Israel Is Killing Innocents

There comes a time when the endless comments that war is a messy business and innocents die no longer can be allowed to be used as a response to needless carnage taking place in the Middle East.  If my counting is correct this is day 19 of the latest fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian blood-letting, and reports are coming in that 1,000 people have died in Gaza.  The vast majority of them are not the militants, but instead innocent civilians.  Of that number a crushing percentage are truly innocent children.

The bloodshed on the news is just staggering, and while both sides have reason for blame to placed at their feet there is more of the shame and condemnation to be carried by Israel.

While there is no justification for the missiles fired into Israel there is also no way to condone the Israeli land grabs and power tactics that have waged for decades against those who also call this place home.  An economic blockade of Gaze was never going to result in anything positive for Israel.  The Jewish state needs to be mindful that the world does care for the underdogs who fight for rights no matter where they reside.

While there needs to be tough judgment against Hamas for the way they conduct their brand of warfare it also needs to be plainly stated the Israel is playing the aggressor here as they are prone to do and overreact with the result of killing civilians in numbers that must not be allowed to continue.

The report that most stunned me–and there are so many–was of a family of 25 who was hosting a Hamas fighter for dinner as they observed the break in the Ramadan fast.  All were killed when Israel unleashed a missile strike.  There is no civilized nation with real morals that mean something other than as a talking point who would unleash the military in this fashion.  It simply does not make sense in any humane sense, and in a military/political context only stokes the anger and resentment that creates more problems for Israel in the long run.

Israel is out of joint over the inclusion of Hamas into the unity government that needed to be a step in the ownership of responsibility within the Palestinian government.    Israel does not like those who they have crapped on to form a united front and so worked to turn the killing of the three teenagers several weeks ago into the pretext of a military strike that could achieve their purpose.

And now there are 1,000 deaths in Gaza.

Israel conducting themselves in the fashion we have again seen over the past 19 days makes one thing sure.  There will be more young minds that watch the buildings explode and fall in Gaza and the funerals take place every day and who will turn their attention to retribution.

And who can blame them?

Simple Question About Gaza

As of Friday there were 300 deaths in Gaza. 3/4ths of those were civilians and of that number 1/4th of those were children. Once again lack of proportionally from Israel is clear for all to see. Is it any wonder why there is hate in this region?

Yasser Arafat May Have Been Killed With Radioactive Polonium


Questions started from the days when Yassar Arafat fell ill and lay dying.  No one truly thinks he died from anything except foul play.  They may publically claims otherwise, but deep down they know the truth.

The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned with radioactive polonium, says a Swiss forensic report obtained by al-Jazeera.

Arafat’s official medical records say he died in 2004 from a stroke resulting from a blood disorder.

But his body was exhumed last year amid continuing claims he was murdered.

The Swiss report said tests on the body showed “unexpected high activity” of polonium, which “moderately” supported the poisoning theory.

Many Palestinians and others have long believed that Israel poisoned Arafat. Others allege that he had Aids or cancer. Israel has consistently denied any involvement.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said the Swiss investigation was “more soap opera than science”.

Polonium-210 is a highly radioactive substance. It is found in low doses in food and created naturally in the body, but can be fatal if ingested in high doses.

Push For Two-State Middle East Solution Is Vital

The news is filled with the desire, and need for movement for a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

On Wednesday I wrote a blog post that made it most clear where CP stands.

It is easy to be frustrated with the Middle East, angry at Israel, and confused by the needs of the Palestinians.  But that thinking can only be allowed in coffee shops where newspaper readers gather to solve the world’s problems.  In the places of power there needs to be a re-commitment to a two-state solution, and perhaps now with Netanyahu in a less comfortable political position he might be more willing to play ball.

If Israel really wants to look good for the West lets give them another opportunity.

President Obama needs to place Middle East peace near the top of his agenda.

Today The New York Times weighed into the Middle East on the Op-Ed pages regarding the just concluded Israeli elections, and urged movement, though stated the obvious fact that little action is seen on the horizon.

Still, there is a reason to hope that the new government could be more receptive to a peace initiative. The vote suggests that if it is not, Israelis may give even more support next time to a centrist coalition not led by Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Lapid has been skeptical of the Palestinian leadership’s willingness to negotiate and has not made peace talks a priority. But he supports a two-state solution and renewing peace talks that have been frozen for four years.

The White House on Wednesday renewed its call for peace talks to resume. This won’t mean much if President Obama is not ready to invest political capital in a new diplomatic initiative. Unlike the bungled effort in his first term, though, he needs to carefully prepare the political ground, including making his first trip to Israel as president and explaining to the Israeli people how any peace plan will enhance their security.

Then today U.S. Senator John Kerry warned that a failure of a two-state solution in the Middle East would be “disastrous” at his confirmation hearing as secretary of state.

Sen Kerry warned “the window or door on a two-state solution could shut – and that would be disastrous for all concerned”.

“Perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the parties into a discussion to have a different track than we have been on over the last couple of years,” he said, adding that it was unclear what government would emerge from Israel’s recent election.

The Massachusetts senator did not give details of possible plan, saying he did not want to prejudice any new effort.

While many will say it us futile to grasp for a peaceful solution for this region I ask what is the price of more failure?

Leaders must lead.

American Resolve For Middle East Peace Must Be On President Obama’s Agenda

There has never been a time since the creation of Israel that the United States did not have a stake in the Middle East.  Beyond the economic need for oil, or the larger international power plays during the Cold War there has always been the close bond between the two countries.

It is hard to say if there is any more reason this week than last for hope at gaining at securing a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.  The just concluded election in Israel might have opened a door, as slim as that might be, given the limited views of  Yair Lapid regarding international politics, and his seeming frustration with Arabs.

