Indonesia Papua:More religions, more trouble

Indonesian Papua  

More religions, more trouble

Jul 17th 2008 | JAKARTA
From The Economist print edition

 


THE separatist conflict in Indonesia’s Papua region—formerly known as Irian Jaya and once one of the world’s great liberal causes—has become relatively quiet in recent years. Small groups of protesters still occasionally gather to wave the Morning Star independence flag and get arrested for it. But decades of repression by the Indonesian security forces, combined with the granting in 2000 of partial autonomy from Jakarta, have sapped the separatists’ ranks. However, according to a recent report on the region, there is a risk that the separatist conflict may be rekindled or replaced by religious strife because of the arrival of new and more muscular forms of both Islam and Christianity.

 

 

 

 

 

Broadly speaking, indigenous Papuans—who are dark-skinned Melanesians, like their kin next door in Papua New Guinea and Australian aborigines—tend to be Christians or animists, whereas the many migrants to the region from elsewhere in Indonesia are mostly Muslim. In recent years fundamentalist Christian groups, some started by American and Canadian preachers, have been proselytising among indigenous Papuans. Their success has also prompted the development of fundamentalist streams in the established Protestant churches.

Among the Islamic radical groups to arrive in Papua with the migrants is the Indonesian chapter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an organisation started in Jerusalem, which seeks to unite Muslims worldwide under one government or “caliphate”. But there are also a few indigenous Papuan Muslims, some of whom have recently returned from studies in the Middle East, bringing back fundamentalist ideas.

The report, by the International Crisis Group (ICG), a think-tank, says rising religious tension has already come close to triggering violence between Muslims and Christians, as is already common in the nearby, mixed-faith province of Maluku. In Kaimana district, for example, members of the two religions had long lived together harmoniously. But in December locals came close to blows over the erection of an iron tower shaped like a Christmas tree, topped with a Star of David—often used by charismatic Christian groups but best known as a symbol of Judaism.

The new Christian groups have raised Muslims’ hackles by boasting (sometimes falsely) of their conversions of Muslims. Muslims, in turn, have become increasingly vigilant against any perceived threats either to their faith or to Indonesian sovereignty. Some Islamic radicals are prone to conspiracy theories about plots to prise Papua away from Indonesia, often involving America and its majority-Christian regional allies, Australia and the Philippines.

Increased fundamentalism has sharpened each ethnic group’s fear of domination by the other. The Indonesian government has discontinued its programme of transportation to Papua and elsewhere to relieve overcrowding on Java. But migrants are still flooding in. Official figures show that in 2004 Muslims were 23% of the region’s 2m-odd population, up from 6.5% in 1964. In reality the proportion of Muslims is thought to be much higher, probably over half now—but the government has not published accurate updated figures.

Christians believe this is a cover-up to hide the truth: that migration has made Papuans a minority in their homeland. They also fear that the government in Jakarta is increasingly endorsing Islamic orthodoxy at the expense of Indonesia’s non-Muslims. The Muslims, in turn, agree that they are now the majority in Papua—a local Hizb-ut-Tahrir leader recently claimed that Papua is 65% Muslim—but they feel that Papuan autonomy could lead to them being discriminated against or even expelled from the region.

There are some moderating influences: last year, mainstream Muslims set up a new body, the Papuan Muslim Council, to put the case for tolerance. Some of the charismatic Christian groups, far from inciting separatism among ethnic Papuans, argue for accommodation with the Indonesian powers-that- be (render unto Caesar and all that). Even so, argues the ICG, there is a danger that continuing migration, combined with the radicalisation of both main religions, could re-ignite the dormant separatist conflict.

If the heightened religious tension is not to become a catalyst for violence it would help if there was a sense of urgency about improving the dismal quality of life of almost all Papuans, whether indigenous or migrants. Autonomy has had a feeble start: central-government ministries have been reluctant to cede control to local Papuan authorities; where they have, money has been misspent, including by newly recruited Papuan bureaucrats struggling with responsibilities for which they lack skills. Last year President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered his officials to speed up development programmes for Papua. As usual, his orders fell on deaf ears.

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What is “Neo-Liberalism” ?

(http://www.geocitie s.com/CapitolHil l/Lobby/8731/ neolib.html)

“Neo-liberalism” is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is  rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of  neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious  ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to  prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people  as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic  liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate
“liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with  economic liberalism, including neo- liberalism.

