Aaron Bushnell – burnt offerings

If you do one thing before sleeping tonight, take a moment to recognize the extreme sacrifice of Aaron Bushnell and to recognize the purity of his intention, and say a prayer (dua) for the people of Gaza for whom he sacrificed himself, making his body into a burnt offering.

Acknowledge his protest, the determination and difficulty of it, and condemn the cold-heartedness of all those who excuse or defend this genocide and all those who seem determined to carry it out to the very end. Aaron and the victims in Gaza burn in this world – the supporters of this genocide, and anyone who says a word defending genocide, may well burn in the next.

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Another letter to Biden (on Gaza)


Dear President Biden,

Please stop giving speeches claiming to care about civilians and then providing every means to slaughter them in vast numbers. This could be shut down instantly but the will is clearly to do the opposite.

I don’t understand your love for a genocidal maniac who has been Oct 7th’ing the Palestinians every week since Oct 7th. That love is not shared by the rest of the world. And if the situation in Gaza wasn’t so heartbreakingly sad and desperate, it would be almost amusing to watch you and your Western partners humiliating yourselves trying to justify and validate the slaughter of innocent civilians in your desperate attempts to accommodate an inhuman Zionist narrative.

It has become a truly pathetic spectacle, and I do not think anything short of a full about face and a cessation of arms shipments until Netanyahu complies with a ceasefire will change your future political situation.

In the meantime, please spare us the embarrassment of talking about values and democracy while defending and justifying a genocide and arming a clearly completely deranged Israeli administration. It is truly shameful what you have done and what you are still doing. Please stop.

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Letter to Biden on Gaza

There is no kind way to say this – what can be said to a President who people had hope for but who has sold off his humanity and sacrificed so many innocent lives for geopolitical goals.

With the recent commemoration of the holocaust, there seems to be a complete disconnect between that horrific past event and our horrific present. It would seem that your conscience as a nation is completely absent when war crimes and genocidal level events happen before your eyes, under your watch, in your time, and on your dime, and with your approval and support.

You veto UN resolutions that could stop a completely unwarranted slaughter, you dismiss international rulings, you shut down humanitarian organizations, you unfortunately repeat and amplify Israeli lies. You seem to be actively participating in the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

But you cannot build anything worthwhile on a policy of oppression, mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and one-sided unbalanced policy. Your government’s support for Israeli crimes is transmitted hour by hour around the world.

People around the world had hope in you at the beginning of your Presidency – now we feel nothing but betrayal and horror at what you are supporting.

Among the ruins of Gaza with untold members of its civilian inhabitants buried in its rubble, this war has the moral qualities of the worst of crimes.

If the attack on Gaza and Rafah and the expulsion of the people trapped there continues, we will know with complete certainty that your aim was always to allow this genocide and ethnic cleansing to go ahead.

Suspend arms transfers to Israel. Do not allow any further attacks, do not allow any more forced evacuations. Stop only talking about concerns and take action.

It is now the 11th hour. The world is waiting to see if you have the heart to act justly and with humanity or if you are just a con man, endlessly shilling for Netanyahu.

We will know soon enough.


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Open letter to Members of Parliament – on Gaza

For what it’s worth – the gist of my letter to Cabinet members and to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister concerning Gaza (feel free to borrow, change, or reuse all or any portion to contact your representatives in whatever part of the world you are in).

Dear Minister,

I write to you as one human being to another, as one person with a hurting conscience, to another whose conscience I hope is also alive. I write to you, because as a Canadian I love, admire, and respect so many aspects of this country. I write to you because I am saddened to see Canada’s role as a vital, independent, and respected moral voice, a voice for peace and justice in the international arena, weakened and eroded, if not completely overturned. I write hoping to find decent people with active moral consciences within your party. I write to you because you, as a Canadian political figure, as a member of a political party and as an MP, you have great influence and you have a responsibility, as such, to speak out and to act to do what you can to halt Canada’s part in supporting and allowing the slaughter in Gaza – in supporting the current Israeli administration. An administration that, by their own admission, opposes a two-state or even a single state solution in which (in a better world) Palestinians and Israelis could have equal rights. An administration that is in current violation of many UN resolutions.

