This One’s Controversial
Tuesday November 1, 2011
Alright folks, here it is, the first decisive step the world community has taken in acknowledging the Palestinian people as a…PEOPLE. Let’s break this down. The acronym UNESCO stands of the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization. By voting to allow Palestine to become the organization’s 195th member, UNESCO has not claimed that they are independent nation, nor have they condemned Israel for its crimes against humanity. Rather, this symbolic gesture simply acknowledges that the Palestinian people are HUMAN. You know like living, breathing creatures capable of scientific insight, deserving of education, and with a rich culture. Thanks world community for just coming to this grand conclusion, you’re only a couple of massacres and demolitions late. That said, it is nothing more than a symbolic gesture. The fact that the United States is pulling ALL of it’s funding from UNESCO due to a law more than a decade old that says the US will not fund any UN organization that acknowledges Palestine, is quite frankly an embarrassing display of backwards diplomacy.
Saturday May 14, 2011
Elia Suleiman: I did not see Lebanon and don’t want to see [it]. To think of a film from the point of view of a tank barrel is already so inhumanly positioned. This is when film can reveal itself scandalously. I don’t like the films of Amos Gitai. Everyone thinks we are the closest friends on earth. But I have to finally come out and say it. I am not an admirer of his work. I think four or five of his earlier films—documentaries—were very well done. I am speaking cinematically, not about his politics, which is not the point. The films you are speaking of have to be analyzed a bit. Some don’t mention the word Palestine. There is this genre of liberal Zionist films that’s representing Palestinian suffering and spilling some liberal sympathy too. Then there are better filmmakers who don’t go there. There may be a couple in the middle doing interesting cinema while tackling some politics. But this genre you mentioned, that started a few years ago, such as Waltz, seem to be inspired by the Oliver Stone syndrome. They are a kind of political consciousness of the occupation, of this ‘other’ that they don’t actually comprehend and do not make any attempt to culturally approach. They are comfortable with ‘other’ as a mass. There is a confessional aspect in these films of the army’s implications. I am not agitated by them because I am not interested in them cinematically, whether it’s by an Israeli, American, or any nationality.
Friday April 1, 2011
Last night my Aunt’s facebook status warned people not to bring their identification cards (Hawiyah) with them to Friday prayer since authorities were likely to demand them.
Today this area in Damascus was swarmed with protesters chanting in support of Dara and Latakia. ‘The people of Syria are one’, was the call on the street. Official reports say that six were arrested during this mass protest and that the police had no problem attempting to use violence to restraint the people.
Only time will tell. But for now remember: always question the information you are presented with. The media is full of hidden agendas and people are afraid to say what they actually think.
Friday March 25, 2011
A great article in retaliation to Vogue’s mystery new obsession with the ‘first lady’ of Syria, Asma al-Asad. To give Vogue the benefit of the doubt, there was no way to know that the Middle East was about to explode into revolts and revolutions - even the best political analysts didn’t call this one. Yet, the March issue coincided with Egypt’s liberation and was interpreted to be a highly glossed over, superficial, and really just insulting interpretation of what it means to be part of the leading class in the Middle East.
Saturday March 19, 2011
Thursday February 3, 2011
I almost completely forgot about this until Tom reminded me of a project we did during the Gazan crisis/massacre of 2009. I interviewed an Israeli resident at the time. For privacy reasons I have left out the name of the correspondent. The whole thing speaks for itself…
Tom and I are doing a foreign policy project for Steve on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We want part of our project to talk about a day in the life of an Israeli and Palestinian. I heard that you were, or maybe still are inIsrael and I was wondering if you could help us out. If you don’t mind doing so, could you tell us a little about your experience their? Also how do Israelis feel about the current crisis going on? Do you feel that the bloodshed is justified?
Alright. A brief history…Israel doesn’t want the land. The Gaza strip is ruled by a terrorist organization called Hamas. The last time Israel went into Gaza was to create a border so that the Palestinians could run their own territory in 2005. There was a suggestion to divide the lands, to have a Palestinian land and an Israeli land. Israel agreed, the Palestinians did not. Their was a cease fire instilled six months ago to stop the qusam rockets from going into the Israel border particularly sde rote over 50 times daily. Once the cease-fire was instilled the qusam rockets reduced to once a day and slowly to once a week. This cease fire ended about a week ago and since then Hamas has been sending over hundreds of rockets to civilian neighborhoods within 40 km of Gaza targeting Israeli citizens.
