Monthly Archives: June 2004

Don’t You Care About Europe?

The most annoying thing about the recent call by Human Rights Watch for American intervention in Sudan is that they aren’t putting the same amount of moral pressure on Europe.
I mean for gdsakes, while the American military is already taking “all actions necessary to ensure that both the human rights and humanitarian concerns” of the Iraqi people are being looked after, the French and German militaries–let alone the Russian and Chinese–are sitting around with their bayonets up their…you know. And hell, if Europe feels that it has what it takes to be a superpower, to provide balance to the American-dominated international system, why is it not putting its money where its mouth is?
So while it is hypocritical to tell America it is wrong and illegal to attack the Iraqi regime–even though there already was a Chapter VII resolution passed against it, and the humanitarian disaster there was just as bad if not worse, spanning three decades–the really infuriating thing is this idea of American being damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. Can’t Human Rights Watch just be a bit more consistent?

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A Little African Distraction

With nearly half a million dead or dying in the Sudan, and millions others oppressed by tyrants and famine, Africa isn’t in the best of shape–and its leaders know it.
So what are they doing about it? Holding a special session on the Palestinian crisis, specifically the United Nations African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which opened in Cape Town earlier in the day.
I agree with Democratic Alliance spokesman Douglas Gibson who said: “With respect to [president Mbeki of South Africa] there are far more pressing issues which demand a great deal more of the attention of the African Union. The scourges of war, poverty and disease blight this great continent and need to be addressed urgently. Surely Africa has enough problems of its own without going to look for some more?”
Just another example of the manipulation of the Israel/Palestine issue to distract people from the more serious problems facing humankind.

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Why the 1967 Borders are Wrong

I could go into detailed historical arguments, of how the “Green Line” is no more than a fiction based upon ceasefire negotiations with the Jordanians and not the Palestinians, but a report today in the Jerusalem Post contains a much more relevant reason: the line has no regard for population.
The story is about how a plot to kidnap an Israeli and negotiate with his body was thwarted. The village was Taibe, a large Arab town inside the supposed “Green Line.” I actually know the village well, having worked with their deputy mayor to fund their children’s soccer team as a public relations account executive working for a firm advising Orange.
Being there I could not help think that Taibe really has no reason to be part of Israel–that is, no reason other than the fact that they have no desire to be seen as Palestinian. The deputy mayor made that very clear, telling me that he does not want to give up his liberty and freedom just to find himself in a dictatorship called Palestine.
Should I care? Yes, I do care about his having to live in a dictatorship.
The question is, though, whether we are fighting for self-determination or for external-determination. I choose the former. The essence of the idea of Two States for Two Peoples is that there will be two states for, well, two different people, and that each people will have its own state. That is the idea of self-determination–the Jews should have the right to determine their own future, as should the Palestinians. But the “Green Line” has no determination, with many Palestinians living within Israel, and many Jews living in areas that people see as the future Palestine. Until we erase this line from our heads, and start thinking in terms of demography, we won’t get anywhere.

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Bye Bye Burg

The Jerusalem Post published a scathing editorial wishing Avraham Burg good riddance.
Don’t know how much I agree with the tone of the editorial, but they do have a good point: as an orthodox Jew that accepted the ideas of the peace movement, Burg had a lot of potential–which he wasted.
I must admit that I was never impressed by him. When I met him at the 100th Zionist Congress in Basel, when he spoke before the room of delegates from around the world as the then head of the Jewish Agency, I couldn’t but help think he was a bit too conceited and concerned with ‘number one’ to make his first priority the future of the Jewish people.
I don’t think this is the end of him, though. He’ll be back. And just maybe he’ll find a way to connect with his potential as he sits out a few elections on the sidelines.

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It Hurts to Be Wrong

Paul Krugman wrote a temper-tantrum this morning in the NYTimes. It must hurt him real bad to realize that the United States has finished the first stage in the rebuilding of Iraq, washing away his predictions of a quagmire. You see, Paul, quagmires swallow up those caught in them; America, on the other hand, with a UN resolution and its administrator out of the country, is pretty much walking on solid ground.
How about his stats on the rebuilding, though? Well, they’re pretty much bullshit. The NYTimes itself published this op-chart a while ago, telling a totally different story. And, as for his prediction that “the occupation will continue under another name, most likely until a hostile Iraqi populace demands that we leave,” it is so nice of him to trust in Iraqi leadership. With a President that is the Sheikh of one of Iraq’s largest tribes, and leaders of nearly every ethnic group represented, I certainly doubt many Iraqis see this as an “occupation by any other name.” Krugman, instead of digging yourself deeper into the quagmire of your predictions, maybe it is just time to admit you were wrong?

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Meditations on Route 1

Driving along Route 1 in California it became clear to me that it is simply impossible to explain to Americans the conflict in the Middle East. Their perception of time and space simply cannot register a conflict fought over seven kilometers here, eight there. Yes, there are plenty of other factors, but when it comes down to it, it is very easy for someone who grew up in this spacious country to think that land-for-peace is a simple option.
The limitation of spacial perception are like the limitation of different languages–if we ever would like the conflict to be clearer to Americans, we need to do a better job translating.

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Fighting the Wrong Fight

Some food for thought on the day of rest: Haaretz reports that the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a leading British Muslim-rights organization, awarded the “Islamophobic award” to Chirac, Sharon and Bush.
Chirac I understand–banning headscarfs, a form of religous expression, is certainly an afront to Islam.
But how exactly are Bush and Sharon Islamophobic? Agressive, yes. Warmongering, true. But anti-Islam? I’ve never heard or seen either person attack Islam as a religion. Bush repeatedly says that the war is not on Islam, and has even admitted that Iraq will be a Muslim state–albeit a Muslim democracy. Sharon has served as prime minister while the Arab parties–and especially the Green Islamic party in Israel’s north–thrived. So neither seem to be anti-Muslim.
But here is the thought: what if the IHRC would focus on the “extremist of the year” award, and publish a “hall of shame” for those of its faith that, say, saw off non-Muslim’s heads in the name of Islam? What if they published a “moderate of the year” to celebrate a Muslim who took on the muderous scourge of suicide terrorism and body mutilation? Instead of focusing on the negative, what if they planted a forest of rightous infidels somewhere in Mecca, as the Jews have in Jerusalem? That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

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