Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating victory in the original war for oil.

Belated Happy Hanukkah.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Did Ron Paul appear on white supremacist radio show?

According to a contemporaneous blog post by a Ron Paul supporter, Ron Paul appeared on the nation's most popular white supremacist radio program, The Political Cesspool. That program is associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens (formerly known as the White Citizens Councils) and had been supportive of David Duke and others of that ilk. It's sponsors include the Institute for Historical Review, the nation's largest organization devoted to Holocaust denial.

The blog post announcing Ron Paul's appearance on the show (which can be read here) reads as follows:

One of the only truly conservative Congressmen in office today, Ron Paul, will be doing a live interview on The Political Cesspool tonight. The show is from 7-8 PM Central time and can be heard locally (Memphis) on 1380 AM WLRM or the live stream or archives if you miss it live will be at No matter what your opinion of the Cesspool is you will not want to miss this interview. I have heard that No Child Left Behind and possible Bush impeachment will be discussed, but I am not 100% sure on that. Tune in to find out.

Oddly, the recording of that day's interview does not appear in the show's otherwise meticulous archives. Searching the August 2006 archives (here: The Political Cesspool Radio Program), reveals the one day gap in their records. Could it be that the people at Political Cesspool scrubbed Ron Paul from their archives because they understand that an appearance on their show might damage his reputation?

UPDATE: (12/23/2011 3:00 PM):

It turns out that the blogger who listed Ron Paul as a guest on Political Cesspool was Austin Farley, the program's co-creator and original co-host.  (Read here: This lends considerable credence to his post.

UPDATE (12/24/2011 11:00 AM):

 I've found conflicting evidence concerning whether Ron Paul appeared on the Political Cesspool show. First, confirmation that he was scheduled to appear on the program has been found in a notice written by the program's host posted on the neo-Nazi Stormfront website. A screenshot of the notice can be seen below. For those who want to see the original, click here.

Don Black, who runs Stormfront, has claimed in a post on the website that Ron Paul was scheduled to be interviewed on Political Cesspool, but that his campaign cancelled the interview at the last minute. (A screenshot of that post is below. The original can be read here.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ron Paul in his own words, and in the words of the founders

When faced with a skilled interviewer like Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul shows himself to be an ideologue with no depth of understanding about the results of the extreme positions he advocates.  He seems completely unconcerned with what would happen if he had his way essentially because he believes with all his heart that everything would be okay.  He is what our founding fathers called a "doctrinaire".  Considering Ron Paul's alleged respect for the worldview of America's founders, I propose that we restore their usage of the word "doctrinaire" with respect to Ron Paul: one who advocates policies based primarily on ideological bias and with insufficient concern for real world needs and effects.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Joseph Massad continues to support Assad, blame Israel

Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has published a column in which he continues to support Assad and blame Israel and the U.S. for the uprising against him. He seems to think the Arab League, Turkish PM Erdogan and the Syrian rebels themselves are agents of Zionism and U.S. imperialism.

Read here: The struggle for Syria - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Protect the Bedouin

The Bedouin, like Roma, Irish Travelers, and other traditionally nomadic peoples, should be protected. Modern societies need to make room for groups whose fundamental identity requires community mobility. If only such a modern country had a large, mostly unoccupied area where such a group could live comfortably. A desert, for example.

Read Diana Muir Applebaum in Jewish Ideas Daily: On the Road Again

Enemy of the state

Dorli Rainey stopped by the site of the Occupy Seattle protest last night to see what her neighbors were doing to express support for New York protesters. Those New Yorker were summarily expelled from New York's Zuccotti Park in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Dorli, who was watching the protests, not participating, found herself pinned against a wall by Seattle police. With her were a small crowd, reportedly including a priest and a pregnant woman, all there to observe and support the protests. The Seattle police saw fit, after penning this group behind barricades, to spray them with pepper spray. Seattle thus achieves a distinction that they would rather not have. They are the city which has maced the oldest innocent person of the many to have been similarly attacked by U.S. police within the past two months. Here's her photo:


There are no similar photos of innocent New Yorkers being maced, beaten or arrested during the NYPDs raid on the Zuccotti encampment. The Bloomberg administration, which has justified their attack on the protesters as being designed to protect the protesters from fictitious threats to their health and safety, similarly kept the police raid out of the view of the media in order to protect reporters from the same illusory threats. That the only threat to anyone's health and safety was posed by hundreds of heavily armed riot police attacking innocent protesters is made clear by the fact that, among those detained for rioting on Tuesday morning were several reporters, whose health and safety were protected by being handcuffed and carted away in vans. That there are no photos of New Yorkers to compare to the photo above indicates that, while Mayor Bloomberg didn't protect anyone's health and safety, he was successful in protecting the privacy of those his police unjustly tear-gassed, beat and arrested.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


As if there were any doubt, how do we know Rick Perry's campaign is in deep trouble? "Oops" is now his catch-phrase.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Brooklyn hit by anti-Semitic arson

Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood was hit by anti-Semitic vandals early this morning. Residents were awakened at 4:30 by the sound of three cars parked on Ocean Parkway between Avenue I and Avenue J exploding in flames. Graffiti found on the torched cars and adjacent cars and park benches included swastikas, "SS", "KKK" and "Kill the Jews".

More here, including video of the fires: Car Fires, Anti-Semitic Graffiti Put Brooklyn Neighborhood On Edge -

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ron Paul's answer for Iran's nuclear threat

from Philip Weiss at Mondoweiss:
On television today Ron Paul said that friendship with Iran is the answer.

"The Texas congressman says fears about Iran's nuclear program have been "blown out of proportion." He says tough penalties are a mistake because, as he says was the case in Iraq, they only hurt the local population and still paved a path to war. When asked on "Fox News Sunday" what he would do to deter Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions, Paul said 'maybe offering friendship to them'."

