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Archive for the ‘Israeli / Palestinian’ Category

Are Palestinian Lives Truly Worthless?

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I am not saying that I disagree (and I don’t) with David Brooks’ definition of how to find a meaning in each Israeli-Palestinian act of terrorism or war (“The confidence war“, IHT, January 7, 2009). But what is missing from Mr Brooks’ analysis is the fact that the very strategies of successive Israeli Governments, the PLO and now Hamas have been based on the utter disregard of the value of the lives of individual Palestinians.

This has been true especially in the last decade or so, with one side casually bombing crowded residential areas from afar only to release increasingly hypocritical “sorry” press releases afterwards; and the other either sending youths to suicide missions or armed with stones against armored tanks, or proclaiming without a second thought that thousands and thousands of dead women and children are a price worth paying for victory against “the Zionists”.

As shown repeatedly during the last century, it should be the job of international institutions to push hard for the safeguarding of lives, especially when the local Government is clearly unable or unwilling to do so. But I am afraid that until negotiations get centered around politicking rather than the basic rights of individual human beings, Palestinians (and Somalis, and Darfuris, etc etc) can only expect a future made of innumerable deaths.

Written by omnologos

2009/Jan/07 at 22:53:40

The Middle-Easternalization of Israel

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A multiethnic, multireligious State, where:

  • An “ethnic group” dominates all others
  • The sense of belonging to one’s group vastly exceeds “civic loyalty”
  • Some political parties are defined by ethnicity and / or lack any interest in the plight of “the others”
  • Entire villages have been practically abandoned for decades without any State help, because “inconvenient” to the Government
  • Most if not all the national boundaries are completely artificial
  • The military are a little too important and their work a little too secret
  • There is no shortage of fundamentalists
  • A “State religion” controls many parts of life and death of all citizens, including those of another religion

That is the Israel described by Adam LeBor in commenting in the International Herald Tribune the new book “The Hebrew Republic” by Bernard Avishai.

In summary, after 60 years of existence Israel has sort of middle-easternalized itself, like its neighbors a society undermined by its own history. The “only” characteristics distinguishing the Jewish state from the States immediately nearby remain its independent judiciary, free and vocal press, and a robust civil society.

Would those characteristics survive an internal war like those afflicting Lebanon, or even a conflict between the hard-core settlers and the (jewish) rest of the country?

Written by omnologos

2008/Jul/01 at 21:00:58

Too Weak and Confused, the Unbearably Light Political Thinking of “Islamic Jihad”

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This is a commentary to the interview given by Ramadan Shallah, Secretary General of “Islamic Jihad”, to the newspapers Watan (Oman) and Sharq (Qatar), on 19 May 2008.

The complete interview (translated into French) is available at the CIREPAL (Centre d’Information sur la Résistance en Palestine, Information Center on Resistance in Palestine). Unfortunately I have been unable to find other sources, and so I will have to trust that translation as true.

Note that the CIREPAL itself, in the preface to the translation, doesn’t fully endorse Shallah’s arguments, a mixture of terrible and desperate considerations, ironically appearing more than once as mirroring what Shallah accuses Israel of doing.

Does Shallah see himself in the Jewish State. One wonders: what if the modern Jihadism is actually not the enemy, rather a descendant of Zionism?

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R. Shallah : A notre avis, concernant la vision israélienne relative à l’existence de l’entité israélienne dans la région, nous pouvons distinguer trois étapes essentielles : la première est celle du refus absolu d’Israël, où le conflit était dénommé conflit arabo-israélien. Cette étape fut caractérisée par l’unanimité de la nation à refuser l’existence d’Israël, malgré les failles […]

Here Shallah is realistically describing the situation. However, he’s considering the “Arab Nation” as one, despite all the history behind that concept. Later, he will add non-Arab Iran to the mix.

