It's been announced that Obama and Peña Nieto will meet in Washington on January 6 "with the aim of continuing to strengthen the strategic alliance between the United States and Mexico and to continue to advance their mutual objectives," according to Josh Earnest, Obama's press secretary.
Obama appears to really, really like Peña Nieto. He just looks SO relaxed and smiling in photos of them together. If you click on the link you'll come to the page with even more photos.
You can scroll down the images page of Google for not just straightforward photos, but for cartoons like the one below. You can probably figure out a lot of them even if you don't know Spanish
Below you see Obama and Peña Nieto planting pine trees in China in what was called a "luxury park". It was a photo op to show the forum for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation supporting reforestation efforts.
It actually seems to me that Obama is more taken with Peña Nieto than vice versa. The Administration has not seen any reason to associate the murder of the Ayotzinapa students in Mexico with failure on the part of Peña Nieto's administration although finally he and Secretary of State John Kerry have said the crime has "no place in civilized society." The Administration has in a kind of friendly, condescending way offered US aid "to get to the bottom of exactly what happened" to the students. Obama went on to say, "we've got to make sure we strengthen the criminal justice system, the investigative capacities....Mexico is our friend and neighbor. We want them to thrive." As if the US on its own came up with how to define the problem and how to solve it.
Enrirque C. Ochoa and Gilda L. Ochoa have rightly brought up the fairly obvious fact that the roots of a lot of the problems of both Mexico and the US have to do "with corporate-driven economic transformations and policies such as NAFTA...." Mexico has the second most unequal and the US the 4th most unequal income distribution among the 34 members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
And Obama continues to see solutions in terms of justice systems and policing which now receive aid where social services, schools, health, etc. don't. Guns, NOT butter. If this is the best the US can do, they should just leave Mexico alone.
It appears that Obama is perfectly satisfied with his own ideas about Mexico and Mexico's president. And it never occurs to him not to condescend to Mexico, to see his own country's status as a failing democracy. Who is he to preach?
In the Atlantic Monthly today Jeffrey Goldberg writes about "talking to a senior administration official about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister2 and leader of its seemingly endless provocations of the Palestinians, many of which have been brutal and bloody. Goldberg is no anti-Israeli writer, by the way, and his article seems to me a model of calm, non-hysterical journalism. He reports that the official said, "'The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit.' "
Goldberg goes on to say that "relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these...dual guarantors of the putatively 'unbreakable' bond between the US and Israel is now the worst it's ever been and stands to get significantly worse after the midterm elections."
Goldberg lays the blame mostly on Netanyahu who apparently ¨plans to speak directly to Congress and the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached." The administration expresses a "'red-hot anger at Bibi because of "his settlement policies on the West Bank and building policies in Jerusalem...."
These policies in Jerusalem which have led to Israel building housing for Jews past a previously agreed-to demarcation have resulted in Arab protests.
While I think that you could sense growing administration hostility, this article will surprise people, I think. And I think it's excellent that the administration is no longer willing to stand by while Netanhayu leads Israel into horrendous actions against Palestinians. You should read the whole piece. It appears at this point that the administration views Netanyahu as scared to start a war against Iran and most interested in maintaining his place as prime minister.
In no way would I argue that Netanyahu is a good and enlightened leader, but seeing him "as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his constituency" I think points to a serious weakness in the administration's world view. There is rarely evidence that anyone in the administration sees leaders as having biographies and histories of their own, the understanding of which would vastly help US foreign policy. Does anyone know who Netanyahu's father was? How his father influenced him? How the death of his brother in combat with the Israeli army, how spending his teenage years in white, Jewish suburban Pennsylvania, his college years at MIT and post-college years working with Mitt Romney might have influenced him? I don't have a clue how you open someone like Netanyahu up to different possibilities. He's probably much more intransigent than Obama and Kerry realize. Our administration's cultural deafness continues to be a significant problem.
Anyway, you can read about the Israeli and Netanyahu's response to the US in the (leftish) Israeli newspaper Haaretz here.
First off, I want to tell you that Kenan Malik is a great thinker and writer. AND he writes so easily, so fluidly, that he carries you along through tough subjects. Here I am posting a link to a post on his blog, which is called Pandaemonium, on politics and immigration in Europe, especially England. I didn't think much about the similarities between European and US attitudes until recently. They are not so different. Malik kind of comes out of left field with his ideas (or from outside the box?) Basically he feels that outsider parties gain strength because insider parties no longer speak to The People, left or right or neither, and that all parties make it hard not to be anti-immigrant. Please do take the time to read this compendium of several of his articles.
