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Old 01-15-2009, 04:03 PM   #526
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Originally Posted by financeguy View Post
One thing I've noticed. Irish people tend to have strong views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, usually strongly in the pro-Palestinian direction. Is this simply due to our colonialist past, or is it more complicated than that? I welcome your comments for anyone interested in this.
I'm sure it's more complicated than that and probably where you'll find the Anglo Montrealer in me. I'll have to give it more thought to articulate why that makes any sense.

The Palestinians are a minority within a minority, as are Anglo Quebcers and the Irish struggle for a place in society while maintaining their distinct culture, as do Quebecs as a whole and I suspect so do the Palestinians in the Arab world.

MMmhmm, complicated.
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Old 01-15-2009, 04:48 PM   #527
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A senior Israeli military officer said Israeli troops shelled after coming under fire from Palestinian militants inside the compound _ an account dismissed by a U.N. official there at the time as "nonsense."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in the region to end the devastating offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers, said the Israeli defense minister told him there had been a "grave mistake."
So which is it then?
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Old 01-15-2009, 06:00 PM   #528
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Barak, unlike Olmert, is smart enough to realize this was "a grave mistake" whether the officer was right about the militants or not; at least that would be my guess.
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:16 PM   #529
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Well, here is a pretty obvious conclusion.

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JERUSALEM — Israel hoped that the war in Gaza would not only cripple Hamas, but eventually strengthen its secular rival, the Palestinian Authority, and even allow it to claw its way back into Gaza.

But with each day, the authority, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and its leading party, Fatah, seem increasingly beleaguered and marginalized, even in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank, which they control. Protesters accuse Mr. Abbas of not doing enough to stop the carnage in Gaza — indeed, his own police officers have used clubs and tear gas against those same protesters.

The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas’s support seems to be growing at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, already considered corrupt and distant from average Palestinians.
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:55 PM   #530
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More on settlements (and outposts in second clip), colonization, settlers and "financial aid".

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Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish American, went to the West Bank to discover the realities of daily life for Palestinians under the occupation. What she found would change her outlook on the conflict forever. She wrote this book to give voice to the stories of the people who welcomed her with open arms as their lives crumbled around them. For five months, Baltzer lived and worked with farmers, Palestinian and Israeli activists, and the families of political prisoners, traveling with them across endless checkpoints and roadblocks to reach hospitals, universities, and olive groves.

Baltzer witnessed firsthand the environmental devastation brought on by expanding settlements and outposts and the destruction wrought by Israels Security Fence, which separates many families from each other, their communities, their land, and basic human services. What emerges from Baltzers journal is not a sensationalist tale of suicide bombers and conspiracies, but a compelling and inspiring description of the trials of daily life under the occupation. Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American graduate of Columbia University, Fulbright scholar, and two-time volunteer with the International Womens Peace Service in the West Bank, where she documented human rights abuses and supported the nonviolent resistance movement to the occupation.
YouTube - Israel's "Colonies" - Anna Baltzer

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Old 01-15-2009, 07:58 PM   #531
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Here is also a good first-hand report of some of the illegal settlement posts and the effects these have on local Palestinians:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/08/wo...stbank.html?hp

The settlements are perhaps the greatest obstacle to a political two-state solution.
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Old 01-16-2009, 01:02 AM   #532
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^ The greatest obstacle to clearing the path for final negotiations on one, anyway. For the Palestinians, these last three weeks have been the single bloodiest episode in the Territories since Israel's occupation began, and it's difficult right now not to dread that a resulting collapse of the Palestinian leadership might severely undercut the terms of the 'road map' Obama expected to inherit.

For me the most disturbing thing about the settlers themselves, at least the extremist-nationalist ones, is how overrepresented they've become within the IDF: the proportion of recruits they account for has increased more than 40% over the last several years, they make up a third or more of IDF combat forces and more than that of combat officers--because their birthrate is high and so is their motivation to serve, because the only other Jewish sector with a comparably high birthrate (the haredim) remain exempt from service, because increasing numbers of other young Israelis evade the draft by moving to another country for several years or claiming psychological unfitness. And if some of the more recent evacuation operations--Gaza, Hebron, Amona--plus the assessments of commanders at the training academies are any indication, these so-called 'nationalist-religious' soldiers can't be relied upon to carry out evacuation orders, which creates a huge looming problem for the IDF.


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I think this op-ed from Ha'aretz pertains to what I was trying to articulate earlier--what a legacy of paranoia and distrust towards just about everyone can do to a people's moral imagination over time, at others' expense and their own. There's a part of me that laughs bleakly and hard whenever someone huffs that Israel should be held to the same standard as Germany or Canada or the UK, even though at the same time I agree completely and the reaction really has more to do with a reluctant half-sympathy for a certain internalized worldview rather than for an actual predicament, which I can't relate to and in any case cringe at the response to. Unfortunately, Rosenblum's style doesn't come across so well in English...



More of a neighborhood than a country
by Doron Rosenblum

There is certainly a connection between the fact that Israel was involved in two prolonged wars of choice within two years, each of which began with an outburst of anger and ended with government head-scratching, and the fact that it was headed during this period by a serial provocateur: a leader who has not missed a single opportunity for a fight in which he has the last word; a man who has managed to quarrel with almost all the members of his government and his party, and recently even with the United States secretary of state. If Ehud Olmert's term were not ending soon, who knows whether in a year from now we wouldn't be involved in a third war, in which the Israeli Air Force would bomb Washington or Istanbul.

But if only we could dismiss those two years as a kind of historical traffic accident that was caused because of one nervous driver, if only because of the doubt as to whether even a prime minister with the temperament of Mother Theresa would have succeeded more than Olmert. But "the two years and two wars" term reflects failure and disappointment that go beyond a specific person: It is Israel's failure to switch to a "civilian agenda" in the profound sense of the term. And more than that is its inability to conduct itself effectively and with diplomatic wisdom even after 60 years of sovereignty, when it is headed by a post-charismatic civilian-leader, without a military halo and a belligerent agenda.

There has frequently been discussion of the paradox that in Israel it is the decision makers lacking a military background who tend to "compensate themselves" with an aggressive surfeit of activity (Pinhas Lavon and the "stinking affair," Shimon Peres and Grapes of Wrath, Olmert and former defense minister Amir Peretz in the Second Lebanon War, et al). And in fact, it is just those things which we are bragging about in the present war--"preparedness," "learning the lessons of the previous war," the fighting spirit, the call-up, the solidarity, the desire for combat--that with all their advantages combine with something very gloomy: acceptance. A perhaps final acceptance of our fate as "a War, with a country." If during the first decades of the country it was hard to imagine a real future without at least a hope for peace, and if afterwards every war was accompanied by a hope that it would be the last one--today, in the face of an openly atavistic enemy, we have already lost any hope or illusions. It is possible that this time a resounding defeat for Hamas would have pushed back the Islamic wave of the messianism of destruction to some extent; but along with hope the meaning of the concept "victory" has also been lost. We have simply come to terms with the fact that the next round of warfare, and the one following it, are only a question of time. And not only because of the enemy, but because of the Olmert in every one of us: If the next war is successful, we'll feel like having another one; if it fails, we'll want another one that will make amends for it and "learn its lessons," and so on until the end of days.

We simply have no other vision. And this acceptance of our fate as a martial-state is also evident in the conduct of the present campaign: instead of causing the collapse of the government of Hamas leaders using cunning and creativity, we deliberately embarked on a destructive all-out attack involving a huge cost in civilian lives and causing perhaps irreversible damage to Israel's image among the nations. That is the modus operandi of a country that has not only despaired already of the chance of reconciliation with the neighbors alongside whom it has lived for generations, but that no longer cares about how it looks from the outside, and about the way in which it is getting world Jewry into trouble along with it.

So it's not only Olmert. The increasingly frequent wars, and mainly the way in which we don't know how to end them, to translate them into political achievements and to speak the language of diplomacy--testify to Israel's failure to behave like a normal country, with the priorities, the reactions, and the judgment of a nation. Even after 60 years of sovereignty Israel behaves less like a country and more like a community.
It takes Israel years and years (mainly between wars) to climb up the slippery pole of international respect, recognition and sympathy, and somehow, in every round of warfare it slips all the way back down: from a country, to what is called a "neighborhood." Perhaps that too should be taken into account in the context of the "preparation" for the next inevitable war.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:04 AM   #533
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financeguy, if you're still reading, I'm sure TD Ó Snodaigh will be quite pleased to be able to cite in his defense these still harsher remarks delivered in the House of Commons by a British Jewish MP just a couple days later:

Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, January 15

In Kaufman's case I can pretty easily hear this as a straightforward expression of moral anguish. Because he first lays out the history of his and his family's considerable involvement with Zionism as well as the Holocaust, his friendships with several first-generation Israeli political leaders, etc., making his personalized revulsion at the carnage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now led to and despair at his own government's reluctance to grasp its urgency quite understandable. (Which is more or less exactly how a great many progressive Jews in the diaspora feel right now; violently heartsick.) Still, in the end I think these were foolishly incendiary remarks, because they'll of course wind up being relayed to the general public in the UK and elsewhere as JEWISH MP says Israel a Nazi state!!!, where it's most unlikely to galvanize anyone who isn't already galvanized. At least not in the way he wishes.

