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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christian/Western Perceptions of Islam- No Change

I recently revisited a Christian website. Not a random one, one that has good scriptural stuff in general. I'm not going to name it; I don't want to bash it or anything. I just think we should think about this. The Media section is just out of control. It is supposed to be a place to discuss Christian topics and perspectives on things in the media, I think. Often, what gets posted is simply a link that portrays our government or someone of another faith mistreating Christians or denying them rights. Not always, but frequently, the target is Islam and Muslims.

When you post a link about honor killing or a Muslim cutting off a Christian's hand, etc with no explanation, what exactly are you hoping to achieve? Are you alerting Christians to a danger you think is real and imminent? Are you trying to make Christians feel better by putting down others? Are you trying to inspire Christians to overcome adversity- real or perceived? I just can't see what is trying to be accomplished by these ostensibly well-meaning individuals. Why people insist on "proving" the majority of Muslims are violent or that those truly following Islam are the terrorists or that Islam is not a religion of peace or Allah is different than God- instead of comparing and contrasting Islam with the Bible is beyond me.

Right off the bat before looking at the link and such in a detailed way, I always think about Matthew 10:28:

"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

So, someone hates us or wants to kill Christians? What of it? Should we not just live as we are called- not antagonistic, but not silent, either?

Then there are the facts. Those pesky facts. Some people have little use for them, but I want to know what's going on.

We see a very small percentage of Muslims committing terrorist acts in the news and in movies. This is where most of us form our opinions of Muslims and it is not representative of the majority of Muslims out there. I know many will take issue with that statement, but then that is essentially the reason for the post. :)

Some may call me a Muslim 'apologist' and wonder why I care about Muslims rather than the Christians being tortured for their faith around the world by authoritarian regimes. The answer is simple. We have no wrong idea about these Christians, as we do with Muslims. We know it's going on. It's wrong. It should stop, yes, but Christians understand the greater battle is the heart, the spiritual, so if they are faithful, the battle is won regardless of whether they are free to practice or in prison for it. The Christian perception of Muslims may not matter to some, but I find the subject generally approached in a mainly unChristian manner. It bothers me. It's inconsistent and wrong and puts up walls where there need not be, which should matter if you want as many people to go to heaven as possible. That's my thinking, anyway.

Another note- In reading some of these links written by Muslims, they do have some misconceptions about Christianity, at least Christianity as I know and practice it. Granted, they may be getting their info from Calvinists or Catholics neither of whose doctrines I subscribe to, but I still think it is important for us to change the prevailing attitude, ask questions or at least refrain from the sweeping negative generalizations about them regardless of what's said of us.

Now on to the links. This turned out to be more than I thought it was going to be...


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Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam, by Paul Findley is a good book. The title is pretty self-explanatory...
http://www.wrmea.com/archives/october01/0110106.html


Edward Said wrote Covering Islam. I think I have it, but I either haven't read it or can't remember it. That's why I've been making a few notes when I've read something in the past months. The book I remember reading by him was packed with excellent facts and research, but was a little hard to get through despite my interest.

http://www.amazon.com/Covering-Islam-Media-Experts-Determine/dp/0679758909

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Here is a PBS piece looking at some myths we cling to about Islam:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/questions/types/index.html


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The general public and many academics have several preconceived notions about Islamic Law. One such notion is that Islamic judges are bound by ancient and outdated rules of fixed punishments for all crimes. This paper explores that idea and looks at other myths in an attempt to present Islamic Law from a non-biased view of Shar'iah Law.

http://muslim-canada.org/Islam_myths.htm


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Here are a few things often attributed to or blamed on Islam that are actually due to other influences:

Honor killing:

However, many in the West also misunderstand and conveniently condemn honor killing as a practice of Islam. The mistake with this condemnation is that Islam does not permit or condone honor killing. However, it is precisely this misunderstanding and ignorance that allows many in the West to participate in a climate of hate, mistrust and even the idea of war against all of Islam.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/intentchopra/2010/02/a-practical-approach-to-talkin.html

Guardianship:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabria-jawhar/saudi-tribal-customs-not_b_269867.html


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How did the stereotypes come to be?


