4.1001 On the War (5/224)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 7 Feb 91 22:35:40 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 1001. Thursday, 7 Feb 1991.

(1) Date: Fri, 1 Feb 1991 12:14 MST (35 lines)
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0952 On War

(2) Date: Mon, 4 Feb 91 17:53:44 -0500 (19 lines)
From: ooi@mace.cc.purdue.edu (Jim Porter)
Subject: Re: 4.0968 Israeli Diaries: Werman

(3) Date: Wed, 6 Feb 91 02:27:15 EST (9 lines)
From: Robert Hollander <bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0919 Responses: On War, Protest, and News from Israel

(4) Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 9:09 GMT (20 lines)
From: Catherine Griffin <CATHERINE@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 4.0994 Israeli Diaries: Werman (1/227)

(5) Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 11:12:48 -0800 (141 lines)
From: lakoff@cogsci.berkeley.edu (George Lakoff)
Subject: [On Werman]

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 1991 12:14 MST
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0952 On War (6/296)

I'm catching up on mail after mid-terms, and responding to a post of
about five days ago, with items by Tom Luxon, Judy Koren, and others. I
thought I was a liberal, and have anti-Vietnam and pro-Nuclear Freeze
credentials to show for it. I could not agree with Tom Luxon that we
paint Saddam Hussein as totally evil because he is so OTHER: to me,
Saddam Hussein is psychologically the twin of Richard Nixon, operating
in a different system. I remember a psychology professor of mine, after
one of his frequent trips to Washington, observing that Nixon's
administration was purging the Federal bureaucracy of liberals.

And I agree with Judy Koren on the necessity of war to dislodge Saddam
Hussein - as it might have been necessary to impeach Richard Nixon. I
have watched several briefings with General Schwartzkopf, Allied Field
Commander, who is fully emotionally aware of the vileness of war, and
fully convinced of its necessity - my psychological assessment that he is
congruent as a person, that what he thinks and feels are what he says,
when he can say it.

Rhetoric, either Tom Luxon's, George Lakoff's, or George Bush's, is
disturbing and obscures the ability to think. Typing the Gulf War as
necessity, as Judy Koren does, cuts through rhetoric to reality. We
HUMANISTS are enamored of the ability to think critically, to say "It
ain't necessarily so."

But sometimes it is simply necessary.

Sigrid Peterson

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------29----
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 91 17:53:44 -0500
From: ooi@mace.cc.purdue.edu (Jim Porter)
Subject: Re: 4.0968 Israeli Diaries: Werman (1/177)

I very much appreciate receiving Bob Werman's reports from Jerusalem,
because his voice brings to my mind the plight of other victims, those
whose voices we do not hear on Humanist: impoverished blacks in South
Africa (and South Chicago); West Bank Palestinians; civilians in Baghdad
(the counterparts of Bob Werman, huddling in bomb shelters on the other
side). Like Bob Werman, I believe in Evil, too--but let's remember that
Evil can take many guises; and that all the Evil isn't on one side, all
the Good on the other. Bob Werman has the means to express and publish
his outrage at Evil. Unlike Bob (and the rest of us), other victims do
not have access to this (or in some cases, any) medium of
expression--and so are effectively silenced.

Jim Porter
Purdue University
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------21----
Date: Wed, 6 Feb 91 02:27:15 EST
From: Robert Hollander <bobh@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0919 Responses: On War, Protest, and News from Israel (3/101)

Let us agree that many "Western democracies" have helped Saddam
(Frankenstein) build his monster. Now, as the monster lurches off with
Karloffian one-foot- dragging strides toward the little girl do we say,
"well, we helped make him, so we should accept our complicity and let
him kill"? Come on, folks. There comes a time. Ask any Kuwaiti.
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------30----
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 9:09 GMT
From: Catherine Griffin <CATHERINE@vax.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 4.0994 Israeli Diaries: Werman (1/227)

Perhaps, when Werman is having trouble putting on his mask, he might
spare a thought for the Arabs in Israel who, unless out newspapers are
not up to date, still have not been given masks.

I do find the self-righteous tone of Werman's diaries a bit naive;
Israel has been, and has had to be, an active participant in Middle East
politics. Perhaps he is being cautious, as he obviously, from the
copyright notices, has publication in mind. I would prefer to have a
broader, or at least a more complex, perspective. Indeed, I agree with
his daughter-in-law.

Why are these diaries being posted every day, whereas the Haifa diaries
(which I have asked for but not yet read) must be obtained from the

(5) --------------------------------------------------------------149---
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 91 11:12:48 -0800
From: lakoff@cogsci.berkeley.edu (George Lakoff)
Subject: [On Werman]

To: Humanists

From: George Lakoff

Re: Diary commentary

One can not but be moved by the Israeli diaries of Werman and
Koren. Those of us with friends and relatives in Israel,
and those without Israeli connections but with simple humanity,
shudder at the descriptions of life with gas masks and
terror from the skies. The pictures on tv here of Israeli
funerals, and of injured Israelis being taken to hospitals
make me weep. The pictures of children going to school
with gas masks can only stir the heart of any parent.