Do you wonder why some on the left support the paleo-conservative isolationalism of Ron Paul? They share a philosophy of foreign policy: Magical Realism.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the perils of the big tent

Patricia McAllister is a recently fired Los Angeles public school teacher who has gained attention by carrying signs at the L.A. Occupy Wall Street demonstrations blaming "Zionist Jews" for the world financial crisis. In two widely seen interviews she gave at those rallies, McAllister elaborated on her view that Jews are to blame for America's woes by going on to say that Jews should be expelled from the country. As a result of those statements, McAllister, who was not tenured, was fired by the L.A. school district and has since started a new career campaigning full-time for the deportation of American Jews.

Now McAllister, who is African American, has given another interview -- this one for a podcast hosted by someone with whom McAllister would seem unlikely to make common cause: David Duke, the longtime white supremacist leader and former head of the KKK and American Nazi Party respectively.  (Part one of McAllister's interview with Duke can be heard in the video embedded below.)

In the interview, McAllister reiterates her call for Jews to be expelled from the U.S.  She also touts her website, which is called, and is, of course, devoted to her bizarre, hateful beliefs. For example, on one of the website's pages headlined "The Jewish Problem", she outlines her oft-repeated allegation that crimes committed by "Zionist Jews" have led to their being expelled from 109 counties, starting with their being expelled from Carthage in 250, and ending with their being expelled from "Arab countries" in 1948. (McAllister apparently counts "Arab countries" as a single entity for her 109 figure. In light of the bigger issues she has, I'm not going to quibble with her math.)  That list is accompanied by a screed demanding that Jews be forbidden from serving in Congress, praising Ullyses S. Grant for expelling Jews from western Tennessee during the Civil War, and concluding with the following:

Are these Jews really God’s chosen people? Would God choose a people who was thrown out of 109 nations for forming cartels; price fixing; bid rigging; product bundling/tying; refusal to deal; group boycott; the practice of charging excessive, high, and illegal interest rates on loans; deceitful dealings in business; frequent bankruptcies, etc.?

This is why Jews are called "wandering Jews". America must rethink about its relationship with the Jewish people. America may have to become the 110th nation to have expelled the Jewish people. No, God would not choose these Jews. Jews have stolen the identity of God's truly chosen people.

The Jewish people have been wandering for so many years without a homeland, because of their deceitful, evil ways. [sic]

McAllister illustrates the page with the image below.

What does this have to do with Occupy Wall Street ?

My first reaction is "not much".  McAllister is a just an individual bigot who latched her hateful cause to the just ones of the Occupy Wall Street protesters without any encouragement on their part.  McAllister's views are not those of OWS.  Moreover, McAllister herself says (at about 2:30 of the below-embedded video) that she does not consider herself a member or even a supporter of OWS; that she merely used OWS as a forum to express her views. That the OWS protests target wrongdoing by banks gives those who, like McAllister and David Duke, identify the banks as representative of Jewish evil an opening to attach their bigoted views to legitimate ones, but that attachment is not reciprocated by the OWS movement as such.  For that reason, attempts by Fox News, Andrew Breitbart and others on the right to define OWS as essentially anti-Semitic based on the ravings of a few nuts should not be taken too seriously.  Such criticisms echo the red-baiting reactions of the right to the civil rights and anti-Vietnam-War movements which were labeled by some opponents as essentially violent or pro-communist.  Such charges, when repeated often enough, tended to effect the views even of conservatives who did not believe them literally. The charges created an impression. They made essentially good political movements seem, in the mind of many, threatening to peace and stability.  Similarly, the right now attempts to tar a broad-based populist movement with a brush provided by an indefensible fringe, first to sway the conservative true-believers who will swallow such stories whole, but secondly and more importantly, to create an image in the public mind of the OWS movement as a potential threat.

My second reaction is a bit more nuanced and more important for the future of OWS. The OWS movement, like any movement or party, will have to define itself as much by what is against as what it is for, as much by the people it excludes as those it welcomes. A leader of the L.A. occupiers stood by as Patricia McAllister told a local TV news reporter in a live TV interview that Zionist Jews should be expelled from the U.S. When the OWS leader (identified only as "PJ") was asked whether the movement welcomed such statements, she stated that, while OWS opposed "divisive" speech, it also opposed putting any limit on OWS participants expressing such "divisive" speech or even "hate speech".  She erroneously said that McAllister and others like her have a right to carry her hateful signs at Occupy Los Angeles under the First Amendment, confusing, of course, government censorship of speech with a political group's right to determine what messages it will promote.  (See below-embedded video at about 3:20.) By that same logic, OWS would have to welcome anti-OWS signs into its encampment.  When she was specifically asked for OWS's stand on McAllister's statements, the OWS leader was silent.  That silence was not good enough.

The Occupy Wall Street movement defines itself as radically democratic and egalitarian.  They claim to reject hierarchy and welcome everyone who would participate as an equal. While these conceits reflect intentions that are undoubtedly good, they fall short as strategy in that they will inevitably lead to situations where participants promote ideas which are contrary to the core values of the majority.  In a different way, that's what happened to the Tea Party when their populist message of opposition to both government and big business, was co-opted by opportunistic big business interests. Those interests employed astroturf specialists who have made an art of such political body-snatching.  So we have very recently seen a populist mass-movement taken over by elements of one of the very so-called "elites" it initially intended to oppose.  The Tea Party differed with OWS in that it started with certain right wing biases which helped doom it, primarily a misguided focus on opposition to government, organized labor and progressive organizations, the only forces which have the potential to counter the banking and business "elites" which were among the initial Tea Party targets.  OWS is not hobbled by that ideological bias, but is hobbled by a naive reliance on a sort of Wikipedia approach to creating doctrine.  Whereas Wikipedia has built up internal mechanisms to work against those who would hijack it to lie, slander or proselytize, OWS has sometimes failed to similarly police its own message. As someone who uses Wikipedia only with a steady stream of grains of salt, I find singularly implausible the idea that a populist political movement could coherently operate in such a manner and not end up with Patricia McAllister, David Duke and their ilk attached to it.  When that happens, OWS must choose whether they will firmly reject bigots, or allow them into their tents.  That choice needs to be made both collectively by the group and individually by its members.  If OWS or its members allow the likes of David Duke and Patricia McAllister to latch onto it, they can count me and the vast majority of its supporters out.