This site talks about Arabs in the media, but is pretty extensive, so it goes into Islam as well.
http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/sfischo/Arabs.html

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Also a good site about how (which ways) Islam did or didn't influence Arab societies and how that it perceived in the West.
http://www.islamfortoday.com/media.htm


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Bird in his book, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate, talks about the political vacuum in Egypt being filled by militants. He also talks about Saudi Arabia and how that society was influenced by Wahabiism. He explains how the US supported the royals and dictators to keep oil revenue (democratic systems would probably nationalize the oil which would be bad for us) as opposed to supporting those who desired some form of democracy. These royals and dictators allied with hard line religious leaders in order to keep control and avoid democracies that would send them packing, with US blessings in many cases.

I read book recently, I believe it was Bird's (not sure, though), that explained Sharia'a law better than any other American. Generally, it is associated with dictatorial regimes slicing off heads and hands of dissidents. In reality, it is quite a bit different. He explains how a man killed another man in a car accident. They guy would have probably gone to jail in our society and both parties would live with guilt, anger and loss. Under Sharia'a law, however, an agreement was made that since the guy killed was supporting his parents and I think a sibling, that the offender was required to provide for this family. In our society, it would be acceptable to hate the guy who killed that son. There, the family of the guy who was killed, for their part, considered him in as a son.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/05/26/bird.arab.modernity/index.html


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Some think Islam is the problem and view states in predominantly Muslim areas as failed states. Mostly, though, they are pointing to leaders that claim to be following Islam, but aren't applying it properly or the people or rulers are calling tribal traditions Islamic.

The air is thick with theories which claim that Islam has been paralyzed by a deadening obscurantism since the twelfth century, and this paralysis will only end when Muslims decide to replace Islam with secular humanism. It is time these theories were deconstructed.

http://www.counterpunch.org/shahid3.html


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Here's a site talking about democracy being an Islamic value.

So, all else equal, Muslims today ought to endorse the form of government that is most effective in helping them promote these values. ...

Several considerations suggest that democracy—and especially a constitutional democracy that protects basic individual rights—is that form.

http://bostonreview.net/BR28.2/abou.html


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Here's a site talking about feminism and Islam. It is rather interesting that many Muslim women's values actually line up with Christian women's, despite our efforts to villify them for their lack of freedom.

http://www.jannah.org/sisters/feminism.html

Jehan Sedat had a good discussion of feminism and Islam in her book, My Hope For Peace.

On a funny and almost unrelated note, I read Jehan Sadat's book, which of course held Anwar Sadat up as the best Arab leader in history, right before reading Kai Bird's Mandelbaum Gate. Apparently, Bird is a big Nasser fan. That was interesting.

Back to Islamic feminism...two NPR pieces, probably inspired by France's move to try and ban the veil:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126309699

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-07-13/banning-veil





Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The pressure's on- Flotilla charge filed, TIAA divestment campaign


Hope more countries will follow suit like in the "Dubacle."

The courts haven't agreed to hear the case, though. :(

Three Spaniards file charges over Israel flotilla raid
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10741416



******

Jewish Voice For Peace's demand for TIAA-CREF's divestment from Israel didn't fall on deaf ears?? They appear to be making some progress. I know the Caterpillar divestment battle has been a lot less successful, even though Israel used one of it's machines to kill Rachel Corrie who was protesting house demolitions. If one company takes the risk, maybe others will follow their example of social responsibility?


Jewish Voice for Peace:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOy8GWa60jY


http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/jvp-demand-tiaa-cref-divest-israeli-occupation-0


Mondoweiss:
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/07/jvp-tiaa-cref-divestment-campaign-finds-strong-support-among-shareholders.html


This is from a mailing list I'm on (it seems a bit too optimistic to completely believe it- snopes, here I come-, but one can hope...) :

Aaron Levitt and others on TIAA-CREF success.

*SIGN THE PETITION NOW.*
**

Wow!