As a result to defend its own borders, the Israeli air force had many air raids targeting major Hamas leaders and political figures. This is not an issue of land. Israel once said that they would never bomb mosques, schools, or civilian houses, as a result of this statement Hamas has taken advantage of Israeli moral and therefore put its major institutions and weapons in schools, mosques, and houses. The Israeli Air Force has a policy of calling every house before they bomb it to ask for evacuation. Some people go on the roof to express that people are in the house and not to bomb. Israel sends a warning missile next to the house and generally it ends up blowing the house up anyways because of all of the explosives hidden in each house, mosque, and school. I absolutely believe that israel is justified to protect its borders, and after being attacked ritually for five years, enough is enough. Hamas targets civilians; the IDF targets the major terrorist organization. Silently, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon have closed their doors to assisting Hamas. No one but Iran is helping, and they made the wise decision to not attack considering the repercussions.
I am still living in
Israel. I have done three months in the Israeli army doing “tiranut” which is basic training, something every Israeli goes through when they begin the army. My basic training was combat basic training, and if I were to join the army three months would be taken out of my service. Having gotten my certificate from the military I know a little bit of what it feels like to be inside such a well-oiled machine. It strips you of all individuality because when push comes to shove in the heat of a situation if you are given an order to kill someone, you do it no questions asked, no hesitation because it doesn’t matter what your position is on the topic, you are not an individual you are property of the Israeli defense force. For example, if a soldier commits suicide, it is considered damaging army property, not the death of an individual. I respect the IDF more then any army in the world. Its rules are backed by important standards that allow the IDF to be the most powerful army in the world. Without these policies it couldn’t work.
For me it was scary being apart of such an organization because i am an individual who questions everything. Someone who puts individualism high on what’s important to my life. I was the one always doing pushups because i kept smiling, moving, and asking too many questions. I always got in trouble. By the end, a sad lesson that i had learned was to in fact hold back my smile, my questions, and to stand absolutely still. It wasn’t about me, and I was given an m-16 to carry around, sleep with, shower with, and posses for three months. If I were caught without my weapon i would be severely punished, and instead of spending two weeks on base, they would not let me go home, i would therefore spend a month on base. But if someone other then a soldier had found my weapon where i left it i could have potentially just killed an entire base. Its not pleasant, but its times like this that make me fully appreciate what effort goes into this country by virtually every man and woman that is Jewish. There is a reason it is called the Israeli DeFeNce force and not just the Israeli army.
I am not an Israeli citizen but I know enough and have spoken to enough Israelis to know that their view is a sad one. My counselor knew the first man to be killed in this war. It is justified but they are calling all of their reserves out to the south including some of my relatives who have been out of the army for many years now. Its scary, unfortunate, and sad. No one wants this but the people in the south deserve to live in peace and that’s what this is about, Israel wont stop until the rockets stop, and they are making it clear that this can no longer continue. Next week fifty children from sde rote are being bussed to the city i live in to have a “yom kef” (day of fun), the following week, students from be’er sheva are being bussed to my city for intense studying for upcoming tests. These civilians are spending most of there time in bomb shelters. Sde rote has fifteen seconds from when an alarm sounds to get in a shelter, be’er sheva is luck to have close to a minute.
I could go on forever, if there are details about the situation in particular, my experience, or the ideas in average Israeli society that I have failed to capture for you, I would be happy to clarify. Hope this helps
P.S. - the day in the life of an Israeli living outside of the conflict such as myself in areas like Haifa, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Herzalia, live normally. They wake up, go on busses, go to work, go to school, go to cafes, malls, everything is carried out as normal. There is no fear on the streets. People don’t stop taking busses when this occurs. There is high security going into every mall, every shop…busses aren’t checked but people live, and no one hides. Civilians carry weapons here, its no big thing, soldiers are everywhere. The day in the life of an israeli living within the range of the rockets is instable, schools are all cancelled, every minute they have to be aware that if an alarm sounds they must be in the shelter. People have been spending days in shelters, doing nothing. My program has created a drive trying to collect games and cards and fun things to bring into the shelters to put a bit of light hearted fun into their time there. It’s not easy. It depends on which side you are living on in Israel.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I have a couple more questions for you. I have strong opinions on the subject by virtue of being an Arab myself, but I really want to have a well rounded opinion of the conflict and try and understand it better. I hope I don’t come off as being aggressive in anyway, I am honestly just interested in hearing your opinion on the matter.
