Monday, October 26, 2009
the politics were taken out of the interview (which also explains the absence of Paul's voice), but we got on TV! ish!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
According to Obama, not much. He said: “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
Who are these nations of people looking toward U.S. leadership? Are they people of the Phillipines who were slaughtered by Nobel Laureate and President Teddy Roosevelt. Perhaps they are the millions of indo-chinese slaughtered in Viet Nam under the direction of Henry Kissinger.
President Obama certainly is not referring to the Palestinians. At least not the folks in Bil’in. I got an e-mail from Iyad Burnat, Head of the Popular Committee in Bil’in. For the last 4 years they’ve been demonstrating nonviolently every Friday against the Apartheid Wall. The government of Israel has even ruled the wall there illegal. They’ve been visited by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, and more of the Elders. There, nonviolent activists from the community, from Israel, and from the international community demonstrate against the illegal wall. Yet, every Friday, they are greeted by cannons that shoot 30 tear gas canisters in one go, horrible stink bombs, and bullets coated in rubber. In between Fridays, members of the IDF raid their homes at midnight to abuse and arrest them, using sound bombs, and pure physical force.
Burnat’s take on the Prize is very different: “Bush had a good speech about the establishment of a Palestinian state in the year of 2005. …[A]fter the speech … Sharon invaded Al Aqsa mosque, and the American army invaded Iraq. Why didn't you give the prize to this man at that time, and he got shoes instead? This is injustice!”
To contrast, on October 29th, Burnat’s committee will host members of the Shministim, an Israeli organization of teenagers who refuse to join the military and accept sentences in prison for their dissent.
Who more deserves a prize? Politicians that give speeches, or everyday people working on the ground to literally tear down the walls that divide?
Friday, October 16, 2009
I've done some soul-searching and to these, I have but one thing to say: Go listen to "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G.: "You know very well who you are / Don't let 'em drag you down / Reach for the stars."
Is giving a detailed account of things that I saw unjust? Why is there this dichotomy between saying that Palestinians shouldn't have to put up with being detained for walking around on their own farms and the destruction of all Jewry? Why not attack my points instead of my person?
As for accusations of being one-sided: Maybe. But only because the only side that gets perpetuated in the corporate media, the so-called liberal media, is that of the Zionists. But it doesn't matter if you're a Zionist. Say one bad word about Israel and you're either an anti-Semite or a self-loathing Jew.
An article to leave you with:
1. On Israel's exclusive right to self-defense: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1254861893834&pagename=JPArticle/ShowFull
An now, off to my English Literature class. How did I end up majoring in Literature? Ah, life.
EDITED TO ADD:
an idea borrowed from Paul Erb, written by me:
Sure, Israel has the right to self-defense. But is taking out the chicken coop that provides 80% of underfed Gaza's eggs reasonable retaliation?
Is "wantonly" using white phosphorus in the most densely populated area in the world, white phosphorus that eats through flesh from the outside and burns through fatty tissue from the inside, appropriate relation for suicide bombers?
There are better ways to go about it.
When the Tutsis were massacred by the Hutus, a situation in which it is politically ok to use the word "genocide," the Western world urged the Tutsis to not retaliate, and instead go through the International Courts. Their people were being hacked into bits by machetes, and we said "Take a step back and breathe."
Why is it that the "Western world" doesn't listen to their own advice?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I am honored to have international readership and criticism.
The following is David Wilder's response:
2. " Every adult on the compound carries a gun on them" – Simply, not true. What evidence does the author have for this statement?
3. " Wilder’s discourse – like his weaponry – was straightforward, curt and tense." – I interview for hundreds and more journalists. My discussion is not curt or tense. It is straightforward. My answers are not 'one-liners' and I also tend to smile and laugh. However, I am serious.
4. Issa conducted a tour with the author. I was not requested to do this. He is portrayed as a nice guy who is scared of Israelis. " Issa does not dare walk down Shuhva Street for fear of being maimed or worse." – First of all, it is "Shuhada" street, meaning 'the street of the martyrs.' – named after Arabs who have killed Jews. When was the last time an Arab was 'maimed or worse' by Jews in Hebron? However, Jews have been killed by Arabs on this street – an Arab exploded himself, killing a couple from nearby Kiryat Arba. Other Jews have been attacked, stabbed and shot at on this street.
5. " smash windows, destroy water tanks and throw stones" – not true
6. " Many of these homes, including Wilder’s, are situated above a crowded Palestinian community, which has been pushed, quite literally, underground" – False- the Kasba and Shalalot neighborhood are 'old Hebron,' where Arabs have lived for many years. Jews also used to live there and there is Jewish-owned property in this area, which has been declared off-limits to Jews by the Israel defense ministry.
7. " I have never seen poverty like this. Cincinnati is ranked third-worst city in the U.S. to be in if you’re homeless, and yet I have never seen so many children begging on the street." – False – Arab children don't beg on this street – did the author ask why such 'poor' families all have satellite antennas on their rooftops?
8. " many of these settlers (Wilder included) were born and raised in the U.S" – 12% of Hebron's adult population were born in the US. Over 75% of the adult population is native Israeli.
9. " Yet, Issa’s anger never translated into hate. He was rational." – In other words, 'David Wilder's anger translated into hate. He was not rational."
