Coronavirus Diary (15): What to Do When You’re “Locked Down”

Apologies for deluging you all with posts; I’ll try to keep these to a maximum of two a day. But the situation here in the New York/New Jersey metro area is getting increasingly critical. As I said in my very first post in this series, our situation is closer to Italy’s right now than most people realize. That outcome isn’t inevitable, but it can only be averted if we act. There’s no need to be sitting at home “bored” with the lockdown. There’s more than enough to be done even within its constraints. (If Gazans can do it, so can you.) I can’t publicize every plea for assistance I see, no matter how legitimate; I can only ask concerned readers to be on the lookout for them, and please consider responding to some. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (12): Lockdown and the Calm Before the Storm

I drove through the “epicenter of the global pandemic today.” What was it like? Nothing in particular.

Colleagues in the Department of Art at my university answered my earlier plea for medical supplies by offering up their hidden stash of nitrile gloves. So I drove from my home in Readington, New Jersey to the university in Lodi (Bergen County), and called security to let me in. The security guard, who’s seen me hundreds of times before over more than a decade, professed for the nth time not to know who I was. After some pro forma wrangling, interrogation, and perusing of my ID from-a-distance, he let me in. Continue reading

Putting Tulsi on the Ballot in New Jersey

Readers of this blog are well aware of my (some would say quixotic) support for Tulsi Gabbard in the 2020 presidential election. Below the video is an announcement for New Jersey residents from Paul Surovell, a volunteer for the Tulsi 2020 campaign in New Jersey. And yes, I’m going to keep posting Paul’s announcement here every week until we get Tulsi Gabbard on the ballot. Fight me. Or better yet, just sign the petition and you won’t have to.  

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War with Iran (7): It’s Not Over Yet

The conventional wisdom has it that “for now,” the war with Iran is over. According to this supposed wisdom, Iran followed up our assassination of Suleimani with a lot of rhetorical bluster but an oddly anti-climactic and hapless missile strike on US bases in Iraq. The strike caused no casualties, and did no “serious” damage. Meanwhile, Trump, in his magnanimity, seems not to want to “escalate.” And so, war has been averted, and we can all emit a collective sigh of relief over everything’s having ended so well. I don’t claim to be an expert on military affairs, but to state my verdict on the conventional wisdom in a word: bullshit. The war isn’t over. It’s just begun. Continue reading

War with Iran (3): Antiwar Activism with Student-Soldiers

An excellent (and for me, live) question on Facebook care of Mark LeVine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at UC Irvine:

So, fellow academics — The new quarter/semester starts, you get an active duty or reserve service member in your class who might be deployed because of this nightmare Trump is so gleefully creating for us. Do you reach out to her/him and advise/urge/suggest that s/he refuse to deploy for anything related to a war with Iran, explaining that such a war would be a crime against humanity? Or do you wait for them to come to you if they so choose?

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Taking the Opportunity

The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Abba Eban

While you’re at it, why not do something practical to end U.S. support for the Israeli occupation, now in its 52nd year? I feel safer in the average synagogue or mosque in New Jersey (and I spend time in both) than I do when I visit the West Bank (as I also do) and face Israeli soldiers who come into the town where I’m living or the university campus where I’m teaching, engaging in gratuitous violence on flimsy pretexts. Your support for Israel is “unbreakable,” but your support for its occupation seems about as stable. It’s hard to see your condemnations of “hate” as anything more than empty rhetoric considering where you stand on the Israeli occupation.

We live in a country that started a war over a 2-year-long military occupation much milder than the Israeli one. Palestinians have shown amazing forbearance in putting up with the Israeli one for decades longer than that. The least we could do is to acknowledge its existence, acknowledge its significance, and speak and act accordingly. I don’t see even that minimal response to reality from any legislator in New Jersey and haven’t, for decades. I regret to say that you’re not an exception to that rule. Consider this note an invitation to become one.

Irfan Khawaja
Readington, New Jersey

Letters to Our Ruling Class (2): Protesting the Gaza Killings

Jewish Voice for Peace Northern New Jersey Chapter

Call to Action on May 30, from 12-2 pm.:

Place: One Gateway Center, 7-45 Raymond Blvd, Newark, steps from Newark Penn Station.
Date and Time: Wed., May 30, from 12-2 p.m.

As many of you, we have been horrified, anguished, and grieved to witness Israeli snipers shooting down Palestinian protestors who posed no threat to their lives or the lives of those Israelis they claimed to be protecting. More than 100 Palestinians have already been killed and more than 10,000 wounded, many with bullets that shatter bone such that amputation may be the only outcome, given the limitations of treatment available in Gaza under siege for a decade. Children, women, people walking away from the fence, people just standing around, people clearly marked as Press, have all been targeted. We have held two protest vigils in Montclair to raise public awareness.

jvp.montclair

JVP Gaza Protest: Montclair, New Jersey (May 12, 2018)

As the largest recipient of US military aid, Israel should be subject to the US laws prohibiting the commission of such human right s abuses by those countries receiving military aid. Only 14 US Senators, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, signed on to a letter calling for such sanctions. Sadly, neither of our NJ Senators were signatories.

We will be bringing a letter to the Senators, and meeting in front of their Newark offices, to call on them to condemn actions of the IDF, and call for sanctions, at the same time, informing people of these issues. Please join us and bring others with you.