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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Water and war crimes

There has been much negative talk about the Goldstone report in the US and Israel. It’s biased. So many pages are devoted to Hamas and so many more are devoted to Israel.

Goldstone himself has addressed these wrong interpretations of bias in the report:

Link(I will get this from one of my blog posts- no time now)

I saw this report about Israel restricting Palestinians’ water resources:

and thought about the “inordinate” amount of space given to Israeli vs. Palestinian war crimes in that report and in the general conflict. Many organizations (Amnesty International, HRW, the UN) and reports are condemned as biased because so many Israeli crimes are listed and equal space is not used to detail Palestinian crimes. I don’t think the issue is bias, as you can see when you look at the death toll, victims and the different types of crimes on each side.

Palestinian crimes are pretty straightforward. Suicide bombing, rocket attacks. And these done by armed wings of certain groups and not the general population as a whole.

Israeli offenses are myriad and both military and civilian. They don’t stop at militarily attacking when and where they were attacked and gathering intel and targeting those individuals as one would expect in actual self-defense. They are denying Palestinians proper amounts of basic necessities to stay alive- food (embargo, travel restrictions, burning and stealing land), shelter (home demolition, denying permits, raids), work and education. When evil dictators do these sorts of things, we want to sanction and maybe intervene. But when it is Israel, controlling a people it doesn’t or shouldn’t actually have any power over in the first place, we don’t care. They are “doing what they have to do.”

Are they attacking the whole population because any of them could become a militant? There is a similar argument (not generally accepted as legitimate) among some Palestinian militants- compulsory military service means all are military targets. Are they applying pressure on the population to effect democratic reform? This seems not to be the case as Palestinians have had democratic elections and have a legislature, never mind that it can’t do much as Israel is targeting many for imprisonment and Israel’s “security measures” make it nearly impossible to convene… Regardless of if they were trying to achieve democratic reforms or an Israel-friendly govt, it seems this might be the definition of terrorism in some cases. A more likely cause (but one that may get me labeled a conspiracy theorist) is that Israel is trying to force a voluntary transfer, so they aren’t accused of ethnic cleansing. “See? They left on their own!” We’ve heard this one before (1948)… Who knows why they do it. They are getting away with it, however, because when any organization details the crimes to try and hold them accountable, there are complaints: bias, equal space isn’t devoted to Palestinian crimes, little or no mention of Palestinian crimes means they are less wrong, etc.

It makes complete sense that there is far more space devoted to Israel’s crimes. They are doing so many things to the entire population that defy international law, democratic principles, common sense and common decency that have nothing to do with self-defense; while Palestinian crimes are fewer in number with fewer casualties. It doesn’t mean Palestinians are right to resort to violence, but I don’t think it means the report is biased or we should shun Palestinians until they embrace Israeli oppression (no rights, no food) with open arms.

On the other hand, if they did this, we wouldn’t focus on them, a state would disappear from discourse, and Israel may see to their end if certain parties rise to greater power.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Response to My Conservative Contradiction Observation

This is a response to a comment I got on Facebook from my last post. I'm responding it here so I can manage it better.

Not that so many (or any?) people read this so that I will be getting flooded with confused people emailing me or anything! :)

So, I took a look at the Arthur Brooks links.
(Oh no! Not realclear! :) ... Just kidding. )

He tries to appear impartial, but in reading some of the links you gave, he seems to have an agenda after all. He has even said he has registered Democrat and Republican in one decade and is Independent and was raised by liberal university professors in order to distance himself from the right. However, I think he’s more conservative than he lets on…

This quote made me chuckle, but it’s so true. Conservative coming out party.
From :

"This book is a call to action for the left, not a celebration of the right," Mr. Brooks says.

“That's a claim that some liberals may have a tough time believing, given Mr. Brooks's withering criticism in the book of liberal icons like Ralph Nader, Mr. Brooks's work for The Wall Street Journal's famously conservative op-ed page, and a promotional tour for the book that reads like a conservative coming-out party. There's a keynote address at a Manhattan Institute for Policy Research dinner, a book signing at the American Enterprise Institute, and an interviews with John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 and radio talk-show host Michael Medved — two people known for conservative views.”

Another quote from the article:
Few economists have focused on philanthropy, he says, leaving plenty of "low-hanging fruit" for a young scholar.

And I would say that there may well be a lot of low-hanging fruit, but it also means this sort of thing won’t have as many studies to challenge it (numbers, method of gathering “data”, which data is selected, etc) either which is quite beneficial for Brooks' message, obviously. I’d like to see how it stands up to future criticism by experts in his field(s), should this field get more focus.


Now back to my response to the Brooks links...

You said:
"I was thinking about your statement of "...being strongly against other legislation and programs with Biblical support, for example, to help the poor..." and wondered if you were aware of the work of Arthur Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University. Liberals have a well-polished marketing machine duping millions into buying into their "advocacy" for the less fortunate but the numbers don't support it.
(quite a generalization by the way) :)

I suppose it is liberal “advocacy” to some in the same way the Republican party is all about “values”….

A glaring problem is the numbers. I have quite a number of issues with where these numbers are coming from. If they just call people up and they provide a figure and that’s it, I have
no confidence in this “data” whatsoever. Not that people are trying to mislead, but they forget, estimate, thought they gave more, etc. If tax deduction info are used, are conservatives just better than liberals about reporting it and getting their tax refund? The tax deduction still leaves out people who give and don’t take the deduction, choose lower paying jobs/careers that help people- nonprofits, providing low cost medical care, etc-. Volunteering and such is in fact touched on, but I’ll go into that in a sec. And what sorts of charities were included? He mentions a symphony orchestra in the WSJ article, but did he include environmental causes or animal shelters? Or were they primarily ones that actually help people like soup kitchens and rescue missions and such? The numbers need to be solid and more comprehensive for this to be anything more than fluff.

This is one of my suspicions (highlighted by the quote from this other article), that the high conservative number was due to church offerings and to see how much of that goes to actually helping people in need rather than the building, you’d have to examine thousands of church budgets.