In the meantime, let me state in unequivocal terms that I support Occupy Wall Street's expression of popular discontent with the corrupting influence of the finance industry on our economic and political systems.  It seems an unavoidable if inconvenient truth that the current crop of capitalists endanger not only the public welfare but the future of capitalism itself. In fact, much of what is currently considered capitalism no longer seems to be strictly that, having moved into a form characterized more by speculation than investment and without the capacity to absorb the risks it creates without government assistance.  I hope that the public outcry which is the OWS movement helps spur our political leaders to use a strong hand to restore financial regulations which corrupt politicians have stripped away.  I hope it gives our leaders the courage to resist proposals that put more of the tax burden on workers even as government services they depend on are slashed.  Patricia McAllister, David Duke, Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, etc.: I am a Zionist Jew and I am very worried about where this country is heading.  I strongly praise those who risk arrest and beating, who stay in tent encampments at great personal discomfort and who work hard to keep the flame of hope alive in the many for whom it is danger of being extinguished.  Stop interfering in their good work.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Raed Salah loses appeal of U.K. deportation order

Raed Salah, a leader of the organization Islamic Movement in Israel, has lost his appeal of an order that he be deported from the U.K.  The appellate ruling confirms the finding that Salah has worked to promote bigotry.

According to the CST:

"The tribunal considered five pieces of evidence against Salah: a poem he had authored which we argued could incite hatred of Jews, but which Salah argued was not antisemitic; a speech in which he made a ‘blood libel’ slur against Jews, but which Salah claimed was not about Jews; Salah’s inflammatory claims that Israel intends to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque; the outstanding charges he currently faces in Israel for incitement to violence and to antisemitism; and Salah’s conviction for funding organisations linked to Hamas.

"When these allegations were first aired, Salah denied having written the poem; denied making the blood libel comment; denied facing any charges in Israel; and denied any links to Hamas. Only after CST provided evidence to the contrary, did Salah admit to having written the poem and making the blood libel comment, and argued instead that CST’s interpretation of those texts was wrong. He also admitted his conviction for funding organisations linked to Hamas, but claimed this was for “charitable and humanitarian purposes.”"

Among those who testified on behalf of Salah was Ilan Pappe, the expatriate Israeli academic, who told the tribunal while under oath that the following statement, which Salah made to a large meeting in Jerusalem on February 16, 2007, did not evidence bigotry against Jews.

"“We have never allowed ourselves, and listen well, we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking of the fast during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children. And if someone wants a wider explanation, you should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, whose blood would be mixed in the dough of the holy bread. God Almighty, is this religion? Is this what God wants? God will confront you for what you are doing.”"

According to the tribunal's ruling,  Professor Pappe defended Salah's speech by calling it "incoherent and emotive", i.e. that the blood libel was being invoked in an impressionistic manner, not a literal one.  Pappe went on, however, to contradict this defense to argue that Salah did not invoke the blood libel in this or any other speech.  Pappe rationalized the inconsistent argument by testifying that Salah's claim that the blood of European children had been used to bake an unnamed holy bread was not targeted at Jews, but at Israeli officials.  According to the tribunal, Pappe claimed that Salah's speech "did not amount to the blood libel because he did not refer to Jewish bread; the message of the address was not anti-Semitic nor even anti-Zionist, but directed to the violation of Muslim rights in Jerusalem."

For understandable reasons, the tribunal did not find Pappe's arguments persuasive.  For one thing, Salah had previously defended himself against the blood libel charge by falsely claiming that he had not made the statement he now defends.  In fact, Salah initially had his attorney Raza Husain argue that he not only didn't make the statement, but that he found its anti-Semitic content offensive. (Read here.) After Salah's attorney made that argument, it was repeated by other Salah supporters who believed and ardently repeated his denial even in the light of considerable evidence that it was a lie.  Now that Salah's deception has been uncovered, the same supporters who allowed themselves to be used by Salah as a sounding board for his lies, now argue that there was no blood libel in the speech they had previously worked to help him conceal.  

Ultimately, however, the plain language of Salah's speech was too clear to be concealed by the deliberate obfuscations of Salah supporters such as Professor Pappe. In fact, Pappe's risible defense that Salah's speech meant to say that Israeli government officials, not Jews per se, used the blood of European children to bake an unnamed holy bread may have done more harm than good.  Lord knows that it has harmed Pappe's reputation.

The tribunal also found that Salah falsely claimed in that same February 2007 speech that Israel was about to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque to rebuild the Temple, and that he did so with a reasonable expectation that such a charge would elicit a violent reaction.  In fact, as Salah's attorneys were forced to admit, he called upon his audience in that speech to a mass meeting in Jerusalem to become "shahids", i.e. to martyr themselves. In other words, Salah manufactured a charge that Israel was about to commit a gross atrocity in order to encourage his audience to take up arms and become suicide bombers to prevent it from happening.

The tribunal also ruled that Salah's claim that his extensive fundraising for the terrorist organization Hamas could not reasonably be considered to be exclusively for charitable uses, as Salah and his defenders had claimed. 

The CST blog has more coverage here.  The tribunal's ruling is available in pdf here.

Inconsistent, offensive defenses by Salah's U.S. supporters

While Ilan Pappe forever tarred himself as an apologist for the blood libel with his testimony at Salah's appellate hearing, he was not alone in defending Salah in inconsistent and offensive ways.  In July, I reported here that Philip Weiss had published on his blog Mondoweiss a grossly offensive column, headlined "The Real Preachers of Hate: Britain Arrests Respected Palestinian Leader", which invoked David Duke's term "Jewish supremacism" to defend Salah.   

"Written by free-lance journalist Jonathan Cook, the column not only fails to mention Salah's extensive history of anti-Jewish hate speech, it turns the facts on their head in a manner reminiscent of U.S. neo-Nazi leader David Duke.  Cook writes that the Israeli public "loathes" Salah not because of his bigotry and incitements of violence, but because his Islamic faith is "incompatible with the state ideology of Jewish supremacism".  The phrase "Jewish supremacism" was coined by David Duke to counter his being labeled a white supremacist.  Duke came up with the term in writing (with editorial assistance from David Irving) a book called "My Awakening", which described Duke's "Aryan vision for America".  (Read here.)"

