Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israel and Gaza at War...Continued

Are we ready for the next entry in the Israel, Gaza conflict? I hope so. Now, this post is bound to be controversial. I fully expect to hear about it from somebody, but I intend to speak my mind nonetheless. So without further ado and invoking the previous day’s warnings, here we go.

1. I have friends on both sides of this conflict, Jewish and Arab alike, I love you all but I’m sure that some of what I may say will piss you off. Sorry. I’m going to say it anyway. For those who know me, I would hope that you would feel free to express your views on this matter knowing that I fully respect your thoughts and opinions. That does not mean that my views will change. It does mean that I am willing to hear what you have to say. For anyone else who wishes to comment please know this; your opinions will be equally respected, acknowledged, and considered providing they are given with dignity and tact, and are free from bigoted, slanderous, or hateful remarks.
2. My primary interest in this conflict is humanitarian, not political, but I intend to cover diverse subject matter. This means that this post will be VERY long. I will be subdividing it into the following topics: The history of the conflict; The terrorist perspective; The political perspective; The humanitarian perspective
3. Lastly, some of the discussion and many of the pictures may be difficult for some people to deal with. Please know that my only intent is to draw attention to the serious nature of this conflict in hopes that we may soon see an end to a most horrific situation.

The Terrorist Perspective:

The question that’s begging to be asked in my mind is, “What defines a terrorist?” or “What makes a person a terrorist?” To me, I think the definition is completely relative. I think it all depends on how you look at the situation. In other words – terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder.

Now, I feel that anyone who finds it necessary to kill another human being in order to get something they want, regardless of what that is, is a person who has a lot of moral dilemmas to work out. But lets face it people, a terrorist is a person whose goals, and or agenda, is contrary to the dominating government entity and who takes violent measures to achieve their goal/s. The governing body at the moment will always determine who the terrorists are.

This means that, yes; the people responsible for founding our country were technically terrorists. I would think that you would be hard pressed to find a person in the 18th century British ruling party who thought otherwise. There have been many acts of terrorism throughout human history and it is always the people whose views or principals that are being challenged who jump on the term and tag their opponents as terrorists.

The fact of the matter, though, is like it or not, the so called terrorists may have a fierce principal that they are standing up for, such as say; freedom from oppression. Whatever the reason, a terrorist is only a terrorist to those who oppose him. To others, he/she is a freedom fighter, or even a hero.

I know this argument has been made before, but I think it’s valid and worth reminding people that we need to take a good hard look at those we deem terrorists and try to understand why they are acting the way they are. If we don’t we will never find peace. Also, it doesn’t matter who the terrorists are, when it comes to war people die. And that’s what’s at the bottom of our outrage when it comes to acts of terrorism. People die, and we hurt for them. We don’t want to hurt for the terrorist because they are the ones who have caused the initial pain, and so we label them evil and dismiss their pain. We demonize them, make them less than human so that we can justify to ourselves our own hatred and pain. I think that may be human nature, but it doesn’t change the fact that somewhere out there is someone who has been pushed to the brink by a force that he/she deems to be oppressive.

A terrorist believes that their only recourse is violence. This is why it is near impossible to reason with them or make them believe that other alternatives could be more effective. In their minds, all other options have already failed. This doesn’t make for a very promising outcome. Either the terrorists lose, or the ruling government loses. You would think that a terrorist could see the lack of his/her own best interest in this scenario, but lets face it, too many times throughout history terrorists have been successful. That information probably doesn’t help in the dissuading of a terrorist. I mean think about it. You’ve watched your loved ones suffer, possibly die, under the current regime. You’ve had everything taken from you and are left with no means to express your voice and outrage. You can either give in and except the oppressed life that you’ve been handed, or you can fight. If you fight there’s a good chance that you’ll lose but at least you’ll go out defending your right to live as you see fit, and maybe you’ll be able to set enough of an example that others will follow in your footsteps, hence, keeping the fight alive. Maybe not in your life time, but at some point, the people you care about will be able to live in a manner of their own choosing. And, there is at least some chance that you could win. What would you do?

I know enough people, here in the US, who would be willing to fight to the death over stupider causes than one’s freedom. When a person is desperate they take desperate measures. I don’t think we’re all that far removed, yet, from the animal instinct that causes a strike when cornered. Am I defending terrorism? That’s actually a tough question. Personally, as close to a pacifist as I am; I am not a total pacifist. If I’m being attacked, I’ll defend myself. If I watched a government slaughter my family, or others that I cared about, and then lock me away. I’d have to say; damn straight I’d fight back. Let’s face it that’s one of the things that makes us who we are. Can anyone say…Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood? Hell, I don’t think there’s an American out there today who can’t relate to the movies these guys have been in. Let’s face it, they have all fought (and won) to defend their, beliefs, way of life, and loved ones. In the eyes of a terrorist, they see their self in the way Hollywood makes us see our pop idles. Defenders of what’s good and what’s right, and to them, that’s worth dying for.