“According to Google’s figures, if donations to all religious organizations are excluded, liberals give slightly more to charity than conservatives do.”

And to beat you to the punch, the following sentence in the article (possibly refuting it) is this:

“But Mr. Brooks says that if measuring by the percentage of income given, conservatives are more generous than liberals even to secular causes.”

Quotes are from:

And to this I’d have to ask about the numbers again. Did they just ask them or ask for a pay stub or some type of proof? Are the incomes a national average of some sort- hard data or verbal- or specifically for the sample talked about in the piece? Are things like number of dependents, percentage of disposable income, etc accounted for?


You said:
Good article on why govt. spending is not a form of charity, as some lefties like to argue:”

Here's the link you were talking about:;

I’m not arguing that, hopefully. Poverty is the problem and some would like to see minimal government help and more private giving and others see a definite role for government in addition to private giving. Corruption will be a problem in govt or private agencies, but shouldn’t stop us from trying to help people however we can. I don't think people are necessarily arguing that govt spending is charity, but rather govt intervention with private giving or a primarily private approach are two different ways to "solve" the problem. Some think there is absolutely and black and white wrong and right on this, but it could be there are just two different approaches. Americans tend to give more than Europeans, but is that because we're more generous (or more religious) or we feel the need to give more because we know the government won't do much of anything compared to Europe's governments.

The link did include some info about accounting for volunteering which I was a question that came to mind, but left the data issue unresolved. Some of the non-monetary "data" was phrased like this: "Liberal young Americans in 2004 were also significantly less likely than the young conservatives to express a willingness to sacrifice for their loved ones: A lower percentage said they would prefer to suffer than let a loved one suffer, that they are not happy unless the loved one is happy, or that they would sacrifice their own wishes for those they love." That really doesn’t mean much of anything in terms of hard data since what you know you should do and what you do can differ. Maybe liberals would do more than they say and conservatives know what's right but wouldn't do it when push came to shove. Maybe conservatives really are more compassionate. Even with Brooks' work, we still don't know that. I don't know that he asked the right questions, gathered the right numbers, and backed it up with solid proof. I don't even know that this is remotely possible given the number of factors that can influence non-scientific things like this. Maybe your point was that my stereotype of the right was wrong. It could very well be, but I don't think Brooks proved anything one way or the other.

He addresses blood donation and being a member of “organizations” (rotary, ruritan, etc?) and says that conservatives are better at that, too. I’m guessing the latter are clubs that I wouldn’t necessarily consider charitable organizations with a narrow mission to help those in need (like homeless shelters), but they do do some charity work- or some do more than others...

This could be more urban/rural than liberal/conservative differences since small towns (the real America, as Palin liked to say) tend to have more of these types of organizations and community inclusive events sponsored by the organizations in a way larger towns don’t (I can see this difference in Oxford and Durham even though Durham isn’t huge and you can still find things to get involved in in Durham and larger cities; they still aren't as accessible and present, providing the only entertainment in town, in the same way as they are in small towns).

You say the liberals have a well-oiled marketing machine, but due to the lack of solid data this might qualify as just that for conservatives!

People say numbers don't lie, but there are so many ways to compile those numbers that you can make it say what you want, even if you don't really mean to overtly manipulate it. I see plenty of room for error in Brooks' survey, but I will agree that it is interesting. I look forward to more studies on this subject. Maybe.

Another thought...
Trying to uncover who is more generous liberals or conservatives may seem equivalent to trying to figure out who is applying that Biblical principle better. A big problem with this, however, is people actually have to come forth and declare their good works to get the hard data to make a solid report which tramples another Biblical principle - humility... Yet another factor to consider... A conclusive report gets further and further away...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Family- Ensign affair

The Secret Political Reach Of 'The Family'
NPR, Fresh Air, Nov 24, 2009

With all the affairs and scandal lately with Ensign and others in The Family, Jeff Sharlett was on NPR again.

I may not agree with Sharlett on religion (he's Jewish, for instance) and all of his writings and opinions, but he highlights very nicely some of my concerns with our political system and the intermingling of religion with politics and vice versa.

I have long wondered about the right and Christian right and the contradictions of being against abortion and gay marriage and pressuring constantly for aggressive legislation on these, but being strongly against other legislation and programs with Biblical support, for example, to help the poor or to promote peace as opposed to war. Why be against gay marriage and all things gay and let heterosexuals off the hook who have extra-marital affairs and premarital sex? Another issue for me has been the so-called Biblical capitalism (the belief in and defense of capitalism as though it comes from scripture). I don't understand why some Christians on the right cling so tightly to capitalism and regard anything less than free market fundamentalism as socialist and hence 'of the devil'.

I have to wonder what kind of influence this group has had on the Christian right and these contradictions. The Family can appear to be a defender of Christian values in America- against abortion and gay marriage- and many would- and do- get behind it. The Family may start with good Biblical intentions (though I doubt it), but the message is obviously twisted in the end. Power absolutely trumps love- as in the case of the Ensign affair when Doug Hampton went to The Family for help since Ensign is a "key man", but they paid him off instead of holding Ensign accountable for his actions and promise to keep persuing Hampton's wife. Instead of valuing people like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mother Teresa, they hold up Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot next to Jesus.

Video of Coe - "Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler. Think of the immense power these three men had.”

Doug Hampton on The Family:
The Family, it's not what they say it is. And if I can just quote him, he puts
it very succinctly: He says they - the C Street group, The Family - they think
the consequences don't apply. Those need to be dealt with differently, because
of the responsibility, because of the pressure. Meaning that congressmen have
sort of special rules for them, because of the work that needs to be done. This
is about preserving John, preserving the Republican Party. This is about
preserving C Street. These men care about themselves and their own political
careers, period.