Images stolen from Google.
My grandparents (my father's parents) were immigrants in the early twentieth century. My mother's parents' families came from mostly England and Ireland (I think) during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Just for your information. Therefore I am a mongrel, and it's interesting to be a mongrel.
PLEASE read the Malik article!
"Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto esta currently en Los Angeles where he met with a variety of Mexican groups. He told them that other states in the US, "unlike California...have not evolved and still skimp on recognizing, and even worse, the rights of migrants."
"This, he added, with the imposicion of discriminatory measures which affect bilateral ties is ethically reprehensible and and distance the principles, the US and Mexico, from shared responsiblity and from being good neighbors.
"In front of some 500 representatives of clubs and other Mexican organizations, Peña Nieto did not cite specific cases of this mistreatment of nationals, but insisted that he only has one thing to say to those who support exclusion, discrimination or opposition to diversity: the future will show them their ethical error, time will show us right.'
"He also spoke of the debate about migratory reform in the United States and said that the position of Mexico is very clear: 'We want to be a factor of cohesion, not of division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States.
"He also said that this migratory reform ought to become reality because it deals with a question of justice for those who support development of this [US?] society.
"In addition to delivering scholarships for Dreamers (youth of Mexican origin studying in the US and whom he congratulated for their fight to push the migration debate) President Peña also annunced some measures to simplify consular bureaucracy." My translation.
And then there's energy reform....
Benjamin Netanyahu as Cult Leader
The horror, the unbelievable horror of this merciless slaughter and destruction continues. How can anyone defend it? These radical Israelis are doing what extremists in the US would do if they were in power. This is unadulterated, inexcusable evil. Hamas leaders are not nice guys, either, but to compare them to the the IDF is like comparing Michael Brown if he indeed did shoplift a few cigars in Ferguson to the Ferguson Army Police Force.
I had thought to try to figure out what caused Netanyahu to become so despicable. It’s not worth my time. He is despicable, he has ordered that death and destruction rain down on the people of Gaza. He must answer for his crimes.
La Jornada reports that he “affirmed this Sunday that the offensive in Gaza will continue for the time necessary to achieve its objectives in spite of Egypt’s call for a cease fire to permit negotiations for a durable peace. Netanyahu said, ‘Operation Protective Barrier will continue until it meets its objectives, which could take time.’”
La Jornada says that altogether “88 Palestinians and one Israeli have died since the cease fire expired last Tuesday night.”
The article continues, “’Hamas will continue to pay dearly for its crimes,’ said Netanyahu this Sunday in reference to the first death in this conflict of an Israeli child, four years old, killed Friday by a cohete in the south of the country. ‘I call on all the inhabitants of Gaza to immediately abandon the places where Hamas carries out its terrorist activities against us, because you are targets for us,’ he added.
“‘There will be no impunity for anyone who shoots at Israeli citizens [wherever they come from],’he said in an apparent reference to the shooting of rockets from Lebanon and Syria since Saturday.
“Since 8 July at least 2105 Palestinians have died in the Gaza Strip according to local sources.
“On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and 4 civilians have died.
“According to the UN, 70% of the Palestinians killed were civilians and 478 children are among the dead.
“Furthermore. 460,000 people have had to abandon their houses in Gaza, more than 25% of the total population of Gaza.” Translation is mine.
People have taken to comparing the Israeli government to Nazis. Netanyahu reminds me of a leader of a dangerous religious cult. See if some of the characteristics below don’t describe current Zionism and current conflation of criticism of Israeli actions against Gaza with anti-Semitism. This list is a shortened version of that which appears on the web pages of the International Cultic Studies Association.
How can Netanyahu and other Zionists dare to call people who protest his hideous policies anti-semitic?
And how can the US government continue to supply Israel with weapons and money?
For a long time I have wondered (as have far greater minds than mine) if it is at all possible to figure out the underlying factors that drive people to hold onto seriously destructive beliefs in the face of all reason. In our black-and-white culture, we tend to paint people who don't agree with us all one color. It's hard to be subtle. As I have watched the ripping apart of Gaza, I have seen no evidence of the policy to spare civilians Benjamin Netanyahu claims exists. Instead, it appears that the Israel Defense Forces he commands are bent on absolute destruction. I wonder how Netanyahu who I am sure sees himself doing good could appear to have twisted himself into someone so evil. Who is this man who stirs the pot of hatred in his country so successfully? And why does he do it? Why does he feel righteous (not to say self-righteous) following his policy of enormous overkill in Gaza? Is it possible to figure out how we justify horrible actions to ourselves, all of us? And why, with all our knowledge, haven't we come to terms with our own proclivity for violence in response to perceived attacks, for hatred of people we don't know. Why haven't we developed a way to soften this hatred.
I happened upon a review by Vivian Gornick of a book called "Becoming Freud" by Adam Phillips. I bought the book for my Kindle, and I will refer to it throughout this piece. I am not a "Freudian", whatever that means, but I think he opened up ways to look at people from unexpected angles. Freud's discoveries give us an opportunity to take a different approach to Netanyahu.
In her review, Gornick says:
"It was through attention to the unconscious that he [Freud] made his major discoveries, the most important being that from birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; hunger for sexual pleasure, dread sexual pleasure; hate our own aggressions — our anger, our cruelty, our humiliations — yet these are derived from the grievances we are least willing to part with. The hope of achieving an integrated self is a vain one as we are equally divided about our own suffering; we do in fact love it and want — nay, intend — never to relinquish it."
Somewhere I saw an illlustration of the human psyche in which our consciousness, our supposedly sensible, aware part, was riding a giant bull or some similar animal, barely under control. The bull was our unconscious, unruly portion of ourselves, much bigger and stronger.
There is no definitive explanation of the conscious and the unconscious, nothing even close as far as I'm concerned. But we tend to recognize that we have been exposed to so much, have woven so much out of what we´ve been exposed to, that we can't possibly be conscious of it all, pull it into our decision-making or our creative efforts, even when it would be useful to do so. And if Freud is right, we don't even want to know all the unconscious stuff we harbor: it would go against who we think we are and what we want to be. We tend, all of us, to justify our own hideous actions to ourselves and others. Very few of us happily accept ourselves as evil creatures who enjoy doing evil things.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Nathan Mileikowsky (1879-1935), Benjamin Netanyahu's grandfather, shared pretty large pieces of cultural heritage (so did my dad's parents for that matter). But they responed to their heritage in very different ways. Netanyahu's father and grandfather became revisionist Zionists who were deeply committed to getting as much of the British Mandate of Palestine as they possibly could to turn into the country Israel. Their efforts were bloody. Freud's background was not so political.
Adam Phillips says,"The Jews of central and eastern Europe in the 19th century lived mostly in small communities as minority groups in what were often tolerant but hostile cultures.They were hemmed in by restrictions and prejudices, but were not perceived as a threat to the states in which they lived....They had access only to the resources of their tightly knit communities, and they lived, like all immigrants with, and under, a great deal of suspicion. The continuity of their lives resided in their family traditions, which were religious in origin, their inherited ways of life in a diaspora that had become their culture....The consolations of locality were always provisional....
"....The stories of the poorer Jews in central Europe in the ineteenth century tend to be generic...due to the lack and limits of ...documentation. (Freud's parents and grandparents would mpt jave beem omterested om tjeor ñoves tje wau [Sigmund Freud] taught us to be. For these people, success was survival....[T]here fate was to be always potentially nomadic because they had no political or civic status, living always on sufferance in foreign states.
Orthodox judaism itself was declining in the nineteenth century "...due to the pressures of modernization. The haskalah--the Jewish Enlightenment...--was eroding the old scholarly-rabbinical tradition in favour of a more rational, skeptical humanism, radically suspicious of dogma and traditional forms of authority and encouraging more politically active forms of assimilation."
This was a period in which "European boundaries were shifting in Europe and the status of Jews was unclear. Whether or not they were a race or a people...they were resident aliens wherever they lived...As both the enemies and inventors of Christianity the Jews were doubly disadvantaged...they were by definition a dissenting group....
Although Freud ended up with an education in Enlightenment values, there had been "Generations of politically marginalized Jews in his family, people for whom political participation was unthinkable."
Freud and other Jews of his generation believed they had found a culture in which they had "a place and a voice" in Vienna.