Sorry to veer back off-topic...it just seemed like too glaringly obvious a coda to your post to miss.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:51 AM   #534
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Dennis Kucinich has introduced a resolution in the House highlighting the humanitarian crisis and "call[ing] on the Government of Israel and representatives of Hamas to implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and to allow unrestricted humanitarian access in Gaza." You can contact your Representative here to urge him or her to support it.
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:52 AM   #535
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Yolland, did you read the story about the Palestinian doctor who worked in a Tel Aviv hospital (up until he got stuck in Gaza during the blockade and could no longer leave), and who used to report to an Israeli TV station during the nightly news about the situation in Gaza? He was unique in that he spoke fluent Hebrew and received his medical training in Israel. The other day when the anchor called him, the man was in tears, reporting that his house has just been shelled and three of his daughters (ages 22, 15, 14) had just died. The anchor was clearly moved to tears and asked the doctor to provide the location of the house so that perhaps they could get the IDF to allow ambulances in. Anyway, it's a very stirring story, and also I think it's commendable that it was even shown on TV there. I can't really imagine a similar situation playing out on CNN with respect to say, Americans in Iraq, to be honest.

But the grief and anguish in this man's voice was unmistakable. And it really emphasizes just how futile this mission is. If an older brother of these three girls strapped on a bomb to his chest next year and blew himself up in Tel Aviv, are we going to stand here and denounce him as a monster? Or is that the expected human response?
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:28 AM   #536
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Again??

Quote:
"Just before seven o'clock this morning (0500 GMT) several rounds of shells went directly into the school compound in Beit Lahiya. There was a pause and then there was a round that directly hit the school building killing two people," said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness.

"Where you have a direct hit on an UNRWA school where about 1,600 people had taken refuge, where the Israeli army knows the coordinates and knows who's there, where this comes as the latest in a catalogue of direct and indirect attacks on UNRWA facilities, there have to be investigations to establish whether war crimes have been committed," he said.
I think Israel has lost its mind.

Quote:
"United Nations officials say two children, aged five and seven, were killed when Israeli tank fire hit a UN school where hundreds had taken shelter in the northern town of Beit Lahiya."
UN seeks Israel Gaza school hit probe
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:02 PM   #537
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Thank you Alienvey for posting the You tube links. Anna Baltzer has summed up what I think many Americans feel, but are afraid to express. She is right. Americans who are opposed to the occupation or colonies on Palestine land are thought of as "anti-jewish" and we are not.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:05 PM   #538
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Originally Posted by yolland View Post
financeguy, if you're still reading, I'm sure TD Ó Snodaigh will be quite pleased to be able to cite in his defense these still harsher remarks delivered in the House of Commons by a British Jewish MP just a couple days later:
...............
In Kaufman's case I can pretty easily hear this as a straightforward expression of moral anguish. Because he first lays out the history of his and his family's considerable involvement with Zionism as well as the Holocaust, his friendships with several first-generation Israeli political leaders, etc., making his personalized revulsion at the carnage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now led to and despair at his own government's reluctance to grasp its urgency quite understandable. (Which is more or less exactly how a great many progressive Jews in the diaspora feel right now; violently heartsick.) Still, in the end I think these were foolishly incendiary remarks, because they'll of course wind up being relayed to the general public in the UK and elsewhere as JEWISH MP says Israel a Nazi state!!!, where it's most unlikely to galvanize anyone who isn't already galvanized. At least not in the way he wishes.

Sorry to veer back off-topic...it just seemed like too glaringly obvious a coda to your post to miss.
Well, I agree that comments such as these could easily have the opposite effect to that intended, but I think it is fair to say what Kaufman said is subtly different to the implication in what O'Snodaigh was saying.
That is why I think Shatter may have some justification in the implication that O'Snodaigh displayed anti-semitism.

Kaufman's speech didn't seem to get a lot of attention so far. He has been a critic of Israel for many years, and has made similar comments before. He was once talked of as a potential UK foreign minister, and it has been said that his views on Israel (though popular among the Labour 'grassroots') could have gone against him.
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Old 01-17-2009, 05:24 PM   #539
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All these resolutions are meaningless

The funniest thing of the whole stupid conflict was the 4hour ceasfire so aid could be provided

Basically - Israel stopped killing people for a few hours, those who were hurt got some treatment, then they will killed later when the conflict resumed

They will never have peace - the UN is a glorified League of Nations that can do nothing and why should people listen when the USA and UK both ignored it over Iraq

The media is so biased in Israel's favour. Until i studied the subject at uni i then realised how much the Palestinians were messed about by the Brits and western powers

But still no excuse for the violence on all parts.

