Contact Me

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congressmen go to Gaza and What is a balanced resolution anyway?

US Members of Congress visit Gaza
http://endthesiege.blogspot.com/2009/02/us-members-of-congress-visit-gaza.html

Representatives Baird and Ellison (you know, the Muslim people mixed up with Obama and made up that he used a Quran to be sworn in?) visited Gaza and were moved. Good. And so what? Or what now?

On one hand, I’m glad they are seeing things with their own eyes (instead of just parroting Israel and dismissing all else) and I’m glad they agree that the situation is bad. On the other, I know nothing will get done. Even if they were moved to sacrifice their seats and advocate for rights and basic necessities of life for Palestinians as much as everyone is concerned for Jews’ rights to sit in cafes and go to the movies, they are too few. Despite the futility of that scenario, that would be a good thing. But, it won’t happen. Everything will be blamed on Hamas, as usual, as though Israel has done nothing remotely wrong or against the law. War is devastating and has consequences, Palestinians’ troubles are just collateral damage. They’ll say- if Hamas would just do this or Palestinians just do x, y and z, then Israel wouldn’t be forced to “act”.

These Congress people are saddened and moved by the humanitarian situation when confronted with it face to face, but when in Washington, this* is what happens:
(*this= unabashedly pro-Israel resolutions detailing Palestinian faults and blame, not mentioning any Israeli wrongdoing or preconditions, expressing solidarity with Israel, listing instances where they perceive Israel has fulfilled obligations, while paying lip service to the peace process.)

This was introduced during the latest offensive by Israel in Dec 08-Jan 09:

SRES 10 ATS, 111th CONGRESS, 1st Session, S. RES. 10

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 8, 2009

Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. KERRY, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. KYL, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. HATCH, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. BOND, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. DEMINT, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. THUNE, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. MARTINEZ, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. CASEY, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. CARPER, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. BAYH, Mr. JOHANNS, Mrs. LINCOLN, Mr. BROWN, and Mr. CARDIN) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;

Whereas Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

Whereas, in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom they continue to hold today;

Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005;

Whereas Hamas has increased the range of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting additional large numbers of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza;

Whereas Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastructure in civilian population centers, thus using innocent civilians as human shields;

Whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement on December 27, 2008, that `[w]e strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there';

Whereas, on December 27, 2008, Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert said, `For approximately seven years, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the south have been suffering from missiles being fired at them. . . . In such a situation we had no alternative but to respond. We do not rejoice in battle but neither will we be deterred from it. . . . The operation in the Gaza Strip is designed, first and foremost, to bring about an improvement in the security reality for the residents of the south of the country.';

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that `Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate President of the Palestinian people. Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli cities and has contributed deeply to a very bad daily life for the Palestinian people in Gaza, and to a humanitarian situation that we have all been trying to address';

Whereas the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including shortages of food, water, electricity, and adequate medical care, is becoming more acute;

Whereas Israel has facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza with over 500 trucks and numerous ambulances entering the Gaza Strip since December 26, 2008;
(I guess this is supposed to be a statement showing how Israel is fulfilling it’s obligations, but to those of us who know anything about the conflict, 500 trucks is a drop in the bucket. 500 trucks is a reduction from previous levels which were insufficient to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that it was `Hamas that rejected the Egyptian and Arab calls for an extension of the tahadiya that Egypt had negotiated' and that the United States was `working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza. It is obvious that that cease-fire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable'; and

Whereas the ultimate goal of the United States is a sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will allow for a viable and independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel, which will not be possible as long as Israeli civilians are under threat from within Gaza: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;

(2) reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

(3) encourages the President to work actively to support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel and allows for the long term improvement of daily living conditions for the ordinary people of Gaza;

(4) believes strongly that the lives of innocent civilians must be protected and all appropriate measures should be taken to diminish civilian casualties and that all involved should continue to work to address humanitarian needs in Gaza;

(5) supports and encourages efforts to diminish the appeal and influence of extremists in the Palestinian territories and to strengthen moderate Palestinians who are committed to a secure and lasting peace with Israel; and

(6) reiterates its strong support for United States Government efforts to promote a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a serious and sustained peace process that leads to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure State of Israel.


This one was introduced during Israel’s offensive in Lebanon:

H. Res. 921

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

July 20, 2006.

Whereas on September 12, 2005, Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, demonstrating its willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of peace;

Whereas more than 1,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel since Israel's disengagement;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on June 25, 2006, Israeli Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and is being held hostage in Gaza by a Palestinian terrorist group which includes members of Hamas;

Whereas Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus, Syria, has acknowledged the role of Hamas in holding Corporal Shalit hostage;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on July 12, 2006, operatives of the terrorist group Hezbollah operating out of southern Lebanon killed three Israeli soldiers and took two others hostage;

Whereas Israel fully complied with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) by completely withdrawing its forces from Lebanon, as certified by the United Nations Security Council and affirmed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June 16, 2000, when he said, `Israel has withdrawn from [Lebanon] in full compliance with Security Council Resolution 425.';

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) calls for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the dismantlement of all independent militias in Lebanon;

Whereas despite the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, the Government of Lebanon has failed to disband and disarm Hezbollah, allowing Hezbollah instead to amass 13,000 rockets, including rockets that are more destructive, longer-range and more accurate than rockets previously used by Hezbollah, and has integrated Hezbollah into the Lebanese Government;

Whereas the Government of Israel has previously shown great restraint despite the fact that Hezbollah has launched at least four separate attacks into Israel using rockets and ground forces over the past year;

Whereas the failure of the Government of Lebanon to implement all aspects of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 and to extend its authority throughout its territory has enabled Hezbollah to launch armed attacks against Israel and recently to kidnap Israeli soldiers;

Whereas Hezbollah's strength derives significantly from the direct financial, military, and political support it receives from Syria and Iran, and Hezbollah also receives important support from sources within Lebanon;

Whereas Iranian Revolutionary Guards continue to operate in southern Lebanon, providing support to Hezbollah and reportedly controlling its operational activities;

Whereas the Government of the United States has enacted several laws, including the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-175) and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172), which call for the imposition of sanctions on Syria and Iran for, among other things, their support for terrorism and terrorist organizations;

Whereas the House of Representatives has repeatedly called for full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559;

Whereas section 1224 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) withholds certain assistance to Lebanon contingent on the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces to the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel and its effective assertion of authority in the border area in order, among other reasons, to prevent cross-border infiltration by terrorists, precisely the criminal activity that has provoked the current crisis;

Whereas President George W. Bush stated on July 12, 2006, `Hezbollah's terrorist operations threaten Lebanon's security and are an affront to the sovereignty of the Lebanese Government. Hezbollah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes.', and has repeatedly affirmed that Syria and Iran must be held to account for their shared responsibility in the recent attacks;

Whereas the United States recognizes that some members of the democratically-elected Lebanese parliament are working to build an autonomous and sovereign Lebanon and supports their efforts; and

Whereas both Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist and call for the destruction of Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) reaffirms its steadfast support for the State of Israel;

