Saturday, January 31, 2009


Can the U.S. be an honest broker?


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:09 AM CST, The Tribune, Ames
The Israeli incursion into Gaza, done in front of the eyes of all people on earth, is a disgrace and shame to human kind. That the world’s leaders seem disabled, unable to address the obvious underlying causes of this violence brings more shame to our national intellect, empathy and responsibility.

Do our leaders feel nothing when they see children blown apart; families destroyed and property demolished beyond repair? For 22 days, the United Nations and the people of the world begged for a cease fire while Israel continued to do its ugly mission of destroying and killing.

Where was the condemnation of Israel, a state that will not declare its own borders and can have its leader call our president and tell him what to do and how to respond?

Has the United States become this weak and ineffectual?

Israelis knew how to ignite attacks from Hamas. They challenged the Palestinians on the day a new president was elected in the United States, Nov. 4, 2008. On that day, Election Day, thinking Americans would not notice, Israel broke a truce by firing missiles into the Gaza Strip. They assassinated several Hamas members, and they knew fully well Hamas would have to respond.

What does it mean when a powerful nation tries to destroy any semblance of potential peace, sneaking in to break a truce they know will lead to renewed violence?

As I read reactions of news people and writers, Jewish and Israelis among them, it became clear to me Israel was not particularly worried about Qassam rockets, but in the potential of the Palestinian leadership to build a real Palestinian state, with borders and with an economy that would give its people normal life expectations. Israeli and Jewish writers explained the Zionist agenda always has been to avoid accord, to create “facts on the ground” which would be hard to reverse and, in the end, to eliminate or displace forever the indigenous people of Palestine.

Oxford professor Avi Shlaim wrote in The Guardian, Jan. 7, 2009, that we cannot understand the violence of attacks like this one unless we place it in the context of history. Shlaim tells about British reactions to the 1948 establishment of Israel, quoting Sir John Troutbeck who wrote that the Americans were responsible for the creation of “the gangster state headed by an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders.”

Shlaim adds, “I used to think that this judgment is too harsh, but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush Administration’s complicity in this assault, has reopened the question.”

American partisanship with the Zionist movement, which began when Israel was born, has come full circle. It is “the rough beast” that Yeats once wrote about in his famous poem, “The Second Coming.”

Now, under a new American president, we have a chance to recreate a history that serves us through compassion that makes us responsive to the suffering of all people, most decidedly, to the Palestinian people.

If we loosen the grip of Zionist lobbying in the United States, truly become an “honest broker” and respond justly, recognizing the human rights of all people, we have a chance to create a world worthy of peaceful living. “Yes, we can!”

Haifa Akili

P.S. While cease fire was declared a week ago, firing from the sea has not stopped on the shores of Gaza.

A Video I Believe In

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I wonder ...


Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 11:29 AM CST
Many settlers came to Iowa, attracted by its rich land and the abundance of crops it produced.

Those settlers came from the East Coast of the United States and from foreign countries such as Germany, Ireland and others. All of the settlers lived and worked together to produce such abundance that Iowa was soon feeding most of the country/world/whatever.

But the time came when thousands and thousands of folks from the East Coast experienced mass foreclosures on their homes and their livelihoods and were evicted. These East Coast folks, for very good, historical, and even Biblically based, reasons decided to settle in, and establish their own government in the state of Iowa.

They were supported in their claim on Iowa by several foreign entities that did not really want all of those immigrants coming to their lands.

The time came when the national government decided to let the East Coast people move to Iowa, establish a government and evict all of the non East Coast natives from their homes of many years. Those who were evicted had no say and no input into the decision.

Eventually, the Iowans who were not of native East Coast origin were offered a small portion of Iowa for their land — the hilliest, driest segment, with the least access to water.

When Iowans fought back, they were called terrorists and intransigent. Then the East Coast folks wanted more land than what they already have taken, so they infringed on the already small segment left to the Iowans by coming in and taking over some of the more productive farms.

The Iowans were pushed onto smaller and smaller parcels of land. To control the Iowan terrorists, walls are built around their towns and cut them off from other Iowans in other towns, which are also walled off.

I wonder ...

Gayle Hoepner

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Voices for Justice

Stimulating New Discussions


Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 11:29 AM CST, The Tribune, Ames
The vastly disproportionate response by Israel against Hamas in Gaza deserves worldwide condemnation. More than 1,000 Palestinians (including 300 children) have now been killed by Israeli air and ground attacks. These aggressive military actions were initially justified as retaliation against Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that had reportedly killed seven Israelis in the previous three years. Since the offensive began, 13 Israeli combatants have lost their lives.

The Israelis claim hey have expended great effort to avoid harming civilians is just not credible; their armed forces must know that, in this densely populated area with these type of attacks, a large number of women, children and other noncombatants will certainly end up as casualties. When challenged, official Israel expresses little regret and simply blames Hamas and the innocent victims. Furthermore, Israeli blockades prevent Palestinian civilians from fleeing Gaza and have frustrated many international relief efforts.

Anna Balzer, Jewish Fulbright Scholar, opined it would be criminal to bombard the entire population of Israel for the crimes of their government, but that is exactly what is happening in Gaza. Rabbi Michael Lerner has written that these Israeli attacks and the devastating loss of life is a humanitarian disaster and is creating more and more anger at Israel around the world even in countries that had no previous history of anti-Semitism or antagonism toward Israel.

In the face of this unwarranted, excessive use of military force by Israel, political leaders and the mainstream media in the United States have typically been either supportive of Israel’s “right to defend itself” or just silent. This is an incredibly biased, irresponsible response; official revulsion at the widespread civilian casualties in Gaza should have been immediate and unequivocal. Columnist Rekha Basu recently observed that solidarity with the Jewish people does not demand uncritical acquiescence to a bellicose Israeli government or military and that constructive negotiations offer a much better potential for improving Israeli security than use of armed force.

Unfortunately, the Bush administrations obvious, overwhelming favoritism toward Israel in this conflict has made it impossible for the United States to be considered an honest broker. Furthermore, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has essentially dissipated any moral authority this country may have once possessed in that part of the world.

Negotiating an acceptable two-state solution offers the best hope for finally resolving this long-standing conflict and bringing a durable peace to this troubled region. The new Obama administration is uniquely positioned to stimulate productive discussions; every effort should be made to enlist the cooperation and assistance of Middle East countries, our European allies, and the United Nations. The alternative is continuing instability, hatred, violence and suffering in the region.

Dean R. Prestemon

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Price of Insisting that the Ends Justify the Means

In the Ames Tribune as the violence began to slow due to a supposed cease-fire.
By: Betsy & John Mayfield

The Israeli government's slaughter of the people in Gaza that has gone on, as of this writing, more than 19 days is a human made catastrophe of apocalyptical proportions, certainly to families of the more than 1,000 people who are dead because of it. In addition, when we hear that 4,000 plus people have been injured, we do not mean hurt with scratches or, even, internal injury like hematomas. We mean children, women and men forced to have multiple amputations. We receive photos of people sliced open with shrapnel or burned in the precise way phosphorus sears right down to the bone. We read physicians' accounts of patients faced with long term suffering because Israeli explosives are a new kind of slow killing machines: Dense Inert Metal Explosives or depleted uranium shelling that leads to cancer and slow, painful deaths. All the while, Israel claims that they are not targeting civilians; that destruction of Hamas is their goal and their right.

There are those in Israel and here in America who object to this kind of supposed reparation not only because it is a moral outrage against a helpless people, or that Israel is destroying itself in this tragic bargain with evil, but that the rationale for it is a lie. Israeli and Jewish writers continue to tell us with amazing consistency that this bombardment against the Palestinians, Hamas or ineffectual rockets of rebellion is just a cover for the real reason behind the onslaught. Jewish writers tell us that this is a result of Israel's determination to never, ever allow a Palestinian state to exist and to set the stage for endless war in the Middle East. You may not have heard of these writers, but they are world famous and they are all saying the same thing, this killing is about the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, an act that will unite those who would continue violence rather than quell. Uri Avnery, Tom Segev, Ilan Pappe, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass beg us to understand what's behind the carnage. They are Jewish, they are Israeli, they have watched first hand as this battle has evolved. Foreign corresponds who join this choir include Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Justin Raimondo, Tony Karon, Joe Klein. American Jews of conscience who take more heat from Zionists in America than any of the rest of us are Harvard's Sara Roy, MIT's Noam Chomsky, NYU's Tony Judt, The Nation Magazine's Naomi Klein and Henry Siegman, Wisconsin's Jennifer Lowenstein, Chicago's Norman Finkelstein and the UN's Richard Falk. If these people of international note are willing to put themselves and their careers on the line to stop Israel's slaughter where are the rest of us?

The writers above tell us that the violence is not because of Hamas and their Qassam rockets. Why? The 85-year old, Jewish, Israeli writer, Uri Avnery, tells us that Israel's idea that "the state must defend it's citizens "is a ridiculous propaganda device since Israel is the occupier and oppressor not the occupied and oppressed. Why should Israelis be safe, but millions of Palestinians always face unimaginable danger and starvation every single day?

The idea that Israel has to defend itself against a hapless people, he tells us, "has been accepted as the whole truth" He adds, however, "War–every war–is a realm of lies." "The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself." Few mention that the Qassams are retaliation for a two-year Israeli siege that has caused a man-made human rights disaster for the million and a half inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. That Hamas held a two-year truce and for this received nothing from Israel but closed borders, continued incursions and killings and under-reported bombings. Do not the Palestinians and their elected government, Hamas, have a right to defend themselves?

For those who are indifferent to this horror, consider this: Whatever happens, even if this ends without a single Hamas member standing, Hamas wins. Writer Chris Hedges explains, "Hamas cannot lose this conflict." Israel, he tells us, is delivering a package of facts for the world to see, truckloads of maimed and dead. We cannot look away forever. The reality show comes in waves of truth that no lie can vanquish. Says Hedges, "Hamas fighters, armed with little more than light weapons, a few rockets and small mortars, are battling one of the most sophisticated military machines on the planet. . . The Israeli assault, by destroying Hamas as an [elected] governing force, has opened a Pandora's box of ills. Life will become a nightmare for most Palestinians and, in the years ahead, for most Israelis."