Wednesday, June 30, 2010
In thinking about living peaceably with all men, I can't help but think of politics. Should you or shouldn't you talk about it. I have a different take on some political issues from a lot of folks I agree with completely on scripture, so should I especially keep my mouth shut on politics? I am constantly asking myself if I have a valid question or if I’m just going to be considered as one trying to stir up trouble and controversy with my hair-brained rationalization (or constantly re-examining to come to some kind of conclusion, however you want to look at it).
If someone tells you you’re sinning for voting a particular way, do you take that suffering patiently and don’t say anything or do you talk about it to try and understand the issue? Is talking about these differences divisiveness or is this a desire to find out the truth? Or is not talking about them the Biblical thing to do since talking about them could cause arguments and division? Am I trying to serve myself and rationalize my position or am I wrong and need to change?
I would argue that you can’t ignore these things, whether you verbally discuss them or not.
The political debates are always under the surface. There is kind of an atmosphere in the church of don’t ask, don’t tell with regards to one’s political persuasion. I have always wondered if this is to keep the peace or are people afraid of being accused of voting the wrong way. You always hear the little jokes or digs at liberals (or conservatives, though this isn’t my experience) from the pulpit or afterwards. Behind the jokes, though, are certain beliefs that I think need to be talked about out in the open, rather than left to the imagination and beating around the bush. Just the way a southern preacher drawls out the word liberal can be accusatory rather than descriptive. If you mean taking liberties with scriptures, this is against God, certainly, but being liberal politically shouldn't be cause for derision.
I don't like don’t ask, don’t tell. It is either sinful to vote democrat or it isn’t. If it is, something needs to happen- take those steps to try and bring the person back. If it isn’t, the implications of sin, the beating around the bush need to stop. Perhaps I am wrong to demand this. Perhaps I should keep quiet so as not to offend anyone. I certainly don’t want to offend. But I also want to find the truth.
I think about these things all the time. Things like- are you sinning if you don’t necessarily think one must support a law banning a particular sin (abortion, gay marriage) in order to not be “approving those who practice them” (Rom 1:28-32)? Are you ranking sin (or if laws banning sin are good, wouldn't it be "knowing to do good and not doing it" as in James?) if you are for laws against two sins, but aren't for laws banning others? Are those who say voting democrat is sinful like those who preached you must be circumcised to be a Christian? Are those who say voting democrat isn't a sin just letting their politics get in the way of being a Christian (i.e. they aren't a Christian in the voting booth)? I personally don't think this issue is as cut and dried as: vote democrat=sin; vote Republican or for candidate that is for abortion and gay marriage= obedience to God. Probably why I think about it so much. That or I'm just a divisive person who loves conflict. And a communist liberal to boot. Ouch. (Kidding!)
Is it divisive to bring these things up and discuss them? I always thought it preferable to talk about it so that you can get it out in the open and get over it, rather than keeping it under the surface, ready to boil over. I like getting everyone’s input and discussing why you think your position is supported by scripture and the other isn’t or discussing what is exactly covered by scripture and what is your own judgment or opinion. Are we binding things that the Bible doesn't? Are we too permissive where the Bible isn't? We have to ask ourselves both questions. Too often, depending on your politics or experience, we only ask ourselves one of these questions and overcompensate- in a car, this will make you wreck.
I also see how this could be seen as divisive since everyone has rather passionate opinions about politics and this is one of those subjects that is considered impolite to talk about. I wonder if it is better to not talk about it in the interest of unity if you know people disagree with you politically and think your positions are not scripturally sound. Is that really unity, though? On the surface, maybe. How do you know unless you talk about it?
Maybe it is the way in which we talk about it that makes the difference? I think we have to assess whether we just want to rationalize, prove ourselves right and get people on “our side” or if we are looking for the truth. If both people are looking for the truth, then we have something in common already and we should be able to be in harmony even if we don’t agree.
One of my favorite verses and one that provokes much thought. I've been thinking about it lately in various contexts. Peace within one's self, peace among believers, peace in the Middle East, etc.
“If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
What immediately comes to mind is the run up to Iraq and various discussions in and out of the church building that I listened to- support for and (not so much) against- Biblical and opinion. Bush’s rush to war in the face of very convincing and grave doubts about the immediacy or even the threat of Saddam Hussein made this verse stand out to me then. I know the political/national scene doesn’t really apply, here, but sometimes we can act impulsively like that as individuals. We say I’ve tried all I feel like trying. I’m not going to take the hit. I can say I’ve tried to live peaceably, but this guy makes me mad and I’m not going to take it anymore. We rationalize and say, well it does say “if it is possible…” I think we need to look more closely at the second clause, not stop at the first to get the real and complete meaning- as much as it depends on us. A lot of times we give another meaning to “if it is possible.” We instead often mean by possible, “it’s probably not possible (or I don’t want to).”
Sunday’s lesson from James actually fit right in to me thinking about this lately, which was cool.
So many good points. Taming the tongue (or pen or FB status as the case may be) fits in quite nicely to how to live peaceably with all men:
James 3:8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
Self-seeking wisdom and then the wisdom to seek by which we can sow peace:
15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.by those who make peace.
It’s a tough balance. We have to stand up for the truth and balance that righteous judgment (with which we are supposed to judge) with being gentle and willing to yield. Obviously we aren’t to yield so as to be unscriptural. Jesus is the perfect example (of course) of this balance.
Another point of the lesson fit into my consideration of how to live peaceably. Sometimes you have to take a hit and not always assert your right to say and do this or that. In fact, you should strive to “take it patiently” instead of reviling and threatening in return. This is definitely not an American value, so we may have to fight against our schooling, here.
