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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congress pro-peace letter (or is it-- you decide)

This particular letter is supported by (Jewish) Americans for Peace Now and is from May 2010 (my apologies). The Congressional action in my last post reminded me of this other one. A lot of stuff they do is great, but support for this letter is not one of them. It's apparent goal is to verbally support peace and the start of peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, but it actually smears rather successful Palestinian efforts and puts Netanyahu and Israel on a pedestal they most certainly don't deserve.

Full text of the letter is at this link:
http://peacenow.org/entries/feinstein_letter


"Pro-peace" Senate letter (as it's called)


As steadfast supporters of Israel and the U.S.-Israeli relationship, we are writing to express our support for the start of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on ending the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with the active participation of U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell.




It will solidify Israel's identity as a Jewish, democratic state by giving it safe and secure borders.


Attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah are mentioned as obstacles, but they are often in areas not controlled by the PA; they are Israeli controlled. This is often blamed on Abbas, though. Interestingly, Netanyahu's obstinance isn't alluded to, nor the fact that he chose such to embrace people like Lieberman who are in fact settlers (part of the problem) and terrorists who make public statements that undermine peace and call into question Israel's desire for peace and value placed on human life and rights.


This is indicative of congress's view:


We applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu for committing to direct talks and we urge you to press President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to reciprocate.


Just one report on this reciprocation that Congress is so intent on not seeing:


While No One is Looking, the Palestinians are Building a State (June 2010)
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/16/while_no_ones_looking_the_palestinians_are_building_a_state

US House to vote no to Palestinian state

Sign the petition. Palestinians are ready for a state. It's always us and or Israel (what's the difference really) who aren't.

This reminds me of another Congressional action this year in the form of a letter by Feinstein, I believe, that I found utterly ridiculous. It was meant to support peace talks, but ended up smearing Palestinians and their efforts and putting Israel on a very high pedestal it doesn't deserve in the least.

And as for the "problem" with a unilateral decision... boo hoo. Israel makes them all the time and often innocents die as a result. I'm glad Palestinians are taking the bull by the horns for a change.

---
From the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

We are outraged to learn that Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is trying to push through Congress today a resolution “condemning unilateral declarations of a Palestinian state.”

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the worst stumbling block to freedom’s advance is the person who “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's [or woman’s] freedom.”

Yet, this is exactly what Rep. Berman’s resolution seeks to do: subjugate Palestinian freedom and self-determination to Israel’s indefinite timeline. As MLK said, “‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’”


TEXT OF RESOLUTION

Supporting a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes.

Whereas a true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties;

Whereas Palestinian leaders have repeatedly threatened to declare unilaterally a Palestinian state and to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations and other international forums;

Whereas Palestinian leaders are reportedly pursuing a coordinated strategy of seeking recognition of a Palestinian state within the United Nations, in other international forums, and from a number of foreign governments;

Whereas on November 24, 2010, Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote to the President of Brazil, requesting that the Government of Brazil recognize a Palestinian state, with the hope that such an action would encourage other countries likewise to recognize a Palestinian state;

Whereas on December 1, 2010, in response to Abbas’s letter, the Government of Brazil unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state;

Whereas on December 6, 2010, the Government of Argentina announced its decision to recognize unilaterally a Palestinian state, and the Government of Uruguay announced that it would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state in 2011;

Whereas, on March 11, 1999, the Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, and on March 16, 1999, the House of Representatives adopted House Concurrent Resolution 24, both of which resolved that ‘‘any attempt to establish Palestinian statehood outside the negotiating process will invoke the strongest congressional opposition’’;

Whereas Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated on October 20, 2010, that ‘‘There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and, ultimately, for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace.’’;

Whereas, on November 5, 2010, United States Department of State Spokesman Mark Toner, responding to a questions about the Palestinians possibly taking action to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, said, ‘‘[T]he only way that we’re going to get a comprehensive peace is through direct negotiations, and anything that might affect those direct negotiations we feel is not helpful and not constructive’’;

Whereas Secretary Clinton stated on November 10, 2010, that ‘‘we have always said and I continue to say that negotiations between the parties is the only means by which all of the outstanding claims arising out of the conflict can be resolved. . .There can be no progress until they actually come together and explore where areas of agreement are and how to narrow areas of disagreement. So we do not support unilateral steps by either party that could prejudge the outcome of such negotiations.’’;

Whereas on December 7, 2010, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley stated, ‘‘We don’t think that we should be distracted from the fact that the only way to resolve the core issues within the process is through direct negotiations.’’;

Whereas Secretary Clinton state on December 10, 2010, that “it is only a negotiated agreement between the parties that will be sustainable”;

Whereas the Government of Israel has made clear that it would reject a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence, has repeatedly affirmed that the conflict should be resolved through direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and has repeatedly called on the Palestinian leadership to return to direct negotiations; and

Whereas efforts to bypass negotiations and to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, or to appeal to the United Nations or other international forums or to foreign governments for recognition of a Palestinian state, would violate the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and other relevant Middle East peace process efforts;

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) Reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition;

(2) reaffirms its strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians;

(3) urges Palestinian leaders to—

(A) cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including efforts to gain recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations, within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and calls upon foreign governments not to extend such recognition; and

(B) resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately;

(4) supports the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state;

(5) Calls upon the Administration to:

(a) lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations, within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians; and

(b) affirm that the United States would (i) deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and (ii) veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.

