I wrote a bunch of stuff this week.

I wrote a bunch of stuff this week. And some in the weeks prior! And I haven’t been updating this blog with any of that writing. Because, you know: Reasons.

Some of these reasons fall under the general heading of “I’m kind of lazy,” and others fall under the narrower heading of “a lot of Non-Writing Life Stuff has been going on” and… you know. Like that! But I’m here with some quick links, because I did kind of promise I would do this sort of thing. Sorry I’ve been rather inconsistent!

In backwards chronological order:

  1. It’s the Occupation, Stupid (The American Prospect, 3/25/14). “From the way my community (on either side of the ocean) yells about BDS, you’d think that BDS is the problem. You’d think that for the last 47 years, the BDS movement had been investing Israel’s resources—financial, military, and human—in morally disastrous policies that serve to dispossess the Palestinian people and undermine Israel’s own democracy…. The bald inequity of the occupation, whereby (aside from any other concern) millions of people’s lives are controlled by a foreign government over which they have no legal influence, is so enormous, so insurmountable, so entirely disproportionate to any other concern that BDS might raise—how can we possibly talk about anything else? And yet talk we do.”
  2. Netanyahu’s Fake Jerusalem Stalls Peace (The Forward, 3/24/14). “Har Homa – an illegal settlement built on Palestinian land in order to massively expand an historically-false version of Israel’s ‘eternal and undivided capital’ – has framed Netanyahu’s political career. The language employed by the Israeli government concerning Har Homa and the entire settlement project has served to obfuscate, disrupt, and steadily shift the terms of engagement, so that what was once non-existent is now treated as inescapable. Not to mention that no matter how the Palestinians have acknowledged and/or recognized Israel, it’s clearly never been good enough for Bibi.
  3. Peace and Palestinians behind Israel’s prison bars (Haaretz, 3/23/12). “Everything’s a crisis. Everything’s a battle royale. Everything’s a big, boiling pottage of names, numbers, and facts that only a few remember (like that 2005 transport deal). Lines are drawn (red, or in the sand), insults are flung, tripwires lie all around. And every single last one of these brouhahas, individually and collectively, serves as a terrible, horrible metaphor for the entire conflict – and the fact that after all that effort, we are still mired in conflict.”
  4. Book review: ‘The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC – 1492 AD,’ by Simon Schama (Dallas Morning News, 3/23/14). “Here is the heartbreak, here is the horror, but here also are families moving up the social ladder, men choosing brides, women doing business, whole communities shaping and reshaping their relationship with their faith, even as they interact with, influence and are influenced by other communities among whom they live…. In conveying all this, Schama’s writing is at turns wry, sly and lavish, tumbling over itself much in the way that he describes the tens of thousands of documents and fragments of documents found in the Cairo Geniza, and yet often turning agonizingly spare in the face of the terrors that came — and they did come, over and over again.”
  5. Will the Crisis in Ukraine Damage Negotiations with Iran? (Ploughshares Blog, 3/19/14). “Much as it may be tempting to believe otherwise, Russia is a rational actor. Whatever its designs on Ukraine, Moscow also has very real interests involving Iran that President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to want to compromise.”
  6. If a Palestinian Did This, He’d Be Dead (The Forward, 3/14/14). “If you’re online and follow news out of Israel, you’ve probably already seen or at least heard of that wild-and-crazy video of a Hebron settler try to steal a Palestinian flag off a Palestinian roof. The guy gets caught on some barbed wire and then — even as his compatriots shout abuse (‘you son of a whore!’) at Shadi Sidr, the man who lives in the house, and even as Sidr tries to help free the settler from his predicament (while also attempting to reassure onlookers: ‘It’s okay, don’t worry!’) — the settler explains, with almost otherworldly calm, that in fact ‘This roof, this is my roof. This is all mine. The whole country is mine. The whole state is mine.’ Soon after, soldiers show up and threaten not the settler but the homeowner with arrest, demanding that he take down his flag. Crazy, right? Wild!”
  7. (follow-up to the aboveTrading a Palestinian Flag for a Kid’s Freedom? (The Forward, 3/18/14). “Rather than, say, arrest the settler for trespassing, though, soldiers responded to this absurd series of events by attempting to browbeat Shadi Sidr, the Palestinian in question, into handing over his flag. At various points, various soldiers insisted that flying the Palestinian flag was forbidden and that Sidr would be taken into custody if he didn’t take his down, but when he refused, at least one of them had the good sense to understand that continuing the farce in front of cameras was not a good idea. Later it transpired that the Israeli military in fact has no anti-flag regulation.
    And that, you would think, was that. Or, at any rate, you might think that was that if you had no experience with Israel and the occupation. Because of course that was not that. That was not even remotely that.”
  8. Iran Negotiations and the Broader Nuclear Agenda (Ploughshares Blog, 3/10/14). “The number of nuclear weapons in the world tops 17,000, yet none of them belong to Iran. While negotiators work for a verifiable deal that would prevent Iran from ever obtaining nuclear arms – it’s important to remember that the current negotiations also have the potential to strengthen international security, and move us forward on a path to a nuclear weapons-free tomorrow.”
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Decrepitude – a listicle.

