Anti Israel Protests and Staying Safe

There are two kinds of protests going on right now.  Anti-Israel and Anti-War.  The media is conflating the two.  See if you can spot the subtle difference that has Reuters confused.

Protest 1 (emphasis mine):

demonstrators at the Israeli embassy in Dublin threw shoes and carried a mock coffin, covered with pictures of wounded or dead Palestinian children.

“The haunting images of homes wrecked, of terrified families existing among rubble in shock and despair, and of endless funerals, has rightly outraged people across the world,” said Gerry Adams, president of nationalist party Sinn Fein.

It is time all of this was brought to an end: The slaughter of people in Gaza must end,” Adams told a Dublin rally.

vs protest 2 (emphasis mine):

Thousands of Lebanese Shi’ites who turned out for an Ashura festival in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh also protested against the Israeli offensive, carrying Hezbollah and Palestinian flags.

“We tell the people of Gaza and the elderly in Gaza and the heroes of the resistance, you are not alone, we are with you … victory is yours, God willing,” Mohammed Raad, a senior Hezbollah official, told the crowd.

The situation in Gaza is deteriorating to the point that there is nothing the Palestinians can do to stay safeEven safe-houses are being shelled.  As Gerry Adams points, this is – rightly – generating anger.  Some of that anger is surely aimed at Jews, or at the Israeli state itself.  When you praise “heroes of the resistance”, you praise men who fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel.  Men who have killed innocents.  However, despite the violence at some of the protests, lumping all of them together under the headline “Anti-Israel” accomplishes the same goal as calling anti-war protests state-side “Anti-American”.  It de-legitimizes them.

Every protest has schmucks who smash windows.  That shouldn’t take away from the message of the protest itself.  What Israel is doing in Gaza is horrific:

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says at least 830 Palestinians have died. Thirteen Israelis have been killed: 10 soldiers, and three civilians hit by rocket fire.

I am no naive, wide-eyed believer in Hamas.  I think them cynical abusers of political power, theocrats, and murderers.  But looking at the carnage since the invasion started, 830 deaths is not a wild number.

The military response has been grossly disproportionate to the rocket attacks.  Israel needs to stop this, and stop this now.  They should uphold a cease-fire from their end.  Let Hamas continue firing rockets.  Then public opinion will rightly turn against them.  But Israel has turned Gaza into a hell-hole where no Palestinian is safe from a violent end.  This war needs to stop.  And the Israeli government needs to understand that it should never have been started.

Thousands of Israelis Protest War in Gaza

Via my friend Helene (Israel Social TV):

A contrast to the misconception in the media that all Israeli leftists support the war on Gaza.

Slate’s Misleading Take on the Israeli Peace Movement

From a Slate article by Anne Applebaum on the explosion in Gaza:

The Israelis—both on the “peacenik” left and the more bellicose right—believe that the only way to prevent Hamas from firing rockets is to fight back.

The article links to an interview with an Israeli author, who states his opinion that the Israeli left  supports the violence in Gaza.  Given our own experience in the US of self labeled left-wing Democrats supporting the war in Iraq, I wonder how many leftists in Israel truly do support the warfare in Gaza.  How many “peaceniks” in particular.  That single  line from Applebaum makes it sound as though all of them do.

Israel/Palestine: In Their Shoes

My friends and family are very much split when it comes to Israel/Palestine.  Nearly a year ago I examined my own feelings and observations on the mess.  Its nearly impossible to really get a handle on a reality most of us don’t have to confront on a daily basis.  I remember my own understanding of the issue took a turn for the deeper after reading what it was like for children to see their parents treated like criminals, never mind treated brutally, at Israeli checkpoints.  So I’d like to invite you to join me in a very short thought experiment.  I’d like to briefly examine an aspect of both sides of this conflict.

First the Israelis.  Let’s imagine that the party to take power in Canada is a mix of social conservatism and fiscal liberalism.  Thet build schools, hospitals, and provide jobs.  The Canadians are wild about them.  They also commit violent acts against US citizens.  They send suicide bombers who travel down into Boston, New York, Chicago, and blow themselves up in buses, night clubs and crowded intersections.  They launch rockets into the US, hitting farms, schools, and random houses.  People you know have been killed in these attacks.  The Canadian government not only supports this party, they have threatened to bury us if we retaliate.  How would you want to react?  How do you think our government should react?

Let’s scale this down for the Palestinians.  Imagine your home state is divided in half.  The bulk of the land is owned by by Mexicans.  To travel from one end to another, we have to submit ourselves to military checkpoints, were we can be beaten or detained at will.  Most of us live in poverty.  The local party to gain power promises not only to fight back, but to ensure our broken infrastructure is repaired.  Members of the party regularly fire rockets into Mexico’s borders.  The Mexican government responds with overwhelming force, killing not only the men firing rockets, but nearby civilians.  Your friends have been killed.  After a failed attempt to negotiate a cease fire, Mexico is going to invade our home.  Given the inability of their military force to spare civilians, it is likely that even if you are not killed or wounded, someone you know will be.  How would you respond?  How would you expect your elected officials to act?

The interesting thing with the Israel/Palestine conflict is that both sides, upon reflection, inspire sympathy.  Something to keep in mind when reading the many one sided notes and articles from friends and media.

Why We Don’t Trust Our Political System

Unqualified dynasty relics can snag an office by doing political favors.

Corrupt politicians who maybe possibly might be impeached someday for trying to sell a senate seat, can easily find someone sad and greedy enough to nominate.  And the Senate can’t do a thing about it.

