At Last, a Palestinian State!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It was about time! After a sixty-year wait, and with the persistent opposition of the Israeli government (but not of a good part of its citizens) the international community is finally going to recognize the State of Palestine in a vote to be held tomorrow during the General Assembly of the United Nations.

I am pleased that the institution that lighted the way with glowing beacons for Palestine’s “take-off” was UNESCO, whose General Conference approved the Palestinian State’s membership in the Organization by a huge majority over a year ago.

For the moment the United Nations will grant Palestine “observer” or “associate state” status, but the adjective is of little importance. What is important is that Palestine be recognized as a State, which will undoubtedly facilitate a new era in which the peace process may be rapidly concluded.

Tomorrow I will especially be remembering Yasser Arafat, whom I met for the first time in 1987 and who did so much to make this dream come true, and Yitzhak Rabin, whose great vision and courage was about to make peaceful coexistence a reality... and perhaps he was assassinated precisely for that reason.

Congratulations to the United Nations for its decision. Congratulations to UNESCO for having taken that first step.

Congratulations, with much affection, to the Palestinian people.

At last, a Palestinian State!

Israel: All human beings are worth the same

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"All human beings are equal in dignity" is a universal ethical principle that is the cornerstone of all human rights.

It was precisely with Israel that it was made clear in all of our minds that no race is superior to another, that all of them must be respected and judged by the same rules.

For that reason the Israeli authorities and ultras must be advised that the world won’t passively ignore its murderous acts. Another Gaza episode: No! The whole world would turn against Israel. Israel should remember its own history and be reminded that all human beings are worth the same.

Obama: His reelection, global hope

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The lack of leaders, especially in the West, is overwhelming. Only President Obama can reunite the United States that the whole world needs for the great historic turning point that lies on the horizon.

Former Portuguese President Mario Soares is one of the few high-level political leaders from the key years in the democratic reconstruction of Europe and the world who continues in his watch tower, inspiring changes based on his profound experience and ethical values. A few weeks ago he wrote an “Open Letter to Barack Obama" in which he sent his best wishes for Obama’s reelection: “If your Republican opponents are returned to power, the results would be far worse than Bush Jr.’s second term. This cannot happen. It is not a simple election; it is about the future of the West and the world".

On several occasions I have written in my blog about Obama’s “solitude” in global governance ("At Last, Disarmament", 9.10.09; "Without a Single Republican Vote", 5.04.10; "President Obama is playing his cards. Europe is pulling back", 7.02.12; "Hollande and Obama, could be...", 7.05.12)... And it’s just that, despite the immense (military, media, financial and energy) powers in the hands of the major figures within the Republican Party, Obama has finally achieved one of the dreams of all of the Democratic presidents since Harry Truman: Medicare for all Americans (40 million of whom could not get healthcare through insurance companies). Although it sounds improbable, Mitt Romney has promised to repeal that law immediately!... and many Americans, accustomed to looking out solely for their own interests, won’t refuse him their votes for that reason. They forget that Republican party presidents were the ones who abandoned the United Nations, replacing them with groups of oligarchs (G7, G8, G20); and who refused to sign the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child; the International Criminal Court, the Law of the Seas; ... and who decided to invade Iraq based on lies, resulting in millions of displaced people and thousands of deaths and injuries.

A few of the disgruntled, such as Jonathan Schell ("El País", 28.10.12) believe that “the Obama of 2008 won’t return. He has left forever". I believe that he wisely “left” when needed during moments of harsh Republican harassment, but that he has “returned” when the circumstances warranted doing so. Despite the immense power of the pro-Republican communications media, Obama continues to be the choice of young people and of the most humble and vulnerable. Especially the immigrants, for whom he has implemented profoundly humane policies and whom Romney has treated with such contempt.

Obama will undoubtedly continue his policy of creating jobs with FED incentives, which has produced such positive results to-date. And he will regulate the possession of weapons, while developing energy policies and protecting the environment with the special care expected from the (still) most powerful country on earth. For years the Exxon Mobile Foundation and other oil companies deceived the world concerning climate change (see "The Truth of the Denial" in Newsweek, 13 August 2007).