I am suprised that the party that is so willing to paint Obama as a socialist and any government "help" as evil, un-Biblical, un-American, etc is so willing to embrace this group that uses Hitler, Geobbels, and Mao as role models. I guess, though, it's unfair to paint Republicans as the bad guys. The Family's prayer cells reach across the aisle. As a Democrat quoted in the interview said, "Jesus didn't come to take sides; he came to take over." There is plenty of blame to go around.

There is a description of how the Family looks at David. They garner lessons so different than I think were intended. Their emphasis is that David was chosen and God chose to use the imperfect tool; they apply this to politicians, not all people. They think the real gospel is for the powerful and the goodness will trickle down to us nothings.

Besides the theological problems I have with the group, they may be violating our laws about diplomacy as well. Their key men cozy up to dictators and become point men for the US when the US officially stops dealing with them. They then use "prayer cells" to influence everything from social to economic policy. If genocide results, it's "God's will." Simple. Right?

Here's one example from the interview:

Uganga- 'aggravated homosexuality'- proposed law, not yet law

One might say yes, it's great that homosexuals, who are sinning like murderers and the like do, are getting the death penalty. But if homosexuals get the death penalty, why not heterosexuals for sexual sin? Why not drinkers? Gossips? If sin carried the physical death penalty, wouldn't more people think twice before sinning? Even if you agree with that last statement (I don't), you should think twice.

Many will contend, myself among them, that the Bible doesn't forbid the death penalty, but I still don't think we should go nuts with it- even aside from the fact that we in the US have probably executed many an innocent man due to racial prejudice and lack of technology. It's true that nations don't have the accountability that individuals do, but this accountability is what is taken away when you legislate such that all sin gets the death penalty. It completely gets rid of the very Biblical concept of repentance and forgiveness. So, no, I don't want to go down that road.

This is Sharlett quoting Inohofe talking about his 20 missionary trips paid for by US taxpayers. Besides the government paying for missionary trips, "as taught to him by Doug Coe" should be worrisome to all.
And he says what he's there to do is to, quote, promote the political philosophy
of Jesus as taught to him by Doug Coe.

Sharlett's comments on this freelance diplomacy are right on target:
It's - I mean when you take your personal religious convictions or political
convictions, even, and claim to represent the United States, but, in fact, are
representing an organization like The Family as Senator Coburn was in Lebanon,
as Senator Ensign has in Jordan and Israel, as Senator Inhofe has in Uganda, you
are steering foreign policy away from democratic accountability.

I've said this before, but this is the stuff nightmares and crazy conspiracy theories are made of. But it's real.

Link to a blog post about a right wing organization that investigated The Family some:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Palestinian statehood: the chicken or egg conundrum

This is kind of a continuation from:

The idea expressed by the interviewee that (more than a few) Jews went through a transformation from terrorist to statesmen, but Palestinians are incapable could be why the peace process isn’t going anywhere.

If Israel expects that Palestinians can’t transform, as they did, from terrorist to statesman, then Israel isn’t going to give an inch and will in fact create conditions that breed terrorism as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I don’t know, though, that this mutual understanding and respect has to precede talks and a Palestinian state. This would take forever. If we had waited on prejudice of African Americans to subside some before throwing out slavery and giving them civil rights, we would not have come as far as we have.

It comes down to the chicken and egg. Which are actually final status issues? Should we require a government, certain democratic benchmarks as we have been before a state is “awarded”? Or should a Palestinian state be declared first and negotiate Jerusalem’s international status, dismantling of settlements, removal of the wall, contiguous nature, etc in continuing negotiations? I still think one state should be considered; it would make all the other issues disappear.

Declaring a state first seems more logical to me. If no state is declared, then Israel feels free to continue the brutal occupation indefinitely, which is costly for Israel and obviously unjust and costly for Palestinians. If there is a state and other issues are worked out later, it seems there would be more of a reason for both sides to work things out.

Strangely enough, seems the world isn’t ready for this solution (statehood) that it claims in the end game for these negotiations that we always want to jump start. Everyone wants peace in the Middle East. Every head of state wants to assist in negotiations. This means nothing if they aren’t ready for the solution they claim is the goal of all this! Yet another contradiction in this never ending process…

Recognizing Palestinian state premature: EU

U.S. "would veto" Palestinian state move: Senators

The US and EU are saying no to a unilateral decision for Palestinians to move forward with a state. They want to return to negotiations that have stalled due to Israeli insistence on breaking the law and everyone else’s complicity in this crime. I believe that's called aiding and abetting.

A return to negotiations means Palestinians will have to give up more land- as if they had much, if any to give away in the first place. They were lured into negotiations with the US stand for international law that settlements are illegal and the US was going to go for a temporary halt to building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Due to Israeli insistence and certain events on the ground (continuing construction despite any US announcements), the US is falling back into line with Israel. What are the Palestinians supposed to do? Accept the injustice of more of the same or just move ahead with a state? It would be nice to have a bilateral agreement, but those always end up being Israel-US, not Israel -Palestinians anyway and under the circumstances, the latter is the best option. I had always thought leaving refugees, Jerusalem, borders, etc as "final status issues" was backwards anyway. Establishing a state first makes so much more sense than expecting Palestinians to act sovereign while trying to overcome travel restrictions, checkpoints, and other hassles and tragedies Israel imposes on them that make proving themselves or their sovereignty impossible.

I had always thought that everyone supported a Palestinian state. By definition, the much celebrated “two-state solution” demands it. It appears this is only the case under terms Israel agrees with, which will surely cement the status quo of collective punishment, blockade, travel restrictions, terrorism and humanitarian disaster that Israel has established.

And what’s this about Israel planning to retaliate if Palestinians unilaterally declare a state?? What kind of punishment can they throw at Palestinians that they aren’t already?

“Israel reacted quickly, warning that a negotiated peace agreement was the only solution to the conflict, while declaring a state without it would lead to Israeli counter-measures that could include annexation of more West Bank territory.”

Did Israel ask Palestinians' permission before declaring itself a state? Did the Palestinians get to dictate the terms of Israel declaring a state like everyone wants for Israel and the Palestinian state? I think not.

