Tuesday Reads: The Latest on Israel-Palestine and Ukraine, and Some Unrelated ReadsPosted: July 22, 2014
Ugh. I overslept again, and this post will go up a bit late. As I get older, it takes me longer to get rested and reoriented after taking a long trip. Even with almost daily naps, I’m still sleeping longer at night. Normally, I do well with about 7 hours sleep a night. I hope I get back to that routine soon!
Once again, there isn’t a lot of news except for the crises in Gaza and Ukraine. I’ll update you on those and then see if I can find a few other interesting reads.
Here’s the latest on Gaza from Reuters, Israel pounds Gaza despite international peace efforts.
(Reuters) – Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and U.N. diplomats pursued talks on halting fighting that has claimed more than 500 lives.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks in neighboringEgypt, while U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Israel later in the day. Both have voiced alarm at mounting civilian casualties.
However, there was no let-up in the fighting around Gaza, with plumes of black smoke spiraling into the sky, and Israeli shells raining down on the coastal Palestinian enclave.
Hamas, the dominant group in the Gaza Strip, and its allies fired more rockets into Israel, triggering sirens in Tel Aviv. One hit a town on the fringes of Ben-Gurion International Airport, lightly injuring two people, officials said.
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes out of Gaza by Hamas, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
“A ceasefire is not near,” said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, viewed as the most dovish member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet.
“I see no light at the end of the tunnel,” she told Israel’s Army Radio.
Also posted just a short time ago at USA Today, Gaza resident: We’re being ‘collectively punished’.
GAZA CITY — As Israeli forces continued their air, land and sea offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, hitting about 70 targets including five mosques, outrage among Palestinians caught in the crossfire grows with the mounting death toll.
More than 583 Palestinians have died and more than 3,300 people [have been] injured in the offensive, The Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The two-week carnage has led many Palestinians to express their support for Hamas, the terrorist-cum-political group that Israeli forces have been targeting since July 8 in retaliation for ongoing rocket attacks against Israel.
“We faced two Israeli wars before but this one is the most bloodiest and most cruel,” said Abu Awni, 38, of Gaza City. “Civilians are attacked in their homes. I’m against Hamas, but when Israel is killing my family, then I will join Hamas.”
“The world must wake up and stop consuming Israeli propaganda,” he added. “More than half of the population in Gaza is not affiliated with Hamas. But we have been collectively punished.”
Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Quidra said the casualties were the same as a full-fledged war. “Bodies torn to pieces. Severe burns. We even found some chips of missiles in the bodies of victims,” he said.
This video from CNN is incredible. Wolf Blitzer asks a Gaza resident why he doesn’t just leave if things are so bad? The man responds, “Where can I flee?” and then continues with a barage of sarcasm, while Blitzer listens stone-faced.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyau continues to assert that the deaths in Gaza are caused by Hamas using residents as “human shields.” Israel has asked these people to leave urban areas, he says, but they just won’t leave. He doesn’t say where they are supposed to go.
I’ve posted a few of David Harris-Gershon’s blog posts from Tikkun. Gershon has strongly support Israel for his entire life, but he recently reached a breaking point. Here’s his latest, Not in My Name, Netanyahu.
As I write these words, my hands tremble from the unspeakable images and stories I’ve witnessed in Gaza. They tremble with worry that those young Israeli soldiers losing their lives, casualties in a war they did not create, will be among those families I know, and that their numbers will grow.
My hands also tremble because, during all this, Israel’s leader – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – has repeatedlyclaimed to represent me, and all Jews, as Israel continues its brutal assault on Gaza, an assault which, as historyshows, will neither achieve its strategic goals nor reap anything but heartache.
No, he does not speak for me.
When Netanyahu said on CNN that Palestinians benefit from “telegenically dead” civilians killed by Israel, that images of carnage helped Hamas because journalists would then ask about Israel’s actions, he did not speak for me.
When he said that Palestinians “don’t give any thought” about their children or their welfare, and that Palestinians use their children as though they are inanimate objects, he did not speak for me.
Read the rest at the link. It’s not long.
