The problem, here, is that Dominion Post cartoonist Tom Scott doesn’t know what the Afghanistan of “yesterday” was like. In reality, it was a country that was confidently moving into the modern age — although the record shop on the left, in a photo from the 1960s, was not the kind of place you would have found outside Kabul. (To see more pictures from that era, go to Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…) The cartoon was published on August 11, 2010, and is a comment on the case of Bibi Aisha, who was allegedly mutilated by her husband, allegedly on the orders of a “Taliban court”. (I put the latter words in quotation marks because I doubt any court purporting to be Islamic would come up with a sentence for which there is no provision in Islamic law.)
Ann Jones, who says she knows Aisha, says in The Nation (August 12, 2010): “She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn’t figure at all in this account. The Time story*, however, attributes Aisha’s mutilation to a husband under orders of a Talib commander, thereby transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power.”
*Time magazine cover story of August 9, 2010.
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The article below is preceded by a related item headlined “Collateral damage: The flotilla and its fall-out”, in which Amotz Asa-El says the IDF was “attacked upon arrival on the vessel [the Mavi Marmara] by well-prepared, pre-supplied and battle hungry combatants”. (He describes the “attackers” as a “mob”, but does not claim — as the first Israeli reports did — that they tried to “lynch” the soldiers.) How convenient for the Israelis that there was a “journalist” among the passengers on the Mavi Marmara (see below) who was apparently so happy to spout Israeli hasbara, including the claim that there is “no distress” in the Gaza Strip. (In AIR’s editorial, the magazine nevertheless describes Gaza as an “unhappy territory”.)
This book arrived today from Or Books, New York. Am I the first person in New Zealand to acquire a copy?
Extract from the essay entitled International Solidarity Under Attack, by Mike Marqusee, on Pages 271-272 of the book:
Just as the Palestinian cause is a global magnet for victims of discrimination and dispossession, so the cause of Israel is a magnet for the privileged, the entitled, the beneficiaries of Western and white supremacy. The rich and powerful see themselves as under siege from the poor and powerless and in Israel’s self-portrayal they recognize themselves. The gated communities of the world rally around the gated nation.
These letters to The Dominion Post were published on July 19, 2010. On July 29, David Zwartz responded to the first letter, saying (in part): “…The Dominion Post is perfectly correct to describe Israel as the Jewish state. That is how it was described in the text of United Nations partition resolution 181 of November 1947, which authorised the establishment of independent Arab and Jewish states when the British withdrew from their mandate in May 1948.”
The problem with this argument is that it is the constitution of a country that determines its nature, not others’ description of it. And as far as I know, Israel is still (formally) a secular state. If anyone would like to elucidate this issue, perhaps they would be kind enough to leave a comment.