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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestinian UN bid a reality??

Today we will find out if this thing is really going to happen. And if it happens, what will the fallout or result be? It's been talked about for some time. This country and that country want to sanction Palestinians for the move, say it is unilateral and unwise, threat to peace, etc. Spain will back it, Germany will abstain, the US of course will do anything to block it and Britain has conditions. Some really want to prevent it and most say it is virtual or symbolic. If it's symbolic, what's the big deal, then?

The US, for one, oddly seems to be more emphatic on blocking this apparently symbolic UN bid than on ending the very real Israeli settlement and wall building on Palestinian territory, which is ACTUALLY a threat to a solution, justice and peace (and violation of international law, UN resolutions, etc) as there will soon be no land left with which to "negotiate."Which brings us to the interesting question of when someone has forced you from city to city and finally moves in on your yard and into your house, kills your family and "generously" lets you live in the closet, controls your comings and goings, what/if you eat etc, what can you negotiate? There needs to be some context and justice in this whole situation. You can't just tell both sides to cooperate. If someone's got their boot on someone's neck, you can't just ask them to come to the table and be friends and tell the guy on the ground that he's got to respect the right of the boot to kick him around if he wants to get up again.

I don't understand the opposition whatsoever. It's past time for recognition and they won't be able to vote anyway. This whole thing started when Britain washed their hands of it and gave it to the UN. Why not take it back to the UN? (besides the fact that they haven't been able to get Israel to abide by any resolutions except the portion of the one that gave them statehood) The original partition gave a minority of Jews half of Palestinians' land. (not exactly fair to begin with...) The original idea was to protect both peoples' rights to have a homeland and have the right to live there, but that has shifted to Palestinians having to accept a Jewish majority, which is translated as Israel's "right to exist," accept being an unarmed entity, accept Israel's right to barge in and arrest and kill whomever they want and demolish whatever they want in order to get a tiny measure of freedom.

I think getting this status upgrade could only help to try and balance the imbalance of power. I don't buy that it will hurt chances for peace- if Israel's settlement building isn't considered to hurt chances for peace, then this certainly doesn't. But on the other hand, I don't know that it will be enough to balance out those military facts on the ground and the fierce opposition to the bid itself from the US and Israel.

Francis Boyle weighed in with some possible benefits for Palestinians as UN non-member observer state:

1. “Palestine can join the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court and file a Complaint with the ICC against the illegal settlements and settlers, who are committing war crimes;
2. “Palestine can join the Statute for the International Court of Justice, sue Israel at the World Court, and break the illegal siege of Gaza;
3. “Palestine can join the Law of the Sea Convention and get its fair share of the enormous gas fields lying off the coast of Gaza, thus becoming economically self-sufficient;
4. “Palestine can become a High Contracting Party to the Four Geneva Conventions [this deals with the laws of war];
5. “Palestine can join the International Civil Aviation Organization and gain sovereign, legal control over its own airspace;
6. “Palestine can join the International Telecommunications Union and gain sovereign legal control over its own airwaves, phone lines, bandwidths.”

Other links:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gaza 2012

I guess I have a few things to say about this, though I haven't had a ton of blogging time lately.

I was listening to David Ignacius talk about Gaza on NPR yesterday- update, who will win, etc. Of course I heard some things that made me think and get a little angry...

(Here is a much better explanation of events, in my opinion... )

Who will win?? Such a stupid way to describe it- no one wins in war. Have you not heard that quote about winning a war being like winning an earthquake? 

And anyway, you know who will win. Who is the 4th strongest military power and backed unconditionally by a superpower? Uh, yeah. No contest. And the winners write history. So that was easy.

Now let's talk about facts. Here are some links to help you out if you like facts and context like I do:

5 Lies the Media Keeps Repeating About Gaza

Israel's 'right to self-defense' - a tremendous propaganda victory

When the Smoke Clears in Gaza

Back to the radio-- a truce is spoken of, but not the one Israel interrupted with bombing in the first place...

Ignatius did mention that Clinton will only be talking to Israeli officials, PA (who have nothing to do with Hamas), and Morsi in Egypt. Congress has declared Hamas a terrorist group, so we "can't" talk to them... I think it's a good point on why our policy is messed up, but others will of course see it as why Palestinians are wrong, not a partner for peace, pick your own cliche...

Rocket attacks from Gaza are said to be the cause of this conflagration. Funny how Israel is always responding, never ever starting anything. Yeah, that's believable. Everything happens in a vacuum over there. I keep forgetting!

I've been told I'm drinking the Kool-Aid, when in fact, I just want to shake people and get them to stop drinking it. I guess it's easier to be strong in your convictions the fewer facts (context, etc) you bother yourself with.
NPR also mentioned how Israel wants a respite for its elections. Boo hoo. How about not putting all those innocent people in an open air prison, limiting movement, raiding them, limiting food by arbitrary embargo, counting calories so they are "put on a diet, but not killed" (sounds familiar, no?), and creating a pressure cooker situation where you keep putting the lid on and it keeps blowing up in your face. Find the solution, don't just keep putting the lid back on!

Oh by the way, Gaza doesn't have bomb shelters or sirens like Israel- they aren't allowed to dig (?!?!)- and their infrastructure is targeted in bombing. What comes to my mind is that Romney theory on why Israel is more prosperous than Palestinians- he said culture when in fact it was the occupation and Israeli boot on their necks. It's kind of the same here. It is Israeli policies that get in the way of development and, uh, not starving to death, not whichever group you want to label terrorists in this particular decade.