1- You mentioned you weren’t an Israeli citizen, what led you to join the Israeli defense force?
2- While I understand thanks to your explanation why Israel feels the need to defend itself, I can’t help but feel upset over the amount of Palestinian civilians that have died over just the last week or so. I feel that there is almost a double standard, like Israel is defending its innocent civilians, at the expense of other innocent civilians. What is your opinion on this?
3- Even prior to this recent crisis there was much talk on the living conditions of the people in Gaza. Sometimes their living conditions are compared to that of the blacks during the apartheid in South Africa. How do you respond to this?
4 - Wouldn’t Israel helping Palestinians so they live under better conditions (better opportunities, education, decreased poverty etc…) be a better long term solution to get rid of anger and turn the Palestinian people away from terrorist organizations like Hamas?
5 - Do you think it’s possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side? Or do you see the future of Israel and Palestine as two separate countries, similar to how Pakistan and India are now two separate countries?
6 - Have you heard of the Shministim? If so what is your opinion on them?
1. There are three parts to my program. 1- Israeli experience 2- community volunteering 3- academics. The first part of my program offered different options such as the army, the navy, MADA
(magen david adom- Ambulance) I wanted to choose the army in particular because Israel is the only obligatory army where both men and women at the age of eighteen must join. I wanted to get a better understanding of what it feels like to be an Israeli girl at the age of eighteen who has to join the army. Most people do not join the navy and the air force is very difficult to get into and my specific program did not make me feel as though it would have accurately shed light on really being in the air force. It was scary to me that i was able to have control of an M-16 rifle twenty four seven. I was also taught how to shoot an M-4, and a mag automatic weapon. What was scary was that i am not an Israeli Citizen, i am in fact an eighteen year old American who did a three month program and Israel still trusted us enough to allow us to shoot and handle such powerful weapons.
2. I think the difference between how Israel is attacking and how Hamas is attacking is just that. Casualties are a given in any war situation but Israel never target civilians. Its target is always at any major leader of Hamas, any political figure of their organizations, and i agree that it is unfair the amount of casualties that are affected as a result of this but Hamas is an organization that does not care about its people. Taking advantage of Israeli morale by choosing schools, mosques, and houses to put their major weaponry etc…as I said, we call every house, and every school to ask for evacuation but it is also to do with the fact that the Gaza strip is the most densely populated state in the middle east. And its partly because those people who stand on the roof asking not to attack their house is affiliated with Hamas and allows for many explosives to remain under their roofs. It is strange to me that Hamas was elected by such a landslide by the people they are beginning to destroy and not to be out there but then again so was Hitler.
3. The living conditions in the Gaza strip are unfortunate. I wish that help would be accepted but the fact of the matter is, the Gaza strip has been independently ruled since 2005 and has not improved itself regarding these living conditions. The Gaza strip is not surrounded by Jewish countries that want to destroy it. Israel is. I don’t believe that the first thing to creating peace is to take over and try to help install healthy living conditions by and with the people that don’t believe you should exist in the first place. They have Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria,Saudi Arabia, etc. that all technically would have a better and in my opinion more successful time helping out. They choose not to. Because no one in those countries I have listed respect Hamas.
4. I wish I could say that it was so easy as helping each other out but because of the past and how everything has worked out and is working out now, it doesn’t seem to be so black and white. How does one begin to help another that doesn’t respect its own citizens enough to keep explosives out of schools? I wish it would be so simple as just a helping hand and therefore a beginning towards acceptance. I personally can’t see that happening.
5. It was suggested by Israel that the land of Israel be divided into a Palestinian authority and an Israeli authority.Israel accepted, the Palestinians did not. Its all or nothing. I have no idea when it comes to this question because if it is in fact all or nothing, one cannot live until the other is destroyed. Maybe that is too black and white as well. I just don’t see peace in the near future or the far away future. I don’t know what the middle ground is, I cant say what is going to happen in 100 years but if it has lasted hundreds of years already, i am sure that there has been many attempts for peace along the way. The only thing that seems slightly effective is the cease fire. Which isn’t really a cease fire anyways if Israel is still attacked once a week, but its better then 100 times a day.
