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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Occu-mation: Closed Zone and A Land in Fragments

This is something I've linked to before, but couldn't find it, then found it again. Anyway, it's educational and entertaining.
 

"Closed Zone": 90 animated seconds on the closure of Gaza  


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AFSC 

Israel-Palestine: A Land in Fragments

2-minute video 


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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Debate on a Palestinian State- the Time article


This article inspired the title of my last post because I intended to include it, but I kept remembering stuff and it went longer and longer, much like this sentence, so I didn't include it...


On FB:
The Debate on a Palestinian State- Time Magazine- Having only read the title, I say the only thing to actually debate is one binational state or two. The fact that Palestinians deserve and need a state should not be up for debate at all- it is a given and too long overlooked. If statehood is the debate, then to be fair, we should also debate whether Israel's statehood should be revoked or not.

On FB, after reading it:
An Israeli minister (Yossi Beilin), president of the Council on Foreign Relations (Richard Haass), a Palestinian journalist (Daoud Kuttab), and Uzi Landau (of the extremist Yisrael Beiteinu party of all things!). Not exactly variety. If we were talking about Israeli politics, this would be a panel. Wow. There is a range of opinion among just Palestinians and they didn't even go there. And to include the party of the extremist settler Foreign Minister Lieberman! Settlers are illegal, so until there is one state or they move back to Israel, they shouldn't even be allowed in office, print, etc. I mean, if you're going to listen to and seriously consider these guys, there is no reason not to get Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad in on the action. But, then they couldn't get another Palestinian opinion, so the chances of that are nil.

Beilin- To his credit, he thinks Israel should vote yes the a Palestinian state... but likens it to jumping on the train headed for the train wreck to steer it properly and save the day. Israel can avoid disaster (whatever that means- keeping the occupation, run the show, renounce any claim/ownership to/of any land outside the W Bank and Gaza??) and look like the hero for restarting dead negotiations, shocking the world, and graciously letting Palestinians have some of the same rights God apparently gave Israel and the US. He does believe the bid will not preclude negotiations. I agree.

Haass- Our Bush-era Jewish official. Of course he's on team negotiations only. He thinks the bid is a desperation move. It doesn't matter what Abbas' (or Arafat's before him, for that matter) motivation is. The Palestinian people deserve this. It is long overdue. Too much is made of the leaders' motivations when there is no state. He also thinks rightly that Israel would make life unbearable, but wrongly that this is reason to abandon statehood via the UN. Another "reason" to abandon the bid is it would make America look bad to Arabs (and cause an anti-American govt in Egypt which causes instability) since we would have to veto. That just makes me laugh. So do the right thing- don't veto! Also humorous was, "...direct talks, the only proven method of advancing peace in the region." Since I'm quoting, I'll add one I actually believe: "There can not be peace without justice."

Kuttab- Basically says what I'm thinking. Palestinians have no choice. This is the right move and right time. Negotiations have led nowhere despite cooperation, patience and promises. He is not naive- he knows the UN bid won't end the occupation and negotiations are necessary. The goal is to have 2 states negotiate, rather than the occupied and the occupier. A valid point no one ever brings up.

Landau- Where to begin! I can't possibly list every falsehood, wild accusation and myth because I'd be retyping the whole section. If you can think of a misconception, he said it. And Iran's in there at the end. Palestinians are trying to get a free lunch and are abandoning Oslo with this move. Riiight. Abbas' "flaunting past agreements." Check. Auschwitz mention. Check. (And it was in talking about the internationally recognized 1967 borders, not anyone wanting to push Israel into the sea.) Framing of discussion (explicitly) as not about equality, but about how fragile the state with the 4th largest army is. Palestinians have walked away from offers for a state in the hopes of gaining more and destroying Israel (decoded- Palestinians want equality and sovereignty, not institutionalized occupation). (???) Abbas is a Holocaust denier, has made up with Hamas (uuhhh...hello...unity govt...and you include Yisrael Beiteinu, so what's your problem??) and has never reciprocated any of Israel's good faith measures. Whaaa? Good faith measures. Now that's a good one. He wants a Palestinian Sadat. Not possible. Sadat dropped Palestinian issues in order to make a very profitable deal with Israel. I won't say it couldn't happen, but he probably wouldn't live long. He says Abbas is inciting violence by encouraging a state and UN bid because it's only going to cause frustration. And he brings it home with an Iran is "waiting to reap the prize" scare. 

At least we ended lighter with a little fiction writing for the 4th and final section. It was almost funny. Almost.

Palestinian Statehood "Debate" / Dear President Obama





"US President Barack Obama says the UN bid is an unrealistic shortcut that will not produce real and lasting peace on the ground between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

Right? Israel hasn't respected any other UN resolution, so why would this be any different?!

Very perceptive of him, yet wrong conclusion. Just because the UN bid won't solve the whole deal, doesn't mean we shouldn't support it or that it isn't a positive step. And since Israel won't accept a Palestinian state that is equal in every way to any other state, this is actually the only way to get things done.

 If this is meant to be a two state deal, then sure, you have to send those settlers packing immediately, which is probably a concern and Israel wouldn't be able to go in and demolish houses, forbid the return of ALL refugees, take hundreds prisoner for whatever reason, hold people without charge, control the water supply, attack power and police infrastructure, control the borders and seas, they'd have to get rid of all those checkpoints, and get out of the new state completely. How to get Israel to comply without using force? That's been the dilemma all along, I guess. A state would make this imperative. I would hope. Not that it shouldn't have before.