I still believe a single secular democratic state is the real answer, but I don’t guess I really have a say in this.

terrorists turned statesmen?

Some say Jewish terrorists have turned into statesmen and Palestinians terrorists aren't capable of doing the same (despite democratic elections and parliament among other statesmanly things). I wonder if it is possible for a terrorist to turn into a statesman. I think it is. Or perhaps it is all perception. Or maybe it is impossible and Palestinian terrorists will remain that way and the Jewish terrorists aren't really statesmen?

Questions over 1947 terror spectacular

So apparently Al-Qaeda wasn't the first terrorist organization to plan to use bombs from the air. A Jewish terrorist group was.

I have often commented on the irony of so many historical and current top political figures in Israel being former terrorists. Lieberman hasn't exactly renounced his group and its ideals, but... what do we care, they are a democracy. Most people probably think I'm misinformed or making it up or whatever to make a point about the legitimacy of the idea of a state for Palestinians-- or because I hate Jews (false, BTW). Jewish terrorist groups are and were real and are in part responsible for the Palestinian holocaust in 1947-48. They also could have been a model for Al-Qaeda's attack. And they say Palestinians invented terrorism.

Anyway, the article reveals a look at the attitude that Jews are beyond reproach, they are capable of bettering themselves, rising above, and creating a democratic state while the same cannot be said of Palestinians (the opposite, in fact).

The interviewer tries quite hard (below) to get agreement on a comparison between Jewish terrorists changing into statesmen and the possibility of Palestinian terrorists changing into statesman, but the interviewee steadfastly resists. According to him, Jews can change and deserve respect, but Palestinians can't and don't.

But the resonances of his father's history are intriguing. Do they suggest that the Palestinian militants of today can become the pillars of the establishment of the future?

Natan Brun laughs and shakes his head.

"Because Menachem Begin (the leader of a Jewish militant group, and later Israel's first right-wing Prime Minister) on 14 May 1948 passed through a transformation from a terrorist to a democrat. In one day.

"The Palestinians - I think - will never undergo this transformation. They are still terrorists... How can we make peace with Hamas?"

Begin's transformation could have been, I suggest, because he got what he wanted: a Jewish state. No, says Brun.

"He didn't get what he wanted. Because he dreamt about a state on two sides of the (river) Jordan. It wasn't his government, but his bitterest rival's, (David) Ben-Gurion and the others. But Begin understood that he had to change his way of life, his ideas, everything."

These kinds of things (below) coming from Palestinians are considered proof of depravity, proof that peace cannot be made with them, and garners condemnation from around the world. From Jewish terrorists, we might see this as heroic, interesting, brilliant. We must or we wouldn't be so accepting of the "legalized" version of their terrorist activity today.
"...a group dedicated to the overthrow of British rule in Palestine, if necessary through violence, in order to create a Jewish state."

He came to Paris and said to the Stern Gang: 'Look - you kill British, you kill soldiers. It's nothing. You have to do something spectacular.'

"To the People of England... This is a Warning... Your government has dipped his Majesty's Crown in Jewish blood and polished it with Arab oil... People of England! Press your Government to quit Eretz-Israel (the land of Israel) NOW! Demand that your sons and daughters return home or you may not see them again."
We accept and celebrate the Jewish state that came to be by the same means Palestinians are trying. Israel is wise to that, though, so they can easily thwart it. Why we buy the whole victim cry is beyond me. I mean, the 4th best military power is a victim??

Another contradiction is here, below. The guy's father of course wasn't involved in violence, though the group he belonged to certainly perpetrated some horrible, murderous, contemptible acts. This explanation today gets Palestinians interrogated (or tortured), "convicted" of terrorism or just sent to jail. (Jail... and the recent talk of Shalit and a prisoner swap makes one think about who is actually in those prisons- probably people who haven't done much of anything if that if they are willing to just release them...) If we were going by Israeli standards, perhaps the interviewee would also have gotten an extended prison stay.

Natan Brun says that his father was never personally involved in violence. He was, rather, an ideologue, a disciple of Zeev Jabotinsky, the hardline Zionist who wanted to see a Jewish state along both banks of the Jordan river.

Good points are made in the comments section of the article- John from San Diego and Poyan from Toronto and others.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Armistice / Veteran's Day

I came across the origins of Veteran's Day this week and thought it was interesting that it was a day dedicated to world peace. I hadn't ever thought of it in that way, I suppose. Today, supporting the troops and veterans is synonymous with supporting war. You have to fight with people to prove that you are for the troops and at the same time against a particular military action or US government policy.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day."

Fort Hood shooting

Some links about the story. I tried to get some differing opitions. You can take your pick or read them all and compare.

And another whopper from NY Post:
Under reasons Hasan should be considered a terrorist in the article:
*loudly criticizes US policies; (ouch!, I guess I'm a terrorist)
*refuses, in the name of Islam, to be photographed with female colleagues;
*lists his nationality as "Palestinian" in a Muslim spouse-matching program,

I know everyone’s going to think I’m calling Hasan a v
ictim, sympathizing with terrorists, or worse. I just want to say up front that I don’t condone what he did, it was wrong and there should be consequences. That being said (lest I be accused of supporting terrorism, along with Muslims who don't say that every time they open their mouth), I think there are other things that need to be addressed. I'm not dismissing the radical imam link, but that doesn't appear to be as strong as Lieberman wants it to be and there are so many things at play in these types of situations.

I’ve heard a lot of people on the radio and internet complaining that looking at all of the facts and asking why is too PC, that the media, Dr. Phil and Obama are protecting Hasan as a victim, this proves Obama’s a Muslim, just call Hasan what he is, a terrorist, and be done with it already. I have to say something. I'm so tired of this garbage. It's ridiculous.

The facts may still show that his contact with the radical imam was a factor, I’m not saying we should discount that, but there is a huge difference (with consequences) between assuming this and determining this without assumption and by the facts alone. It’s just dumb to focus on the imam (which is far from a smoking gun if I have heard correctly) when there are so many other things to consider.

Many have focused on Hasan’s nationality and religion. They aren’t waiting to see what the contact with the radical imam amounted to, if his religion played any role, if stress and or mental problems played a role- he is Muslim, so that’s why he did it.

Maybe this puts people’s mind at ease. Maybe it helps them deal with the endless questions a tragedy of this sort produces. I think it does far more harm than good.

The most obvious repercussion is backlash to the Muslim community with knee jerk reactions and assumptions such as these. The 'Muslim therefore guilty' mentality is sure to convict the entire Muslim and Arab community and produce irrational questioning of Arab and Muslim Americans’ loyalty. I have already heard people advocating banning Muslims from service. My favorite crime shows always talk about following the evidence. I don’t know that this is reality in the real world of law enforcement; I have no experience there, but I like that. I suppose that’s why I am drawn to science myself- you might have prejudices or ideas, but you don't publish everything you're thinking when you begin the project (before you have done teh experiments) as fact, you publish when you can prove it. The media and general population certainly don’t always check prejudice at the door and just follow the facts when black/white racism or Islam/Christianity or other vs. Arab domestic terrorism is involved.

There is another danger with this line of thinking that may be less apparent or counter intuitive. To close the book at terrorism as the root cause does a huge disservice to our soldiers and “supporters”, though many who actively “support our troops” with banners, bumper stickers, and Facebook groups seem to be more than ready, even eager, to do this. Obama did it himself. He said in his remarks that no faith justifies these acts- as though it had already been determined that he was connected to Al-Qaeda and was being tried for terrorism.

The armed forces are great at breaking people down and building them up into lean mean fighting machines, but so very bad at rehabilitating these men who have endured so much, seen death, caused death, etc on a daily basis. They are thrust back into peaceful society and many aren’t equipped to deal with it. The suicide rate, divorce, domestic violence is higher among soldiers. I have heard reports of the people assigned to “help” these soldiers suffering from PTSD and other disorders relating to their military experience tell them to go kill more terrorists, rather than actually provide medical or other therapy they need. I hope things have improved since I heard that a few years ago. In order to take care of the soldiers and truly support the troops, we need to look at the facts and not just say he’s Muslim, it was terrorism, let’s move on.

What are these other factors besides terrorism that most (or perhaps just the loudest) people think are insignificant? Case load, hearing everyone’s war stories about killing, getting blown up, maybe listening to bad feelings they have toward Muslims due to the wars, etc. Secondary PTSD, like journalists can get, etc could be a possibility. People are sent to him when they are stressed and disturbed, but who helps him when he is overwhelmed? Those medical professionals should have more evaluations or more care taken with their mental state since they deal with such devastation of the human spirit on a daily basis. There are indications that he was sub par in performance, so perhaps he felt shame in this or couldn’t handle the tasks he was given and maybe this played a role.

In addition to the stress and or PTSD and medical issues he may or may not have had, I can imagine it is hard to be a Muslim in our military, especially post 9/11. A relative verified that he was in fact harassed for being Muslim.

Take the PTSD or hearing broken soldiers’ stories, harassment for being Muslim, and then he has to deal with impending deployment where he may have to kill fellow Muslims. He may have felt there was no way out- some commit suicide; others do violence to others. Maybe he couldn’t get conscientious objector status- it is hard to get, I hear. The military paid for his education, so he may have found himself stuck. He went with his profession because he couldn’t stand the sight of blood, I heard on one report, so perhaps he did what he could as the son of immigrants to get an education, but found himself in conflict with his religion and beliefs with no way out.

I just think it is too simple and possibly bigoted to assume that he’s Muslim, therefore he’s guilty, case closed. In cases like the VT shooting, school shootings, suicides there are always so many variables, angles, and perspectives to consider. There are most certainly always unanswered questions. Maybe calling the guy a terrorist serves as closure for some, but I think it is detrimental to many to draw that conclusion without considering the facts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seapration/Farewell: The Turkish TV Drama Drama

Or 'The Drama over the Turkish TV Drama'

I guess this is the latest in the Turkey/Israel tensions.

So this is a Turkish TV show that apparently is set in Gaza and shows soldiers killing innocent Palestinians, which is the experience of many, but Israel denies this occurs. Israel and Turkey have a diplomatic relationship. Israel appears to be suggesting Turkey do something about this show that offends them.

There are several caveats and angles, here.

*I'll start with the ironic. One of these broadcasts said the reason we even know anything about this is largely due to the Israeli government's protests about the show... I think we can all agree on that.

*Are Israeli soldiers falling victim to the stereotyping that Muslims face in American movies and TV shows (i.e. always portrayed as a terrorist like in the show 24)? Or is this in the more generally permissible range of us Americans telling our story or side of the events (Vietnam, WW, etc) with poetic license (and our slant) that lets us base movies and books on real events, but make up minor things, fill in conversations, etc?

*This quote contains two big things to think about:

Lieberman added: "Such a drama series, which doesn't even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn't worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel."

A. If it has no like to reality and no one's claiming it's a documentary, what's the big deal? I guess it portrays Israel in a negative light, Israel believes, falsely. Israel might have a point, except many an eyewitness and human rights report, including a recent UN (Goldstone) one, address similar concerns. Whether Israel is actually objecting to the perceived lack of basis in reality or extreme similarity to IDF behavior is not necessarily apparent...

B. They seem to be hinting that Turkey should do something about the TV show, but haven't really gone as far as in other spats, like Sweden, for example, where they demanded action. It seems to me that Turkey doing something about the show might repair relations with Israel somewhat, but at the expense of an important aspect of democracy...

Read for yourself:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Settlements- not just talk

While Obama and Netanyahu talk (and talk and talk), some people are actually doing:

ADC Releases Information Detailing Campaign Against Illegal Settlements

“ADC has filed multiple administrative complaints with the with the US
Department of the Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
requesting investigations into the activities of organizations claiming
tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3 of the US Tax Code yet allegedly raising
funds for the development of illegal settlements in the occupied West
Among other allegations, the ADC complaints allege that these
organizations are using assets and income in direct violation of their addressed
purpose, and to support illegal and terrorist activities abroad.”

