From Haaretz, 2009.03.23:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a group of UN human rights experts said Monday.

IDF troops ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict.

( Read more of this story at Haaretz )

So much for the "IDF is more moral than Hamas" argument.

In wartime, even the most moral actors do immoral things. Neither side is immune.

It's time to end this conflict.

( Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pocketlama for bringing this story to my attention. )
And, so, Obama's true colours are now showing: He's Israel's Bitch.

Let's review how I see it:

Right-wing Jewish Supremacists (U.S. corollary: White Supremacists) in the Israeli government, with backing from the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex and End Times Christian Fundamentalists, are committed to taking over all of the historic lands of Israel currently occupied by Palestinians. While the Israeli government officially denies this is the real long-term goal, its actions speak much louder than words.

In the West Bank, this takeover is being accomplished through the incremental use of settlers to steal land, and apartheid-like measures to oppress the non-Jewish residents. In Gaza, the takeover is being accomplished through creation of a "ghetto," a closed off and blockaded pocket of Palestinians, many of them refugees from other parts of Israel.

With the impending election of Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States, the warmongers in the Israeli government see that they only have a short time to advance the Zionist cause under the Bush Doctrine, before Obama takes office.

On U.S. election day, Nov. 4, 2008, Israel breaks the cease fire with democratically-elected Hamas, provoking the militants by sending IDF soldiers on a raid into Gaza. Hamas retaliates with renewed rocket fire.

On December 27, 2008, under the rubric of "fighting terrorism," with weapons supplied by the United States, Israel begins bombing civilian targets in Gaza, saying that the targets are being used by Hamas militants. Hundreds of civilians are killed.

On Jan 3, 2009, the Israeli ground invasion begins, using U.S. military armaments and with the backing of the United States. Many more Gazan civilians die. Hamas continues to fire homemade rocket and mortar attacks into Israel from Gaza, as does Fatah, Hama's chief political rival in Gaza. Very few Israeli civilians are killed. International aid workers and journalists are kept out of Gaza by Israel. A humanitarian crisis ensues, which Israel denies is happening. 15% of all buildings in Gaza are destroyed. Electricity, water, and food are almost completely destroyed. Hospitals and schools are bombed, as well as all police stations.

Although the Israeli's claim that they are there trying to stop rocket attacks, it becomes clear that they are trying to destroy Gaza's infrastructure and get the people to flee. Egypt continues to keep the border between itself and Gaza closed, so that refugees cannot cross into Egypt. Forcing large number of Gazans into Egypt now appears to be one of the primary unstated goals of the invasion, but Egypt does not cooperate.

During this tumultuous period, president-elect Obama is repeatedly asked to make a statement on the crisis, but demurs, saying "there is only one president at a time." However, because of his earlier statements criticizing the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, it is clear that this is a dishonest stance on Obama's part. (Obameter: -1 (+4))

President-elect Obama's very first appointment after the election was the appointment of Rahm Israel Emmanuel, hawkish Democrat and son of a Jerusalem-born member of the militant Zionist paramilitary organization, Irgun, as his White House Chief of Staff. This ensures that pro-Zionist voices are the only ones heard in the administration. (Obameter: -2 (+2))

On January 17, 2009, just before the U.S. presidential inauguration, Israel declares a unilateral ceasefire without any agreement from Hamas. It is immediately clear that this was timed in order to provide Obama cover, so he does not have to address ongoing violence in Gaza.

The day after the inauguration, Obama began calling leaders in the region: Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Palestinian "leader" Abbas (who has no power base, and is just a stooge). Who didn't Obama call? Hamas. (Obameter: -1 (+1))

Speaking at the State Department yesterday, Obama finally broke his silence. And it was immediately clear where Obama stands: Israel are the "good guys," Hamas are the "bad guys."

Some choice quotes from Obama, with my responses:

"America is committed to Israel’s security."

But obviously not Palestine's security.

"And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats."

And what of Palestine's right to defend itself?

"For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens."

And for years, Israel has been killing, occupying and blockading innocent Palestinian civilians.

"No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror."

Let's not forget that Gaza is also a democracy. Hamas was democratically elected.

Obama went on to talk about innocent Israelis, but not innocent Palestinians. He equated both sides, as if Israel and Hamas were morally equal. They clearly are not.

What Obama never did was criticize Israel's behaviour over the past few weeks. Obama never addressed the root causes of the violence.

The only positive things Obama said was to state that the crossings into Gaza should be opened, and the blockade ended. (Obameter: +1 (+2)) However, it's clear that the Israelis are not interested in doing so, and will probably find excuses to ignore this. Obama also appointed George Mitchell (who helped broker the 1998 Good Friday Accords in Northern Ireland) as U.S. envoy to the Middle East. (Obameter: +2 (+4))

I was willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, but it is now clear that his policy towards Israel will not be substantially different than the Bush administration. Obama is unwilling to address the root causes of the conflict. He has broken the silence, and his policies are now open to fair criticism. Because of this speech, I've just lost a lot of respect for Obama.

For more on the Obama speech, and what it means, I encourage you to listen to Noam Chomsky's interview with Democracy Now! today.

Obameter: -10 (-6)

If you cannot see the subtitles do the following:
1. Play the video
2. Click the triangle button at the bottom-right corner of the video
3. Click the Turn on captions button that looks like the letters CC.
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One of Israel's constant talking points for U.S. support is that it's "the only democracy in the Middle East."

That lie was put to rest this week, when Israel's Central Elections Committee banned the two main Arab parties in the Knesset, Balad and United Arab List-Ta'al, from running in the February elections. Sitting Arab members of the Knesset will now not be allowed to run for re-election, effectively removing Arab representation from Israel's ruling body.

The reason given: the parties don't recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and they call for armed conflict against it.

Sadly, Israel's "commitment" to democracy is about as deep and sincere as America's, given that the Hamas government in Gaza, which Israel is now trying to overthrow with U.S. support, was democratically elected.

I guess in Israel & America's definition of "democracy," it only means "elected people we like."

This does not bode well for the Israeli Arabs, who up until now have had representation in the Knesset.

It also does not bode well for peace in the region.
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Because you need to see where your tax dollars are going, and the Mainstream U.S. media is too chickenshit to show it.
A Gaza woman, half buried in rubble after an Israeli attack.
Screenshot from Democracy Now!
I was going to write a scathing invective about how the IDF killed a whole bunch of innocent Gazans in a UN school that didn't have any Hamas terrorists... those innocent Gazans who were warned by the IDF to evacuate their homes ahead of bombing... so they ran to a UN school for shelter... where they were bombed.

I was going to write that Vatican officials are now comparing Gaza to a "concentration camp."

I was going to write that I think there are some terrible possibilities on display: that Israel wants to drive the Gazans into Egypt, as some sort of reverse Exodus... or Israel is willing to commit genocide.

I don't want to believe its true.

But I'm too numb. I don't feel the anger now, just... resignation.

I'm going to bed.
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Pop quiz:

Which institution is lying?

A.) The International Red Cross: Gaza is mired in a full-blown humanitarian crisis. (The U.N. concurs.)

-OR-

B.) The Government of Israel: There is no humanitarian crisis.

Hint: Which one is keeping journalists and U.N. investigators out of Gaza?
"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
   -- Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

The Palestinian people now endure suffering and humiliation, at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces. This makes me very sad, because the Israelis, of all people, should remember what it is like to be abused, torn from their homes, forced to flee into little enclaves and caged in ghettos, oppressed for their religious beliefs, subjected to pogroms, and indiscriminately killed by superior military forces.

How has this happened? How have the abused stepchildren of Adolph Hitler grown up to become abusers themselves?

What's going on in Gaza right now feels like a betrayal, a betrayal of the very things that earned Jews the sympathy of the world. A betrayal of the lessons that the Holocaust taught the world, lessons which seem to have been forgotten.

Furthermore, this Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is taking place on my dime. As an American, my taxes pay for the weapons that the IDF is using to kill innocents. That makes me very, very angry.

I am compelled to speak out, against Israel's behaviour, because so many others will not, or cannot.

Never again. Never forget.
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I just penned a letter to each of my senators and representatives in Washington, D.C. (Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Patty Murray, and Rep. Rick Larsen):

ENOUGH! Israel's recent behaviour in Gaza is completely unacceptable, and must not be allowed to continue unchallenged. This is not self-defence, it's retribution, and a war crime. I urge you to work to stop Israeli state-sponsored violence against Palestine, and furthermore, to cut off the flow of U.S. military aid and taxpayer money to Israel. I do not want my tax dollars going to fund Israel's oppression of Palestine any more.

I look forward to your reply.

Regards,

Kevyn Jacobs

It may be futile, but it's important for these people to know that their constituents are objecting to what's happening in Gaza (on our dime). Never let it be said that I did nothing to stop the bloodshed.

I urge my friends who feel as I do to write their elected representatives in Washington. You can get their addresses at http://votesmart.org by entering your zip code.
Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem is questioning Israel's widely-distributed video of "Hamas fighters loading rockets on a truck," which Israel subsequently bombed on Monday. B'Tselem claims it tracked down the truck, and the surviving men... and says they were loading welding equipment, and the "rockets" were actually gas canisters.

Al-Jazeera has aired a report:

I don't actually know who is telling the truth... but right now, I'm not very inclined to believe Israel's account of what happened.
More Israeli misbehaviour:

A boat carrying international peace activists, including former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, and medical supplies to the embattled Gaza Strip sailed back into a Lebanese port on Tuesday after being turned back and damaged by the Israeli navy, organizers of the trip said. (Read more)

This is not new behaviour on the part of the Israelis. They've been blockading Gaza for some time, not allowing food relief, medical supplies, or fuel in to the territory. They say it's to keep out weapons, but the net effect is a collective punishment inflicted on the people of Gaza, which meets the definition of a war crime. They've also been turning away U.N. human rights envoys and journalists, in an attempt to keep the world unaware of what's actually going on. The blockade is why Israel is just as responsible for the violence, not just Hamas (The Bush White House blames Hamas, but not Israel, for the violence).

Desperate people turn to desperate measures. Israel is trying to blame Gaza's rockets (which killed one person) for the escalation of violence. But it is Israel's behaviour that is absolutely appalling, and it's really starting to piss me off. The Israelis are NOT the good guys here (and neither is Hamas). Sadly, the abused stepchildren of Adolph Hitler have grown up to become abusers themselves. Violence perpetuates.

This coming Saturday, my friend Alex ([livejournal.com profile] seespikerun) is organizing a protest here in Bellingham at the U.S. Federal Buiding ( http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=56833142386 ). I plan on being there. The weapons being used to kill Gazans are being supplied by the U.S. government -- our tax dollars -- and this must stop. I plan on writing my congresscritters this week to demand that we stop funding Israeli terrorist organizations like the IDF.

And, on a side note, I must applaud Cynthia McKinney for her attempts to help the Gazan victims of Israeli aggression. I voted for her in this past Presidential election instead of Obama, because I knew she walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
The Israelis and the Palestinians continue their death dance of retribution, locked in the grip of each other's hatred, unable to let go.

The Israeli Defense Force has launched a massive air assault on Gaza, destroying all of the police stations in Gaza. The attack was in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel over the past week, when an Egyptian-brokered truce expired.

Israel labeled the police stations as “terrorism infrastructure," and claimed that over 150 of the dead were Hamas militants. But we know from long experience that Israel is very good at justifying its actions by using words to cloak its deeds. There are civilians, including children, known to be among the Palestinian dead.

Goliath (Israel) continues to beat the shit out of David (Palestine), and the United States continues to fund the whole thing. Who's making money here? One guess: The arms merchants, who supply both sides.

Now Hamas is vowing revenge. The spilling of blood on both sides will continue to escalate.

When does the death spiral end?

And when do we, the U.S. taxpayers, stand up and say we won't finance this bullshit anymore?

"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."-- Gandhi
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians break down Gaza-Egypt wall, walk into Egypt to get food, supplies, in defiance of Israeli blockade.

People are starving behind the ghetto walls.

Israel is rapidly losing whatever moral superiority the holocaust gave the Jews.

Israel, j'accuse!
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