1 Peter 2: 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “ Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
And it’s always good to know what to do rather than just what not to do…
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
The context of “live peaceably with all men” also gives us insight into the meaning of that phrase and some goals, too.
Romans 12: 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Israeli foreign minister's "peace plan": stripping Palestinians of citizenship
Lieberman is still FM with no complaint whatsoever from our government. This is really kind of shocking. He's a not so reformed former terrorist for whom ethnic cleansing is still a viable option for peace. Oops. Not so much peace as a final solution to the "Palestinian problem."
His peace plan highlights a major problem with the two state solution. Would you split up the land and require Jews on one side, Palestinians on the other? Is that ethnic cleansing? Two wrongs making a right? Would you allow settlers and native Palestinians alike to choose to stay in the "other state" where their homes end up being? If the latter, wouldn't this require a secular binational state and defeat the purpose of having two states?
One state gets my vote. No, Jews wouldn't have a Jewish state, but then, you should have thought about that before taking over someone else's land and kicking them out and holding them captive. On the positive side, Jews and Palestinians both would get right of return, all could visit holy sites, settlers could stay, Palestinians could travel and live where they wished (except for getting all your old land back and displacing Israeli Jews, of course), all would have equal rights and everyone could visit or live and have the capital be in Jerusalem if they wished.
Good news and bad news:
(The good being that he's not much interested in Lieberman's plan, the bad being that he's not into any peace plan...)
However, Warschawski said there were few indications that Netanyahu wanted to be involved in any peace process, even Lieberman's.
I've been hearing more support for negotiations by Abbas and Washington and there have been reports of non-violent resistance to occupation coming to the forefront and violence against Israel seems at an all time low. Despite this, we hear things like this from Israel (with no complaints from the US, generally):
Apparently reflecting Netanyahu's own thinking, he said: "The more you market Palestinian legitimacy, the more you bring about a detraction of Israel's legitimacy in certain circles. [The Palestinians] are accumulating legitimacy, and we are being delegitimized."
In early 2009, Lieberman, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, upset his own supporters by advocating the creation of "a viable Palestinian state," though he has remained unclear about what it would require in practice.
Can't wait to see how these things fall out. I hope some of this can shake us awake do we can hold Israel accountable:
Other looming diplomatic headaches for Israel are the return of the Goldstone report, which suggested Israel committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza, to the United Nations General Assembly in late July, and Turkey's adoption of the rotating presidency of the Security Council in September.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Soldier holding a dead dove saying, "I had no choice, it attacked me with an olive branch."
*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
The link that got me thinking and that resulted in this post:
An hour of footage that Israel failed to confiscate:
In listening (to the above link) to how Israel confiscated all of the video equipment and memory chips, it made me think that perhaps Israelis equated video equipment with bombs and weapons. Is that the cause of such crushing, lethal force against an aid ship (among other unarmed entities)? I mean, when a memory chip was discovered in a sock of someone trying to “smuggle” it out, people were strip-searched as though they were found with drugs or weapons! That alone seemed to be the priority, rather than making sure no one was harmed or securing the area.
There is probably enough footage in Israeli evidence lockers to reconstruct the events perfectly, which is definitely a danger if one wants only a certain message to get out. Will Israel throw those thousands or millions of dollars of equipment out if it reaches a different conclusion than what is portrayed on the video? Will Israel alter and edit the videos before releasing them? Some footage made its way off the ship. We can only hope this sheds enough light on the issue to discern what happened because that confiscated footage may never (unaltered) see the light of day. We do still have many witnesses who are speaking out, but that footage would probably be more likely considered proof than their statements. That said, why should we take Israel's word for it? Why should we accept their video and audio proof in light of the fact that they admitted to doctoring it to incriminate the flotilla participants rather than themselves?
It’s true that the footage would be detrimental to Israel, as it shows the truth of what happened and doesn’t toe the Israeli line, but a bomb it is not. Suppressing media footage and confiscating personal property to control the message are not actions a democratic nation should be allowed to take or get away with. I know Israel is worried about its image and obviously wants to control the message as it nearly has rewritten history (there’s no such thing as Palestinians; land with no people for people without land; Jews made the desert bloom; etc), but equating bombs and video cameras goes way too far and it needs to be stopped.
This sort of thing reminds me of the “demographic threat” you hear Israelis and especially Israeli officials speak of. Yes, that’s the Arab birth rate being slightly higher than the Jewish one. It is called a threat. Like nuclear threats, threats of terrorist attacks, threats that are justifiably met with violence. Just because one throws the word “threat” after something doesn’t justify confronting it with violence. Yet one sees Israel do this every time they interact with Palestinians, be it at a peaceful protest, confronting an aid ship or confronting rocket attacks.
Israel wants to investigate itself without international involvement. Not only that, but the investigation is not to assess guilt or compliance with international law, but just to see if the operation worked. ??? Perhaps we should have let Hitler and Milosovic investigate themselves- not to assess guilt, but just to evaluate the operation. When you put it that way, you see the absurdity. Criminals cannot investigate themselves.
Video cameras and Palestinian babies are NOT THREATS and do NOT justify Israel’s occupation or brutal treatment of its occupied population.
