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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


The Many Faces of Palestine

February 12, 2010

3P-057 Show Information (includes MP3 download link) Welcome to the 57th episode of Third Paradigm, entitled "The Many Faces of Palestine." Last week, my family and I watched a film called "Occupied Minds." It tells the story of two journalist-friends who live in San Francisco. Both are originally from Jerusalem but one is Palestinian and one is Israeli. They go back together and interview a number of people, including a militant leader of Zionist settlers, a militant young Palestinian, an Israeli soldier for truth, a young woman changing Palestinian's self-perception as victims, an Israeli mother whose son had been killed as a soldier, a Palestinian farmer walled off from his land, and an Israeli surgeon half-blinded by a suicide bomber.

The Israeli mother writes a letter to the General asking him to look her in the eye and tell her that her son died for a good cause. Getting no response, she ends up becoming an advocate, helping sick and injured Palestinian children get medical care. Jamal, the Palestinian journalist, asks why, for other Jews, their history of victimization doesn't make them more sympathetic to the Palestinians. She compares it to a child who sees their mother beaten, but grows up to beat their own wife. She also says that being a victim doesn't make someone good. The Jews killed in the holocaust weren't all good. People aren't good or bad, she says, they're just victims; that's what she focuses on.

In a rare interview, the militant Palestinian tells of his early work for Israeli-Palestinian peace, love, and understanding. In Jenin, he led youth groups and held co-religious workshops, brunches, and dialogues. But on the day that Jenin was attacked, none of his Israeli friends even called. Those who his mother had cooked for suddenly didn't know him. At that point he realized that words meant nothing. He holds his six-month-old baby and hopes that true dialogue would be possible in his era.

The interview with the injured Israeli surgeon was the first he'd ever given. He talked about the suicide bomber who blinded him – a girl standing in line ahead of him at the store that day, only 22-years old with all of life ahead of her. The Palestinian journalist pressed him to compare her to the Israeli soldiers, who kill for a cause they wouldn't die for, and ask what would motivate someone to take their own life. The surgeon took his point but felt that some things were beyond forgiveness. Yet the film ends with his statement that he envisioned some day when both sides would be able to laugh and dance together.

Let's pause for three poems from Palestine. These are by Mahmoud Darwish, Ibrahim Nasrallah and Hiyam Noir. These are dark poems – not as graphic as images or videos, but hard-hitting nonetheless. Hiyam Noir's blog, Palestine Free Voice, quotes from Kahlil Gibran, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most worthy characters are seared with scars." The music is Djivan Gasparyan, "I Have Planted an Orchard in Yerevan"

I Am There

I come from there and remember,
I was born like everyone is born, I have a mother
and a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends and a prison.
I have a wave that sea-gulls snatched away.
I have a view of my own and an extra blade of grass.
I have a moon past the peak of words.
I have the godsent food of birds and an olive tree beyond the kent of time.
I have traversed the land before swords turned bodies into banquets.
I come from there, I return the sky to its mother when for its mother the
sky cries, and I weep for a returning cloud to know me.
I have learned the words of blood-stained courts in order to break the rules.
I have learned and dismantled all the words to construct a single one:

~ Mahmoud Darwish ~

* * * * * * * *

A Beautiful Morning

A beautiful morning is one that passes and I am not killed. A city street following the sun at sunset is obstructed by a roadblock and soldiers. Another street runs after her and never returns.
A beautiful morning...
On the road I embrace an old woman's sadness and woo her. Yesterday laughs inside her as she whispers: Am I still youthful? Then she smiles and prays for me.
I ruffle the hair of a small boy selling newspapers and ask: Anything new? Like every other morning he hands me the chronicles of thirty years and a thousand moons. He argues with me, then goes away shouting: Newspapers. The inspectors kill him, but it is his habit to return to the streets selling newspapers the following morning.
A beautiful morning...
At the abyss of long waiting I slip into a restaurant on a side street and turn my eyes to the faces of passersby and as I lean back in my metal chair the fear of her not showing up gnaws at me. With my last bite of bread she surprises me briefly in the face of an excited young woman, but I realize the difference between them. At the abyss of waiting the road branches out in my body and traffic lights blink on and off. Many people cross but no one is here.
Her sorrow makes her come at last and like a flower she bids me good evening. I say: You are late. - You know the wide streets are clogged with security points. We walk together with her hand in mine. She permeates the pores of my flesh. The street becomes noisy: Soldiers, soldiers! They surround me and shoot at my forehead, then read out my rights! I am left in her arms like a corpse on an open road. A beautiful morning...
Tomorrow, when the sun touches my forehead, I will ruffle the hair of a young boy and like every other morning he will hand me the chronicles of thirty years and a thousand moons and together we will sell his wares. My beloved will pass by ... to buy the daily paper from me. She will ruffle my hair and like the seasonal trees go to her appointment.
A beautiful morning...

~ Ibrahim Nasrallah ~
From Rain Inside

* * * * * * * *

In the Toxic Garden

those dead uncountable

The impossibilities
of my dreams
did not discourage me
from continuing to believe

so I am returning

as in my worst nightmares
I entered the toxic garden
surrounded by dirt-yellow walls

I could feel I could smell
the sinister presence
of the predators

the brand of human beings
who are mindless brutes
self-hating socio-paths

whose only language
divulges in deception
their hard fists
and killer machines

their language
have wallowed
in consuming
and humiliating
this very Holy
godforsaken place

I entered the lines
in a secret revenge
to erase those forces
who is trying to erase
the entire existence
of my people

I have been taught
to stay confident calm
not to move my face

in my new face
the stitches are gone
healed are the scars

my eyes cold observes
fearless I use caution
and maintain in silence

empty streets are littered
with remnants of lives
invisible remnants of lives

lives transformed
into tiny molecules

left from the predators
toxic uncollected trash
and human feces

~ Hiyam Noir ~
From Poetry4Palestine

The music was Djivan Gasparyan, "I Have Planted an Orchard in Yerevan" from his Apricots in Eden CD. Djivan is an Armenian master of the dudek, a wooden wind instrument like a flute. Thank you for to David Anton Savage, who does the Middle Eastern music program Unfiltered Camels, for recommending him.

The poems were "I Am There" by Mahmoud Darwish, "A Beautiful Morning" by Ibrahim Nasrallah and "In the Toxic Garden" by Hiyam Noir.

"A Beautiful Morning" is from a collection called Rain Inside: Poems by Ibrahim Nasrallah, translated by Omnia Amin and Rick London. It's is a very cinematic poem – I keep seeing it in scenes and camera angles. In 2006, Ibrahim republished a 1984 collection of poetry called Anemone Regains Its Colour. It was suddenly banned in Jordan, being seen as referring to Black September, which he had lived through at sixteen. He faced charges of insulting the state, inciting dissent, and reporting inaccurate information to future generations.

In an interview with The Guardian, Ibrahim commented on the charge, saying: "I was completely shocked, I did not know how to respond... I was confused and angry and also afraid." Due to pressure from other Arabic writers, the charges were eventually dropped. But Ibrahim says he always expects trouble, because Muslim writers face a trinity of taboos – sex, religion, and politics.

I first heard of Mahmoud Darwish on Democracy Now, just after his death in 2008. Besides being the Poet Laureate of Palestine, his poetry and prose transcend issues of place and time, and include tragedies of other indigenous people, including Native Americans. In an interview in Jean-Luc Godard's film, Notre Musique, Mahmoud says,

"Truth has two faces. We've listened to the Greek mythology, and at times we've heard the Trojan victim speak through the mouth of the Greek Euripedes. As for me, I'm looking for the poet of Troy, because Troy didn't tell its story. And I wonder, does a land that has great poets have the right to control a people that has no poets? And is the lack of poetry amongst a people enough reason to justify its defeat? Is poetry a sign, or is it an instrument of power? Can a people be strong without having its own poetry? I was a child of a people that had not been recognized until then. And I wanted to speak in the name of the absentee, in the name of the Trojan poet. There's more inspiration and humanity in defeat than there is in victory. If I belonged to the victor's camp, I'd demonstrate my support for the victims."

Another world-renowned voice for the silenced has died – Howard Zinn, who changed the game we call history forever. He changed it from a polite private club sport, like golf or badminton, to a gladiator event with the ruling class in the center ring. Bring on the lions!

In The Optimism of Uncertainty Howard writes: "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

Let's break for a song by the Scottish musician Dougie MacLean called Turning Away.

[Dougie MacLean with Kathy Mattea – Turning Away]

That was Dougie MacLean with a song called Turning Away. It says,

"There's a well upon the hill from our ancient past,
where an age is standing still, holding strong and fast.
And there's those that try to tame it and to carve it into stone,
Ah, but words cannot extinguish it however hard they're thrown."

I've been dipping into my own well of the past with a radio show called History Counts. So far, I've downloaded my way back to 2007 of this excellent monthly series. Ken McDermottRoe does in-depth interviews of authors who've challenged the conventional view of people and events. Ken's thorough understanding of the topics is reflected in his questions, which set the authors up to explain their finer points. He includes many of my favorite topics – Michael Parenti on Julius Caesar, John Taylor Gatto on Dumbing Us Down, and James Loewen with Lies Our Teachers Tell Us. I'd just brought out Loewen's book from my library to see if memory served that Haiti was Christopher Colombus' first exploit. Indeed, it was. He enacted genocide on over a million Arawaks by cutting off their hands if they didn't bring their quarterly quota of gold dust or cotton. Haiti therefore signifies the beginning of slavery in the European's so-called new world, and the beginning of its end with the Haitian revolution. With luck, the earthquake may shake off the last chains of neo-colonialism, ushering in a new phase for Latin America.

[History Counts – Assault on the U.S.S. Liberty part 3/3]

Most of the books Ken reviews are about things I never heard before – and can't believe I've gone this long without knowing. One is called The Opium Wars, or How the West Hooked China. A Peace to End All Peace is the role of the West in creating the modern Middle East. There's How to Pull Off a Coup. I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here. If you prefer an island theme, the show Plum Island talks about a facility two miles from Long Island used to create bioweapons. Some were against livestock, for the purpose of starving out an enemy, with suspicious evidence that Lyme disease escaped from here. The Creature from Jekyll Island looks at the history of the Federal Reserve. There's one that we can hope crawls back into the swamp. Another one that really intrigued me is called Populism: Not Right, Not Left. In this quote, it describes a third way:

Populists, ancient and modern, believe that a truly democratic government cannot be based on any model in which power is concentrated at the top. Rather, they argue for a decentralized system of government and, equally important, a decentralized monetary and economic system which leaves real power with individual citizens.

So I guess the third paradigm has been around at least since ancient Greece. I'll be looking for the book by Adrian Kuzminski, called Fixing the System, A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern. We don't have to reinvent the democratic wheel to make it round. Viva la history!

But back to our poems for Palestine. I was surprised to discover that the hardest-hitting poet, Hiyam Noir, is a beautiful woman. I had pictured the author as grizzled and sinewy. Her blogs are Palestine Free Voice and Poetry4Palestine. The latter has one softer poem telling of a man watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. After several hours of watching it struggle, the man takes a pair of scissors and snips the cocoon. The butterfly emerges easily but with a swollen body and shriveled wings. The struggle of pushing through the opening was needed to force fluids into the wings. Struggle, goes the moral, is God's way of making us strong enough to fly.

The website also has a post on Haiti with two of the most evocative photos I've seen of the earthquake – eerie and surreal, posted on the website.

haitisurreal1 (52K)

haitisurreal2 (35K)

I've been thinking about the comparison between Haiti and Palestine. Haiti defeated three imperial armies to win their independence. If they'd marched in the streets and practiced nonviolent resistance, would it have shamed France into freeing them? I don't think so. France wasn't ashamed to still punish them for winning by collecting five generations of debt servitude as their blood price.

Can Israel be shamed into freeing Palestinians? A Counterpunch article by Jonathon Cook looks at how it treats its own Jewish Holocaust survivors. He investigates the potentially billions of dollars that Israeli banks, companies, and state bodies may have withheld from the families of Holocaust victims. In the pre-war era, European Jews invested heavily in British-ruled Palestine, opening bank accounts and buying land, shares, and insurance policies. During the war, Britain seized them as enemy property because the owners were living under Nazi rule. In 1950, Britain paid the new state of Israel $1.4 million to make reparations to Holocaust survivors. But little effort was made to find them. After the war many Israelis showed little sympathy for the European Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel. An Israeli investigative journalist said, "David Ben Gurion notoriously called them 'human dust', and I remember as children we referred to them as sabonim, the Hebrew word for soap. In fact, I can't think of any place in the world where [Holocaust] survivors are as badly treated as they are in Israel."

Their lost assets included some of the most desirable real estate in Israel. In the 1950's, the finance ministry destroyed its real estate files, apparently to conceal the extent of the state's holding of Holocaust assets. Welfare organizations say that 250,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel, with a third in abject poverty. If this is how Israel treats those whose victimization it hides behind, what chance do Palestinians have? A Radio Islam article describes how Israel is also behind the holocaust in the Congo, which has taken six to ten million lives, through a web of faith-based diamond czars, off-shore tax havens, and "security forces" for ruthless dictators in exchange for mineral monopolies.

All this leads me to agree with Hiyam Noir, who says: "A people under siege by an illegal occupier, are entitled in international law to take up arms against the oppressor. NOBODY have the right to interfere and deny the Palestinian people it's right to self defense."

And I agree with a project called Face2Face, which took silly close-ups of Israelis and Palestinians, made them billboard size and plastered them together in public places. The perpetrators, who work for Israeli and Palestinian NGO's, say, "These people look just the same, like twin brothers separated at birth. So why are they fighting?"

israelpalestinefaces1 (33K)

israelpalestinefaces2 (35K)

Bethlehem, Palestine

GILLES, Israeli ONG: Life is worth being lived only if we struggle to make tomorrow's world better than today's world. We must be utopian. That's how the world progresses.

ISHTAR, Palestinian ONG: Do what your first feeling tells you to do.

Ken MacDermotRoe

For Third Paradigm, this has been Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Skidmark Bob for sound production, and to Mike Scirocco for all things web.

Thanks to Ernest Gusella for the Jonathan Cook article, to Ken MacDermott Roe of History Counts, and to David Anton Savage of Unfiltered Camels.

Thanks also to the poets and bloggers quoted, and to the unknown photographers.

Our closing song is "Mars Declares" by Makana. Although we couldn't find a video of the song, you might enjoy Makana's video for his CD Different Game, from which "Mars Declares" comes. I'm looking forward to buying it myself.


[Makana – Different Game]

Thank you for listening.