6. I have not heard of it, if you want and it’s important to your presentation I can read about it and respond but right now I don’t know.
Nothing with this issue has ever been black or white. There are two sides to every coin. I am sure that the Palestinians feel they have no way out but to send a harsh message…I know that terrorism is an expression of having mixed feelings. If Israel can be both the oppressed and the oppressor then the Palestinians want to show the controversy of being both the murdered and the murderer. It’s all very complicated again once you add religion onto a land that is holy to three major religions since the beginning of this struggle. Christianity holds importance to Israel, Muslim beliefs hold importance to Israel, and Judaism holds importance to Israel. I am not qualified to say why it must belong to only one religion although I do believe that after the holocaust the Jewish people deserve and were promised a land of their own. Sharing is not enough, there are too many stings attached and attacked on such a land that is so holy to both sides. It’s beyond me. I hope this helps. Ask as many questions as you want I am happy to respond.
The Shministim are a group of Israeli teenagers that I came across in my research that refuse to serve in the army. This is their website: http://december18th.org/
You raise a number of points that I would like to respond to. I feel that we have a really good dialogue going on right now and for the sake of promoting a better understanding on both sides we should continue this conversation.
It is a shame that Hamas is in power, I agree with you one hundred percent. You ask how did this happen? I think that when people are living in extremely desperate situations they are easily impressed by anyone who proves they are willing to take action to help their cause, regardless of what those actions actually are. By the time Hamas came around the people of Gaza were thinking of their dead relatives, friends, and neighbors. Add to that their miserable living conditions, it’s a recipe for any political faction to come along and easily manipulate people into getting their support.
I understand the need for Israel to protect itself. However, I would hope that the Israeli government, along with any other government, is not making its decisions based off of fear, but rather off of clear and rational reasoning. You also mention on numerous occasions how Hamas is hiding its weapons in various civilian locations to question Israel’s morals. However, the numbers of civilian areas targeted are far greater than the number of areas where weapons were being stored. The numbers just don’t match up to the justifications Israel is providing. Furthermore, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Ehud Barak actually started to plan this attack six months ago. ( http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050426.html) I don’t know quite how to digest this fact with the current on goings, but it makes it seem like Israel is acting more on the offense then the defense.
It can be debated that in a sense Israel provoked the Hamas attack. As of November 12th Israel has sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. The average number of truckloads decreased from an average 475 trucks per day in May 2007, to an average of 123 trucks per day in October 2008, to now an average of 16 trucks per day. You mentioned that the Palestinians do not respect the lives of Israeli citizens. Is starving the 1.5 million living inGaza a tactic to pound this respect into their heads and make them regret every moment they voted for Hamas? As much I doubt this is Israel’s motive, a blockade is clearly not a way to decrease hostility. It is undeniable that Arab countries fall short in the aid they provide to Palestinians. However, Arab countries are not democracies and are led by incompetent dictators. Even those governments who do want to help the people of Gaza, don’t out of fear of being associated with Hamas. Those who have attempted to aid Gaza, such has the Libyan cargo ships, where turned away by Israel. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7758088.stm)
The main flaw in modern war fair is that armies attempt to fight ideas with bombs. Ideas can never be killed by killing people. In the case of terrorism, killing people only creates more hatred, more anger, and ultimately more terrorists. In order to efficiently crush terrorism, the roots of the problem must be solved. I don’t know how exactly this can be done but I would like to think that such a solution is ultimately possible.
This is one of those “what came first the egg or the chicken” situations. What came first the Palestinians anger, or the Israeli fear? We will never know but the fact is both of these people occupy the same general area. The situation in this area has escalated beyond what any rational human should allow to happen. I oppose the actionsIsrael has taken, not because I am pro Palestinian, but rather on the basis that I support the idea that all humans should be granted the same basic rights. Palestinians have been denied many of these rights for years.
