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Three star hotels don't a holiday make:

Girona, Narbonne, Carcassonne, Toulouse. Pau, Biarritz. San Sebastien, Biarritz, Girona. Charleroi, Brussels. Antwerp, Lier, Brussels, Charleroi.

Hoegaarden, San Miguel, Corona, Brugse Witte, Kasteel Bier, de Koninck, Maes, Corsendonk Pater, Chimay Bleu, Westmalle Dubbel, Leffe Blonde, an apricot lambic, Kriek.

Supersize Me, by Morgan Spurlock.
Parallel Lines, by Nina Davenport

Pnin, Nabokov.

Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation

A presage of modern war — of the massive hypocrisy and touted ideals for making war; of double standards, lies and contradictions and the consequent (outrageous) loss of life; of the abuse of language and the maligned tentacles of propaganda; of power, hubris and corruption. A tragedy (is Lebanon) in the classical sense, except the number of deaths and lies are modern. A disturbing and bleak view of the creation or support and sanction of militias by the Israelis; of the gradual causal rise of the Hezbollah movement (in a country as abused and wracked as Lebanon, no surprise); of the desperation of hijackings, kidnappings, suicide bombings; of civilian slaughter, the brutal killing of people who are refugees two or three times over. Of fruitless victories and meaningless ceasefires; of American battleship diplomacy; of retreats played out like glorious exits; of the Israeli use of phosphorous and cluster bombs (American weapons); of Ariel Sharon’s culpability for the Sabra and Shatila massacres; of peace-minded armies welcomed with rice and rose water only to leave destruction and death and the seeds for the next civil war.

Fisk’s observation is bravely acute, honest and of the highest journalistic calibre. He’s keenly aware of how important language representation and integrity are as media concerns, cf the abuse of the term ‘terrorist’, or of how skewed and feelgood-hollywood the war looks on TV; to the mutual use and exploitation of media by the warring parties.

This is a book that every Israeli, Arab and Westerner should read. It contains the mode, methods and terms (in eerie parallel) of our current wars. And it’s proof that the Palestinian issue has still not been resolved equitably and humanely. And that Michael Stipe was wrong: it’s Robert Fisk who’s not afraid.

Some notables:
P280: In East Beirut, the Israeli army officers — even the Israeli journalists who now travelled regularly up from Tel Aviv — used the word ‘Terrorism’ loosely, giving the war a moral flavour which it did not in reality possess. Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism. Never before [this is 1982] had its use become so all-pervasive, so ominous and dangerous. In one sense, it was the most frightening aspect of the war. For who were the ‘terrorists’ in Beirut? The Palestinian guerrilla fighters who had slaughtered their Christian opponents in the civil war? The Phalangist gunmen who had slaughtered so many Palestinian civilians and who were now allied to the Israelis? The Israeli soldiers and pilots who killed thousands of innocent people while pursuing the ghost of ‘international terrorism’?

P384: [Terrorism] had become not just an obsession but an amorphous military objective with neither end nor meaning.

P388: Like the Syrians, the Soviets, the Americans and the British, the Israelis drew a careful distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists. In Israel’s case, the former were sympathetic to Israel and were graced with various, less harmful epithets — ‘militiamen’, ‘fighters’, ‘soldiers’ — while the latter opposed Israel and were therefore terrorists pure and simple, guilty of the most heinous crimes, blood-soaked and mindless, the sort of people who should be ‘cleansed’ from society.
— and how, importantly, labelling all Palestinians ‘terrorist’ in a strangely illegitimate way sanctions Isreal’s illegal occupation of the disputed territories, washing away the issue of land ownership and rights; that is, purest propaganda. A way of dehumanising people out of the debate for their own land.

[ibid] If the Palestinians could be portrayed as mindless barbarians, surely no sane individual would dare regard their political claims as serious. Anyone who expressed sympathy for the Palestinians was evidently anti-Semitic…

P407 The old terminology — of ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against ‘terrorists’, of ‘surgical precision’ bombing, of ‘pin-point accuracy’ bombardments, of ‘mopping up’ operations — was no longer accepted by reporters who could see for themselves what these phrases really meant.

P435 And yet… why was it that Western hostages were called ‘hostages’ — which they were — while Lebanese Shia Muslim prisoners held in an Israeli-controlled jail in Southern Lebanon were referred to by journalists simply as ‘prisoners’ [held for the good conduct of their brethren]?

…That one word ‘terrorist’ has been used to justify more political and military action than any defined policy in the Middle East in the past decade [the 80s].

P441 … ‘terrorism’ no longer means terrorism. It is not a definition; it is a political contrivance. ‘terrorists’ are those who use violence against the side that is using the word.
Don’t worry, it’s not just the Israelis who come out looking hypocritical. Arafat’s PLO is just as brutal, as are the various militias of the Druze, the Maronites, the Phalange government. Of particularly urgent reading is the Fisker’s brief holiday in Ireland, where he realises a slaughter is about to unfold in the Beirut refugee camps; and his rush back to discover hastily-dug mass graves, fresh kills while stumbling over a mass of corpses and bodyparts, and the Israelis standing guard in the distance. The epicentre of the book and the war, the massacres are testimony to the absolute of ruthlessness and depravity which warring sides descend to, and the true obscenity of mass murder. Also of note is how pathetic the yanks (and Reagan) come across with their technologist mania-religion and firepower diplomacy. Also, the Israeli pursuit of critical voices in the Western media during the ‘82 invasion.

The book speaks of indiscriminate shelling and bombing, lies and rhetoric, militia cruelty, hypocrisy, truth, politics, secular fighting, propaganda. And the political denial and suppression-management of (journalistic) truth.

Over on Popmatters, my rather tired analysis of the gold medal phenomenon and the horse that won it for Ireland.

posted by rino breebaart  # 1:38 pm
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Alternatively, read about it at: The Slow Review or the long blog. Or even Nurture Health

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