That Mondoweiss column not only used the neo-Nazi term "Jewish supremacism" to describe opposition to Salah, it actually repeated Salah's false, incendiary charge that Israel is preparing al-Aqsa to rebuild the Temple.  Here's Mondoweiss:

"Most in Israel’s Jewish majority would not have been aware of Sheikh Salah’s supposed reputation as a Jew hater either, despite their hyper-vigilance for anything resembling anti-Semitism. True, he is generally loathed by Israeli Jews, but chiefly because they regard his brand of Islamic dogma as incompatible with the state ideology of Jewish supremacism. (Israelis) fear (Salah) as the leader of a local Islam that refuses to be tamed. Those Israelis who conclude that this qualifies him as an anti-Semite do so only because they class all pious Muslims in the same category. Israeli officials detest Sheikh Salah as well, but again not for any alleged racism. His long-running campaign to prevent what he regards as an attempted Israeli takeover of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound – part of a wider “Judaisation” programme in the occupied areas of the city – has made him a thorn in their side."

Here are a series of quotes from Raed Salah by which his views may be reasonable judged:

“You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques,
Slaughterers of pregnant women and babies.
Robbers and germs in all times,
The Creator sentenced you to be loser monkeys,
Victory belongs to Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates"

"We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood. Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread . . . Great God, is this a religion?  Is this what God would want? God will deal with you yet for what you are doing."
[Speech at the February 16, 2007 protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz. Source.]

On 9/11:

“(T)he manifests of the two airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, whose planes crashed into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, included not a single Arab…. Yet three days later the FBI released the names of 19 Arab passengers, claiming that they were the hijackers of the four planes.”

“A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.”

“Is it true that the American administration arrested five Israelis with European citizenship on suspicion of involvement in the incident[?] They worked for a Jew in a moving company, with forged visas, and were severely tortured during their interrogation so that they would give details about the incident…”

Interviewer: What is your opinion of homosexuality?
Salah: It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.

Interviewer: What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?
Salah: That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.

Interviewer: What do you think of murder to save the family honor?

Salah: "There is no such concept and we do not recognize this concept. There is no such thing as `losing the family honor' or of committing murder `for the sake of family honor.' These are contradictions. We have the family and the family has its honor, which has to be preserved. We have to ask those who talk about murder for the sake of the family honor - mainly feminist organizations - what they did to prevent the murder of family honor itself. Unfortunately, nothing at all has been done in this regard. On the contrary: Some of the people who invented this concept are encouraging anarchy in the society, because they don't know how to handle the matter.

"All those who claim that women have the right to do with their bodies as they please are implanting anarchy in the society. If we say that a woman's body is hers and that no one may harm it, that is correct. But the danger is that some people interpret this to mean that a woman can do whatever she likes with her body, without taking into consideration the Islamic and Arab values. As such, they are helping put the woman to death while she is still alive."

The Al-Buraq Wall [the Islamic name for the Western Wall] is not the western wall of the Temple. Unfortunately, Jewish extremists, in the name of religion, are exploiting feelings of Jews on this subject and trying to sell them lies.

[Haaretz; Interview conducted by Jalal Bana; 10/24/2001 Primary Source;  Secondary Source ]

As I wrote in July: "According to Mondoweiss, opposition to Salah's hateful views reflects Jewish disdain for the rest of humanity.  They've learned their lesson well.  That's exactly what David Duke says about opposition to his 'Aryan vision for America'."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Al-Qaida to Ahmadinejad: enough with the 9/11 conspiracy theories

From the Guardian:

Al--Qaida has sent a message to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asking him to stop spreading conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks.

Iranian media on Wednesday reported quotes from what appears to be an article published in the latest issue of the al-Qaida English language magazine, Inspire, which described Ahmadinejad's remarks over the 11 September attacks as "ridiculous".

In his UN general assembly speech last week, Ahmadinejad cast doubt over the official version of the 2001 attacks.

"The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al-Qaida was behind 9/11 but rather, the US government," the article said, according to Iranian media. "So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?"

Ahmadinejad said in New York that the "mysterious September 11 incident" had been used as a pretext to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. He had also previously expressed scepticism at the US version of events.

"By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism, they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11 event with sanctions and military actions," said Ahmadinejad.
The al-Qaida article insisted it had been behind the attacks and criticised the Iranian president for discrediting the terrorist group.

"For them, al-Qaida was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world," said the article published in the Inspire magazine. "Al-Qaida … succeeded in what Iran couldn't. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mearsheimer continues to defend the anti-Jewish author Gilad Atzmon

In recent days, several blogs (including this one) have reported that John Mearsheimer, a senior professor of political science at University of Chicago, endorsed a grossly bigoted book with a generous blurb. Mearsheimer has now issued a rebuttal to that charge in a column published on the blog his Israel Lobby co-author Stephen Walt maintains at the Foreign Policy magazine website. (Read here.)

Walt frames Mearsheimer's defense as a counterattack against columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, ignoring similar criticism Mearsheimer received from many others, including those who in the past defended his work and that of his co-author. (According to Andrew Sullivan: "Both David Bernstein and Pejman Yousefzadeh feel compelled to walk back their defenses of Mearsheimer.")

The substance of Mearsheimer's defense consists of contradictory claims that a) Atzmon is not a Holocaust denier or bigot, and b) the troubling comments to the contrary which Goldberg quoted appeared not in the book Mearsheimer endorsed, but in Atzmon's other writings.

Mearsheimer is simply wrong when he writes that none of the offensive quotes Goldberg cited appear in the Atzmon book.  The longest quote cited by Goldberg, is from page 175 of Atzmon's book.

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place.

Sixty-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should reclaim our history and ask why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask for what purpose do the holocaust denial laws serve? What is the holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionists and their Neocons agents' plots. We will continue killing in the name of Jewish suffering. We will maintain our complicity in Western imperialist crimes against humanity...

In his column on Walt's blog, Mearsheimer falsely claims that this quote and all of the others cited by Goldberg do not appear in the book he recommended.  He further falsely denies that this or any of Atzmon's other arguments constitute Holocaust denial, but they clearly do.  In that brief quote, Atzmon argues: 1) that the Holocaust has not been the subject of free scholarly inquiry, 2) that "conclusive historical evidence" that the Holocaust occurred has not been published,  3) that belief that the Holocaust occurred is "religious", 4) that belief that the Holocaust occurred is rooted in anti-Gentile bias and is cynically motivated by a desire to manipulate Gentiles.  Moreover, that quote from Atzmon's book goes on to imply that hatred of Jews, whether in 1930s and 1940s Europe or in the contemporary world, is justified.  That Mearsheimer could either defend such an argument or not consider it noteworthy is inexcusable.

Ludicrously, Mearsheimer attempts to defend such statements as merely "provocative" and written in "overly hot language".  Mearsheimer writes:

The book, as my blurb makes clear, is an extended meditation on Jewish identity in the Diaspora and how it relates to the Holocaust, Israel, and Zionism. There is no question that the book is provocative, both in terms of its central argument and the overly hot language that Atzmon sometimes uses. But it is also filled with interesting insights that make the reader think long and hard about an important subject. Of course, I do not agree with everything that he says in the book -- what blurber does? -- but I found it thought provoking and likely to be of considerable interest to Jews and non-Jews, which is what I said in my brief comment.


Goldberg’s charge that Atzman is a Holocaust denier or an apologist for Hitler is baseless. Nor is Atzmon an anti-Semite. He has controversial views for sure and he sometimes employs overly provocative language. But there is no question in my mind that he has written a fascinating book that, as I said in my blurb, “should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.” Regarding Goldberg’s insinuation that I have any sympathy for Holocaust denial and am an anti-Semite, it is just another attempt in his longstanding effort to smear Steve Walt and me.

Mearsheimer, defending himself against a charge no one has made, goes on to point out that anyone who had heard him lecture would know that he is not a Holocaust denier.  That is undoubtedly true, but in defending Atzmon from this charge Mearsheimer demonstrates that he cannot recognize Holocaust denial when he sees it.  Moreover, he unfairly condemns in extremely harsh terms those who can see it and object to it.  So while Mearsheimer himself is in no way a Holocaust denier, he is very comfortable providing cover for those who are.

The strangest thing about Mearsheimer's very strange defense of Atzmon against charges that Atzmon is anti-Jewish is that it runs counter to Atzmon's own statements about himself.  Atzmon actually calls himself a "proud self-hating Jew".

Such ideas, and far worse, appear throughout Atzmon's writings and interviews.  Joseph W, writing at Harry Place, points to a recent interview in which Atzmon made the following astounding declaration of anti-Jewish sentiment:

Interviewer: I tell people we are almost getting into a Weimar situation, do you see that happening?

Atzmon: Absolutely. It is very tragic to say, but I can see it. And the only thing that can save the Jews from themselves is if we, the goyim, let’s say --

Interviewer: I heard you joined the goyim a few years ago, you are on the goyim team now.

Atzmon: Yes -- if the goyim, the gentiles, basically -- find within ourselves the powers to contain this sinister ideological collective.

(Listen below at 56:55.)

In his Foreign Policy column, Mearsheimer himself quotes Atzmon as follows, but apparently fails to absorb the meaning of what he quotes:

It was actually the internalization of the meaning of the Holocaust that transformed me into a strong opponent of Israel and Jewish-ness.

If an opponent of Jewishness is not, by definition, an anti-Semite, then such words have no meaning. Maybe that, after all, is both Atzmon's and Mearsheimer's point.

Watch this space and Harry's Place for much more about this.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

John Mearsheimer supports anti-Semitic author

"We have heard the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany. I don't like this comparison because I really think that Israel is far worse than Nazi Germany."

Those are the words of Gilad Atzmon, a little known expatriate Israeli who divides his time between working as a jazz musician and campaigning against the Jewish community in all its manifestations. He has written that he not only opposes Israel and Zionism, but any Jewish collective enterprise, including even "Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist networks". In fact, he describes himself as someone who is proud of being a "self-hating Jew".

History teaches us that the most universally inspiring Jews, I mean, those who contributed something to humanity rather than merely to their own people or even just themselves, were motivated by some form of self hate. The first names that come to mind are Christ, Spinoza and Marx.

Of the Holocaust, Atzmon has written that he not only doubts it occurred as historians and survivors describe, he thinks that what did occur was justified.

It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense. Here is just one little anecdote to elaborate on: If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich (Judenrein - free of Jews), or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war?

. . . (I)f the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place

65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz we should reclaim our history and ask why? Why were the Jews hated? Why did European people stand up against their next door neighbours? Why are the Jews hated in the Middle East, surely they had a chance to open a new page in their troubled history? If they genuinely planned to do so, as the early Zionists claimed, why did they fail? Why did America tighten its immigration laws amid the growing danger to European Jews? We should also ask for what purpose do the holocaust denial laws serve? What is the holocaust religion there to conceal? As long as we fail to ask questions, we will be subjected to Zionists and their Neocons agents’ plots.

He not only doubts that the Holocaust actually occurred, and thinks that whatever did happen to the Jews of Europe was justified, he goes on to argue that opposition to those who think like him is the manifestation of an irrational intolerance of non-Jews which is at the core of the Jewish identity. (Read here.) Elsewhere, Atzmon has described the Nazi's treatment of Jews as an understandable response to Jewish aggression against Germany.   (Read here.)

In spite of all this, Atzmon objects to describing his views as Holocaust denial, not because he believes what historians say about the subject, but because he dismisses the idea itself.

I ... find the notion of ‘holocaust denial’ to be meaningless, and on the verge of idiotic.

When put on the spot in an interview, Atzmon has said that he cannot be sure the Holocaust occurred because he "is not a historian".

Atzmon distinguishes himself from most anti-Zionists in that he admits that anti-Zionism is motivated by hatred of Jews, which he rationalizes in the following manner:

Unlike Uri Avnery and Norman Finkelstein who . . . argue that anti-Semitism is exaggerated, I actually believe that resentment towards Jewish politics is rising rapidly and constantly. However, I do differentiate between the Judeo-centric notion of anti-Semitism and political resentment towards Jewish ideology. I do not regard anti-Jewish activity as a form of anti-Semitism or racial hatred because Jews are neither Semites nor do they form a racial continuum whatsoever. The rise of hatred towards any form of Jewish politics and Jewish lobbies is a reaction towards a tribal, chauvinist and supremacist ideology.

Thus Atzmon argues that he and others like him cannot be bigoted against Jews because the belief in Jewish ethnicity itself is a manifestation of Jewish racism. By this twisted logic, Jews are inherently racist and those who hate them are inherently anti-racist.

Atzmon has also written at length that he believes anti-Semitic stereotypes to be accurate reflections of essential truths about the nature of Jews, even while disparaging the importance of real history.  He writes:

Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ trafficking seem to be just other events in an endless hellish continuum. However, it is also obvious why the HET [British Holocaust Education Trust] is so thrilled by Anne Frank. On the face of it, and for obvious reasons, Frank is there to convey an image of innocence. And indeed not a single moral system could ever justify the ordeal this young girl went through along with many others. Yet, Anne Frank wasn’t exactly a literary genius. Her diary is not a valuable piece of literature. She wasn’t an exceptionally clever either. [sic]

In that spirit of valuing bigoted myths over historical facts, Atzmon actually goes so far as to defend the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as revealing essential truths about the Jews. (Read here.)

You may be wondering why I am boring you with a detailed examination of the thoughts of an obvious crank who would only find support for his deranged and cynical bigotry among others of similarly fringe views. You may be interested to learn that among Atzmon's supporters is Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago's Program on International Security Policy. Mearsheimer provided the following blurb for the back cover of Atzmon's most recent book, the contents of which are reportedly consistent with his previous hateful work:

‘Gilad Atzmon has written a fascinating and provocative book on Jewish identity in the modern world. He shows how assimilation and liberalism are making it incredibly difficult for Jews in the Diaspora to maintain a powerful sense of their ‘Jewishness.’ Panicked Jewish leaders, he argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim. As Atzmon’s own case demonstrates, this strategy is not working and is causing many Jews great anguish. The Wandering Who? Should be widely read by Jews and non-Jews alike.’

When I read that quote on the website of Atzmon's literary agent, I doubted it's veracity.  I had trouble believing that a distinguished professor at one of the world's greatest universities would link himself to a hatemonger like Atzmon.  So I sent Professor Mearsheimer an email quoting the blurb and asking him to verify it's accuracy.  I also gave him an opportunity to amend it or add to it.  Here's what he wrote back:

The blurb below is the one I wrote for "The Wandering Who" and I have no reason to amend it or embellish it, as it accurately reflects my view of the book. 

Professor Mearsheimer has certainly reached the heights of achievement in his field and respect for this would be appropriate, regardless of whether one agrees with his opinions.  Moreover, this world is increasingly filled with gratuitous ad hominem attacks, arbitrarily flung at ideological adversaries to divert attention from substantive arguments.  In this instance, however, Mearsheimer is using his authority as an expert in his field to promote the work of a flagrant bigot and distorter of history.  If denunciation in the strongest terms is not appropriate in response to this grossly misguided act, when would it be?  Mearsheimer, in praising Atzmon, lends his name and that of his university to the promotion of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.  That is simply inexcusable.

John Pilger fights Israeli commando incursion into London's East End

Pilger in New Statesman blames "former Israeli commando" for building a purportedly evil shopping mall

John Pilger is not one to miss an opportunity to point an accusing finger at Israel, regardless of the wrong he's addressing. Pilger has a column in today's New Statesman which focuses on a newly opened shopping mall in London's East End to decry consumerism, ill-treatment of workers, and bad shopping mall design. He's also upset that he couldn't find a bookstore that he was looking for.  Pilger chose to headline this column:

"War and shopping – the extremism that never speaks its name: The Westfield Stratford centre, backed by a former Israeli commando and touted as the future face of London by the likes of Boris Johnson, makes a mockery of the East End’s history of productive work."

Apropos of nothing else in the column (other than that headline), he includes the following paragraph, focusing for some reason on one of several co-founders, whom Pilger oddly calls "the" co-founder.

The co-founder of Westfield is Frank Lowy, an Australian-Israeli billionaire who is to shopping what Rupert Murdoch is to media. Westfield owns or has an interest in more than 120 malls worldwide. Lowy, a former Israeli commando, gives millions to Israel, and in 2003 set up the "independent" Lowy Institute for International Affairs which promotes Israel and US foreign policy.

Pilger may feel strongly about protecting the rights of workers and raising the standards for the design of shopping malls, or he may merely be using those good causes as an excuse to bash Israel on the most tenuous of bases. You be the judge.

From Wikipedia (grain of salt alert) I reprint the following thumbnail sketch of Frank Lowy's early life:

Lowy was born in Czechoslovakia, and lived in Budapest, Hungary during World War II. He made his way to France in 1946, where he left on the ship Yagur, but was caught en route to British Mandate of Palestine by the British and deported to the detention camp in Cyprus. After a few months, Lowy was allowed into Palestine and was brought to the Atlit detainee camp. Lowy then moved to Sde Yaakov a small yeshiva school [sic] near Qiryat Tivon [and] eventually joined the Haganah and then the Golani Brigade, fighting during the Arab–Israeli War in the Galilee and in Gaza.

Those who oppose Israel's existence, as does Pilger, view the role played by the Golani Brigade in repelling the Arab invasion of the newly formed state to be an evil one. That a brave young man who barely escaped the death camps of Europe and survived British "Displaced Persons" detention camps in Cyprus and Palestine would choose to defend his new homeland from aggression should, in Pilger's view, forever ban him from the development of shopping malls in London. Pilger, forever the would-be freedom fighter, would have it that a small part of London's East End is now Zionist occupied territory and the workers there are Britain's Palestinians. If Pilger was standing on a soapbox at the Westfield shopping mall spouting this rubbish he would be regarded by most passersby to be a madman. Because he instead publishes it in the New Statesman, he's considered a pundit.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/11 commemoration: Innocent woman taken from plane, detained, strip-searched and humiliated.