Phillips goes on, " The allure of a taken for granted liberalism, however wishful it seems ...[in]hindsight...must have seemed irresistible to the Viennese Jews of Freud's generation...[which] wanted to free themselves from...a 'history of the Jewish people...long limited to a religious narrative of persecutions and martyrdoms. Esther Benbassa writes this 'story of suffering stood in for History in the proper sense of the term' as a way of preserving the fragile unity of the community in diaspora.'
This "story of suffering" still is dominant in the lives of Jews, secular or religious, who participate in Jewish culture. For some (many?) it merges with the notion of Jewish specialness, of Jews as "chosen people." Before the end of World War II, these beliefs offered, sometimes, means to survive and to maintain some integrity in their identities. Of course the genocide they suffered under Hitler gave it new life. Today, I think, especially in light of the great social and economic changes wrought in the second half of the twentieth century,Jewish communities themselves have changed. For some Jews, the mythology of their past has become malignant.
Netanyahu, the Zionist, is one of these Jews I think. Freud was not. Freud's father had renounced orthodox Judaism. He was apparently a failing wool merchant and because of this, the family moved first to Leipzig and then to Vienna, at the time a particularly vibrant and liberal city. The family stayed there. Many, many Jews who couldn't sustain themselves in "local shtetl communities" were migrating to eastern and central European cities.
Jews wanted their kids to gain respectability by hopefully taking up a profession, "preferably medicine or the law." Freud was consciously drawn to Enlightenment values, and himself said his father "allowed me to grow up in complete ignorance of eveything that concerned Judaism". Yet Freud's endeavors seem shadowed by his family's Jewish immigrant past.
In today's La Jornada, Adolfo Gilly reports that American historians who are members of the organization "Historians against the War" have been circulating a letter to President Obama and members of Congress. I feel like being extremely sarcastic about the fact that haven't seen this mentioned in the US press...I mean, who would find HISTORIANS newsworthy in the US? In any event the signarutres include famous historians and just ordinary folks like me. The text, from the the Historians against the War is below:
In the face of the ongoing carnage in Gaza, members of Historians Against the War are circulating the letter below, with an initial list of signatories. We encourage you to sign it and to quickly forward this message to fellow historians. As our numbers grow, we will seek opportunities to publicize and to forward to relevant officials.
We deplore the ongoing attacks against civilians in Gaza and in Israel. We also recognize the disproportionate harm that the Israeli military, which the United States has armed and supported for decades, is inflicting on the population of Gaza.
We are profoundly disturbed that Israeli forces are killing and wounding so many Palestinian children. Desperate conditions in Gaza resulting from Israeli policies have made effective evacuation of war zones virtually impossible. We regard as unacceptable the failure of United States elected officials to hold Israel accountable for such acts.
As we watch the death toll mount and observe the terror of the trapped inhabitants in Gaza, we call upon you to demand a cease-fire, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, and a permanent end to the blockade so that its people can resume some semblance of normal life. We urge you to suspend US military aid to Israel, until there is assurance that this aid will no longer be used for the commission of war crimes.
As historians, we recognize this as a moment of acute moral crisis in which it is vitally important that United States policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict change direction.
Gilly concludes his article saying, "Let me note the sternness and restraint of the language of this document which continues to be valid now more than ever since that Benjamin Netanyahu, forced by world conemnation to interrupt his offensive, declares that it was justified and proportionate and that Hamas is responsible for the war crimes of Israeli leaders."
If you are interested in signing a protest letter without finding the next window asks you for money, this is your letter. You don't actually have to be a historian.
To read that in the US somewhere between 51 and 57% of Americans support Israel in this current onslaught of violence in the Gaza strip, and even worse, only 14% "sympathize with the Palestinians is pretty shocking as I sit here in Xico, in our colonia. I haven't spoken directly to my neighbors about this, but I am pretty sure the most of the sympathy lies with the Palestinians. The support is not strident. In newspapers horror at the terrible destruction of lives and landscape dominates, and not just in La Jornada. This is a link from today's Jornada of an Israeli attack that hit a street where two ambulances had arrived to rescue victims. It is very graphic. Maybe you all should watch it, but beware, nothing is hidden from you.
So you can continue feeling loose and amused, a piece from the Colbert report:
So you can know that not all Americans are anti-immigrant children, my old home state of Texas isn't all bad.
