Friday, March 23, 2012

Now It's Solar Panels

“We had no choice,” explained Sen. Robert Wexler. “We had to cut the funds from UNESCO. They accepted Palestine as a member and the U.S. has a twenty year old law that denies funding to any UN agency that recognizes Palestine.”[1] The United Nations Economic, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) mission statement includes the building of peace and the alleviation of poverty. But, we had no choice, Wexler said, because we are the good guys and we want what is best for Israel and Palestine. Our responsibility is to force them to meet and negotiate their differences without outside interference.

So, we cut our $60 million pledge to an organization that seeks water for 950,000 refugees, promotes education in South Sudan, provides relief to tsunami victims and is teaching 3000 Afghan soldiers to read.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have been going on for more than 20 years and the sides are further apart now than they have ever been. Israel brings preconditions to the table, such as; existing settlements will become permanent parts of Israel,

As the year ended, plans were going ahead for 3,690 new apartments in East Jerusalem and 1000 in nearby settlements. Peace Now reported a 20 percent increase in settlement construction in 2011, with 1,850 new units going up in settlements east of the separation wall, and 3,500 elsewhere in the West Bank. Human Rights groups noted a corresponding increase in home demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinians not only have settlements on their land, they have to deal with settlers who harass, intimidate, steal and seem to have no limits to their brutally.

In late December, a coalition of human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, reported that during 2011 settlers destroyed hundreds of homes, water wells and farm structures, as well as 10,000 olive trees.[2]

Another precondition demanded by Israel; The separation wall will become the new border, encircling West Bank’s valuable water aquifers and more than 40,000 acres of its prime agricultural land, enclosing another 10 percent of Palestine pushing the Palestinians back onto 12 percent of what used to be their home land instead of the 22 percent they are asking for. What is left is cut up by Jewish only roads.

Now the Israeli government declares war on solar panels which provide the only electricity for many Palestinian villages. Others, more fortunate, may purchase electricity, at inflated rates, from Israel.[3] It seems that Israel is saying to the Palestinians that your land is ours, your water is ours, your agriculture is ours, your homes are ours and now, even your sunshine belongs to us.

Still, our politicians declare Hamas as the enemy of peace.

Thomas Are
March 22, 2011.

[1] Interview with John Oliver, Daily Show, 3/15/12.
[2] See Rachelle Marshall, Israel’s Current Demand: Most of the West Bank., The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March, 2012, p.8-9.
[3] Phoebe Greenwood, Palestinians Prepare to Lose the Solar Panels that Provide a Lifeline. The Guardian, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Spear Head of Justice

Gilad Atzmon writes:

The lack of capacity to reflect upon oneself from the futuristic perspective, explains the Israeli collective complicity in some of their horrendous war crimes. This should be enough to explain why the Israelis sliced up the Holy Land with separation walls and barbed wires. It explains why Israelis drop White Phosphorous on their next door neighbors as they seek shelter in a UN shelter. It also explains why Israeli Navy Seal commandos ended up executing peace activist on the Mavi Marmara on the high seas. It also explains why newly-born Israel was quick to expel the vast majority of the Palestinian indigenous population just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz… People who defy history never look in the mirror.[1]

I heard Gilad Aztmon speak in Atlanta just last week. (3/10/12) He shared with us how his grandfather had been a prominent commander of the Irgun, the terrorist gang involved in the massacre of Deir Yassin. Grandfather was also, according to Gilad, “pretty cross with the Palestinians for dwelling on the land he was sure belonged to him and his people, given to them by God.” Gilad grew up believing "it was only Jews who were associated with anything good.”[2] The greatest thing that he could do with his life was to become a martyr for Israel. Then in 1982, at 18 years old, he joined the army and was sent to Lebanon where he first encountered Palestinians. His illusions crumbled, “I knew that our leaders were lying, in fact, every Israeli soldier understood that this was a war of Israeli aggression.”