There is a good reason for accounts of the war to be on
a Humanist network. Humanism, after all, as a study,
has a function -- the cultivation of empathy for one's fellow human
beings, and for the breaking down of the walls between US and Them.
As a humanist, when I see an Israeli child with a gas mask,
I think of the Palestinian children who have no gas masks
because a racist government would give them none. Even after
the Israeli Supreme Court declared the rights of Palestinians
to have gas masks (what a macabre right!), most still
have not been given them. When I see pictures of Israelis
going to work in gas masks, I am horrified. And as a humanist, I
think also of the Palestinians who have been under a brutal
``curfew'' -- the equivalent of house arrest -- who cannot
go out to work, or to get food or water. Their e-mail
must not be functioning either. We have no daily diaries
of their situation.

There was a report on CNN the other night from the head of
the Jordanian Red Crescent (the equivalent of the Red Cross)
that a community of Bedouins living in tents in Iraq near
the Jordanian borders was strafed by planes from the
American coalition. Fifty Bedouins were killed and hundreds wounded.
To make the numbers begin to mean something, I compute:
Five Israeli deaths in raids publicized throughout the world.
Ten times as many Bedouin deaths in one raid that made CNN
once in the middle of the night, that was not mentioned again,
that most of the world will not hear of. The Bedouins
were not hooked up to e-mail. We have no descriptions of their

Reports coming from Iraq vary as to death count -- from thousands
to tens of thousands -- and serious wounds from tens to hundreds
of thousands. I have looked with horror at the faces of the family
in the picture of the Israeli funeral. As a humanist, I think of
those equally innocent human beings in Baghdad who have been
``dragged into the war''. What are their funerals like? Can they
even have them? I try to imagine: a thousand Iraqi funerals
for each Israeli one. One Iraqi funeral: think of the mother.
Two Iraqi funerals: conceptualize the teenage daughter.
Three Iraqi funerals: think of the grandfather of the child.
Four, five, six,... nine, ten, eleven,.. Do I lose my capacity to
imagine so soon?

I return to a picture of Israelis in the hospital and imagine
their pain. I think of Baghdad: no more room in the hospitals,
hundreds of times as many wounded as can get in, no pain killers
for the pain, no more bandages, since hospitals have run out of
supplies: the sanctions ``worked''. No electricity, no fresh water
in these hospitals. I think of what the diaries would be like
if there were e-mail hookups in the hospitals and outside them
where people can't get in. My imagination pales.

The diaries from Israel are important to me. They call to mind
not only what is in them, but what is not in them.
It is difficult to be a humanist when missiles have been
launched at you and your children are in gas masks.
It is more difficult than ever then to break down the
Us-Them barriers, to find a common humanity with
those other innocents who also want nothing to do with war
and happen to have been born in a different neighborhood.
The humanist's empathy for other human beings, for the Palestinians and
for the Iraqis whose sufferings defy the imagination,
is absent from Werman's diaries. Yet it is such empathy
born of humanism that Werman and his countrymen must
cultivate and cultivate soon, if Israel is to survive
after this war.

The lesson to come out of this war is that the Israeli
air force can no longer guarantee the safety of the
country. It cannot stop missiles -- and SCUDS are
pretty low-level unsophisticated missiles.
The only security Israel can have is through a
political settlement. After the war, it must
settle with the Palestinians and grant them their
right to exist as a nation.

Those in Israel who favored this war made a terrible mistake.
If sanctions, defensive measures, and diplomacy had
been allowed to work, there would not now be missiles
raining down on Tel Aviv. After the war, the situation may well
be worse than before it. Reports in American papers
say that Assad of Syria is busy working out a coalition with
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to go into place after the
war, with the purpose of giving moslems control of the region
and driving out the Western powers and weakening Israel.
Assad, who is every bit as brutal as Saddam Hussein --
Assad slaughtered 20,000 of his own people who opposed him in
just one city -- Assad is now the US' ``friend'' because of this
war. We consider him ``moderate'' in the context of the war.
The US has been giving him more arms and has been sharing
intelligence -- reports this morning indicate three
Mossad agents who had infiltrated Syrian terrorist groups have been
killed because the US gave intelligence to Syria.
The US is planning, after the war, to give more arms to
Syria and Saudi Arabia, to form a ``balance of power'' against
Iran. Imagine an even better armed Syria united with
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, while most of the moslem
world is hearing for years of the incredibly brutal
assault by infidels on the moslems in Iraq. It is hard
to imagine that Israel can profit from this war --
and if oppression of the Palestinians is still an issue,
things will certainly be worse.

I am one of those peace marchers who Werman thinks so little
of. If we had been listened to, he would not be wearing his
gas mask. I am in favor of a cease fire now. I see
no point in further killings. I want Werman to be
free of his gas mask.

I have never been able to comprehend Jewish racism.
Like Werman, I was raised an orthodox Jew and taught
about the oppression of the Jews. But it has always seemed
to me that coming from a heritage of oppression should
give one empathy with the oppressed -- not make one want to
be an oppressor. If Israel is to live peacefully
with the Palestinians and with the other Arabs in the
region, it must learn the empathy that humanism has to teach.

Sadly, racism is on the upswing in this country.
An American airman, asked what it is like to participate
in a raid on Iraq, replied, ``It's like
turning on the light in the kitchen, watching the
cockroaches run, and then you kill them.''