Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Company He Keeps

"The face of the Dalai Lama will be watching over Sydneysiders for the next month as 9 billboards are erected before his visit in December... The signs will bear the words 'Our future - Who is responsible?'... The message will also appear later on about 30 buses... The Tibetan spiritual leader, who lives in exile, will be in Sydney for teachings and a public talk from December 1 to 3..." (Future face of the Dalai Lama, Ellie Harvey, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/10/09)

*Sigh* - I'm sorry, but I can't get too excited. I've got too many issues with the man. There's the personality cult. There are the cliches and platitudes: "The concept of war is outdated. To do away with external conflict, we must first change inside. First inner disarmament, then outer disarmament."/ "We come from our mother's womb. Therefore we all have the same potential for compassion." But, above all, there's his Zionist camp followers, such as Michael Danby (See my posts The Dalai Lama & Friends (11/3/09) and Snake Oil Salesman (14/8/09)).

As if the prospect of seeing the Dalai Lama's face staring down at us were not enough, a recent (11/10/09) ynetnews.com article (Dalai Lama visits sukkah, says he has a lot to learn from Jews) has prompted me to return to the subject of the Dalai Lama once more. In it, we learn that "Policy strategist Steve Rabinowitz, the Dalai Lama's press advisor in Washington... helped the Dalai Lama book a hall at the [Adas Israel] Synagogue for the leader to address 400 Tibetan exiles living in Washington." Steve Rabinowitz is described at jewcy.com as a "former Clinton White House aide and media strategist for several Israel advocacy organizations." Organizations, for example, such as Taglit-Birthright Israel, which sends "tens of thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift in order to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world" (birthrightisrael.com). IOW, an outfit, as the name suggests, that seeks to indoctrinate non-Israeli Jews with the idea that Israel is theirs simply by virtue of their being born into the Jewish faith.

"Rabinowitz said that he took the opportunity to ask the Dalai Lama to come to the synagogue's sukkah to say hello to the Jewish worshippers. He told the crowd he has 'a lot to learn fron the Jews' who were in exile for generations. He said he would like to learn how the Jews survived so long in exile as an example for his own Tibetan people, who have been in exile for 50 years. The Dalai Lama amusedly told the worshippers that the largest group of tourists who visit his exile residence in Dharamsala are Israelis."

Crikey! Here he is, toeing the Zionist line, telling a bunch of quite-comfortable-thank-you American citizens - who happen to be of the Jewish faith - that America isn't really their home, that they're actually in exile! Nor was this a mere throwaway line. It seems he really believes that any Jew happily living outside Israel is in the same position as a Tibetan exile: "Seeking to learn the secret of long-term Jewish survival in Diaspora - a situation he foresees facing his people - the Dalai Lama has entered into an ongoing dialogue with various Jews - secular, Orthodox, and BU-JUs; theologians, social scientists, and writers - in an effort to help his people." (Dialoguing with the Dalai Lama, Ira Rifkin, myjewishlearning.com)

Now it's not as if His Holiness hasn't heard about the Palestinian experience of genuine exile (and occupation), as this report from the Bethlehem-based Holy Land Trust reveals: "On Sunday the 19th [February 2008], members of the [Holy Land Trust] delegation conveyed [to the Dalai Lama] the enormous struggles that Palestinians face living under Occupation; they described some of the actions that are underway to re-engage Palestinian communities in nonviolence and popular resistance, and explained how critical international support and pressure will be in any effort to end the Occupation and build a Palestinian nation. Holy Land Trust's Executive Director, Sami Awad, explained that since the organization's inception it has stressed the importance of developing connections between Palestinians and Tibetans who have shared similar experiences living under Occupation."

And, as one victim of occupation and occupation to another, what were the great man's words of solidarity to his Palestinian hosts?: "In meetings with Israelis and Palestinians, my message is the same: Nonviolence, Compassion. When there is a problem we have 2 choices. Either remain indifferent or face it, engage it. To remain indifferent is too selfish, I think, and also eventually you will suffer because you are all of society. You will suffer. We must face or confront with sense of community and sense of responsibility. Once you face it, you have 2 choices. With hatred and violence, short-sighted, narrow-minded; that's one choice. Another choice: long-term interest, long-term future, holistic view. Accordingly, nonviolence out of compassion. Respect others' rights, respect others' interests. Two choices. The first choice, I think many people do that. Result? Endless bloodshed, endless violence. Violence out of violence, more violence, more violence. The stronger side must extend a hand, then the weaker side let them feel safe, not miss the opportunity. It is wrong to expect a good gesture from the weaker side. The stronger side must extend a hand. The whole area owned by one group is impossible. You have to live together, side-by-side. Therefore, violence is illogical. Nonviolence is the only way. It may take time. Sometimes, you may not achieve your satisfaction completely but that is the only way." (Holy Land Trust meets with the Dalai Lama: share messages of solidarity, 4/3/08) This is nothing but platitudinous moralising. Incredibly, despite his own experience of exile and occupation, it seems the Dalai Lama can't think sufficiently straight to grasp the elementary distinction between oppressor and oppressed, hammer and anvil, and voice unequivocal, wholehearted support for the latter.

As for those Israeli tourists flocking to Dharamsala, we are given no reason whatever to suspect that they are doing so for any other reason than to soak up some of the Dalai Lama's 'spirituality'. It's time for a reality check: "[A] new generation of Israelis is visiting Dharamsala - those in their early 20s taking a year off their obligatory military service. After a few years of army life fighting the Palestinian resistance, hundreds - sometimes thousands - of young Israelis arrive in the spring and summer for rest and relaxation, or, more accurately, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Syed Nasrallah Mustafa, a Kashmiri shopkeeper, has witnessed the inflow of Israeli youngsters over the last 5 years... Mustafa says that those coming straight out of the army are 'sometimes crazy' and that they bring their lifestyle of 'trance parties and smoking hashish' to the younger generation." (Tibetans face new uncertainty in exile, Ari Paul, inthesetimes.com, 7/4/05)

Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, eh? If only: "[Researcher on Israeli backpackers in India Daria] Maoz has found that relations between the Israelis and the [Indian] natives correspond to those anthropologists have found in other Third World countries subject to an influx of large groups of tourists from the West... [She] defined these relations as 'hierarchical, one-sided and depressing'... and described the Israeli backbackers' relations with the native population as 'neo-colonial'. According to Maoz, most Israeli backpackers treat the Indians as if their sole purpose in life was to serve them. They ignore the locals' needs and feelings, treat them and their traditions with contempt and regard the Israeli enclaves [such as Dharamkot and Bhagsu] as playgrounds where they can do almost anything they desire. Uninhibited drug use is a prime example... One of the main findings of Maoz's research is that Israeli society has an interest in sending its young people to India. 'Israeli society understands that after long, hard and frustrating military service... Israeli youngsters need avenues to let off steam and to challenge accepted norms. Instead of having them do this in Israel, they are sent to India... During her visits to India she heard several Israelis compare the Indians to the Palestinians before the intifada. 'They're primitive and dirty, but they serve us exceptionally well', one Israeli backpacker told Maoz, 'just like the Arabs in the territories before they decided to raise their heads." (A bad trip in India, Aryeh Dayan, Haaretz, 4/7/04)

There you go - after becoming accustomed to abusing Palestinians, a lad needs to unwind... by abusing Indians. And this nexus hasn't clicked with the Dalai Lama? Could it be the company he keeps? As the ynet report informs us, "[o]n Tuesday, the Dalai Lama was awarded the first Lantos Human Rights Prize, named after Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos*..." Lantos? According to Mearsheimer and Walt, Lantos (D-CA) is the chair of the [House] Committee on Foreign Affairs and one "who has no rival on Capitol Hill in his devotion to Israel. As one former AIPAC leader put it, Lantos 'is true blue and white'." (The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, 2007, p 153) [For more on Lantos, try The Lies of Tom Lantos: The Bela Lugosi of the House, Wayne Madsen, counterpunch.org, 15/2/03]

UPDATE: "Paul sent me this... 'Just wanted to say... that the Dalai Lama - while no fan - was not bs-ing when he said the largest group of (foreign) tourists [at Dharamsala] are Israelis... I've been up there to Dharamsala and the place is choca with Israelis - as are a lot of places in India - Goa, Kerala, Rajastan, Himachel Pradesh, Varanasi etc - who head there to smoke up and forget what they did for 3 years in the army. What really pissed me off - bar Indians keeping on asking me if I was an Israeli, and Israelis too - was the number of Zionists walking around in t-shirts saying FREE TIBET. I felt like grabbing a marker pen and scrawling AND FREE PALESTINE TOO! Total hypocrisy, being all peace-minded regarding Tibetans but fascistic towards the Palestinians... The Dalai Lama actually lives in a town further up the hill called Mcleod Ganj, where most tourists stay, but as Mcleod Ganj was a hill station retreat established by the Brits during the Raj - the Viceroy used to like going there - Dharamsala is always used as the name of the DL's residence. Sounds a bit more exotic, certainly more than the very British-sounding Mcleod!'" (The Angry Arab News Service, 15/10/09)

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