10. " “I would like to have Jewish neighbors,” he said, “but they come and say it is Israel. I could not go into your neighborhood in the United States, hang up a Palestinian flag and say ‘This is a Palestinian state and we have our own laws.’” – The author does not mention that Jews have lived in Hebron for thousands of years, that 80 years ago Arab mobs in Hebron murdered, raped and tortured 67 of their neighbors, and that Arabs prevented Jews (and Christians) from accessing the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Judaism's 2nd holiest site, for 700 years and today claim that the entire structure is a mosque which belongs entirely to them.
And it's true that Arabs have killed Jews in Hebron. It's also true that Arab families harbored Jewish families to save them from those that wanted to kill them. It is always dangerous to categorically lump people into broad categories. That is why I use the word "extremist." Wilder's actions, like his definitions, are extreme.
And what is omitted from this response? The camo netting over windows, the ousting of families from their homes, the giant slabs of concrete suspended above colonized heads (protected from death by a thin shield of fencing.)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Why does Obama get a prize whilst Bush gets shoes
By Iyad Burnat
Today, when I came home from our nonviolent demonstration in Bil'in, after
the soldiers shot tear gas and after seeing the violence of the Israeli
soldiers, I heard that President Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize. When I
heard this from the media I started to go crazy. I asked myself why. The
Americans are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Palestine is still
occupied. In the recent news I saw that the Israeli soldiers closed
Jerusalem, and I heard that many people were injured. We haven't seen
anything changed. Why didn't the committee give the prize to Bush? I
remember nine years ago Bush had a good speech about the establishment of a
Palestinian state in the year of 2005. We saw after the speech that Sharon
invaded Al Aqsa mosque, and the American army invaded Iraq. Why didn't you
give the prize to this man at that time, and he got shoes instead? This is
I am so sorry Mr. Bush. You worked very hard, eight years with killing
children, starting wars and supporting the occupation, and they gave the
prize to another man.
I ask you our friends in the Nobel Committee, why didn't you choose
quality? I think your prize makes the people more violent. Do you think that
Obama can make peace, and why didn't you wait until he actually made the
peace? Maybe he will invade another country. Sorry, but we are still under
occupation and it makes us very crazy because we see every day and night the
suffering of our children, and it's killing us. We hear in the speeches that
the president talks about peace, but nothing has changed. To deserve a Nobel
prize you need to work, not talk. We need the work to be done now, not
tomorrow. We need our land now, not tomorrow.
Thank you for you continued support,
co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin
and a great article by Howard Zinn
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
More exciting, however, is the debate that I stirred up with my article on the Goldstone Report (previous post.) I was very excited to read a counter-article published in today's paper. This is exactly what I am going for. Let's have some real debate on campus!
Below is my response to this article which I posted both to the Newsrecord's website, and to the author personally:
Unfortunately, I think you and I are talking past each other on a couple of points. This keeps going back to the chicken or the egg. You think radical Islamists started this when they began firing rockets over the wall that keeps them locked in Gaza. I urge you to ask yourself why they do so. Is it blind anti-semitism? That is possible. But more than likely, it is because they are locked in Gaza.
Consider the words of Frederick Douglass: "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." Those trapped in Gaza are kept lacking food, medicine, water, and electricity. The borders are closed by Israel which has a truce with Egypt to keep their border closed. The United States funds their military. Is that not an organized conspiracy to oppress and degrade them?
These slow starvations are what I refer to when I use the words "ethnic cleansing." March 1948 and the six month period following saw 531 Palestinian villages wiped off the face of the map. This is what I refer to when I use these words.
As for the point that the US would have mass bombed people, I agree, the United States would have mass bombed them. I have publicly denounced mass punishment done by the United States before and do so again right now.
The Israeli folks that I met with that lived under daily rocket fire were surprisingly sympathetic to the Palestinians that fired those rockets. This included people living in Sderot and at Kibbutz Zikim. I cannot claim that these few people can speak for the entirety of Israel, they can only speak for themselves. The point is - that Israeli perspective also exists.
From my brief talks with Palestinians citizens of Israel, those folks dislike the term "Israeli Arabs" and prefer the aforementioned term, because they still feel Palestinian. They are not ambiguously "Arab." They are Palestinian.
On Liberty and being American: I did not feel at Liberty when I went through checkpoints, when I had guns pointed at me by the IDF, when I stayed up all night when a Palestinian family because they were afraid of the military raiding their house in the middle of the night.
On dictators and radical clerics: The United States props up dictators all throughout the middle east. The Department of Defense is the number one arms dealer in the world. Saudi Arabia is our number one client.
On democracy: not all speech is protected in Israel. It is illegal to try and dissuade someone from joining the military. There is no freedom of movement. Israelis and Palestinians drive on separate roads. Palestinians have to take a full stop in the rare places where these roads meet and simply wait and wait until the road is cleared enough for them to drive. Israelis always have the right of way. They have different colored license plates, different water rations, different rights.
I do not pretend that radical religious fanatics do not exist. Obviously they do. But they are not the majority of Palestinians, they are not the majority of Arabs, they are not the majority of Muslims, and to speak of extremists in that way borders on racism. To couch this situation in those terms is dangerous for the Arab and Muslim communities that we co-exist with here on campus and in the world. If we are to move anywhere on this issue, it must be with religious and cultural acceptance and understanding.