Mais il y a aussi une autre étape…celle de l’admission d’Israël volontairement…comme un Etat normal, voisin, ami, comme tout autre pays arabe ou musulman […] le projet de règlement dont il a rêvé pour parvenir à la troisième étape […] l’étape du refus absolu d’Israël. […] l’entité sioniste a reçu des coups douloureux lors de la victoire de la résistance au Liban en 2000, le déclenchement de l’intifada al-Aqsa en 2000 et la défaite cuisante lors de la guerre de juilllet 2006, au Liban […]

First hints of Ramadan Shallah being victim of his own ideology. It is true that Israel has not won in Lebanon in 2006, and its army should not be proud of its results…however, there has been no defeat, and Israel is as powerful as before.

Le sentiment d’être étranger dans la région et la peur de l’avenir rendent Israël incapable de payer le moindre prix pour la paix à laquelle les Arabes ont appelé par le biais de l’initiative arabe. […]

Perhaps…but he said before, did he not, that Israel is ready to “pay the price” in order to become a “Normal State” in the region…

réaliser un alliance américano-israélo-arabe pour faire face aux forces de la résistance et du refus, représentées par l’Iran, la Syrie, le Hezbollah, Hamas, le Jihad islamique et les autres organisations de la résistance en Palestine […]

Shallah is kind of losing the plot here, mixing in Iran and Hizbullah. And let’s not forget that Syria’s policies are not automatically in favor of the Palestinians.

En résumé, nous pouvons dire qu’Israël, soixante ans après sa création, se prépare à mener de nouvelles guerres, non à faire la paix. […]

This is a gratuitous statement, with no evidence to support it apart from the “logic” of Shallah’s ideology. And it’s way too vague to be useful: it doesn’t take a genius, a clairvoyant, or a politician to guess that Israel will fight a war in the next few years.

le projet sioniste, qui est un projet de déni de l’autre, qui a fondé son entité d’une part sur des mythes, et de l’autre, sur le feu, le fer et le sang, la violence et la terreur. […]

I don’t want to argue if this is or is not a realistic assessment of Zionism…still, it is interesting to note that this “denying the other” built upon myth, conflict, terror is a fundamental aspect of Ramadan Shallah’s political thinking: as if by his own definition, Shallah were somehow Zionist-like.

Israël refuse la paix, comme l’a prouvé l’expérience. Il a refusé tous les projets de règlement malgré leur bas niveau et les concessions obtenues. […]

This is rather unclear. Shallah is convinced that Israel refuses all peace offers, even the ones most favorable to itself. Why would it behave like that? What further advantages are for Israel in avoiding peace?

Is anybody arguing that Israel’s strategical objectives are the same as the Islamic Jihad’s?

il est devenu clair que « l’Etat palestinien » supposé dont ils parlent est « l’Etat des intérêts sionistes » […]

Would Ramadan Shallah then expect to see Israeli negotiators argue in favor of Palestinian interests?

L’image du Super Israël, implanté dans la terre comme si cela était un décret divin auquel nul ne peut s’opposer, dans l’esprit de ceux qui en ont peur, de lui et des Etats-Unis […]

Once again, the ironical situation of the “Zionist thinking” mirrored in Ramadan Shallah’s: the head of an organization called “Islamic Jihad” and therefore likely to be an expert in “divine decrees”.

il ne nie pas être entré dans la phase de vieillesse, dont les signes apparaissent dans les défaites, même limitées, qu’il a subi au Liban et en Palestine […]

Another sign of Shallah losing his grip with reality. Instead of finding a way to strengthen his position, he’s hoping Israel will get somehow weaker in the future. The end result is that Shallah is politically a dependent of Israel…

Goldberg dans une série d’articles, disant : « je suis inquiet sur l’avenir d’Israël au cours des dix ou quinze prochaines années » […]

Are these signs of decline?? Somehow I doubt Ramadan Shallah sia is used to follow a democratic society’s inner debate.

« Pour Israël, la confiance en la possibilité de demeurer est devenue très mince » ! […]

One doesn’t have to be too smart to imagine taking advantage of these “signs of weakness”, for example establishing contacts with non-Zionist Israelis…alas, there is no trace of that.

Le puissant Israël, qui possède la plus forte armée dans la région, y compris les armes nucléaires, a perdu et a été humilié au cours de la guerre de juillet/août 2006 face à la résistance des combattants du Hizbullah et de la résistance islamique. […]

This is beyond imagination. An Israel going from the Nile to the Euphrates. Is Ramadan Shallah a Zionist through and through???

