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December 15, 2011

Naomi Klein’s Inconvenient Climate Conclusions


Naomi KleinSuzanne DeChillo/The New York Times Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein, the author of a string of provocative and popular books including “The Shock Doctrine,” recently took on global warming policy and campaigns in “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” a much-discussed cover story for The Nation that has been mentioned by readers here more than once in the last few weeks.

The piece begins with Klein’s conclusion, reached after she spent time at a conclave on climate sponsored by the libertarian Heartland Institute, that passionate corporate and conservative foes of curbs on greenhouse gases are right in asserting that a meaningful response to global warming would be a fatal blow to free markets and capitalism.

She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet.

Please dive in. The piece is particularly relevant this week given the continued standoffs and disconnect between stated goals and behavior at the climate treaty talks in Durban, South Africa. Whether you embrace or dispute her conclusions, the article is a worthy and substantive provocation. I disagree with her in pretty profound ways, yet some of her points echo my assertion awhile back that greenhouse-driven climate change is “not the story of our time” but a symptom of much deeper issues. I contacted Klein, who kindly spent quite a bit of time engaging in an e-conversation about her argument. Here’s our chat:


First, I was happy to see you dive into the belly of the many-headed beast challenging the need for greenhouse-gas cuts (as was clear from your piece, you recognize that there’s no single species called “deniers”). There are lots of slings and arrows awaiting anyone exploring this terrain, as was the case with the Heartland meeting in 2008. What prompted you to do an in-depth look at global warming stances and the issues underlying this “crisis”?

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Reflections on the Meaning of Palestine


”… the Palestine question within a European context.”

By Alain Gresh

This essay addresses the Palestine question within a European context. After reflecting on why Palestine has been widely embraced as a “universal cause,” the author explores its relationship to the “Jewish question” in the changed context following World War II: Whereas prior to the war it was the Jews who were perceived as a threat to European civilization, today it is the Muslim immigrants who have the scapegoat role. Also discussed are philosemitism (and its manifestations in the West) and anti-Semitism (as it relates to the Arab world), and how these phenomena have been impacted by the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The essay concludes with “utopian musings” on possibilities for a future Palestinian-Israeli peace. 

”IF ONE DEAD ISRAELI is worth several dead Palestinians, how many Congolese corpses are needed for a Gazan shroud?” These words were written by the French journalist Hugues Serraf immediately following Israel’s launch of Operation Cast Lead against Gaza. In his article, Serraf notes that 271 people had been killed at about the same time in the Democratic Republic of Congo by fighters from Uganda on their way to the Central African Republic, without anyone making a fuss about it in the international press. He then goes on to ponder this discrepancy in a way that is entirely valid, whatever one may think of his implied conclusion.

To understand why Israel has become the perfect bad guy, the one everyone loves to hate unreservedly and without risk of contradiction except by a “Zionist”; the one whose excesses systematically evoke comparisons to the Nazis. . . . It is possible that the predictability of reactions concerning Israel springs from a logic that I am frankly unable to grasp. Perhaps it really is possible to say that the Palestine conflict is more serious, more intense, more tragic—in short, more everything than anything else. But you have to demonstrate it. [1]

Let us try to demonstrate it, even if beneath his feigned naiveté Serraf is already convinced of the reason: to his mind, it is anti-Semitism that explains the “fixation” on Palestine, that makes it possible to express without shame or remorse an “eternal hatred” for the Jews. Could Palestine be the new name for anti-Semitism?


ALAIN GRESH , longtime editor-in-chief and current deputy-director of the French monthly Le Monde diplomatique, is the author of numerous books. The present essay is adapted from the last chapter of his latest book, De quoi la Palestine est-elle le nom? (2010).


1 Hugues Serraf, “De Gaza au Congo: des poids, une mesure,” Rue89, 5 January 2009.

Click here to read the post in its entirety at the Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 41, no. 1 (Autumn 2011), p. 67 Essays

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