12 January, 2021


My evening's entertainment yesterday evening was three talks with Noam Chomsky. He is 92, and was born exactly a month later than my father, who passed away a few months ago. The breadth, depth and maturity of his political perspective are without parallel and he has been a critical observer of world history as it has unfolded since before WWII. I love to listen to him. I keep hoping that through it I will somehow receive an immunization against all the bullshit we are constantly fed by the media. Among the things he mentions in his talks is that in a previous era, often common working people without any university education were better educated than we now believe. Asked about intellectuals, he points out that after the end of the Vietnam War, ordinary people, time and again in polls expressed the understanding that it was a moral calamity and willful injustice while pundits on the left continued to say that it had been simply a well-intentioned failure.

Links blog

✭Father of the Web Tim Berners-Lee prepares 'do-over' | Reuters
Building on ideas developed by an open-source software project called Solid, Inrupt promises a web where people can use a single sign-on for any service and personal data is stored in “pods,” or personal online data stores, controlled by the user.
✭ Clothes washing linked to ‘pervasive’ plastic pollution in the Arctic | Plastics | The Guardian
“With these polyester fibres, we’ve essentially created a cloud throughout the world’s oceans.”

I was going to say that it would be better to switch to bamboo, but it turns out that this is not necessarily the answer.

A couple of other articles I found on this:

It would probably be better to do more handwashing. That's what I always do when I travel, and sometimes continue for a while after I return. But I would have a hard time doing so while traveling, without relying on quick-drying synthetic fabric.


✭ We are Israel's largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid | Israel | The Guardian
"The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end."

✭ Israel is a non-democratic apartheid regime, says rights group | Israel | The Guardian
Embassy spokesperson rejects ‘false claims’ in report that alleges policies perpetuate supremacy of Jews over Palestinians

Everything that is said by B'Tselem is plainly true. I think everyone knows this, including Israeli Jews (who, depending on their politics, may find various ways to justify it).

However, people do get hung up around words. Apartheid is a term imported from another regime in another continent. It's attractive to use by activists, because it immediately invokes visceral reactions in everyone who hears it. Furthermore it has been declared a crime against humanity under international law. ANC members have pointed out that the situation in Israel is actually much worse than what they experienced in South Africa:

'In July 2008, 21 South African activists, including ANC members, visited Israel and Occupied Palestine. Their conclusion was unanimous. Israel is far worse than apartheid as former Deputy Minister of Health and current MP Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge explained:

“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”'

B'Tselem identify four levels of "apartheid" suffered by Palestinians under Israeli rule, at the lowest end those in the Gaza Strip (which has been called an "open-air prison"); to those living in the Occupied West Bank, to those who live in East Jerusalem (who are entitled to revokable residency rights), to those who live in Israel, who have full citizenship, but still lack equality with Israeli Jews.
#israel #palestine

✭ The dark side of Israel’s vaccine success story | Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera
"there is a dark side to Israel’s “vaccine success story”: While it is immunising its citizens against COVID-19 at an unrivalled rate, the Israeli government is not doing anything to vaccinate millions of Palestinians living under its military occupation. In a cruel irony, hundreds of doses on the cusp of expiration were reportedly thrown away in Israeli clinics last week, while millions of Palestinians are being denied the vaccine."

Palestinian citizens of Israel (and probably residents of East Jerusalem) are being vaccinated, but not residents of Gaza and the West Bank. To reinforce the accusation of "apartheid", one can mention that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are included in Israel's vaccination drive.
#israel #palestine #COVID-19