I don’t know if there is any point in mentioning the numbers of civilians killed and injured since these are increasing daily at such a dramatic rate, each increase corresponding to the many real lives snuffed out, the many precious children, women, and men deleted from existence as if they were just so many ciphers. As a parent, I cannot bear the sight of so many children killed and maimed, so many made into orphans, so many going hungry – and I cannot and will not cast a vote for any individual or party that allows this to go on. And your party is, unfortunately, treating it as if this is in some way justified, as if it is OK to enable slaughter for some strange, vague, inhuman, geopolitical objectives. As if it is acceptable to cut off humanitarian funding, OK to allow arms sales, OK to ignore international law, OK to ignore ICJ recommendations, OK to ignore basic humanitarian principles, OK to support ongoing war crimes, and OK to give thumbs-up signals and pats on the back to the perpetrators of these crimes.

With the recent commemoration of the holocaust, there seems to be a complete disconnect between that horrific past event and the horrific present. It would seem that our conscience as a nation is absent when war crimes and genocidal level events happen before our eyes, under our watch, in our time, and on our dime, challenging our responsibility as citizens. And challenging our response as a nation that supports human values. And challenging your essential humanity and your heart to see how you respond and act as a person of influence when such a brutal attack on a civilian population has continued without relief for months.

Do you do your absolute best to influence your party leadership to save the lives of Palestinian civilians? Or, do you look for ways to avoid your human and political responsibility and seek to deflect public opinion to allow massive crimes against humanity to continue for geopolitical purposes?

We commemorate the holocaust with genuine sorrow, we regret that we let South African apartheid continue unabated for so long before ending it. Yet, even as we witness the most horrific excesses and war crimes causing extreme suffering in Gaza, we see vile statements from the mouths of the highest Israeli authorities (as documented by the ICJ and human rights organizations) calling for more suffering, and slandering those that try to stop the slaughter.

This is a pivotal point in world politics. You, as a person of great influence, as a human being with a conscience must stand up and speak out, within your party and publicly.

It is an obligation on you as a person with political influence, as a member of a political party, as one who occupies a high office in Canada. This is not a time for vacillating morally, for being a moral wallflower.

You, and your party, will be judged based on your behaviour – you will be judged by your own citizenry, judged by the voters, judged by the chroniclers of this horrific anti-human story unfolding in the full light of history, and you will be judged by other nations.

This 21st century horror is live-streamed and so clearly documented, such that no one has an excuse for not acting in word and deed to end it.

I count on your humanity to act to protect the lives of civilians in Gaza, to make clear your disdain of an Israeli administration that continues to perpetrate the killing without conscience, and of Canadian support for that administration.

Among the ruins of Gaza with untold members of its civilian inhabitants buried in its rubble, this war has the moral qualities of the worst of crimes. To support it is completely unconscionable.

You must speak out, you must act. Canadians are watching. The world is watching. For the sake of your humanity, your dignity, the dignity of Canadians, the humanity of Canadians, for the suffering people of Gaza, for the reputation of Canada – Act!

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The Distorted Modern Mirror of History and Perception

WHEN TWO MIRRORS ARE HELD FACING EACH OTHER a regression of reflections results. A corridor of mirrors dwindling away into minuscule images beyond the range of vision is created. But each time the reflections repeat themselves the quality of the reflection degrades ever so slightly. At first this change is hardly noticeable, but as we look deeper into the never-ending well of repeating images the degradation becomes obvious and long before the vanishing point it becomes a blurred, hazy, jumble of indistinct fuzziness. So it is when we look along the tunnel of time, past and future.

There the degradation exists in our minds, our consciousness. It is not the image which is lacking in clarity but the mirror of our perception…the clouded glass through which all our seeing is done – the past is what it was but the relics and stories of what remains of it in our time do not often allow us a clear perception. And our own immersion in our present affects our viewpoint so that we interpret from the standpoint of our era, its ideologies, and all its myriad biases and foibles.