A Timeless Theme: Whatever Bibi Wants, Bibi Gets

Someone has summed up my posts on Netanyahu- look for the tag on the right hand side of the blog to list them.

Whatever Bibi Wants, Bibi Gets


Variation on a theme; same idea, different official:
Olmert’s arrogance-

Admin Won’t Contradict Olmert Claim on Ceasefire

"In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to
lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to
vote in favour," Olmert said.
"I said 'get me President
Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in
Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the
podium and spoke to me.
"I told him the United States
could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He
immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour."


And Sharon’s infamous arrogance-

Sharon to Peres:

"every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that.
I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on
Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

--Occupied Jerusalem: 3 October, 2001 (IAP News, Kol Yisrael Radio)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Israel doesn't spy on us

Israel's espionage history

This appears to be a bad link, so here's something that may be similar.

A Long History: Israeli Espionage Against the US

The author of this one also wrote a book that might be interesting:
Breaking the "Unwritten Rule" in Israeli Espionage

These are some older links below. You may remember the Israeli art student debacle where they got caught snoping in classified material and the New Zealand situation, among others.

From an old post on an old blog (of mine):

In this link from 2004, it says Lebanon busted an Israeli spy ring.

AIPAC Espionage Case Dismissal Gambit Fails

FBI looks at Pentagon worker in Israel spy probe

Iran arrests 'spy' faking nuclear company

Israeli Art Student Mystery

Israeli Diplomat, Spy Suspect Met

'Mossad spies' jailed over New Zealand passport fraud,,1262362,00.html

Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States

The Spy Who Loves Us

More links- mostly with the Franklin/Jane Harmon/ Rosen/ AIPAC stuff:

Justice Department Aborts Attempt to Hold AIPAC to U.S. Law

The AIPAC/Rosen spy issues continue to 2009:Why Steve Rosen is Suing AIPAC

And a post already on this blog:
My post on last year’s Kadish arrest--

Another Israeli spy...

I’ll start with a book suggestion for more info on Israel and their nuclear history (and our reaction of lack thereof) and to some extent spying - The Samson Option by Seymour Hersh.

For spying, I’d suggest By Way of Deception by Victor Ostrovsky. Critics of critics of Israel have numerous criticisms and reasons why this is bogus, but if you read (or search for yourself) the part where Israel tries to prevent the publishing by legal and other channels, you begin not to know whom to believe. And that may well have been Plan B- discrediting it if it does get published. Kind of like when former government officials resign and say a few things the administration wanted to keep a lid on, they find some dirt or other way to discredit him so we’ll forget about what was revealed due to our (intentionally planted) doubts about veracity.

Back to the spy headline of the week, Stewart Nozette…

My question upon hearing this was why the investigation if Israel’s not implicated? They had to know or suspect something in order to decide to pose as Mossad and recruit him. I guess they couldn't go after Israel with the info from the sting, but to draw from that that Israel doesn't spy on us or wasn't involved is rather ridiculous. I find it hard to believe (well, maybe not so much…) that he and others that have top secret info that get tangled up in situations like this go waving it around and soliciting Israelis to give it to. I am quite sure (or hope) that these people intend to honor their agreement and terms of security clearance with our government, but are lured by the various persuasive ( and coercive?) tactics of the Mossad.

This article did detail why the FBI decided to pose as Mossad and why Nozette.
“The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on
its behalf violated U.S. law. In Jerusalem, Israeli government officials had no
immediate comment.”,8599,1931321,00.html

The Time article had the concise explanation on why the FBI posed as Mossad:

“But around 2006 or so, investigators became suspicious that Nozette was
secretly working for a foreign government…”

“A complaint filed at the US District Court in Washington does not accuse Israel
of spying, and senior Israeli government officials insisted yesterday that their
country did not conduct espionage activities in friendly states.”

Yeah, Israel doesn’t conduct espionage activities in friendly states and Dimona is a textile factory!

For those of you who may not know, Dimona is the (or a major?) site of Israel’s nuclear weapons research and or manufacture, which they insisted for decades was a textile factory; they didn’t have any nukes. Their denial of the nukes is much like their insistence today that they do everything possible to minimize casualties in the Occupied Territories.

This article lists Pollard and Kadish at the end- they were convicted. I can think of numerous other situations in this country and other “friendly states” where Israel was implicated, suspected, etc. I expect most of those get thrown out. We wouldn’t want to prove Israel wrong on the no spying on friendly states assertion, would we? That wouldn’t be friendly.


"Alan (an Israeli Mossad agent) told us that he had many friends in the U. S. intelligence, 'But I always remember the most important thing. When I am sitting with my friend...he's not sitting with his friend.'"

"They (people) don't understand that the Mossad regards the whole world outside Israel as a target, including Europe and the United States."

- "By Way of Deception" by Victor Ostrovsky, ex-Mossad agent.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our anti-Israel biased media? Yeah. Right.

Sorry for the earlier typo (Our pro-Israel biased media. Yeah. Right.)- I was thinking of two different titles...

Our media is only slightly less biased towards Israel than our foreign policy.

I found this while looking for something else---

Don't drink while reading this; you'll have to clean the screen:

My first thought was CNN and Wolf Blitzer, ex-AIPAC operative. Anti-Israel? Really?

The mainstream media may be reporting more now on various UN reports and human rights groups that document Israel's war crimes, but it has never said or implied Hamas is following the law or anything like that. Call me crazy, but when a group the US considers a terrorist group commits 13 murders it isn't going to generate the same hype as a close ally who commits 1300 murders and is accused of war crimes that it refuses to admit occurred. And let's say for the sake of argument that coverage was pro-Palestinian - our political position is staunchly pro-Israel regardless of Israel's crimes, US coverage, or anything else. We haven't forced them to comply with law as long as they've been a state. Bush (HW) came close when he withheld aid. Obama's talking a lot about settlements, but it looks like nothing will come of that- Israel still doesn't have to do anything. We don't care about what Israel did or didn't do in Gaza- we have even "convinced" Palestinians to comply with US/Israeli wishes. Why not give Palestinians the media thing, especially considering that it's not there to begin with?

*** *** ***
This site refutes a similar claim to the one above that CAMERA made:

Here are some terms that the US media uses that rather proves a pro-Israel bias. Example: calling settlements neighborhoods instead of illegal under international law.

Here is a discussion of an interesting book on the matter...

More on settlements...and terror...

An infrastructure of Jewish terror

The law abiding state, country of laws thing has been repeated many times- seemingly in order to convince and not necessarily as a statement of fact. This article is one of many things that makes that clear.

The Haaretz link discusses how settlements are illegal at a minimum and could be associated with terrorism. We think of settlements as an issue of legality or illegality, but residents on the ground have much greater day to day concerns- their land, livelihoods, etc are disappearing. These concerns are the other side of the coin of a settler's "natural growth" or "normal life". It is the status quo while these never ending and often interrupted negotiations are taking place in Washington and New York.

Another point the article makes clear is how Israel doesn't intend to get rid of settlements or comply with law. Once you get that, you see the only option is the ICC, for which the opportunity may be passing quickly...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

PA impedes action on Goldstone report?!

The puppetmaster is hard at work.

The PA is the reason the Goldstone report is not going to the Security Council and will be postponed until March?? At first glance, perhaps you'd call it treason or shooting yourself in the foot or whatever, but when you think who is sitting on the Security Council, maybe it's just admitting the inevitable defeat early on.

In this account I found it odd that the decision to delay was attributed to Abbas and Abbas was launching an internal investigation to see why his government ruled to delay the vote. ??? Was he not there? Is he not a part of this government? Someone made the decision without consulting Fayyad or PLO leadership and Abbas apparently doesn't know who made this decision or why? An investigation of this sort seems rather silly when you are in the situation of those in Occupied Palestine. American pressure was mentioned, and I'll buy it, but this is nuts.

Needless to say, I have to find another source.


This one quotes Arab leaders saying this is a missed opportunity and Abbas should step down. I agree that it was a bit of a missed opportunity, but given the US veto, which is a given, maybe I can see why he gave in. I guess when the choices are- stick to you guns and stand up for your rights even though you are sure to be shot down and called uncooperative and shunned --or-- concede and delay the vote and be called slightly less uncooperative and re-enter unending "peace talks" sponsored by the best friend of your Occupier- it would be hard to choose. Maybe it wouldn't matter.


The Guardian makes it a bit clearer:

The Palestinian reversal came after "intense diplomacy" by Washington, which told the Palestinians that going ahead with the vote would harm efforts to restart peace talks with the Israelis, according to diplomats quoted by news agencies.

They did help draft a motion in support of the report, but didn't go forward with it due to this threat and the fact that if it were voted down, it would just go away.

I still can't help thinking this was a missed opportunity, though...

I'd like to see the leadership stand up for the people now and then. But where would that get them? They'd be accused by the US and Israel of doing a disservice to their people. Being uncompromising on the right of return, the small amount of land left by the 67 borders, Jerusalem, holy sites, and the dismantling of settlements- all of the things supposedly guaranteed them under international law- would get them called Arafat and accused of missing an opportunity for peace. Yet, if they compromise on any of these things, the people suffer and rights are forfeited. Sure, they might get some fleeting influence from the US, but that would be revoked as soon as they stopped conceding their rights back to Israel.

Funny how Palestinians must put off action on reports that detail Israeli war crimes against them, they must meet despite a refusal by Israel to follow the law and dismantle (even freeze) settlements to be considered remotely eligible to be a partner for peace. Israel can boycott elected Palestinian leaders, have leaders that are terrorists, and break laws left and right and still be considered the eternal victim and ultimate partner for peace.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ahmedinejad- myth vs. fact

Just after doing the Palestine- myth vs fact post, I got an email about Ahemdinejad's not really saying he wants Israel wiped off the map, among other things. I've heard this countless times in the news, in conversations, and I never really questioned it myself, so I was intrigued.

Here it is:

It turns out that Ahmadinejad never said what is being routinely attributed to him. Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at University of Michigan who reads Persian, explains that he actually stated (quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini): "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Palestine/Israel- Myths and Facts

I came across this first article in my inbox and remembered some other myth vs fact sites I've run across over the years.

Think Again: Palestine

"Economic Peace Is Possible."
"Arab Intransigence Blocks Peace."
"Settlements Are Not the Issue."
"Israel's Occupation Is Not Apartheid."

Debunking 6 common Israeli myths







Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate?

The myth of incitement in Palestinian textbooks


Why the above rebuttals are necessary:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Israel and Iran's UN General Assembly Speeches

The irony in Netanyahu’s talk about the Holocaust, nuclear capabilities, and peace was astounding. I guess it's not really a forum for apologizing for one's mistakes so much as telling why you are so awesome, though. I thought Iran and Israel stood out for exceptional irony. Qaddafi just stood out-- but I'm not going there.

Interestingly, people walked out on Ahmedinejad's speech when he was critical of Israel, not for the legitimate (and obvious?) reason of the disputed elections- if I have heard the news report correctly. He made some good points about double standards and Palestine, but who’s going to listen to this guy what with the dubious election results, aggressive style and his country’s own human rights record?

Netanyahu, in his UN address
, started off with condemning Ahmedinejad and Holocaust denial and those who didn’t walk out on him. He used this speech as a platform to “build” a case for invading Iran. He said of the UN and all nations that were either too critical of Israel or not critical enough of Iran that they were on the side of terror (!). I’m having Bush déjà vu. His comparison of Iran and Hamas with the Nazis was gratuitous. Forget about Iran’s disputed elections, it’s always about the Holocaust (the Jewish one, not the one the Jews perpetrated), right? He condemned Iran as backward and fanatic. Nice. That should help diplomatic efforts.

