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Candide’s Latest: December 19, 2006

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Israel’s Green Lies
Textbook Duplicity

The conventional narrative is that Palestinians distort their history textbooks to deny so much as the existence of Israel, while Israeli textbooks are honest, objective and politically uncorrupted. Thje divide applies across the Arab world. As Thomas Friedman put it in a column as recently as December 1, he doesn’t want his girls to live in a world where “certain Arab regimes alter what their textbooks say about non-Muslims.” So what are we to make of the following story in Haaretz?

The Knesset Education and Culture Committee decided on Monday to summon Education Minister Yuli Tamir to answer questions about her decision to include Israel's pre-1967 border in textbook maps. During the session, Kadima party and right-wing MKs lashed out at Tamir for her decision made two weeks ago to include the so-called Green Line border which excludes the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights from Israel. National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev presented the committee with the 1967 Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee decision to remove the Green line -as well as the pre-1948 British Mandate border- from all but historical maps.”

Here’s the hypocrisy laid bare: "Tamir's decision is blatantly political," Orlev said. "It has no educational, instructive or scientific basis. As far back as 1967 the government decided that the Green Line had ceased to exist." But in fairness, this story is developing because, to its credit, monolithic thinking is the last thing Israel produces, and because the thinking gets its public airing (as it does not elsewhere in the region):

Senior education ministry official, Professor Anat Zohar, said during the discussion that the green line has current relevance. "When one is talking about the 'right of return' you need to know where the green line passes," Zohar said. "Students must be familiar with the term and must be put in the study guidelines when the subject committees deem it should." The official in the education ministry's geography department, Dalia Fenig, said the subject's committee decided to "raise different issues ?like the Green Line, the Land of Israel or the settlement blocs- so that students can make informed decisions."

The point remains, however, that in the United States the sterotypical thinking holds: Arabs lie in their textbooks. Israelis tell the truth. When in reality Israeli textbooks have all along been a lie so far as the Green Line is concerned.


1,001 Splinters
The Fracture of Baghdad...

... and what the U.S. military would rather you did not know. From the UK Times: “More and more, Baghdad is splintering into Shia and Sunni enclaves that are increasingly no-go areas for anyone from outside. The trend is fuelled by the ugliest sectarianism. It also reflects a crude power grab, with both sides egged on by political parties aiming to maximise their clout in the Iraqi Government by dominating as much of the capital as possible. The result is that since February, when Sunnis bombed the golden-domed mosque in Samarra, a Shia shrine, 146,322 individuals have been displaced in Baghdad, according to the International Organisation for Migration. The pattern is so pronounced that the US military has drawn up a new map of Baghdad to reflect its ethno-sectarian fault lines. Published here for the first time, it lists the mixed neighbourhoods considered to be most explosive. Four of the five are on the western bank of the Tigris, called Karkh, where mixed neighbourhoods are still prevalent. Predominently Shia Kadhamiya and the largely Sunni areas of Qadisiya, Amariya and Ghazaliya have become the deadliest battlegrounds, according to US forces.” The map appears below. The full story…


Nukes Among Us, I
Mossad’s Iran Prediction

From Haaretz: The head of the Mossad espionage agency, Meir Dagan, on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons by 2009 or 2010. He said that Iran in June began serious efforts to enrich uranium, and aspires in 2007 to acquire another 3,000 centrifuges, which will be located in bunkers. Dagan also told MKs that there was no need to take seriously any Syrian overtures regarding peace talks. "Every time [Syrian President Bashar] Assad comes under international pressure, he comes up with some speech about his readiness to hold peace negotiations with us." […] The Iranian ambassador to Damscus Hassan Akhtari said in an interview published on Monday that "returning the Golan Heights [to Syrian hands] is also an Iranian objective." […] Akhtari's comments are uncommon in their explicitness, as Tehran is usually careful in making statements about Israel-Syria negotiations. Those urging Israel to renew its dialogue with Syria contend that talks with Damascus may weaken its strategic pact with Tehran. […] According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to reject the Syrian calls to resume with talks is based on Israeli intelligence reports claiming that Syria would not severe its ties with Iran and Hezbollah, even if Israel gives back the Golan Heights.” The full, disjointed story…


Nukes Among Us, II
Russia’s MX Missiles

In case you though the nuclear race was over. And in case you thought the Russians couldn’t get a step ahead of the Americans. Jimmy Carter’s mobile-launch, ICBM system known as the MX was nixed three decades ago. It inspired the Russians. From Moscow Times: “ Russia will replace single nuclear warheads on some of its strategic missiles with multiple warheads […]. Fitting multiple warheads to single-warhead Topol-M missiles is a cheaper way for Russia to upgrade its nuclear arsenal and maintain nuclear parity with the United States. It also makes it theoretically easier to evade missile defense systems. On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin visited a unit of newly deployed Topol-M missiles mounted on mobile launchers. Putin called their deployment a "serious step forward in strengthening Russia's defense capability.” “It has a stronger survivability, faster launch and an ability to penetrate any prospective missile defense," Putin said. The Topol-M missiles, capable of hitting targets more than 10,000 kilometers away, have so far been deployed only in silos. The new version, which is mounted on a heavy off-road vehicle, makes it harder for an enemy to track it down. […] A shortage of cash following the collapse of the Soviet Union slowed the modernization of Russia's strategic arms arsenal. […] But the oil boom of recent years has allowed the Kremlin to bolster the military budget and speed up the pace of military modernization.” The full story…

Leonid Brezhnev, that eternal zombie, who was born 100 years ago today, and who bankrupted the Soviet Union in order to build up its military might, would have been proud. Vladimir Putin must have a shrine to the old blob in his bedroom.


Vladivostok Nights
Two Girls and Weird Test Tubes

From the Vladivostok News: “Two blonde English-speaking girls in a Russian bar usually do not go unnoticed. My friend and I experienced this firsthand last Friday. As we were having some drinks in a bar, soon we found ourselves surrounded by Russians asking for our attention. Sorry mom, I broke the do-not-talk-to-strangers-rule. The night started off with two of our male friends. We were going to have some drinks, maybe dance a little, and just have some fun. In one of Vladivostok’s bars we got acquainted with a nice Russian guy sitting at the table next to us. After our two friends had gone home, the Russian invited us to meet some of his friends. Five minutes later we were sitting between a bunch of Russian bikers and their girlfriends. Every one of them wanted to talk to us. One guy decided we would do well as objects to practice his English on. Another guy just kept assuring us not to be afraid of him. The third was very eager to teach us dirty Russian words. Somehow I have managed to forget every single one of them. An interesting night it was, to say the least, especially when a tray of test tubes appeared on the table, containing a fluid of some kind. We were not able to find out exactly what it was. One person at the table said it was vodka, in which case I probably would have tried some. Another person though, said it was absinth, which reduced my willingness quite a bit. I was having fun and thought that drinking an unknown, possibly hallucinogenic, liquor would be tempting fate.” See the full story…


December 19, 1875
Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson, author of The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933) and long considered the father of black history, was born on December 19, 1875. To celebrate his 131st, because it's more fun than Leonid Brezhnev's 100th (also today), and because not many others will (he's been mentioned at most 36 times by the New York Times in the last 25 years, compared to Britney Spears's 1,101 times, and her count didn't even begin until February 1999; I could not find an obituary for Woodson in the Times. He died in 1950), here are a few quotes from The Mis-Education...

“The differentness of races, moreover, is no evidence of superiority or inferiority. This merely indicates that each race has certain gifts which the others do not possess. It is by the development of these gifts that every race must justify its right to exist.”

“... a thinking man would rather be behind the times and have his self-respect than compromise his manhood by accepting segregation.”

“It is very clear, then, that if Negroes got their conception of religion from slaveholders, libertines, and murderers, there may be something wrong about it, and it would not hurt to investigate it. It has been said that the Negroes do not connect morals with religion. The historian would like to know what race or nation does such a thing. Certainly the whites with whom the Negroes have come in contact have not done so.”

“... the customary combat the Negroes have with Lily-white corruptionists...”

“The Negroes, however, will not advance far if they continue to waste their energy abusing those who misdirect and exploit them. The exploiters of the race are not so much at fault as the race itself. If Negroes persist in permitting themselves to be handled in this fashion they will always find some one at hand to impose upon them. The matter is one which rests largely with the Negroes themselves. The race will free itself from exploiters just as soon as it decides to do so. No one else can accomplish this task for the race. It must plan and do for itself.” And on the following page: “The race needs workers, not leaders. Such workers will solve the problems which race leaders talk about and raise money to enable them to talk more and more about. When you hear a man talking, then, always inquire as to what he is doing or what he has done for humanity. Oratory and resolutions do not avail much. If they did, the Negro race would be in a paradise on earth. It may be well to repeat here the saying that old men talk of what they have done, young men of what they are doing, and fools of what they expect to do. The Negro race has a rather large share of the last mentioned class.”

“Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised.”


Project for the New American Century
War, the Corporation



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