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Avnery (again!) On Tibet and Palestine

April 5, 2008

A few days ago I was asked by one my students in an upper division class on world poverty to comment upon the situation in Tibet, the uprising of Tibetans against Chinese domination. It was not a part of the class lecture which had to do with the imposition of market economies on African cultures in the 19th century – otherwise known as European Colonialism – but I decided to take some time to reflect upon this latest of global tragedies.

As I made it clear to the class, although I know a good deal about classical Chinese culture and the transition taking place in that country from Communism to some form of Capitalism, that my knowledge of the details of the situation in Tibet are somewhat sketchy. I did refer them to an article by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel entitled `How China Became Chinese’ which deals with harsh conditions under which China was unified some 2230 years ago which is a nice synopsis of the process, emphasizing the way in which China crushed cultural diversity at that time. The article gives some insights into one of China’s historic weaknesses (a respect for cultural diversity within its borders) which has some impact on the current situation.

I also made it clear that from where I was sitting that the Tibetans are an oppressed people, that China has, despite offering some economic improvements in the region, followed a policy of settler colonialism in order to shift the ethnic balance in its favor in relation to the Tibetan people, that it reminds me, at least on some levels, of the Zionist settlements in the Occupied Territories and that as a result, I was and am critical of Chinese policy and hope that it changes, although I am not certain would be be the most humane or rational solution – complete independence for Tibet or some kind of autonomy.

Having said that, I mentioned that I supported China’s holding the Olympics, and that I hoped that a worldwide Olympic boycott did not develop, that the Olympics are in my mind an international forum that should be respected like the United Nations and gave them a little bit of the history of Olympic boycotts of which I am familiar including the the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which seemed to me far more serious …but I still opposed that too.

Finally I commented that I was suspicious about the way that the international media campaing had exploded surrounding Tibet and I would not be surprised if there was some kind of CIA-type foul play going on although I admit that I cannot prove that as of yet. But it all exploded so quickly and continues to remain in the forefront of the international media – much of which is US dominated. Were we seeing the declining superpower try to undermine the ascending one, I wondered?

And then, once again, I read Avnery, who deals with pretty much the same issues. He goes further than I did yesterday, wondering why it is that the US media spends so much time in support of Tibetans, so little time giving any credibility to the Palestinians, Chetchnians etc. I think it’s another find Avnery piece, the beginning of which you can read below. For the whole article click here:

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