Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Desperate: Seven-month-old Mihag Gedi Farah weighs just 7lbs and was hours from death after arriving at a field hospital in Dadaab, Kenya. His mother walked with him for weeks from Somalia after their livestock died. Doctos yesterday gave him a 50-50 chance of survival. Photo: AP

Desperate: Seven-month-old Mihag Gedi Farah weighs just 7lbs and was hours from death after arriving at a field hospital in Dadaab, Kenya. His mother walked with him for weeks from Somalia after their livestock died. Doctors yesterday gave him a 50-50 chance of survival. Photo: AP

 

We were struck by a comment left by a reader of the Melbourne Age on a story there today concerning the dead children of Gaza and Israel.

“If we’re going to grow a consciousness, let’s look at the 18,000 plus children that die EVERY SINGLE DAY from starvation, worldwide.”

A sobering point, right there.

Why is the world so transfixed by the terrible toll in the Middle East yet so unmoved by the scale of the ongoing, ever-present disaster elsewhere?

In our view it is the immediacy of the relationship between a shell and those blown to pieces by its blast, and the culpability or otherwise of those who fired it. The same is true of the recent shooting down of MH17. We rage against these deaths because it’s easy to “pick a side”, and we think we know who is responsible.

The other factor is clearly wall-to-wall media coverage. Photographs of hideously wounded women and children, tumbling into our consciousness time after time, affect this writer as much as anyone else.

But the curious thing is that the ongoing starving to death of millions of the world’s children is just as much the result of human actions that are blatantly obvious, and where blame can equally be sheeted home.

Civil strife – and the puppet-masters and arms merchants who fuel it – displaces millions of people and leaves the weakest open to succumbing from the combination of fatigue, illness and hunger.

War interrupts the orderly flow of food and supplies, sometimes for years.

And when natural forces conspire to destroy crops and livestock, our response is predictably threadbare unless a campaigning journalist manages, for once, to seize our attention momentarily.

Meanwhile, all around the world, Governments restrict foreign aid budgets to play to the biases of their domestic audience, as Bob Geldof pointed out in Melbourne as recently as yesterday.

So why is this catastrophe largely ignored? It is more, we feel, than merely a world-weary exhaustion that “it was always thus”, or that the problem is intractable and therefore we choose to ignore it .

It is a combination, in our view, of a lack of media coverage – persistent child starvation is not, after all, “news ” – that does not force us to confront what is happening as a result of our inaction.

And it is the result of a tragic, identifiable, and cursed lack of moral will-power in our political classes.

One might cynically argue that there are no votes in starving children, especially starving children overseas, but we suspect the core problem is even more fundamental and depressing.

We suspect our political leadership simply don’t care or they don’t have the mental capacity to provide true leadership. They just don’t have the imagination or the skills to devise solutions, and neither do their sycophantic advisors, there are no quick sound bites for little brains in the topic, and solving the problem requires a generational effort, which can’t be accomplished by the time they next seek re-election.

But a dead child is a dead child, nevertheless. Same pain. Same grief. Same hopes, dreams and future talents lost.

Every day we lose 18,000 future doctors, leaders, farmers , ecologists, writers, scientists, administrators, artists, musicians. The people who will drag their nations and continents forward, step by painful step, to become peaceful and self-sustaining.

And we just don’t see them. The 18,000 dead children, every day. Just as dead as the children of Gaza and Israel. They have names, like Mihag Gedi Farah.

Just as outrageous, and just as preventable.

We just don’t see them.

olivia leeA sudden ray of sanity, and a joy to the world.

http://www.theage.com.au/world/jews-and-arabs-refuse-to-be-enemies-20140724-zw7q0.html

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something as simple as a hashtag on Twitter re-framed and refocused the debate in the Middle East, talking peace to the leaders on both sides, and hastening an end to the conflict?

We would urge everyone to express their sentiments on Twitter, Facebook, boy on shouldersInstagram and anywhere else you can think of.

You just never know.

God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.

girl and boy

Fog of war

Some days ago, we reported a widespread conspiracy theory (not of our making) that the shooting down of Malaysian Flight 17 was a “false flag” attack conducted by the Ukrainian government to put pressure on Russia’s leadership.

We came in for a lot of flak from a variety of people for giving oxygen to the theory, despite saying that our best guess was, in fact, that pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels shot the plane down, either as the result of a ghastly error or an act of unbelievable bastardy.

Why conspiracy theories need answering

On this blog and elsewhere we pointed out that any criticism of Russia needed to be watertight, and thus the conspiracy theories needed to be answered – debunked – to prevent Putin and his cronies being able to slough off responsibility.