The only reason this situation has become so complicated is because people on both sides have allowed their emotions to paralyze their actions. When you strip the conflict of emotions, it becomes one just about land. So why can’t the land be shared? You say there are too many strings attached, and that Jews have felt the need for a Jewish state since the holocaust. If you are choosing a land with people already residing on it, how can you expect to get rid of all the Palestinians so an exclusively Jewish state can exist? For years Palestinians have been pushed farther and farther out of Israel, yet they still exist in numbers in the area. If both sides do not learn to sacrifice their emotions and stubbornness and share the land this conflict will be never ending.
I think you are in a very unique situation, one that I wish I could be in myself. You are open minded, having been raised in America and are experiencing the Israeli front first hand. However, you can’t understand another until you walk in their shoes. I think you should take this opportunity to understand all sides of this crisis. This conflict depends on our generation to be solved. If we don’t take action to understand what is really going on, we can never understand how to solve it.
All countries prepare for war, including the U.S. the charter of hamas literally calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews wherever they are. Israel left Gaza in 2005. There isn’t a single Jew on that soil. missiles have rained down from Gaza for 8 years. Proportionality? Gaza sends missiles to hit civilians. Should Israel retaliate by doing the same? Let’s wear each others shoes — tell me what our country would do if Mexico launched missiles at Texas or Canada launched missiles at Maine yes. blockading Gaza has contributed to their economic stress and you can concede that you don’t believe in it - but you also must note that it came after negotiations failed, after hamas violently took over Gaza from Fatah and announced that they would no longer carry out any agreement made by Fatah. 8 years of restraint. 8 years of carrots and sticks. 8 years that no other country would have tolerated — none. Finally. If hamas stops the rocket attacks, there is no more war. if Israel disarms, there is no more Israel. Think about that. The Arabs can lose and still be Arabs in the Middle East. If the Israel loses, it will cease to exist. talk about proportionality. Evil is evil. The Jews want to share the land. Hamas thinks Tel Aviv is occupied.
I would hope that if the Mexican government was throwing rockets at Texas, the US wouldn’t retaliate by blanket bombing all of Mexico in attempt to perhaps kill off all the government officials.
I understand Israel’s crisis in needing to assure its survival, however I am concerned that its actions right now will in fact result in the opposite of its intentions, which is to reduce terrorism. For example, I am assuming that orphans have resulted from this current crisis. Who will take care of them? This is the kind of situation Hamas can take advantage of to strengthen its support and numbers.
I am a little confused about your statement, that Hamas violently took over Gaza from Fatah, I though you said earlier that they were voted by a land slide election.
What exactly is the Israeli vision of “sharing land”? I am curious to know. The way I envision “sharing land” is for Israelis and Palestinians to be living side by side in the same neighborhoods, with the same rights and opportunities. Otherwise it seems to me more like “dividing land”
TO BE COTINUED…
The conversation never progressed beyond that unfortunately…
Wednesday July 21, 2010
The raging debate over reconstructing the already in use mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero would obviously not be complete if Sarah Palin didn’t have something to say about it. On Sunday she ‘tweeted’ (sidenote: the use of the word ‘tweeted’ makes me cringe, but I suppose it is the correct terminology), “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.” Would it shock you if I told you that ‘refudiate’ is not a real word? I doubt it, after all right wing politicians have a tendency to strengthen their opinions through the use of
correct English grammar. Palin later corrected her mistake and tweeted, ‘Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.” ‘Refute’ doesn’t entirely make sense in context here, but at least it can be found in Webster’s Dictionary…
Palin’s tweet was retaliated by many, including Bloomberg’s aide Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Bloomberg himself. Schlesinger counter-tweeted (this word is killing me) Palin by saying, ‘@SarahPalinUSA whose hearts? Racist hearts?’. In a later, more official statement Bloomberg responded:
I think our young men and women overseas are fighting for exactly this, for the right to, of people to practice their religion and for government to not pick and choose which religions they support and which religions they don’t. Sarah Palin has a right to her opinions, but I could not disagree more. Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness, and I think it’s a great message for the world that unlike in other places where they might actually ban people from wearing a burqua or they might actually keep people from building a building, that’s not what America was founded on, nor is it what America should become.
The Cordoba House, as the proposed center will be called, is meant to be a monument to religious tolerance. The purpose is to create an inclusive interfaith community at the heart of one of the world’s diverse cities. It saddens me to see that ignorance, fear, and blatant racism allows people to stand against what could be a means to promote peace and understanding.
For more information on the Cordoba House visit: