Archive for May, 2012

Rational conflict resolution: What stands in the way?*

By Johan Galtung

We are facing six conflicts, four current, one past and one future are shaping our present reality. Conflict is a relation of incompatibility between parties; not an attribute of one party. It spells danger of violence and opportunity to create new realities.

Thus, to understand the shoa the narratives of unspeakable German atrocity and infinite Jewish suffering are indispensable. But so are the narratives of German-Jewish relations, Germans to others, Jews to others. Failure to do so blocks rationality: if conflict is in the relation, then the solution is in a new relation. This is not blaming the victim. What matters most is changing the relation. Are we able? Read the rest of this entry »

Historic hunger strikes: Lightning in the skies of Palestine

By Richard Falk

There is ongoing militant expression of Palestinian resistance to the abuses of Israel’s 45 years of occupation and de facto annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and five year blockade of Gaza taking the form of a series of hunger strikes. Recourse to this desperate tactic of courageous self-sacrifice is an extreme form of nonviolence, and should whenever and wherever it occurs be given close attention.

Palestinians have protested by hunger strikes in the past but failed to inspire the imagination of the wider Palestinian community or shake the confidence of Israeli officialdom. Despite the averted gaze of the West, especially here in North America, there are some signs that this time the hunger strikes have crossed a historic threshold of no return.

These strikes started by the individual exploit of a single person, Khader Adnan, at the end of 2011. Dragged from his home in the village of Arraba near Jenin by a night raid by dozens of Israeli soldiers, humiliated and roughed up in the presence of his two- and four-year old daughters, carried away shackled and blindfolded, roughly interrogated, and then made subject to an administrative decree for the eighth time in his young life, Adnan’s inner conscience must have screamed ‘Enough!’ and he embarked on an open-ended hunger strike. Read the rest of this entry »

Third World poverty is falling fast

By Jonathan Power

We all know the clichés: Is the glass half full or half empty? Is the light in the tunnel the train coming towards you? But this time the new World Bank figures for the decrease in Third World poverty are absolutely clear. The glass is filling up. The train is not going to crash into us. The doomsayers from Malthus in 1798 to Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” to the Club of Rome to some of the activists at World Trade meetings and to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation which in a quite recent mistake it now admits to, reported that the number of hungry people soared from 875 million in 2005 to one billion in 2009, have been proved to be wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

The politics and benefits of equality

By Johan Galtung

US politics has for a long time, since the 1970s, been the politics of inequality. Not only have the indicators of inequality, like the ratio in average income between the top and the bottom 20%, or the salary ratio between a CEO and the average employee in a corporation, increased (from 50 to 1100). But the top 10 or 1 or 0.1 percent, has acquired wealth so far unheard of. And the bottom 90, or 99 or 99.1 percent see the average family income in real terms decreasing; for the lowest down below the poverty line, way down into misery like worrying about where the next meal comes from (from the soup kitchen for very many). Read the rest of this entry »

The 1300 Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons: Where is the media attention?

By Richard Falk

Can anyone doubt that if there were more than 1300 hunger strikers in any country in the world other than Palestine, the media in the West would be obsessed with the story? It would be featured day after day, and reported on from all angles, including the severe medical risks associated with such a lengthy refusal to take food.

At this time two Palestinians who were the first to start this current wave of resistance, Thaer Halaheh and Bilal Diab, entering their 64th day without food, are reported by the prisoner protection association, Addameer, and the NGO, Physician for Human Rights-Israel, to be in critical condition with their lives hanging in the balance. Despite this dramatic state of affairs there is scant attention in Europe, and literally none in North America. Read the rest of this entry »

Israel: UN human rights expert raises alarm over Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons

By Richard Falk

UN Press Release—HUMAN RIGHT COUNCIL–2 May 2012

GENEVA (30 April 2012) – UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk on Monday said he was appalled by the “continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons,” amid a massive wave of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners. Read the rest of this entry »

Memories – conscious and subconscious

By Johan Galtung

Gernika-Basque Country, Spain, 28 April 2012

75 years ago Germany-Italy bombed this sacred Basque-Spanish town, adding state terrorism to the destruction of arms factories. Picasso made the atrocity enter world collective memory forever. As a testimony to the power of art, and memory, the painting was ordered covered when USA tried to make the case that Iraq was producing mass destruction weapons for the UN Security Council.

Two kinds of memories serve politics: glories and traumas. Read the rest of this entry »

Is China grabbing the South China Sea?

By Jonathan Power

Napoleon warned us that China was a sleeping giant best left undisturbed. No longer. The giant is well awake and not only has the West disturbed it, many of the West’s elite appear to fear it. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to the debate about China’s growing naval power and in particular its attitude towards China’s claim for sovereignty over the South China Sea, to which other bordering nations – the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia – also claim rights. Read the rest of this entry »


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