Well, now, the Russians – entirely predictably – are making much of the alleged presence of a Ukrainian jet fighter near the ill-fated civilian aircraft.

The Russian claims

They have responded to the widespread opinion that Russia is responsible for the downing of MH17 by reportedly claiming that it has flight records showing a Ukranian fighter jet was close to the passenger jet before it crashed.

At a specially called briefing, Russian Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov said MH17 had strayed from its regular route (why?) and had been recorded in the proximity of a Ukranian SU-25 fighter jet, which is equipped with air-to-air missiles.

“An altitude gain was recorded for a Ukrainian armed forces plane,” he said, adding that the fighter jet is capable of reaching a height of 10,000 metres. “Its distance from the Malaysian Boeing was three to five kilometres.”

“With what aim was a military plane flying along a civilian aviation route practically at the same time and at the same flight level as a passenger liner? We would like to receive an answer to this question.”

 

The Russian briefing earlier.

 

The Lieutenant-General, head of main operational department of Russian military’s General Staff, left, can be seen above speaking  to the media during a news conference in Moscow. (Photo: AP.) General Kartopolov further claimed that the Russian Defence Ministry had detected a significant reduction in Ukranian radar stations after the accident.

Citing data displayed on slides and charts, General Kartopolov claimed that nine radar stations, which are used to operate missile systems, were operating close to the site of the MH17 crash on the day of the tragedy. Within 48 hours, only two remained.

He also strongly denied Russia supplying Buk missile systems to Ukranian separatists, which has been widely speculated across the world.

“I want to stress that Russia did not give the rebels Buk missile systems or any other kinds of weapons or military hardware.” Well, whilst the first part of that sentence could be true, the last half is very obviously not. (Rebels are using Russian-supplied tanks in Donetsk as we speak.) So does that mean the whole sentence is rubbish? You be the judge.

Elsewhere, US network NBC reported that a report on Russia’s Channel One claimed the CIA was to blame for the shooting down of MH17.

LATER UPDATE

In the interests of integrity, we also point out this story, which has Western defence experts arguing that what damage pattern can be seen on the plane would seem to indicate a ground launched Buk-type missile rather than an air-to-air missile. If that is the case it would seem to be a crucial piece of information to be verified as quickly as possible. US intelligence officials think that the most “plausible” case scenario (and we agree) is that these separatists were not aware that MH17 was a passenger flight when they fired what the United States believes was a Russian-made SA-11 surface-to-air missile.

Seeing through the fog

So what’s going on here? Bluster? Fact? Mis-information? Genuine disagreement? Are these the bleatings of a regime (and an unpleasant one, at that) who which to avoid responsibility being sheeted home to them, or the legitimate complaints of a Government that does not wish to be unfairly blamed for a murderous tragedy?

We do not purport to know. We really do not, and we do not make a judgement. It is virtually impossible to parse what is going on without access to all the technical information and analysis of a dozen intelligence agencies, and certainly not by wandering the internet and watching media.

We do say, however, which has been our point all along, that the world deserves to know the answer, if only to lay the blame where it accurately lies.

In the meantime, therefore, we urge caution.

Cui Bono

In particular, we would also urge consideration of the Latin phrase Cui bono /kwˈbn/ “to whose benefit?”, literally “with benefit to whom?”. It is also rendered as cui prodest.

This Latin adage is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be, or to argue that the way to find out who perpetrated a crime can be determined by asking ourselves “Who benefits?” Or equally, “Who is harmed?”

We confess that one nagging thought eats away at us. If you wanted to gain traction for a push back against the pro-Russian rebels, and in general terms to stymie the expansionist tone of Russian rhetoric and behaviour after their successful annexation of Crimea, (and noting the lascivious glances they are casting towards the now-independent Baltic states, for example), then what better means than to create an incident of such transcendent horror as to shoot down a civilian plane and blame the rebels directly and Russia by association?

We note, also, that while the world is focused on the crash site and the event itself, the Ukrainian government forces have seized the opportunity to mount a full-blown assault on Donetsk, moving from their foothold at the airport to assault the railway station and surrounding areas, as the first step in what may be a bloody battle to recover the whole city, which is the “second city” of Ukraine and a key target for the Government.

Too bizarre? Maybe. At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk we are not, by nature, enthusiastic supporters of conspiracy theories. We have even seen it suggested – follow this if you can – that the extremist lunatics of ISIS murdered the three Jewish teenagers to provoke Israel into attacking Hamas in Gaza (and effectively destroying Hamas) while simultaneously causing huge outrage both locally and worldwide at the civilian casualties, so that ISIS (or their fellow travellers) can take over in Gaza when Hamas is basically marginalised.