(2) condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for engaging in unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel on undisputed Israeli territory, for taking hostages, for killing Israeli soldiers, and for continuing to indiscriminately target Israeli civilian populations with their rockets and missiles;

(3) further condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for cynically exploiting civilian populations as shields, locating their equipment and bases of operation, including their rockets and other armaments, amidst civilian populations, including in homes and mosques;

(4) recognizes Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties;

(5) demands the Governments of Iran and Syria to direct Hamas and Hezbollah to immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldiers which they hold captive;

(6) affirms that all governments that have provided continued support to Hamas or Hezbollah share responsibility for the hostage-taking and attacks against Israel and, as such, should be held accountable for their actions;

(7) condemns the Governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas in their armed attacks against Israelis and their other terrorist activities;

(8) supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself , including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;

(9) commends the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel as it responds to these armed attacks by terrorist organizations and their state sponsors;

(10) urges the President of the United States to bring the full force of political, diplomatic, and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the Governments of Syria and Iran;

(11) demands the Government of Lebanon to do everything in its power to find and free the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held in the territory of Lebanon;

(12) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn these unprovoked acts and to take action to ensure full and immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council 1559 (2004), which requires Hezbollah to be dismantled and the departure of all Syrian personnel and Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon;

(13) expresses its condolences to all families of innocent victims of recent violence; and

(14) declares its continued commitment to working with Israel and other United States allies in combating terrorism worldwide.


UN Resolutions are mentioned and Arab shortcomings are detailed. Israel’s failures (be they failures to implement UN Resolutions or violations of international law) are totally disregarded. If this resolution also detailed Israel’s shortcomings, violations, etc, they would certainly outnumber by far the Arab “whereas” statements of shortcoming.

***
Looking at these resolutions, it is easy for us to forget what Israel is doing to perpetuate the violence, so...

Here are a few places to find Israel’s violations that you’ll never find in a so-called balanced (here, balanced = pro-Israel) Congressional resolution:
***
quick and dirty facts and figures of the conflict
http://www.miftah.org/report.cfm

Israel: New report condemns Israel's 'blatant violation of International Law' in West Bank
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=17362

Diaries
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/diaries.shtml

Eyewitnesses
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?rubrique2


http://www.alhaq.org/


Israel Is Committing War Crimes- Jan 10, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154826952369919.html

Occasionally has interesting personal stories, diaries, etc in addition to news:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/default.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7802295.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7822048.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/7270785.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1899387.stm

Interesting project- war crimes
http://www.crimesofwar.org/archive/archive-mideast.html#israel


Specifically about the recent Gaza action:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090112/falk?rel=emailNation

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119


This article talks about 66 UN resolutions Israel disregards:
http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0393/9303040.htm

A quote from the article that I wholeheartedly agree with:
"If the United States really wants peace in the Middle East, it must insist that Israel abide by the judgment of the world community as expressed in resolutions by the United Nations."

***
***

The Congressmen were moved by what they saw in Gaza, yet didn’t ask why things are this bad. It’s Hamas’ fault and the Palestinian people’s for not revolting against the democratically elected leadership. They didn’t ask- is it just this latest offensive that caused such suffering? Is Israel doing enough to prevent such hardship on civilians or are they deliberately creating this situation (terrorism) to induce the innocent population to revolt against Hamas (civil war)? Was it necessary to flatten every structure (security, utilities, telecom, etc) in view and kill so many to achieve the reduction of rocket attacks?

Take a look at these resolutions that place the blame solely on Palestinians and never on Israel, that express such strong support for Israel, that detail every failure of Hamas, that don’t mention a word of Israel’s violations of international law (settlements, role of Occupier, etc) and UN Resolutions and general standard for justice and regard for the civilian population. Anyway, take a look at that, then look at the UN Resolutions the US has vetoed because they are “anti-Israel”. Anything that calls Israel out for it’s deficiencies or holds Israel accountable in any way is considered anti-Israel. I guess that’s what friends do. Lie and cover up each others’ sins, rather than tell the unpleasant truth and truly help them. Israel doesn’t even reciprocate, but no worries, we have a special relationship (whatever that means), right?

++++++++The US veto in the Israel/Palestine conflict++++++++

Two veto lists:
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-neff-veto.html


One US Rule for Israel, Another for Saddam
http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0216-07.htm

Gaza 2005
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-vetoes-biased-un-resolution-attacking-israels-gaza-bloodbath-423993.html


2003- about the veto
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2828985.stm
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The most recent UN Resolution on this issue is below. We abstained (voted present?) on this one rather than vetoed. There was some snafu over it as we were going to vote for it, then got a call from Olmert which changed "our minds." Anyway, it's hardly anti-Israel, but I guess it's not obsequious enough. In order to be balanced in American eyes, one must reaffirm Israel's right to exist and defend itself as the primary message and demand that all recognize these things, congratulate it on all it's "done" and heavily criticize Palestinians (and other Arab nations if you can fit it in). Above all, you must not allude to any Israeli wrongdoing at all. That would be anti-Israel. That's a bunch of garbage, of course, but you understand the thinking.

John Bolton called this resolution anti-Israel (???) :

UN Resolution 1860
Background

The Security Council met this evening to take action on a draft resolution (document S/2009/23) sponsored by the United Kingdom, which reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

“Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

“Emphasising the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians,

“Expressing grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm; and emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected,

“Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,

“Emphasising the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings,

“Recognising the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,

“Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means,

“Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

“1. Stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;

“2. Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment;

“3. Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

“4. Calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

“5. Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism;

“6. Calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re‑opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way;

“7. Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the 26 November 2008 resolution, and consistent with Security Council resolution 1850 (2008) and other relevant resolutions;

“8. Calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognised borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

“9. Welcomes the Quartet’s consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's War


Obama’s War on Terror May Resemble Bush’s in Some Areas
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/us/politics/18policy.html?ref=us

“Civil liberties groups praise Mr. Obama’s early executive orders on national security, but say other signs are discouraging.”

I have to concur. I was excited about the closing of Guantanamo, statement that waterboarding is torture, the administration is against torture (I know Bush said the same, but Obama seems to have policy to support that, rather than blatantly contradict it to some extent). However, the news about the loophole in the anti-torture policy, extraordinary renditions and state secrets policy were very disappointing.

Obama should take this opportunity to set things right. Stop using this “War on Terror” phrase. It is ridiculous to keep POWs for the duration of so-called wartime in this so-called war. It’s indefinite, unfocused, unending, and unwinnable. Like the War on Drugs. Did we win that one?