“Neo” means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an English economist, published a book in
1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s  economy to develop. Such ideas were “liberal” in the sense of no
controls. This application of individualism encouraged “free”  enterprise,” “free” competition — which came to mean, free for the  capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged
liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence,  that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can  be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to  increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President  Roosevelt’s New Deal — which did improve life for many people. The  belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking  profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic  liberalism. That’s what makes it “neo” or new. Now, with the rapid  globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism  on a global scale.

A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos  at the Zapatista-sponsored
<http://spin. com.mx/%7Ehvelar de/Mexico/ EZLN/encuentro- neoliberalism. html>Encuentro  Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo  (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism)  of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: “what the Right offers is to
turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here,  women there ….” and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico.”

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1) THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no  matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to
international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by  de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been  won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all,
total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To  convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is  the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit
everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

2) CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and  health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even  maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of
reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

3) DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that  could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

4) PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to  private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads,  toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water.
Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of  concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

5) ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility. ” Pressuring the poorest  people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care,
education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them,  if they fail, as “lazy.”

Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF),  the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at  work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist  Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the  first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000  small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state- owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar  said, “Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and  cutbacking social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is
pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny  protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will “get government off  my back.” The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last  60 years, suffering without end.  <http://www.latino. com/opinion/ spec0324. html>

Elizabeth Martinez is a  longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including “500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs. ”

Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and  against Neoliberalism, held July 27 -August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

DEADLY ‘DIPLOMACY’

June 13, 2008
Deadly ‘Diplomacy’
by Norman Solomon

With 223 days left in his presidency, George W. Bush laid more flagstones along a path to war on Iran. There was the usual declaration that “all options are on the table” – and, just as ominously, much talk of diplomacy.

Three times on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, Bush “called a diplomatic solution ‘my first choice,’ implying there are others. He said ‘we’ll give diplomacy a chance to work,’ meaning it might not.”

That’s how Bush talks when he’s grooving along in his Orwellian comfort zone, eager to order a military attack.

“We seek peace,” Bush said in the State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. “We strive for peace.”

In that speech, less than two months before the invasion of Iraq began, Bush foreshadowed the climax of his administration’ s diplomatic pantomime. “The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world,” the president said. “Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s legal – Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.”

A week after that drum roll, Colin Powell made his now-infamous presentation to the U.N. Security Council. At the time, it served as ideal “diplomacy” for war – filled with authoritative charges and riddled with deceptions.

We should never forget the raptures of media praise for Powell’s crucial mendacity. A key bellwether was the New York Times.

The front page of the Times had been plying administration lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for a long time. Now the newspaper’s editorial stance, ostensibly antiwar, swooned into line – rejoicing that “Mr. Powell’s presentation was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.”

The Times editorialized that Powell “presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.” By sending Powell to address the Security Council, the Times claimed, President Bush “showed a wise concern for international opinion.”

Bush had implemented the kind of “diplomacy” advocated by a wide range of war enthusiasts. For instance, Fareed Zakaria, a former managing editor of the elite-flavored journal Foreign Affairs, had recommended PR prudence in the quest for a confrontation that could facilitate an invasion of Iraq. “Even if the inspections do not produce the perfect crisis,” Zakaria wrote the previous summer, “Washington will still be better off for having tried because it would be seen to have made every effort to avoid war.”

A few months later, on November 13, 2002, Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “in the world of a single, dominant superpower, the U.N. Security Council becomes even more important, not less.” And he was pleased with the progress of groundwork for war, writing enthusiastically: “The Bush team discovered that the best way to legitimize its overwhelming might – in a war of choice – was not by simply imposing it, but by channeling it through the U.N.”

Its highly influential reporting, combined with an editorial position that wavered under pressure, made the New York Times extremely useful to the Bush administration’ s propaganda strategy for launching war on Iraq. The paper played along with the diplomatic ruse in much the same way that it promoted lies about weapons of mass destruction.

But to read the present-day revisionist history from the New York Times, the problem with the run-up to the Iraq invasion was simply misconduct by the Bush administration (ignobly assisted by pliable cable news networks).