The Israelis know the invasion of Gaza is wildly popular inside their own country, and the Americans, playing a long game, believe that the Israelis can effectively defeat Hamas and then resist ISIS incursion (probably by effectively re-occupying Gaza, which we must remember they left voluntarily, using the region’s strongest army and navy, unlike the weak resistance to ISIS put up by the Iraqi central authorities) so they arrange, via the Ukrainians, to shoot down Malaysian 17 because it takes the world’s attention off Israeli aggression in the key early days of the ground invasion of Gaza, and gives Russia a bloody nose at the same time. Winner winner chicken dinner thinks the CIA and the shadowy forces in the military-industrial regime.

Could such a hideously realpolitik and convoluted scenario ever possibly be true? The answer is, it could. Anything could be true. False flag attacks are common throughout recent history. (Just Google them.) We pray it is not, because what it says about the nature of governance in the world (and especially our bit of the world) is chilling indeed.

The cock-up theory of events

But in the final wash up, we are more pragmatic. Our instinct is always to accept the cock-up theory of international relations – essentially, anything that can go wrong will go wrong –  and we still hold to that view in this case, which is why we tend towards the “idiot Ukrainian rebel makes mistake on the readout on the Buk system and fires missile at Malaysian airliner”. Especially as we know the system had been used to attack military aircraft within the last two weeks. The Buk system “reads” the transponders of the aircraft it is tracking and theoretically identifies that aircraft to the man with his finger on the button. But we know to our cost that transponders on aircraft can give false readings.

Cock up. Bang. Right there. Three hundred bodies fall from the sky.

The absolute need for clarity

However, although that’s our best guess, we nevertheless urge all the authorities concerned to tackle the mysteries involved in this case as speedily as possible. As the Independent (amongst other people) pointed out yesterday, the really bizarre thing about conspiracy theories is that just occasionally, very occasionally, they are actually true. And if this was a false flag attack, then the world assuredly needs to know. Can you just imagine the Governments that would tumble? That’s why, above all, the truth would probably never come out even if it was, improbably, the case. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and find out.

But if it wasn’t, as we suspect, then we need to know who was responsible for this act: fast, and with certain proof. The level of international tension currently exhibited on all sides demands it. In California, Diane Feinstein opined that the level of tension between the West and Russia is now as high as at the height of the Cold War. That’s an exaggeration, to be sure, but it’s not a happy thought even if it’s only half true.

And for that reason alone, before the world stumbles ever closer to the precipice of conflict between its major powers, even the craziest of conspiracy theories need putting to bed, and right now.

We don’t know.

We know some of the components. It will involve vision. On both sides. It will involve a rediscovery of goodwill. On both sides. It will require confidence building. And patience. There will be many steps sideways and backwards as well as forwards.

We do not know the answer. What we do know is that this is not it.

 

dead

dead 2

 

It just can’t be this. This is not the answer.

In a very welcome departure for a senior Palestinian, Mahmoud Abbas has called the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews (and many others, lest we forget, such as trade unionists, priests, homosexuals, gypsies, and others) as the most heinous crime in history.

Sadly, Benjamin Netanyahu once again failed on the statesman stakes by failing to adequately welcome this courageous and realistic comment from Abbas … but then what else is new? Others, as can be seen in AP story below, were more generous in their response.

Frankly, at this crucial stage, any progress in the Middle East should be warmly welcomed by everyone. It should also be obvious to Blind Freddie that Hamas is moving back towards the middle ground and should be encouraged at every faltering step they take as well, such as the recent rapprochement with the Palestinian Authority. Now is not the time for the Israeli leadership – nor the Americans – to fluff their lines. Carrot and stick is all very well, so long as it isn’t, in reality, all stick.

 

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Story begins:
The Palestinian president on Sunday called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime” of modern history, voicing a rare acknowledgment of Jewish suffering shortly before Israel held its annual memorial for victims of the Nazi genocide.

While Israel’s national Holocaust memorial said Abbas’ comments may be a step in the right direction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed them aside.

He said the Abbas’ renewed attempts to reconcile with the Islamic militant movement Hamas raised doubts about the Palestinian leader’s intentions. Hamas, a movement sworn to Israel’s destruction, has questioned the Holocaust and blocked the subject from being taught in schools in the Gaza Strip.

“President Abbas can’t have it both ways. He can’t say the Holocaust was terrible, but at the same time embrace those who deny the Holocaust and seek to perpetrate another destruction of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu told CNN.

For Abbas, however, conciliatory language marked a breakthrough of sorts.

Denials or attempts to minimize the Holocaust, which saw the systematic killing of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II, are widespread in the Arab world.

Many Palestinians fear that if they acknowledge the Holocaust, they will diminish their own claims based on years of suffering, including their uprooting during Israel’s 1948 creation and decades under Israeli occupation.

Abbas himself has been accused of minimizing the scope of the Holocaust in a doctoral dissertation in the 1970s, though in recent years he’s edged toward acknowledging Jewish suffering.

Abbas’ office said he discussed the Holocaust in a meeting with an American rabbi, Marc Schneier, who visited Abbas’ headquarters in Ramallah last week.

Abbas told Schneier that “what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era,” according to comments carried by the Palestinian news agency WAFA on Sunday.

The agency quoted Abbas as expressing his “sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed.”

Abbas said the Holocaust was an expression of the idea of ethnic discrimination and racism, and connected it to the Palestinian suffering of today.

“The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and (are) denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes,” he said.

Israel’s official Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem said it hoped Abbas’ comment may “signal a change” in the Arab world, where “Holocaust denial and revisionism are sadly prevalent.” It said it expected Abbas’ stance to be “reflected in (Palestinian) websites, curricula and discourse.”

Abbas’ statement came as the latest U.S. attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was on the verge of collapse. He urged Israel not to walk away.

“On the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust Day, we call on the Israeli government to seize the current opportunity to conclude a just and comprehensive peace in the region, based on the two states’ vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Abbas said.

At the start of negotiations in late July, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had set an end-of-April target date for a peace deal. He later lowered expectations, calling for the outlines of an agreement and, in a last attempt, for a deal on extending the talks.

However, none of Kerry’s objectives appear within reach, and it appears unlikely talks will be salvaged by Tuesday’s deadline.

The Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, said in a statement late Sunday that negotiations can only be extended if Israel agrees to a full freeze of settlement construction and commits to the 1967 territorial lines — before Israel’s capture of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — as a starting point for border talks. Israel has rejected both.

In an apparent hardening of Palestinian positions, the council also said it opposes any land swaps. In previous negotiations, Abbas had accepted the principle of trading some West Bank land for Israeli territory to enable Israel to keep some of the largest Jewish settlements.

The council, which convenes every few years to endorse important decisions, also said it “completely rejects” Israel’s demand to be recognized by the Palestinians as a Jewish state. Sunday’s statement came at the end of two days of meetings by the council.

Last week, Israel suspended negotiations in response to the Palestinian reconciliation deal. Israel and the West consider Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks, to be a terrorist group.

“An era has ended and a new era has begun,” Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett, a powerful coalition partner who heads the nationalist Jewish Home party, told foreign journalists Sunday.

“We are not going to reach a peace agreement in the foreseeable future. I think we need to be realistic about what we can achieve.”

Instead, Bennett advocating giving the Palestinians “autonomy on steroids” in areas of the West Bank they already control, while annexing the remaining 60 percent of the West Bank that Israel rules.

He said the goal should now to make conditions as livable as possible, by giving Palestinians freedom of movement and supporting their economy, and allowing them to hold elections and run their day-to-day affairs. Full independence, however, would be impossible, he said.

“I know it is not as sexy as the perfect two-state solution but this is realistic,” he said.

Abbas said Saturday that any interim unity government with Hamas would be based on his political platform seeking peace with Israel, and not that of Hamas.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Tony Blinken, White House deputy national security adviser, appeared to side with Israel’s stance that it would not continue peace talks with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas.

“Any Palestinian government has to recognise Israel, it has to renounce violence, it has to accept past agreements,” he said.

Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the Hebron district on Wednesday, security and medical sources said.The sources said the 15-year-old was attempting to cross Israel’s separation wall near the southernmost West Bank area of al-Ramadin when Israeli forces shot him dead.Israeli troops gave him no warning before shooting him, the sources said.The youth was identified as Yousef Nayif Yousef Shawamrah Abu Akar from the village of Deir al-Asal al-Fauqa south of Hebron.Israeli forces have yet to deliver his body.

Witnesses said the victim had been foraging for local plants when he was shot, but the army claimed he and two others had been vandalising the security fence.

“Three suspects sabotaged the security fence in Deir al-Asal Atachta, and soldiers at the scene called them to distance themselves and fired warning shots in the air,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

“After all efforts were exhausted the soldiers fired at the main instigators’ lower extremities and a hit was identified.”

The victim was evacuated to an Israeli hospital, where he died from his wounds.

But the victim’s brother, Abed Shawamreh, 23, denied the army’s account and said the teenager had been out looking for gundelia, a thistle-type plant used in cooking.

“Every year, people from the village go out to pick gundelia. Today Yussef went with his friends to pick some in an area close to the wall and the army shot at them. They hit him and arrested two of his friends,” he told AFP.

Some sources report Yousef to be 19, not 15. As if it really matters. Other eye-witness reports insist there was no warning from the Israeli troops.