And here are some letter writers to the NY Times, the paper of choice in my home town.
La Jornada has been covering this migration story pretty extensively. Below you can find my translation of parts of La Jornada's David Brooks' column in La Jornada yesterday (July 19). This isn't so amusing or uplifting, but it is important reading.
"The influential comic Jon Stewart on his . . .show 'The Daily Show' gave examples of an almost obscene fear which could be seen in the political debate over the crisis of the exodus of migrant children. In the face of the question so many politicians were asking,'Why you couldn't just deport them,' he responded, "What the fuck is going on with them? We are talking about children.' And in response to the repeated rhetorical phrase of many politicians that "this is a nation of immigrants," he said, yes, "We have always been a nation of immigrants who hate the most recent immigrants."
"Washington, so as not to [seem inconsistent], continues to be overwhelmed by a debate which does not offer a solution to what everyone now calls a "humanitarian Crisis", let alone to its root causes. Meanwhile community service organizations, immigrant rights groups, lawyers, immigrant activists, religious groups and civil rights groups continue to help and defend the tens of thousands of childrn from Mexico and other nations of Central America who now find themselves distributed not only along the frontier, but in diverse places across the country.
. . . .
¨But although they are offered medical checkups and other urgent services at the beginning, the children can't count on long term assistance including treatment for trauma-caused conditions which many suffer, and it is here that organizations dedicated to bringing services to migrant communities find themselves burdened with the recently arrived. Although not all the communities where new shelters are being considered offer the migrants a welcome, others are opening their arms.
"In the city of New York where almost half of the city is made up of immigrants, the municipal authorities and social organizations are collaborating to develop a strategy to bring support to the more than three thousand minors who have arrived there and in other parts of the state (it is expected that another seven thousand will arrive in the next months). At the national level, there are approximately 100 shelters under federal government supervision.
"Although the government of Barack Obama promises that "the rights" of the minors will be respected, even if the rate of deportation [cases] is successfully accelerated, as [who? the President?] desires, this [increase in availability of lawyers?]has not happened, lawyers and civil rights activists say.*
"The immigration lawyer José Pertierra affirms that you can't guarantee the legal rights of migrants without a lawyer. He explained to La Jornada that at this time the children don't have a right to a lawyer. The problem is that a violation of immigrant law is a civil matter, not a criminal matter and as such there is no automatic right to a lawyer. . . . Furthermore, by law, a minor does not have the capacity to represent himself before a court.
"Pertierra offers the example of a Honduran girl of eight appearing before a judge who did all he could not to scare the child while he explained the process to which she would be submitted, that she would be subject to deportation and would have to present herself on a certain date to argue her case, none of which she understood. Having just arrived, after crossing Mexico, she was brought to the immigration authorities, was transferred to a center and from there to the outskirts of Washington. Then an unknown man in an unknown land explained the law to her. These scenes are repeated thousands of times around the country.
"Even worse, in some cases in which lawyers are presented to represent the minors, the federal government has tried to deny access to them.
"Because of this, the demand before a federal court presented recently by the ACLU and the National Center of Immigration Law to oblige the government to guarantee legal representation to these children is among 'the most important steps in practical terms at this point' says Pertierra.
"'It is incredible that the government has been categorically denying to children in custody in Nogales who are fleeing violence, access to lawyers,' says Jennifer Chang Newell, of the migrant project of the ACLU, shortly after a judge ruled that the federal government had to permit a group of Salvadoren children to be able to consult with their lawyers. However, the ruling is not so extensive for all minors in this exodus.
. . . . The religious activist Juan Carlos Ruiz of the group Nuevo Santuario declared in an action in front of Federal Government offices in New York, 'today the children of Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador -- like those of Gaza -- shout for protection and defense from all of us.'"
Brooks finishes by asking whether Obama who has done more to fortify the border than any president before him and who has deported more than any president before him will be remembered as "The Deporter in Chief" or whether he will have the courage "to face the anti-imigrant forces that have prevailed in recent years."
* This paragraph puzzles me. In Spanish it reads, Aundque el govierno de Barack Obama promete que "los derechos" de los menores serán respetados, aun si se lograr acelerar como desea, el proceso para facilitar su deportacion, en los hechos esto no ha ocurrido, denuncian abogados y defensores de derechos civiles.