Sunday, January 11, 2009

a cry for gaza

i attended a protest last night at the paseo shopping plaza that was being held because of the most recent outbreak of violence in gaza. meredith and i visited israel/palestine back in early 2007 and were truly impacted by what we saw there. true, the palestinian side is not without fault, but what the state of israel is doing in the name of peace is truly unimaginable.

if you want to learn more, last night's protest was organized by some people from this website. as they mention there, palestinians in the west bank and gaza strip live in an odd and oppressive limbo. they have no nation, no citizenship, and no ultimate power over their own lives.

of course we must always be reminded that conflict in this region is nothing new as this amazing website shows. however, we should never forget the persecuted, no matter how volitile their history has been - arab and jew alike.


Mister Earl said...

Ben: The website you site, is by its own terms not attempting to give a balanced view of the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict. So here's a view of this history from the other side

The history doesn't really matter at this point, because we could go back and back and back, and argue endlessly. What matters now is that there be peace, and there will only be peace when the Palestinian leaders are willing to recognize Israel's right to exist as Egypt and Jordan have now done.

Cafe Observer said...

People seem to raise their voices only when it's not the Jews under attack.
Pray for balanced outrage.

With the US economy suffering the greatest since the terrible depression, I now expect Israel will have to go at it alone soon. Or, depend upon the EU, or suffer the consequences that occurred after the last financial disaster in the USA.

Mister Earl said...

Here is a website with a much more balanced presentation of the history of the conflict:

ben wideman said...

Israel's right to exist is even a difficult subject - should they exist within the original 1948 boundaries? The current land boundaries? The entire Palestinian portion of land?

Should Arab citizens of Palestine get to vote in Israeli elections? Should Israel be allowed to police Palestine?

So many tricky questions. Nothing is as easy as acknowledging Israel's right to exist.

Mister Earl said...

Do you mean 1948 post-war of independence boundaries? Since 1967Israel has just wanted those boundaries, but with defensible borders, i.e. the Golan Heights and some sort of buffer between the West Bank and the sea. What they want now, in light of the last 40 years, I'm not sure. Israel needs to be a Jewish state, and it's a very tough question to determine how that can be accomplished in light of current demographics.

ben wideman said...

A friend just passed on this article...

mg said...

The whole thing just seems like an Israeli suicide move. It really bothers me. The army's tactics, the advice they are taking from (probably Cheney), the weapons we are selling them (including experimental drones with micro shrapnel bombs)


From a public relations standpoint they lost it when they sent in Joe the non-joe and non-plumber, and not to mention--gave the excuse of killing children as expected collateral damage of war.

Israel order the removal of all real journalists?

Thanks, Ben. You've got guts.

Trish said...

it would be easier if the folks in the Gaza strip were willing to negotiate and STICK to their negotiations. They will not talk, they will not accept anything less than complete elimination of any Jewish state.

They've rather shot themselves in the foot---they've got no place to go home to because of similar behaviour with others---places they can no longer return to because they've been kicked out of THERE too.

Extremism, in any form, is ugly.

What bothers me is the propaganda---that it is overkill on the part of the Jews. They have stuck to their negotiated points until they are attacked, then warn the folks in the Gaza strip that if they continue to bomb Israel, Israel will defend itself in an escalating manner until the Gaza strip folks stop. The folks in the Gaza strip continue (see the above, NO negotiation portion) and so Israel follows through with what they said they would do.

Sounds rather reasonable to me---ala an older brother teaching a younger brother not to hit the older brother---stop, stop, stop or I am going to defend myself. you're whining because I warned you and warned you and warned you and THEN fought back?

I do not advocate killing, I do not defend many of the things some Israeli's have done. But I will not stand idly by while Israel is attacked, physically and verbally when they did not throw the first punch and have offered negotiations to stick to in order to settle this reasonably---only to be met with bombs and refusal to discuss the situation by the folks in the Gaza strip.

ben wideman said...

Trish, I appreciate your perspective, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on several points.

I agree that Israel's safety is important, but saying that Israel did not throw the first punch is like saying that the Native Americans moved into reservations willingly. It all depends on who's history you want to believe. Israel has never stuck with the original proposed boundaries, and up until recently they were still actively trying to settle the Gaza strip with illegal settlements. They are far from blameless.

The few tiny rockets that have been fired at Israel have been sent from Hamas, not necessarily the people of Gaza. So what if they did fire rockets at Israel? They have no freedom of movement, their borders are sealed, they are not allowed to run a sea port on their own coast, they are at the mercy of Israel in almost every respect. If the big brother analogy is to be used, it's a brother who is sitting on top of the little brother trying to make him disappear through intense physical pressure. I'm pulling for the guy on the poor guy on the bottom. Is that foolish of me?

Laurie said...

Thank you, Ben. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our media is not giving us the whole story. Everyone should read Jimmy Carter's book Peace, Not APartheid as a point of inquiry into how skewed the official story is. The writers at are also providing a service. Groups like J Street are pro- Israel/ Pro-Peace/Pro-sovereign Palestinian state.

There is no justification for this senseless brutality, no get out of jail free card for this kind of war crime. The people of Israel deserve better than their government. The Jews of the world deserve better than the hellish damage Israeli officials are inflicting on their name across the world. The people of Gaza deserve rescue and a chance at life.

Google CHris Floyd, Empire Burlesque for his blog, too.

Read the history of how Hamas came to power.

Read Ralph Nader's letter to George Bush.

Read Dennis Kucinich's speech on the floor of Congress -- the lone voice protesting this violence.

Read what the INternational Commission on the Red Cross has to say. Read what the United Nations Commission on Refugees has to say about conditions on the ground. Read what the Vatican has to say about conditions on the ground -- called worse than the worst of South African apartheid.

Gaza is a large, open air prison and Israel is killing its inhabitants. They have no where to flee, and the established refugee shelters are being bombed. 2 UN workers were shot by the IDF. An Israeli war protester was shot by the IDF. A young AMerican girl used herself as a human sheild to stop an Israeli soldier from shooting across at children. 10,000 Israelis marched in Tel Aviv to protest this last week and it didn't make our news. Look at the videos on You Tube.

Thank you, Ben. I have felt like a lone voice in my horror over this activity. I weep for the future of the region and the damage inflicted upon the peace process. All people there deserve better than this.

ben wideman said...

I really don't want to create a conflict here, heaven knows there are enough disagreements on this issue already.

While in Israel/Palestine we were told by Conservative and agnostic Jews, Christians and Muslem Palestinians, that we needed to understand that those of us in the west should never forget that there are human beings on both sides of this conflict. It often seems like their is no end in sight, but we must seek justice for ALL, not just for one side.

Laurie said...
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Laurie said...
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Mister Earl said...

This is a tough one for me. I agree that Israel is doing grave damage to its image in the world. This disturbs me greatly. There's a lot of misinformation flying around on both sides. I just want to take issue a point you made, Ben. When you say that "Israel has never stuck with the original proposed boundaries," that's not really true. In 1948, it was the Arabs who didn't accept the partition and attacked Israel. The post-1948 boundaries were at least defensible. Even then, the strip between Jordan and the sea was only 11 miles wide in some places. Eleven miles and Israel could be cut in half by an enemy. Think about far 11 miles is from your home. In 1967, all of the Arab nations prepared to attack Israel with the support of the USSR. This was going to be Nasser's shining moment. The survival of Israel was in jeopardy. Luckily, Israel was able to defeat the Arab armies and in the process siezed the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel warned Jordan not to enter the war. After the war it was clear that Israel could not retreat to the post-1948 boundaries in the Golan or on the West Bank because those areas were too vulnerable. It was never envisioned that Israel would keep the West Bank but they did insist on a demilitarized area because the could never again retreat to the 11-mile strip. This has nothing to do with the current crisis in Gaza, but it's important not to buy in to the propaganda that insists that Israel intended to expand. If they had not been attacked in 1948 and 1967 (not to mention 1973) the borders would have remained as they were.

Today, one of my Israeli relatives sent me a link to a website where an Israeli soldier is explaining a captured Hamas map that shows how Hamas has deliberately put weapons and explosive traps in civilian areas. In one case, they booby trapped a gasoline storage tank so that if the trap was tripped, the entire civilian neighborhood would explode. This is not to diminish the killing that's going on, but Hamas is not blameless in this.

I hate these discussions, but at the same time, I can't sit back and let all sorts of mis-information go unchallenged. This is not a simple problem, and Israel is making a lot of mistakes, but comparisons to Nazis and the Warsaw ghetto really go too far. One major difference between Warsaw and Gaza is that the Jews in Warsaw did not deliberately set up their population as human shields. I don't suppose such distinctions make a difference to those who want to view Israel as a monster.

ben wideman said...

Agreed - Hamas is not blameless, and is a huge part of the current problem/conflict.

Each side is really a huge part of the problem.

Mister Earl said...

Thanks, Ben.

Petrea said...

Sorry I got here late. Important discussion. Hard to talk about, but we have to talk about it. It seems that governments (Israeli, Hamas, even - dare I say it? USA) often do some ugly work that isn't necessarily what their people would wish. This time it looks like the innocent people of Gaza are suffering because Hamas and the Israeli military can't sit down and negotiate.

I heard an Israeli P.R. official today saying that it doesn't matter what he does, Israel is losing the P.R. war.

Ben, Laurie, I tend to agree with you. But Mr. Earl I hear you, too.

I have high hopes that our new diplomats can make headway. But to tell the truth, in all this time no one's made much progress. It's hard to believe in my own hopes.