This episode comes two days after a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and US President Barack Obama at the White House, where the US leader also met in the past days with Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bid to relaunch peace talks begun in July that stalled over issues such as new settlement, the borders of the future Palestinian state, the fate of the Palestinian refugees and status of Jerusalem. And while the politicians dither, another family mourns.

AFP contributed to this report

"I just became the most controversial issue in twenty plus centuries of religion. Really, who knew?"

“I just became the most controversial issue in twenty plus centuries of religion. Really, who knew?”

In major news breaking now that will shake up both the Jewish and Christian religions – assuming their adherents are interested in facts rather than merely having a fundamentalist obsession with literal truth – evidence has emerged that the early chapters of the Old Testament were written long after they have sometimes been suggested to have been written. And they are historically inaccurate.

In short, the chapters were not eye-witness accounts, and even if they were brought down by oral tradition, they were later embellished by the actual writers, which contradicts long-held dogma that they were transmitted without a word being changed or added from the earliest story tellers.

Biblical scholars have long been aware many of the stories and accounts in the sacred book were not written by eyewitnesses, and according to new research, further evidence of that historical distance has appeared in the form of a hump-backed camel.

New research using radioactive-carbon dating techniques shows the animals weren’t domesticated until hundreds of years after the events documented in the Book of Genesis.

The research was published by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University in Israel. They believe camels were not domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean until the 10th century B.C.

And yet, the hump-backed creatures are mentioned repeatedly alongside Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, indicating the Bible’s writers and editors were portraying what they saw in their present as how things looked in the past. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”

While there are conflicting theories about when the Bible was composed, the recent research suggests it was written much later than the events it describes. This supports earlier studies that have challenged the Bible’s veracity as a historic document, for example, by pointing out that the destruction and plundering of Jericho actually occurred some centuries distant from the life of the long-asserted Hebrew general and leader Joshua.

The new biblical questioning wasn’t the focus of the recent research, though, just an after-the-fact observation.

The question over “phantom camels” is not new one, according to TIME magazine. Biblical scholar William Foxwell Albright “argued in the mid-1900s that camels were an anachronism.”

In an opinion piece for CNN, Joel Baden writes that there was no deliberate deception intended on the part of the Bible’s authors.

“Biblical authors,” Baden writes, “simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past. There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.”

A similar conclusion was reached by Smithsonian.com author Colin Schultz, who wrote, “these findings don’t necessarily disprove all the stories of the Bible. Rather, knowing that there are camels where there definitely shouldn’t be shows that the Bible’s authors, working thousands of years after the events they were describing were supposed to take place, took a modern lens to these ancient tales.”

At long last, can we focus on the eternal truths in the book that affect how we treat our fellow humans, rather than worrying about every dotted 'i' and crossed 't'?

At long last, can we focus on the eternal truths in the book that affect how we treat our fellow humans, rather than worrying about every dotted ‘i’ and crossed ‘t’?

Nevertheless, the findings confirm again that the Bible is not LITERALLY true.

This should not really come as a surprise to Jews and Christians. Authoritative figures in the Roman Catholic Church have already said it, in plain language. Like their acknowledgement that Adam and Eve never existed.

With this latest finding, it is simply scientifically impossible for us to see the Old Testament as entirely, immovably factual.

And we now also have categorical evidence that the Old Testament authors were operating based on their current world view, which would undoubtedly reflect predominant cultural mores, too.

Here’s the key point: if we can unarguably subtract one fact from the Bible, then it is logically consistent that we can subtract others, too.

For example: the few lines that are (incorrectly in my opinion) supposed to be about homosexuality, which have caused misery, persecution and death for millions of good people down through the centuries.

Or, most dramatically: creationism. Specifically “young Earth” creationism.

Today is a day for celebration. The moment we acknowledge that the Bible need not be literally true to be true, we free humankind from mindless, meaningless intellectual navel gazing, and set free our own critical faculties, to lead us closer to the Divine.

Now, to coin a phrase, that’s Good News for Modern Man.

syria refugee mapI am on record as often re-posting Emily Hauser’s columns from her excellent blog “In my head”.

She generally tackles issues of social justice, democracy, and the difference between right and wrong, and especially as regards Israel, from a Jewish perspective.

As, in Australia, we seem to be roiled up in an endless debate about immigration and what to do with the tens of thousands of refugees that we accommodate every year.

Tens of thousands sounds a lot, but it’s worth remembering that other countries, much poorer than ours, deal with millions of refugees.

And that these vast movements of people de-stabilise whole regions, and that none of us are immune from those impacts, especially the countries in the immediate proximity of conflict.

I warmly commend Emily’s comments to you. They bear deep consideration.

