Friday Reads: The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Good Morning!

I continue to investigate news stories where a large group of people seem to sit in denial.   You might even say they wallow in denial.  There are never ostriches-head-in-sandstories with one side.  There are never truths that should be accepted with out proof and facts.  Nothing good ever comes from denying the complexities of life.  Here are a few stories that offer up complexities.  I hope you enjoy reading them, although I have to admit that the details aren’t always pretty.

The first story I want to offer is about Greece and the collapse of its government, its economy, and the ongoing collapse of its culture.  Is Greece a nation for sale?  Is it a nation whose people are being sold out and have been sold out?  How can democracy exist when your entire country is up for sale to the highest bidder?

The savage methods of alleged “economic efficiency” and privatization increase neither efficiency nor competition, but do lead to price increases for consumers, higher costs for government, corruption, embezzlement and the destruction of democracy.

When the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to Greece’s rescue in May 2010 with a 110 billion euro bailout loan in order to avoid the default of a eurozone member state (a second bailout loan worth 130 billion euros was activated in March 2012), the intentions of the rescue plan were multifold. First, the EU-IMF duo (with the IMF in the role of junior partner) wanted to protect the interests of the foreign banks and the financial institutions that had loaned Greece billions of euros. Greece’s gross foreign debt amounted to over 410 billion euros by the end of 2009, so a default would have led to substantial losses for foreign banks and bondholders, but also to the collapse of the Greek banking system itself as the European Central Bank (ECB) would be obliged in such an event to refuse to fund Greek banks.

Second, by bailing out Greece, the EU wanted to avoid the risk of negative contagion effects spreading across the euro area. A Greek default would have led to a financial meltdown across the euro area and perhaps to the end of the euro altogether.

Third, with Germany as Europe’s hegemonic power, there was a clear intention to punish Greece for its allegedly “profligate” ways (although it was large inflows of capital from the core countries that financed consumption and rising government spending), and by extension, send out a message to the other “peripheral” nations of the eurozone of the fate awaiting them if they did not put their fiscal house in order.

Fourth, the EU wanted to take the opportunity presented by the debt crisis to turn Greece into a “guinea pig” for the policy prescriptions of a neoliberal Europe. Berlin and Brussels had long ago embraced the main pillars of the Washington Consensus – fiscal austerity, privatization, deregulation and destatization – and the debt crisis offered a golden opportunity to cut down the Greek public sector to the bare bones and radicalize the domestic labor market with policies that slash wages and benefits and enhance flexibilization and insecurity.

ostrich-head-in-sandEveryone has known for some time that the Southern United States is primarily a drag on the rest of the country.  Its states cannot function without massive infusions of federal dollars. Its institutions remain broken.  Its governments are corrupt.  What does it mean to the country that the South behaves like a third world set of nations where any one can dump pollutants, destroy worker’s rights, deny women and the poor basic health care, and pay wages that don’t cover any kind of normal expenses?   What’s worse is that poor white Southerners just seem to vote like they love taking it up the ass.  Why are we letting an entire region drag the country to ruin?

On this point Thompson is unrelenting. “We can no longer afford to wait on the South to get its racial shit together,” he writes. “It’s time to move on, let southerners sort out their own mess free from the harassment of northern moralizers.” This is pretty much what William Faulkner wrote in more eloquent terms some 60 years ago. And, as we approach the 150th anniversary of the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Thompson finds plenty of Southerners who think, as one of them tells him, “We’re on the verge of a civil war.” Thompson asks, “Between North and South?” The answer: “Between conservative and liberal.”

It’s attitudes like this that keep white Southerners from understanding that year after year, decade after decade, they support policies that don’t help them. “Rank-and-file southern voters—who have lower average incomes than other Americans—resoundingly defeated Barack Obama in 2008; the eventual president carried just 10, 11, and 14 percent of the white vote in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana respectively,” Thompson writes. “An influential percentage of poor, uneducated, underserved, insurance-less white southerners continue to cast votes for candidates whose agendas clearly conflict with their own self interest.” What Thompson doesn’t do—what I’ve never seen anyone do—is offer a valid explanation for why white Southerners ally themselves with the party that treats them contemptuously.