After all, if he wants to live in a fantasy world, who would and could stop him?

Israël aujourd’hui n’est plus celui de Ben Gourion, de Dayan, de Rabin et des autres, mais c’est un Israël qui n’a pas de dirigeants politiques et militaires. Certains ont affirmé que Sharon fut le dernier roi d’Israël, et après lui, le pays est tombé… […]

Does that mean it would have been possible to deal and negotiati, with the young Israel of 1948?

Si l’armée israélienne a perdu son prestige, que reste-t-il d’Israël ? Nous savons qu’Israël est une caserne militaire, un Etat militaire dans son organisation et sa vie, l’armée est la population, et la population est l’armée […]

In the meanwhile, on the other (Palestinian) side, everybody’s an angel…

Cet unipolarisme est cependant en train de craquer et les rapports de force changeront ; le rêve de l’empire américain, après son échec et sa défaite en Iraq, […]

Now Shallah is portraying himself as dependent from America: as all his actions will only be reaction to the USA’s.

Le refus absolu de sa présence se développe de pair avec le développement des courants islamistes, des mouvements de la résistance islamique en Palestine, au Liban et en Iraq, et du soutien dont ils bénéficient dans la région. […]

Another parallel with Zionism…it’s just one religious point of view built in front of another.

Pour nous, Israël subira le même sort subi par toutes les entités étrangères implantées par les guerres des Francs, les croisés, dans nos pays et il disparaîtra comme elles ont disparu. […]

This is an important myth. The Latin Kingdoms in the Holy Land lasted 200 years after the First Crusade. Israele has been around only 60 years. Perhaps another century and a half will be needed, before some will consider the possibility that Israel will not disappear.

En d’autres termes, si la nature du pouvoir en Israël était dictatorial ou fasciste, est-ce que cela change notre vision, nous, les Arabes et les musulmans ? Et à l’intérieur du système démocratique lui-même, quelle est la différence pour nous si arrive à la tête du pouvoir Olmert, Barak ou Netanyahu ? Ceux qui ont parié sur l’arrivée de Barak après Netanyahu ont récolté l’amertume de l’effondrement des négociations de Camp David II […]

And so…if Barak had agreed in Camp David II, and Arafat had agreed too, would that have satisfied Ramadan Shallah? And if all Israelis are the same (an idea dangerously close to racism), why waste any time, a few minutes before, citing a crisis within Israel?

Est-ce que la démocratie à l’intérieur peut-elle coexister avec un esprit expansionniste et belliqueux envers l’extérieur, qu’Israël met en pratique depuis sa fondation? […]

Finally, a good question…can internal democracy survive alongside external expansionism/colonialism?

Israël est-il conforme à la manière occidentale et coloniale pratiquée par les Etats occidentaux coloniaux, […]

It must be noted that relatively democratic United Kingdom had no trouble in becoming the largest colonial Empire in the history of the world.

Israël est-il un Etat pour tous ses citoyens ou un Etat pour les citoyens juifs seulement ? En d’autres termes, Israël est-il réellement un Etat « démocratique » ou un Etat «religieux » ? […]

Is Israel democratic, or democratic to the Jews only? A very interesting question. Rabin’s assassination shows how much there is to “sort out” within Israel. But that doesn’t mean the Jewish State is going to end anytime soon.

After all, even the USA survived a fully-fledged Civil War.

les Etats-Unis, dans leur comportement avec les autres, considèrent que leurs propres intérêts constituent le premier critère pour formuler leur politique… […]

Here Ramadan Shallah is right. Way too often the USA (and others) have supported internationally only their interests, and not democracy. But once again, this shows how it is possible to be democratic at home, and despotic abroad, without self-destroying oneself?

Finalement, il est probable que la démocratie permet à l’entité israélienne d’avoir un mécanisme meilleur pour la passation du pouvoir et l’administration de son conflit dans la région… […]

Finally, he’s recognizing Israel can be stronger than previously described.

que si Israël et les Etats-Unis ont accepté la solution de deux Etats, avec les conditions israéliennes évidemment, c’est par crainte d’arriver à l’Etat unique, surtout que l’équilibre démographique en Palestine sera bientôt favorable aux Palestiniens, certainement et clairement, à partir de 2010, selon certaines estimations. […]

It doesn’t take much to agree with Shallah here. The two-state solution is feasible but rather artificial.

D’abord, elle accorde à Israël et aux Juifs la légitimité de leur présence sur la terre de la Palestine, légitimité qu’ils n’ont pas. La nation a lutté, dès le début, sur la base de l’illégitimité de la présence sioniste en Palestine. […]

As I mentioned already, some people will cling on to this dream for another century and a half.

propager cette alternative supprime la culture de la lutte et de la résistance, et propage la culture de la soumission au fait accompli et à se préparer à vivre avec Israël, au moment où Israël refuse cette question […]

As above

notre terre et notre patrie la Palestine deviennent une seconde Andalousie, où Israël se consolide sur ses ruines en tant qu’Etat stable et sûr, en n’ayant pour d’autre but ou espoir que le fait d’y être acceptés, en tant que sujets, même de dixième zone ! […]

Wasn’t Israel senile and in crisis?

je ne pense pas que la laïcité peut régler ce conflit saturé de symboles religieux, des deux côtés… […] Le bagage religieux constitue, pour les deux parties, une force de mobilisation importante dans le conflit, du côté […]

Is he implying that Israelis and Palestinians are very similar? Why then continue the conflict?

Que fait la laïcité de l’Etat unique avec l’arabité et l’islamité de la Palestine dans les cœurs et les consciences arabes et islamiques ? Comment se débarrasse-t- elle de « la judaïté » de l’Etat dans la conscience israélienne et le projet sioniste ? […]

This looks like a good argument in favor of the two-state solution, Poor Shallah!

La solution est, à notre avis, de poursuivre le conflit, même par les moyens les plus simples, jusqu’à relever la nation et modifier le rapport de force.. […]

Sounds like a sad joke. “Since the wall hasn’t budged despite all our headbanging against it, let’s keep banging our heads“…

que nos enfants ont lapidé Israël avec des pierres et le châtiment de la lapidation, dans notre culture et notre loi, est réservé à l’adultère. Israël est, aux yeux des peuples de la région, celui qui a commis l’adultère envers notre géographie, notre histoire et il mérite la lapidation et le châtiment jusqu’à la mort et la disparition de la carte de la région, pour que la Palestine revienne dans la géographie et l’histoire. […]

Little wonder Israel finds it necessary to have nuclear weapons…

Je ne pense pas que les Etats-Unis, dans les conditions régionales et internationales actuelles, puissent être autrement que dans le rang israélien et je doute qu’ils puissent l’être dans tous les cas, […]

hence, no contacts with the USA either. Even if “victory” depends on Washington.

Israël est presque le 51ème Etat américain au Moyen-Orient. […]

I do not think this is too far from truth. And so Shallah further undermines any idea of a “Israeli crisis”.

le régime arabe, dans sa majorité, se pose lui-même dans le panier américain et constitue avec lui une alliance et un partenariat dans la région, dont la principale priorité consiste à protéger l’existence et la sécurité d’Israël. […]

Just in case he had too many friends, Shallah has called “Zionist” all the Arab states apart maybe from Syria (an Arabicized, more than an Arab country).

Il n’y a pas, malheureusement, de stratégie palestinienne ou arabe pour affronter Israël […]

Nice for him to notice that but…where has he been all these years?

positions, nous devons d’abord parler de la stratégie israélienne en cette étape… […]

For the umpteenth time, Shallah shows no ability to act, only to react. Every thought is subordinated to Israel’s.

Celui qui souhaite faire la paix ne doit pas laisser tomber le choix de la guerre, mais doit s’y préparer, comme le fait Israël ! […]

That’s why I think that somewhere, perhaps in the unconscious, Shallah is an admirer of Israel.

La stratégie américano-sioniste est un projet colonial pour faire exploser la région… La liquidation des forces […]

This make no sense…why let a region explode if you want to occupy it?

que le déluge est prochain, le moment de vérité et l’explosion de la région sont prochains. Celui qui conscience arabe. C’est le premier pas réclamé pour formuler une stratégie arabe et palestinienne officielles […]

As always, Shallah is hoping Israel would be do something so badly, the “resistance” would be capable to win. Shallah’s future is absolutely in the hands of Israel.

L’essentiel au début est de définir où poser les pieds, tu es avec ton peuple et ta nation ou avec ses ennemis ? C’est la question posée et qui attend la réponse de toutes les parties dans le régime arabe, aujourd’hui. […]

Let’s try to summarize it all then: “who knows, I don’t know what I should be doing, let’s hope Israel gives us some hints“…

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/13 at 21:16:52

Iran and the Rationality of the First Nuclear War

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Iran is right in trying to develop the Bomb: what else they should do, when violent foreign-sponsored political upheavals in Tehran appear in the news twice a month if not more often? (An example in Italian and another in English).

People like Michael Leeden are so preoccupied of the “Iran Bomb”, they are trying their best to make it explode.

What if they’d focus their minds not on the 1930’s and Hitler, rather on 1914, and on how a climate of distrust plus a longing for a resolutive war led many nations in a war with millions of dead (including European civilization).

How “enticing” (not!) will it be when Tehran or Tel Aviv will be pulverised, a few atom bombs will go off in other places, and then fifty or more years later flocks of scholars will be able to build their careers in the attempt of explaining how, even if all the “actors” in the crisis behaved rationally, the end result was the most gigantic idiocy in the history of the world, the First Nuclear War.

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/07 at 21:57:49

Palestinian Politicide – aka Israeli Suicide

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(a previous version of this blog “Sad Word of the Day: ‘Politicide’” was published first on Sep 4, 2003)

It was almost five years ago when cruising through a Books etc bookshop I finally found a word I had been looking to invent myself for quite some time.

In fact, on the one hand I know from several first-hand sources, plus plenty of newspaper reports and analyses, of the systematic destruction of the Palestinian identity by Israeli policies. On the other hand, I do not think this can be described as a “Palestinian Genocide“.

Unless there is a massive media cover-up including, the situation in Palestine simply does not reflect the common definition of Genocide. For example, there is no killing of Palestinian people for the mere fact of them being Palestinians. The risk is that to talk about a “Palestinian Genocide” means to demean both the victims of genocide (a word that would be watered down), and the Palestinians (whose situation would be completely misunderstood, with the cause fought not even theirs)

Politicide” is the right word instead: that is, the destruction of the political identity of a group of people .

The word “politicide” of course comes from what looks like a long tirade against Ariel Sharon, published by Baruck Kimmerling as a book. It is originally defined

[…] a process that has, as its ultimate goal, the dissolution—or, at the very least, a great weakening—of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate social, political, and economic entity […]

Kimmerling, who has died in 2007, was by the way a complex figure if there ever was any: a self-proclaimed Zionist with leftist views, critical of Israeli policies and outspoken in considering Jewish settlements in the West Bank as colonialism).

Kimmerling’s book has been reviewed and criticized a lot, of course. But in the case of the Palestinians, “politicide” does explain many an action by current and past Israeli governments, including the cancellation from history of Palestinian villages, the delegitimisation of Palestinian institutions, the demeaning treatment of migrant workers, and so on (I understand the dividing wall has been painted in places to make Palestinians literally disappear from view).

Importantly, the concept of “politicide” as defined above is not limited to a war, or even a crisis situation. It has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist, or its internal political system. And it harms both the victim and the perpetrator.