Some of said footage that did make it out of this whole mess, despite Israel's best efforts:
Some notable people were in the flotilla. This one mentions Edward Peck:
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviewed Adam Shapiro of Seeds for Peace, ISM, Free Gaza. He and his wife, Huwaida Arraf, were on the flotilla:
Iara Lee describes her experience on the flotilla on Democracy Now (June 10, 2010). She talks about her hour long footage (linked at beginning of the post) as well:
Huwaida Arraf and Colonel Ann Wright were on the flotilla and describe their experience:
Source for the Biden on Charlie Rose quote below:
Joseph Biden: "You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not, but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know—they’re at war with Hamas—has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in. And up to now, Charlie, what’s happened? They’ve said, 'Here you go. You're in the Mediterranean. This ship, if you divert slightly north, you can unload it, and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, 'I don't know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight—3,000 rockets on my people.’"
There is so much to correct, here.
Here are two people on the aid ship that correct a lot of this junk:
Right to know what’s on the ships-
They were checked before leaving Turkey and the Mossad was there. Now, the Mossad could have lied and said there were weapons or maybe Mossad fell down on the job and didn’t look into it. Chances are good that Israel knew exactly what and who were on how many ships.
At least one of the ships Israel contacted and began threatening with force offered voluntarily to have the cargo checked (again) once on shore by the UN or ICRC to satisfy Israeli fears about what was on board. Weapons were not the primary concern- breaking the blockade, whose legality is in question, was the issue.
What’s the big deal with unloading in Israel and having Israel make sure the supplies get to Gaza??
Has Biden been keeping up with events over there? That is the point of the aid flotilla, Free Gaza Movement, Viva Palestina aid convoys, etc! Israel is NOT making sure enough supplies get to Gaza. Various human rights organizations have documented this. THAT is the big deal, Mr. Biden!
Israeli document says blockade is economic warfare, not security measure
Gaza's humanitarian crisis is not a surprise- it's what we wanted
A quote by Dov Weisglass on the Gaza blockade; he's possibly the only one in Israel telling the truth:
He is also the one who told us that "disengagement" from Gaza in 2004 was not so much a gesture of peace, but formaldehyde for the peace process:
"It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians"
Biden also recklessly implies that the ships are Hamas ships!
So far from the truth! They were flying Turkish and American flags, for one. Wow. That makes him look so ignorant. I guess it wouldn’t be the first time…
Biden Defends Israel—to the Max—on 'Charlie Rose' Tonight - June 2, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
What does this really mean?
Do they really hope Gazans don't starve to death and are taking actions ot prevent this? Probably not. That's pretty optimistic and isn't reflected at all in all their other policies.
This is a response to the "image problem" Israel is said to have. Yes, Israel is the Occupier and is the cause of the Gaza mess, but they wil no doubt be hailed as making great sacrifices and strides for peace in this latest attempt to dodge some well-deserved criticism about the whole of their operation/oppression/occupation.
It reminds me of what Paul spoke of in the Bible- about sinning more that grace will abound. Paul said certainly not to that. He was a bit incredulous. Israel seems to think that's the way to go- keep disregarding international law so people can congratulate them and say how much they've done "for peace" when they make brutally severe restrictions on food, movement, water, etc slightly less so for a short period of time. That's Israel's game- create more problems, "ease" one, and you are in the clear even though the central problem is still very much there (the Occupation).
The world will be placated and Israel will continue to kill Palestinians and commit crimes and no one will demand accountability and justice until the next Sabra and Shatila or Flotilla like incident happens.
Why are we talking about Israeli restrictions on Gaza? Weren't we told they disengaged in 2006 or something? That is always the stock response given when people blame Israel for the shape Gaza's in. It's pretty far from the truth, as we can see pretty clearly now.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Plus, there has been a lot of discussion about how social networking (and the internet and email) has changed the world. For example, will Kindle replace books the way CDs replaced tapes and tapes replaced 8 track? Since the Kindle came out, I have been trying to decide if I wanted to sell out or put both feet in the 21st century, however one wants to look at it. I think over the past few years, I've decided that I would get one if I had a few hundred spare dollars laying around. That being said, I will NOT get rid of my books. I've been hesitant to get rid of my CDs that I put on iTunes, but I'd sooner do that than get rid of a book. Though, I do love the search function of, for example, an online Bible. I feel like my study is more complete and I can find a verse I want in seconds. I don't know how I'll like reading from a screen, though. And curling up with a Kindle? I just don't know... I'll always like books- the feel, the smell, the notes in the margins, the way you can personalize them (or read personalizaions at a second hand store), everything. That being said, I just don't see Kindle (or iPad , for you Apple people) replacing books.
A Half-Century Of 'Stupid Grammar Advice'- April 16, 2009
NPR- Talk of the Nation
A very entertaining discussion of grammar rules. I think this is either already on my blog or I posted it as a link on Facebook.
Tom Mallon: "Yours Ever" - December 9, 2009
NPR- The Diane Rehm Show
I loved this show.
I remember being so excited in school the one or two times we exchanged letters with people in other countries as part of a pen pal project. My favorite letters to get, though, are notes from my grandma. I love not only her script, but also the way her manner of speech comes through and you can almost hear her talking to you. There's just something about knowing that someone physically touched it and put pen to paper just for you. You can write an email directly to one person, but it's just not the same. Somehow, that manner of speaking just doesn't translate as well, if at all. I probably don't write as much as I'd like. Email is just too convenient. Unfortunately, I think I sacrifice this personal touch for the instant gratification all too often. I guess it's not just instant gratification, though; if you're not using email, you'll probably get left behind. Not that I hate email- far from it! I just sometimes regret the impersonality (if that's a word) of it. Not that I think everyone who sends me email is cold- far from that, too! :) The instantaneousness is awesome.