We should go back to the pre-Bush use of the state secrets policy (item by item rather than dismiss the whole thing based on one or two things) and extraordinary rendition (send the person back to their home country for legal proceedings rather than sending him to a 3rd party country to be held in detention indefinitely and probably tortured). Oh, I guess it’s not torture, it’s enhanced interrogation. Republicans (in my experience) are usually all about bashing PC language, but I guess Bush made it cool again with enhanced interrogation and illegal combatants, etc. Obama needs to draw a line in the sand and make a clear break with Bush’s more questionable policies and language. I'll cut him some slack on the posting a bill online for 48 hours (I heard an angry Republican blasting Obama for that on the radio the other day), but there's no excuse for continuing Bush's abuses of power, civil liberties, human rights and the like.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

journey from peacenik to warmonger

I do love The Story on NPR,

these are a few I really liked:
To Catch a Thief
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_287_ID_Theft_Anarchy.mp3/view
Scammed
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_425_Scammed.mp3
Scamming the Scammers
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_433_Commodifying_Race.mp3/view


BUT some do bother me. I guess that's why I like this program, though. There is such a variety of people and situations represented. I almost deleted the podcast, A Father’s Rite, but ended up listening to it later, despite the description. The last one to really bother me like this one below was about a girl who shoplifted habitually, made it a game, had rules and didn't really feel any remorse in hindsight.
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_385_Oil_Game.mp3/view

Oh, and another one that got under my skin was about a family who squatted in a foreclosed home and felt as though they had some right to stay there rent free. They did clean it up and possibly kept crackheads away, but is that worth $100,000 or whatever the value is? Maybe I should stop paying my mortgage- hey, maybe they owe me for paying my mortgage for some 6 years? That said, though, I think there should be some help available for those who were wronged by mortgage and credit companies (I can’t remember if this family falls into this category). Maybe there could be a temporary rental situation to be worked out matching homeless families to all the foreclosed properties, but if that occurs, it would make sense for the family foreclosed on to get dibs. While I don’t think all the blame for people getting in over their heads with credit cards and mortgages and loans should be on the individuals all of the time, I was dumbfounded that they thought that because they found a vacant property, cleaned it up, and moved in it was theirs- and not just theirs- theirs free and clear. Perhaps I’m not as socialist as I thought!
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_475_New_Life_In_A_Foreclosed_Home.mp3/view


This ended up being a rather long analysis or over-analysis of this particular “The Story,” but everything the guy said ruffled my feathers. Enjoy- or not!


The Story: A Father's Rite
http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_702_Israeli_Father.mp3

This story is described as one of a guy's turning point from optimistic leftist peacenik to not so sure. In listening to this, I really doubt how much of a peacenik he actually was. That’s going a bit far. Maybe he was on the Zionist left as opposed to the peace-loving left. I have recently learned there may be a difference between “leftists” like Yossi here and the likes of Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Uri Avnery, and Jeff Halper that I have enjoyed reading for some time.

He talks happily about Israel basking in the 6 Day War victory against 3 Arab countries when he went to visit Israel with his parents when he was young. He said the attitude there was that anything is possible (as long as you can beat down your neighbors?). Peace is possible (only when you are in the position to dictate the terms?). He used to think peace without weapons was possible and now he's not so sure (because your enemy now has access to guns instead of rocks?).

This optimism seems driven by military victory rather than a real desire for peace. The Israeli view seems always to be colored by military superiority and getting their way; equality doesn't enter their equation, which is a big problem and obstacle to peace as far as I can see.

From the time of that first visit, he was committed to coming back to live in Israel. He thought it was “the most compelling place on earth for him as a Jew to live.” This seems to indicate a love for Israel (and it's Jewishness) above all else which would lead one to believe that he won't ask the hard questions- should it be a Jewish state, do Palestinians have a right to the land as well, etc- that leftists generally ask for the good of their country and their neighbors. If keeping Israel Jewish is your primary concern, peace will take a distant second or worse. After all, when you've got to worry about demographics, dismantling illegal settlements becomes a bit of a problem and equal rights for Palestinians may mean a more involved Palestinian Israeli presence at the polls which would obviously “threaten” Israel's Jewishness. The Occupation is good for demographics, but bad for peace and saving and improving lives of Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims. That's part of what makes Israel's response disproportionate. When they say some violence was necessary or for security measures what they really mean is that it's necessary in their view to help maintain a Jewish majority and Jewish state. This is a political goal for which they are willing to terrorize and collectively punish the Palestinian population in order to maintain. A former Mossad agent has said that the Gaza blockade is counterproductive, so why is it in place? We probably will never hear them say they target civilians (unless Lieberman and his ilk gain still more power), but there is ample evidence that they, at the very least, do not take care to minimize civilian casualties.

In contrasting the effect of war on Israelis during the 6 Day War and 1982, Yossi equated war and existential threat and said that that usually united Israelis, but in 1982 there were anti-war protests. Later in the story, he also said that if Israel doesn't go to war with Hamas, it will say that Israel doesn't have the nerve to survive. Peaceniks are able to separate war and existential threat; they aren't always the same. In Israel's case, the two haven't been the same since the beginning; not even the existence of Israel as a Jewish state has been under existential threat. I have a hard time believing that anyone who equates war and existential threat is or was anywhere near the left or peace camp.

Another part of his story that makes me doubt he was ever in the peace camp was his account of an experience on a "mission" during his alleged peacenik phase:

He woke a man and his two sons in the middle of the night to paint over anti-Israel slogans on the wall and looking for militants. (???) First, isn't this free speech? Is that an Israeli value? Guess not. And what did this have to do with their supposed mission to find militants?? He didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with making civilians do slave labor to cover up free speech. It's standard practice for the IDF to deface everything with the star of David and derogatory things about Arabs. Shall we wake Israeli families up at night and have them come clean that up- and while they're at it, rebuild Gaza?? Even if he's become more of a hawk, surely he would have remembered some feelings of guilt, thinking it was odd, etc about this, but nothing.

He did say that his reservists would discuss why were they here and what were they doing in general. Yossi even expressed empathy for Palestinians throwing rocks at soldiers with guns. Now that's generous of him. Now that Palestinians have guns- I wouldn't say they are on an equal playing field, but it's better than rocks- suddenly Yossi thinks they have to be crushed.

He also describes how he would fight with his kids about going out for fear of an attack, but let them go once his wife framed it this way: we should let them go out or move and concede Israel is a failed project. So it comes back to Zionism once again. They have the right to live there, but these Palestinians whose land they are on don't. Not only don't they have the right to land in Israel, they barely have the right to land in the Occupied Territories and don't have the right to freedom of movement (not just into Israel, but from city to city in the Territories), safety, security, schooling, food, water, electricity, trials, not to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge, not to be extra judicially assassinated, not to have tanks roll over your possessions at will, not to be fired at indiscriminately, not to have your house taken over by the IDF for a base, not to have your house bulldozed, the list goes on. So when I hear about Israelis being sad they cannot go to a discotech or café (teen hood stolen??) I get a little mad. It seems like such a silly thing to complain about when you look at the other side. I mean in relative quiet, three times as many Palestininas die as Israelis, and in conflict, 1000 more Palestinians die. I know that it would be hard to be an Israeli parent, but what about Palestinian parents?? No one ever asks this. The media is always putting us in the shoes of Israeli parents, comparing our feelings after 9/11 with Israelis who get attacked so much more. Of course they has the right to defend themselves. No one ever talks about a Palestinian's right to defend himself and his family. If we were in the Palestinians' position, what would we do? Perhaps more people should think about that.