Recently, when the Times came out with an editorial headlined “The Truth About the War” on June 6, the newspaper assessed the implications of a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports,” the Times editorialized. “In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Unfortunately, changing just a few words – substituting “the New York Times” for “President Bush” – renders an equally accurate assessment of what a factual report would clearly show: “The New York Times should have known that important claims it made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, the Times could have learned the truth if it had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Now, as agenda-setting for an air attack on Iran moves into higher gear, the mainline U.S. news media – with the New York Times playing its influential part – are engaged in coverage that does little more than provide stenographic services for the Bush administration.

http://www.antiwar. com/solomon/ ?articleid= 12982

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places

by John Pilger

In my film Death of a Nation, there is a sequence filmed on board an Australian aircraft flying over the island of Timor. A party is in progress, and two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is an historically unique moment,” says one of them, “that is truly uniquely historical.” This is Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister. The other man is Ali Alatas, principal mouthpiece of the Indonesian dictator, Gen. Suharto. It is 1989, and the two are making a grotesquely symbolic flight to celebrate the signing of a treaty that allowed Australia and the international oil and gas companies to exploit the seabed off East Timor, then illegally and viciously occupied by Suharto. The prize, according to Evans, was “zillions of dollars.”

Beneath them lay a land of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses in tiers on the hillsides. Filming clandestinely in East Timor, I would walk into the scrub and there were the crosses. They littered the earth and crowded the eye. In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament reported that “at least 200,000” had died under Indonesia’s occupation: almost a third of the population. And yet East Timor’s horror, which was foretold and nurtured by the U.S., Britain, and Australia, was actually a sequel. “No single American action in the period after 1945,” wrote the historian Gabriel Kolko, “was as bloodthirsty as its role in Indonesia, for it tried to initiate the massacre.” He was referring to Suharto’s seizure of power in 1965-1966, which caused the violent deaths of up to a million people.

To understand the significance of Suharto, who died on Sunday, is to look beneath the surface of the current world order: the so-called global economy and the ruthless cynicism of those who run it. Suharto was our model mass murderer – “our” is used here advisedly. “One of our very best and most valuable friends,” Thatcher called him, speaking for the West. For three decades, the Australian, U.S., and British governments worked tirelessly to minimize the crimes of Suharto’s Gestapo, known as Kopassus, who were trained by the Australian SAS and the British army and who gunned down people with British-supplied Heckler and Koch machine guns from British-supplied Tactica “riot control” vehicles. Prevented by Congress from supplying arms directly, U.S. administrations from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton provided logistic support through the back door and commercial preferences. In one year, the British Department of Trade provided almost a billion pounds worth of so-called soft loans, which allowed Suharto to buy Hawk fighter-bombers. The British taxpayer paid the bill for aircraft that dive-bombed East Timorese villages, and the arms industry reaped the profits. However, the Australians distinguished themselves as the most obsequious. In an infamous cable to Canberra, Richard Woolcott, Australia’s ambassador to Jakarta, who had been forewarned about Suharto’s invasion of East Timor, wrote: “What Indonesia now looks to from Australia … is some understanding of their attitude and possible action to assist public understanding in Australia….” Covering up Suharto’s crimes became a career for those like Woolcott, while “understanding” the mass murderer came in buckets. This left an indelible stain on the reformist government of Gough Whitlam following the cold-blooded killing of two Australian TV crews by Suharto’s troops during the invasion of East Timor. “We know your people love you,” Bob Hawke told the dictator. His successor, Paul Keating, famously regarded the tyrant as a father figure. When Indonesian troops slaughtered at least 200 people in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor, and Australian mourners planted crosses outside the Indonesian embassy in Canberra, foreign minister Gareth Evans ordered them destroyed. To Evans, ever-effusive in his support for the regime, the massacre was merely an “aberration. ” This was the view of much of the Australian press, especially that controlled by Rupert Murdoch, whose local retainer, Paul Kelly, led a group of leading newspaper editors to Jakarta, fawn before the dictator.

Here lies a clue as to why Suharto, unlike Saddam Hussein, died not on the gallows but surrounded by the finest medical team his secret billions could buy. Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA operations officer in the 1960s, describes the terror of Suharto’s takeover of Indonesia as “the model operation” for the American-backed coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile seven years later. “The CIA forged a document purporting to reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,” he wrote, “[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.” The U.S. embassy in Jakarta supplied Suharto with a “zap list” of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and crossed off the names when they were killed or captured. Roland Challis, the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent at the time, told me how the British government was secretly involved in this slaughter. “British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits so they could take part in the terrible holocaust,” he said. “I and other correspondents were unaware of this at the time…. There was a deal, you see.”