And he’s trying to channel former President Bush here- trying to con people into thinking that his pet project (or diversion) is the real problem of the day:

“The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge?”

Netanyahu also condemned the recent UN report, the Human Rights Council, and the whole UN for daring to say anyone other than Israel is the victim:

“We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.”

No one is allowed to deny or even debate facts surrounding the Holocaust. It’s taboo. Other people died too, but discussing it as anything but a Jewish tragedy is forbidden. But, on the other hand, saying there is no such thing as Palestinians (or making al-Nakba commemoration illegal) is not a problem. On the contrary, it’s a convenient solution. And surprisingly, it’s one people don’t dismiss out of hand. They consider it; they aren’t enraged at the suggestion and they don’t think the person who suggested it is racist or loony- like Holocaust denial or disputing various numbers or events surrounding it. If you say Palestinians didn’t exist, then you massacred nobody and nobody has a claim to the land you “found” totally (and conveniently) empty. You are occupying nobody’s land, oppressing nobody and therefore aren’t committing any crimes. Perhaps this is why Netanyahu is incensed? He’s being blamed for the tragedy of a people that he thinks don’t exist?

Here is an outright lie:

“In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza.”

(Dov Weisglass said the intent of his government at the time was “political formaldehyde,”- his term- the holding off of real negotiations, which would mean peace- for Israel, minus responsibility for past crimes- without justice for Palestinians)

His constant assertion, here, is that Israel wants peace, but his examples are telling. He names Jordan and Egypt as successes, but the only way they got those agreements was by taking Palestinian issues off the table. These agreements were probably of significant importance in subjugating and oppressing Palestinians, since both were regional heavyweights (Egypt- militarily; Jordan- diplomatically or politically), but not so much for solving the main issue causing unrest in the region.

Netanyahu also talks about the ridiculous demilitarized state idea:

“The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.”

He just got finished talking about how it is Israel’s right to defend itself and now he turns around and says Palestinians don’t have this right?? Israel may want peace, but it has to be on Israel’s terms! Notice that mentality where he wants delegates to choose Israel’s side and reject the report or else Israel can’t make any more ‘risks for peace’:

“This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow.”

To his credit, he didn’t mention equality or justice in his speech, so kudos for not lying about wanting or intending to bestow these gifts- I guess.

He goes there- to 1947. The Jews accepted this resolution; Arabs didn’t. Hmmm. What if the UN were to do the same today and give Palestinians 50% of the Israel/Palestine area. Would Jews accept that?? No way! Back then, Palestinians rightfully owned (not occupied) some 95% of the land and the UN decided to divide it in two and give 55% to this small population of Jews. That was crazy to them. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess they should have taken it, right? But, back then, I bet it seemed nuts to accept such an unfair division of their land. They didn’t really have a guarantee, though, that the Jews wouldn’t have invaded and taken more land, seeing as how they had connections to get more people and weapons from escaping Jews and all people against the Holocaust (one example, another).
*In both of those linked examples, you see the appearance of the idea that little David (Israel) was fighting big, evil Goliath (7 Arab armies), but check this, among other sources, before you swallow that whopper.

And there's the nukes. Israel won’t sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, like India and Pakistan, but we’re supposed to crack down on Iran. Israel succeeded in keeping their nuclear weapons program secret for a long time and considers Vanunu, who outed them, an enemy of the state who will never be free. No one thinks this odd, but Iran is assumed to be planning an imminent attack on Israel because it doesn’t want its enemies to know about its capabilities.

Freedom, justice and self-defense are Israel’s right, but not Palestinians’ as evidenced by the reservations to the Roadmap and the conditions under which Netanyahu would accept a Palestinian entity. Nuclear power and weapons are Israel’s right to have or disclose-- or not, but everyone else is subject to rules, inspections or bans.

Apartheid is bad, except when Israel does it. Ethnic cleansing is bad, except if Israel does it (it’s always “self-defense”). I’m starting to see a pattern? Are you?

Full text of the speeches (Sept. 23 & 24, 2009):

Netanyahu Speech at UN: Full Text Transcript and Video

Transcript of Ahmadinejad's U.N. Speech

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Israeli voices- we love the right

Anderson Cooper's show the night before last:

I watched a bit of this, but the panel was rather curious. I don’t know if he called them a panel of experts, but I hope not.

Oren- Israeli ambassador. I’ll give them that, though, you already know what he’s going to say. Defending settlements and Israel’s behavior no matter how crazy or hypocritical the argument.

Zakaria- He’s an analyst. I’ll give them that, but he’s CNN, so that’s a little lame.

And last, but not least (?)…
Shmuley Boteach??- Shalom in the Home? Is that what qualifies him? Or the protesting outside the UN? Maybe Supernanny had something to say- let’s get her on. Or me. I’ve written some letters to the president.


Reminds me on NPR when Halevy was making the rounds on The Story to tell his story

and on Diane Rehm as an analyst.

At least Diane Rehm had another guest that could present the other point of view!

As for Mr. Cooper, why not call on Illan Pappe or Amira Hass or Neve Gordon or Gideon Levy when you need as Israeli? I thought MSNBC was supposed to be liberal? Maybe it was shout out to the right night? What was the deal? Perhaps Boteach was supposed to keep it light? I give up.

I should cut him some slack, though. I'm not actually that familiar with his show, so maybe he does invite more of a variety than others, but that night was particularly hawk-heavy.

It seems we inordinately hear from the right-most Israeli voices in the US. If we could hear from the Israeli left, maybe more in the US would demand that Israel follow the law? Or we could have a decent discussion without those demanding Israel abide by international law or face consequences being dismissed as terrorist sympathizers.

If you want to hear from the Israeli left, you have to go dig it up yourself. The mainstream as yet seems unable to deliver. It will be well worth your while to do so. Enlightening, maybe.