Lapid was the star of this election cycle, and while he is moderate on social and economic issues has all but stated that peace with Arabs is mostly a concern so that Israel can look good in the eyes of the West.  Not exactly the high-minded thinking one hopes from a politician, but one takes what one can get.

The new coalition government will be formed, but the key will be in the details as to how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can fashion the slim numbers he can play with into something that can actually govern.

Which leads me to President Obama.

While his administration has spent time and energy on Asia, and can correctly make a strong case as to why our future economic and military ties are essential in that region of the world there is no getting around the fact that nothing matches the needs of the Middle East.  While it is true that decades of Middle East diplomatic activity does not seem to add up to diplomatic piles of success there is another truth about the region.  If the United States does not pay attention to the needs of the region, the headlines created in our absence will draw us back again.

The only thing that works in the Middle East is international pressure, led by the United States.  Without some strong guidance, leverage, and arm-twisting no one thinks that Netanyahu will be able to see his way to a negotiating table.   The essential ingredient in the always heated and fragile mix of Middle East politics and diplomacy is an American president willing to roll up his sleeves, spend some political capital, and get down to business.

It is easy to be frustrated with the Middle East, angry at Israel, and confused by the needs of the Palestinians,  But that thinking can only be allowed in coffee shops where newspaper readers gather to solve the world’s problems.  In the places of power there needs to be a re-commitment to the a two state solution, and perhaps now with Netanyahu in a less comfortable political position he might be more willing to play ball.

If Israel really wants to look good for the West lets give them another opportunity.

President Obama needs to place Middle East peace near the top of his agenda.

Palestinians Win Major Goal In United Nations

While no one can overstate the need for constructive and broad-based negotiations between Israel and Palestinians there still can be sincere pleasure with the news today.

The United Nations General Assembly has finally endorsed an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority.  Even though the United States and Israel failed to live up to their stated ideals with their votes, the rest of the world can rejoice.

The resolution elevates the Palestinian status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”  There is no way to not see the richness to this outcome as it provides Palestinians new leverage in their dealings with Israel.  If Israel is nervous, than perhaps they need to adjust their actions and policies.

For too long the tables have been stacked to the detriment of the Palestinians.  Today the playing field was leveled just a bit  with the aid of major players on the world stage helping to make it so.

To those who made this possible there are many full hearts of appreciation from around the globe.

There remains so much to accomplish, but there should be no diminishing the goal that was set and realized in the UN this afternoon.

Yasir Arafat To Be Exhumed, Was He Murdered?

From the last days of Yasir Arafat’s life many thought something sinister was taking place.  Now there is an all-out effort to find out more about the death of the leader of the Palestinians.

The preparatory work, involving the removal of layers of stone and concrete, is being done manually and is expected to take at least two weeks.       

“It needs to be done meticulously and privately, out of respect for the late president and our religious traditions,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak about the issue.       

Tawfiq Tirawi, the chief of the Palestinian committee overseeing the inquiry, issued a statement on Monday announcing that the mausoleum was closed to visitors, without specifying a date for the exhumation.       

The structure lies within the walls of the compound in Ramallah where Mr. Arafat, long the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle, was confined under an Israeli Army siege and virtual house arrest for more than two years while outside raged the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, and the Israeli clampdown.       

The preparations for the exhumation have been enveloped in almost as much mystery and contention as was the death of Mr. Arafat in 2004, at the age of 75.         

Mr. Arafat became ill in October 2004 and was flown by helicopter out of his headquarters and transferred to a French military hospital, where he died about two weeks later of unannounced causes.       

The records showed that he had died of a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an underlying infection. The infection was never identified. The hospital found no traces of poisons.       

In July, Mr. Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for an exhumation in an interview with Al Jazeera, the Arabic television channel based in Qatar, after it reported that Mr. Arafat might have been poisoned with polonium, a radioactive element associated with K.G.B.-style assassination intrigues.

West Bank Settlers Stealing Tons of Soil From Palestinians

The illegal settlements on Palestinian land needs to end.

This is not a new plea.

Many Western nations agree that what Israel does is illegal, and understands that there is no way to have peace in the region until Israel withdraws the settlements, and stops the actions it seems to condone with such relish.

The stealing of soil is just another example of policies that are engrained into the systematic undermining of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.  When I read this today I should have been surprised.  But nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to the never-ending events aimed at only further frustrating and destroying chances for the Palestinian people.  One knows that if there had been an olive tree on the land in question it would have been stolen too.

Roughly a month ago, infrastructure work began in one of the house-trailer neighborhoods in the West Bank settlement of Ofra. Brown soil was needed to cover the foundations. In properly functioning places, such soil is bought and paid for, but not in Ofra. Tzvi, a local farmer, nicknamed “Kishu,” found an alternative: He sent a rented tractor and truck to the outskirts of the settlement, next to the Palestinian villages of Silwad and Deir Dibwan, where they simply stole dirt. Tzvi claims that the land belongs to him.

 The theft was made possible – even easy – by the fact that wide expanses of land belonging to Deir Dibwan and Silwad are enclosed within Ofra’s security fence, and the villages’ residents do not have free access to their own fields. Entry into Ofra requires coordination with the Israel Defense Forces and a constant security escort. The fence, like many parts of Ofra, was built without any permits.

 In 2009 and 2010, residents of Silwad and Deir Dibwan petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice, demanding that the illegal sections of the fence be dismantled. The IDF responded to the petition, confirming that the fence was in fact built without permits and unnecessarily closes off land owned by others. At the same time, the army asked for time to build a new, modern security fence, closer to the houses in Ofra. The IDF requested until the end of 2012 to finish the job, but no work has yet begun at the site.