Atzmon is not very different from many other Jewish celebrities, (he is a world renowned saxophonist.) but the passion with which he spoke of justice for the Palestinians amazed me. He said something like, ‘The point of the spear for international justice is focused on how Israel treats the Palestinians.’

I sat there thinking, how right he is. If we can’t see the daily injustice inflicted on the Palestinians then what chance is there for justice anywhere? We might as well give up to a dog eat dog world, every man (and nation) for himself and to hell with the needs and pains of anyone else. The injustice in Palestine is so obvious:

Palestinian children face many obstacles:

*** 10 percent of children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip suffer from chronic malnutrition.
*** 19 percent of children under 5 are anemic
*** 23 percent of Palestinian families with children are in poverty ($2 a day or less.)
*** 25 percent of Palestinian children do not attend primary school.[3]

That’s not the worst of it.

In the last two days, Israeli forces have killed at least 15 residents of the Gaza Strip and wounded over 30. Among the dead are two young boys.[4]

If Gilad Atzmon has the moral courage to speak out against his own heritage, family and nation, can we not at least learn about the issue, speak out in our churches, inform our friends and write our politicians?

Thomas Are
March 16, 2012.

[1] Gilad Atzmon, The Wandering Who, (Zero Books) p. 181-182.
[2] Ibid., p.2
[3] Sources UN, PCBS, cited in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2012. p.2
[4] Max Blumenthal, Israel’s Bogus Case for Bombing Gaza Obscures Political Motives, Mondowweiss, March 11, 2012.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Act of War

Two years ago I blogged:[1]

Does anyone think that we, or Israel can drop bombs on Iran, dust off our hands and come home declaring “Mission Accomplished,” and think that will be the end of it? If we, or more likely Israel, attack Iran, it’s a whole new war. We can’t get out of the ones we are already in. Even after five years, 4000 of our troops dead, 30,000 wounded, many of them injured for life, a half trillion dollars down the tube… and that’s against a nation whose military had been broken by U.S. victories in 1991 followed by ten years of bombings and sanctions.

It is easier said than done. To bomb Iran, Israel would have to fly over a thousand miles of hostile air space, refuel in the air and hit numerous targets at the same time. The worse part is that Israel does not have the bunker buster bombs which would be required to knock out the estimated 12 to 20 facilities built into the side of a mountain and heavily fortified. Israel would have to get them from the US. Automatically such an attack would be an act of war and we would be right in the midst of it for God only knows for how long.

It’s easy for political hopefuls to talk about a “line in the sand,” and all options being on the table. But has anyone asked the next question. I keep waiting for the news media to ask, “After we have bombed their plants and killed no telling how many people, what happens next?” Iran has 70 million people, missiles capable of sinking ships, an army of over 850,000 troops, 1600 tanks, 21,000 armored vehicles, 70 warships and 3 submarines.[2] I hope somebody is counting the cost this time.

Another question is, “What will Iran do with a nuclear bomb even if it has one.” To use it would invite a retaliation that would pulverize its nation. Eric Margolis writes,

The US Congress pulsates with war fever, fuelled by oncoming elections and huge cash donations. North America’s media pounds the war drums.” Why would Iran risk nuclear vaporization by Israel or the US just to launch a small number of its inaccurate missiles at Israel? US and Israeli early warning satellites would spot any Iranian missiles at launch and bring down a nuclear holocaust on the Islamic Republic.

It’s hard for me to think that Israel actually fears a nuclear attack. What Israel does fear is Iran’s support of Hezbollah and Hamas, which are the two organizations interfering with Israeli’s ambitions to destroy the Palestinians and take their land.

The best way for Israel to gain security would be to bring a just end to the Palestinian crisis. Do we risk a long time war, with missiles, terror retaliations and unprecedented oil prices to protect Israel’s expansion into Palestine?

Thomas Are
March 9, 20112
[1] September 7, 2008
[2] Eric Margolis, Politicians Want War With Iran,, February 8, 2012.