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Old 01-11-2009, 10:10 PM   #496
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Good retort.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:13 PM   #497
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The trick is context
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:46 PM   #498
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Obama: 'Much more determined' to break Mideast deadlock - CNN.com

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Obama: 'Much more determined' to break Mideast deadlock

(CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday the suffering on both sides of Gaza's borders has led him to ramp up his commitment to working for a peace deal in the Middle East.

"When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, harmed, under hardship, it's heartbreaking. And obviously what that does is it makes me much more determined to try to break a deadlock that has gone on for decades now," he told ABC's "This Week."

Rejecting criticism that he has been relatively quiet on the violence in Gaza, Obama said he believes "the one area where the principle of 'one president at a time' has to hold is when it comes to foreign policy. We cannot have two administrations at the same time simultaneously sending signals in a volatile situation.

"But what I am doing right now is putting together the team so that on January 20, starting on day one, we have the best possible people who are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process as a whole, that are going to be engaging with all of the actors there, that will work to create a strategic approach that ensures that both Israelis and Palestinians can meet their aspirations," he said.

Asked whether he will be building on President Bush's policies toward the region or offering "a clean break," Obama responded: "I think that if you look not just at the Bush administration, but also what happened under the Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach. And I think that players in the region understand the compromises that are going to need to be made."

Dealing with Iran, Obama said, will be "one of our biggest challenges. ... Not only is Iran exporting terrorism through Hamas, through Hezbollah, but they are pursuing a nuclear weapon that could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East."

Iran insists it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, only nuclear energy. But the Bush administration has said Iran's nuclear energy program is a guise to build nuclear weapons. European officials -- some of whom share the U.S. concerns -- have repeatedly tried to broker a resolution to that stalemate.

During the presidential election, Obama vowed to meet with leaders of Iran and several other nations without preconditions during his first year, though his campaign later added that there would be "preparation."

Obama said Sunday that his commitment to "engagement" early on will help send a "signal that we respect the aspirations of the Iranian people, but that we also have certain expectations in terms of how a international actor behaves."

While vowing quick action on a host of issues, the president-elect warned that some major tasks will take time. Among them is the closing of the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 250 men considered by the government to be suspected terrorists continue to be held.

Asked whether the closure will take place in his first 100 days in office, Obama responded, "That is a challenge. I think it's going to take some time. ... But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution."

Since winning the presidency, Obama has been given intelligence briefings on top secret information that he did not have access to as a candidate or as a U.S. senator.

Asked whether he's been shocked by anything he's learned involving U.S. security, he responded, "There hasn't been something that was eye-popping. But, you know, the situation still requires vigilance."
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:38 AM   #499
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Why are you guys still talking about this?

There are plenty of other conflicts -like for example the Sri Lankan -Tamil conflict, and yet not a word!
Are you regaining your sense of humor?
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:42 AM   #500
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If Obama can achieve that kind of peace he would be one of the greatest presidents ever. Of course it's a big if.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:33 AM   #501
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Sorry, not enough Jews.
The Sri Lankan's aren't being funded from my pocket as far as I'm aware. And my Government hasn't given the Sri Lankan's a free pass to do what they like.

You've got to love the default defence of anti-semitism. It is literally the boy who cries wolf...if you call anyone who disagrees with Israeli actions an anti-semite then what do you call the real bigots?
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:00 AM   #502
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Oh for fucks sake, you're obviously immune to irony, I was making light of the pre-emptive defence that anybody who criticises your position is accusing you of being an anti-semite.

The fact this thread has gone for over 30 pages without that accusation being made speaks volumes.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:54 AM   #503
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The Bush administration was a gigantic failure when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, so my feeling is that whatever Obama does will be better. The Clintons also do have some clout in that area so that may be helpful.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:01 PM   #504
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more food for thought.

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Carlos Alberto Montaner
Madrid, Spain
Carlos Alberto Montaner is a Cuban-born writer, journalist, and former professor. He is one of the most influential and widely-read columnists in the Spanish-language media, syndicated in dozens of publications in Latin America, Spain and the United States.