Thanks to ideological geopolitics and the overwhelming propaganda that accompanies it, our era is not graced with serenity. These are event driven times, full of motion, movement, turmoil, political prejudice, unjustified support for war, unjustified slaughter, an era of vast lies to justify great oppression, of false narratives to colonize minds – an antithesis to contemplation and careful consideration. For us, for our time, the future rarely extends its horizon beyond the next day, week, or month. And so we are forced to hang on every political manoeuvre, every military action, every false claim that must be refuted, every escalation of oppression that must be countered, and, in these troubled times, diligently follow the ever-shifting state of attempts to manipulate world opinion and politics.

We watch incessantly, intently, so focused on each advancing tick of the event-clock that past and future are seemingly banished to the cloudy, unfocused edges of peripheral vision. The principle of cause and effect in human affairs recedes into irrelevancy, and like an amnesiac our societies dwell in a disconnected, decoupled, never-ending present. One where history begins when our government’s geopolitics says it begins, and where current events move at such a speed that the past vanishes and frightening and dangerous futures approach with breakneck speed.

It is not that there is a degradation of image in our view of past events, but there is hardly any image left to consider, and our focus on the immediacy of the present is such that our memory and relatability to the past and its lessons fades to an indiscernible blur. If the past is referred to it is often a revisionist past or a fragment mentioned only to bolster the acceptance of an unpleasant or brutalist present day agenda or policy. In other words the past is of interest primarily inasmuch as it can be shown to mirror or support present day desires and objectives – it becomes little more than an extension of a State’s or bloc’s collective modern ego, a token to bolster and justify power and hegemony.

And so we are in danger of being left with no solid point of reference with which to judge events and insufficient context with which to understand them. With vast amounts of knowledge at our fingertips, with technology that borders on magic at our daily command, with mountains of information at our disposal, we seem nevertheless destined to repeatedly encounter disaster and horror around the world and to meet it by dealing out the same. Over time, as the never-ending present we dwell in grows increasingly nightmarish, increasingly brutal, we will shake our heads in confusion and wonder how all this could come to be – and we will never truly know since we cut ourselves adrift from the sources which could help us to understand and seek solutions for our problems. Past and future – cause and effect – continuity and coherence. These are replaced with a blind, foolish politics of justification, a defence of the indefensible, the complete disruption of nations, the callous destruction of innocents, and a rising spiral of escalation, derangement, and death.

Only the noise and clamour of the present remains – the cold horror of sudden death by State terror, the hollow rhetoric and tiresome lies of leaders, the moment by moment media reports, the shameless and endlessly broadcast propaganda and lies, the faulty and destructive strategies of war, the crushing blows of armies, the transformation of economics, trade, diplomacy, business, aid, information, and culture into strategic weapons. The energy of events overrides all historical perspectives except those that pertain to policy, tactics, and propaganda, and a corporatized and generally cowardly media becomes an active component in this process. Our society’s signal to noise ratio has become so feeble that little that is truly meaningful or coherent can be discerned. Reflection and thoughtfulness are drowned in a sea of white noise.

Yet between the din of conflict and the clatter of a media that vacillates between producing mind-numbing entertainment and engaging in vacuous or misleading and selective reporting of current events and crises, there are present among every religion, every culture, every language, those who struggle to raise their level of awareness and understanding and that of their society. They do not deal with weapons of terror or have the power of corrupt empires at their disposal – their efforts occur in the interspaces between events and in their solidarity and support of those who suffer the consequences of unjust policies. They are often drowned out by the incessant shouting of the powerful and the connected. They do not cover over, conceal, or shrug off what has gone before, they do not defend slaughter and genocide, oppression or colonialism, apartheid or racism – they strive to overcome them. They are not swayed by the biases, fashions, trends and propaganda of their time. They seek to illuminate and halt the horrors of the present with the light of the past and with an understanding that cuts deeply through the vertical axis of this world, and through this show the possibilities of hope for the future. They do not cause suffering – they relieve it, they strive actively to alleviate the pain and distress of the oppressed. They act as witnesses for their era and their societies (“We bring forth from every people a witness” (Qur’an. 4:41)). Their determination, their simple and steadfast traces are of greater worth than all the posturing, loud clamouring and brutality of this era’s demagogues….