People are forgetting the 10 second rule here - you cant claim a homeland from 2000 years ago!
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:58 PM   #540
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Yolland, did you read the story about the Palestinian doctor who worked in a Tel Aviv hospital (up until he got stuck in Gaza during the blockade and could no longer leave), and who used to report to an Israeli TV station during the nightly news about the situation in Gaza? He was unique in that he spoke fluent Hebrew and received his medical training in Israel. The other day when the anchor called him, the man was in tears, reporting that his house has just been shelled and three of his daughters (ages 22, 15, 14) had just died. The anchor was clearly moved to tears and asked the doctor to provide the location of the house so that perhaps they could get the IDF to allow ambulances in. Anyway, it's a very stirring story, and also I think it's commendable that it was even shown on TV there. I can't really imagine a similar situation playing out on CNN with respect to say, Americans in Iraq, to be honest.
Yes, I saw an article in one of the Israeli papers and a link to the clip, which was almost unbearable to watch. That doctor has also been a peace activist and longtime advocate of and participant in various Israeli-Palestinian joint projects, making the irony, if that's the right word, all the more vicious. And speaking of irony, when I watched the clip last night, we'd just taken our own son to the hospital (nothing serious, he'll be fine) and I'd brought my laptop knowing I'd be spending several hours in a waiting room, so I'm sitting there in this hospital with all these doctors and other sick children's parents milling around, watching as this doctor and father thousands of miles away in Gaza takes an interview call from Israeli TV at home while still in the moment of grasping that the shell which just hit the house has killed his daughters, brother and nephews, as the overwhelmed anchorman gropes and stumbles for words before coming to his senses and offering to summon transport to a hospital for the remaining wounded. I don't know which clip you saw, maybe there's one with subtitles available now, but anyway you don't really need any Hebrew to grasp the emotional weight of what happens.

And once again, from the IDF there was this "Oops sorry, there were militants firing on us--don't blame us, it's all their fault!" rationalization; you get the unnerving and deeply disturbing sense that this has become a kind of reflexive mantra meant to beat away all suggestions that Maybe we've gone too far, Maybe the IDF aren't adequately implementing their own ethical guidelines--even among those who supported the operation, the bombing of Hamas buildings etc. but (one would hope) are nonetheless still capable of being moved to re-evaluate actions with high 'collateral damages.' That kind of thinking can so easily slide into a full-fledged collective-punishment mentality, where the truth is that pretty much anything and everything which might 'hurt their morale' starts to sound good.
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Thank you Alienvey for posting the You tube links. Anna Baltzer has summed up what I think many Americans feel, but are afraid to express. She is right. Americans who are opposed to the occupation or colonies on Palestine land are thought of as "anti-jewish" and we are not.
This is not aimed at you personally, only the quite common sentiment you're referencing, but I just want to reiterate that while these frustrations and internalized inhibitions are understandable, they're simply not a morally acceptable rationalization for becoming so cynically apathetic as to not personally take action though the usual citizen participation channels--watch your local newspapers and check this calendar for information on organized protests in your vicinity, contact your Congress(wo)men, contact the President-Elect (shortly to be reachable at the White House), and donate to and sign petitions and letters for J Street (there are many pro-peace organizations focused on Israel/Palestine, but this one is especially important since they're also a lobbying group/PAC, and are therefore directly engaged with Capitol Hill). Congress.org also has a national and local media contacts page where you can write to presidents and editors of major media outlets to share your concerns about bias in coverage. I don't personally advocate grassroots across-the-board boycotts or divestment at this time, since the prior possibilities of intense diplomatic pressure and conditional foreign aid cutbacks haven't even remotely been exhausted yet (especially by our own government, the one best-placed to do so); however, several of the major US pro-peace organizations have for several years now advocated at least divesting from and boycotting companies like Caterpillar and Motorola, whose equipment is used extensively by the IDF as part of the maintenance apparatus of the occupation. No one is or has been stopping anyone from doing all of the above, and we have only ourselves to blame if we haven't been doing them. If everyone who wants to see a change in US Middle East policy were willing to take these steps regularly, then we could at the very least certainly have a much bigger impact in Washington than we've been having.


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The unilateral ceasefire Israel declared today is, unfortunately, almost certainly doomed to be short-term, because there's still no negotiated agreement with Hamas, whose leadership currently appears fatally split on whether to accept the restoration of Palestinian Authority control over the Rafah crossing called for by the Egyptian ceasefire proposal's anti-smuggling measures. Which in turn means that Israel is unlikely to reopen its own Gaza crossings...which in turn means a continuing humanitarian crisis and no peace. I guess for now we can only hope that one of the Obama Administration's first priorities will be to strongly pressure Israel to reopen their own crossings, even if their troops remain in Gaza pending a viable negotiated agreement.
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