I'm writing you from New York City where I just got back from the TIAA-CREF annual meeting
and I'm still a bit overwhelmed by the experience.

TIAA-CREF is one the largest retirement funds in the world, and it holds investments in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation.

I can't tell you what it meant to have so many people at the TIAA-CREF meeting asking them to do better. *15,300 people to be exact*. Each one had signed a petition or a postcard, or secured hundreds of postcards in their own community asking the fund to divest from the Israeli occupation. And you know what? That made all the difference --- to us, and to the leadership of TIAA-CREF.

We finally got a chance to call on TIAA-CREF, in person, to divest from companies like Caterpillar and Elbit that profit from Israel's occupation. As a fellow activist in the room said, "This was a real breakthrough today." I couldn't agree more.

At the meeting, those who have retirement accounts with the company can stand up and speak. We had a designated speaker delivering the postcards to TIAA-CREF management, and we knew a few other people, mostly professors and teachers, would get up and ask that their money not be invested in companies that profit from discrimination, death, and destruction, and push hope and peace ever further away.

But happened was extraordinary. First 5, then 10, then 14 people, then more got up, one after another, to speak from the heart about why TIAA CREF must not profit from Israel's occupation. These people weren't just JVP members, but included TIAA-CREF shareholders attending the meeting for entirely different reasons, who were spontaneously moved to speak in support of our
campaign.

Not a single person spoke to defend Israel's occupation. Not one. But we all know that will change, which is *why we need you now to join our call and help us grow the 15,300 to 25,000 and then50,000.

Please sign the TIAA-CREF petition now.
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=DvQXwzoiHKPYqTyF0BmjLdbTBM270Ysd>


In that meeting, the voice for justice, for full equality, for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, dominated the room. So many inspiring and courageous JVP activists stood up to say how TIAA-CREF was fueling death and destruction by literally investing in it. To implore
TIAA-CREF to find a new way.

During the meeting, we had the honor of delivering the many stacks of petitions and postcards directly to the Chief Financial Officer, and could feel the energy in the room change as the TIAA-CREF executives saw how many people we were representing. The CEO of TIAA-CREF announced they would be meeting with our campaign team tomorrow, and I knew they were taking us seriously.

It was impossible for anyone in that room to not have been affected by what they saw and heard. Just imagine - statement after statement opposing the Israeli occupation were made in the boardroom of one of the largest financial services companies in the world. The executive managers and board members present listened attentively, respectfully.

We know the struggle will be long to actually get TIAA-CREF to divest, but this is just the beginning. Our story is already spreading across the world, with media coverage in *US News and Report, Inside Higher Ed, Israel's Ha'aretz, Tablet and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Please join our call! We are already having an impact at 15,300 but want to
grow to 50,000. Please sign our petition today.

Thank you for listening. I wish we could have videotaped the statements of every person in that room-I promise you, you would have been moved and inspired. But none of us who were there will ever forget it.

<
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=KT1JUu328oB1MzEbvnBeMdbTBM270Ysd>

Onward,
Aaron Levitt
Jewish Voice for Peace

P.S. At the meeting, TIAA-CREF's corporate leadership announced they would be meeting directly with Jewish Voice for Peace this morning, and so they did. This is a very exciting step--and it's also just the beginning. We still need you to
sign our petition and help us get more
signatures
, especially from TIAA-CREF participants who are predominantly professors,
teachers, medical and nonprofit workers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Israel accidentally proves Goldstone right. Oops.

I'm really surprised this is seeing the light of day sooner than 20 years after the fact. Not that it will make any difference in the way of peace and justice...


A majority of the most damning—and damaging—war crimes that are alleged to have taken place have now been confirmed by the IDF’s own investigations into the matter, themselves only conducted in an effort to derail the Goldstone report’s referral to the International Criminal Court.


http://www.hybridstates.com/2010/07/new-israeli-report-on-operation-cast-lead-confirm-goldstone-reports-main-findings/

Defending settlements- is this how Netanyahu takes risks for peace?


