this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

reasons why

There are many reasons why I like Barack Obama, from what I have read of him and heard from him. One personal reason is that he recognises and acknowledges his mother for her guidance in rearing him. Within my own family, and within my own observances, it seems that a mother's input, even or especially if she was the one who did the majority of the child-rearing, is negated and dismissed, or not thought worthy of acknowledgment, by many sons. In fact, mothers wear a lot of bitterness, and obviously not all are saints, but the bitterness is often misguided. I have a post in the works on that concept.

However, the quote below has nothing directly to do with his mother. It is from his Audacity of hope:

...When [the United States seeks] to impose democracy with the barrel of a gun, funnel money to parties whose economic policies are deemed friendlier to Washington, or fall under the sway of exiles like Chalabi whose ambitions aren't matched by any discernible local support, we aren't just setting ourselves up for failure. We are helping oppressive regimes paint democratic activists as tools of foreign powers and retarding the possibility that genuine, homegrown democracy will ever emerge (2006, p. 317).

He further expands and qualifies the topic in a chapter outlining his viewpoints on current (as of 2006) American political attitudes to the world beyond the States. The above viewpoint does not seem simplistic as he devotes nine pages in the chapter to the policies of developed countries which are not applied carte blanche to those countries that are not quite so developed. Throughout his writing he constantly refers to how we are all part of a global economy and a global system, and how the pain of one does ultimately affect another, no matter how many oceans divide. He is a politician, too, obviously, and from all indications he will do very little to alleviate any of the tension that has been outlined in the blog post below. He is not naive in the role he is probably expected to play by the American people, and the role that he believes he should play.

However, I like the viewpoint he expresses and I hope he has the strength, support and clear-sightedness in 2009 for some modicum of decency, awareness, and relief to spread through the world, albeit ever so slightly. It is highly unlikely. He is a politicaian, as stated before, but, anwyay, Happy New Year. May some of the generosity of spirit and compassion that humans are capable of manifest itself in opposition to, and in spite of, the horrendous callousness and terror we are equally able to inflict.

Obama, B. (2006). The audacity of hope. Three Rivers Press: New York.

It's just the way it is

I need to write this. I know that the issues between Palestine and Israel are complex, and I am sure that many of my facts are incorrect, yet I feel there is a story that is not getting told, and I know there is a lot of hypocrisy on this issue, both from the United States, Australia, Israel and the countries of the region. I also know that I have been hypocritical in my life and probably will continue to be so, and that this writing will have as much affect as a languid wind exhaling over the last tailsbreadth of a ripple on a pond. But I need to know that I tried, as ill-informed as I am. I also know that there are many news sources out there which are giving alternate coverage, but these are not the main news sources for people in Australia, at least, and that there are some kind of talks going on at present. I wonder if far fewer than 372 might have died if there had been swifter(or any)condemnation of the attacks, and how many more will indeed perish.

It is about land, not religion, though of course, religion is a good excuse as any, and a good excuse to hold onto or invade a land.

U.S. aid to Israel and here.

facts at a glance

China and Japan : Beijing said it was "shocked and seriously concerned" at the violence, while Japan called on Israel to "exercise its utmost self-restraint" and for Palestinian militants to halt rocket attacks.

The United States : The US has put the onus on Hamas to prevent more violence. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "The United States ... holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza.

Australia : Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Hamas is to blame for provoking the Israeli air strikes which have now killed nearly 300 people in the Gaza Strip.

An Australian human rights activist living in Gaza City says Israel air strikes have killed many innocent people in the Hamas-run territory.

From a popular news site The UN and the European Union have condemned Israel's actions. But the US, the most influential power-broker in the Middle East conflict, has refused to call for an Israeli ceasefire, instead placing the onus on Hamas to end its rocket attacks.

The United Nations says: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations Resolution 242

The New York Times

The history of this area is messy with occupation seeming to be a fact of life almost back to the 1500s. Though, of course the occupiers have been different, even within the twentieth century, going from Turkish to British to Jordanian and Egyptian to Israeli. Zionism arrived towards the turn of the start of the last century, and Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands occurred mid to late twentieth century. The annexation was based on ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. Further lands were taken in 1967 and occupied. Further reading here .This paragraph I have written has not given the history in any of the depth that it deserves.

