As a Jewish youngster growing up in Budapest, an infant survivor of the Nazi genocide, I was for years haunted by a question resounding in my brain with such force that sometimes my head would spin: “How was it possible? How could the world have let such horrors happen?”
It was a naïve question, that of a child. I know better now: such is reality. Whether in Vietnam or Rwanda or Syria, humanity stands by either complicitly or unconsciously or helplessly, as it always does. In Gaza today we find ways of justifying the bombing of hospitals, the annihilation of families at dinner, the killing of pre-adolescents playing soccer on a beach.
In Israel-Palestine the powerful party has succeeded in painting itself as the victim, while the ones being killed and maimed become the perpetrators. “They don’t care about life,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, abetted by the Obamas and Harpers of this world, “we do.” Netanyahu, you who with surgical precision slaughter innocents, the young and the old, you who have cruelly blockaded Gaza for years, starving it of necessities, you who deprive Palestinians of more and more of their land, their water, their crops, their trees — you care about life?
There is no understanding Gaza out of context — Hamas rockets or unjustifiable terrorist attacks on civilians — and that context is the longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present centuries, the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood.
The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto. Unlike Israel, Palestinians lack Apache helicopters, guided drones, jet fighters with bombs, laser-guided artillery. Out of impotent defiance, they fire inept rockets, causing terror for innocent Israelis but rarely physical harm. With such a gross imbalance of power, there is no equivalence of culpability.
Why single out Israel? Because Israel is the only serial human rights abuser that enjoys consistent and enthusiastic support by all the liberal democracies of the North.
This support gives the Israeli state an impunity that Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe or Burma, to name but four, do not enjoy because their human rights abuses are all—rightly and however unprincipled—attacked by the major powers.
Israel alone is allowed to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity; it alone is allowed to repeatedly ignore United Nations resolutions without any opposition from northern governments and major institutions.
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We could have said, ‘Cars don’t kill people. People kill people,’ and there would have been an element of truth to that. Many accidents are a result of alcohol consumption, speeding, road rage or driver distraction. Or we could have said, ‘It’s pointless because even if you regulate cars, then people will just run each other down with bicycles,’ and that, too, would have been partly true. Yet, instead, we built a system that protects us from ourselves. This saves hundreds of thousands of lives a year and is a model of what we should do with guns in America.
A century ago, we reacted to deaths and injuries from unregulated vehicles by imposing sensible safety measures that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives a year. Why can’t we ask politicians to be just as rational about guns?
But, far from promoting the idea that women’s bodies, especially their breasts, were their own business, sexual or asexual according to the intentions of their owner, breasts became public property, with examples all over the media of how the very best breasts looked. If your own breast didn’t measure up, so to speak, then surgery was easy to come by.
In such an aggressive cultural climate, it’s hardly surprisingly that women are deciding public toplessness isn’t quite worth the unwanted attention and presumption that it attracts. The move away from topless sunbathing is not really a sign that women’s bodily emancipation has regressed. It’s more a sign that what was supposed to be a liberation never did gain broad understanding, acceptance or respect, from the very start.
|—||Going topless on the beach was never really about women’s liberation - Deborah Orr. (via sazquatch)|