The wise decisions that Obama has already adopted to decrease immense military spending have been harshly attacked by the United States’ “hawks” –American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and the Foreign Policy Initiative- with their joint declaration "Defending Defense" last June (see Jim Lobe’s blog at We shouldn’t forget that the major part of the 4,000 million dollars invested daily in military spending and weapons (which is truly scandalous when at the same time there is a silent genocide of 60,000-70,000 people who die of hunger) comes from the U.S.

Paul Ryan is even more radical than Romney, and both know the U.S. well from their perspective. But their knowledge of the world is dangerously lacking. With them, relations with Europe will be jeopardized and the inadmissible ambitions of Israel vis-à-vis Iran will become a reality. Iran has too many oil reserves (and don’t forget that Iraqi oil is already to a great extent in the hands of major U.S. oil companies).

The Mormon business empire, with assets valued at 30,000 million dollars (according to Política Exterior’s weekly report, 23.07.12) should (as should others) increase its currently precarious social programs.

Despite the real estate bubble, hedge fund loans, the financial depression of 2008... Obama was able to head off the severity of the recession with stimulus packages capable of initiating the recovery that is so appreciated by part of the U.S. electorate.

The present American administration has taken into account the new labor model, with profound changes in the very nature of employment (due to de-localized production and computerized automation) and workers. This should prove to Europe that the answer can’t be found in austerity, which only compensates financial institutions, weakens the middle classes and dismantles the social safety nets achieved with so much effort in the past.

"Strength and moderation" were the qualities attributed to Barack Obama on the editorial page of "El País" (15.09.12). Instead of the raised fist of the policies of dominance, so characteristic of the U.S., Obama has offered an outstretched hand. With four more years and with possibilities for demonstrating citizen power that were heretofore inexistent, the U.S. president could begin implementing genuine democracy at the global level. A “globalization” based on the contrary of his predecessor Reagan: ethical principles; multilateralism; concerted efforts; cooperation. In that event, the “American dream” would become the dream of all of the world.

During a second term President Obama could do many things that humanity desires and to which he has already alluded: re-founding the United Nations system; achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; sustainable development, replacing exploitation of the poorest countries with international cooperation; amicable attitudes in relations with the Russian Federation, Turkey and India; rapprochement and dialogue with the Islamic nations; a friendly balance with China... for that “new beginning”, for that new era that he announced a few months after his first mandate.

If Obama is re-elected, with Hollande in Europe; with efficient leaders in Latin America; with willingness to devote the much deserved aid to Africa... the presently darkened horizons would be illuminated.

Hopefully the desires of the majority of Americans and of the immense majority of the world’s citizens will be fulfilled.

Then we would finally be able to rid ourselves of the last evidence of a system that is still crippling Europe and commence a new era in which we could achieve (and I never tire of repeating this, because this is my dream) the formidable prelude of the United Nations Charter: "We the Peoples..." All human beings, equal in dignity, determining their own destiny. A world led by a U.S. President of the black race. What an achievement!


They are pressuring us so much with the current economic crisis, they are distracting us so much with the entertainment media “bubble”…, that we forget what we should constantly remember, for the sake of dignity, solidarity and justice: the great challenges of today –hunger, extreme poverty, social inequalities, victims of great natural disasters (Haiti…) war (Darfur…), damage to the environment… and the future.

We can’t continue like this, with only a few people holding the reins of our common destiny in their hands, while the rest of mankind, distracted, submissive, often barely surviving, and the scientific, academic, intellectual and artistic communities failing to assume their corresponding leadership in the “awakening” that, in any case, is on the horizon.

And prominent among the essential motives for reviving our collective will and conscience is Palestine. Over and over again the dream of culminating a process for peaceful coexistence has been frustrated by Israel’s inclement, persistent, powerful, violent and arrogant attitude. The years go by and generations of Palestinians live and die in humiliation, subjection and dominion. Whole lives lived in refugee camps, whole lives alienated, without perceiving any light at the end of the tunnel. All mankind should now rise up in favor of Palestine and against their respective fundamentalist groups, to achieve the peaceful coexistence that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians desire. And especially against the influential Israeli authorities (Israel doesn’t work with the American Administration, but rather within it) who not only have been able to postpone the culmination of the peace process many times, but have convinced the United States not to pay its dues in international organizations that accept Palestine as a member.