I am not the first to wonder, though, about the U.S. investment in Israel in the Middle East. I am assuming it has to do with oil and access to oil and future possible access to oil, not only for the States, but for other countries, too. By that, I do not mean equal access to oil for other countries, but U.S. control of access to oil by other countries. In a 1977 interview Chomsky says:

When Kissinger took control of Middle East policy in the Fall of 1970 (according to his testimony), there was an abrupt switch in official American policy, from Rogers plan rhetoric to Kissinger rhetoric. Under Kissinger's initiative, the United States by late 1970 abandoned even a rhetorical commitment to a political settlement and was clearly supporting a very different program, namely, the Israeli program of developing and ultimately annexing substantial parts of the occupied territories, a policy that led directly to the October 1973 war.

This quote is in the 14th question of this interview. The rest deals in a large part with the first question I posed.

It was not until the late sixties that the U.S. began endorsing Israel's expansionism, and indeed, before that time, condemned it. However, by the late sixties:

Israel was closely allied to the U.S. directly. As a result, ... conquest was quite legitimate. U.S. government support of Israel is more or less in accord with the American perception of Israel's strength. The stronger Israel becomes, the more it is able to assist the U.S. in maintaining control of the region, so the more the U.S. will support it. Though the pretense has always been that we're supporting Israel because it is in danger, the opposite would be a much more accurate statement. American support for Israel is contingent upon its strength and ability to aid in maintaining American domination of the Middle East (my emphasis).

The United Nations does not endorse this position, and it seems that only the U.S. officially supports it.

From this website: Since 1972, the US has used its veto power to prevent the adoption of 42 UN resolutions that condemned or severely criticized actions by the State of Israel. In 2006, for example, the US prevented the adoption of UN resolution S/878, which demanded a mutual ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

In 2002, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, stated that it was US policy to denounce all UN resolutions that criticized Israel without also condemning “terrorist groups.” This statement is now known as the Negroponte-doctrine.

It is of course advantageous for Israel that Hamas got elected, so that they can invoke the "terrorist" clause into any dealings with Palestine, but aggression against Palestine, and expansion into the area has long pre-dated the Hamas government. Also, if Palestine and its governments and its people's rights to its lands had been recognised and respected prior to the rise of Hamas, then there may possibly have been no sharp rise in Hamas' strength and support. The negation of moderates, as implied in the Obama quote in the next post (yes, yes, I edit), leaves vacuums which are easily filled with the zealous. It is true, the nations surrounding Israel are not sympathetic to it, and so it needs to flex its strength if it is going to survive, but it cannot expect people to not retaliate if it goes into their lands. The U.S. backed arming of Fatah against Hamas is another side "benefit", which brings one against the other, discounts the wishes of a people, and encourages a rise in factionalism, reactionalism, fundamentalism and most importantly of all, disunity, manifested at the worst, in violence and suppression. If unity is the hoped for outcome, it will be achieved this way, in the form of a weak people further weakened by civil unrest, an easy target for invasion.

If we look at the election of Hamas from a democratic point of view, shouldn't a democratically elected government govern, whether or not the surrounding countries agree with the outcome? Isn't that one of the cornerstones of democracy? Rule by the people? Hamas were democratically elected. Israel imposed sanctions. Aid and supplies are not allowed into the occupied territories. Access to education and other necessities of life are severely limited. Poverty, naturally enough, increases . In the meantime, Israel receives the most aid from the U.S. of any country in the region. Especially military aid, which the Israeli government decides how best to deploy.