Whites in the South overwhelmingly support right-to-work laws, which Thompson defines, correctly, as “the Orwellian euphemism for ‘the right for companies to disregard the welfare of their workers.’ ” According to a 2009 survey by Grand Valley State University, annual salaries for autoworkers in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina averaged about $55,400, while their counterparts in Michigan averaged $74,500. Thompson notes that Southern blue-collar workers also have “inferior health and pension plans, less job security, higher risk of being fired for trivial reasons, and diminished safety precautions. … ”

Not only are Southern workers hurt by their anti-union attitudes, the whole nation suffers. “Southern economic success,” writes Thompson, “comes at the expenseof the rest of the country.” By luring foreign manufacturers to Southern states with promises of cheap labor, “The South is bad for the American economy in the same way that China and Mexico are bad for the American economy. By keeping corporate taxes low, public schools underfunded, and workers’ rights to organize negligible, it’s southern politicians who make it so. … [The South] is an in-house parasite that bleeds the country far more than it contributes to its collective health.”

That leads to what is for me the single most baffling 21st century paradox about the South. The region, home to nine of the nation’s 10 poorest states, is rabidly against government spending, yet all of its states get far more in government subsidies than they give back in taxes, as pointed out by Sara Robinson in a 2012 piece for AlterNet, “Blue States Are the Providers, Red States Are the Parasites.”

Ostriches-head-in-sand2The subject of Palestine and Israel frequently leads to passionate, intractable arguments.  At another blog, we eventually decided to leave the topic in the “Do Not Discuss” box for the sake of peace and quiet.

I still cannot believe that some folks find disliking Israeli neocon policy to be the same as being anti-semitic, but there it is and seems to be.

I do not support Hamas or consider it blameless. Indeed, the horrific things going on in Iraq due to Sunni Muslim fundamentalism should be damned.  But, so should Israel’s continued oppression of Palestinian people.

I’m no longer staying quiet and avoiding arguments.  I cannot stay quiet while completely innocent people die, when they live under apartheid and intolerable situations, and when I hear completely unsubstantiated talking points from Israel’s propaganda ministry held up as truths.

The first completely unsubstantiated talking point just got a vote in the US House of Representatives. I’ve read every independent NGO that I can find.  There appears to be no truth to rumor that Hamas uses citizens as human shields.  There is some proof that the IDF actually uses children in that capacity.  I stand appalled.  I will call out the mass slaughter of indigenous people and innocents no matter what their religion or what their nationality.  This is ethnic cleansing with a sophisticated Luntz-style propaganda show.  I’ve linked to a well sourced article on Five Israeli Talking points that no independent source can verify and if looked into are completely false.

Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses human shields.

This is arguably one of Israel’s most insidious claims, because it blames Palestinians for their own death and deprives them of even their victimhood. Israel made the same argument in its war against Lebanon in  2006 and in its war against Palestinians in  2008. Notwithstanding its military cartoon sketches, Israel has yet to prove that Hamas has used civilian infrastructure to store military weapons. The two cases where Hamas indeed stored weapons in  UNRWA schools, the schools were empty. UNRWA discovered the rockets and publicly condemned the violation of its sanctity.

International human rights organizations that have investigated these claims have determined that they are  not true. It attributed the high death toll in Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks.  Human Rights Watch notes:

The evidence Human Rights Watch uncovered in its on-the-ground investigations refutes [Israel’s] argument…we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages.

In fact, only  Israeli soldiers have systematically used Palestinians as human shields. Since Israel’s incursion into the West Bank in 2002, it has used Palestinians as human shields by tying young Palestinians onto the  hoods of their cars or forcing them to  go into a home where a potential militant may be hiding.

Even assuming that Israel’s claims were plausible, humanitarian law obligates Israel to avoid civilian casualties that “would be  excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” A belligerent force must verify whether civilian or civilian infrastructure qualifies as a military objective. In the case of doubt, “whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed  not to be so used.”