Think freedom, whether one state or two, reparations, reconciliation; not "surgically" targeted political assassinations in which hundreds or thousands of innocents also happen to perish, too. Let's face it, it's closer to policy than accident to kill more Palestinians. Extra-judicial assassination is not a long term solution. Compete for power the way democracies do it- not with walls, occupation, and guns.

Some of the articles above address the thorny issue of self-defense, how people play fast and loose with this term, so I won't say much more than is only one side allowed the right of self defense, existence and freedom?

Another phrase that gets thrown around in these discussions is Israel's right to exist. I have a few words to say about existence. That has also become a code word of sorts...

If you are talking about living, living in peace, fine. Existence is great. Jews have a right to exist. Palestinians have a right to exist. But what you may not realize is that when the Israeli government and many others speak of Israel's right to exist, they are talking about a very different concept. Existence to these people means a Jewish majority at any cost (research demographic threat- Arab birthrate being higher than the Jewish one)- killing, "transfer", raids, assassinations, visa trouble, family reunification trouble, building permit trouble, general daily harassment (checkpoints, closures, settler attacks, availability of goods) that makes people want to move if they have the means. 

This type of existence is code for ethnic cleansing and it is wrong. Everyone should be against it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

an Israeli soldier's story

I love The Story with Dick Gordon on NPR. This week, there was a particularly interesting one since it intersected with my interest in Israel/Palestine.

There were good and not so good points. I don't think the segment was long enough, personally. I know the point is for him to tell his story, but there were things left unaddressed. Maybe they needed a visit from Diane Rehm. She would go there! :) 

I'll have to see about the book that is mentioned- I've heard a lot of good things about Breaking the Silence.

Let me start with an explanation the guest, Oded Na'aman, gave about checkpoints. He said they aren't meant to be walls; they are supposed to let people go through and keep some out.

He begins by saying how at first, he wants to be compassionate and use good judgment, but then there was an incident that made him feel differently. His boss tells him the checkpoint must be closed indefinitely (for what reason, who knows- real reason- or some vague mumbo jumbo excuse, how often does that happen- every day- for how long- if unpredictable, how does that impact people). 

A 10 year old kid comes crying to him because he's on his way home from school and can't get back home because his checkpoint is closed, so he lets him through. An hour later, there are a bunch of crying kids- maybe they are lying, maybe not- because they heard this was the way to get through the checkpoint when all other ways out of the village are blocked. Then families send the kids to soften him up so maybe they can get through. He said letting that boy through was a mistake and he felt manipulated. This is why they feel a need to let their presence be known, he claims, so people won't even think about disturbing this (im)balance of power.

There was no discussion of why the people are that desperate to get out- the fact that checkpoints are more like walls in practice- and innocent people shouldn't be held in open air prisons. There is no stepping into their shoes and wondering if we would tolerate decades of being at the mercy of the whim of an 18 year old kid (possibly drunk with power- see later points) or occupying power- only allowed to go in and out at certain times, the unpredictability of closings, the hours long wait to get through for work, shopping, and all those simple errands we don't give a second thought to when we hop in the car, etc.

There was some good discussion of how it is easy for people to get drunk with power in this situation and how he did horrible things to people (no elaboration for him specifically) because you don't see them as people. He did say that those drunk with power can ask them to sing, dance, play violin, whatever they want because the people want so badly to get out and through that soldier is the only way to do it.

He makes some good points about anti-semitism then makes a point that I didn't agree with about having to accept Israel's existence. I agree with him that it is patriotic to speak out against your country's policies that are destructive, but you should define existence before we make the determination that you have to accept it. I agree that you shouldn't want to massacre Jews, so in that way, I accept Jewish Israelis' existence. But, if maintaining a Jewish majority is inherent in your definition of Israel's existence, this is by definition institutionalized, legal ethnic cleansing. I will not support that, nor should anyone else.

post-election drama

Some 30-45 states want to secede from the United States?!? I didn't think that was real when I heard it. Maybe Republicans do drama better than Democrats who generally say they will move to Europe or Canada if a Republican is elected :) Crazy talk.

And that infamous CEO who said there may be "consequences" if people vote for keeping that promise.

Virginia Republicans, armed rebellion and the election- I don't have a follow up on that...  What can one say to that?

Karl Rove can't believe Ohio's (and the US) called for Obama...

Fox News tells Romney supporters exactly how to get to Canada.

a little of the Facebook pre- and post-election feel:

(though my recent purge probably prevented me from getting the ones that would have really made your jaw drop...)

This is just a sample of things I disagree with, not meant to single anyone out- it was rampant.

 "It is clear in the Bible that God is an angry God when we don't follow him, He is a jealous God when we worship others over Him, and He wants us to stand up for what is right. Now is the time! Now is the time to stand on the rooftops and shout that this is NOT OK! Babies dying in their mother's belly because they are an inconvenience in NOT OK! Gay marriage is NOT OK! It is NOT OK to take God out of our schools! Christians, it is ok to be mad! It is ok to make your voice heard!"
-God's chosen were the Israelites and they had a purpose- to bring us Christ who established the church which was accomplished in his death and resurrection. I seriously cannot believe God will be mad if a Democrat is elected or happy if a Republican is elected. We are saved through Christ, not the government. We should act like it.

"Christians losing their rights." Really?
Obama Admin Tells Court: Hobby Lobby Must Obey HHS Mandate
-We still have the right to assemble, worship, pray, disagree with the President, same as when Republicans ran things.

"I don't understand why if all these people wanted to live in a socialist country, why didn't they just go to Europe? There was absolutely no need to ruin this one!"

-I just don't get the socialism thing. I know people are trying to make a point and that's probably how it took off, but I think some have actually started believing the massive exaggeration. I'm still not sure how.