I am proud that UNESCO accepted Palestine as a member State several months ago by a majority vote of its Member States at a General Conference. But it is tolerating the intolerable: allowing the United States to continue within the Organization without paying its dues, imposing a local law on an international institution.

At UNESCO headquarters there is a beautiful Tolerance Plaza, designed by the great Israeli artist Dani Karavan and inaugurated in 1997 in honor of Isaac Rabin. He was about to sign a peace treaty with Yasser Arafat, including Jerusalem as co-capital. But he was assassinated soon thereafter and I decided to honor him in that way, so that there would be a public testimony to the fact that peace is possible, and to permanently impress the Palestinian tragedy upon our collective conscience.

Let’s stop obeying plutocrats and assume our responsibilities. Let’s re-found an effective United Nations… and start down that road to the future that we all dream of, in which one of the first objectives is precisely the full recognition of Palestine.

Let’s not forget Palestine for even one more day.

On the new nature of “employment”

In the last three decades there has been an essential transformation in the traditional characteristics of employment and work: 

a) Delocalization of production: globalization, guided by the laws of the markets, has prompted many industries to relocate in countries in which profits are comparatively much higher, particularly due to lower payroll costs. The country that has received the most “orders” is China, becoming the “world’s factory”… With the employment conditions typical of that great giant, in record time has become a rare example of capitalist-communism. But it’s obvious that neoliberal eyes don’t perceive such things, nor do they see how the goods are later distributed and sold from tax havens, with a flagrant lack of solidarity… 

b) Automatization: in the last few years ever-more perfect machines have been replacing workers at ever-increasing rates in agriculture, mining and large industrial processes… But machines required a certain degree of “supervision” by professionals, until the advent of 

c) Robotization: now it’s robots that carry out the majority of control and regulation functions. Bar codes or graphics have now replaced many machine workers. Together with the important changes in industrial processes mentioned above, equally significant changes have occurred with respect to the work force:

A) Preparation-information-global conscience: years ago the majority of citizens were confined to limited areas, both physically and intellectually. But thanks to the communications media and especially to recent technological advances, in a few decades “citizens of the world” have rapidly increased in numbers and, to a great extent, it is no longer the work that defines a worker, but rather workers who invent jobs. 

B) Longevity: in less than a century average life expectancy has increased by 30 years (from 50 to 80). Many people retire from work with many years still left, with an acceptable quality of life that will require continuous medical attention and treatment for chronic conditions. All of the above must be taken into account when assessing employment and work in our country: I believe it is wise to continue to convert Spain into the “California of Europe”, with its immense attraction for tourists and as a second residence, thanks to its geography, culture diversity, openness and hospitality, excellent level of healthcare (which mustn’t be affected!), gastronomy and scientific potential. It could be a country that provides services, construction without “bubbles”, and vast development in scientific research and innovation. And the last thing that this “California” needs is a “Las Vegas”. What are the politicians thinking when they speak of “growth” and “job creation”? I think they need to carefully consider the new nature of employment, workers and the country, and together create a great “plan for the future” that will re-kindle in our perplexed citizens their belief in life with dignity.

To think what no one has thought

To overcome inertia and discover or invent new directions we must forsake old previously-used formulas and imagine new ones.

This is not an easy task, because with all of the available information an accurate diagnostic must be made of the situation that we seek to change, but then, to find the appropriate treatment now, the magnificent instruments currently at our disposal won’t work: only reflection, only the exercise of the creative powers of the human species will.

I have told this story many times, because it has been so relevant for me and my colleagues, and not only from a scientific perspective: I was working late one Friday evening in the department of Professor Hans Krebs at Oxford. He had returned to his office to get some documents that he had forgotten and observing the light in my laboratory, he dropped by to see me and asked me why I was there so late… “At the University of Granada”, I explained, “we don’t have this magnificent equipment. I am collecting as much data as possible…” “From now on you will add Fridays to your weekends to have more time in which to reflect”, he replied. And he added, “research is observing what others also observe… while thinking what no one else has thought”.

We won’t be able to advance and perceive the radical changes that are required by using machines, but rather by thinking, by using this capacity that is exclusively ours, refusing to tolerate any attempts to distract, numb or undermine our creativity.

To think what no one has thought…