KingMidget's Ramblings

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Tag Archives: Gaza

What I’ve Learned This Week

Cable news is pretty useless.

There are few things I watch on the boob tube these days.  News being one of them.  Because of my job, I’ve been involved in a number of issues that have showed up in the press.  I’ve learned that reporters frequently get just as much wrong as they get right.  As a result, I have no interest in wasting too much time watching the news.

Because of a couple of reasons I’ve spent more time watching CNN over the last couple of weeks than I have in a long time.  First, there’s the confluence of events that are riveting, at least to me — Ukraine, Israel-Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Ebola.  It’s all fascinating and could change any day, at any moment.  Second, my foot injury.

For a number of years, my morning routine has been to get up, read the paper, check email and spend a few minutes surfing the internet.  A couple of weeks ago when the Gaza Strip exploded I started turning CNN on as well while I sit in my recliner and go through the morning ritual.  ,

Because of my foot injury, which has more or less kept me relatively immobile for a week now (but it is getting better, most definitely getting better), I have spent a lot more time in my recliner, fixated on what is going on in the rest of the world.

So, I’ve watched a lot of CNN.  And here’s what I’ve learned.

It’s crap.  Hours can go by without any new information, without anything that resembles real reporting.  Just a bunch of spokespeople for both sides ranting their propaganda and not a whole lot of depth.

Here’s an issue I want to know about and I saw pretty much nothing that even approached this issue today.  Last night, a 72-hour ceasefire was announced.  This morning I woke to the news that the ceasefire lasted no more than 90 minutes because Hamas attached Israeli troops who were in the process of destroying a tunnel.  Two Israeli soldiers dead, one potentially captured.

What are the problems with this?  Well, for hours, in all of the breathless reporting, nothing new was reported.  They just kept cycling through the same set of facts and getting people’s reactions.  And then, there’s the fact that CNN anchors and reporters kept referring to the soldier has having been kidnapped.  No, that’s wrong.  Israel and Hamas are at war, when a soldier is taken by the enemy in a war, he has been captured and he is a prisoner of war.  He is not a hostage.  He has not been kidnapped.  This is just one subtle way in which the mainstream media plays into the propaganda machine that supports Israel’s position in all of this.

And, here’s the larger piece of this that supports the propaganda machine.  Apparently, the incident that blew apart the ceasefire was in or near Rafah.  This is a town that is on the Egypt-Gaza border about 4-5 miles from the Israel-Gaza border.  Israel claims that it is seeking to destroy the tunnels that pose a risk to its people.  The tunnels that allow Hamas militants to get into Israel.

Here’s the deal.  There is a whole network of tunnels in Gaza.  Most of them are used for smuggling goods across the Egypt-Gaza border.  There are actually people in Gaza who invest in “owning” a tunnel so they can make money on the goods transferred through their tunnel.  This is what the tunnel complex in Rafah is — a smuggling network, for goods and materials coming across the Egypt border.  Since Israel has a blockade around the Gaza Strip.  Do weapons make their way through these tunnels?  Most likely.  But, these are not tunnels that are used to attack Israel.

Why?  How can I be so sure?  Because, again, Rafah is at least four miles from the border with Israel.  The tunnels built to attack Israel are smack dab on the border.  Why would Hamas build a four or five mile long tunnel to get into Israel when it has a border with Israel that would allow it to build multiple tunnels of only one or two miles, or less, to get into Israel?

So, the question is this.  What is Israel doing in Rafah destroying a tunnel that has nothing to do with potential attacks into Israrel?  And the problem is this.  Nowhere in any of CNN’s reporting on this was this issue ever raised.  They seem to accept without question Israel’s right to destroy any tunnel in Gaza, no matter its purpose.  No matter its location. 

This isn’t real journalism.  It isn’t real reporting.  It’s breathless and now, but it’s useless.  It’s a disservice to anybody who wants a real presentation of what is going on there or anywhere else in the world.