Another brilliant thing about handwritten notes is... no forwards! You have to really think about what you're sending and you and everyone is sure it's coming from your own hand. With forwards, sometimes people forward them because they do want to express this warning or sentiment to you from them. Sometimes people seem to send them simply because they want their 3 wishes or not to have 3 bad things happen to them in the next 3 minutes. Sometimes you aren't sure whether people are sending you the Obama is a Muslim/ Christians don't vote for Obama/Obama is a communist/Muslims aren't Americans/etc because they do believe this and want you to know, they want to discuss it with you, or they don't know if it's true, but thought you should be aware. Anyway, I think there is a huge difference between hitting forward that Obama is a Muslim and America will turn socialist upon his election and actually putting pen to paper and handing you a note from you to someone else bearing that message. Myself, I look at a forward as though I am the originator. If I forward something, it's because fully agree and don't mind talking to you about it. I'm getting off track...
'A Little Book' Helps Kids Learn To Love Language - June 15, 2010
NPR - Talk of the Nation
I may pick this up.
In reading other students' work when we'd switch papers to proofread or whatever in school, I can say I witnessed a lot of the issue of trying to write conversationally in a formal paper. If we decide to home school, that's one of many things I check off in my mind as important to teach.
Also touched on are the different lingoes of different professions or different "languages" and dialects in different parts of this country. This reminds me of my grandma. She says wardrobe for closet (a British thing as well), feesh for fish, hamburg for hamburger, deeshes for dishes. She is from Ohio and my husband and I often discuss how his grandma and to some extent his mom, who are from the mountains of Virgina, have a lot of vocabulary in common.
I have to admit that part of what I enjoy about the BBC and such is learning what they call things that is different from what Americans say. One summer, we had an Irish student and two Australians (no, they didn't walk into a bar...well, they may have, but not in this story) in lab. They laughed at our pronunciation of garage and kept saying it, like we'd say Target when we're being funny (you might call it the French pronunciation?). I wonder why we say garage the way we say it and not the way they say it. They also call our lab cart a trolley, not a cart. Jamie Oliver, Britian's Naked Chef, says fillet like it looks, not the American way. Interesting stuff.
Also interesting are cultural differences, not unrelated to language altogether. This article talks about American peculiarities ('Nine reasons to celebrate America'). Tea ceremonies. The fact that in most of the world, you can talk about politics like you talk about the weather- conversations generally don't end with name calling (unAmerican, anti-Semite, etc). It's all endlessly interesting and puzzling.
On a more relevant note...
A fun forward I have gotten more than once (Yes, I do enjoy some email forwards!) :)
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
A few links:
One that quotes Netanyahu's statement about what the committee's purpose is:
The 3 (just 3?!) men that will decide what went on with the IDF and Mavi Marmara:
- Yaakov Turkel, a retired Israeli supreme court judge, head of this committee
- Shaftai Rouzain, an international law expert, Israel Prize laureate
- Amos Huraiv, retired Major-General, former member of the Israeli Haganah mob (Haaretz simply calls him "military expert and former president of the Technion")
Some time has passed, sure, since the horrific crimes of 1948, but doesn't Israel view it- once a terrorist, always a terrorist? Look at how many ancient Nazi war criminals they work hard to bring to justice. Call me crazy, but that guy is not really in a position to have an honest discussion about Palestinians or war crimes.
The 2 (non-voting) observers are:
David Trimble, a Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Ken Watkin, a former military judge advocate general from Canada
Some key "facts" about teh committee:
- No army personnel will appear before the committee
- I'm guessing that means no survivors will testify, either
- Netanyahu, Minister for the Army Ehud Barak, and chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi are all expected to testify before the Committee
- They cannot question "political mechanism that triggered the attack on the Marmara"
- The sole "evidence" under consideration is the summary report by the "experts" the chief of staff appointed (IDF internal "investigation")- yet another big clue as to what the committee will decide
- No authority to make procedural recommendations
Netanyahu assures us the investigation will be fair and impartial, while defending the army furiously.
Does anyone honestly have any doubt what the results of this will be?
They didn't accomplish the objective, but they did what they needed to do to protect it's citizens.
I’m convinced that finding the facts by the committee will prove that the objective behind the operation of the state of Israel and its army’s defensive action was acceptable and conformed to international standards.
That tends to happen when one stacks the deck!
This is a Guardian blog or opinion piece I think. The author is as incredulous as I am:
It talks about other times Israel has investigated itself. Telling.
Two videos about flotilla stuff:
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Wow. Bush should have been impeached. He and his admin did in fact break the law. It was bad that they lied in the run up to Iraq (not illegal necessarily, unfortunately), but forging a letter from an Iraqi official "confirming" their list of lies in a covert action to alter public opinion tipped the scale. Ironically, the guy they wanted to copy the info in his own handwriting and sign it was the Iraqi intel guy who confirmed other reports from British intel and our own agencies that Iraq had no WMD (months before the invasion). He and those who reported this were ignored by Bush and only "used" when they wanted him to copy down this fabricated (by the White House) letter and have it planted in Baghdad by CIA. Of course their outing of him ( with a total lie only to save them some shame and from having to come clean) would put him and his family in danger, being collaborators and all, but hey, when has that ever mattered with Bush admin officials? Plame, anyone?
The book starts out with personal stories of a handful or people and how they experienced America or its decline in those 8 years. I was really enjoying that, then the second part really dove into 9/11, the run up to Iraq, Guantanamo, Bhutto's death and the admin's mishandling (to put it mildly) of it all (every last bit). We had the sympathy of the world after 9/11 and blew it. The British opened back channels in Iraq and then Iran to get solid intel and future negotiations started and we slammed the door because they wouldn't fall in line with our assumptions of WMD, etc.