Tomorrow I’m going to take a look at the political perspective. Today’s post was rather general in that it didn’t specifically speak on any Israeli or Palestinian terrorist. I guess I did that intentionally. I wanted to examine why a terrorist, any terrorist, chooses that course of action. Tomorrow I’ll focus more directly on the ruling parties of Israel and Hamas, and their political interests. Oh and, sorry for the last picture…I couldn’t resist.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Israel and Gaza at War

Alright, so here we go. Unless you’ve been living in a hole lately you should be aware that Israel and Palestine have resumed fighting in Gaza. Now, before I get fully into this post I feel that’s it’s necessary to post several warnings to anyone who chooses to read this.
1. I have friends on both sides of this conflict, Jewish and Arab alike, I love you all but I’m sure that some of what I may say will piss you off. Sorry. I’m going to say it anyway. For those who know me, I would hope that you would feel free to express your views on this matter knowing that I fully respect your thoughts and opinions. That does not mean that my views will change. It does mean that I am willing to hear what you have to say. For anyone else who wishes to comment please know this; your opinions will be equally respected, acknowledged, and considered providing they are given with dignity and tact, and are free from bigoted, slanderous, or hateful remarks.
2. My primary interest in this conflict is humanitarian, not political, but I intend to cover diverse subject matter. This means that this post will be VERY long. I will be subdividing it into the following topics: The history of the conflict; The terrorist perspective; The political perspective; The humanitarian perspective
3. Lastly, some of the discussion and many of the pictures may be difficult for some people to deal with. Please know that my only intent is to draw attention to the serious nature of this conflict in hopes that we may soon see an end to a most horrific situation.

The History of the Conflict:

Prior to WWI the Middle East was under Ottoman rule. At the onset of the war Turkey sided with Germany. The British government persuaded the other Arab nations to fight against Turkey by promising them independent rule after the war. With the aid of the Arab nations Palestine was conquered.

Unbeknownst to the Arab nations, however, Britain had also made two other agreements which were contradictory to the agreement made with the Arab nations. First was the Sykes-Picot Agreement made with France. This agreement stated that Lebanon and Syria would fall to France as a zone of influence, while Jordan and Iraq would be dominated by British influence. Palestine was to become internationalized. The second agreement was made between Britain and the Zionist congress. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917 Britain gave Palestine to the Zionists as a Jewish national home. Despite the fact that there were over half a million Palestinians living in Palestine at the time, a slogan stating “A land without people for a people without land” was widely circulated as a means of drawing in a new Jewish population to Palestine. After WWI a large population of Jewish people began migrating to Palestine under the blessings of Britain and the League of Nations in accordance to the Balfour Declaration.

In 1919 the Palestinian people made an official objection to the Balfour Agreement during their first national conference. But by 1920 Britain had been given “official” rule over Palestine according to a mandate declared at the San Remo Conference. By 1922 attacks on the Jewish population in Palestine were increasing. The Palestinians feared the next step beyond the migration, which was declaring Palestine a Jewish state.

In 1936 Palestinians organized a strike to protest the confiscation of land that was taking place. Palestinians were being removed from their homes, some of which had been in their families for generations, and the land was given to Jewish settlers. In 1937 the Peel Commission recognized the conflict as irresolvable and recommended the division of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states with neutral sacred sites. In accordance to this recommendation Britain declared that there would be an independent Palestinian state within ten years. The Zionists rejected this declaration in 1939 and formed two terrorist sects which began a new war between both Palestine and Britain, but Britain remained in control until 1947. By the end of WWII (1945) Palestine’s land ownerships had been divided between Palestinian and Jewish occupants.

By 1947, though, Britain was struggling more and more to maintain control and decided to withdraw from Palestine, leaving the newly formed UN with the decision of what to do. The UN opted to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. The Palestinians revolted declaring their desire for retribution for the Israeli terrorist attacks and massacres that had taken place, as well as the land that had been confiscated.

On May 15th, 1948 Britain withdraws from Palestine leaving an official recognition of the existence of a Jewish state. This day brought with it a full out attack on Israel from the surrounding Arab nations who, in conjunction with Palestine, declared war on Israel. This was the first Arab-Israeli war. Palestine, Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq joined together in an attempt to prevent the Jewish state from coming to be. The Arab nations were defeated and treaties were made which placed the Gaza strip under Egyptian control and the West Bank under Jordan’s control. The remaining area fell to Israel and of the 800,000 people living in the now Israeli occupied land, only 170,000 remained. The others became refugees in the surrounding Arab nations.

Over the next two decades conflicts, between Israel and the Arab nations, occurred over the Suez Canal and the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In 1967 Egypt insisted that the UN forces which had been in place there, since the Suez Canal incident, leave. Upon the withdraw of UN forces Israel launched an attack against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria on the 5th of June, known as the Six Day War. When the war concluded Israel had captured and occupied the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Arab East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. Soon after, terrorist attacks by members of the PLO began, claiming the redemption of Palestine as their objective.