Syrian refugees – actually a lot more than two million.

Like the shirt? Buy the shirt. Change the world. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.561612586

Like the shirt? Buy the shirt. Change the world. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.561612586

And if you’re in Australia, you might like to purchase this t-shirt, to remind our new Dear Leader, Dear Reader, that we can afford to be a bit more generous with the world.

We can easily manage to up our refugee intake.

As one of the richest nations on the planet, we should.

Not to mention the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and many of our finest Australians came here as refugees.

Not to mention that research shows that immigration is a net contributor to the Australian economy.

Immigration = economic growth. No, immigrants don’t “take” our jobs, fool. They make our jobs.

Buy the shirt, start the conversation with a friend.

 

Stephen "Yolly" Yolland:

WellthisiswhatIthink says: This is a brutally frank and important commentary from a Jewish Zionist on everything that is wrong – and morally wrong – with the current Israeli government’s position on the Palestinian question. It deserves to be read by anyone – anyone – who genuinely wants peace in the Middle East.

Originally posted on Emily L. Hauser - In My Head:

Israeli_and_Palestinian_FlagsLast week, Daniel Gordis ran an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post entitled “We Gave Peace a Chance,” consisting largely of a lengthy and pretty accurate list of the many and various ways in which Palestinians have been a disappointment to Israelis.

I cannot and will not argue that the Palestinian leadership has been a paragon of virtue, either in leading its own people or in dealing with mine, nor will I argue that the Palestinian people have taken many steps to reassure my people that they don’t actively despise us. It’s my impression, based in a quarter of a century of observation, that a lot of Palestinians do, in fact, despise Israel. Where Gordis and I differ, I think, is our starting point for dealing with Palestinians in the first place.

In his piece, Gordis relies on and advances the same kind of bush-league dehumanization of the Palestinian people 

View original 955 more words

Is this story literally true? Are the opinions accurate?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/contributors/gershon-baskin.html

Because. Because. If it is, then how could we draw any other conclusion that the Prime Minister of Israel is a dangerous criminal with a total disregard for human life and no interest in peace.

This story was written by an Israeli peace negotiator*.

What appalls me most is how easy I find it to believe this is true … How terribly sad.

The first casualty of war is truth. But we need to know the truth of this. The world deserves to know.

The dead of Gaza and Israel deserve to know.

*Gershon Baskin is the founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, an NGO and think tank established in 1988 to pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Gershon Baskin’s efforts as a negotiator led to the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in Gaza from 2006 to 2011. Through this work, Baskin came into mediated contact with Ahmed Jabari, commander of Hamas’s military wing. According to Baskin, Jabari had just been presented with the draft of a long-term cease-fire proposal, another effort of Baskin’s, when Israel assassinated Jabari on Nov. 14. The Israeli government was aware of Baskin’s attempts, he says, but “decided not to take that path.”

The targeted killing and accompanying bombings broke off an informal truce, mediated by Egypt, that had seemed to signal an end to escalation. Baskin wrote in The Daily Beast: “Jaabari is dead, and so is the chance for a mutually beneficial long term cease-fire understanding.”

Olive tree

Some olive trees live for what seems like forever, This one is over 1,500 years old. Which is almost as long as people have been fighting over the Holy Land.

I recommend you read this short but heartfelt article from a leading Jewish writer in the USA.

On the Palestinian olive harvest and the Talmud.

The article was originally posted on In My Head by Emily Huaser on November 2, 2012

OK, I freely confess that I don’t know what the hell is going on in Israel.

It has become received wisdom in the West that the Palestinians in general, and Hamas in particular, are perpetually violent, ornery, refuse to accept a settlement with the Israelis and so forth.

And yes, there is no doubt that the Israeli population has suffered egregious harm from militant attacks over the years, not to mention full-blown war being visited upon them by their neighbours.

And the tales of Israeli excesses in the occupied lands make regular and sad reading.

But when one reads this well-sourced article, it is hard not to feel that the lack of peace around the borders of Israel owes as much to the intransigence of the extremist settler population, their on-going cruelty to their Palestinian neighbours, and the complete failure of the IDF to act impartially to defend Palestinian rights.

When one reads an article like this, it is clear that more and more anger is being stored up, to be unleashed at some point in the future. From any perspective except that of the hardline religious right in Israel, this is surely madness.

Dear God Almighty, when will this ever end?

Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was a 24 year old pro-Palestinian activist and member of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) from Olympia, Washington who was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza.

Her death happened during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. The exact nature of her death and the culpability of the bulldozer operator are disputed, with eyewitnesses saying that the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer deliberately ran over Corrie, and the Israeli government saying that it was an accident since the bulldozer operator could not see her.