When the story abruptly changed from personal stories to Bush admin stuff (I've about had enough) I was tempted to stop reading, but it actually was tied together quite nicely in the end. I think it was a bad decision to not fully investigate everything to find out who knew what and when and put it out for all eyes. Only then can apologies and amends be made and perhaps our reputation restored. We can and I hope we do repair our image by doing the right thing, but apologies and admissions of guilt (taking responsibility) are always a solid, healthy way to go.
I fully agree with the sentiment in the book that America needs to get back its moral authority -honesty, compassion, respect for others- and stop imposing our will on others. Giving without leaving the recipient in our debt. Bush was not a leader that helped us build on these principles. He destroyed them. Obama has had to start from scratch- or a negative position.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I've been sticking to alternative sources of news for this event and so I was unaware of how the stroy was being framed by the mainstram news sources. Until TIME arrived in the mail. I was under the impression that all were in agreement that Israel is at fault and can't play the victim card too much longer. Guess not. The story is not actually how do we make Israel follow the law and respect human rights. The story in the US is that Israel has an "image problem." Silly me!
Under George Bush, the US had an image problem. We invaded Iraq, probably knowing full well there weren't any WMD, and didn't apologize after everyone else found out the truth. Truth telling and admitting fault is seen as weakness by some, but it does wonders for one's image as it is the hardest and right thing to do. There is a Biblical lesson for the individual here, temptimg to address, but that's a digression perhaps for another time or place. :)
The only way for Israel to fix this pesky "image problem," is to stop flouting international law, let Palestinians have the self determination that everyone else on this planet sees as a God-given right, end the occupation. apologize for past wrongs, begin reconciliation, refugee return, compensation, trials for those in Israel who are guilty of crimes against humanity, etc.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
USS Liberty survivor was seized by flotilla
Will we abandon and dishonor him yet again?
Activists: Israeli boat raiders had ‘assassination list’
Many musical groups cancelled performances in Israel in recent months because of Gaza, occupation, flotilla
Elvis Costello, Carlos Santana and Gil Scott-Heron, British group Gorillaz, Pixies
Given what you'll read next, why aren't we separating ourselves from this nonsense?
This show on 6/7/10 has a ton of crazy things. Just wrong! Who believes Israel??
- Arab Knesset member, Hanin Zoabi, is targeted in a FB group inciting her assassination. She was assaulted in the Knesset for trying to share her experiences on the flotilla.
- IDF retracted press release it put out saying flotilla members were Al Qaeda mercenaries upon inquiries by Blumenthal. The "evidence" was that they had night vision goggles. Wow. The criteria for being a terrorist is getting more and more general.
- IDF admitted to doctoring the audio it originally put out with a flotilla person supposedly saying "go back to Auschwitz." They released the "full" version later. NY Times an dWahington Post reported on these initial IDF responses, but didn't report the corrections. Way to follow up and ask the questions. Instead of Blumenthal, they could have been the ones to break the story about the false IDF reports.
- Yedioth Ahronoth - apparently an author of some sort said Israel should plant guns and rockets on the next flotilla and display them at the prot of Ashdod for journalists to photograph.
And they think they can conduct a serious investigation of themselves. They don't want the international community or any other country involved. That way, they wouldn't be able to manufacture the story they want. Heaven forbid we get the truth!
I like these statements and the fact that he puts an old favorite Israeli argument right back to them- we've extended our hand in peace... and we're still waiting.
OPINION: Peacemaking takes courage, leaders
By Mahmoud Abbas - 06/08/10 06:00 AM ET
Meaningful negotiations and Israeli settlement activity do not go hand in hand because the continued building of settlements will not leave enough land for us to establish our own contiguous and viable state.
In the Arab Peace Initiative, 57 Arab and Muslim countries offered Israel peace and normalized relations in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian and Arab territories it conquered by force in the 1967 War and has occupied since. Israeli leaders have so far failed to grasp this historic opportunity and instead are actively working toward making the two-state solution impossible.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Also here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/17/536557/anti-palestinian-comments-too.html
I will say that the soundbite was rough. Especially the portion that keeps getting replayed. When you hear the whole thing, you get a bit more context and those who are keeping up with events in the Middle East see that it’s not quite as bad as it first seemed.
Edit 6/10/10: I have a bit of the comments below. They provide more context than "tell them to get out of Palestine", but this transcript of sorts explains it better. It seems it was a pretty lighthearted exchange and Thomas was definitely calling attention to the Occupation, not showing her anti-Semitic cards or that she was senile.
BBC's story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10259646.stm
She's not really calling for Jews to leave, but calling attention to the Occupation and blame that no one ever wants to mention in these parts. She was kind of getting at the fact that Israel and it's "democratic values" are a bit of a joke until it lets Palestinians go back home, just like Jews can go back to their homes in Eastern Europe, Europe, America, etc or stay in Israel as they please. The idea was totally in character and I totally can get behind her saying Israel is occupying Palestine, but the wording was oh so wrong.
I wish she hadn't gone out on that note. She's done a lot for women in journalism and has been the only one asking the hard questions at various times- about Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel.
Thomas’s point was that Palestine is occupied and no one will say that in the US. Perhaps one approach is to say something a little stronger or more provocative than one’s actual opinion. People certainly are taking notice. Ideally, since Jewish terrorists took over parts of Palestine, kicked out the inhabitants and won’t let them go back home (and the ones who managed to stay don’t have the same rights as Jews), one could think the just thing to do would be to send Israelis packing or force them to allow the inhabitants to go home and have rights. Regardless of whether or not one thinks sending Jews packing is just or not, it is not realistic. Everyone knows this. Helen, I would imagine, knows this. This is the only fact on the ground I’d say that we have to honor. All other things Israel has done to create certain facts on the ground to prevent a Palestinian state, provoke violence, etc are absolutely on the table, however.
She probably did choose the wrong venue to express herself in this fashion. It was a Jewish heritage celebration at the White House in May. Prominent Jews were in attendance. If they included the likes of Pipes and Dershowitz, you can bet Thomas had heard more than a few incendiary things about Arabs, not to mention the rewritten, sterilized history that normally accompanies high praise for Israel. Even so, it was the wrong venue and poor choice of words. She really should have passed when asked "any comments on Israel?" by the good Rabbi wielding a video camera. A "no comment" would have done nicely.
In her defense, it kind of sounded like people with video cameras were baiting her and waiting for her. They begged her to go on. Everyone knows who she is, so it’s not like they were just asking random people. She wasn’t speaking for the White House or any publication. Not to mention that in context, she was talking about the fact that Israel is an Occupier and how many don’t even think about it that way anymore- if they ever did.
The two quotes are from this site:
(Soundbite of Internet video)
Rabbi DAVID F. NESENOFF (Founder, RabbiLIVE.com): Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Ms. HELEN THOMAS (Former Columnist, Hearst News Service): Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.
Rabbi NESENOFF: Ooh. Any better comments on Israel?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Woman: Helen has one.
Ms. THOMAS: Remember, these people are occupied, and it's their land. Not German. It's not Poland.
Rabbi NESENOFF: So where should they go? What should they do?
Ms. THOMAS: They can go home.
Rabbi NESENOFF: Where is their home?
Ms. THOMAS: Poland...
Rabbi NESENOFF: So the Jews...
Ms. THOMAS: Germany.
Rabbi NESENOFF: You think Jews should go back to Poland and Germany?
Ms. THOMAS: And America and everywhere else.
This is from the NPR Talk of the Nation link above-
My view exactly. Good points. Thank you, Lina:
LINA: First of all, I think that Helen Thomas is a human being before being a columnist or before being into whatever job she is doing, so she has the right to say her opinion. And we live in a free country. And, you know, she was hired to say her opinions and to be seated in that first seat. And everybody knew that she was controversial, but everybody liked her opinion. Plus, I would like to add a little bit about my opinion. You know, Palestine has been Palestine until 1948, until Israel existed. And it is an occupation. And I really feel that it is unfair that people don't recognize that it is an occupation.
CONAN: Do you think the analogies some drew, including Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary, was how would you have responded if she had substituted the words, African-Americans should go back to Africa?
LINA: Well, you know what, African-Americans did not occupy the United States of America. They were brought here as slaves. And they - if they would like to go back to Africa, that is their prerogative, but it is not the same - you cannot analyze apples based on oranges. It is not the same situation.
This blow up reminded me of an article I read with a quote by a film maker ( a Jew in fact) in a similar vein to Thomas’s recent soundbite. It probably didn’t hit as hard because it’s telling the person to go back to Israel instead of vacating it, but the idea is the same- it’s not theirs; they are occupiers.
It is pretty ironic that Thomas’s quote hit harder because of the idea of “transfer”. Israel is engaged in this form of ethnic cleansing and many are becoming more outspoken in endorsing it. It is seen as one of the keys, besides murder, to maintaining the Jewish majority that the Jewish state thinks it needs to “survive” as such.
How Israel Gives Jews a Bad Name
By SAUL LANDAU
“Long Live Israel,” scream the US fans. “Anyone who doesn’t like our team is an anti-Semite.”
I want to shout: “Go Back to Israel where you didn’t come from.”
The world is condemning Helen Thomas for her poor choice of words. But what about Israel’s supporters who say equally incendiary things? Are they asked to resign? Do we end their careers? Do we back away from them? No. On the contrary, we embrace them and appoint them to the US Institute of Peace! We meet with them (Avigdor Lieberman) and share and discuss as though they were some human rights champion- or at least not cautiously as an egregious human rights violator.
And unlike Helen Thomas, this guy is a virtual fountain of slurs and inflammatory language about Palestinians and Muslims. He compiles/compiled "dossiers" on all University professors that were "pro-Palestinain," were critical of Israel, taught or said anything in speeches that was "against" the Israeli hard line view. Why not call for his resignation from all things related to the Middle East? End his career?
"The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people. "
“The Palestinians are a miserable people,” he added, “and they deserve to be.”
About his USIP recess appointment by Bush:
“Palestinians invented terrorism”
Is this so absurd, there’s no need to comment? Or do people take this in stride?
It certainly didn’t ruin this joker’s career.
Nothing can, apparently.
I had never heard about this one. Where was the ruckus about that? Why not banish this guy and force the famous Dershowitz to denounce him?
“Hoenleie suggested that if Arab students are to be admitted to US universities their studies should be confined to "Liberal Arts, not physics and nuclear science". “
Remember what Rahm Emanuel's dad said about Arabs?
"Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."
No one really considered it beyond the pale and a quick apology fixed everything right up. Was it because father and son have different views or because no one was bothered by a slur against an Arab? Honestly, I don't know. True, Emauel and his dad are different people, but I really don't know how different Emanuel's views are from his dad's at all.
Golda Meir, 4th PM of Israel, once said “there’s no such thing as Palestinians” and instead of denouncing her, many people embrace this nonsense. She’s considered a hero. Not a crazy lunatic.
Avigdor Lieberman (Israel's FM and Deputy PM):
Israel bans Arab parties, embraces ethnic cleansing
A step backwards for Israel; a step forward for EU
Clinton's meeting with the terrorist
If Hilary were KKK, what would our reaction be?