 

It’s Rather Simple Actually

Both on Facebook and here, I have been in an undeclared war against people who take a short view of the current Israel-Gaza clash.  These people include FB friends, much of the political class in this country, most mainstream media, and … my family.  According to these people, Israel’s actions are justified because Hamas started it when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and then Hamas started lobbing bombs into Israel.  Never mind that there is no evidence that Hamas actually was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of those teenagers and the Israeli government knows that.  Never mind that, even with that lack of evidence, Israel used the kidnapping and murder as a pretext to go after Hamas again, arresting hundreds of Hamas members who were recently released in an agreed-upon prisoner exchange.  And never mind that Israel has … well read what is below.  It’s from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog and it encapsulates what I would like to say better than I could.  I have been trying to come up with how and what I really want to say about this whole thing.  I don’t need to.  The quote  Anybody who thinks that Israel’s actions are completely justified in this current clash has absolutely no clue of the history of the occupied territories over the past 47 years or what Israel has done to make it almost impossible for the Palestinians to have any belief in a country of their own, to live a life of their own, to realize the most basic and fundamental of human rights.

 

“A moderate-minded Palestinian who watches Israel expand its settlements on lands that most of the world believes should fall within the borders of a future Palestinian state might legitimately come to doubt Israel’s intentions.” (Goldblog, theatlantic.com)

 

This is really the whole Israeli-Palestinian problem in a nutshell. For 47 of my 56 years, Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza. (Yes, Israel “withdrew” from Gaza some time ago, but it is still very much Israel’s captive.) In modern times, there is no single other example of a nation that supposedly shares “western” values sustaining such a long occupation of another people. Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. Yes, Israel has every right to question whether it has a partner to make peace. Of course I don’t trust Hamas. Of course the rockets merit a vigorous no nonsense response. But one question sticks in my mind about the position of Israel: If Israel really wanted peace, why does it keep building those darn settlements?

 

Every answer I’ve ever heard – the irrelevant “there never really was a Palestinian state on this land”, the hopeless “even if Israel did that what makes you think they’d suddenly change their stripes?”, or the more limited “construction is for the most part only expansion of existing settlements anyway”, whatever – all of them only go so far as to try to justify why Israel should be permitted to continue to build. It doesn’t explain why it is a good idea for Israel to continue to build.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And in that sense, there is no justification I have ever heard for the settlements that one can reconcile with trying to make the two state solution a reality, or indeed even with leaving it open as a possibility. Just the opposite. Until there is an answer to that question, in my mind, Israel cannot and will not be guilt free. Maybe if those of us who love Israel but think it has lost its way focused on that one simple question until it is answered, we might get somewhere.

What the World Needs Now

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone

As it says over on the right side of my blog …
 
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Put it differently …
 
Astronauts, when they first see the Earth from space, tend to share a complicated, but common, reaction: a sense of wonder. Mixed with a sense of peace. Mixed with a sense of appreciation of all that we share by virtue of sharing a planet.
 
That quote is from a piece that appeared at theatlantic.com.  The piece includes a photo taken from the International Space Station as it orbited above Israel and the Gaza Strip.  The astronauts can see flashes of light signifying the explosions.  The astronaut who took the picture described it as “the saddest picture yet.”  Maybe what the world needs is a different perspective.
 
What the world needs is a Martin Luther King, Jr., moment.  What the Middle East needs is somebody who can and will rise above the hate and the history and stop pointing fingers and preach the value of love.  Of forgiveness.  It seems to have been lost in so many ways in the conflicts raging throughout the Middle East.  Problem is there doesn’t appear to be any capacity for such a figure to rise.

The Root of the Problem

The failure to recognize this … “Israel aspires to exploit its military dominance to create irreversible facts on the ground in the West Bank and Jerusalem, heedless of Palestinian rights.” … is why I have such a problem with what passes as debate and discussion about what is going on in the Middle East. Hamas started it. Hamas is a terrorist group. They are targeting civilians and using their own as human shields. As long as people are unwilling to acknowledge Israel‘s role in the dispute, a role that has developed over the course of decades, one simply isn’t willing to consider how to resolve the situation. That statement above, and the article linked to here, written by a friend of Israel, states as succinctly as possible the nature of the problem … the player with the power is using that power solely to press its advantage, rather than using its power to reach a resolution.

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