I did want to put up a link to an interview with Rabbi Henry Seignman at Democracy Now! The Rabbi was an executive director–for some time–of the American Jewish Congress and is considered the foremost authority on Jewish people in America.  Please watch it.  The number of American Jewish Rabbis and intellectuals coming out against Israel’s policies and attacks on the occupied territories is amazing.  As the children of holocaust victims and survivors, they recognize the “slaughter of innocents”.  There are two interviews that you may watch or read. 

HENRY SIEGMAN: Yes, it’s disastrous. It’s disastrous, both in political terms, which is to say the situation cannot conceivably, certainly in the short run, lead to any positive results, to an improvement in the lives of either Israelis or Palestinians, and of course it’s disastrous in humanitarian terms, the kind of slaughter that’s taking place there. When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the slaughter of—repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis—and should be a profound crisis—in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success. It leads one virtually to a whole rethinking of this historical phenomenon.

If you’d like to read an interesting discussion on how violence drives colonization of the remaining Palestinian territories, I suggest this article in Jacobin Magazine. 

Seeing Israel as engaging in senseless bloodletting might seem an even more reasonable conclusion in light of the massacre of sixty-three people in Shujaiya after “the extensive use of artillery fire on dozens of populated areas across the Gaza Strip” that left bodies “scattered on streets,” or the bombing of United Nations shelters for those fleeing the violence. That conclusion is also tempting based on reports out of Khuza’a, a hamlet in the hinterlands of the Strip that was the scene of another Israeli massacre.

But describing such violence as aimless misses the underlying logic of Israel’s conduct throughout Operation Protective Edge and, indeed, for much of its history.

As Darryl Li points out, “Since 2005, Israel has developed an unusual, and perhaps unprecedented, experiment in colonial management in the Gaza Strip,” seeking to “isolate Palestinians there from the outside world, render them utterly dependent on external benevolence,” and at the same time “absolve Israel of responsibility toward them.”

This strategy, Li goes on to argue, is one way that Israel is working to maintain a Jewish majority in the territories it controls so that it can continue to deny equal rights for the rest of the population.

The suppression of Palestinian resistance is crucial to the success of the Israeli experiment. But there is a corollary, which is a cyclical interaction between Israeli colonialism and US militarism. As Bashir Abu-Manneh explains, there is a relationship between American imperialism and Zionist policies. American policymakers believe that an alliance with Israel helps the US control the Middle East. So the United States enables Israeli colonialism and occupation, which in turn creates contexts for further US interventions in the region that can be used to try to deepen American hegemony.

I would like to see a peaceful two- (very secular) state solution; but as I’ve said before, I don’t think Bibi wants that at all.

downloadSupreme Ruth Bader Ginsberg gave a wonderful interview to Katie Couric.  It’s worth watching.  Ginsberg is our only hope on SCOTUS.

“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Couric asked Ginsburg of the 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling, which cleared the way for employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives to female workers on religious grounds.

“I would have to say no,” the 81-year-old justice replied. Asked if the five justices revealed a “blind spot” in their decision, Ginsburg said yes.

The feisty leader of the court’s minority liberal bloc compared the decision of her five male peers to an old Supreme Court ruling that found discriminating against pregnant women was legal.

“But justices continue to think and can change,” she added, hopefully. “They have wives. They have daughters. By the way, I think daughters can change the perception of their fathers.

“I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow,” she said.

Rachel Maddow sent a team down to look into the Operation Save America siege of New Orleans.   If you haven’t seen the interview with the 74 year old Ostrich-man-head-in-sanddoctor whose home and clinic was terrorized, please go watch. She’s something too!  Equally as crazy is this coverage of a Louisiana Republican Woman running for Congress who ran away from a nonpartisan group that interviews candidates. 

David Wasserman reported yesterday that he recently sat down with state Rep. Lenar Whitney, a Republican congressional candidate in Louisiana’s 6th congressional district, though their interview didn’t go well.

As a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, I’ve personally interviewed over 300 congressional candidates over the course of seven years, both to get to know them and evaluate their chances of winning. I’ve been impressed by just as many Republicans as Democrats, and underwhelmed by equal numbers, too. Most are accustomed to tough questions.

But never have I met any candidate quite as frightening or fact-averse as Louisiana state Rep. Lenar Whitney, 55, who visited my office last Wednesday.