Palestinian shot dead in West Bank by Israeli soldiers
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10725444



All Israel leaders say they are willing to take steps, make sacrifices, and take risks for peace. Interestingly, none will leave the settlers high and dry without IOF protection and other services. (This, then, begs the question are they more interested in peace or the "dream" of "Greater Israel?") All of these illegal settlements are protected as though they are Israeli soil. I wonder what would happen if the State of Israel treated settlers as foreigners? Maybe there would be a breakthrough in peace negotiations. Maybe, though, all those former soldiers and patriots (terrorists?) would just form their own services, police, etc.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Same guy responsible for edits in ACORN and Shirley Sherrod videos


Fooled Again by Breitbart and the Wingnut Right
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/fooled-again-by-breitbart_b_654594.html



A few things came to mind while watching this on the news this morning:
  • Did Breitbart or his "source" edit this video?
Not that Breitbart shouldn't be held responsible for peddling the lies of his "source" if indeed there is a "source."
  • Was Obama or Vilsack responsible?

I am so disappointed in Obama on this. I mean, if everyone took the right's attacks on him at face value in 2008, edits, lies and all without checking the facts and getting the whole story, he probably wouldn't have received a single vote! I know he's busy with all that Bush left for him, but he needs to take a lesson from those who elected him, here.

  • Anti-white racism? Really? And this from the guy who managed to kill ACORN with another fake video- you remember, the (black) pimp asking for advice on taxes? I'm starting to wonder who his target is. Is it really just the left in general?
  • How on earth is this Andrew Breitbart guy credible in any way? If all else fails, he can always be a commentator on Fox, right Sarah (Palin)?

I think the words of another right winger are coming to mind...

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002 (Watch video clip; listen to audio clip)






No Peace Without Justice: Just In Darfur??

Aha! So they can put these words together in this order! They are aware of this concept!

Now, to get over the Cold War and the Israel lobby (AIPAC) apply it to Israel...


Obama says no peace in Sudan without justice, urges cooperation with ICC


http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article35670



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From: http://tiny.cc/y3hqc (Oct 2009)
As Justice Goldstone stated, “The ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence.”
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Sadly, this article from 2005 is no less relevant in 2010...
http://www.counterpunch.org/fisk02122005.html


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A more recent article from July 2010 distills the Israeli left and right's position on justice (and hence peace) and the one and two state solutions.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/07/one-state-debate-explodes-myth-about-the-zionist-left/


I had always thought the Israeli left the reasonable bunch. In general, though, they are for a two state solution with walls and separation. The new J Street Lobby is definitely in this camp.

The right, unexpectedly is exploring a one state solution. Sounds good, but their vision is not of a state for it's citizens, but rather a state for Jews in all of Mandate Palestine where Palestinian majorities will be gerrymandered out, loyalty oaths to the Jewish state will be demanded, and Palestinians will be second or third class citizens.

Anyway, the article gets you thinking about peace and justice in the one or two state contexts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Palestinian nonviolence relies on global non-silence

I don't know if I posted this before, but it answers a question I hear all the time- where is the Palestinian Gandhi anyway, why don't they try Dr. King's methods, etc.

Like many resisting oppression, Palestinian Gandhis are likely to be found in prisons after being repressed by Israeli soldiers or police or in the hospital after being brutally beaten or worse.

Palestinian nonviolence relies on global non-silence

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/21/palestinian-nonviolence-israeli-repression

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

She could have been our VP?!

A heartbeat away from a McCain presidency.

That's just plain scary.

Bush 42, but a looser cannon. Same fun version of English, though. The entertainment would not have been worth the rest of what we would have received. At least W realized to some extent that there are Muslims and Arabs in America and that he represents them, too. A big step, no doubt. Palin just sounds like one of those bad email forwards ("What We All Need To Be Aware of Concerning the Muslim Religion," "Why Muslims Can't Be Good Americans," you get the idea...).

It is said that all publicity is good publicity, but when we're talking presidential aspirations, that may not be true. A strange howl knocked Howard Dean out. Palin's crazy Tweets and Tea Party associations should pretty well sink her. If she wants to be president, she should go under the radar, delete her Twitter and FB accounts and work for a (poverty, education, etc) nonprofit and travel abroad for the next few years. If she wants to sell another book, she should keep Tweeting and take it up a notch! I'm guessing she'd choose the latter.

"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims pls refudiate"

It's not a mosque, it's actually a community center.

Heartland??? As in Alaska? As in the place where we hate foreigners and non-Christians?

How does one refute or "refudiate" a mosque (that's really a community center)? If there was an inflammatory statement coming out of a mosque, one could use "mosque" in place of the statement, but she's indeed talking about a structure.

And two more annoying things: the pls/plz abbreviation and continually demanding "peaceful Muslims" constantly condemn this or that in order to be freed from the terrorist label. Some abbreviations I don't mind in texting. Plz is one I really, for whatever reason, don't want to see anywhere. In another observation of the week, an email is not a text message, people (!!). Emails generally let you type more than 140 characters, so please don't use plz.

The "peaceful Muslims" comment. What kind of garbage is this? Are non-Muslim Americans required to prove how peaceful they are in order to be considered acceptable or not a terrorist? No. While I can understand on some level why some think this way, it is ignorant and unacceptable. We only see Muslims depicted (sparsely) in the news when they are committing an unthinkable crime. The onus, then, is not on Muslims to re-educate people who think something horrible and false about them. Good for them if they choose to, they are doing a public service. People watching the news should ask things like: How many Muslims are in the world or country? How many are committing crimes versus how many are just doing as I do? Have I met or conversed with a Muslim about Islam or anything at all? What do we have in common? Do I spend too much time on answeringislam or jihadwatch without checking facts with actual Muslims or Arabs?

I am so sick of people asking where are the peaceful Muslims who denounce terrorism. Besides the fact that these people need to hop on over to the library and learn to use a search engine, it is not Muslims' or Arabs' responsibility to "refudiate" (sorry, couldn't help myself) every lie and stereotype about them. Passing the buck didn't work for Eve (Uhh...the serpent said we'd be cool...) and it won't work here. We bear most of the responsibility on this one. We've got to check the "facts" instead of just sitting in front of the TV or computer voraciously gulping everything down without chewing on it a bit, especially when it involves sweeping generalizations.


Her revised edition:

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts," Palin wrote in a Twitter post Sunday. "Pls reject it in interest of healing."

Healing is kind of the point of the community center, but she's not really one to let facts get in the way of some really great fiction. Banning Muslims from here of there should be the thing stabbing your heart. It's hardly American and segregation is definitely not in the interest of healing.

Maybe Sarah Palin's soon to be released little book of "Clever Sayings That Rock!" will include George Santayana's "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I wonder what kinds of things are in her books, but not really enough to read them at this point... :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Palestinian Non-violent Resistance: Ni'lin

Not nearly the hot topic Palestinian terrorism is amongst Americans, but I feel this one is way more important.


Ni'lin has its own Facebook page.

http://palestineremembered.com/GeoPoints/Ni_lin_1458/index.html

http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/two-years-resistance-niilin



IDF attacking peaceful protesters, footage of protests, etc:

June/July 2010- blog, pictures
http://www.jonathanbyoung.com/demonstration-in-nilin/

http://palestinevideo.blogspot.com/2010/07/nilin-demo-against-apartheid-wall-9.html

http://www.imemc.org/article/58914

April 1, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/levi-felix/video-getting-tear-gassed_b_521212.html


Nov 21, 2009
http://www.imemc.org/article/57173


Aug 1, 2008- 2 killed
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/1/israeli_troops_kill_two_palestinians_in


July 8, 2008- video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG7t8NpdU18




My other posts on Palestinian non-violent resistance:

http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2008/04/nonviolence.html


http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2009/05/palestinian-non-violent-resistance.html


http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2010/05/palestinian-non-violent-resistance.html

Steaming Piles of Waste in the Middle East

The first of the two steaming piles, this one brought to you by Netanyahu:


Fibi Netanyahu: In 2001, PM boasted of manipulating Oslo accords
(and America)
http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/39692/fibi-netanyahu/

This video, if not a fake, might give us some insight into our current "partner for peace" 's thinking. Obama said Netanyahu is willing to take risks for peace, but are we sure peace is Netanyahu's goal? It is really unclear, except when there is a photo op with an American President.

He boasts about defeating the Oslo accords in no uncertain terms, brags about how easily manipulated America and our policies are, and "...suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” ."

When people unearth quotes such as Ariel Sharon's infamous one, ... :
"every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."
people generally say you are using criticism of Israel to hide your anti-Semitism, you can't prove he said that, etc then blame the Palestinians for being stubborn, placing preconditions, torpedoing negotiations, etc. It will probably be the same with this video.

And even if it's real, it's not like the US will change from blind support for Israel to supporting justice and human rights or anything. At least you'll be informed, though. And as pessimistic about the process as ever.


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And the second pile:


Israel dumps waste on Palestinians- video
http://english.aljazeera.net/video/middleeast/2010/07/201071731516628999.html


Not only are settlements illegal, they are dumping their waste from their illegal existence illegally on Palestinians. Netanyahu wants us to feel sympathy for these illegal land-stealing squatters to allow them exemptions from any settlement moratoriums so that they can build schools and "live normally", meanwhile issuing orders for demolition to native Arabs' homes inside Israel. Oh, Israel is demolishing them because they build without permits, you say? Israel won't give them permits to build because it is trying to "Judiaze," or ethnically cleanse, the area. No natural growth allowed for native Arab Israelis, but poor illegal settlers - who left their more legal home to further colonize "Greater Israel" and claim every hilltop (as in the famous 1998 quote) - deserve this. (???) Par for the course in the Palestine-Israel conflict!

A glaring double standard and steaming pile of waste. I guess that makes three. Sorry, I miscounted.

For more on settlements, I've got a tag to the right with 20 or so posts on that topic...


A Tale of Two Farces: "Easing" the Blockade and Israeli Flotilla "Inquiry"

On the "easing" of the Israeli blockade (strangulation) of Gaza:

AMIRA HASS: Perhaps Obama should ask himself if he would set aside in life of just getting chips and ketchup and Coca-Cola and not being allowed to produce, to create, to export, to send his daughters to university, to have visitors from outside—if this is the life that he thinks are suitable for human beings, then maybe all the Americans who voted for him made a mistake.



A few other links:


I cannot find the source now, but I think I heard last week that some of the flotilla aid had been given to Gaza, but construction and other items were still in limbo and probably not allowed in.


********************
On the outcome of Israeli the flotilla probe:

quote:

"In this inquiry we found that there were some professional mistakes regarding both the intelligence and the decision-making process and some of the operational mistakes," he said.

"But also, we did find some very positive findings, and one of them that should be emphasised is the very professional and courageous way that the Israeli commando behaved."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10603486


Totally predictable, but still--- ???

Their mistake, they say elsewhere, is that they weren't prepared for activists to respond violently.

Of course this assumes Israel's innocence and answers none of the questions that needed answering. What happened exactly? Did Israeli commandos have paint guns or real ones when they descended from helicopters shooting? Was Israel's response too harsh? Who shot first? Were the "activists" violent? Were were any laws violated by either party and if so, which ones? Is anyone guilty of murder or was this self-defense? Will there be a trial?

A few links to peruse:

Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978

Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978

This is a pretty interesting memoir. His parents were "arabists" with the Foreign Service for his entire life. He talks about he and his family knowing Salem, the brother of Osama bin Laden (apparently polar opposite), living for a time in the same neighborhood as Zarkawi, knowing both the old and the divided Jerusalems. What he has to say about all of these subjects and people is intriguing. He grew up with a knowledge of the suffering and injustice of the Palestinians that most Americans then and now don't have. Not long before meeting his Jewish American future wife, though, he notes his "...passion for the plight of the Palestinians was already tiring." That's the other interesting fact, that his wife is Jewish American daughter of Holocaust survivors. An interesting mix, as no story of either the Nakba or the Nazi Holocaust can avoid discussion of Palestine and Israel and vice versa.

He has an interesting insight as a Foreign Service child before meeting his wife and entering journalism. He seems a bit embarrassed about his early sympathy for Palestinians and acknowledges Palestininan propaganda and referred to that period as a time when he was a partisan. He rightly condemns Palestinian violence and Nazi violence and again, rightly is disgusted by it. He also makes clear his opposition to comparing the Holocaust with the Palestinian experience, which Finklestein would take issue with, but that's another book. In the careful retelling of his wife's parents' and grandparents' ordeals in the Holocaust, he is very detailed. The telling of the arrival of Jews to Palestine and Jewish terrorist groups' murder of Palestinians and immediate takeover of their homes is not really given as much detail, care or disgust. I realize the Holocaust was on a bigger scale and he has more connection to this narrative by marriage, but the crimes were savage and Palestinians didn't deserve to be kicked out. I guess there are only certain times when a journalist may break with the code and condemn criminals- the Holocaust and 9/11 being two biggies; the Nakba clearly not being one.

He does observe many many times where peace could have been achieved between Israelis and Palestinians, but Israelis were the ones who missed the opportunity. In the usual American or Israeli telling, Barak offered the Palestinians a generous offer to which they refused and so this is why Palestinians are in such a mess now; Bird at least doesn't abandon support for Palestinians for the far right narrative of "making the desert bloom" and "there is no such thing as Palestinians." Also revealed are many times we could have stepped in to help, but failed. In fact, we stepped in to help royal families (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and in Egypt we supported anti-Nasser influences supposedly to combat Communism that led to the Muslim Brotherhood's strengthening, not to mention Iran...) more often - which also led to negative developments in that country and the Israel/Palestine issue.

Today, the notion of Israel as a secular, democratic and possibly binational state is still controversial, but strangely even more taboo. You can be called an anti-Semite, Holocaust denier, or condemned for calling for the destruction of Israel if you dare talk about the possibility of Israel and Palestine that way. Bird describes how the Jewish voices who wanted a multicultural, secular state lost to the messianic Zionists who by their own admission consigned themselves to constant state of war. This was rather interesting as I had assumed Jews were fairly united in wanting a Jewish state in particular.

a quote:
As Avishai observes in his deeply incisive book The Hebrew Republic: "You cannot live in Hebrew and expect no repercussions from its archaic power. You cannot live in a state with an official Judaism, in addition to this Hebrew, and expect no erosion of citizenship. You can, as most Israelis do, speak the language, ignore the archaism, and tolerate the Judaism. But then you should not expect your children to understand what democracy is." (p369-370)
A very truthful take on the matter.

One state was considered at the beginning and I still see this as the best way for all to have rights and live in peace.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tea Party, Hitler, and Obama...

Tea Party activists fund sign linking Obama to Hitler
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us+canada-10636746

"It's going to make people think that the Tea Party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people..."

Absolutely! Wonder why... For a few more reasons that people think this, see the link at the bottom...

"When you compare Obama to Hitler, that to me does a disservice to the Jews who both survived and died in the Holocaust and to the Germans who lived under Nazi regime rule,"

I kind of thought this a little funny in that the first thing that came to mind was that it was disrespectful to Jews...... but apparently not to Obama? Maybe the reporter forgot to include how the woman thought it wasn't a valid comparison or didn't like to see an American President disrespected that way. Or maybe she thinks it is a valid comparison and not at all disrespectful to Obama?


There is apparently a Coffee Party that calls for more civility and more substance (I interpret this as- no birthers, Obama is a dictator, etc talk). Interesting concept. Much like the Tea Party- love the drink, but don't think I'll be attending any Tea or Coffee Parties.


Here's my other post on this interesting group:
http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2010/02/tea-party-but-not-fun-kind.html



Monday, July 12, 2010

Homeless man folds a flag


http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/24140757/detail.html



Good story one one hand, but on the other more cynical one I wonder (2 things)...

1. How many of the same people now offering aid would have thought- 'that lazy guy needs to get a job' or 'how dare the government take my money and give it to him'- before he folded that flag?

Many use 2 Thesalonians 3:10 for opposition to government programs that help those in need, like welfare and such. Flag-folding must count as work... ;)

I wonder how or what folding a flag had to do with changing the attitudes to compel people to take it upon themselves to help. How do we know many other homeless people haven't "done" something like this? Does it really matter if they did or not?

This always begs eternal questions... Should the government help people in need, should we have a system personally for deciding who "deserves" what little resources we have to give, if so, what should that be, or should we just give to the best of our ability and let God and the individual worry about how it is used, etc... And a bigger question, how do I react and what do I think when I see a homeless person? Am I doing what I can to help? In many cases, no, probably not.

I'm glad that it motivated people to help him, though. Maybe he will be able to use the publicity to get out of whatever trouble he's in that's caused his homelessness.


2. Do we love the flag too much? I mean, I know what it stands for and I'm thankful for the freedoms, too, but all the rules and ceremony surrounding it seem a bit much at times... I mean, we aren't without criticisms of our country and we are really no better than citizens of any other country...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A real plan for Palestine/Israel- learn from 2 conflicts



I decided this would fit better in a new post, so here's a site from the previous post. There is a lot to learn from the situation in N. Ireland. Maybe George Mitchell will help us remember.

The most recent meeting between Obama and Netanyahu doesn’t inspire the hope that we are following this Endgame Diplomacy in the Middle East. It’s a shame. This is a great plan. It details some steps taken and lessons learned in Northern Ireland.

The voting on the plan thing is a really good idea to get the populations invested a bit more. As it stands, many folks, me included, think the US and Israel will otherwise decide everything an pressure Palestinians to go along for the ride.

In the article:

Hope. People need hope that it really could happen in the Middle East. Northern Ireland is a perfect example of where it did.


Leverage
. A powerful and influential friend has to help make it happen. This is what America has to do in the Middle East as it did in Northern Ireland, where it had much less influence.


Participation
. The people most affected must be made to become involved by having them vote on a plan. This is what all the people on the island of Ireland did.

Livelihood. While not a replacement for inalienable rights of any party in the conflict, the "carrot" of economic benefits and jobs should not be underestimated. Nothing less than a Marshall Plan for the Middle East is required.

Self-Determination. It is a must that all parties be given the right to have legitimate and sovereign political power, thus a Palestinian state must be realized and be in line with international law.

Leadership. Politicians need to have sufficient political "cover" to do the right thing. If the majority of Israelis and Palestinians vote for the plan, this creates a safeguard for politicians to remain sincere to people's desires.


http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/05/16/endgame_diplomacy_for_mideast/

***
South Africans struggle to reclaim 'Promised Land'
NPR, Talk of the Nation

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128362017&ft=3&f=1045

The attitudes of the white farmers are similar to that of Israelis. 'What? I don't think we did anything wrong. We are just trying to live our lives...'

I hope the same sort of reconciliation and land deals could happen in the Middle East.

***

I'm reading Kai Bird's Crossing Mandlebaum Gate and this sentence, which happens to be the opening line of the link here, that I read just today comes to mind...
When playing the “conquer the world” board game Risk as an adolescent growing up in a well-to-do Cairo suburb, Kai Bird avoided occupying the Middle East. So did his American friends. Their very surroundings schooled them in the difficulty of holding the crossroads of three continents.

I guess that doesn't inspire the hope needed, as stated above, but I thought it pretty funny in an odd way that this was the consensus of the young boys...


***

So, here is some hope. A peace activist rabbi who inspires Palestinians by fighting for their civil rights right beside them. The author notes,
"Yet shared beatings also break down malevolent stereotypes of Jews among Palestinians."
I think I would concur.

“When we get the death threats and people say we’re traitors and anti-Israel, I think, ‘Who is really doing more for Israel’s physical survival?’ ” he says. “ ‘Those who demolish homes and uproot trees, or those who rebuild homes and replant trees?’
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/opinion/08kristof.html?ref=opinion