Saturday, September 29, 2001

Public Agenda Special Edition: Terrorism

Saturday, September 22, 2001

In Europe, Some Say the Attacks Stemmed From American Failings
There was no rejoicing or support in Europe for the killing of so many Americans. Many Europeans wept and the continent fell silent for a moment last week in remembrance of the dead.

But it has also become clear that some Europeans feel that ordinary Americans have largely floated on a tide of prosperity, triumphalism and indifference to the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their view is that the United States has now been confronted with a sobering reality, and that it must try to understand. For those critics, Americans are now facing unsurprising retaliation from an important part of the Islamic world that considers America to have declared war on its faith.

The arguments are sometimes simple — America should expect war in return for bombing Iraq regularly. Some Europeans also contend that many Americans have a blinding confidence in their own goodness and so do not see that the acts of the United States are regarded in many quarters as driven by the domineering pursuit of national self-interest.

European writers and intellectuals have pointed to a catalog of actions that include the bombing — in reprisal for the terrorist bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa in 1998 — of one of Sudan's two pharmaceutical factories on the challenged grounds that it was linked to Osama bin Laden, aid to Israel to buy weapons used against Palestinians, or even the American refusal to intervene to stop the mass killings in Rwanda.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

The Strategy: Leaders Face Challenges Far Different From Those of Last Conflict
"I condemn it morally, and I do think it was cowardly," Mr. Kerrey said. "But physically, it was the opposite of cowardly, and if you don't understand that, then you don't understand the intensity of the cause and then you're papering over one of the most important things. There is hatred out there against the United States, and yes, we have to deal with terrorism in a zero-tolerance fashion. But there is anger, too, and they ought to have a place for a hearing on that anger, in the International Court or wherever we give them a hearing."

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

A dream denied


like sour milk

as awful

as a stranglers cord

made of the

finest silk

Sunday, September 02, 2001

Israeli Kids at School Amid Chaos Arab communities countrywide initiated a three-day school strike, leaving 400,000 Arab students at home and 600 schools closed. Many expressed anger and frustration with the Israeli government, accusing it of neglecting the Arab minority for years.

In Gilo, built on land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War, parents delivering their children to their first day at school were apprehensive. The neighborhood came under heavy fire last week, prompting Israel's army to move into Beit Jalla for two days. before pulling out Thursday.

``You have to try to live normally,'' said Hezi Cohen, as he led his daughter Shelli, smartly clad in a white shirt and pleated dress, into her first class, past TV cameramen, photographers and journalists. Moments later the country's premier walked in.

``You have stood up to a hard battle, as if it was no battle at all,'' Sharon told students assembled in the school's gymnasium, under a sign that read ``a year of peace and security for Gilo students.''

``I promise you that I will take the issue of security upon myself, and I won't allow more shooting on Gilo,'' he told the elementary school students.

As the Jewish schools opened on schedule, Raji Mansour, head of a group that is monitoring Arab education, said Israel provides Arab students with only a quarter of the funding it allots to Jewish students.

``The whole country knows there is a wide social division, discrimination and scandal,'' he said. ``There has to be a change of policy -- at least equality (with Jewish schools).''

Schools in the Arab sector need an additional 1,600 classrooms, and the group is demanding a budget increase of $12.5 million, said Atef Moaddi, a member of the monitoring group, called the Follow-up Committee of Arab Education.

In meetings held late last month with the Ministry of Education, the group raised a number of issues, requesting the budget be doubled in order to allow for extra schooling hours, and an expansion of the existing academic system to match standards at Jewish schools.

If the strike does not achieve its demands, educational institutions in the Arab sector will resume their strike Nov. 1, until their demands are met, Moaddi said.
How Not to Win the Battle but Lose the War Unintended consequences have long dogged Israel. Until its army stormed into Lebanon in the early 1980's to root out Mr. Arafat and the P.L.O., it had no real issue with Hezbollah, or the Party of God. Now, Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a constant menace on their northern border.

Also in the 1980's, searching for a political counterweight to the P.L.O., Israel nurtured a new group called the Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic shorthand, Hamas. Guess which group became the bigger threat for Israelis.

Then in December 1992, in retaliation for the murder of several Israelis, the army rounded up some 400 Hamas members and dumped them in a barren stretch of southern Lebanon. There they stayed for many months. And there they learned bomb-making techniques from Hezbollah guerrillas, returning to Gaza and the West Bank bigger and badder than ever as far as Israel was concerned.

Unintended consequences have also tarnished attempts at peace, notably the Israeli-Palestinian agreements reached in Oslo in 1993. "Rock-solid assumptions made in 1993 produced radically different results," said Joseph Alpher, an independent strategic analyst in Israel.
And There Was Light, and It Was Good?
There hardly seems a place on earth untouched by social and political hierarchies linked to skin color, which rank the world's rainbow of skin tones according to two shades, light and dark. That distinction is the foundation of the current notion of race.

As how to define racism, much less what to do about it, roils the delegates to the United Nations' World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, it might be wise to remember that the importance of skin color is largely a modern invention.

Certainly, slavery and many other oppressive forms of hierarchy have existed throughout human history, as have differences in skin color. But the idea that the two have a cause-and-effect relationship is relatively new, with its genesis, many academics say, in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the colonialism that emerged with it.

ANOTHER way of thinking about skin color is to ask: When did Europeans start thinking of themselves as white?

"There was no whiteness prior to the 17th century," said Manning Marable, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. "Whiteness is the negation of something else. The something else are Africans who are described by Europeans not by their religion or nationality but by the color of their skin. And nowhere in Africa did Africans call themselves `black.' "

The word race was used for the first time in a modern sense, it is widely believed, in a 17th-century French travelogue, Dr. Brace said.

Saturday, September 01, 2001

Report Shows Americans Have More 'Labor Days'
American workers have increased their substantial lead over Japan and all other industrial nations in the number of hours worked each year.

The report, issued by the International Labor Organization, found that Americans added nearly a full week to their work year during the 1990's, climbing to 1,979 hours on average last year, up 36 hours from 1990. That means Americans who are employed are putting in nearly 49 1/2 weeks a year on the job.

Americans work 137 hours, or about three and one-half weeks, more a year than Japanese workers, 260 hours (about six and one-half weeks) more a year than British workers and 499 hours (about 12 1/2 weeks) more a year than German workers, the report said. The Japanese had long been at the top for the number of hours worked, but in the mid-1990's the United States surpassed Japan, and since then it has pulled farther ahead.

"It's unique to Americans that they continue to increase their working hours, while hours are declining in other industrialized nations," said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, the economist who oversaw the labor organization's report. "It has a lot to do with the American psyche, with American culture. American workers are eager to make the best impression, to put in the most hours."
con·cept: September 2001