Whitney, who reportedly likes the “Palin of the South” nickname, “froze” when asked to substantiate her claims that climate change is the “greatest deception in the history of mankind.”

And then Wasserman asked about President Obama’s birthplace.

…I asked whether she believed Obama was born in the United States. When she replied that it was a matter of some controversy, her two campaign consultants quickly whisked her out of the room, accusing me of conducting a “Palin-style interview.”

It was the first time in hundreds of Cook Political Report meetings that a candidate has fled the room.

A tip for candidates everywhere: if you literally run away from questions, you’re doing it wrong.

Whitney is running ads that say global warming is a hoax and that we’re on the verge of an ice age without any apparent knowledge of why that’s the bury-your-head-in-the-sandcase.

Whitney, a graduate of Nicholls State University who is running for Louisiana’s open 6th District, owned a dance studio in Houma, La., for 34 years and also worked in sales for small telecommunications and oilfield equipment companies. She clearly relishes poking Democrats in the eye, cites Minnesota’s Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) as a political role model, and takes kindly to the nickname “Palin of the South.”

Whitney has only raised $123,000 to date (fourth in the GOP field), but she has sought to boost her profile and appeal to conservative donors with a slickly made YouTube video entitled “GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX” (84,000 views so far). In the video, Whitney gleefully and confidently asserts that the theory of global warming is the “greatest deception in the history of mankind” and that “any 10-year-old” can disprove it with a simple household thermometer.

Whitney’s brand of rhetoric obviously resonates with some very conservative Louisiana voters who view President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency as big-city elitists directly attacking the state’s energy industry and their own way of life. And she would hardly be the first “climate denier” elected to Congress. But it’s not unreasonable to expect candidates to explain how they arrived at their positions, and when I pressed Whitney repeatedly for the source of her claim that the earth is getting colder, she froze and was unable to cite a single scientist, journal or news source to back up her beliefs.

We’ve definitely entered a zone where people are just saying things they believe are true simply because they want them to be true or–ala Luntz–they’ve heard it from some one who keeps repeating lies over and over again.  Hey, it ain’t there if they don’t want to see it, right?

I’m on break today.  Enjoy yourselves.  Whats on your reading and blogging list today?


44 Comments on “Friday Reads: The Truth and Nothing But the Truth”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent post! I’m through walking on eggshells when it comes to Israel-Palestine too. The violence against civilians in Gaza has gone way too far. As I said last week, I’ve had it with Israel as long as they keep voting in right wing neocons to lead the country.

    On the problems of the red states: Kansas isn’t a Southern state, but it has been used as a laboratory for right wing policies. Here’s a good WaPo article about what’s happening in Kansas as a result.

    In Kansas, Brownback tried a red-state ‘experiment.’ Now he may be paying a political price

  2. janicen says:

    Cantor is going to resign from Congress early and make Virginians pay for a special election for his replacement.

    Apparently if his replacement, which he assumes will be Tea Party candidate David Brat, takes office via a special election he will inherit Cantor’s seniority and committee assignments in Congress making him much more powerful than if he participates in the general election and is inducted as a freshman in January. Once again the government-spending hating Republicans don’t mind the spending if it advances their agenda.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Ugh. It figures. Then Cantor will move on to a lucrative career as a lobbyist, right?

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Israeli News Site Runs Story Endorsing Genocide In Gaza — And Then Takes It Down

    It must have been really horrible, because they even deleted it from Google cache.

  4. dakinikat says:

    White House says US can’t stop ‘tsunami’ of boycott and isolation if Israel won’t end ‘occupations’

  5. List of X says:

    Okay, let’s not walk on egg shells and talk about Israel. You’ve painted a very depressing picture of Israeli side, with some of which I agree, but let me draw a sketch of the other side of the conflict.
    Let’s start with some links: Hamas spokesperson says they have a human shield strategy and it’s working:
    68% of Gazans (and 60% of all Palestinians) think that the 5 year goal should be elimination of Israel, or, as it was neatly worded in the poll, “reclaim all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea”: (at least most in this poll say that non-violent resistance should be the way, although according to another recent poll 75% of Gazans do think that suicide bombings are justified – 39% often, 23% sometimes, 13% rarely:
    Hamas executes 30 people on suspicion of working for Israel: I’m assuming their names will be given to UN as yet more Israeli victims.
    Here are the tunnels Hamas built: So much effort and concrete spent on those, yet none-zero-zip-zilch on building even one bomb shelter for Gaza.
    Hamas teaches children in Gaza to hate Israel:
    And you’ve already included the link of UN condemning Hamas for using UN’s schools as Hamas arsenals. Apparently, UN still sees it as a problem, and that’s why Ban Ki Moon didn’t instead say “Gee, guys, thanks for using schools that are empty, great thinking!”

    Finally, here’s the Hamas Charter. Especially interesting is Article 13 that says that no peaceful negotiations are possible since it would prevent Islam from regaining all of Palestine, river to sea:

    You’ve done a good job on Israel, so I don’t need to cover that further. So are you thoroughly depressed yet with both sides? I am. It makes me sick when these four children were killed on the beach, or 20 people were killed in school, or any of those 1000 civilians that were killed. But honestly have no idea what Israel can do unilaterally at this point.I’d really like to hear your opinion, because “Israel needs to do more to protect the lives of civilians” without any specifics sounds way too much like “Obama needs to lead more”.

    Should Israel warn civilians where it will bomb, maybe drop leaflets, send text messages? IDF does that already. No other army does that, as far as I know. Should IDF stop targeting houses, mosques, schools? It should, but when Hamas is using these to store weapons and launch rockets from their areas, and to shoot from them, these become legitimate targets. IDF posts those pictures and videos, here’s one of Hamas shooting from a hospital: I tried to find non-IDF sources in case you think them biased, but, interestingly enough, there don’t seem to be any pictures or videos of Hamas fighters from any of the hundreds of reporters in Gaza:

    So maybe your answer is that Israel should withdraw from Gaza. No doubt, the casualties in Gaza will stop. But then what? Hamas isn’t about to change its ways, isn’t about to disappear on its own. It will keep firing rockets, and what is Israel supposed to do? Not respond at all, not do what absolutely any other country on Earth would if even just one rocket hit it? Sure, there’s Iron Dome, but it’s not perfect, and some rockets do slip through, like that one that fell near the Tel Aviv airport and caused FAA to suspend flights. So, eventually, Hamas will get lucky and blow up a mall, a school, or a kindergarten full of kids (a Hamas rocket shrapnel had actually hit a kindergarten two weeks ago, but the kids were in a bomb shelter Is it ok for Israel to go back to bombing Gaza then? If not, is ground operation ok? Because if Israel withdraws from Gaza, but Hamas doesn’t stop firing rockets, the violence that stops today will resume a years or two from now – as it already happened in 2008, 2011, 2012, and today.

    If your answer is that Israel needs to pull out of West Bank and end the occupation, then, unfortunately, it won’t work. Read the Hamas charter. They want West Bank, but that’s not their goal: they want all Jews to be off all of the land. If you’re not convinced, then also consider this fact: Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964, three years BEFORE Israel took over Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem. So the rockets won’t stop, except they will come from West Bank, too, which would mean no place in Israel will be safe from the rocket attacks anymore. Even if the majority of Palestinians will be satisfied with having their own state, a large enough minority won’t be and will continue their jihad. Again, Israel will end up going right back to war against West Bank which is 20 times as large as Gaza and population 1.5 times of Gaza, and if you think Gaza is bad, West Bank will be even worse. You may not think there would be rocket attacks from freed West Bank, but then Israel didn’t think there’d be rocket attacks from Gaza when it pulled out all forces and dragged all of 9,000 Jewish settlers kicking and screaming from the territory. There is, of course, the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but it didn’t start until 2007, after Hamas came to power in 2006 and started launching rockets. I really see no reason why ending the occupation of West Bank would lead to a radically different result than leaving Gaza, considering that the best-organized entity in Palestine doesn’t see a Palestinian state as the end result, but just a step to their ultimate goal – a Judenfrei Palestine. And I see no reason why Israel should expect a radically different result, either.

    And if your answer is that Jews should just leave and go elsewhere because, you know, Hamas is right and Jews shouldn’t have their state, and preferably not exist as well, that’d be the end of the conversation for me. So I really hope your answer was somewhere above, and will continue.

    I see only one way there can be peace in Palestine: first, negotiate a cease-fire, and not break it. If it holds for a week or so, Israel will likely withdraw from Gaza on its own will, once it’s done destroying the tunnels. (I really hope you aren’t too attached to these tunnels, because it’s not like they were build so that Gazans can sneak out to go shopping in Tel Aviv). Second, Hamas has to stop rocket attacks, suicide bombings, kidnappings – all attacks have to stop. That includes all splinter groups, Hezbollah, all of the. Third, after a year or two, Palestinians can negotiate for their own state – no pre-conditions, no negotiations on what concessions Palestinians have to get just to come to the table, this crap has got to stop – if you need concessions to get you to negotiate, it just means you don’t want to negotiate. The longer there’s quiet, the more people in Israel will believe that peace is possible, and the internal pressure in Israel to negotiate will build up. But right now, it’s hard to build up the desire to negotiate when you keep getting interrupted by those incoming rocket sirens. Because, if you can believe me, Israelis do not enjoy running for the bomb shelters, they don’t enjoy the suicide bombings, they don’t enjoy having their sons and daughters in IDF get killed, and if they are in IDF, they probably don’t enjoy killing Palestinian children either. There are, of course, sick individuals who do – but they post offensive status updates and hold protests, but they don’t launch rockets into Gaza, they don’t dig tunnels, they don’t suicide-bomb Palestinian villages. When they kill a Palestinian (that Palestinian boy about a month ago), they get arrested and get a trial – they don’t get public celebrations and they don’t get the streets named after them, and Palestinians have done for their murderers. And in the big picture, Israelis don’t enjoy having the choice of between continuing the occupation of West Bank and letting it go and turning it into second Gaza, so yes, if there is a serious chance for lasting peace, Israel will jump at it.

    And when these negotiations start, I’d expect there’d be land swaps so that Palestinians get the compensation for the land that some settlers have taken, I expect that some settlers will be sent back to Israel like it was done in Gaza in 2005, and some will be offered a choice to go back or to stay in their settlements as citizens of the Palestinian state – if Arabs can have Israeli citizenship, Jews should be able to have Palestinian citizenship, too. I don’t see the reason why Arab Palestine must be cleansed of every last Jew, as long as Arabs and Jews can live in peace in general. There is nothing impossible when two parties are really, really willing to negotiate. Then maybe, just maybe, 200 or 300 years from now, Jews and Arabs would be able to form one state, but I won’t hold my breath.

    But the hardest part here is the first and second step – getting Hamas to stop the violence. Putting pressure on Israel only will not solve anything permanently. All it will accomplish is to continue the cycle of “rocket attacks – Israeli retaliation – civilian casualties in Gaza – Israeli withdrawal – more rocket attacks”. It will also help Hamas win the PR war, get more money, more rockets, and ultimately inflict more damage in Israel and Gaza. Because when you have one side sworn to destroy the other, and the other side who’s adamant on defending itself at all costs (more or less), you’re not going to resolve the conflict by putting pressure on the defending side, even if it’s the one far superior on the battlefield, because the aggressor is not at all deterred from the further attacks, and the root cause for the conflict still remains. Thinking that a demonstration or a hummus boycotts will solve anything, that, to me, is denial.

    Ok, now my comment is almost as long as the post. Sorry for the rant, but I just had to write something somewhere. Maybe I can snap out of these depressing news and try to finally write something funny.

    • dakinikat says:

      Did you know that Israel forbids import of cement and steel into the Territories? Hard to build bomb shelters without cement isn’t it!

      • List of X says:

        Yes, I know that. But did you see the pictures of cement-lined tunnels that Hamas built? IDF found over 30 of them, each stretching for hundreds of yards, some over a mile. That means Hamas still found cement, and they thought that the cement should be used for tunnels to attack Israel, not to build bomb shelters. In other words, kill the Jews, screw the Arabs.

        • dakinikat says:

          The tunnels are there because of the blockade. Without them, there would be even less food and medicine than there is now. You saw what Israel did to the flotillas coming from Turkey with Humanitarian aid. You expect Palestinians to sit in their ever shrinking gulags and die? Besides, Israel fired the first shots in this round of ethnic cleansing and they did so on lies about Hamas’ being the ones that killed those poor Jewish Teens. When that was found out to be false, they decided they’d blame the tunnels which have existed since the beginning of the blockade. Israelis want the Palestinians to die and they are successfully doing so with their illegal land grabs and blockades. They just go in and bulldoze homes with people in it to clear the way for their illegal settlements. The death toll is the measure of genocide. Not fist shaking.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I think it would be helpful to move this discussion to the Sat. post. I opened with reference to this interchange. Just a suggestion . . .

    • dakinikat says:

      And Israel teaches children to hate Arabs

      • List of X says:

        Can you give me a link for that?
        Also, how do you explain the fact that over a million Arab Muslims live in Israel, have full citizenship rights going all the way to getting elected to parliament and mayoral positions (although exempted from having to serve in IDF), but don’t seem to be in a rush to leave this apparently Arab-hating Israel for any other Arab country?

        • RalphB says:

          Lots of African-Americans lived in Mississippi during Jim Crow as well. You do realize that if Israel wishes to remain a Jewish state, it has to either get rid of the Palestinians or institute apartheid completely. Otherwise demographics will insure that the Palestinians get their land back eventually.

          Defending Israel with the traditional methods will not work anymore with lots of people. They have shown themselves too well this time around.

          • List of X says:

            I think the plan would be to get rid of the Palestinians by leaving them in their own separate state in West Bank and Gaza. If Israel wanted to annex the territories and make them part of Israel, it would have done so a long time ago – as it had done with Golan heights and Jerusalem.

          • dakinikat says:

            The plan is to get them out of the West Bank and Gaza. They’ve been in the process of annexing them slowly and killing them slowly. Why do you think they’ve been tearing down homes and communities in Palestine for indigenous peoples and supplanting it with illegal settlements?

            He professes to be a proponent of a two-state solution, but both his policies and his rhetoric leave grave doubts about his commitment to that outcome. At a recent press conference, Netanyahu undermined any hopes that he is truly open to a real two-state solution. “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” Netanyahu said, effectively ruling out the establishment of a truly independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state. In other words, his vision of the long-term future between Israel and the Palestinians is the status quo, defined by occupation and the rule over another people deprived of rights and citizenship, extended indefinitely.

            Netanyahu seems content to leave things basically as they are, tinkering on the margins with new settlements and other small changes that may have a profound cumulative effect, but only in the long run. Anything else would be too risky. To restrain the settlers would mean a confrontation with the far right. To go in for annexation would provoke a massive diplomatic crisis. Netanyahu prefers, instead, to just allow the possibility of a two-state solution to fade away slowly, but inexorably. Indeed, in spite of widespread psychological speculation about the influence of his late father, a noted anti-Arab extremist, and his wife, whose cantankerous personality has been well documented, Netanyahu seems very much to follow his own counsel, which is apparently driven by a belief that the less done on major issues, the better for him.

    • bostonboomer says:

      List of X,

      Thanks for stating the other side. There’s no doubt that Hamas would like to eliminate Israel. But the balance of power between the two side is so lopsided that it would be impossible for them to accomplish it.

      Israel has a powerful army and even has nukes. That’s why the responsibility to work toward peace falls more heavily on Israel than on Palestine. No doubt the people put Hamas in power out of desperation. But is killing children going to accomplish anything positive for Israel?

      I don’t know the ins an outs of the history of this struggle. All I know is that right now Israel is killing massive numbers of civilians and alienating most of the world–they still have the support of the U.S. government, but that’s about it. How is that a solution?

      Now that you’ve stated the case, what do you think is the solution? Should the Palestinians be relocated somewhere? Where to? Isn’t that what started this struggle to begin with–relocating people to create Israel?

      • List of X says:

        BB – actually, that sounds like Bibi so I’ll avoid calling you that from now on 🙂 I will respond later today when I’m on a computer, not on my phone.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I don’t know if you mean I sound like Bibi? From the smiley face, I’m hoping not. I’m going to refer to your comment in today’s post–I hope you don’t mind. I’m looking forward to your response. Thanks for hanging in there with us.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I went back and looked at your comment again. Did you edit it? If not, then my paralysis today is really bad, because I missed where you talk about solutions. If I did that, sorry!

          • List of X says:

            I meant that abbreviation “BB”, if you say it out loud, sounds like “Bibi”. And no, you don’t actually sound like Bibi at all, don’t worry.
            I don’t mind if you refer to the comment. There will be a follow up, once I have uninterrupted hour or so at a computer.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Oh, I get it. Thanks!

    • janicen says:

      I appreciate your comment. I’ve tried to stay out of this discussion because I don’t have any solutions to offer other than a cease fire and negotiations between the two, but I do appreciate the other side being presented. I think we can’t just take the propaganda being presented at face value without considering the other side. If one were to believe the media, one would think there was only one bad guy here. That’s impossible. The Israelis aren’t bullies just picking a fight. On the contrary, a classic bullying tactic is to start a fight and then vilify the victim for fighting back. It has been working for Hamas but I think people will start to open their eyes and see that finger pointing isn’t going to solve this. If Hamas is so innocent, why are there tunnels? Why are they firing rockets into Israel? How can that be a path to peace?

      • bostonboomer says:

        The U.S. media generally sees Palestine as the “bad guy.”

        • dakinikat says:

          You really have to read the European press to get any stories that aren’t propaganda of one corporate or rich guy these days.

        • janicen says:

          Not the media I’ve seen. But I’ll admit I don’t watch very much of it on TV, just the stories from online publications.

    • dakinikat says:

      Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? Of course it does.

      The Jewish state (for so it identifies itself, after all) maintains a system of formal and informal housing segregation both in Israel and in the occupied territories. It’s obvious, of course, that Jewish settlements in the West Bank aren’t exactly bursting with Palestinians. In Israel itself, however, hundreds of communities have been established for Jewish residents on land expropriated from Palestinians, in which segregation is maintained, for example, by admissions committees empowered to use ethnic criteria long since banned in the United States, or by the inability of Palestinian citizens to access land held exclusively for the Jewish people by the state-sanctioned Jewish National Fund.

      Jewish residents of the occupied territories enjoy various rights and privileges denied to their Palestinian neighbors. While the former enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law, the latter are subject to the harsh provisions of military law. So, while their Jewish neighbors come and go freely, West Bank Palestinians are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, and to the denial of freedom of movement; they are frequently barred from access to educational or healthcare facilities, Christian and Muslim sites for religious worship, and so on.

      Meanwhile, Palestinian citizens of Israel must contend with about 50 state laws and bills that, according to the Palestinian-Israeli human rights organization Adalah, either privilege Jews or directly discriminate against the Palestinian minority. One of the key components of Israel’s nationality law, the Law of Return, for example, applies to Jews only, and excludes Palestinians, including Palestinians born in what is now the state of Israel. While Jewish citizens can move back and forth without interdiction, Israeli law expressly bars Palestinian citizens from bringing spouses from the occupied territories to live with them in Israel.

      The educational systems for the two populations in Israel (not to mention the occupied territories) are kept largely separate and unequal. While overcrowded Palestinian schools in Israel crumble, Jewish students are given access to more resources and curricular options.

      It is not legally possible in Israel for a Jewish citizen to marry a non-Jewish citizen. And a web of laws, regulations and military orders governing what kind of people can live in which particular spaces makes mixed marriages within the occupied territories, or across the pre-1967 border between Israel and the occupied territories, all but impossible.

      And so it goes in all domains of life, from birth to death: a systematic, vigilantly policed separation of the two populations and utter contempt for the principle of equality. One group — stripped of property and rights, expelled, humiliated, punished, demolished, imprisoned and at times driven to the edge of starvation (down to the meticulously calculated last calorie) — has withered. The other group — its freedom of movement and of development not merely unrestricted but actively encouraged — has flourished, and its religious and cultural symbols adorn the regalia of the state and are emblazoned on the state flag.

  6. List of X says:

    I just wrote a really long comment which went into moderation. I really hope it’s because I put like a dozen links in it, and not because of what I wrote there. 🙂