Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Farewell

As 2008 moves to its final hours in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, my thoughts go in many sometimes conflicting directions.

I'm very much upset by the Israeli attacks upon Gaza. I agree with President Bush and the Israelis that Hamas is "the enemy" in some important ways. I'm also very much aware that such military attacks will Not: 1.) Stop the violence directed against the Israelis, 2.) Help opponents of Hamas who may be Palestinians , Arab non-Palestinians and similar build a credible opposition to Hamas and most importantly 3.) Allow for or help any moves towards Peace in the Middle East.

Violence can intimidate individuals, but it does not help when a Legitimate Grievance of Many is minimized and blamed repeatedly and those affected have no effective method of getting justice.

The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are not blameless nor better than those of us who are Jewish (and others). They do, however, have a repeated quandry which they can not get themselves out of. Jewish Settlements on the West Bank grow and expand, regardless of whether there is relative peace or violence on the West Bank. The lives of West Bank Palestinians are seriously affected by the land appropriations and the building of Israel's "Wall" attempting to separate Jews from Palestinians (on Palestinian land).

In Gaza since early November Israel has been increasingly strangling the economy as food, medicine and other goods are decreasingly allowed in. (When there isn't violence - the status quo - is Not - a Tenable State - the status quo - is a continuation of Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands. Gaza has Not been "independent" though Israelis have largely left it - it has Not been a "Palestinian State" any more than the Navaho Nation is a state in the Southwest.)

It can be argued that Hamas and Palestinians have been violent against Israeli Jews. It is also clear that the violence and injustices have also been coming from Israelis against Palestinians. To argue that the violence of one is Only in reaction to the violence of the other is naive and simplistic.

What can not be disputed is that Palestinians are increasingly hurt by a devastated economy, two separate land areas, one of which is separated into segregated areas for Jews and Palestinians where the Palestinians (the significant majority) are treated like a "minority group" and a crowded, impoverished small territory, which neither Israel nor Egypt wants, which can not survive economically on its own.

It also can not be disputed that Israel pays a huge price for continuing in an endless stalemate with the Palestinians. The fears of Israelis and their general state of isolation hurts individuals and the country as a whole.

We in the U.S. have an opportunity now with January 20, 2009 to begin a new era of change where negotiations might (faintly possibly at least) begin with the U.S. as a true mediator, not a force in support of Israeli interests Against Palestinian interests. Israel wants secure borders and Peace. Palestinians want true independence in a Palestinian State.

We need a huge change in attitude though if we will work towards making peace.

There are many ways we can educate ourselves in new ways about "making change" both for Israelis-Palestinians and for others in the world.

We need to stop being the world's bully who fears others. We talk of how the Chinese and others are causing environmental devastation while we disproportionally use up precious resources such as oil, water, etc.

We blame the Mexicans. We blame the Cubans. We blame the French. We blame the Russians.

We need to face plenty of truths within our own world(s) here at home in the U.S.

Yes, the Iranian leadership is dangerous! Threatening their leadership as a basic way to deal with their threats helps keep their leadership in power. There are plenty of non-Jewish forces in the Middle East who have No Love of the Iranian leadership.

Yes, Hamas is dangerous! Hamas has come into power and grown because of the failure of moderate Palestinian leadership. Moderate Palestinian leadership has failed to get a (secular) Palestinian state established. Some of its failures have been due to corruption and internal weaknesses. Some of its failures are as a result of opposition from the Israelis and U.S. interests.

Pakistan is probably the "biggest threat" to U.S. interests today. It is an impoverished country with a large population, the possession of nuclear weapons, great instability and an increasing movement of people who are very Anti-American.

We need to begin to be an ally to the "good people" of our world. We need to talk with those who we oppose such as the leadership of Iran.

We also need to really start dealing with our problems at home here in the U.S. Besides the current economic disaster we need a good national healthcare system that allows all of us to get affordable healthcare. We need housing for the poor. We need to end violence directed at women, children, minorities as well as violence we Men direct at other Men.

We need to avoid looking for simplistic answers to our problems. It is common to hope that President Obama will lead to a much better country and world. I remember when there were hopes when President Clinton was first elected after 8 years of Reagan and 4 years of Bush, Sr. Obama can make a huge difference however it will only happen if a huge number of us help push for what we want and need.

Obama can not eliminate racism, sexism and classism. He will need nudging and more. He will need support and more.

We can and hopefully will make a better world - starting in 2009. It won't be easy! We need to support each other. We need to look at options and possibilities and speak out more and more. We need to have a sense of humor. We need compassion. We need both patience and a determination to Not accept less than is necessary now.

I am cautiously optimistic. Thanks!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Guilt, Responsibility, "The Reader" and Gaza

I'm just back from seeing one of most haunting and powerful movies I've ever seen. The Reader shows Kate Winslet at her best. This movie deals most effectively with evil, guilt and responsibility, allowing the viewer to think and evaluate much particularly related to the two main characters. My perspectives on some things might differ greatly from others and it doesn’t matter.

