Israel, Palestine: The Illegitmacy of Violence

What do you think of, when you think of Israel?  Jerusalem?

Its a heavy question, for a Jew.  I think of many things, visions and words from my youth.  And a rich history that feels nearer than that of any other people on Earth.   I say this as a man who identifies as ethnically Jewish.  I left my religion behind long ago, slowly and deliberately.  But I still watch events in the Middle East with intense interest and disgust.  Those are my relatives butchering each other over land they think God promised them.  And I cannot stand the blindness with which the world views Israel/Palestine.  An eye is nailed shut to the violence on one side or the other, without regard for the facts.   So I try to keep both my eyes open, and I see blood stained hands each claiming the same gold standard: justification.  As if murderous actions are ever justified.

Given the intensity of the feeling over there, it is bound to become expressed in artistic form.  Hence yet another piece of art comparing the Israelis to nazis, and the Palestinians to the Jews.  But it isn’t the same.  Israel’s actions are deadly wrong, but they are not building giant camps and systematically killing all of the Palestinians.  It just isn’t happening.  And to claim it is sounds shrill and desperate.

But that desperation itself is understandable.  After all, Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians mirror with frightening accuracy the German’s actions that preceded the concentration camps:  The ghettos.  Jews were herded into ghettos first, kept in poverty and eventually moved onto the camps for efficient extermination.

However there are key differences that must be addressed.

That poverty of the Palestinians is a joint effort between Israel and the surrounding nations.  Israel wants to punish the Palestinians for the violence they have engaged in (and is fearful of money sent their way coming back in the form of rockets).  Neighbors want Israel destabilized, and would gladly suffer the Palestinian people poverty and see generations of desperate people keep their hated nemesis mired in internal conflict.  Don’t even get me started on my own country’s support for violence in the region  (Short story: Oy Vey).

The Palestinians plight lacks to abject desire to kill so obviously present with the Germans.  Palestinian men are not marched onto the street and shot.  Palestinian infants are not smashed against walls until their blood has stained the walls black.

The Palestinians kill innocents.  Children.  People who have no business being shot or blown up.  Dead.

I look at the Palestinian’s plight, and I want to root for them.  I want to express solidarity.  They are a people being oppressed by a government.  But how can I support a violent movement?  A movement that considers blood an acceptable price for land?  So I end up supporting neither side, and watching both sides commit murder with contempt.

In the meantime, I find hope in watching a new movement that appears to be gaining strength:  The movement for a single Secular Democratic State in Israel Palestine.  Ghada Karmi has a rundown here, and there is an indymedia story here.  My suggestion is they name themselves something hilarious.  One of the highest points of our shared culture is comedy, and the land of milk and honey needs to take itself a wee bit less seriously.

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McCain the Warlord

With all the talk of the “independent vote” McCain is snapping up, it’ll be easy to get swept up in the media glow and view the man as a sane, reason-governed paragon of virtue. As a compromise candidate for a Republican field racked by distasteful failures and disunity.

John’s stance on war is not sane. We’ll do well as an electorate to remember this (ThinkProgress):

NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” Still photographs provided by the military to NBC News seemed to show McCain wearing a bulletproof vest during his visit.

McCain recently claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.

Catch that?  Walking through a market with 100 soldiers, helicopters and gunships, and a bulletproof vest, is walking freely.  This man doesn’t see the same world we live in.  So comments like these really make me shiver (Huffington Post):

Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, “It’s a tough war we’re in. It’s not going to be over right away. There’s going to be other wars.” Offering more of his increasingly bleak “straight talk,” he repeated the claim: “I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.”

Iran?  Syria?  Where will Jolly old McCain drag this country next?  Is he prepared for the cost of war?

“And right now – we’re gonna have a lot of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] to treat, my friends,” he said. “We’re gonna have a lot of combat wounds that have to do with these terrible explosive IEDs that inflict such severe wounds. And my friends, it’s gonna be tough, we’re gonna have a lot to do.”

We are no friends of John McCain.  Friends don’t look into the heart of war’s consequences, into shattered spines and amputated legs, into children with hairline fractures in their personalities, and say “it’s gonna be tough”.  These are the words of men who inject us with fear and then offer to sell us security at the sale price of our rights and dignity as a nation.

And this man wants to be our next President.

Clinton: Real Time Information

Its a start.  Hillary wants to put bloggers in government agencies, and increase the flow of information.  I don’t know that bloggers are the best way to go about doing this (Faster turn around on Freedom of Information Act requests, stronger protections for whistle-blowers, and a well organized effort to declassify digitalize safe information assets all strike me as important steps).

I really hope, if she is elected President, this particular promise is not an easily forgotten one.

Knowing what our government is up to is a central and oft forgotten civil right.

Fight Telecom Immunity

Leading the anti-corporate accountability forces, Generalissimo Bush is hoping to shut down our chance for redress against the telecoms.  The government spied on us, and now its trying to get the corporations who broke the law to help them do so off the hook.

We cannot stand for this.

Democracy for America has a provocative ad calling on Clinton and Obama to stand up and fight the Bush and the telecoms.

Will they?

Olberman at Daily Kos: So Fucking What?

My neurons violently exploded when I read this:

Some in the blogosphere have raised questions about Olbermann’s role at the site, which describes itself as “a Democratic blog, a partisan blog.” Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters writes, “Consider again the media firestorm that would come from (Brit) Hume or (Chris) Wallace doing the same thing at a conservative website. Think such a demonstration of rightwing bias and partisanship would raise a few eyebrows?”

I don’t even know what to say to this.

(Deep Breath)

Hume and Wallace writing on little green footballs would not cause a firestorm.  It would not raise eyebrows.  Why?

Does anyone think that Olberman, Hume, and Wallace lack bias?  That they are inhuman machines whirring away, delivering us their objective take on the news?  Or perhaps, just maybe, is it possible that all three bring distinctly different biases to the table, that these biases are obvious, and that posting to a blog isn’t the shattering indication of partisanship SteveK at TVNewser seems to think it is?

We are talking about Hume, the man who has given sympathetic interviews to Darth Cheney.  If he posted to a blog, the reaction would not be “See?  He is biased after all!  He posted on the internets!”.  That would be [searching for a word here…] profoundly idiotic.

Romanticizing The Womanizer

Do we tend to romanticize the image of the man who lied to women on a large scale?  Yes (emphasis mine):

In a cluster of lawsuits gathered up by The Associated Press, the former chief financial officer of health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. is depicted as a corporate Casanova _ a world-class, love-’em-and-leave-’em sort of guy who romanced dozens of women around the country simultaneously, made them extravagant promises and then went back on his word with all the compassion of a health insurance company denying a claim.

What, exactly, is world-class about love-’em and leave-’em?  In the descriptions, alongside the facts and scandal, merits of the lawsuits and string of related corporate malfeasance, is a distinctive undertone of admiration for the idea, if not the man.