Even the most exciting and inspirational politician to come along in a generation slinks back into the status quo before he even takes his oath of office.

Criticizing politicians for blatant racism can damage your political career even as it boosts the prospects of the racist.

Our tax dollars are sent to rabidly anti-gay-rights theocrats convinced Halloween and Harry Potter lead to Satanism.

The government is willing to spend billions to send us deeper into debt to fund war and large corporations, supposedly to safeguard our future.  Politicians are equally eager to gut public schools and trash our future intellectual capital.

Patents stifle rather than protect and encourage innovation, to the point that insanity seems plausible.

A white militia murdered black people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  The details are only now coming out, and the liklihood of a criminal investigation seems unlikely.

A Bush aide scheduled to give evidence about election fraud in 2004, among aother Bush misdeeds, dies in a plane crash.  Media coverage and criminal follow-up is minimal.

A lot of people are optimistic about 2009.  I can’t share in that optimism, but I am fired up.  How can I not be?

The New Taliban

What’s keeping me up at night?  Via Majikthise, an article in Rolling Stone by the incredibly brave Nir Rosen.  I couldn’t stop reading it.

At one point, I got the distinct impression our leaders are acting like irresponsible doctors prescribing anti-biotics, sending more and more troops.  Amid the same signs of hope for negotiation Rosen picks out, he finds pretty solid evidence we are seeing the development of superbugs:

The guarantees of safety that once protected civilians have been replaced by a new generation removed from traditional society — one for whom jihad is the only law.

In spite of assurances about women being allowed to attend school and work, we see pictures of theocracy in action:

As we wait for the Doctor to arrive, Shafiq has other problems to deal with. His nephew has been arrested by a Taliban patrol after being spotted walking with a girl. After Shafiq secures his release, other Talib fighters call to complain that they heard music coming from his house the night before. Exasperated, Shafiq protests that it was only Al-Jazeera. He doesn’t mention the Iranian pop singer.

The outlook is pretty grim (emphasis mine):

Simply put, it is too late for Bush’s “quiet surge” — or even for Barack Obama’s plan for a more robust reinforcement — to work in Afghanistan. More soldiers on the ground will only lead to more contact with the enemy, and more air support for troops will only lead to more civilian casualties that will alienate even more Afghans. Sooner or later, the American government will be forced to the negotiating table, just as the Soviets were before them.

What’s more, the direct U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is now likely to spill over into Pakistan. It may be tempting to attack the safe havens of the Taliban and Al Qaeda across the border, but that will only produce a worst-case scenario for the United States. Attacks by the U.S. would attract the support of hundreds of millions of Muslims in South Asia. It would also break up Pakistan, leading to a civil war, the collapse of its military and the possible unleashing of its nuclear arsenal.”

…But the Taliban have their own faith, and so far, they are winning.

This is the reality of Afghanistan as it stands today.  A new Taliban, divided, is taking the country back.  We need people with intelligence and good judgement leading this country to take advantage of that:

The internal split provides an opening — if U.S. intelligence is smart enough to exploit it.

“The U.S. should try to weaken the Taliban,” a former Taliban commander tells me. “They should make groups, divide and conquer. If someone wants to use the division between Haqqani and Omar, they can.”

Its a very slim silver lining hiding underneath an enormous storm cloud.

Against Jewish Republicans

Jews who support the modern Republican party have long been a target of condemnation in my family, idiots like Lieberman at the fore.  The reason for this is quite simple.  Republican Jews have successfully replaced the notion of Jewish identity with one of Israeli identity.  For them the first question is “will this be good for Israel”, and not “will this be good for my people”.  This is a crucial twist, and one that reveals a very ugly truth about their naivete.

The Republican party is made up of a couple of factions, each defined largely by fundamentalist Christianity, corporatism, or nativism.  Sarah Palin’s existence on the ticket is as clear a reinforcement of the Republican party’s commitment to a Christian Nation as one could imagine.  Which reminds me of the scene in Borat where Jim Smith (a state supreme court Chief Justice in Mississippi currently running for re-election) claims that this is a Christian Nation.  The Republican party is one that actively strengthens the union between the Christian church and our state.  They are also a party that regularly engages in anti-semitism.  Real anti-semitism, where warnings against “New York liberals” suffice as thinly coded language against Jews.  Not the false anti-semitism of standing up to Israel when it goes too far against the Palestinians.

When I read this at the Huffington Post, it became clear that the Republican Jewish Coalition represents the very worst of Conservative Jewish politics (conservative as in Republican, not conservative Judaism) (From Talking Points Memo):

“Concerned about Barack Obama? You should be,” the mailer warns. “History has shown that a naive and weak foreign policy has resulted in tragic outcomes for the Jewish people.”

The mailer helpfully notes that the image is a pic of Obama speaking in Germany.

Tragic outcomes for the Jewish people, throughout history, have been linked to fascism and religious fundamentalism.  Yet Republican Jews support a party that is hell bent on writing the Christian Bible into our legal code.  The stunning idiocy of this support is every bit as shocking as finding support among the working poor for Republican economic policy.

A McCain/Palin Presidency, endorsed by Dick Cheney, represents walking further down the path of eroding civil rights, constant warfare, and the politics of fear.  It is a clear invitation for fascism to fulfill Sinclair Lewis’s prediction and come to America wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

When that happens, how does the Republican Jewish Coalition imagine the Jewish people will be treated?