He feels the difference between him and his kids was his kids grew up after Israel had made a serious offer and accepted a two state solution. He also made a big deal about the fact that Israel offered to share Jerusalem. Those gestures made him feel the guilt of occupation largely was removed. (???) That it's the Palestinians' fault now. He also said- and this is the part that got me- his kids had an advantage because they weren't guilty Israelis. Similarly, he proudly said he was conflicted in his service and his son wasn't. Proud of the rage he said his son felt, proud of the lack of empathy. He was glad his son felt like he had no choice and that he was doing the right thing because that's what you need to win. That's one thing if he feels Gaza is necessary, but why does this change the past? So he's ashamed or regrets feeling empathy for Palestinians who defended themselves with rocks against guns??? Regardless of morale, they really should have been able to "win" against rocks. That should tell them that violence isn't the solution. Oppression, in a way, makes resistance stronger. Israeli Jews should really look to their history to relearn that lesson. Did Jews in Nazi Germany roll over and die? No, they did what was necessary to survive.

He feels Israel tried to prevent the recent Gaza action; it's not a war of choice. This makes no sense. I have addressed this before, I think. If I haven't, there are tons of analyses out there now.

Another rather disturbing thing was that he feels conflicted with his reconciliation work and defending Israel. This shouldn't be, unless with his hawkish attitude comes the Zionist racism of the right as well. A person who desires peace, regardless of how optimistic they are about it, should be able to work on the individual level with Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims and Jews, to connect the people, appreciate that all the civilians suffer, promote dialogue, or whatever his reconciliation work is about. I don't see how he is conflicted unless he blames the Palestinian civilians for everything that's going on and is a big racist. Or, perhaps deep down, he knows and asks the questions the real Israeli left asks, the hard, self-critical questions. Maybe he knows Israel is guilty of some of the things it's accused of, feels guilty for that, and blames Palestinians for that.

Yossi in his analyst mode:
http://wamu.org/programs/dr/09/02/11.php#24677

Articles by the actual left:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1063597.html
http://newmatilda.com/2009/01/12/jailer-state
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beginnings of comon sense in Washington?


http://jta.org/news/article/2009/02/12/1002975/ackerman-slams-settlemen

Ackerman slams settlements, Israeli attitudes

Settler "pogroms," settlement building and Israeli intransigence are joined with Palestinian terrorism in a "downward spiral," a top U.S. Jewish congressman said.

In the Bush era, this would be tantamount to treason. Shall we dare to dream that common sense is seeping into Washington. I have noticed in the past 5 or so years more recognition in the public that Palestinians may have rights and Israel may not always be right. Ten years ago, such assertions would get blank stares or a barrage of accusations of anti-Semitism. Who knows maybe the next generation of Congressmen will be as able to speak publicly of (supporting) Palestinian rights and suffering as freely as we speak of Jewish Israeli rights and suffering. Dare to dream. Well, I guess technically now they can speak freely- they just won't have the slightest hope for re-election. It is true that any resolution that's not heavily pro-Israel definitely will not pass in the current House or Senate.

Anyway, it's nice to see someone who's considered more mainstream than say Kucinich or McKinney speaking up. And from New York no less. I must say I'm surprised.

In addition to Ackerman, Obama has used certain encouraging key words as "humanitarian situation" and "blockade" and Clinton used the words "Palestinian suffering". These words or other allusions to the Palestinian perspective or humanity were off limits in the Bush administration. Kinda ridiculous to consider oneself a mediator (an effective one) if you have put blinders on such that you can only see one side's rights, suffering, struggle, legitimacy, humanity.

Obama is daring to use words that were off limits to Bush administration officials, though I doubt any real differences in policy will occur. Maybe he would have risked a real look at both sides if there was no financial crisis. Or maybe not.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Israel bans Arab parties, embraces ethnic cleansing

Much is made of Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East, a country over there with our values, their freedom, their equal treatment of Arabs despite what Arabs do to them, etc, but is it past time to re-examine Israel's status both democratically and as an entity we are supporting? It seems to me they are less democratic than people in America want to believe. I believe we just can't come to terms with the US supporting such a regime, so believe Israel’s lines about security, necessity and collateral damage. They have a right to defend themselves. They are under attack like we were on 9/11, except continually and existentially. The truth is that this is code; they don't have our values- unless apartheid and racism are American values. What people are saying with the “Israel has a right to defend herself” line is that Palestinians do not have the right to defend themselves, let alone have their own sovereign country. I know, some folks who think Israel’s actions are reasonable are going to say they support a Palestinian state, but think about the logic and facts on the ground- the two ideas are practically incompatible.

Israel was founded by terrorists using terrorism. This perfectly acceptable to us and it is something many Americans think we should defend to our financial and moral detriment. Somehow, the Palestinian struggle for statehood and rights in general is not the same; the context always manages to get separated from the actions in the US and Israeli coverage. These are savages attacking Israel for the sake of “pushing Israel into the sea”; hatred of Jews.

In lists of reasons to support Israel, democracy always is near the top.
In the recent elections in Israel, two of the major Arab parties were banned in Israel for not supporting the Gaza massacre of Dec08-Jan09. What if we banned the Democratic party because too many of them didn't support or had questions about the Iraq invasion?? Is that democratic? Is that free?

Israel disqualifies Arab parties
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7825032.stm

These are just two of the contradictions of Israel as a democracy.


Another code to decipher in this is the Israeli left. It’s not as leftist as you’d think or even perhaps as it used to be. A recent test or proof of this is the popularity and success of well-known racist Avigdor Lieberman.

For those of you who don't follow these things and want to know what the big deal is with this guy, here are three items that should raise the red flag, so to speak:

1. He has proposed a loyalty oath for Arab Israelis who wish to be or remain citizens, which means citizenship can be revoked for those not deemed to be in full support of Israel's policies, etc. You aren't allowed to criticize the government lest you put your citizenship in jeopardy?? Somebody please remind me why they are called the only democracy in the Middle East and why do we support them?? Does this remind anyone of anything?
  • Also problematic is that they are swearing loyalty to a state that only really guarantees the safety, security and rights of Jews. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel speaks to Jews. It does mention that it will ensure the rights of others, but all the talk of the natural right of Jews to the land and justice based on Israel’s prophets, etc are kind of a slap in the face to aforementioned non-Jewish inhabitants. Why would or should they swear allegiance to that? To agree to that is to deny one’s own God-given rights as though God gave rights and land to Jews and they will generously grant you some of it – if “security” (read: from the whim of an 18 year old soldier to actual terrorist threat) warrants it.

2. He is also the guy who said this:
"It would be better to drown these prisoners (~11,000 people!!) in the Dead Sea if possible, since that's the lowest point in the world." (Avigdor Lieberman, 7 July 2003)
This is the rule rather than the exception for this guy. He is openly for ethnic cleansing where other government officials in recent years have only made veiled threats and cloaked action in some well-meaning and acceptable term like "security measures."