Ukraine and the Downed Malaysian Airlines Plane
Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — As bodies from Thursday’s air disaster reached a facility Tuesday in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the Ukrainian government ratcheted up its accusations against Moscow, saying a Russian officer shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine’s director of informational security, made the accusation in an interview with CNN. The person was “absolutely” a Russian, he said. “A Russian-trained, well-equipped, well-educated officer … pushed that button deliberately.”
Ukrainian intelligence backs up the assertion, Nayda said.
Moscow has denied claims that it pulled the trigger. And Russian Army Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov suggested a Ukrainian jet fighter may have shot the plane down….
Nayda, speaking to CNN on Tuesday, referred to audio recordings captured by Ukrainian intelligence. “We taped conversations” between a Russian officer and his office in Moscow, Nayda said. “We know for sure that several minutes before the missile was launched, there was a report” to a Russian officer that the plane was coming, Nayda said.
From Reuters: Train with MH17 bodies on final journey reaches Ukraine base.
Five refrigerated wagons containing 200 body bags arrived in the city of Kharkiv after pro-Russian separatists agreed to hand over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian authorities and the bodies to the Netherlands, where many victims had lived.
The train slowly rolled into the grounds of an arms industry plant, where the remains are due to be unloaded and flown to the Netherlands. A spokesowman for a Dutch team of forensic experts in Kharkiv said this was not expected before Wednesday….
Western governments, including European Union ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, have threatened Russia with broader sanctions for what they say is its backing of the militia although they are struggling to agree a response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would urge the separatists to allow a full investigation. The Netherlands said it would lead the investigation while Malaysia said it would look after the plane’s black boxes until a team was set up.
The New York Times reported on Russia’s Message on Jet: Conciliation and Bluster.
MOSCOW — Russia presented a combination of conciliation and bluster on Monday over its handling of the downed Malaysia Airlines jet, with President Vladimir V. Putin seemingly probing for a way out of the crisis without appearing to compromise with the West.
On one hand, he offered conciliatory words in a video statement, oddly released in the middle of the night, while the separatists allied with Moscow in southeastern Ukraine released the bodies of the victims and turned over the black box flight recorders from the doomed aircraft to Malaysian officials.
However, two senior military officers forcefully demanded that the United States show publicly any proof that rebels fired the fatal missile, and again suggested that the Ukrainian military shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet despite the fact that Ukraine has not used antiaircraft weapons in the fight along its eastern border.
Mr. Putin seemed to respond to the outraged international demands growing daily that he intervene personally to rein in the rebels — particularly to halt the degrading chaos surrounding the recovery of the remains. But at the same time, Moscow did not concede that it was at fault.
Much more at the link.
Finally, Politico polled voters on whether they wanted to intervene in this conflicts, POLITICO poll: Stay out of Ukraine, Middle East
Amid deepening violence across Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Americans are recoiling from direct engagement overseas and oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine by large margins, according to a POLITICO poll of 2014 battleground voters.
The survey provides a unique look at the foreign policy attitudes of voters who will decide the most competitive Senate and House races this fall. It shows an intensely skeptical view of American military intervention:
Asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, just 17 percent answered in the affirmative. Thirty-one percent said the current policy is correct and 34 percent said the U.S. should be less involved. The poll was completed before the downing last week of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the civilian airliner that was apparently attacked over eastern Ukraine.
The poll results also showed that Americans don’t want out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and don’t want to be drawn back in for any reason. Are you listening Congress?
Links to Some Interesting Reads on other Topics
I highly recommend this one from The New Republic, Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.
From the NYT, The End of ‘Genius,’ by Joshua Wolf Shenk.
Bad news for states that didn’t set up ACA exchanges (NPR), U.S. Appeals Court Deals Blow To Obama’s Health Law.
We already knew this, but now there’s a study to prove it, FBI pressured Muslims into committing terrorist acts, then arrested them: report (Raw Story).
Talk to Action, Access Denied: The Religious Right Opens Up A New Front On Its War Against Birth Control, by Rob Boston.
BBC News, The German officer who tried to kill Hitler, by Alex Last.
From The Nation, via Alternet, Journalistic Malpractice: The Media Enables the Right-Wing Politicization of Science, by Reed Richardson.