The movie reminds me again of our responsibilities to speak out against oppression.

I think of Gaza (again). I think of how we need to stop the oppression of this poor area and prevent more needless deaths, injuries and damaged lives. Others may think of other things which concern and trouble them.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gaza - Speak Out Please!

I hope that all who believe in peace and justice will take a few minutes to educate themselves (if necessary - one source is: about the genocide - and general strangulation - of Gaza - by the Israelis.

After knowing a little - speaking out - such as writing President Elect Obama, and your senators and representative - is important.

We need to do more! People are being starved to death, not allowed to have decent medical care as well as now over 200 people being killed from bombing from the air.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting- Re: "The Shoe Incident"

Should the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush be celebrated as a hero for the Arab world?

Yes – 77%
No – 23%
Total votes: 881

Thousands of Iraqis have demonstrated in Baghdad's Sadr City in support of a journalist being held in custody after throwing his shoes at George Bush, the US president.

Muntazer al-Zeidi was detained for what the Iraqi government on Monday said was a "barbaric and ignominious act" during a news conference the previous day.
The outgoing US leader, who was making a surprise visit to Baghdad, had just told reporters that while the war in Iraq was not over "it is decisively on its way to being won," when al-Zeidi got to his feet and hurled abuse - and his footwear - at Bush. Bush, who had been giving a joint press statement with Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, ducked behind a podium as the shoes narrowly missed his head.
"Millions of Iraqis or rather millions of the people of the world wish to do what Muntadhar did," Uday al-Zeidi, Mundathar's brother, said on Monday.
"Thank God he had the guts to do it and avenge the Iraqi people and the country from those who plunder it and have killed its people."

Al-Baghdadiya television, his employer, has demanded his release after Yasin Majeed, the prime minister's media adviser, said al-Zeidi would be tried on charges of insulting the state. An Iraqi lawyer told the AFP news agency that Zeidi risked a miminum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state.

Freedom of expression

On Monday, al-Baghdadiya suspended its normal programming and played messages of support from across the Arab world.

A presenter read out a statement calling for his release, "in accordance with the democratic era and the freedom of expression that Iraqis were promised by US authorities".

It said that any harsh measures taken against the reporter would be reminders of the "dictatorial era" that Washington said its forces had invaded Iraq to end.

Demonstrations also took place in the southern city of Basra and Najaf, where some people threw shoes at a US convoy.

Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam Hussein's former lawyer, said he was forming a team to defend al-Zeidi and that around 200 lawyers, including Americans, had offered their services for free. "It was the least thing for an Iraqi to do to Bush, the tyrant criminal who has killed two million people in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
"Our defence of Zeidi will be based on the fact that the United States is occupying Iraq, and resistance is legitimate by all means, including shoes."

In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt and the incident is likely to serve as a lasting reminder of the widespread opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq - the conflict which has come to define Bush's presidency.

"Throwing the shoes at Bush was the best goodbye kiss ever ... it expresses how Iraqis and other Arabs hate Bush," Musa Barhoumeh, editor of Jordan's independent Al-Gahd newspaper, wrote.

But support has not been entirely universal and some Iraqis believe al-Zeidi crossed the line. "I deem it unnecessary. This thing is unjustifiable. It is an incorrect style. We are not violent. One can voice his opinion in other ways," one Baghdad resident said.

Robert Wood, a US state department spokesman, dismissed the incident saying that al-Zeidi was "trying to get attention for himself" and had ignored Washington's successes in Iraq. "This was one incident and one individual's views, but if you look at the direction we are heading in Iraq now, it's a very, very positive direction and we hope to see that continue," he said.

Bush's visit to the Iraqi capital came just 37 days before he hands the presidency over to Barack Obama, who has vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Be Very Careful

Be Very Careful !!!!!!!

If you have never been exposed to the Splotchy Story Virus, you should be forewarned....

Though it is most pleasant, it is quite infectious.

Here are the rules:

Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.
The Apple
The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)
I couldn't believe my eyes. Surrepticiously, I tried to establish, without giving it away, if anyone else had seen what I had. For ten years I had been looking for that box. What looked like an ordinary cardboard box to most contained something most precious. Only by the small golden "P" was I able to identify what I was looking at. (Freida Bee)

I was both extremely relieved and a little sad. I was very happy that at last I could finally move forward and hope that my major disasters might be over with as I now could succeed at my life's goals. I was also dismayed that I'd hurt too many others as well as myself by my blunders searching endlessly for what now was in front of me waiting for me. “P” was both the most fascinating being I had known and the legacy left behind unfortunately because... (Geo)

I hereby infect these folks:




More to be Added – shortly – when I get home from the East Coast

(You may be infected more than once.)