Palestinians stop rockets; Lieberman threatens against a Palestinian state
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The title says Israel apologizes for it, but the article mentions one condemnation from a blog. The Prime Minister's spokesman was apparently ROTFL and forwarded it to friends. That doesn't sound very apologetic to me.
This tasteless nonsense was made by an editor at Jerusalem Post. Mark Regev thought it was so funny he called his kids and told them to watch it. Surely this guy could keep his cool and say it isn't right to laugh at people dying. But, no. Maybe it's good he shows his true colors.
Some might say this is what happens in free societies. This is merely the free expression of ideas.
I say, when you think things like this are funny (especially when you are an official who can't maintain one's decorum), it says something about you- your morals and your respect for human life- that you have none!
Huff Post has the YouTube video if you want to see the garbage for yourself:
"There's no people dying" - how is this anywhere near true about the flotilla or Gaza and the IDF??
"The truth will never find the way to your TV." - That's probably actually true! The US will believe Israel every time, no matter the crime. Kill our own people, kill some other countries' people- we love us some Israel. In all the stories on major network news, they are intent on finding and playing up Turkish "terrorist" ties of some of the participants rather than the IDF massacre and executions.
"Hamas as Mother Teresa" - This whole thing has nothing to do with Hamas and yet Israel is trying to say aid to Gaza is equal to giving missiles to Hamas?? ??????????
Israel must be an alternate universe. Similar to the bubble Bush lived in in the White House where Iraq was an imminent threat and everyone was supposed to bow to his will or be accused of being agaisnt us and therefore for the terrorists and gut feeling was a substitute for evidence an common sense.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
See the latest list below.
My related posts:
Here is the pasta question by the journalist- it didn't make it to my blog I don't think, so here it is:
Feb. 25, 2009: U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing by Acting Spokesman Robert A. Wood
So, I'm confused. Is pasta a weapon or not? Our own State Department can't answer this burning question that thousands upon thousands of starving Palestinians in Israel's stranglehold are dying to find the answer to.
If it's that dangerous, perhaps there should be a worldwide ban on it- along with other dangers like chickpeas, soap, toilet paper, cluster bombs, and white phosphorus.
(Times are where in the video it occurs)
3:08 The questions on Gaza start
4:58 Dual use items are discussed some
5:32 The question is asked about aid to Gaza being tied to Shalit's release (food as a political weapon)
6:20 Honoring the ceasefire is asked about
7:09 The question is asked about pasta being a weapon and Wood can't commit either way (???)
Full text-- http://www.state.gov/video/?videoid=14090183001
Back to today- June 5, 2010....
PDF of "prohibited items" in Gaza - the current list, anyway:
Why does Israel ban these items in Gaza?? Self defense or collecive punishment? Depriving the population of another entity to effect a "favorable" change in their government. Sounds like what some would call terrorism...
Which are used ot make bombs or rockets? Toys? Jam? A picture of a character in Toy Story shooting a gun that shoots jam runs through my head... Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, too...
seeds and nuts
biscuits and sweets
gas for soft drinks
wood for construction
tarpaulin sheets for huts
fabric (for clothing)
flavor and smell enhancers
various fishing nets
ropes for fishing
nylon nets for greenhouses
hatcheries and spare parts for hatcheries
spare parts for tractors
dairies for cowsheds
irrigation pipe systems
ropes to tie greenhouses
planters for saplings
heaters for chicken farms
size A4 paper
sewing machines and spare parts
Will it change US policy? One can always hope.
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times
in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who
also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face,
in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men
were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of
the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of
Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul,
said that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from
a distant shot, while every other victim suffered multiple wounds. "All [the
bullets] were intact. This is important in a forensic context. When a bullet
strikes another place it comes into the body deformed. If it directly comes into
the body, the bullet is all intact."
The only one shot with one bullet was shot between the eyes from a longer range. That screams sniper and a shoot to kill policy, does it not? Does it say self defense to anyone?
Also, that is quite a few shots in the head and backs and backs of heads to be self defense. If you're truly in a struggle for your life, how do you shoot someone in the back of the head? What would our American courts say about that? I guess a buddy (or 5) could have come from the opposite direction to save the day. If in each of these cases, the soldier's life was hanging in the balance, and in each case that soldier had a buddy on the opposite side (to shoot the guy in the back of the head), then one could argue that the lethal situation could have been avoided.
Also, there is an account of a guy shot through the top of the head from a helicopter. If that is looked into, surely that could provide some insight as to who started it, whether Israelis acted in self defense, whether they shot ot kill, etc. Proof of shooting from the air certainly would disprove the Israeli line as well.
In the Democracy Now reports, eyewitnesses have said they heard shots before the soldiers boarded. If the soldiers are claiming the protesters stole the sidearms, I guess the shots would have come from Israeli commandos, contradicting the official Israeli line they are feeding us- protesters attacked first. We still have no credible info on who started this thing.
You have to wonder what the Israeli definition of attack is, though. I, and probably most folks, assume guns aimed at Israelis. In the past, rocks and school backpacks have justified murder by tank and automatic weapon fire, so there's no telling what they consider an "attack" or "threat".
A question that remains for me is why send commandos in to meet an aid ship about to supposedly violate the Gaza blockade that Israel contends is totally legal- much like settlements and the occupation and the rest of the collective punishment. Why not send diplomats, lawyers, etc to ask to board or discuss instead? Why not offer for UN or other international group to inspect the cargo at the Gaza port before sending in commandos?
Friday, June 4, 2010
I thought the protest went well. It was my first ever. I had wanted to before, especially in the run up ot the Iraq war when I was so mad that journalists had fallen asleep and weren't asking anyone anything, but just haven't until now. I was bigger on writing Congress, but when you get so many letters back about how great Israel is in response to concerns about Israel killing civilians, collectively punishing Palestinians, building illegal settlements, us supporting such horrible crimes against humanity both verbally and with billions of dollars in aid, you want to do more. Feinstein sent me a reply on Iraq once when I sent her a letter about Israeli war crimes in Palestine, as if there was any doubt that Senators didn't read my emails.
A lot of folks honked their support, waved, gave a peace sign, etc. More than I expected. I did see a middle finger and a few shouts of "I love Israel." The latter was obviously meant as a counter to us, but loving Israel and wanting them to follow the law are not opposites (we don't hate Israel), so it was a strange choice of words to counter the demonstration, I thought.
This is my sign, front and back- above and below. I bought supplies in the morning and put it together after work. The supplies. That was a near miss. The store I went ot had next ot nothing. No colored posterboard? Really? Cardstock taped together on the only foamboard I found saved the day and didn't look horrible. I was worried that the only thing I found to write on the black - window paint- wouldn't work, but with much effort, it came through for me.
I felt a bit like the kid who didn't do his homework, slapping it together in the car a few feet from the protest, but I think it turned out ok. I like making a poster. One of the few things I liked about school.
This is the end of the protest, above.
There were lots of Israeli flags present; here's a Palestinian flag. A local TV station said the Israeli flags were a counter protest, but since the event was by Jewish Voice For Peace, I'm not sure about that.
I should have moved the camera a bit to get "Free Gaza" instead of "Ree Gaza" !
Lebanon is here!
Shouts of "Free Gilad Shalit" emanated from this corner at times...
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Should Israel face censure over an attack on a Gaza aid convoy?
This is a CNN poll- quick vote. Scroll to towards the bottom.
It must have been up just for one day. In the morning, yes waas leading by some 20-30 points. By evening, it was 50/50.
So the answer to this question I posed in my last post is a yes:
"Will this be yet another non-violent tactic met with Israeli gunfire?"
I really didn't expect it to come to that; just detentions. Just detentions. Can't believe I just thought that.
"Israel cannot clean the blood off its hands through any excuse," said
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel's
lawlessness. This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking
humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse."
I wholeheartedly agree with Erdogan! It is awesome that someone is doing something- Turkey took its ambassador out of Israel.
I'm sure this will be a good account. There were supposed to be some good guests on. I hope to listen to it soon myself:
Obama’s response to the massacre of 20 people on board whose goal was to deliver supplies to help rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure and help them get clean water on Memorial Day was the same old feeble one- “we regret the loss of life.” Nearly the same line as Israel, minus the outright blame placed solely on the aid workers. When Palestinians used to suicide bomb, they were killers, murderers, homicide bombers, etc. We had no qualms about conferring these monikers meant for the perps on the entire population. When Israel kills people, we cleanse it and remove the blame- “stuff happens” or “what can you do” or “both sides need to adopt peaceful means”, etc.
Not that the weak response was surprising. Look what we "did" with the Goldstone report on war crimes in the Gaza offensive, when Noam Chomsky was denied entry to Israel because they don't like what he writes, and then when at the UN Monday, we abstained from calling for an immediate end to the blockade, unlike the rest of the Security Council, who did its job. What did we "do"? Nothing. Which means Israel keeps committing crimes with our money, which violates our US laws, by the way. Why should that matter to us, though. We don't care when they kill our citizens, so why on earth would we care about them breaking the law?
A couple of things struck me as ironic when I heard the news due to what day it was and what I was reading at the time.
I was finishing Roxana Saberi’s book about her imprisonment in Iran on Monday when I heard about it. Israel’s demands, assertions and denials resemble Iran’s quite a bit. You can't believe a word either of them say. Why not release the names of the dead? Why not release the names of the jailed? Why not let the jailed contact family, lawyers, embassies, etc? Why are they keeping the possessions of those released - money, film, tape, cameras, equipment, etc?
We all know about Iran, but think about how Israel called their nuclear reactor a textile factory and still won't acknowledge it, even though we all know the truth, how they never confirm that their Mossad was responsible when everyone knows they were. There are too many lies associated with the conflict to properly address here.
I heard about this on Memorial Day. I read so many well wishes to troops and thank yous to the military past and present on Facebook, teh news and various places. I don't hate America, teh flag, the troops or anything else, but certain things struck me as ironic in thinking about US policy on/with Israel and the Middle East on this day.
In the USS Liberty disaster, we chose to believe Israel over our own soldiers, we chose to support Israel and bury those soldiers’ accounts and statements rather than show them the same honor many enjoyed on Memorial Day. Why? And Rachel Corrie. She wasn’t military, but she was a US citizen who fought (and was murdered) for others’ right to have what we enjoy- she made the same sacrifice as many a US soldier. Given a record like this (protecting Israel over the lives and interests of our own citizens and international law), what hope, honestly, is there for justice and fairness in the Middle East as far as the US is concerned?
It’s apparently great to thank and respect soldiers- except when their story contradicts that of Israel’s. In that case, you need to shut your mouth and be ashamed of your service and contribution to this country. If you do choose ot talk about it, you need to fall in line and lie. There aren’t always two sides to every story. In the case of Israel and the US, there is only one side. Israel’s.
Well, Israel hasn't admitted to much of anything, but they do admit that they attacked a civilian ship with attack helicopters, speedboats and commandos.
Hopefully I will organize these later...