Racists complain that women don't like them

In May, a member of the racist website Stormfront who writes under the pseudonym "sourthernwhiteknight" posted a comment asking why so many "white nationalists" are single. This question has elicited nearly 1,000 replies comprising 99 webpages which are at the same time comically self-revelatory and pathetic.  The fact that racists have this problem will come as a surprise to no one, but I do find it interesting that they admit it so freely and have such angry public disagreements among themselves as they look for ways to blame their usual scapegoats.  They veer from blaming the influence of "Zionists" to calling white women "bisexual race-mixing whores".  (Not a one takes any responsibility for their having this difficulty, however.  They agree on that.)

Why are so many White Nationalist men single? - Stormfront

Ron Paul endorsement

No, not from me. From this guy:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Salon's conspiracy theory

Salon has published  an allegedly anti-conspiracy-theory column by Alexander Cockburn (read here) in which he hypocritically promotes the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories: that Franklin Roosevelt knew about the Japanese plan to attack Pearl Harbor and deliberately allowed it to happen in order to provide an excuse for the U.S. to enter World War II.

With unintended irony, Cockburn gives his column the headline "The end of evidence". In it he writes:

I think there is strong evidence that FDR did have knowledge that a Japanese naval force in the north Pacific was going to launch an attack on Pearl Harbor. It's quite possible Roosevelt thought it would be a relatively mild assault and thought it would be the final green light to get the U.S. into the war.

That's all he writes about FDR's purported culpability for Pearl Harbor.  While Cockburn "think(s) there is strong evidence", he does not provide any of it. Considering the seriousness of the charge, his offhanded assessment of the truthiness of this implausible conspiracy defies logic. That he makes this unsupported assertion in the context of criticizing the fact-free arguments of the 9/11 truth movement highlights the flawed logic of both.  Cockburn and Salon apparently believe that it's wrong to argue without citing evidence that world events are controlled by massive conspiracies, except when they feel like doing so themselves.

Even Cockburn's condemnation of the conspiracy theories of 9/11 truthers themselves only goes so far. He implies that believes in some of them himself.  He writes:

It's entirely plausible to assume that the FBI, U.S. military intelligence, and the CIA -- as has just been rather convincingly claimed again in the latter instance -- had penetrated the al-Qaida team planning the 9/11 attacks; intelligence reports piled up in various Washington bureaucracies pointing to the impending onslaught and even the manner in which it might be carried out. 
The history of intelligence operations is profuse with example of successful intelligence collection, but also fatal slowness to act on the intelligence, along with eagerness not to compromise the security and future usefulness of the informant, who has to prove his own credentials by even pressing for prompt action by the plotters. Sometime an undercover agent will actually propose an action, either to deflect efforts away from some graver threat, or to put the plotters in a position where they can be caught red-handed.

Again, he offers no evidence for this 9/11 conspiracy theory. He merely deems it "plausible" because, he says, some unspecified similar things have happened in the past.

When Cockburn set out to write about "the end of evidence", did he intend to argue against that loss or to provide examples of it?

Cockburn goes on in the column to helpfully debunk the idiotic truther claims that the twin towers couldn't have been destroyed by the plane crashes alone; that they must have been brought down by explosives planted within them.  Considering how obviously flawed those truther arguments are, I have found them useful in the sense that any alleged expert who makes such foolish claims automatically impeaches his own expertise.  An alleged expert who fails to understand how the twin towers came down is by definition incompetent to offer an opinion on the subject.

Here, as a public service, is what Cockburn's expert has to say:

"The towers were basically tubes, essentially hollow. Tubes can be very efficient structures, strong and economical. The Trade Center tubes effectively resisted vertical loads, wind loads and vibrations and could probably have done very well against earthquakes. However, the relatively thin skin of the hollow tube must be braced at intervals to prevent local buckling of the skin under various possible loads, otherwise the tube itself can go out of shape and lose its strength.

"For their interior bracing, the thin-walled tubes of the Trade Center towers depended primarily on the interior floors being tied to the outer wall shells. These floor beam structures were basically open web joists, adequate for the floor loads normally to be expected. These joist ends rested on steel angle clips attached to the outer walls.

"As the floors at the level of airplane impact caught fire, the open web joists, which could not be expected to resist such fires, softened under the heat, sagged and pulled away from their attachments to the walls. Their weight, and the loads they were carrying, caused them to drop onto the next lower floor, which was then carrying double loads also becoming exposed to the heat. Then that floor collapsed, and so it went. But as the floors dropped, they no longer served as bracing for the thin-walled main tubes.

This loss of bracing permitted the walls to buckle outward in successive sections and thus the house of cards effect."

High-grade steel can bend disastrously under extreme heat. The types of steel used in the WTC Towers (plain carbon, and vanadium) lose half their strength when heated to about 570 C , and even more as temperatures rise, as they did in WTC 1 and 2, to 1100 C.

I am sure that the editors of Salon published Cockburn's column for its debunking of the 9/11 truth movement and not for its promotion of Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories. The absurdity of old conspiracy theories made in passing just doesn't have the impact of the madness of the truthers. It's possible Salon's editors didn't read the column closely and just missed Cockburn's Pearl Harbor comment. Regardless, they owe their readers an apology and an explanation. At the very least, if they want to publish columns decrying the death of evidence, they owe their readers the evidence.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 (#2)

[Second of a series. Part 1 here.]

My connections to 9/11 are many.  In the 1980s and early 90s, I lived in the Jersey City neighborhood which was home to the al-Qaeda cell of Sheik Rahman, although I didn't know that at the time.  His Masjid al-Salaam occupied the second floor above a storefront in Journal Square two blocks from my home, next to the A&P where I sometimes bought my groceries.  I walked by that mosque every day to get to and from the PATH train via which I traveled to New York.  In my naivite, I used to look up through the windows at the ceiling fans of the "mosque of peace" and imagine pious worshipers below them meditating and praying.  The idea that they were planning mass murder was the farthest thing from my mind.