“….what they used to forge shall utterly depart from them….We will raise up in every people a witness against them from among themselves…. Surely God enjoins the doing of true justice and the doing of beautiful good (to others)…and He admonishes you (with a weighty warning) that you may be deeply mindful.” (Qur’an 16: 87-90)

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Political Responsibility and the Destruction of Gaza

Politicians, by the nature of their office, have a serious duty to be answerable for their words, decisions, and actions, when faced with situations that require moral judgements and ethical and moral responsibility. They especially, as a political class in which the citizenry has vested a certain degree of power and trust, must hold individual responsibility for each word and action of theirs. They cannot, especially in times of crisis, be allowed to hide behind party lines, or to abdicate their individual political responsibility to a group or ideological affiliation.

It is precisely this individual abdication of responsibility, and the individual irresponsibility arising from this, that made possible a mindset embraced by a political class that not only acceded to but actively supported and enabled, the soul-crushing crimes of the Nazis and the specific crime of the holocaust. To say “never again” to these crimes is meaningless if individual politicians subsume truth, ethics, and morality, under a group ideology, or party platform or maintain a personal morality distinct from political action.

This personal abdication of individual political responsibility in times of crisis led to seemingly ordinary family men like Adolf Eichmann, becoming efficient functionaries in a Nazi regime that coldly justified, enabled, and implemented brutally murderous policies. This was possible because of a schizophrenic tendency for politicians and the political class as a whole to hold a separation between moral and political codes of conduct and thought. And this has become an accepted approach to the world, as if not a single lesson was learned from the Nuremberg trials. The Nuremberg charter modified international law by holding individuals responsible for war crimes, genocide, and other moral breaches. Yet, the view that there is a split between individual moral responsibility and political action is prevalent today.

So we have a personal morality for one’s private life or for one’s social life. However, it is believed, politics requires a different mode of thinking, especially as it relates to foreign policy and especially in times of crisis. Political action, such people believe, requires a type of hard-headedness that demands a divorce from personal morality. And so politicians and the political class as a whole, behave like individuals with a split personality. Ideologically and with a suspension of rules and morality in times of crisis, and reasonably and morally in their personal lives.

But this not acceptable, it is not OK. Not if “never again” is applicable to humanity as a whole, and not simply for a particular class or group of people. It is not OK to commit crimes against a civilian population. It is not OK for politicians to legitimize and defend or even to prevaricate on opposition to these crimes and those who are enacting them. It is not OK for politicians to behave like low-key Eichmanns while these crimes are in progress and documented by the victims themselves as well as by those who are carrying them out.

What a position we are in – terrible terrible crimes happening in full view – a US President enabling the crimes and providing the weaponry and logistical support and diplomatic cover to push those war crimes forward – the US blocking UN security council resolutions calling for a ceasefire to address the humanitarian crisis occurring in Gaza – secret deliveries of bombs and other weaponry to IDF forces by the US without Congressional approval – the US media (and much of Western corporate media) repeating and magnifying military and ideological propaganda (which has been repeatedly proven to contain massive falsehoods) and shutting down humanitarian concerns – political denial of war crimes, genocide, and ethnic cleansing when it is happening right before the world’s eyes – and repudiation of the ICJ, the very body set up to prevent the abuse of power.

Politicians are, for better or for worse, those in whom the citizenry have vested power and trust. When that trust is openly breached and betrayed, each individual politician, each individual political representative is responsible for their part in that betrayal. There is no hiding behind party lines, no appealing to ideology or group politics. The crimes are clear and every word of justification or support for them must be accountable. Individual political responsibility is not up for negotiation. If you are in a position of political authority, and you justify or support in any way these clear crimes, you are as guilty as those who were tried at Nuremberg.

If we are ever to move away from a world in which the most horrific crimes committed against civilians go unpunished, a world we have unfortunately manufactured for ourselves, there has to be full accountability among those in whom we have vested power and authority. There is today a hardness and corruption of politician’s hearts and minds, among those that can witness war crimes of the most horrific type and intensity and yet do all they can to ignore public outcry and their own constituents in order to allow the crimes to continue unabated. A low point in political misbehaviour has been normalized.

And the justifications for this misbehaviour issue forth from the President and the White House and the media, all of whom carry forward an insane genocidal war against a trapped population of mostly women and children, accompanied with lies and self-delusion and rationalizations no less pernicious than those that once, so long ago, came out of the mouths of the German Reichstag and Adolf Eichmann.

There is simply no excuse for the abdication of individual moral responsibility, especially among those in whom a nation has vested power and authority. They must be held accountable for their betrayal of ethics and for their support of or apathy towards war crimes.

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Labels and definitions allow containment…

Definitions are important especially since we tend to be a society that analyzes, categorizes, objectifies, and enforces legal and social control through labels and definitions. Labels and definitions allow containment and shepherding of ideas and concepts. It facilitates communication in some ways but also allows propagandizing and manipulation or politicization of shared mind spaces.

There may be discrete concepts that overlap or conflict in some areas but a system utilizing broad definitions can link originally tenuously related ideas so they become like scattered magnets on a confined surface. You pick up up one but a dozen others come along with it and it is difficult to separate or pry them apart. In other words you accept the premise of one label or definition and are compelled to accept many others to which you may have serious objections. So the setting of labels and definitions that operate at the level of social and legal and political discourse and those which a government adopts deserve careful scrutiny and thought since our acceptance will impact not just policy but even the mode in which a society and individuals begin to think. This clustering of labels and definitions is quickly adopted as a means of political manipulation, political warfare and as an easy path to influence minds and shape the landscape of a nation.

And in our time, more than in any other era, labels and definitions and the structures generated from them when they begin to clump together, proliferate with bewildering speed and impact. And the way our world is shaped changes correspondingly.

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In times of conflict

In times of conflict, language and image are spun to shape perceptions of reality and it is through the characterizations and emotional colouring of the media’s visual language and their choice of terminology that events are interpreted, explained, and experienced. Just as symbolic religious language gives meaning and an interpretation to the world, so also the images and language of the media present a filter through which people view the world and react to unfolding events. To the extent that this language is adopted, accepted, and disseminated by the media and absorbed by the average citizen, it becomes an instrument in defining the role and shaping the response of the general public.

People look to the world around them and derive a significant portion of their concepts of value and worth, benefit and harm, from their interaction with society and from the images of their society and the wider world that are endlessly paraded before them through all the various sources through which they draw their information. This information environment and its content plays a powerful role in shaping and re-shaping viewpoints, eliminating or creating biases and prejudices, and defining boundaries and contexts within which people find their social identity. That identity which was once achieved through family, community, church, temple, or mosque is now driven largely by the media in all of its myriad manifestations.

As a result, the media is probably the most potent modern tool available to those seeking to change or condition a society’s viewpoints, biases, and identity. It has a positive function in that it plays a powerful role in creating a shared societal identity – it has a negative role in that due to economic and political realities, the major media are for the most part, profit-oriented heavily commercialized corporate enterprises. Depending on the ownership and stakeholders, strong biases are expressed so that a news network, especially during times of crisis, disseminates specific points of views, to the extent that it can become little more than a purveyor of propaganda.

And they’re highly networked enterprises in that whatever approach or tactic is seen to draw an audience or is successful in a given area rapidly propagates in slightly different forms across the range of media offerings. Ideas and values are shared, augmented, buttressed, sustained, and reinforced across this range. Despite the fact that there is commercial competition between media entities, that very competitiveness leads them to produce “competitive” variations of each others products which often amounts to little more than a repackaging of what another company has produced – the same news and opinion formula in a new guise or flavour. In times of crisis the same “experts” appear and reappear across the various television and radio networks until, in effect, a fairly narrow and constricted range of interpretations of events propagate across the airwaves, internet, and streaming services.

In this way the visual and aural language of the mass media in times of crisis acquires a real potency and currency – one that is countered only through the growth and accessibility of alternate sources, through grassroots connectivity, and through our growing ability to filter out bias and spin. This is currently a chaotic process still very much at an early stage of development where new social networks and connections are being formed – but there is still a long way to go.

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