Friday, January 30, 2009

God and War

Conceptions of God and religion have caused the large majority of current and past military conflicts. Allah and the Judaic/Christian God currently motivate most of the bloodshed and suffering that we see covered by our media outlets. Where the word 'terrorists', which I believe to be a term describing Middle Eastern people willing to defend their family and land against Western forces, is not used, 'Muslim Fundamentalists' or 'Islamic Jihadists' is used.

There has been a lot of honest and probing writing concerning the religious element of our current conflicts, but it tends to be of a scholarly nature rarely found in the New York Times. The media outlets that Americans read day in and day out portray Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel/Gaza as conflicts of political values and rights, representing the US as all that is secular, brave, and most importantly, free.

It is the terrorists who want death, and us who want peace. It is the 'Fundamentalists' who are irrational, aggressive and blood-thirsty, while we are the victims who reluctantly engage. 'Jihadists' kill, we defend and liberate. It was Hamas's rockets which caused the most recent deaths in Gaza, the 9/11 attackss which caused Shock and Awe in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein who caused Iraq, and Hezbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers which spawned the destruction of Beirut and Southern Lebanon in '06.

And while these false distinctions may be clear enough to many, what is so rarely discussed is perhaps the most crucial point of all; the elected officials of the US and many US citizens believe that Christian values ought to reign supreme over Islamic values. The common image of the 'repressed' Muslim woman wearing her hijab is is intolerable to liberated Westerners, while those same Westerners believe that the massive civilian death tolls of urban warfare are 'for the greater good'. Similarly, the madrassasof Pakistan and Afghanistan are unacceptable forums for education, but our impoverished urban and rural schools and curricula which create nationalistic and patriotic fervor are things to be proud of.

Some must suffer so the rest can be free. Some must die so that democracy can take hold. Some must burn so that the role of religion in these ancient societies may be made second fiddle to political order and process.

I wish that someone who makes a lot of money writing about this stuff had the guts to let loose about this stuff. Sadly, in our free society, that person wouldn't have the media as a megaphone for long.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

US / Israeli Pact

Condoleezza Rice has finally achieved something tangible in Israel, and the US will be hated ever more in the Muslim world for it. She is now the proud architect of a deal to stop arms smuggling into Gaza through the so-called 'Philadelphi Route', which remained in IDF control after the Oslo Accords. The Route has been used by smugglers to transport Iranian supplied missiles and other arms from Egypt, into Hamas' control in Gaza.

As if Arab Muslims and the extremist amongst them needed more fuel for the fire. The phrases "US and Israel Reach Agreement" and "US - Israel Pact" are plastered across the global media, once again putting America in bed with the Hawkish, war-mongering Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and his associates in the IDF. Israeli authors (see: ) have condemned this offensive as "the most brutal war that Israel has ever fought" and people across the globe are calling for the prosecution of war crimes. Israel is being widely condemned for violating the Geneva Conventions and slaughtering an entrapped civilian population, and instead of joining the chorus of moral voices, we offer our full support and cooperation to the offenders.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Israeli Perspectives on the War in Gaza

Please take a moment to read the following thoughtful exchange between two Israeli authors, posted in Haaretz, a moderate Israeli paper. Yehoshua's 'open letter' and Levy's response demonstrate the type of internal friction that most Israeli's feel at the present time between keeping their families and countrymen safe and protecting innocent Palestinian lives.

Here is the 'open letter' from A.B. Yehoshua:

And the response from Gideon Levy:

Proportionaility in War

1,100 dead Palestinians. More than 40% are women and children under the age of 18. That is 450 to 500 dead Palestinian women and children in 21 days of fighting.

13 dead Israelis.

In the laws governing acts of war, there exists a principle of proportionality, created in adherence to universally recognized principles of morality. This law dictates that offensive military actions should be proportional to the acts which they are being launched in response to. Violations of this law constitute war crimes. Failing to take adequate steps to avoid civilian casualties in theaters of war also constitutes a war crime.

Israel has come under intense criticism from various media outlets in the States and elsewhere for their unrelenting attacks in Gaza; not because they are seeking to destroy an elected government, but because they have slaughtered so many civilians. It's been well documented that citizens of Gaza have no way of escaping the area. This was the case before the Israeli offensive began: Gaza is and has been the largest prison in the world, offering no chance of escape either into the State of Israel or into Egypt. Israel has turned it into, without exaggeration, a fiery prison of death.

1,100 : 13 is disproportional. 40% civilian casualties is unacceptable from a moral perspective.

I have family in Tel Aviv. I have been to Israel and was amazed by the country's beauty and by the kindness of its people. I do not want any harm to come to Israel, whether it be from Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. But I can not passively accept this slaughtering of a trapped civilians population. I hope that Barack shows himself to be man of principles and a man of the law in condemning these attacks and possibly altering our policy of tacit acceptance of all Israeli military action.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Truth and Reconciliation in the US?

H.R. 104 has an outside chance of providing many Americans, including this author, with a forum for addressing the damage that the Bush Admin. has done to our country ( Some may say to let history be the judge, but precedents have been set which must be negated. Executive orders were never meant to be used in direct contradiction to domestic and international laws, as they have been since 9/11. Warrantless wiretapping, torture, extraordinary rendition; these things are unacceptable to everyone who is aware of his human and Constitutional rights, and I personally want those people who are responsible for violating my rights to be officially condemned.

Read more about the H.R. 104 here:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bush League

As a cathartic exercise, I'm just going to make a quick list of the things that I will remember the Bush Years for:

- Instituting a climate of fear in American society in order to limit dissent and
make American public opinion more pliant.
- Polarizing political discourse in Congress and throughout society
- Justifying doctrine on the basis of good vs. evil and other false dichotomies
- 9/11
- War in Afghanistan
- War in and occupation of Iraq
- WMDs --> Toppling a dictator --> False links between Iraq and 9/11 --> Exporting
Democracy --> Avoiding civil war / blood bath
- "Mission Accomplished"
- Warrantless Wiretapping
- The legalization of torture
- Enemy combatants
- Legal black hole of Guantanamo
- Wall between Mexico and the States
- Profiling and detention of Arab-Americans / Muslims following 9/11
- Genocide in the Sudan
- Failure to ratify Kyoto
- Highest unemployment rate in 16 years
- Israel / Hezbollah war of '06
- Israel / Hamas war of '09
- Failure to secure a two state solution
- Backing of Musharraf in Pakistan
- Complete failure to penetrate the FATAs
- Rumsfeld, Rove, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and the Rest of the Vulcans vs. The World
- Rise of Iran / Potential nuclear Iran
- Further deterioration of public education
- Rising costs of higher education
- Inadequacy of the UN / UN Food Scandal / John Bolton
- Collapse of the US and global economy
- Cheney hunting incident
- Failure to form systemic, progressive approach to renewable/green/eco-friendly
- Bailouts
- Justice Roberts appointment
- Madoff
- Obama winning on a platform designed to counteract the damage listed here (other
than the Cheney hunting incident)

List your own if you feel inclined to do so. It's fun, soothing, and most of all, depressing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Palestinian-American Woman Speaks to Israeli Soldiers

This amazing video was sent along by my friend Matt. It shows a young Palestinian-American woman attempting to persuade Israeli soldiers to stop shooting Palestinian children.

After viewing, check out Matt's new blog 'Gotcha Media' here: