, in which a starving Bengali peasant slaughters his
wife and children before killing himself by drinking corrosive
insecticide. We are then whisked off into a seemingly unrelated double
narrative.

In one strand of this we meet three generations of the
upper-middle-class Ghosh family, who made their fortune in paper
production and are steadily losing it through the effects of Partition,
mismanagement, union trouble and domestic discord. In the other we
follow the story of one of the family’s eldest grandsons, who has
dropped out of his life of privilege to train and work as an activist
and guerilla fighter for the outlawed communist Naxalites.

The
Ghoshes are a big family. (Mukherjee provides both a family tree and a
guide to the Bengali relational terms). Though their empire spreads
across the continent, they all live in the one, old Kolkata house, the
patriarch and his wife on the top floor and the spoilt youngest’s
outcast widow and children on the gloomy bottom one.

Many (guilty)
readers, and not a few Indian novelists, would have contented
themselves with focusing on this household. It provides a tidy microcosm
of Hindu society, rigidly hierarchical, borne up by cheap labour, yet
shot through with destabilising insecurities and alliances.

As in
an equivalent dynasty imagined by Galsworthy or Mann, the company
founder supposes his commercial achievements can only be undone by his
modernising sons, while the sons despair of the father’s lack of
foresight. His wife retains a blind fondness for the family’s oldest
retainer, in effect a slave procured as a child to raise her children
and cook the delicious dishes of his impoverished background, a
situation that will bring about a tragedy of injustice and misplaced
loyalty worthy of Conrad at his darkest.

The house is riven with
conflicts born of marriage. One son has married the perfect,
peacekeeping wife, one, harbouring profound sexual shame (arising from
incestuous coprophilia, since you ask) has married a vulgarian. The
latter delights in a state of constant warfare with the family’s
unmarried daughter. This character, the most richly portrayed in
Mukherjee’s family album, rendered unmarriageable by too much education
and unfortunate looks, consoles herself with inventive spite while her
mother looks on, aware of the part she has played in creating such a
monster but powerless to intervene.

Another character who could
arguably have taken a whole novel to himself is Sona. Shy and wordless
to the point of autism, raised on scraps by his outcast mother, in the
household’s cruel scheme he is in effect an Untouchable. And yet, as the
great Ghosh boat moves inexorably towards the rocks of its social and
economic ruin, he proves to be its quietly triumphant survivor, saved by
a genius for pure mathematics.

The Ghosh household serves a
Sethian narrative feast with dishes to spare, and yet it is arguably the
novel’s much harsher second strand which matters most to Mukherjee.
Pursuing the rebel son, Supratik, on a career from 1960s Maoist idealism
through brutal murders in the jungle, to scenes of police torture that
had this reader sitting protectively on his hands, it is a graphic
reminder that the bourgeois Indian culture Western readers so readily
idealise is sustained at terrible human cost.

………

Supratik is possessed by a single-minded moral horror at the lives of
the starving and helpless. Early in the book he attacks his mother
about food. “Don’t you agree we eat too much?” She is baffled. “Everyone
eats like this.” He attacks again: not the servants. Not the poor. The
novel gives us not only Supratik’s revulsion but his mother’s sense of
what has always been as it is. His departure will cause her to break
down completely.



Maybe the most
sympathetic character is the head servant, Madan, who is part of the
family, loves and cares for them, but remains separated from them.
Towards the end of the book he has a significant conversation with
Supratik. He tells Supratik how his mother took to her bed when he left,
“shrivelling up like leather in the sun”. “Boro-babu, the world
does not change, you destroy yourself trying to change it, but it
remains as it is. The world is very big and we are very small. Why cause
people who love you to go through such misery because of it?”

Communist
Supratik feels “a surge of cold fury that he is being given a lesson in
political morality by the family’s cook” – seeing Madan from his
family’s viewpoint, “their” cook. And he lashes back at Madan, reminding
him how Madan himself begged the family to “let loose the police” on
Madan’s son, the leader of the striking workers.

…..
The novel’s second glimmer of light relates to Supratik, the
Naxalite. At the very end of the book we find out that while living in
Medinipur he had invented a means of derailing trains: this technique
has been passed on to present-day Maoists in central and eastern India
who are now using it to devastating effect. 

‘Someone
had come from Chhatitisgarh to show them the ropes, and he had
mentioned that according to local Maoist lore it was a Bengali
invention, the work of a man known as Pratik-da in the late Sixties in
some district bordering West Bengal and Bihar. Or was it West Bengal and
Orissa?’



This then is the legacy that Neel ascribes to Supratik: a method of derailing trains and killing unwary passengers: ‘his gift to his future comrades survived and for those who cared to or were old enough to remember, he lived on in his bequest.’


In other words, what Neel chooses to celebrate about Supratik’s life
is not the transmission of a spirit of resistance – something that is
more than ever necessary at a time when the environment and the poor are
being subjected to devastating violence in the name of ‘growth’ – but
rather a particular means of resisting: in this instance a technique of
mass murder. 

This is troubling, for it was precisely the means adopted
by the student-Naxals of the 1970s that doomed their movement. Violence
and bloodletting became so essential to their methods as to suggest that
the movement was not, in its essence, a social program at all but
rather a cult of ritualistic killing, like thuggee. 

This is why the
movement aroused widespread revulsion, even among those who sympathized
with its professed social aims. Its trajectory was a perfect
illustration of that deadly elision that often occurs when violence is
embraced as a means to an end: ultimately the one displaces the other
and the means becomes the end.

…..

…..

regards

0

Tariq Ali condemns socialism

…..A unanimous Senate vote is rare, so what explains being more loyal to
Israel…. An important factor is undoubtedly money..
…Few British citizens are aware of the role their own country played
in creating this mess…..It was not by accident, but by design that the British decided to
create a new state….. 

 ….. 
Well in all fairness, Ali Sahab condemns not so much socialism but “techno-fascist” socialists like Bernie Sanders of Vermont who are “progressive on everything except Israel.” 

It is clear that TA shares the same world-view as Imran Khan (note: TA is a devoted fan of IK), whereby the only reason that the Arab/Muslim empire of old has not recovered is due to malicious designs by a scheming West which dances to the tune of evil Zionists. Jews are so powerful that they are even able to manipulate Western elections in favor of Zionist politicans. 

Over the last few decades, Hindus and Muslims have been kicked out of their native lands in South Asia. The Muslim population has recovered in India (but is under threat), while Hindus are now extinct in Pakistan and under threat in Bangladesh. Now it is the turn of the Christians and Muslim sects in the MENA to be wiped out. Muslims are also being cleansed from Burma and are under threat in Sri Lanka. All of this is part of a grand Western-Zionist plot to destabilize Arabs/Muslims? Really???
…..
The US Senate votes unanimously to defend Israel including Senator
Bernie Sanders of Vermont. I don’t think he did it for the money. He
is a paid-up member of POEEI (‘Progressive on Everything Except
Israel’ and pronounced pooee) the liberal segment of US society, which
is not progressive on many things, including Israel.



Take, as one example, the case of  ‘Colonel’ Sanders. I thought my
late friend Alexander Cockburn was sometimes too harsh on Sanders, but I
was wrong. Sanders has been arselickin bad for a long time now as
Thomas Naylor informed us while exploding the myths surrounding the
Senator in a CounterPunch piece in September 2011:



“Although Sanders may have once been a socialist back in the 80s when
he was Mayor of Burlington, today, a socialist he is not.  Rather
he behaves more like a technofascist disguised as a liberal, who
backs all of President Obama’s nasty little wars in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen..  Since he always
“supports the troops,” Sanders never opposes any defense spending
bill.  He stands behind all military contractors who bring
much-needed jobs to Vermont.

Senator Sanders rarely misses a photo opportunity with Vermont
National Guard troops when they are being deployed to Afghanistan
or Iraq.  He’s always at the Burlington International Airport when
they return.  If Sanders truly supported the Vermont troops, he
would vote to end all of the wars posthaste.”


A unanimous Senate vote is rare, so what explains being more loyal to
Israel than quite a few critical Jewish Israelis in that country
itself? An important factor is undoubtedly money. In 2006 when the London Review of Books published an article (commissioned and rejected by the Atlantic Monthly)
by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer on the Israel Lobby, there was the
usual brouhaha from the usual suspects. Not the late Tony Judt, who
publicly defended publication of the text and was himself subjected to
violent threats and hate mail by we know who.


….
The New York Review of Books, perhaps shamed by its own
gutlessness on this issue among others, commissioned a text by Michael
Massing which pointed out some mistakes in the  Mearsheimer/Walt
essay but went on to provide some interesting figures himself. His article deserves to be read on its own but the following extract helps to explain the unanimous votes for Israeli actions:



“AIPAC’s defenders like to argue that its success is explained by its
ability to exploit the organizing opportunities available in
democratic America. To some extent, this is true. AIPAC has a
formidable network of supporters throughout the US. Its 100,000
members—up 60 percent from five years ago—are guided by AIPAC’s nine
regional offices, its ten satellite offices, and its
one-hundred-person-plus Washington staff, a highly professional
group that includes lobbyists, researchers, analysts, organizers,
and publicists, backed by an enormous $47 million annual budget….


Such an account, however, overlooks a key element in AIPAC’s
success: money. AIPAC itself is not a political action committee.
Rather, by assessing voting records and public statements, it
provides information to such committees, which donate money to
candidates; AIPAC helps them to decide who Israel’s friends are
according to AIPAC’s criteria. The Center for Responsive Politics, a
nonpartisan group that analyzes political contributions, lists a
total of thirty-six pro-Israel PACs, which together contributed
$3.14 million to candidates in the 2004 election cycle. Pro-Israel
donors give many millions more. Over the last five years, for
instance, Robert Asher, together with his various relatives (a common
device used to maximize contributions), has donated $148,000, mostly
in sums of $1,000 or $2,000 to individual candidates.

A former AIPAC staff member described for me how the system works. A
candidate will contact AIPAC and express strong sympathies with
Israel. AIPAC will point out that it doesn’t endorse candidates but
will offer to introduce him to people who do. Someone affiliated
with AIPAC will be assigned to the candidate to act as a contact
person. Checks for $500 or $1,000 from pro-Israel donors will be
bundled together and provided to the candidate with a clear
indication of the donors’ political views. (All of this is perfectly
legal.) In addition, meetings to raise funds will be organized in
various cities.

Often, the candidates are from states with
negligible Jewish populations.

One congressional staff member told me of the case of a Democratic
candidate from a mountain state who, eager to tap into pro-Israel
money, got in touch with AIPAC, which assigned him to a Manhattan
software executive eager to move up in AIPAC’s organization. The
executive held a fund-raising reception in his apartment on the
Upper West Side, and the candidate left with $15,000. In his state’s
small market for press and televised ads, that sum proved an
important factor in a race he narrowly won. The congressman thus
became one of hundreds of members who could be relied upon to vote
AIPAC’s way. (The staffer told me the name of the congressman but
asked that I withhold it in order to spare him embarrassment.)”


All this is made possible by official US policies since 1967. Were
the US ever to shift on this issue unanimous votes would become
impossible. But not even the United States has so far banned public
demonstrations opposing Israeli brutality and its consistent
deployment of state terror.



On a weekend (18-19 July 2014) where demonstrations took place in
many different parts of the world, the French government banned a
march in Paris organised by many groups including France’s
non-Zionist Jewish organisations and individuals. The ban was defied.
Several thousand people were drenched in tear gas by the hated CRS.
The French Prime Minister Manual Valls, a desperate opportunist and
neo-con, the scourge of the Roma in France, competing with Le Pen for
the right wing vote and unsurprisingly an adornment of the French
Socialist Party who models himself on a shameless war-criminal and
shyster (Tony Blair) explained the ban in terms of  ‘not encouraging
anti-semitism’, etc. 

……
The grip of the Israel Lobby in France is
complete. It dominates French culture and the media and critical
voices on Israel (Jewish and non-Jewish) are effectively banned.



The Israeli poet and critic, Yitzhak Laor (whose work depicting the
colonial brutality of Israeli soldiers has sometimes been banned in
his own country) describes the new rise of Euro-Zionism in sharp
terms. The  ‘philosemitic offensive’ is ahistorical:



It would be facile to see this memorializing culture as a belated
crisis of international conscience, or a sense of historical justice
that took time to materialize . . . The majority of United Nations
General Assembly members have emerged from a colonial past: they are
the descendants of those who suffered genocides in Africa, Asia or
Latin America. There should be no reason for the commemoration of
the genocide of the Jews to block out the memory of these millions
of Africans or Native Americans killed by the civilized Western
invaders of their continents.


Laor’s explanation is that with the old Cold War friend-enemy
dichotomy swept aside a new global enemy had to be cultivated in
Europe:



In the new moral universe of the ‘end of history’, there was one
abomination—the Jewish genocide—that all could unite to condemn;
equally important, it was now firmly in the past. Its commemoration
would serve both to sacralise the new Europe’s liberal-humanist
tolerance of ‘the other (who is like us)’ and to redefine ‘the
other (who is different from us)’ in terms of Muslim
fundamentalism. 


Laor skilfully deconstructs the Glucksmanns, Henri-Levys and
Finkelkrauts  who dominate the print media and the videosphere in
France today. Having abandoned their youthful Marxist beliefs in the
late Seventies, they made their peace with the system. The emergence
of an ultra-Zionist current in France, however, predates the ‘New
(sic) Philosophers’.  As Professor Gaby Piterburg, reviewing Laor’s
essays in the New Left Review, explained:



As in the US, the 1967 war was a turning point in French Jewish
consciousness. A young Communist, Pierre Goldman, described the ‘joyous
fury’ of a pro-Israel demonstration on the boulevard Saint-Michel,
where he encountered other comrades, ‘Marxist-Leninists and
supposed anti-Zionists, rejoicing in the warrior skills of Dayan’s
troops’. But the political reaction of the Elysée to the 1967 war
was the opposite to that of the White House.

Alarmed that Israel
was upsetting the balance of power in the Middle East, de Gaulle
condemned the aggression, describing the Jews as ‘an elite people,
sure of itself and domineering’. French Jewish organizations that
had taken a pro-Israel foreign policy for granted began to organize
on a political basis for the first time, as Pompidou and Giscard
continued de Gaulle’s arms embargo into the 70s.

In 1976 the Jewish
Action Committee (CJA) organized a ‘day for Israel’ which mobilized
100,000 people. In 1977 the formerly quietist CRIF, representative
council of some sixty Jewish bodies, produced a new charter
denouncing France’s ‘abandonment of Israel’, published by Le Monde as
a document of record.

In the 1981 presidential election the CJA
founder, Henri Hajdenberg, led a high-profile campaign for a Jewish
vote against Giscard; Mitterrand won by a margin of 3 per cent.
The boycott was lifted, and Mitterrand became the first French
president to visit Israel. Warm relations were sealed between
the CRIF and the Socialist Party elite, and a tactful veil of
silence drawn over Mitterrand’s war-time role as a Vichy official.


[A small footnote: Whenever Professor Piterburg (a former officer in
the IDF) is attacked by Zionists at public lectures for being a
‘self-hating Jew’, he responds thus: “I don’t hate myself, but I hate
you.” ]



So much for official France. The country itself is different. Opinion
polls reveal that at least 60 percent of French people are opposed to
what Israel is doing to Gaza. Are they all anti-semites?
They
couldn’t be influenced by the media, could they? Because it’s totally
pro-Israel. Could it be the case that the French population is
ignoring Hollande, Valls and the mercenary ideologues who support
them?



What about Britain? Here the  Extreme Centre that rules the country
as well as the  official ‘Opposition’ dutifully supported their
masters in Washington. The coverage of the recent events in Gaza on
state television (BBC) was so appallingly one-sided
that there were
demonstrations outside the BBC’s offices in London and Salford. My
own tiny experience with the BBC reveals the fear and timidity at
work inside. As I blogged on the London Review of Books, this is what happened:



On Wednesday 16 July I received four calls from the BBC’s Good Morning Wales.
First morning call: was I available to be interviewed about Gaza tomorrow morning? I said yes.
First afternoon call: could I tell them what I would say? I said (a)
Israel was a rogue state, pampered and cosseted by the US and its
vassals. (b) Targeting and killing Palestinian children (especially
boys) and blaming the victims was an old Israeli custom. (c) The BBC
coverage of Palestine was appalling and if they didn’t cut me off I
would explain how and why.

Second afternoon call: was I prepared to debate a pro-Israeli? I said yes.
Afternoon message left on my phone: terribly sorry. There’s been a
motorway crash in Wales, so we’ve decided to drop your item.


Few British citizens are aware of the role their own country played
in creating this mess. It was a long time ago when Britain was an
Empire and not a vassal, but the echoes of history never fade away.
It was not by accident, but by design that the British decided to
create a new state and it wasn’t Balfour alone. 

The Alternate
Information Center in Beit Sahour, a joint Palestinian-Israeli
organization promoting justice, equality and peace  for Palestinians
and Israelis recently put up a post. It was a quote  from The Bannerman Report
written in 1907 by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, and, as it was strategically important it was
suppressed and was never released to the public until many years
later:




“There are people (the Arabs, Editor’s Note) who control spacious
territories  teeming with manifest and hidden resources. They dominate
the intersections of  world routes. Their lands were the cradles of
human civilizations and religions.  These people have one faith, one
language, one history and the same aspirations.  No natural
barriers can isolate these people from one another …

…..if, per chance,
 this nation were to be unified into one state, it would then take
the fate of  the world into its hands and would separate Europe from
the rest of the world.  Taking these considerations seriously, a
foreign body should be planted in the heart of this nation to
prevent the convergence of its wings in such a way that  it could
exhaust its powers in never-ending wars. It could also serve as a
springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects.”


[Dan Bar-On & Sami Adwan, THE  PRIME SHARED HISTORY PROJECT, in
Educating Toward a Culture of Peace, pages  309–323, Information Age
Publishing, 2006]

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Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291478

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regards

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