And this:
"At the end of the Second World War, not only the criminals were executed at the Nuremberg Trials, but also those who collaborated with them. I hope that this will be the fate of the collaborators in this house." (May 2006- Lieberman talking about Arab Knesset members who negotiate with Hamas)

Other quotes here:
http://www.peacenow.org/pr.asp?rid=&cid=5933

3. He's a neo-fascist. And you thought Obama was a threat to peace, freedom, and everything good. The “Obama’s a socialist” was a rather trumped up pre-election charge (scare tactic). Lieberman’s for real. No exaggeration.

OK, he's a curious character. But, he's a fringe element and can't possibly be a serious mainstream competitor, right? A few years ago I thought this, but not now. And what’s worse is Israel's election front-runners fought to be more extreme than he! This speaks to the direction Israel is going and why we should reconsider our “special relationship”.

Netanyahu said Lieberman's loyalty policy didn't go far enough because there wasn't a way to enforce it.

Barak, the “leftist”, about Lieberman, said, "This is a lamb in hawk's clothing. And when did he ever shoot anybody by himself?" First, this, from the center left?? Second, transfer and revoking citizenship aren't good enough, you have to have killed Arabs to be a contender??

Due to the loyalty oath requirement for citizenship for Arabs and the fact that two Arab parties were banned from the election, apartheid like situation, neo-fascists like Avigdor Lieberman rapidly gaining popularity I think Israel's racism will become more entrenched, accepted and institutionalized a lot faster than a just peace will be negotiated.

Where I had once believed most Israelis desired peace, but the government was preventing it, I now seriously doubt it. The people are driving the trend toward apartheid and embrace racism. This is in no one's best interest.

Yes, these are government officials I just discussed, so you might say I can’t rule out the Israeli public that way. It just bothers me that they felt they had to be more extreme than the guy who wants to drown Arabs to appeal to their public. Given the reaction (or lack thereof), they are right. The Israeli public voted and either way, Lieberman will probably be asked to form an integral part of the coalition. I thought there was no way this guy would be a force to be reckoned with – ever. His popularity surprised me. In the Democracy Now podcast I reference (http://www.democracynow.org/2009/2/11/palestinian_lawmaker_mustafa_barghouti_on_the), they mentioned a student election (or several?) which he won. Maybe it doesn’t matter officially, but it tells us what direction things are going. Students have been more open to the left in the past, they have refused service in the Occupied Territories, but now they are embracing racism and ethnic cleansing en masse.

Someone Voted For You!

I have been thinking about Facebook applications lately. Some are fun and cute and others make me stop and think.

One that strikes me as funny is the lil green patch- you plant virtual plants, but that has none of the benefits of food, pollen, or oxygen production and in fact increases your carbon footprint making you spend time on the computer. Maybe there is a greater benefit- I didn’t really look into it, but that was my first thought when I saw it.

Ones that I have given more thought to are the top friend, best friend, and recently the nicest friend thing. While mildly interesting to compare everyone, I don’t want to rank my friends because I don’t think that makes me very nice. No offense to those who use the application! ☺ Maybe you don't think like me and that's ok. Everyone's entitled to his or her own opinion. You have to rank people and use the other functions in the application to get more nice points or become nicer yourself, so ranking people to tell them they are nice is really a ploy to get them to say you are nice, which I find waaay more narcissistic than the 25 things lists (and related note crazes). Those lists have created a lot of critical articles in the media and “anti-“ groups on Facebook, but I think opposition to those “rank your friends” applications is much more logical. In 25 things, sure you talk about yourself, which can be considered rude, exhibitionist, boastful, narcissistic, etc, but you learn interesting facts about people no matter how well you know them already and the collective list may tell you something about yourself or others, unlike the friend rankings which I can’t see a real benefit to unless you want to see yourself rise in the rankings of nicest or best or whatever. Not that all applications have to be logical or beneficial, but if you're going to oppose 25 Things for narcissism, then you should be all over nicest/best friend applications. Perhaps the opposition is really coming from the fact that it is popular and there will always be those who oppose the appearance of jumping on the bandwagon.

One can analyze the online world of 25 thing lists, blogs, networking site habits, etc endlessly, so I’ll stop at this for now.

This note will probably earn me a lot of mean person votes, but oh well. ☺

Monday, February 9, 2009

Digging in my virtual closet

Always fun.

This is my 100th post. Pretty good timing as I was planning this to be a look back before I knew that...

Here are some past letters to the editor that I wrote. I just found this big list in an old file sent to an old email address I haven't checked in forever:

Israel's obstacle to peace

The Herald-Sun
Monday, March 10, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A8

Initially, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and many international leaders welcomed the roadmap for two states living together in peace, though Sharon would now like hundreds of changes to remove all specifics and deadlines. The "man of peace" backed away from compromise and peace most recently by adding opponents to the roadmap's goal to his government. We must condemn Israel for its new coalition government, which impedes peace and will certainly doom the roadmap to the sad fate of Oslo and other accords.

Sharon's government consists partially of the National Union, which advocates genocide ("transfer"), and the National Religious Party, "the voice of the settler movement," which rejects a Palestinian state. Here's the kicker. Sharon appointed members of NRP to housing and construction!

Sharon's goal is not a Palestinian state, as he told President Bush, but to undermine international law by annexing the West Bank and Gaza before a Palestinian state is realized. The newly appointed genocidal hard-liners will aim to move more Israelis illegally to the West Bank and Gaza and try to transfer Palestinians as seen in their platform. They will construct more roads to settlements, which will further compromise the contiguity of a Palestinian state.

Buffer zones around the settlements will eat more land and create more homeless Palestinian refugees for Sharon to refuse the right of return. It is clear that despite his words to American presidents, the man of peace is an obstacle to peace.


Israel's no friend of the United States

Chapel Hill Herald
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page 2

Criticism of Israel does not amount to anti-Semitism, as Ms. Gutman says in her March 13 response ["Screed was anti-Semitic] to Rev. Carnes letter. Israel's current practices don't fit with Judaism or any religion, so she will probably encounter many "anti-Semites."

The fact is that the U.S. has unfairly favored Israel in every way since at least Kennedy's time. We looked the other way when they were building their nuclear bombs at Dimona at the height of our nonproliferation campaign. They illegally transferred part of their population to the Occupied Territories.

They kill U.N. workers, use civilians as human shields, extra-judicially assassinate with Apache helicopters and arrest thousands of innocents. Israel violates our Arms Embargo Act by using our weapons to kill civilians, and instead of demanding compliance with international law, we give them the money, aircraft and loan guarantees they continually ask for.

Also, we impede justice by vetoing almost every U.N. resolution that forces Israel to comply with international law.

The U.S. and Israel are allies, but Israel is no friend to us. Israel obtains much intelligence, but only shares it with us when it will benefit them. In 1983, they knew a Mercedes truck was going to bomb a U.S. military installation, but gave only a general warning, so 241 Marines died.

Israel attacked USS Liberty in 1967, killing 35, then lied about it. Israel may be a democracy, but will never be a model for the region until it renounces apartheid, collective punishment and disregard for the U.N.