In a two state solution that leads to one state, all you'd have to worry about was an apartheid situation and equality and I think since these issues have been dealt with before that the beast could be tamed and democracy achieved. Finally.

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I have to say that the UN bid was one thing that prompted one of few letters I've written to Obama in his term.  The other was a letter asking me to donate. I wanted to respond to their catchy subject line- Will you say yes?? Will he??

Submitted via webform 9/26/2011:

Dear President Obama,

I am writing you to let you know I disagree strongly with your opposition to the Palestinian UN bid for statehood. If we truly believe in the opening paragraphs of our own Declaration of Independence, this is something we need to support, like democratic change in Tunisia and Egypt. The Palestinians have work to do on their own government that can only be accomplished when unfettered by the shackles of Israel's brutal, restrictive, destructive Occupation. We acknowledge and affirm Jews' right to return to their homeland every day and it is time we act on Palestinians' right to a free and normal life in the same homeland that the two peoples must share.

Sharing the land and guaranteeing both peoples' rights to exist in their homeland and return and live freely and equally in that same land is the only way.

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A past post:
http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2011/04/palestinian-statehood-upgraded-status.html

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I didn't feel like posting this on the day (wasn't up to the hate mail I was bound to receive), so here it is...


9/11/2011

Ten years.

You can't forget the day even if you want to.

I will remember the victims. They deserve respect. And there's the other side of remembrance. I don't think I want to see any "specials" or "go" to a Facebook memorial service, though. It's complicated; it brings back so many feelings and emotions. I have feelings shared by most, but also ones probably not felt or understood by many, which is why I'm posting a day late. I couldn't even decide if I wanted to post this. Everyone's doing/posting the never forget, America is awesome stuff and that just wasn't my experience.

I feel like the day of remembrance was stolen- by the disappointment I felt in the then president and the country in general in the events that followed; by the massive tragedy we caused in Iraq; and by replacing and renewing the Cold War hatred for all things Russian with hatred and or suspicion of Arabs and Muslims (and those who happen to look (anything) like them). It cannot and will not ever be just about the victims because of the way we reacted.


Like everyone in moments like these, I remember first where I was on that day at that time- about a year into my first real job, pretty green still, an hour into the workday. A crowd gathered by the radio, trying to see what's happening and if it's for real. It was and we were in shock. There was the fear there'd be more attacks in NY and maybe even the country. How big was this thing? Coinciding with this and after this, (for me) was the fear for Muslims' and Arabs' (and as it turns out people with brown skin since no one knows anything about the Middle East...) safety if it was determined that Muslims or Arabs are actually responsible. This time, the knee-jerk report was right. Saudis. What will this mean for me, my future husband's family, their friends and family, and our (future) kids? I didn't know then that we'd be conned into a war with Iraq, so while Japanese internment camps were in the far reaches of my mind, I had hope that we were better than that and learned something from the past. This is America, after all. We don't do that. If I knew then what I know now about Bush's intent, methods and determination to be The Decider rather than right, I would have been terrified for them rather than just concerned about the unknown.

Thankfully, there were no internment camps for Arabs and Muslims. Unfortunately, similar things did happen- extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo, torture and prison scandals. Nothing (except the occasional off hand comment or unfortunate email) happened to anyone I know, but things definitely happened and attitudes shifted: "Patriot Act," NSEERS, wiretapping, FBI mosque crawling, people removed from planes for "talking foreign" or wearing a turban (or "Muslim garb" or having a certain shade of hair and skin), violence, graffiti, and then the general discomfort with Arabs and Muslims and language one hears in the news and in general conversation that was shocking ten years ago and today we think is normal, given the times (Juan Williams, response to Juan Williams, "Ground Zero Mosque").

9/11 is also ironically inextricably linked to Iraq. We (or at least a handful of Bush cronies, anyway) started our march to Iraq on this day as it turns out, which is kind of interesting and equally tragic in that Iraqis had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. I remember Americans hungry for revenge, not justice, saying unbelievably hateful things about Muslims and Arabs on all the radio programs. People wanted not just to catch the mastermind, but wanted an equal or greater number of people to suffer or die because of what happened to us. Where did the America I knew and respected go? I had expected us to take the high road and not just lash out. I was disappointed. I remember American flags waving in support of the unnecessary war on Iraq. Afghanistan I thought was inevitable, even if it wasn't the best choice- carpet bombing a country whose population and government didn't even want the group associated with the 9/11 hijackers to be there. I thought Iraq was all posturing and wasn't really going to happen. This is America and we don't do that. And then it happened with no questions asked. Since when did we not question authority? The silence was deafening; it cost us credibility and soldiers lives and many, many innocent Iraqi lives. I hope people take some time to remember those victims as well. We could have taken all the support and sympathy of all nations to be a leader in any way possible- getting off oil, as a Time author puts forward- but instead we chose reckless, senseless all out war on something no one can possibly eradicate. We were like a pack of rabid dogs, opportunistic and deadly. 9/11 was bad enough and then we repaid senseless violence with more senseless violence on innocent people.

I guess this is not really your traditional moving, inspirational tribute. Nor is it a slogan like "never forget" that to my mind leaves to the imagination what is not to be forgotten- the victims, hatred for Arabs, hatred for Islam, the fury you felt that day so that you can go in and lay waste to other countries, the patriotism you felt that was based in vengeance? It's my reflection on my own experience and what I saw. It is my own form of tribute to see how far we've come- or not- and how we can do better.

On a positive note, I suppose it has made me more aware of issues around peace and justice (or injustice as the case may be). I do like the push to make it a day of service and hope that continues.