I posted this a while ago and just ran across it again – and it made me smile! Which is nice. So I’m re-upping.

source

(I also remember using the brand of soap that Lily’s standing in front of).  source

I recently learned that Daily Mail has a fancy list telling you about how your body shrinks and withers as it ages. Big whup. Do you know how long it takes for that happen? You’ll spend years going “Am I in decline now? How about now? Is it now?”

That’s where your olds can come in handy – I am middle aged, and I know what it looks like. Hereunder, a useful checklist that you might want to clip and keep handy.

Sign #1 that you might be middle-agedYou think in terms of “clipping”.

Sign #2 – You’re attracted to middle-aged people (and a little creeped out by the youngs). If you look at beautiful people in their early twenties and think “well, aren’t they silly and cute! Will they be leaving soon?” – but a cute, gray haired, wrinkly person at the school open house elicits a quickened pulse? You’re middle-aged. (Note: Exceptions made for Josh Hutcherson, Ryan Gosling, and Karen Gillan).

Sign #3 – Certain songs bring you back to a certain place and time — you just can’t remember why. Occasionally a song from the early 80s will brush against my ear I’ll be there, man, in an instant: BOOM! Transported back to an emotional state, filled with a kind of pleasant longing. And I’ll have no idea why. If this happens to you? You’re middle-aged.

Sign #4 – They keep changing the names of shit. Creme rinse, taco chips, oleo – alas, all have gone the way of the Apollo program. But your local bodega and/or online merchant should have no problem providing you with conditioner, tortilla chips and margarine. If you can remember to call them that.

Sign #5 –  You have living memories of life being actually-factually suckier. When I was a toddler, Captain Kirk kissed Uhura, and it raised a genuine, furious ruckus across the land – a mere handful of years earlier, inter-racial marriage had been illegal in most states. Women weren’t admitted to Harvard (having been relegated to Radcliffe) until I was in junior high. And after I graduated from college, a promising young President signed into law a requirement that gay men and women serving in the US military lie about themselves every day. Funny how the day seems a smidge bit brighter when I remember bullcrap like that.

Sign #6 – The list of things that you will never, ever do gets longerSinger in a rock n’ roll band? Not happening. Cartwheels? Ditto. Actually getting all those books read? Oh, you make me laugh, you scamp!

Sign #7 – On the other hand: The list of things you actually do do gets longer, too. Don’t get too excited – most of these are pretty dinky. Like: I actually make my bed most days now, and it only took until I was past 40. And I floss. Occasionally. But I also tell people off when they deserve it, and I no longer carry disagreements & general unpleasantry in my breastbone, and I have finally found a way to get regular exercise that I both enjoy and actually, you know, do. Which I’m told makes it work a whole lot better.

