Monday ReadsPosted: November 19, 2012
It’s really hard for me to focus on much other than the bombing that’s going on between Gaza and Israel at the moment. The carnage is getting to me.
An Israeli bomb pummeled a home deep into the ground here Sunday afternoon, killing 11 people, including nine in three generations of a single family, in the deadliest single strike since the cross-border conflict between Israel and the militant faction Hamas escalated on Wednesday.
The airstrike, along with several others that killed civilians across this coastal territory and hit two media offices here — one of them used by Western TV networks — further indicated that Israel was striking a wider range of targets.
Gaza health officials reported that the number of people injured here had nearly doubled to 600 by day’s end; the Palestinian death toll climbed to 70, including 20 children. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 wounded by continued rocket fire into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv, as Israeli cities were paralyzed by an onslaught of relentless rocket fire out of Gaza for the fifth straight day.
In the Israeli strike on Sunday morning, it took emergency workers and a Caterpillar digger more than an hour to reveal the extent of the devastation under the two-story home of Jamal Dalu, a shop owner. Mr. Dalu was at a neighbor’s when the blast wiped out nearly his entire family: His sister, wife, two daughters, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren ages 2 to 6 all perished under the rubble, along with two neighbors, an 18-year-old and his grandmother.
At around 2 a.m. today, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles at the Al-Shawa Wa Hassri Tower, a building in the Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal that houses local and international media organizations. Around 15 reporters and photographers wearing vests with the word “TV Press” were on the building’s roof at the time, covering the Israeli air strikes.
Five missiles destroyed the 11th-floor offices used by Al-Quds TV. The station said six journalists were injured, four of them Al-Quds employees – Darwish Bulbul, Khadar Al-Zahar, Muhammad al-Akhras and Hazem al-Da’our. The other two were identified as Hussein Al-Madhoun, a freelance photographer working for the Ma’an news agency, and Ibrahim Labed, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency SAFA. Zahar’s condition was described as critical after one of his legs had to be amputated.
At around 7 a.m., three Al-Aqsa TV employees were seriously injured when two missiles were fired at the Al-Shourouk building, also known as the “journalists’ building.” A spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces said on the @IDFSpokesperson Twitter account that the air strike had targeted a Hamas communication centre.
Among the local and international media whose offices were damaged by Israeli missiles were Sky News Arabia, the German TV station ARD, the Arab TV stations MBC and Abu Dhabi TV, Al-Arabiya, Reuters, Russia Today and the Ma’an news agency.
Information was also one of the victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009 (read the RWB report). At the time, Reporters Without Borders condemned Israel’s decision to declare the Gaza Strip a “closed military zone” and deny access to journalists working for international media. The IDF also targeted pro-Hamas media during Operation Cast Lead.
On Sunday, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, indicated that he intended to take on additional targets. “We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation,” he said, referring to the 75,000 reservists who have been put on call for what many believe is a planned ground invasion. Meanwhile, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system successfully deflected another Hamas rocket aimed at Tel Aviv.
Obama continues to defend Israel’s free hand in Gaza, causing commentators like Jeffrey Goldberg to gloat , not inaccurately: ” Barack Obama hasn’t turned against Israel. This is a big surprise to everyone who has not paid attention for the last four years” (indeed, there are few more compelling signs of how dumb and misleading US elections are than the fact that the only criticism of Obama on Israel heard over the last year in the two-party debate was the grievance that Obama evinces insufficient fealty – rather than excessive fealty – to the Israeli government). That the Netanyahu government knows that any attempt to condemn Israel at the UN would be instantly blocked by the US is a major factor enabling them to continue however they wish. And, of course, the bombs, planes and tanks they are using are subsidized, in substantial part, by the US taxpayer.
If one wants to defend US support for Israel on the merits – on the ground that this escalating Israeli aggression against a helpless population is just and warranted – then one should do so. As I wrote on Thursday , it’s very difficult to see how those who have cheered for Obama’s foreign policy could do anything but cheer for Israeli militarism, as they are grounded in the same premises.
I agree with Robert Reich who says we should stop obsessing over the Federal Budget Deficit.
The best way to generate jobs and growth is for the government to spend more, not less. And for taxes to stay low – or become even lower – on the middle class.
(Higher taxes on the rich won’t slow the economy because the rich will keep spending anyway. After all, being rich means spending whatever you want to spend. By the same token, higher taxes won’t reduce their incentive to save and invest because they’re already doing as much saving and investing as they want. Remember: they’re taking home a near record share of the nation’s total income and have a record share of total wealth.)
Why don’t our politicians and media get this? Because an entire deficit-cutting political industry has grown up in recent years – starting with Ross Perot’s third party in the 1992 election, extending through Peter Petersen’s Institute and other think-tanks funded by Wall Street and big business, embracing the eat-your-spinach deficit hawk crowd in the Democratic Party, and culminating in the Simpson-Bowles Commission that President Obama created in order to appease the hawks but which only legitimized them further.
Myanmar (Burma) has had some terrible human rights violations in its recent past. President Obama is visiting the tiny Southeastern Asian nation and will be urging the country’s power brokers to change their ways.
“You gave us hope,” Obama will say in a speech in Myanmar, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House during his visit to Bangkok, Thailand, the first stop on a three-day trip to the region. “And we bore witness to your courage.”
In a daytime stop expected to last only six hours, Obama is set to meet with President Thein Sein in the former capital of Yangon. He’ll also visit opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s most popular political figure, at her lakeside home where she spent more than 15 years confined under house arrest.
Obama eased sanctions on Myanmar this year after Thein Sein engaged with his political opponents and eased media restrictions since his party won a 2010 election that ended five decades of direct military rule in the country, formerly known as Burma. The visit also reflects a legacy-building goal for a president about to enter a second term, whose early efforts at engagement and democratization have yielded mixed results.
He made a point of not only scheduling a meeting at the government headquarters with President Thein Sein but also a personal pilgrimage to the home of the opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, where she was confined under house arrest for most of two decades before her release two years ago. Amid the manicured lawn and well-tended garden outside the elegant two-story lakeside house, the president and the Nobel-winning dissident planned to stand side by side celebrating change that once seemed unimaginable.
While local leaders attribute the changes so far to internal factors and decisions, Mr. Obama was eager to claim a measure of credit. He has played nursemaid to the opening of Myanmar, formerly and still known by many as Burma, by sending the first American ambassador in 22 years, easing sanctions and meeting with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi in Washington.
Later Monday he was to announce the return of the United States Agency for International Development along with $170 million for projects over the next two years, noting that in his inaugural address he had vowed to reach out to those “willing to unclench your fist.”
“So today, I have come to keep my promise and extend the hand of friendship,” read the text of prepared remarks to be delivered at the University of Yangon. He promised to “help rebuild an economy” and develop new institutions that can be sustained. “The flickers of progress that we have seen must not be extinguished — they must become a shining north star for all this nation’s people.”
So, this was a bit of a headline dump this morning, but I have to admit that my eyes have been fixed on what’s going on in the world right now. Hopefully, we can all stay up to date on these important headlines. I’m going to go light some candles and burn some incense and think peace. Hopefully, if enough of us do that, some of those world leaders will get the message.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?