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Barbarism squared. (Editor's Note).

Despair.

There is no other word I can find to describe my reaction to the violence that exploded in Israel and Palestine at the end of March.

Just as it seemed that finally there was a flicker of hope with the Saudi peace plan, a Palestinian suicide bomber destroyed a Passover celebration in Netanya, killing at least twenty-six Jews and wounding 100 others. When I turned on CNN and saw the carnage, I was almost physically ill. Suicide bombings are utterly unjustifiable. The intentional killing of innocent people, and the rejoicing over such killing, should offend every moral conscience. It certainly does mine.

Then Ariel Sharon responded in his own barbaric fashion. The Israeli invasion, with its brazen brutality, took its ghastly toll, and it was guaranteed to maximize the feelings of resentment, helplessness, and rage that wire the suicide bombings.

The only solace I could find was in the courageous, nonviolent acts of the international solidarity movement that interposed itself between the Israeli forces and the Palestinians. We need more acts of such creative, aggressive pacifism.

In this issue, David Rabin reports on one of these: a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace protest in Tel Aviv. We also present you with an account of Israeli refuseniks--those soldiers who will not follow the orders of Ariel Sharon. And we offer you a painfully honest essay by Eetta Prince-Gibson, an Israeli activist and journalist who has almost lost hope.

To top things off, there is a portrait of the leading Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish. Our interviewer, Nathalie Handal, spoke with him a few days before the eruption of violence and then called him back later for his reaction. His perspective, after fifty years of poetry and exile, is invaluable.

Ted Rall illustrated the cover of our December issue. As you may remember, it was the cartoon of a guy at his computer with the FBI spying on him.

Now he has a new book called To Afghanistan and Back, which he calls "a graphic travelogue." The book is like none I've ever seen: a mix of gonzo reporting and panel after panel of cartoons that tell the story of the Afghan war better than any account I've read in the mainstream press.

In the foreword, Rall explains that he went to Afghanistan to "discover the results of our war upon ordinary Afghans" and "attempt to separate propaganda from reality."

I was surprised to learn that this was not Rall's first trip over there. "I'd been to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan, and I loved them all," he writes in one panel. "Even when Talibs in Kashmir threatened to execute me for being American, I couldn't stop returning to Central Asia. Its clash between Islamic fundamentalism and leftover Soviet totalitarian dictators, plus its special witches' brew of tribal feuds and a Caspian Sea oil rush made it as fascinating as it was scary."

Here's his conclusion from his latest trip: "And so we've lost this war, not because they're good or we're not, but because of who we are. The American Empire can't spend the bodies or the time or the cash to fix this crazyass place because, in the final analysis, election-year W. was right: We're not nation-builders. Guys who once called themselves Talibs switch to something called the Northern Alliance, and we call this a victory. We know it isn't so, but like Nixon's peace with honor, it will have to do."
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Title Annotation:Middle East violence
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:571
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