Chesler Chronicles

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Permanent Intifada

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) relentlessly grinds on. They and fellow travelers have planned their annual Hate Israel follies and have called it “Israel Apartheid Week.” Rallies outside the Israeli Consulates and Embassies began on January 24th in Boston, January 25th in Philadelphia, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Seattle, on Shabbos, January 26th in New York City, Cleveland and Anaheim, and on January 29th, in Chicago.

The ISM has moved off campus and is now appearing in nine cities in six days in order to present their brand of Big Lie political theatre. Stand With Us has put out a call for pro-Israel signs and bodies to be there.

Meanwhile, the students at De Paul University have announced an Academic Freedom Conference for February 1st and 2nd. They write that people are still in a state of shock because Norman Finkelstein, the Holocaust-mocker, was denied tenure. They note that “prominent scholars ,” such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (of the University of Chicago and Harvard), have been “silenced.” By whom? Their publisher, Farrar, Strauss who gave them an $850,000.00 advance? By the media, bookstores, and their own universities where they continue to speak? They also cite the “controversial tenure decisions” of Nadia Abu El-Haj and Joseph Massad (of Columbia). El-Haj received tenure. What are these students protesting?

Oh, the thin-skinned shame of imposters, the righteous indignation when purveyors of the Big Lie are challenged.

Nevertheless, in the name of academic freedom, these students have invited the most prominent liars–alright, the most savage critics–of America and Israel: Professors Sara Roy, Bill Ayers, Robert Jensen, Mark Ellis, Juan Cole and Joel Kovel. They did not invite Rachel Ehrenfeld who is battling the Saudi “libel tourist” and billionnaire, Bin Mafouz, on behalf of our First Ammendment rights nor did they invite anyone who might have a positive view of America, Israel, and the West or an almost erotically negative view of let’s say, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Congo.

Only speakers who are obssesed with Israel’s allegedly essential evil are qualified to represent what now passes for courageous concern with “academic freedom.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Council on Human Rights just passed a resolution demanding that Israel lift its week-long blockade of Gaza. (I wonder if they will condemn Hamas for blasting their way into another sovereign nation. Why do I bother to ask?) Needless to say, this august Council did not condemn Hamas for firing 200 Qassam rockets upon Israeli civilians who live in Sderot within that same week.

There is something wrong with how these propagandists think. It is almost as if their brains have been altered by poisoned prejudice.

But, in addition to these (and many more) non-stop and ongoing propaganda campaigns against Israel, we have the living civilians of Sderot who are, daily, being “collectively punished” by the Kassam rockets that Hamas rains down upon them from Gaza. (The phrase is Bradley Burston’s writing in Ha’aretz).

Which leads us to the subject of brain injuries. The new issue of “Science” magazine (Vol 319, no 5862, dated January 25th), describes the work of John Hopkins neurologist, Ibolja Cernak, who, with teams in Belgrade, China, and Sweden has documented a neurological basis to what was once called “shell shock.” She describes both “immediate” and “lasting” neurological consequences with attendant psychiatric symptomatology to those, (mainly soldiers) who have not themselves been physically injured but who have been in the vicinity of repeated “blasts.”

Dr. Cernak is careful not to conflate physical injuries with the measurable, neurological damage sustained by enduring (fearing, seeing, hearing) the repeated “blasts” alone. She calls this: “Traumatic Brain Injury” (TBI). Symptoms include: Dizziness, speech problems, unexplained weeping, irritability, attention deficit disorders, insomnia, depression–some or all of the symptoms of what has previously been called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. This time, it has a neurological basis.

So, are the civilians of Sderot suffering from TBI? Whom can they turn to for redress and for compensation for their medical treatment and for their considerable pain and suffering?

Trust me: if we don’t answer this question for Sderot residents, we will eventually be asking it about ourselves.

In the beginning, only Israel had metal detectors and extra security at its airports and embassies. Now everyone does.

The world did not stop the 2000 Intifada against Israel (the Israel-constructed security wall did that)–but now that same Intifada has gone global; weekly, suicide terrorist attacks against Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and European capitals are both successfully launched and successfully thwarted.

The Qassam rocket blasts, unchecked, that are being endured by Israeli civilians may soon be inherited by civilians elsewhere–everywhere.