Sign #7, corollary – You keep getting bigger. Sometimes this is physical – which, you know, we all need to figure out how to deal with that in this particular stage of the patriarchy – but that’s not what I mean. My mother once told me that there is no “up” – as in “grown up” (“There’s no ‘up’ to arrive at,” she said at some point in her late 50s, when you would think that, if there were an up, she would have found it) – and she’s mostly right. It’s just that “up” keeps moving. As a person, I am bigger, broader, more UP, than I have ever been and it’s kind of awesome. Who am I kidding? It’s totally awesome. The Daily Mail may declare my body to be shrinking, and whole sections of society and the economic sector may think that I should quietly bob my hair and go away – but fuck them. Cause I’m bigger now, and I like it.

Sign #8Pimples on top of wrinkles –  Cause nature’s a big ol’ juicebox.

 

 

 

Happy Friday from C-3PO.

In which some adorable folks calling themselves the “Star Wars Club of Tunisia” do a super delightful version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, dancing in costume through the abandoned Tatooine sets in the Tunisian desert. No, I know!

(If you happen to be unfamiliar with original, I urge you to fill that lacuna in your life’s education — click here)

h/t BuzzFeed

Women’s bodies as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power.

I wrote the above headline as a tweet last week, just after reading about the recent stabbing death of a teenage Palestinian girl by her brother, “for allegedly shaming her family.”

Ever since writing those 72 characters, though, I can’t stop thinking about them. Because that’s it, that’s the whole story: Women’s bodies are used as a delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. All the time.

Honor killings are perhaps the most obvious case (the kind of case that allows Westerners to feel that we’re off the hook on these issues) because a family’s honor is defined by how chaste the men are able to keep their women. If the women stray (or are perceived to have strayed) from a very narrow definition of proper behavior, in certain cultures and circumstances the men are not only free to kill the women, they’re expected to.

But women’s bodies are not just the delivery mechanism for statements about men’s power in Foreign Places that are Far Away. They’re used for making such statements all around the globe, every day, all day.

Rape. Sexual assault. Workplace harassment. Street harassment. Domestic violence. In each case, the attacker or harasser is making clear that his victim (and whoever else might be listening) knows who’s got power over whom. The victim’s body is a tool toward these ends.

Likewise the fight to legally prevent women from having access to the reproductive health care of our choice. When male politicians and cultural leaders declare that pregnant women are “hosts”, or that women who want access to birth control as part of their healthcare are uncontrolled sluts and/or prostitutes, or ask if women want access to abortions, why can’t men have access to rape? — they’re declaring their right to deny women physical autonomy.

When women don’t earn as much as men for the same work, and are only sporadically allowed access to the same work; when women cannot afford to better the physical conditions of their lives without the aid of a better-paid husband; when it continues to be culturally suspect if a man is supported by a woman, and culturally rewarded if a man earns enough money to “allow” his wife to not work — women’s physical productivity is a tool with which men assert or declare their power in the workplace, in society, and at home.

Polygamy; male “scoring” vs. female “sluttiness”; women as cooks but not as chefs; women as accessories but not as leads; women told to be pleasant to men who are rude; women told they’re not Real Geeks; pre-teens who can’t walk to school without hearing grown men talk about their bodies; girls and women told to shape and re-shape their bodies by an entertainment business dominated by men — all are direct examples or outgrowths of the same principle, a principle that frequently overlaps with others: Brown men may not be seen as having as much power as white men, nor poor men as much power as the rich, the cultural elite need to be protected from the unwashed, all of it in an endless cycle of social drama and jockeying for position. As is often true for oppressed populations, some women support this status quo, serving to perpetuate the very system that hurts them and their sisters — but their involvement doesn’t change the basic fact.

And that basic fact is this: At the end of the day, I cannot be sure that my body is mine. My daughter cannot be sure that her body is hers. Our bodies are free game to whatever man needs to tell the world that he is powerful. Our human right to physical autonomy is not a given.

Women’s bodies are delivery mechanisms for statements about men’s power. Everywhere. Every day.

All damn day long.

The Argument Against New Sanctions on Iran.

I’m now writing once a week for Ploughshares Fund, a foundation that supports advocacy for a nuclear weapon-free future. Naturally one of Ploughshares’ biggest issues is Iran’s nuclear program and the negotiations, which is what I’m writing about (which is cool for me, because I really like Ploughshares and getting to write about Iran!)

Following are the tops of my first two posts — they’re both brief primers for folks who feel like they need a little more background on the issue. You can click through to Ploughshares to read the rest. I hope they’re useful!

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Getting the Facts on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Americans of every political stripe are weighing the pros and cons of diplomacy right now, discussing the efforts to achieve a long-term nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called “P5+1” countries – so-called because those countries are the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (the US, UK, Russia, China, and France), plus Germany. Too often though, among all the talk, basic facts don’t get much attention.

From I like Ike to the Islamic Republic

Iran’s path toward nuclear power actually began in 1960 under the “Atoms for Peace” plan, an American program launched by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. Soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran was entrenched in a brutal war with Iraq; Iraq used chemical weapons (with American knowledge) as early as 1982, and Iran sought non-conventional means with which to respond. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians were killed in eight years of carnage, a fact that shapes politics in both countries to this day.

For the rest, click here.

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The Argument Against New Sanctions on Iran

No negotiation process is easy or smooth, particularly between long-time rivals. Some Westerners are worried that Iran can’t be trusted to negotiate in good faith. Some would like to demand that the country’s entire nuclear infrastructure dismantled, or feel that if earlier sanctions were good, more would be better.

It’s now a little more than a month into the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), the six-month agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the US, UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany). TheInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran is complying with the deal, stopping or rolling back critical parts of its nuclear program, and cooperating with IAEA officials who have daily access to the country’s nuclear facilities. In return, the international community has lifted or reduced sanctions imposed as part of a global effort to compel Iran away from a nuclear path.

More is Less

While these concerns and doubts might be understandable, they fail to take into consideration the fact that Iranians have concerns, too – as do the other P5+1 nations.

Imposing new sanctions now would be meeting cooperation with reprisal. Such an approach isn’t likely to build confidence with Tehran, or encourage its government to keep engaging with Western powers.

Furthermore, the JPOA commits the UN, the EU, and the US Administration (“consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress”) to no new sanctions. While Congress could choose to act against the spirit of this agreement, doing so would violate a commitment made not just to Iran, but to our international allies as well.

If, on the other hand, Iran stops keeping its side of the bargain, or tries to push off a long-term agreement, new sanctions could be a useful tool. Indeed, if Tehran chooses to violate the JPOA, it will do so in the knowledge that harsher sanctions await.

For the rest, click here.

Handing the Western Wall to the Judaizers.

Quick, if you’re a settler-dominated government uninterested in sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinian people, what’s a good way to telegraph your position without raising a ruckus?

Well, one good way would be to turn over a sizable portion of Judaism’s holiest site to the management of a maximalist settler group — which is precisely what Israel’s government is about to do.

…Elad is best known, perhaps, for its management of the City of David (Ir David) archeological excavations, which it has turned into a right-wing propaganda center, eliding Palestinian history in the city, ignoring findings that don’t support a Jewish-only narrative, and in the process of expanding its work, damaging (or simply claiming) the property of Palestinians living in the surrounding neighborhood, Silwan.

Elad is also known for its aggressive efforts to settle — or, in its own words, to Judaize — Silwan, a Palestinian village that got tacked on to the modern municipality of Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967, part of a massive annexation that engulfed 64 square kilometers of Palestinian lands and more than tripling Jerusalem in size.

This appeared last week in The Forward — to read more, please click here