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Peace activist, and daughter, Rachel Corrie

Who was Rachel Corrie?

She was the youngest of three children of Craig Corrie, an insurance executive, and Cindy Corrie. Cindy describes their family as “average Americans—politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class”.

In 2005 Rachel’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the state of Israel. They sued for a symbolic one U.S. dollar in damages to to make the point that their case was about justice for their daughter and the Palestinian cause she had been defending.

The lawsuit charged Israel with not conducting a full and credible investigation into the case and with responsibility for her death.

In August 2012, an Israeli court upheld the results of Israel’s previous military investigation and ruled that the Israeli government was not responsible for Corrie’s death. The ruling, the Israeli Justice system, and the investigation it exonerated have been widely criticized.

Rachel Corrie’s life has been memorialized in several tributes, including the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie and the cantata The Skies are Weeping. Her collected writings were published in 2008 under the title Let Me Stand Alone, opening “a window on the maturation of a young woman seeking to make the world a better place”. The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice has been established to continue her work.

Excellent article

This link is to a well researched and achingly honest article about the case, written by an American Jewish writer who studies the situation in Israel closely. If you care about justice – and about the right of both the Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace – I urge you to read it.

http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/the-unsurprising-rachel-corrie-verdict/

Havign read widely, and unlike the Israeli justice system, I do not for one moment believe Rachel Corrie died merely accidentally. That she was knowingly placing herself in danger is undoubted. But given her role in the conflict, how could she not? In short, I believe she was killed by an individual – deliberately, or with deliberate disregard for her safety, which surely amounts to the same thing – who was acting under an understanding, if not a direct order, that the lives of those opposing Israeli behavior in Gaza were not to be valued, or protected.

“The Object is Dead”

It is chilling, deeply chilling, when one hears the commentary from inside the cockpit of the bulldozer that killed her; the driver refers to her as “The Object”, not a person.

Was Corrie responsible for her own death?

Now if you think Rachel Corrie was some idiot hippy, just in the wrong place at the wrong time, then watch this interview with her, recorded two days before she was killed. Far from being an idealistic airhead, she was an intelligent, thoughtful, motivated and coherent individual, operating from the highest moral standards. The sort of person, indeed, we would all want our daughter to be.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3JI-axaRF4&feature=related

But was Rachel insanely foolish? Well, after flying to Israel on January 22, 2003, Corrie underwent a two-day training course at the ISM’s West Bank headquarters before heading to Rafah to participate in ISM demonstrations. During her training, Corrie studied direct action tactics, which included basic rules for avoiding harm.

A later article on the Corrie incident summarized these as: “Wear fluorescent jackets. Don’t run. Don’t frighten the army. Try to communicate by megaphone. Make your presence known.”

While in Rafah, Corrie acted as a human shield in an attempt to impede house demolitions carried out by the IDF using armored bulldozers.

There is no doubt the activists were aware of the threat to their well-being, and also that they took steps to minimise their danger.

On Corrie’s first night there, she and two other ISM members set up camp inside Block J, “a densely populated neighborhood along the Pink Line and frequent target of gunfire from an Israeli watchtower”.

By situating themselves visibly between the Palestinian residents and the Israeli snipers manning the watchtowers they hoped to discourage shooting by displaying banners stating that they were “internationals”. However, Israeli soldiers fired bullets over their tent and at the ground a few feet away.

Deciding that their presence was provoking the Israeli soldiers rather than deterring them, Corrie and her colleagues dismantled their tent and left the area.

Video of Corrie’s death

Now look at the video of her death. Note her bright clothing, with which she is trying to protect herself from harm and make it clear she is an international observer, and the fact she is level with the window of the bulldozer, and the fact she is carrying and using a megaphone.

Warning, this video is distressing, and you may need to sign into YouTube to watch it, as you see Rachel Corrie killed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjuweNjJwrk&feature=player_detailpage

So what do you think?

Deliberate murder? At the very least, careless manslaughter? Well, no, not according to Israeli justice. The court judgement was a “regrettable accident”.

The IDF produced a video about Corrie’s death that includes footage taken from inside the cockpit of a D9. The video makes a “credible case”, wrote Joshua Hammer in Mother Jones, that “the operators, peering out through narrow, double-glazed, bulletproof windows, their view obscured behind pistons and the giant scooper, might not have seen Corrie kneeling in front of them”.

And indeed, with commendable decency, Rachel’s father, Craig Corrie has said “I know there’s stuff you can’t see out of the double glass windows.”

But he has denied that as a valid excuse for the death of his daughter, saying “you’re responsible for knowing what’s in front of your blade.”

Based on his experience of overseeing work with bulldozers similar to the D9 while serving as a combat engineer in Vietnam he said: “It’s a no brainer that this was gross negligence”, adding “they had three months to figure out how to deal with the activists that were there.”

Eye witness Tom Dale commenting on the 2012 verdict said: “Whatever one thinks about the visibility from a D9 bulldozer, it is inconceivable that at some point the driver did not see her, given the distance from which he approached, while she stood, unmoving, in front of it. As I told the court, just before she was crushed, Rachel briefly stood on top of the rolling mound of earth which had gathered in front of the bulldozer: her head was above the level of the blade, and just a few meters from the driver.”

A legitimate military target?

During the trial, Israeli military officials gave evidence in court stating that Rachel and other activists were legitimate military targets.

Despite this attitude, a spokesman for the IDF told the Guardian that, while it did not accept responsibility for Corrie’s death, it intended to change its operational procedures to avoid similar incidents in the future. The level of command of similar operations would be raised, said the spokesman, and civilians in the area would be dispersed or arrested before operations began. Observers will be deployed and CCTV cameras will be installed on the bulldozers to compensate for blind spots, which may have contributed to Corrie’s death.

Was the court case fair?

One has to ask whwther the court even heard accurate details of what happened. After all, in 2005, Human Rights Watch published a report raising questions about the impartiality and professionalism of the earlier IDF investigation. Some of the problems that the report mentioned were the investigators’ lack of preparation, the “hostile,” “inappropriate,” and “mostly accusatory” questions they asked witnesses, the failure to ask witnesses to draw maps or to identify locations of events on maps, and their lack of interest in reconciling soldiers’ testimonies with those of other eyewitnesses.

International opinion

In August 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro stated that the Israeli investigation was not satisfactory, and was not as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been. Shapiro said further that the government of the United States is  not satisfied with the IDF’s closure of its official investigation into Corrie’s death.

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories and vocal critic of Israel, said of the verdict that it was “a sad outcome, above all for the Corrie family that had initiated the case back in 2005, but also for the rule of law and the hope that an Israeli court would place limits on the violence of the state, particularly in relation to innocents and unarmed civilians in an occupied territory”.

So what do I think?

It is a deeply sad tale. I just hope that somewhere Rachel Corrie rests at peace, and that her parents quest for justice will one day have a happier ending. They have conducted themselves with astonishing dignity in a situation where many of us would simply have yielded to murderous rage.

Surely the best thing we could do for Rachel Corrie – and for the thousands of innocent Palestinians and Israelis killed in this conflict, would be to find a solution to this endless cycle of violence – and also to consider, very deeply, Rachel Corrie’s absolute conviction based on her own eyewitness observation that this cycle of violence is not merely an accident of history, but the result, particularly, of Israeli Government intransigence.

It is very difficult for those of us who long for a settled and peaceful Israel to assert that it is now largely the aggressor in the conflict.

But unless we see a greater awareness from Israeli officials – and especially the current crop of senior political figures – that their core policies of occupation, segregation, and heavy-handed and sometimes indiscriminate violence are both losing them support and also prolonging their own lack of security, then there will be more Rachel Corries – and most of them will be, sadly, much less well known, or noticed.

We owe it to her to prevent that. And if that means confronting ugly truths, then so be it.

Stephen "Yolly" Yolland:

I warmly applaud this article by Emily, which I consider to be both timely and wise. The prospect of another war with Israel in the south for tragic little Lebanon, already so pressed by the situation in Syria on their border, is simply too horrible.

We must learn Emily’s core understanding – violence begets violence. When will the leaders in the Mid East remember Churchill’s famous adage “Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war”? We are talking about violence, which could, if it embroils Israel, Iran, Syria and Lebanon – a true regional conflict – cause not just hundreds or thousands of casualties, but cost hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of innocent lives. And as Emily so presciently points out, we seem to be sleep-walking into it.

War will continue until men refuse to fight

I know some will accuse me of being naive, but it’s what I believe. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431252

Originally posted on Emily L. Hauser - In My Head:

“Lebanon? That’s so 80s.”

We learned on Friday that America and Israel have concluded that the bomber in last week’s bloody attack in the Bulgarian city of Burgas was an operative working with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, under orders from Iran “to avenge assassinations targeting its nuclear scientists” (such as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, killed in January when an assassin bombed his car in Tehran).

In the meantime, we’ve also learned that the New York police have found evidence linking Iran or its proxies to nine other plots against Israeli or Jewish targets around the world. According to former Israeli National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, this should not surprise us – and Israel is “to a large extent, the initiators.”

We hit [senior Hezbollah leader] Imad Mughniye [in 2008], and, mainly, we’re leading a struggle against Iran. We’re not a passive side. And the other side is the defending, deterring, and attacking…

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