---


We’re asking you to take action now because this resolution will be voted on today. (By the way, the text of the resolution isn’t even public yet, but we got our hands on a copy of it, which we’re publishing below.) Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign our petition to Rep. Berman letting him know that it is wrong for the United States to put a timeline on Palestinian freedom and self-determination.

If we get 5,000 signatures before the vote, we will hand deliver the signatures to Rep. Berman to let him know in person how outraged you are by his resolution. Help us reach our goal now by signing the petition and then spreading the word.

2. Call your Representative and ask him/her to vote “no” or “present” on this resolution and to speak against it on the House floor. After you sign the petition, you will be redirected to a page where you can enter your zip code and then get the phone number for your Representative.

Use one or more of the talking points below when calling your Representative, but be sure to call now before the vote!


TALKING POINTS

* I urge Representative X to vote “no” or “present” on the resolution condemning Palestinian statehood, and ask him/her to speak against the resolution on the House floor.

* It is wrong for Congress to condemn Palestinian attempts to achieve freedom and self-determination. Congress has no business putting a timeline on Palestinian human rights.

* Israel has shown repeatedly that it prefers to colonize Palestinian land, rather than end its illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and negotiate in good faith to establish an independent Palestinian state. Under these circumstances, Palestinians cannot be blamed for seeking alternatives ways to establish an independent state.

* This resolution paternalistically demands Palestinians “resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately” even while Israel continues to illegally colonize Palestinian land supposedly designated for a future Palestinian state.

* This resolution calls on the Administration to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries by opposing the recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations.

* The text of this resolution was kept secret prior to the vote, the Obama Administration probably had no time to offer its opinion on it, there were no hearings about it, and the public had little chance to offer its opinion on it. The process by which this resolution is being brought to a vote is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

South America's got brains- and guts

And that's what it's going to take to solve this thing. Maybe the US should hand over the mediator job to them.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are recognizing Palestine and possibly establishing diplomatic ties. Apparently, Iran said France was also recognizing Palestine, but that's false. Of course, you can guess what the US and Israel have to say...

A U.S. State Department official said Argentina's move was a "premature step [that] does not contribute to our common goal of a two-state solution."

"Negotiations are the pathway for the parties to see the realization of their aspirations - for the Israelis, security - for the Palestinians, an independent, viable, and sovereign state of their own," the U.S. official added.


I mistakenly read this as an Israeli official's statement at first. Kind of funny. In most cases, I guess they are interchangeable anyway.

Israel called it regrettable and said the recognition won't change the Israel-Palestinian relationship. (What will, pray tell??)

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/argentina-joins-brazil-in-recognition-of-palestinian-state-1.329220



What about recognizing the already legally accepted boundaries of 1967 doesn't contribute to a two state solution?? The longer we wait, the more settlements Israel will build. They build them whether or not there's an agreement not to build and they announce it during high profile state visits. How about those settlements for the future of a two state solution?? Countries should have recognized Palestine a lot sooner. They'd have more land without settlers that need evicting. Hope it catches on.

Interesting how Abbas (unilaterally, I suppose) requesting recognition by various countries is frowned upon, but Israel's unilateral decision of "withdrawal" which was meant to be in their words political formaldehyde was welcomed as a step toward peace... I guess when you consider the settlement situation, this is just par for the course, but it further reveals our perverted view of this conflict and unjustifiable support for Israel alone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Science vs. Religion (?)

Just saw a bumper sticker: Take a stand for science. Support evolution.


Why? Is it in trouble?


Hmmm.


This is on a car outside a building full of scientists. They should know what science is.


Yikes. I don’t want to know what kind of research they are putting out.


What I mean is anytime one comes to a conclusion and tries to prove it right (rather than prove it wrong or be open to all the outcomes), that’s bad science. You are supposed to observe and report the results. That’s science. My personal take is that science explains (or can explain) God’s creations.


I do believe God created the world, but even to start there and prove it right scientifically (not consider objections) would be bad science. I admit that. But to say that you’re more open minded or more scientific for taking evolution as fact and molding evidence to fit that is just wrong. The same folks will laugh at religious people for doing (what they perceive as) exactly that. The irony of “scientists” saying evolution is fact and creation is fiction or framing the debate as science vs religion makes me smile. I’m no longer perturbed, I’m amused. You have to go with the evidence and try and prove yourself wrong to really get anywhere, but that goes out the window for evolution.


The answer or right path rarely is found in the extremes. The Bible gives one a heads up on that one, so Christians I suppose have a leg up on that fact… I refuse to believe the ‘either science or religion argument’. It’s too simplistic and pretty unscientific. This is not to say I’m into theistic evolution or anything, but science is about observation, not persuasion. Since science is about observation, perhaps the origin of the universe and man is beyond the scope of science. I suppose that won’t stop people from trying. It hasn’t, that is. Since we can’t observe these things, we aren’t going to get any credible methods or results to explore this. Until time machines are invented I suppose.