Gaza's True 'Disproportion'

Israelis are being accused of suffering too few casualties in their confrontation with the Hamas terrorists. Those who reason thus usually speak the words "disproportion" or "asymmetry" in an indignant tone. While at this writing close to a thousand Arab Palestinians have died or been wounded as a result of the bombings, the Israeli losses amount to just over a dozen.

Tel Aviv's critics -- from whom an anti-Semitic stench often rises -- do not say whether Israel should increase its quota of cadavers or if it must reduce the Arabs' quota to achieve the reasonable proportion of blood that will soothe the peculiar itch for parity that afflicts them. Nor do they specify the morally permissible number of casualties to end the rain of rockets that for years has been constantly falling on the heads of Israeli civilians.

This demand for "proportionality" can only be called surprising. Until this conflict began, history books everywhere always expressed great satisfaction and a certain chauvinistic pride when a nation's army inflicted on the enemy a large number of casualties, vis-à-vis a trifling price paid by "our boys." Israel is the only country expected to behave differently and, in fact, it does; I know of no other nation that announces where and when it will drop its bombs, thus enabling civilians to evacuate the territory. Of course, in this it behaves asymmetrically, because the Hamas terrorists, forever eager to cause the greatest damage possible, never announce when or where they will launch their rockets against Israel's civilian population.

In turn, Israel has not the slightest interest in causing casualties. All it wants is to stop Hamas' attacks the only way it can: by eliminating the terrorists and destroying their arsenals. There's no other way to deal with them. Hamas is not a political organization with which agreements can be reached, but a fanatical gang intent on wiping Israel off the map. To achieve this objective, its members are even willing to turn their own children into human bombs, just to kill the hated Jews.

Here's another very important asymmetry. The Jews build underground shelters in all houses near the border; they close the schools and hide the children at the least sign of danger; they treat the death of a single soldier as a national tragedy; they do everything possible to rescue their prisoners, and protect the civilian population from the consequences of war. In contrast, the authorities in Gaza, drunk with violence, fire their machine guns irresponsibly into the air to express joy or grief (causing numerous injuries), do not hesitate to install their headquarters or hide their guns in schools, mosques or hospitals, use human shields to protect themselves, turn to suicidal terrorists and reward the families of such "martyrs" with money.

One week before Hamas broke the truce and stepped up its rocket attacks against the Jewish state (the spark that set off this conflict), I was in Israel, where I had been invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Tel Aviv. As part of the contacts organized by my hosts, I visited the Wolfson Medical Center to learn about the program "Save a Child's Heart." I was very moved. It is a foundation devoted to providing heart surgery for very poor children, most of them from the Arab world. As it happened, I witnessed the hurried arrival of a tiny 5-day-old girl, who had to be operated on at once to keep her from dying. She was brought in by her mother, a woman in a black head covering that allowed me to see only her tear-filled eyes, and her husband, a small, bearded man who watched with amazement the indescribable kindness with which a group of doctors and nurses treated the baby. The family came from Gaza.

Since the war erupted, I have asked myself constantly what became of them all.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:17 PM   #505
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The Bush administration was a gigantic failure when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian problem, so my feeling is that whatever Obama does will be better. The Clintons also do have some clout in that area so that may be helpful.
Not the president's job to intervene in foreign wars.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:10 PM   #506
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Not the president's job to intervene in foreign wars.
Given how much the US is bankrolling Israel, it's as much the US's war as it is Israel's.

If it's not the President's job to intervene in foreign wars then why the $2.7 billion per year in military aid.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:28 PM   #507
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Sure, which is my point. We shouldn't be aiding at all.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:39 PM   #508
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Sure, which is my point. We shouldn't be aiding at all.
You're absolutely right, but if you are going to help make a mess at the party you should help to tidy it up.

On somewhat related news, that bastion of democracy in the middle east has been busily banning arab parties from competing in the election...viva democracy, as long as you are Jewish, or willing to accept you'll always be a second class citizen in a Jewish state.

TPM: News Pages | Talking Points Memo | Israel bans Arab parties from coming election
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:45 PM   #509
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^ Unfortunately, this has become almost routine during the last several Knesset elections. At the last minute, a couple of the far-right parties will submit petitions to the Elections Committee, seeking the disqualification of Balad and/or Ra'am Ta'al from the ballot under one or more elections law provisions (the main charge usually being that they seek to 'negate the existence of Israel', when in reality they support some or all aspects of a binational-state solution, which is something quite different from that charge's intended meaning). Then the Attorney General winds up writing to the Elections Committee, asking them to please not waste the Supreme Court's time by approving these petitions since the evidence is insubstantial; then the Elections Committee goes ahead and approves them anyway; then the Court overturns the bans, to no one's surprise; but in the meanwhile, the far-right parties get some assistance (and some rally-the-base campaign PR) from the Elections Committee in publically rubbing their 'ungrateful' Arab colleagues' faces in the dirt. I'm not sure to whom or to what extent the Elections Committee might be answerable, but it's really disturbing that they've been able to do this repeatedly.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:04 AM   #510
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In Israel, a consensus that Gaza war is a just one

by Ethan Bronner
International Herald Tribune, January 13



JERUSALEM -- To Israel's critics abroad, the picture could not be clearer: Israel's war in Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the rockets of Hamas, causing untold human suffering and bombing an already isolated and impoverished population into the Stone Age, and it must be stopped. Yet here in Israel very few, at least among the Jewish population, see it that way...voices of dissent in this country have been rare. And while tens of thousands have poured into the streets of world capitals demonstrating against the Israeli military operation, antiwar rallies here have struggled to draw 1000 participants. The Peace Now organization has received many messages from supporters telling it to stay out of the streets on this one.

As the editorial page of the Jerusalem Post put it on Monday, the world must be wondering, do Israelis really believe that everybody is wrong and they alone are right? ..."It is very frustrating for us not to be understood," remarked Yoel Esteron, editor of a daily business newspaper called Calcalist. "Almost 100% of Israelis feel that the world is hypocritical. Where was the world when our cities were rocketed for eight years...Why should we care about the world's view now?"

...Since Hamas booby-traps schools, apartment buildings and the zoo, and its fighters hide among civilians, it is Hamas that is viewed here as responsible for the civilian toll. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction and gets help and inspiration from Iran, so that what looks to the world like a disproportionate war of choice is seen by many here as an obligatory war for existence. "This is a just war and we don't feel guilty when civilians we don't intend to hurt get hurt, because we feel Hamas uses these civilians as human shields," said Elliot Jager, editorial page editor of the Jerusalem Post, who happened to answer his phone for an interview while standing in front of a house in Ashkelon, an Israeli city about 10 miles from Gaza, that had been hit two hours earlier by a Hamas rocket. "We do feel bad about it, but we don't feel guilty," Jager added. "The most ethical moral imperative is for Israel to prevail in this conflict over an immoral Islamist philosophy. It is a zero sum conflict. That is what is not understood outside this country."

...For many of the 1.4 million Israelis who are Arabs, the war has produced a very different feeling, a mix of anger and despair. The largest demonstration against the war so far, with some 6000 participants, was organized by an Arab political party. But that is still distinctly a minority view. Polls have shown nearly 90% support for the war thus far, and street interviews confirm that Israelis not only favor it but do so quite strongly. The country's leaders, while seeking an arrangement to stop Hamas's ability to rearm, do not want a face-saving agreement. They want one that works, or else they want to continue the war until Hamas has lost either its rockets or its will to fire them.

Boaz Gaon, a playwright and peace activist, said he found it deeply depressing how the Israeli public had embraced the military's arguments in explaining the deaths of civilians. But he was livid at Hamas, both for what it had done to its own people and civilians in the south, and for its impact on the Israeli left. "Hamas has pushed Israeli thinking back 30 years," he said. "It has killed the peace camp."

Moshe Halbertal, a left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, helped write the army's ethics code. He said he knew from personal experience how much laborious discussion went into deciding when it was acceptable to shoot at a legitimate target if civilians were nearby, adding that there had been several events in this war in which he suspected that the wrong decision had been made. For example, Israel killed a top Hamas ideologue, Nizar Rayyan, during the first week of the war and at the same time killed his four wives and at least nine of his children. Looking back at it, Halbertal disapproves, assuming that the decision was made consciously, even if Rayyan purposely hid among his family to protect himself, as it appears he did. Yet almost no one here publicly questioned the decision to drop a bomb on his house and kill noncombatants; all the sentiment in Israel was how satisfying and just it was to kill a man whose ideology and activity had been so virulent and destructive.