The deal was that Indonesia under Suharto would offer up what Richard Nixon had called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in southeast Asia.” In November 1967, the greatest prize was handed out at a remarkable three-day conference sponsored by the Time-Life Corporation in Geneva. Led by David Rockefeller, all the corporate giants were represented: the major oil companies and banks, General Motors, Imperial Chemical Industries, British American Tobacco, Siemens, U.S. Steel, and many others. Across the table sat Suharto’s U.S.-trained economists who agreed to the corporate takeover of their country, sector by sector. The Freeport company got a mountain of copper in West Papua. A U.S./ European consortium got the nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. America, Japanese, and French companies got the tropical forests of Sumatra. When the plunder was complete, President Lyndon Johnson sent his congratulations on “a magnificent story of opportunity seen and promise awakened.” Thirty years later, with the genocide in East Timor also complete, the World Bank described the Suharto dictatorship as a “model pupil.”

Shortly before he died, I interviewed Alan Clark, who under Thatcher was Britain’s minister responsible for supplying Suharto with most of his weapons. I asked him, “Did it bother you personally that you were causing such mayhem and human suffering?”

“No, not in the slightest,” he replied. “It never entered my head.”

“I ask the question because I read you are a vegetarian and are seriously concerned with the way animals are killed.”

“Yeah?”

“Doesn’t that concern extend to humans?”

“Curiously not.”

Source: http://www.antiwar. com/pilger/ ?articleid= 12279 January 28, 2008

The Occupation Corrupts

June 3, 2008
The Occupation Corrupts
by Uri Avnery

I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him.

It is not pleasant to see how they pounce on him, like jackals and hyenas fighting over a carcass.

And that also raises some questions.


Was Olmert the only fallible human being in this paradise? Not at all. The stories about the envelopes stuffed with cash, the cigars, and the luxury suites in posh hotels fire the imagination, but the hedonism of Olmert is no different from that of Benjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. When Barak accuses Olmert it is like the kettle calling the pot black.

Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by kind donors who, of course, ask for nothing in return, whose sole purpose in life is to allow him to revel in luxury. As for Barak, after decades of service as an army officer with a salary that did not reach the sky and some years as a cabinet minister with a similar income, he disappeared from public view for a short while and reappeared as a rich man. He bought a luxury apartment in one of the most expensive buildings in Tel Aviv, a structure that is a byword for ostentatious wealth. How does one get so rich in such a short time? Could it be by using connections acquired in the service of the state?

Olmert was a pioneer of this method. When still a very junior politician, just out of law school, he got rich through his connections with the heads of government departments which he made as a parliamentary aide.

The closer the connection between capital and power, and the more contact there is between local and foreign tycoons on the one hand and politicians and generals on the other, the more profusely corruption flowers. This is an almost automatic process.


What does that say about our politicians? Simply: that none of them is a leader.

A real leader is not just a person with an aim. A leader is a person with one aim and one aim alone.

In the best case, that is a positive aim, to which he devotes all his life. In the worst case it is power as such he craves. But in any case, a real leader is totally devoted to the aim he has adopted, and pursues no other – not money, not enjoyment, not a life of luxury.

Such a person was David Ben-Gurion, and such was Menachem Begin. They did not have to decide to live “modest lives” and dispense with luxury – they were just not interested in luxuries, money, or the easy life. For them, these things were quite unimportant. From the moment they opened their eyes in the morning until they closed them again at night, nothing interested them but their aim. One can add Yitzhak Rabin to the list.

The priorities of a mere politician are quite different: he wants power in order to enjoy the amenities it brings with it. Power as a means. The amenities of power – money, luxuries, high-class restaurants, prestigious hotels – are the aim.

According to this definition, the entire recent and current crop of politicians – Moshe Dayan, Ezer Weitzman, Shimon Peres, the two Ehuds, and Netanyahu – are all just ordinary politicians.


With Olmert the problem is specially severe, because of his personal background.

People ask themselves: What did he need it for? Did he not foresee that in the end everything would become public, that his friends and admirers would abandon him? Was it worthwhile to risk his whole future for a vacation in Italy, expensive cigars, luxury suites in hotels, and upgrading his flights?