Tarnishing our name

The Herald-Sun
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A8

People have suggested that the anti-war camp should apologize now that the United States has "won." Apologies would be in order if I had opposed an unprovoked attack on Iraq because I thought our Army would be overwhelmed by theirs. I will not apologize (or move) because the outcome in no way changes my reasons for opposing aggression in Iraq.

We attacked a country that posed no threat to us, cut off diplomacy, accused it of having links to al-Qaida without proof, and had no proof of weapons of mass destruction. We did not achieve any of our goals, unless one of them was slaughtering hundreds of civilians unnecessarily. The people aren't liberated. They are under a military occupation that's priming a puppet regime.

The U.N. weapons inspectors had not finished their work before President Bush decided to justify attacking Iraq after a flimsy 48-hour ultimatum. Bush cut diplomacy short, so all the bloodshed in this conflict is on his hands and will tarnish our name forever.


The Herald-Sun
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A14

Unbalanced coverage

The Herald-Sun thoroughly covers Israeli deaths in the Middle East conflict, but fails miserably in reporting violence against Palestinians. Here are some of the stories you're missing.

On May 17, Abdulrahim Hasan and his family were taken hostage by Israeli troops. They were locked in a room in their house, not permitted phone calls, and were told that if they communicated with anyone, their children would be harmed.
At checkpoints, Palestinians are often made to strip naked in front of everyone (which conflicts with Islam and Christianity) and commanded at gunpoint to get down and bark like a dog, among other humiliating acts.

In a May 15 article on BBC online, an Israeli soldier recounted how his unit was commanded to capture a grenade attack suspect. They dragged the man out of bed amidst crying wife and kids, handed him over to another unit who put a gun to his head and told him to run. The suspect instead lay down, though soldiers kicked him before the police arrived to arrest him. No grenades were found in the house because the suspect was not the attacker, he just happened to have the same name.

Every day in the Territories illegal settlers kill or maim Palestinians for harvesting olives or plowing their fields. It's no wonder Israel enjoys such support from the US since we hear about their death and suffering while nameless, faceless Palestinians are dying unjustly at three times the rate.


The Herald-Sun
Monday, June 16, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A8

Remember USS Liberty

June 8, 1967, was a tragic day in our history, yet one of the least remembered. It is the anniversary of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in which 34 American sailors were killed and 171 wounded in a crew of 294. The Israelis said it was an accident, despite evidence to the contrary. Congress believed Israel over eyewitnesses.

Astonishingly, there has never been a full congressional investigation into the incident. The survivors deserve to have justice served like others in history. The fallen sailors sacrificed no less than those in the current conflict and deserve no less respect.

Even 22 years later the President, Secretary of the Navy and other high-ranking officials would not attend or acknowledge a dedication of a memorial to the crew of the USS Liberty in the hometown of a few of the fallen sailors.

The best way to honor the USS Liberty is to uncover the truth about June 8, 1967, through a belated, but full congressional investigation in which all evidence is examined.

Thus may the survivors get the closure they deserve.


The Herald-Sun
Friday, August 22, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A10

Israel accountable under rules of international law

People are waiting on the edge of their seats to see if the Palestinian response to the latest bus bombing will be acceptable to the Israelis so we can continue the peace process. This is strange for a variety of reasons.

The Israelis are violating international law by transferring part of their population to the territory it occupies (illegal settlements), imprisoning Palestinians regardless of innocence or guilt in Israeli prisons, punishing the whole population for the crimes of a few, fighting stones and guns with tanks, Apache gunships and F-16s. On top of this, they deny Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights with Jewish citizens.

Why isn't the peace process hinging on whether or not Israelis comply with international and humanitarian law? Why must progress always depend on what is acceptable to Israelis, while they continue to ignore law, human rights, and democratic principles?

It is well known that the American media favor Israel (just watch Fox News). When was the last time you heard a Palestinian's death denounced and Israel blamed? Suicide bombings get extensive, repetitive coverage and obvious sympathy (often denouncing Palestinians) from the media.

Media coverage adds to the problem, but until both parties are held equally accountable, there will be no justice and no peace in the Middle East.


The Herald-Sun
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A12

Base peace on justice


The most prominent prerequisite for peace in the Middle East is for Palestinians to end terrorism. But both the United States and Israel have severely limited Palestinians' ability to combat terror, yet they insist this must occur before Israel fulfills any of its obligations of law, human rights or negotiations. America and Israel are themselves guilty of undermining the United Nations and failing miserably to end terrorism.

If two military giants fail to stop terrorism, how can the Palestinians do it? They have no military. Israel demolished the security and police buildings and stole files compiled on terrorists and criminals. Security personnel are targeted for assassination and imprisonment. The United States and Israel have none of these obstacles, yet they fail to end terrorism. It seems America and Israel want the Palestinians to fail.

The peace process is brought to a screeching halt when Palestinians fail to meet obligations, but Israel is paid billions of dollars in loan guarantees and military aid. A peace plan based on anything but justice and equality is bound to fail. Both sides must be expected to follow international law and fulfill obligations equally.


++++++++++++
Letters to the editor that referenced my stuff:


The Herald-Sun
Friday, August 29, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A12


Israel must preserve the right to self-protection


Jennifer Hagelbarger's letter [Herald-Sun, Aug. 22] concerning the proposed road map to peace between Israel and the Palestinians contains several errors.

Israel's government is not ordering or forcibly moving Jewish citizens into Palestinian areas. Settlers moving into the disputed territory are doing so on their own because of the historical and religious connection they fervently feel.

Hagelbarger also writes that Arab citizens in Israel do not have the same rights as Jewish citizens. This is untrue. Israeli Arabs can vote and have elected several Arabs to the national parliament. The only privilege of citizenship not open to Arabs is service in the country's armed forces.

As a member of Judea Reform Congregation, I traveled to Israel in June, 2000, as part of an interfaith group which also included congregants of First Presbyterian Church and Fisher Memorial United Holy Church. At one stop we saw a group of schoolchildren who looked to be no older than ten being escorted by what appeared to be teen-age boys carrying M16 rifles. Israelis live under the constant threat of attack from Palestinians and their supporters, including possibly some governments in the region such as Syria.

Israeli citizens want to live in peace with their Moslem and Arab neighbors. The country already has long-standing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

I agree with Hagelbarger's point that war is undesirable. But like the United States, Israel is fighting terrorists. In the face of many suicide bombers supported by Palestinian terrorist groups who trigger explosives on crowded buses, Israel has the right to protect its citizens (and that includes Arab citizens) and freedoms against organizations whose members would annihilate them.


MARK G. RODIN


Protesters don't get it


The Herald-Sun
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Final Edition
Editorial Section
Page A14


What is it about the outcome of the war in Iraq that the protesters do not understand? Paraphrasing letter writer Jennifer Hagelbarger ("Tarnishing our name," April 17), Iraq is not liberated, there is blood on Bush's hands and our name will be tarnished forever.

I wonder if she has a television and has been watching the Iraqi people after Saddam's regime was toppled. I suspect that this group of protesters is not protesting the war at all but is expressing hatred for President Bush.

If their hero Bill Clinton had been in office, this would have been viewed by these people as the greatest war of liberation in the history of mankind. As for Hagelbarger and others like her, I hope they pull their heads out of the sand before they suffocate.


TOM VEASEY



***
I had been looking for this email I sent to a friend discussing my various questions about war, action in Iraq, peace and how this relates to the Bible or how Christians are supposed to react to these things. Some are questions and items are just me trying to process my Bible study and balance it with various political views. It was written about two months after our invasion in Iraq at the tender age of 25. That seems so long ago, but I guess it's not really. The first part is the letter to the friend, who may be reading this now :). I also refer to his responses and also a Bible study the young adults had on this or a similar topic at which there was surprisingly little discussion. I suppose I could have said something as well, but that wouldn't be like me. :)

Some of it is repetitive and maybe not that well thought out, but it is interesting to me to re-read. I suppose what drove me to write it was the annoyance that patriotism, support for war, support for Bush, and obeying authority read no protesting, no questioning, no criticism of the president) were being lumped together (by some) as the sum of a good Christian when it wasn't necessarily Biblical to do so. Another was Bush's cowboy pseudodiplomacy and total disappointment in someone I voted for in 2000. Yes, I am admitting to it. I thought I was doing my Christian duty (that and my dad was a Republican so doesn't that make me one too?) though I disagreed with Republicans on a lot of things, but that is something I have since called into question and probably not totally resolved.


I read this article :
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/nightline/US/globalshow_030425.html
Reason for War? [White House Officials Say Privately the Sept. 11 Attacks Changed Everything
W A S H I N G T O N, April 25 — To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war — a global show of American power and democracy.]

and this one
http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?030331fa_fact1

and wondered if the reasons given for the war (intent) had an impact on any conclusion on whether or not the Bible allows war. If we gave reasons such as WMD, link to Al Qaeda, and then liberation from dictatorship, but the real reason was wanting to flex our muscle and teach the region a lesson, would this be wrong? (There are current leaders who have killed more innocent people, have more WMD and have threatened to use them more than once) Are there right and wrong reasons to go to war, like proving a point versus self-defense?

>Also, I’ve heard people quote Old Testament verses to show examples >of war and justify it. Since we’re under a new covenant and the 10 >commandments are not sufficient, is there enough new testament >justification for self defense or war? >

>Some people I have talked to say that because the Bible says submit >to government, we should support the attack on Iraq. Period. A lot >of times their logic is that Bush is appointed by God or that God >approves only of American style democracy and I don’t think that’s >what the verses below are saying exactly. After all, Christians in >other parts of the world would submit to their leaders and not ours. >‡I know we’ve covered submission before, but I’ve heard 1Pet 2 and >Rom 13 used to justify war in the same places submission was >defined. When we question our faith, we are not being unsubmissive >or unfaithful, so just raising points on the opposite side should >not be considered unsubmissive. >‡Dissent, free speech and protesting are allowed under our >government (authorities appointed by God-Rom 13), so are protesters >really resisting authority as some have implied? >‡If our government decided that we could not practice our religion >or told us to do something against God’s will, we’d obey God and not >man. It’s hard to see how this verse (Rom 13 and 1Pet) is an >adequate justification for war. It addresses the fact that if you do >wrong, the government has the authority to punish. It doesn’t say >much about what to do if you are following God and the authority is >not. >The real question is –is war right or wrong. I’m going to stop on >this now because I think I’m going around in a circle. >

>Bush’s spiritual advisor is Billy Graham. Does this present any >problems in our submitting? Many of his speeches remind me more of a >televangelist rather than a head of state, so I think Graham has >alot of influence. I guess this goes back to the question about the >government going against God’s will and what we do in this case. >

>1 Pet and Rom 13 say “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man” >and “be subject to governing authorities”. It sounds like the UN >would fit the description. The US did not go through the UN, so if >the UN is an authority, we were wrong in attacking. I was wondering >if UN Resolutions are not the ordinances of man also that we should >be submitting to? If not, then all countries are dealing with each >other by different standards and can claim theirs is the right one >because if you are a citizen of that nation you have to follow that >leader, but that‘s just my opinion.. Anyway, if nothing else, the US >agreed to be apart of it and follow the UN charter. Should we not >keep our word and comply with treaties and charters (like the UN’s ) >that our government discussed at one time, voted on and promised to >abide by? We seem to accept it’s authority when we want, (i.e we >made a big deal about Iraq undermining the UN and not following the >Resolution that said WMD are illegal for Iraq to possess and make) >and dismiss it when we don’t like it (i.e. when we could get support >for a war resolution at the time we wanted it). It seems that if the >UN has no authority for us, then our big reason for war, the fact >that Iraq had WMD and was not permitted to do so by the UN, would be >shot down. If we decide that the UN does have authority, then we >undermined it and ignored it when we attacked Iraq. Also, the rules >of war were mentioned Friday. Most of those rules, the Geneva >Conventions and all that are UN creations made to preserve order and >justice among nations, so if the UN has no authority for us then >most rules for guaranteeing human rights and justice aren’t >applicable and we can’t accuse others of not following them, unless >the US has it’s own special rules for war. In this case, I would >still have the question I talked about in my 4th paragraph- if the >Rom and 1 Pet verses are conditional, wouldn't we need to figure out >whether it is right to do that first, then accept it if it fits with >God's word. >

>This is in response to a Bible study we held on the war topic: >
>I mentioned some verses that seemed like they wouldn’t fit with >permitting war. You said that those were dealing with the individual >and not government. Does this mean that the government is not made >up of individuals- only Bush? Are there verses that exempt those in >government or authority from these verses? In those verses, the >Bible didn’t say that government is exempt. >

>It seems like the consensus was that it’s ok to kill in war even >though innocent blood is shed. Besides the verses about submitting >to government (which I will get to later), the main support was the >Old Testament distinction between killing and murder. I realize that >God told the Israelites to kill everyone including children in some >battles, but that was a direct command. God didn’t tell Bush to >attack Iraq, take it over and kill everyone. He doesn’t speak to us >in that way anymore. Is the distinction still made in the new >testament and how do we know for sure? >

>We talked about things done in war like dropping a bomb, firing in >the direction of enemy fire, and blowing up buildings (or “targets >of opportunity”, if you will) as not being murder because the >soldiers aren’t intending to kill innocent people. Soldiers have to >be pretty naïve to believe that a bomb dropped from whatever height >, firing in a general direction, and blowing up structures with >force that could kill those inside and collapse houses in the area >on top of people is only going to hit the person or facility deemed >to be evil by the government. It’s true that our weapons are more >precise now, but innocents still die. Another thing that struck me >was that just because a dozen or so planes go out so no one knows >who dropped it or pilots think about family or feel nothing when >they drop bombs except a slight bump as it is released it doesn’t >affect whether or not innocents will die or whether it is right or >wrong. These things are done just so the soldiers won’t carry the >guilt. It was also said that fewer Iraqis died in this conflict that >Hussein killed. Does this justify war Biblically or otherwise? It >sheds no light on the war question. >