Further to the above, the U.S. supports those sanctions, which have been in place since 2006, therefore, U.S. allies also support them, well Australia definitely seems to. Aid is also given, but as stated above, Israel still receives the most, and it seems a strange game to play, to give with one hand and take with the other. The United Nations does not support the sanctions. The area is crippled. Land is invaded and annexed , a wall is built and being built, imprisoning people in their own land, and dividing it, and yet, they are meant to accept it? According to Chomsky, both in 1977 and more recent writings, Palestine is weak politically, and has been open to negotiation, to a "two-state" solution, despite rhetoric. Even currently, despite the rhetoric. Do the research. The opening newspaper article above also states this. It is not new news. This from Chomsky from the seventies: For years the oil companies have been pressing for this [two-state] solution, on their own and through the Saudi Arabian government, but the U.S. government has ignored the pressure. My speculation is that the U.S. regards the current situation as extremely favorable to their long-term interests. The tension, the high level of armaments, the military confrontation, are favorable, and the strength of Israel and Iran poses a strong military threat to independent action on the part of the oil-producing powers. It's an extremely dangerous policy, but that's the way it is. Who knows if the attitude still holds true on the part of the oil companies, the dangerous policy part certainly still does. Bush seems to talk about a "two-state" solution as if it is a new idea in need of lengthy negotiations.

Chomsky also put forth the view that perhaps those who have invaded could leave the land, but as with my forefathers (who invaded Australia), and the forefathers of many of the people who might read this blog, that is one solution that never really ever seriously gets considered, and at this stage of my generational occupancy in Australia, would I consider leaving? Probably not. Hamas have said from May 2008 that they would recognise pre-1967 borders, maybe even before that. But Israel, officially, will never negotiate with Hamas. And yes, Israeli settlers left Gaza, but they have not left other parts, and settlement still occurs, despite the 2005 disengagement. And did they really leave? Israel is able to enter Gaza at will, and controls air and maritime space. Additionally, the Gazans, or all Palestinians, are not free move, to enter Israel, or to leave their own land (or to return to it). They are still occupied lands as the politicians keep stating when they do a backflip mentioning that Israel has an obligation to protect people who are under her occupation. In addition, the sanctions are crippling and unjust.

This is from a 2003 United Nations report: In resolution 446 of 22 March 1979, the Security Council determined that the policies and practices of Israel resulting in the establishment of settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 had no legal validity and constituted a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East(2003, p. 8).

Some points listed amongst others:

*Israeli occupation forces frequently carried out punitive and violent demolitions of Palestinian homes for lack of permits as well as forcible evictions of entire villages. Since 1987,16,700 Palestinians (including 7,300 children) had lost their homes in this way.

*Israeli occupation practices also affected the natural environment of the occupied Palestinian territory, including degradation of the infrastructure, land confiscation, water depletion, uprooting of trees, dumping of toxic waste and other pollution
(2003, pp.8-9).

The Palestinian Rights Committee was alarmed by the expansion of the Israeli settlements and road network. In its 2000 report, the Committee reiterated its firm belief that Israel’s settlement policy and actions remained a key factor causing great damage to the peace process. Likewise, the General Assembly in its resolution adopted on 20 October 2000 said that all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, were illegal and an obstacle to peace. It also called for the prevention of illegal acts of violence by Israeli settlers (2003, p. 9).

All the above has escalated, including the deaths of many, many Palestinians, before this current attack.

I think, maybe it is very hard to be courageous in the face of all that does not get exposed or seen, and even when it is exposed or seen, protests really do not affect the machinations of world-wide policy which seem to operate on profit, and access to ongoing profit. And of course, I have not chosen to live where rockets land on a regular basis, nor is my history based in a land of displacement, or if it is, I am the displacer and not the displacee. This blog is not very courageous of me, and is a safe way for me to blow off some steam, and I will probably back down if anyone contradicts me, and I will admit, as said before, that I cannot know all the facts. Yet, anyone can see the irony in the story of David and Goliath.

If one people annexes another country's land and is continuously aggressive towards the people of that land, then are not the people of the land within its rights to fight for its land and its people? The United Nations has never declared Israel's various occupations as legal and just and has continued to condone its current-day practices.

It is true that the rocks and mortars which have been fired from Palestine have now killed more than the original one Israeli whose death was justification for this onslaught into Gaza. Is it right though that 373 people from Gaza, apparently 62 of them civilians including 39 children, have died and 1,720 have been injured as a consequence. I guess vengeful gods gain vengeance? Yet, either side lays claim to the same God who is equally retributive. Except, one side has more weapons, and more foreign backing.

Friday, 19 December 2008

I've got nothing, but I am still here, and check regularly. Happy something season to you all from the 9th onwards, and even before for the other religions / beliefs I know nothing about. And for those who like sun. And nice pictures. And things. Well then.

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr