Harvard Square Observer
Olmert: The “Crazy Landlord” - Parts 1 & 2

Ernest Cassara

Author’s note: This page did not appear last week, because my Windows XP let me down.  When I turned on the computer, instead of “Welcome,” and other features one reads when Windows boots up, I was confronted with a page of apologies from Microsoft suggesting a series of possibilities as to why Windows was not working.  Did I turn off the computer before XP had closed down?  Was the machine in the process of upgrading a program when the machine was turned off?  Etc.,etc.  If I could not answer these questions and a number of other possibilities, I should wait while Windows started up in a normal manner.  Even got a progression of seconds from thirty to zero, after which Windows would start up.  Except that it didn’t.  And, didn’t for four days.  (Ah, yes!  Typical of Microsoft’s wonderful programs!)

I spent a few days, while waiting for the situation to be corrected by Microsoft, reading books!  Very pleasant respite from the screen at which I am squinting as I write this.  I understand that the announcement of the appearance of the new issue of the HSC, included this statement: “Those of you who are praying people, pray for Ernest Cassara's computer which, in demonstrating the weakness of technology, has deprived us of Ernest's wisdom. I trust it will be fixed by next week.”

Friend Tom Wintle responded: “Praying for his computer?!! I'm praying that he buys an Apple Macintosh! They work!”

When I finally got back online, I found a copy of Tom’s note, to which I responded:

“Well, Tom, thanks for the advice.  I would have bought a Mac years ago, except that, thanks to George Mason University, where I was for 20 years, I have many texts in Windows.*  Now, if someone were to show me an EASY way to convert files from Windows to Apple, I might join the Mac crowd – - which has always struck me as churchly. Is it not true that Apple had (has?) a position called 'evangelist'!

“At any rate, I am very happy to be able to be able to respond, for, this afternoon, a young lady at the Hewlett Packard office in New Delhi guided me through the steps to restore my Windows. It took 2 hours, during which we chatted happily, I learning much of her autobiography!!!”

*Of course, the earliest programs operated on Microsoft's DOS, such as WordStar.

Had my column appeared last week, you would have read the following, after which I will comment on events since.

Olmert: The “Crazy Landlord”

In considering the scandalous actions of Israel in Gaza, I recalled the comment of an Israeli soldier whom some of us met in Hebron a few years back.  Hearing an American accent, I asked where he originated.  The answer was Miami.  In the course of the conversation, it became clear that he considered the Palestinians in the same light that he said the Americans had the Native Americans.  In other words, he was defending the tiny, pugnacious, Jewish settlement in the midst of thousands of Palestinians in Hebron, and considering the creation of Israel in the land of the Palestinians as equivalent to the U.S. rubbing out the Indians.

He came to mind when I read that Prime Minister Olmert wanted the Palestinians to know that they were dealing with a “crazy landlord.”  If he was battering them with his troops, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

I fear that, with notable exceptions, the Israelis look down their noses on the Palestinians. You recall that Yitzhak Rabin referred to the Palestinians as “cockroaches.”  And, when the captive people exercised their right to rebel, he said, “We will break their bones.”  When he finally saw the light, and decided to treat them as human beings, he was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, and, then, an assassin’s bullet. 

It is, perhaps, unkind to recall these details, except that they go far in explaining the incredible destruction that Israel is presently visiting on the Palestinians in Gaza.  Indeed, there can be no logical explanation for what anyone in his right mind would consider an over reaction to the capture of an Israeli soldier and the spiriting of him away into Gaza, and an occasional Palestinian home-made rocket aimed at Israel.  Bombing the power plant, leaving thousands in the dark, and without water, since electricity runs the water and sewage systems; shooting a rockets at the university and schools; the same at the interior ministry; the home of a Hamas party politician, etc., etc.

With the notable exception of USA Today, which published an OpEd by Edmund R. Hanauer, an American Jewish human rights activist, who directs Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, on the scandalous actions of Israel vis à vis the Hamas government, and commentators in the Ha’aretz Daily and the Jerusalem Post, I had to turn to The Guardian in London to find a newspaper reacting to the outrage.  Jonathan Steele wrote that “Europe’s response to the siege of Gaza is shameful.” (07.06.06) The subtitle of the article: “The Palestinians have no partner for peace. They will only have one if Israel agrees to recognize Palestine's right to function.”

The exception in Europe, of course, is Switzerland, which, considering itself the protector of the Geneva Conventions, has strongly criticized Israel, for attacking civilians.  I read about this on the BBC website, not in U.S. newspapers!

Amnesty International has condemned Israel for its human rights abuses.

I would add that the U.S. response has been more shameful than Europe’s, since Israel is our client state.  Whether it is due to the work of AIPAC, or other Jewish lobbies? and their generous contributions to members of the U.S. Congress? I cannot say.  But, it is strange that the attitude of the Congress toward the Palestinians is the equivalent of the most virulent of the Israelis. 

President Bush, on the latest outrages by Israel, repeats the ridiculous statement that Israel “has a right to defend itself.”

Before the usual suspects complain that I am overstating the case, I would suggest that they look into the cases of congresspersons who did consider the Palestinians fellow human beings, and were defeated for reelection with the financial aid of AIPAC and other Jewish lobbies.

Should you want to read Jonathan Steele’s piece, you will find it at:

Edmund R. Hanauer’s column may be read at:

You may, also, find the following transcript of a debate sponsored by Democracy Now of interest:

“AIPAC v. Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel's Assault on Gaza”


Olmert: The “Crazy Landlord” ? Part 2

This week, of course, we comment on Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah on the border of Israel and Lebanon.  Hezbollah has lobbed rockets into Israel, one reaching as far as Haifa.  Israel, of course, struck back.  Logical! 

But, then, Israel began to treat Lebanon as it treats the Palestinians.  It apparently delights in destroying the infrastructure of its neighbors.  So, it drops bombs on the Beirut airport, destroys scores of bridges and roads, hits residential neighborhoods.

Will Israel ever be accepted by its neighbors when it acts this way?  Years ago, I enjoyed the company of a fellow professor from Lebanon.  At the time, it was a prosperous place, indeed a favorite tourist spot.  That is, until Israel invaded it, because the PLO was housed there.  As you know, it wrecked Lebanon, after which the parties that had lived comfortably together descended into civil war.

What is to be said about a situation in media res?  Best to refrain from further comment until there is a resolution to this madness.  Let us hope that by next week, Israel and its foes will have come to their senses.

What Americans tend to forget is that the Israelis were imposed on the people of the Middle East by a Europe that had a hell of a big guilty conscience over the holocaust.  The Zionists proceeded to drive the inhabitants out of their homes, and, indeed, towns, slaughtering many in the process.  Yes, ethnic cleansing!  As I have remarked to my Jewish friends, many of whom are as appalled as I am at Israel’s actions, I despair of the future.  If the people of the holocaust, who should know better than anyone else, act in such a manner, there is little hope for humanity!

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