>It also seemed like people agreed that we are supposed to submit to >government and buy their justification for war except if they tell >us to do or not do something that is a Biblical truth (ie. Come >together and worship). This one is logical and easy to accept-Paul >and others were told not to preach by authorities and they did >anyway. Another exception mentioned was Nazi Germany and the >holocaust even though those people had to submit to their government >like we have to submit to Bush, or “ordinances of man” or authority. >The holocaust was immediately dismissed as wrong without discussion. >Is that because the people were innocent? But we know about as much >about that as we know about reasons our government gave for war. It >seems that we’d established that we can’t know the government’s >intent and can’t trust what they say and basically can’t understand >what and why the governments do these things. (By the way, I’m not >saying the holocaust was just. I’m just trying to understand.) If >there are exceptions to submit to government, then we must determine >whether the act is right or wrong and the Rom and Pet verses can’t >be used alone because they are conditional. About those verses, >noticed some things that may be nit picking or wrong altogether, but >it made me think. 1Pet2:15 says that submitting to the ordinances of >man is the will of God and that by doing it we will silence fools. >So if the government is not doing good, we won’t be doing the will >of God or silence fools. This seems to say that if war is right, we >should have submitted, but if it is wrong, we should disagree. 1 Pet >2:16 talks about not using liberty as a “cloak for vice”. I’m not >sure if that means that reasons for war might matter. It sounds at >first glance that government shouldn’t use it’s authority to >accomplish it’s goals unless they are not vice. I’m not totally sure >what that verse is saying, though. I’m just trying to understand why >we use the Rom 13 or 1Pet 2 to justify war, but then say that it’s >ok to resist the government in the holocaust or in civil >disobedience in the 60’s. The verse doesn’t make distinctions that >I’m aware of, but we do. >

>Another thing that I wonder about is why we are supposed to believe >all the “evidence” and forgeries our government uses to gain public >support for war, but when high ranking officials come out and say >that the government may not have had the best intentions (innocent >people killed for no reason, as much as depends on us, we did not >live peaceably), then we are to dismiss this because they are just >out to get the president or make people look bad. If war is allowed, >it seems like it should be a last resort but in the Iraq case, we >threw out weapons inspectors and ignored countries that wanted to >try all possible peaceful means before war (many countries that were >opposed to war, would not have opposed it had it actually been a >last resort). I’ve heard Bush and others in his administration say >that they think war should be a last resort, (but with the evidence >they gave, all possibilities were not exhausted. Self-defense was >hardly a reason because we ended up proving their military >inferiority by the fast advances we made. Another thing that makes >me question the government’s intentions is that there was a definite >change in policy after 9/11. We changed to pre-emption rather than >attacking in self-defense. The same people were in Bush Sr’s >administration (Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, etc) and tried to push >pre-emption, but it leaked out and people were outraged, so they >changed it. It’s disturbing how 9/11 made people more supportive of >violence against other nations and against those who “look Arab” >including Indians and Hispanics. Needless to say, since Bush Sr’s >people are in Bush Jr’s administration and people need less evidence >now to support war, the pre-emptive policy was a big hit. It seems >like this change is more motivated by revenge than anything else or >a desire to please the public.

>***
>You asked why has God put his people in so many wars. It was >different then. God spoke directly to people and provided food from >heaven. We're under the new covenant and some things have >changed/been fulfilled. I can't recall the cases where God told the >apostles to wipe out cities with force or Paul or Jesus doing >anything that violent. >

>Rom 13:4 says that is you do evil then the ruler can punish you for >doing evil. I guess a question I have is are we supposed to be >subject to our ruler, all rulers, only those that "do good"? Some >seem to think that American presidents have more approval from God, >so it’s ok for us to invade whoever we choose for whatever reason, >though I don’t know where they get this. Who's to say that George W >is "doing good"? It says in KJV that rulers are ministers of God for >good, so they can punish subjects for doing evil. As I mentioned >before, it seems to address what goes on if the subject is doing >evil, not if the ruler is doing evil. We mentioned the holocaust as >an "obvious" exception to having to do what rulers say and I have a >feeling the civil diobedience in the 60's would also be considered >the "right" thing to do along with resisting many other injustices. >It does not seem to give these exceptions in the Bible, yet we have >made them. If we say that rulers are from God and we need to follow >them, then Hussein's soldiers were doing right in fighting our >troops and Hitler's men were doing right by following orders and >rounding up Jews, gypsies and others that Hitler didn't want in his >perfect race. and no one wants to accept this. >

>Were Jesus and Moses parents resisting authority when they went >against the rulers decree about killing baby boys? In at least one >case, God told them to disobey the order. So what does that say >about disobeying orders when they are wrong or are not doing good?

>*** >Friend's reply: >I did have another question for you. Do you think there is ever a >time war would be justified? I mean, say all means were tried with >Hussein, WMD were found, etc. Would you still think the war was >sinful? >

>My reply: >I’m working on that one about is a war ever justified. Without >looking at the Bible, my inclination is to want to hit right back >when we are attacked, but is this right? I don’t know. I would tend >to say we were right to attack Japan after they attacked Pearl >Harbor, but the A bomb was going too far. That was more like >revenge. I have nothing to base this on and I don’t know why I think >this, it is only my feeling. >

>About the Iraq attack (also my opinion because I can’t find Biblical >proof), there isn’t much that would make it right. We didn’t exhaust >all means. That is obvious. Gen Franks was saying how it could take >a year or so to find WMD and we have the full run of the country. >Weapons inspectors in this last round should have been given at >least a year and maybe more because they may not get the access they >want all at once. Even if WMD are found now, they’d have to prove >that Iraq had the ability and machinery necessary to launch or >disburse the WMD and also prove that there was an attack planned on >us with those WMD for the near future if we wanted to use the >self-defense excuse to justify the pre-emptive Iraq attack (even if >they find “proof” you really can’t know until they attack-that’s the >danger of pre-emption. There’s a lot more chance of doing more harm >than good unnecessarily). The US used the undermining UN excuse at >the beginning because the resolution says they are not supposed to >have WMD. We can’t decide if this is an acceptable excuse until we >figure out my questions in my past few emails about the UN. If the >UN is not binding by Biblical standards, then we can’t use that as >an excuse. If the UN is binding, then our using the resolution as >justification for war then acting without the UN and against it was >undermining it and wrong. >

>(Re: your 3rd item)We don’t know what our own military was told >either. All we have are history books to tell us who was told what. >The books do say some of what Hitler’s men were told and will say >what Hussein’s men were told. My point was that everyone has their >leader to follow, so when leaders accuse other leaders of being >evil, fighting those soldiers of the “evil” leader may not >necessarily be fighting evil. We’re just killing people who re also >following their leader. >

>It seems Bush has taken a very oversimplified and controversial view >of the world with the whole good vs evil thing and “if you’re not >for us, you’re against us”, but it appeals to Christians which most >of our nation is. >