In fact, as commented by Jonathan Freedland on The New York Review of Books on Dec 21, 2006 (my emphasis):

[…] [Sharon] saw desperately late the threat that his pursuit of the settlement project posed to the very Jewish state he had devoted his life to protecting. Even putting aside the morally corrosive effect of occupation on the occupier, Sharon understood only at the end the problem represented by Israel ruling over a territory that would eventually contain equal numbers of Jews and Arabs. Either the state would be democratic and no longer Jewish or it would have to become what Kimmerling calls a Herrenvolk democracy, an apartheid term used to describe a regime in which citizens enjoy full rights while noncitizens enjoy none. Sharon apparently did not see the simple demographic realities until his final years in office […]

As he prepared to tell the Likud central committee in September 2005, before his opponents cut off his microphone and prevented him from speaking: “We cannot maintain a Jewish and democratic state while holding on to all the land of Israel. If we demand the whole dream, we may end up with nothing at all. That is where the extreme path leads.” […] 

As things stand at the moment, Israel does not look sustainable at all: even if there were a complete military victory tomorrow, with Hamas and Hizbullah routed out into the Arabian desert and Fatah reduced to the rank of a puppet government, there would be a painful choice to be made between transforming Jewishness into apartheid, or embracing full democracy by losing its identity to include hundreds of thousands of people with no social, political and economical identity.

And a non-Jewish or a non-democratic Israel would be no Israel any longer.

(for the record, I do believe in the continuous existence to this day of a clear-and-present-danger of Genocide (and I mean it!) against the Israeli population)

Written by omnologos

2008/Jun/05 at 22:48:08

Israel at 60: Celebrate or What?

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Among all the postmodernist rubbish, there may be one good idea: “what we say about any given subject is always constructed, and there are only partial truths“. All the more so about Israel and the whole Palestine, where if there is one thing that never changes, is the conviction of people on both sides to be speakers of the whole truth, completely disregarding the others’ arguments: and thereby guaranteeing there will be no progress whatsoever.

I have my own ideas on what should be done and by whom. But there is little point in arguing who’s wrong and who’s right. Personally, I believe they are right those (where they come from) whose actions bring less suffering, less deaths, and less instability.

Written by omnologos

2008/May/18 at 20:59:34

Posted in Israeli / Palestinian, Politics

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The Moral Equivalence of Hamas and Israel (and us)

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Another day, another series of reports on tens of dead, dying and injured people in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I’ll leave the sorting out of who’s to blame to anybody wishing to waste their time.

Sure, there are more victims on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli, indicating an overwhelmingly disproportionate response as if the value of human life really depended on nationality (a consideration unfathomably shared by the Palestinian leadership too: prisoners exchange usually involve a handful of Israelis to tens of Palestinians).

On the other hand what purpose can it be in the launching of aimless rockets by Hamas, randomly towards civilians? Apart, that is, from killing if not terrorizing them on purpose, because they are civilians: as if that has ever won anybody’s war.

The height of mutual stupidity is that people in charge on the two sides are determined to brutalize each other. At the same time, retaliation after retaliation, they have kind of abdicated all hopes of recovering their own humanity…to the sudden appearance of virtuous behavior in the other camp.

It’s fairly obvious that whatever the causes of their madness, they are all directly responsible for untold miseries that will befall on their own children.

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What should be done to bring peace to Israeli and Palestinians alike? It’s more than obvious, it’s actually boring. Stop wishing the others could go away. Realize the land is for the two of them, and for the rest of humanity as well. Decouple Israel from the messianic undertones, by getting it into the European Union.

But that doesn’t look like in anybody’s interest. The main hope is that the situation has worsened since the quasi-agreement with President Clinton in 2000, because when everybody knows peace is tantalizingly near, everybody rushes to settle the last scores.

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But that’s still too easy an analysis.  

Who else is brutalizing civilians in the futile attempt of getting a military and thus a political advantage in a never-ending war, worsened exactly because and by that brutalization?

It’s us from NATO.

The civilian victims are in Afghanistan, nowadays, and likely but less evidently in Iraq.

And it’s no novelty. Leaving aside the famously useless killings of tens of thousands in Dresden during World War II, just fifty years ago the French Government tried almost casually to defend the bloody bombing of a Tunisian border village, in the Algerian war.

Despite our illusions, things have not changed since. We are still eliminating fellow human beings without much of a thought. Here’s NATO proudly using American and European taxpayers’ money to kill road building workers. Never, or almost never, big news in our media.

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It is high time we leave aside idle discussions about other peoples’ business to mind about our own idiocy.

Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/02 at 22:25:00