But Halbertal takes quite seriously the threat that Hamas poses to Israel's existence, and that issue affects him in his judgments of the war. "Rockets from Hamas could eventually reach all of Israel," he said. "This is not a fantasy. It is a real problem. So there is a gap between actual images on the screen and the geopolitical situation. You have Al Jazeera standing at Shifa Hospital and the wounded are coming in. So you have this great Goliath crushing these poor people, and they are perceived as victims. But from the Israeli perspective, Hamas and Hezbollah are really the spearhead of a whole larger threat that is invisible. Israelis feel like the tiny David faced with an immense Muslim Goliath."

...Even the left and what was long called the peace camp consider this conflict almost entirely the responsibility of Hamas, and therefore a moral and just struggle. "By this stage in the first and second Lebanon wars, there were much larger street demonstrations, vigils and op-ed pieces," said Janet Aviad, a former sociologist and peace activist. "But in this case, the entire Israeli public is angry at the immoral behavior of Hamas."

The writer AB Yehoshua, who opposes Israel's occupation and promotes a Palestinian state, has spent the past two weeks trying to explain the war to foreigners. " 'Imagine,' I tell a French reporter, 'that every two days a missile falls in the Champs-Élysées and only the glass windows of the shops break and five people suffer from shock,' " Yehoshua told a reporter from Yediot Aharonot, a Tel Aviv newspaper. "What would you say? Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you send missiles at Belgium if it were responsible for missiles on your grand boulevard?' "

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I bolded the parts I did because they all seemed to me to be of a piece, with Gaon's story being, I guess, the 'thesis.' That apparently you tend to become whom you fight--not necessarily in a literal, tactical way, and forget the 'moral equivalency' angle for a moment; I mean more that your worldview apparently tends to become eerily like whatever you perceive your opponent's to be. Because I don't know how else to comprehend sentiments like 'We're in a zero-sum conflict with a Philosophy, and we must prevail,' 'They might look small from here, but they're actually just the leading edge of an unimaginably immense enemy,' 'We don't like killing innocents, but our enemy's own methods intentionally leave us no other choice, so that's the way it must be,' and 'How satisfying to inflict a dramatic death on someone who loved inflicting fear and humiliation.'
Quote:
interview with deposed Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar, Aug. '07

I asked [Zahar] why Hamas chose to stop suicide bombings two years ago. The conventional wisdom holds that Hamas gave up suicide attacks because they made a decision to run in the 2006 elections and participate in Palestinian politics as a legitimate political party. I have also heard, though never from Hamas itself, that the movement feared the tough Israeli countermeasures such as the wall and the roadblocks would cause a popular backlash against the movement.

Zahar said it was simply a tactical decision that rockets were a more effective way to disrupt Israeli society: “You are now a military advisor for Hamas, which do you think is more effective, martyrdom operations or rockets against Sderot?” I didn’t answer. He did. “Rockets against Sderot will cause mass migration, greatly disrupt daily lives and government administration and can make a much huger impact on the government. We are using the methods that convince the Israelis that their occupation is costing them too much."

"We are succeeding with the rockets,” he said. “We have no losses, and the impact on the Israeli side is so much.”
Quote:
'A Visit to a Gaza Rocket Factory', Der Spiegel, January '08

The production of the fuel may be delicate, but the real danger lies in the Israeli helicopters, Abdul says. "We know that we are easy prey." His thumb flashes a nervous Morse code with his flashlight onto the floor of the hut. "We are ready to die; that is the price of our freedom." He says that the Palestinians are left with no other choice but to fight the Israelis with weapons. "Either we resist, or they treat us like slaves."

He has thought about who is hit by his rockets. "If we kill soldiers, then we are more than happy," he says. "If it hits a child, then naturally we are not happy." The simple fact of the matter is that you can't aim a Qassam, he says. "And look at the Israelis. They have F-16s and Apache helicopters and can shoot with amazing accuracy. And they still kill our women and children." He reflects for a moment. "Children shouldn’t be killed in any war in this world," says Abdul, who has no children of his own.
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