Sultan And Shaitan
Sultan is good, just his viziers are evil - this thought comforted many an unhappy subject through human history. Unhappy as we are, we comforted ourselves with vain hopes of positive American intervention in Palestine, enforcing the myth of the US as a severe but honest ruler. As the Deir Yassin Day became Deir Yassin-a-Day, the hopes did not abate. “A real test of the Bush presidency”, wrote Robert Fisk in the Independent. “No time to waste”, seconded Helena Cobban of the Christian Science Monitor. But the visit of the US Secretary of State provided no respite for the Palestinians, not even a lull in Israeli onslaught.
Brilliant Norman Finkelstein reminded us: “The problem with the Bush administration, we are repeatedly told, is that it has been insufficiently engaged with the Middle East, a diplomatic void Colin Powell's mission is supposed to fill. But who gave the green light for Israel to commit the massacres? Who supplied the F-16s and Apache helicopters to Israel? Who vetoed the Security Council resolutions calling for international monitors to supervise the reduction of violence? And who just blocked the proposal of the United Nation's top human rights official, Mary Robinson, to merely send a fact-finding team to the Palestinian territories? Consider this scenario. A and B stand accused of murder. The evidence shows that A provided B with the murder weapon, A gave B the "all-clear" signal, and A prevented onlookers from answering the victim's screams. Would the verdict be that A was insufficiently engaged or that A was every bit as guilty as B of murder?”
He is right. It is time to stop daydreaming about the good sultan. If a mental block forbids you to doubt his good intentions, you may think he is a captive of evil eunuchs, as so many rulers were. From regret and sorrow, we should move into action. After all, the US policies in the Middle East aren’t whether that everybody complains about, but does nothing about it. But can we do something about it, if demonstrations and protests are of no avail?
The answer is yes, and it is not a Jihad, neither a Crusade. Robert Jensen[i] of Texas University wrote, “I helped kill a Palestinian today. If you pay taxes to the U.S. government, so did you”. He implied that the US taxpayers’ money go into rearming Israel and killing Palestinians. Let Jensen be comforted. The US taxpayer is innocent. The reality is worse: the slaughter is paid for by us, by five billion people on earth living outside of the US.
Every day we transfer five billion dollars to the US, in order to keep this great country’s leaders in the style they are accustomed to, and also to kill as many Palestinians as they find fit. A buck a day, from each of us, Europeans and Africans, Chinese and Japanese, Russians and Arabs. These mind-boggling numbers were published by the British weekly, the Economist. We do it, as since 1972, the US assumed the right to print as many dollars as they like, while we subscribed to the fiction that the greenback, a small sheet of paper, is an equivalent of our labour and of worldly goods.
As a matter of fact, the US dollar has no cover. It is a cheque written by a bankrupt wastrel, good to be framed and put on the wall. Provided they issue as many dollars as they need, it is not amazing there is one superpower and all the rest are in debt. It is not a secret: brave Fidel Castro tells it at every conference, thus assuring endless hostility of the US.
The US financial wizards, Greenspan et al, play with us an old trick of confidence, called a ‘pyramid’. Such games were played in many countries, notably in Albania and Russia, by local tricksters. Usually they end with a catastrophic crash. The Judeo-American con-game differs by its size. It is global. Otherwise, it the same pyramid. 90 per cent of all financial transactions are speculative transactions, writes Noam Chomsky. The pyramid is supported by a massive propaganda brainwash to encourage consumption and expansion. Ordinary people of the US and its allies get no fun out of it: in England, child poverty grew threefold since Margaret Thatcher came to power. In the US, there are millions of homeless children. Americans, Brits, Germans are deeply indebted, as the countries of the Third World.
The US dollar succeeded to replace gold, because it offered an attractive fixed interest rate. The interest rate has become a honey trap for the mankind; it has caused the burden of debt, impoverished states and persons, created the ugly aberration of globalization. Not in vain, Sam Bronfman the Bootlegger, the founder of the powerful Bronfman dynasty and father of the World Jewish Congress chairman, when asked what the most important human invention is, replied without hesitation: ‘interest rate’.[ii]
That was the second Fall of Man. Adam was tempted by the apple, we got tempted by the fixed-rate interest on dollar, the modern equivalent of old-fashioned usury. In the old days, the ‘anti-Semitic’ Church condemned usury as the exclusively Jewish occupation, but now it is free for all. Everybody is a partner, in the words of Heller’s Catch-22 character, Milo Minderbinder. Yet, there is a catch, Catch-22. You can not take your winnings and go away to enjoy them. You have to stay in the game.
The US dollar is not ‘money’ anymore; it is a license, like a Microsoft license, or a patent by a pharmaceutical company. Whenever the US rulers decide, they can freeze the assets of a rebel country. Iran had its assets frozen, Libya, Iraq; surely Saudis will suffer the same fate the moment they will object to American policies. Here is a good riddle for Bilbo Baggins: what is overpriced, unsafe, green and greatly desired by fools?
In the last days of the war in South East Asia, I travelled by a slow junk boat down Mekong River, in the company of fellow-journalists, adventurers, local peasants, pigs and chickens. The boat was frequently stopped, searched and taxed by warring parties, but it made an unhurried progress from the old royal capital of Luang Prabang towards Vientiane. In a sleepy village of twenty huts and three elephants, where we stayed overnight, I wandered into a Chinese shop. In front of me, a dark and dour Pathet Lao guerrilla in rubber tyre Ho Chi Minh sandals and AK assault rifle on his back completed his modest shopping and paid for it with some funny money. I recognized its colourful pattern: it was Pathet Lao currency. As the soldier went away, I took out a few Pathet Lao bills I got as a change on the boat and asked the shopkeeper for a pack of cigarettes. The Chinese did not move. “But I have seen you accept this money”, I protested. He replied with wise words worthy of Lao-Tzu, “Only from people with gun”.
The US dollar is still accepted by the world community out of fear, and that is why the US military budget grows every year. That is why the hermit kingdom of North Korea, Iran and Iraq became The Axis of Evil: they do not accept dollar. But fear is a bad adviser. The collapse of the pyramid is imminent. The meltdown began in August 2001, as the Economist advised its readers on 25.08.01, and, unless the timely intervention of persons unknown on 11.09.01, the US dollar would be now of value to numismatists only. But the World War III can only delay the completion of the process.
Sheer prudence and enlightened self-interest have caused the wise rulers to move out of the dollar sphere. European countries launched Euro, the Japanese Yen rose sharply. But their attempt to substitute paper by paper while keeping interest rate is necessarily flawed. In a revolutionary proposal, Dr Mahathir, the Prime Minister of prosperous Malaysia, proposes to return to gold and silver, more specifically to the idea of golden ‘Islamic’ Dinar as a zero-interest rate reserve currency for the world. His great idea to undo the dollar and loans’ double hold deserves to be compared with the reform of Solon, the legendary Sage of Athens, who cancelled debts, defeated Oligarchy, returned land and freedom to people. If implemented, it would put an end to the suffering of Palestinians and to suffering of the Third World in general. The US dollar would fall as fast as in 1929, and with it, the US support for Israel and your debts.
It should not be seen as an attack on America. The ordinary Americans would regain their homes from the banks’ clutches, as mortgages would disappear. The burden of debt would fall off the back of people. True, George Soros and Mark Rich would have to apply to welfare office, together with many ardent supporters of Israel. But it is hardly a misfortune: they would be too busy to make mischief as they would have to earn their living.
That is the answer to the question, how can we help Palestinians. Ask the leaders of your countries to do the right and prudent step of moving their funds and capitals out the US banks and out of the US dollar. It would be more efficient than Jihad and Crusade, more humane and final than suicide bombing.
I liked the idea of Dr Mahathir. The golden Dinar would usher us into a new world, the world of zero rate interest, the world without usury, would help to reconcile society. Marx would enjoy the irony of history, that the Jewish onslaught in Palestine can be stopped only by rejecting partnership in dollar-denominated usury.
Religious considerations can not be removed from our practical decisions. The ‘Islamic’ Dinar would complete the system of performance-connected banking. It is called nowadays ‘Islamic banking’, but it was practiced by very catholic Venice for centuries before the advent of usury. On this point, as on many others, Dar al-Islam and Christendom do not differ. The Church banned fixed interest, until John Calvin’s fateful folly, and the great religious reformer, Prophet Muhammad, reinforced the prohibition[iii].
The Jewish Law forbade Jews to charge interest for their "brothers" (other Jews), but required to charge ‘strangers’ (non-Jews). St Ambrose understood the implications of this approach, when he wrote: “From him demand usury, whom you desire to harm. From him exact usury, whom it would not be a crime to kill. Where there is a right of war, there also is a right of usury”[iv]. That is why peace will come to Palestine when the Jews will accept the maxim of Thomas Aquinas, “there are no strangers”, and consider the Palestinians as their dear brothers. Or, in words of Hosea, Say of your brothers: my people, and of your sisters: my loved one[v].
[i] Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/editorial/outlook/1351792
[ii] Haaretz, 20.11.98, Musaf p.36
[iii] sura 2, 275-280
[iv] The quote supplied by David Pidcock.
[v] Hosea 2:1
Mr. Israel Shamir is one of the best known and most respected of Russian Israeli writers and journalists. He wrote for Haaretz, BBC, and Pravda and translated Agnon, Joyce, and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa and has become a leading champion of the "One Man, One Vote, One State" solution in all of Palestine/Israel.