The conditions in which he lived as a child probably had something to do with his behavior as an adult. He grew up in the ’50s in a neighborhood set up by the Herut Party for ex-Irgun members in the village of Binyamina near Haifa. It was a poor neighborhood, and the children of the old-established village, which belonged to the political mainstream, looked down upon its inhabitants. Children can be cruel. In those days the Herut Party (today’s Likud) was far from power and the national consensus, and their members were still considered “outsiders” who did not belong.

When a person with such a background ascends the political ladder, the possibilities that open up before him are liable to intoxicate him. A world of pampering and pandering is there for the taking. And when an American “exile Jew” – an utterly contemptuous term for Jews abroad – a professional schnorrer, who considers it a great honor to support him, comes and offers him all the goodies, the temptation is just too great.

There is a special angle to the Olmert story. Perhaps because of his childhood feeling of not belonging, he desperately craves Haverim. Haver is a typical Hebrew word denoting comrade, friend, pal, army buddy. (Bill Clinton famously ended his eulogy for Rabin with the Hebrew words “Shalom, Haver!”) Olmert needs many Haverim, Haverim all the time. Haverim who adore him, especially intellectuals and/or rich people, who admire and love him.

He loves to pamper his friends, to take them with him whenever he goes on journeys and vacations. He showers them with warmth and charm, slaps their shoulders, devotes time and attention to them. For him that was also one of the attractions of power.

One of these friends, the lawyer Uri Messer, is mortified. Not because Messer broke the law. Not because he violated the norms of morality and democracy. But because Messer “ratted” on Olmert to the police. (Messer himself used the word “stinker,” the Israeli equivalent of informer.) Like a schoolboy: one does not squeal to the teacher. He tortures himself. As Messer himself says, he is not a “psycho” but a self-tortured man who betrayed a Haver.


Another angle to the matter: the relationship between Olmert and Morris Talansky, who supplied him for many years with the stuffed envelopes.

Talansky treated him as a slave treats his master. After some time, Olmert started to treat him as a servant. I almost said as a colonial master treats an inferior native.

This is not unusual. Many Israelis treat the Jews of the Diaspora as if they were colonial subjects, who are obligated to serve and support the aristocrats of the “mother” country. Thinking and speaking about the American Jews, they inadvertently repeat anti-Semitic stereotypes. Talansky suits this stereotype perfectly. Olmert saw him like this, and that is how he saw himself. When Olmert came to America and honored him with his presence before his Jewish neighbors and acquaintances, it raised his status, and for this he was prepared to pay – and pay a lot.


A question presents itself: Why do these fatal scandals always break when a leader takes a step toward peace, or at least pretends to take a step toward peace?

I do not believe that there is a conspiracy. In general I don’t tend to believe in conspiracies, though there are these, too.

But we have here, I believe, a more profound phenomenon. The main thrust of the current establishment is toward occupation, expansion, and war. Therefore, when a corruption scandal concerns a leader moving in that direction, the scandal is smothered in its infancy. But when the scandal involves a leader who is making gestures in the direction of peace, the scandal reaches huge proportions.

That happened to Sharon on the eve of the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements. It is happening now to Olmert when he dares to speak about peace with Syria and the evacuation of the Golan settlements.


Lord Acton is famous for his dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the same vein, we say that occupation corrupts, and total occupation corrupts totally.

Ehud Olmert is the typical product of the cynicism and lawlessness that have infected this country in the 41 years of occupation.

That does not mean that there was no corruption before. There certainly was.

In my view, the corruption was born together with the state, and not by accident. A lot has been said about the Nakba on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary. But one phenomenon that accompanied the Nakba is consistently ignored: the massive theft of abandoned Arab property.

In the course of the 1948 flight and expulsion, some 100 to 150 thousand Arab families abandoned their homes. Many of them lived in simple dwellings, but not a few were living in elegant houses in Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Haifa. What happened to the interior of these homes? To the tens of thousands of expensive carpets, fauteuils, refrigerators, wardrobes, pianos? Where did the inventories of shops and stores go?

They disappeared.

Some of them did reach government storerooms and were distributed to new immigrants. I have never seen a report on this. The huge majority were just stolen.

Generally, not by the combat soldiers who captured these places. They fought and moved on. But after them came the rear echelon, the transport and quartermaster troops, the cronies of people in power, who came with lorries and trucks and loaded up everything they came across.

That was no secret. We knew and talked about this at the time. For years one could see the sofas and armchairs covered with velvet draping in private living rooms and offices. But the phenomenon was never investigated, and later on was smothered and suppressed.

I have spoken about this several times in the Knesset. I mentioned the Biblical story of Achan, the son of Carmi, who during the conquest of Jericho violated God’s command not to plunder. As punishment, the Israelites were routed at the next battle. “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (Joshua 7:11) Joshua executed Achan and his whole family by stoning. He was for genocide of the Canaanites but against plundering.

The theft in broad daylight of the property abandoned by individuals already violated the ethos that was accepted before the foundation of the state. The denial and suppression made it worse. But the large-scale corruption, whose bitter fruit we see now in all its ugliness, started indeed with the occupation in 1967.

The occupation is corrupt, and it corrupts by its very nature. It denies all human rights, including the right to property. It fills the occupied territories with an atmosphere of general lawlessness. It enriches the occupier and everybody connected with him. It creates a climate of wanton cynicism, an environment of “anything goes.” Such an atmosphere does not stop at the Green Line. It permeates the state of the conqueror.

That’s where the rot set in.

http://www.antiwar. com/avnery/ ?articleid= 12931

Questioning the self-integrity of apparatus of the republic

 By Pormadi Simbolon, Jakarta

It is interesting to see many issues of our country problems. They are palpable progress in the areas of government corruption, supremacy of law, education, poverty, social and economic injustice, unemployment, displaced person about five years untill now. They are the hardships that life bring to people.

The people of Indonesia are entitled to expect, in fact to demand a great change since period of Megawati Soekarnoputri’s government and especially from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his new government. But the people still complain about the hardships of the life in this republic. The question is why the apparatus of government can not change the life of people?

I think that the main thing to reflect is the self-integrity of our apparatus and elites of government. They should serve the people with self-integrity. Self-integrity is a must for them.

The Reformasi 1998 changed all that by removing the center of power of the structure. People is the center of the power. However, because there was no proper self- integrity, the apparatus can not do their duties to the people.

In fact, the apparatus of government can not accept this statement. They may be confess confidently that they had had self-integrity. We hope they do have self-integrity or credibility in serving people. But why the problems be more complex and serious?

Again, the question, had they serve the people with the truly self-integrity? If they had the self-integrity, why the republic of Indonesia still be one of most corrupted in the world?

What our apparatus of the Republic seem to have failed to have is that they do not realized and understand the nature of self integrity. Stll, indications, were clear, corruption still be the first problem from the central government till to the provinces goverments. The issues e.g. corruption, supremacy of law, social and economic injustice can not be solved till now. Still, there are no significant signs.

The question is do they really had self-integrity in serving people? Do they had credibility in do their duties? Ho about their self-integrity?

Self-integrity is a balance of the universal polarities of personality, known as love, assertion, weakness and strength in giving their dedicatiom to the republic.

Love is the glue in relationships and service to the people, which provides compassion, attraction, tenderness to serve the people. Through love, the apparatus will serve the people as the center of their duties naturally.

Assertion enables the apparatus to confront injustice and harrassment that exist in the mid of people. Throug assertion, they experience the courage to serve the people. It is also needed to manifestate the dedication to our country.

Through weakness, they confess their inability or incapability in doing their sevice. They could ask any help from the people the way to solve any problem. It is healthy weakness. It allows the apparatus to discuss their weakness and failure without feeling humiliated. It also provides them the continuing opportunity for personality transformation in dedicating the republic.

Strength reflects self worth and fosters adequacy, competence and identity of the apparatus. Through strength, they can serve the people professionally. It makes them confidently in giving their contribution and dedication to the people of Indonesia.

Balancing the universal polarities of personality, they will find theirselves as a good apparatus of government. They should be confident and strong. The apparatus of government will have good reputation in this country and international.

This is the real self-integrity, I think. We hope that the apparatus of new government really have self-integrity so that the hope for a better life for the people can be manifestated.

Still, the question is do the apparatus of our government have the self-integrity?
Pormadi Simbolon, Alumnus of STFT Widya Sasana Malang, Lived in Jakarta