I later found out that the small grocery store on Sip Ave. -- the store where I bought pita bread and olives and where I discussed with the owner the difference between the regular feta and the triple cream -- was likely a focal point of that al-Qaeda cell.  I discovered that in increments.  First, during the news coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing when the man with whom I had discussed the finer points of feta cheese was pictured in the local news at the right hand of the white-bearded, white-robed and Rayban-wearing blind sheik, escorting him to some public event.  I more fully made this connection after 9/11 when local newspapers reported that the apartments in the building in which the grocery store was located had almost completely emptied out after 9/11, with dozens of residents mysteriously departing leaving behind furniture and positions.

I had noticed some odd things about that grocery for years -- things which I explained in ways familiar to a third generation Jersey City native.  To be specific, the grocery was located a half-block from the building where I lived and was visible from the front of my building.  I very frequently saw drivers pull up in front of the store, park illegally, and run inside for transactions which took seconds to complete.  My assumption, as a resident of that notoriously mobbed up community, was that the store was running a numbers racket, selling drugs, or both.  I've come to believe that it was instead a transit point for information about al-Qaeda activities, or the site of a hawala banking operation, or both.

There were other signs.  Rahman's gang that couldn't bomb straight got caught because they incredibly tried to collect the deposit they had put on the van they blew up with a homemade bomb in the WTC basement parking garage.  That act of criminal genius resulted in the gang, including it's leader, getting busted.  Immediately after Rahman's arrest, his followers organized a massive demonstration outside the Masjid al-Salaam, closing off my entire neighborhood to traffic, and filling it with angry, shouting faces.  I remember walking on my block that day, and coming face to face with a bearded man who looked at me with a rage I can scarcely describe other than to say that he had murder in his eyes.  How accurate that observation was would become clearer eight years later.

And there were other signs.  There was the summer day when, as I walked by the window of a ground floor apartment on my block, a breeze gently blew aside a curtain and revealed a poster showing a masked jihadi brandishing an assault rifle.  Around the corner, on Kennedy Boulevard, there was the store featuring racks bearing Arabic magazines with grossly anti-Semitic cover art.  There were also the warnings of my Egyptian and Lebanese friends in the neighborhood that there were dangerous people living among us.  I wrongly took their lack of more specific information to be evidence that their concerns were not well-founded.  Boy, was I ever wrong.  They knew more about that neighborhood than I did.

It hadn't always been so.  Jersey City had been very familiar territory.  It was the place of my birth and early years, the home of my grandparents.  Journal Square was the site of my earliest movies and restaurant meals, departure point of my trips to the New York of my early childhood back in the mid-60s.  It was where my dad and my grandfather had their offices.  I thought that I knew the place. In 1981, after college, I moved to the Journal Square neighborhood because it was familiar, very convenient to New York City, and cheap.  Since the time of my childhood, the skyline of Manhattan had been permanently changed (or so we thought) by the two huge towers which were visible even from the other side of Kennedy Boulevard, well over the crest of the hill on which Journal Square sits.  Those towers dominated the skyline of that neighborhood. The neighborhood's residents had changed too, from Italians and Irish, to Arabs and  South Asians.  For a very small group of those new residents, those twin towers came to represent something the rest of us living there couldn't begin to imagine: a target of their rage at the non-Muslim world.

For about a year in the mid-80s I worked in the then still somewhat gritty neighborhood which had just been renamed by the real estate industry as Tribeca. Before that, it had been known as Washington Market, and was the home to countless print shops and warehouses most of which looked like they had been built in the Civil war era.  My work hours generally ended at 9 PM, so the view of the illuminated and cloud shrouded towers as I walked to the PATH train station became my nightly beacon.  In that year, I became increasingly familiar with the towers and began to associate them with something good -- my trip home after a work day.

One of my coworkers at that time worshiped at the Tribeca sufi mosque and meditation center started by Lex Hixon.  I call it a mosque, but it would better be described as a meditation or even yoga center, at least to create the proper image of what the place looked like. It was a clean, simply but brightly decorated place with a bookstore/entrance area in front and a large room without furniture in the back.  A friendly young woman with a clipboard checked in members as they came for worship or meditation.  Later I would buy Lex's great book Heart of the Koran at his mosque's bookstore. That congregation morphed into the congregation that was slated to fill move into the Islamic cultural center planned for two blocks north of the World Trade Center.  (In case there is any doubt about this, let me make clear that, whereas that congregation was part of that neighborhood for more than a decade, its bigoted opponents were not.)

Later, I worked for more than a decade just a block away from the towers. I bought my morning papers and coffee there.  I frequently ate lunch, and shopped for books and clothing there.  I bought the guide books and maps that my wife and I used on our honeymoon in August 2001 at the Borders there.  The arcade level of the World Trade Center became a very familiar part of my daily and even my nightly landscape.  In the aftermath of 9/11, I had nightly dreams that I was in a ghostly version of that arcade, walking with ghosts among the empty stores in a state of mind I can only describe as silent terror.  I woke up from those terrible dreams wet with tears and sweat.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote here about my some of my experiences on 9/11. I think I only got to the point when the towers collapsed, at which point I was near Canal Street, escaping from disaster with two other evacuees: a coworker and friend who has a crippled hip and who can only walk half-step by half-step, and another coworker who had a child in the daycare center at the World Trade Center, and who had not yet located her child.  We were unable to travel to our homes because the subways to Brooklyn had stopped running.  On our journey walking north away from the smoke and toward subways we thought might be running, we saw some incredible things I'd like to share with you sometime soon.  I hope you won't be too bored by 9/11 by that time.

I'm writing these posts on the fly with little time to reflect.  I think that's better because over-thinking will just stop me from posting them.  Reader feedback would be appreciated.


adamhollandblog [AT] gmail [DOT] com