In 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in an attempt to gain back the territory lost in 1967. The United States intervened and stopped the Arab forces. In retaliation to the US intervention the Arab nations banded together and halted the sale of oil to the US and other western nations, creating the oil shortage of the 70s. In 1974 Kissinger arranged a truce that gave Sinai back to Egypt and Golan Heights back to Syria. Israel maintained control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. That same year the Arab Summit recognized the PLO as the only legitimate voice of the Palestinian people.

In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon in order to wipe out the PLO presence there. By 1987 the “Intifadas” had begun. These were uprisings that took place within the refugee camps of Gaza and the West Bank which included demonstrations, protests, and rock throwing. In 1990 Yasser Arafat went to the UN Security Council requesting protection for the Palestinian people within the Gaza and West Bank areas. In 1991 peace talks began. In 1993 Israeli PM Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat agree to allow the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to become self-ruled, but in 1995 PM Rabin is assassinated by a right-wing extremist. The Israeli right wing leader, Benjamin Netanyahu becomes the new Prime Minister in 1996.

In the years following we have seen too many treaties/agreements come and go. Today, the West Bank is governed by the Fatah led Palestinian Authority while the Gaza Strip falls under the mandates of Hamas. The Fatah party is recognized as a legitimate organization by Israel but the Hamas organization is seen as a group of terrorists. A recent breakdown of a treaty between Israel and Hamas is what has caused the current conflict. Israel claims Hamas broke the treay, Hamas claims Israel did. Who knows? But I do know this: Many Arab nations still wish to see Israel disbanded and declared a non-nation; while many Israelites believe that the Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves. Both of these claims, I believe are completely ludicrous. But here you have the basis for the current situation. I warned you this was going to be a Looooong post. It looks like I’ll be posting the other portions tomorrow. Of course, if I get on a roll this could span out over a few days; we’ll have to see. At any rate, now you know where all of the conflict is stemming from. It seems to me that both sides have made mistakes but well, let’s face it, Britain - this is really your fault. Now, I have to say that the US is also partially responsible since we were the ones who put together the League of Nations and the UN, and lets face it they played a pretty big role in all of this too. Unfortunately, the past is the past and nothing will ever change that, so let’s start looking at each other as human beings instead of ancestral monsters and stop this craziness now. Alright, I won’t make you read anymore today. Tomorrow; the Terrorist Perspective.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Merry Christmas

So, Christmas has come and gone. The holiday rush is over and everyone is chillin’. Around here, all in all, things went well. We didn’t have a lot to spend on the kids but we were able to get them a few things each that they wanted. I think they were happy. Of course, G, our youngest got a broken toy two years in a row now. That really sucked, poor guy. We bought him a remote control dragon that was supposed to do all sorts of stuff including walking. G wanted to be able to walk over the top of his other toys and pretend he was crushing them, kind of a Godzilla thing, I think. He originally asked for a D-Rex, but yeah, right…179.00 dollars. I don’t think so. This one cost 40.00 a considerable difference and would have been perfect. He was very excited when he saw it. Unfortunately, the button on the remote that makes the dragon walk and makes his wings flap is the broken one. The darn thing will do everything else, its eyes light up, it roars, but no walkie. Figures. I plan on taking it back to the store this coming week but man, last year he had a broken dinosaur toy, too. So, the whole large reptilian toy thing just hasn’t been working out well. On the plus side, though, he absolutely loves the harmonica he received, so it wasn’t a waste for him. The other kids were all happy with their stuff, PC games, bedding, Bakugon, Nerf guns, Tini Puppinies, and skateboards all topped the list.

The older kids (the ones who now live on their own) all got a check. It works well for them. But… they also got some homemade sewn goodies. S&B got a Bears apron and overstuffed pillow, K&D got a Bears apron and a Colts overstuffed pillow, and G&J got extra-long fleece blankets. J stands about 7 foot tall so I thought that he may have a hard time finding a blanket that he can wrap up in. I made them each an 8 foot by 5 foot blanky. G’s has white Japanese letters (characters ?) against a black background. J’s has a woodland duck scene. I wanted to find him something cool like Star Wars, or D&D type stuff, but no luck. I think he liked it though. He’ll be able to cover up from head to foot and wrap his feet up, too. He said that they’ve had to keep an extra blanket down at the end of the bed so he can cover up his feet when they’re sleeping so I thin it was a good choice. C has asked for a Bears shirt to be made for him from the extra material. I told him I need to get a pattern, but I think it’s doable.

Well, so much for the Christmas updatey thing. I think I’ll be spending some time in the near future doing some writing. Besides the novel (that has been sorely neglected over the holidays), I also need to write an article and keep up on the blog entries. I submitted the poetry chapbook but I won’t hear anything on it until February. Keep your fingers crossed. Check ya later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Holiday

K, so the holidays are here and in full swing. Despite the economic crunch I still have much baking, sewing, cleaning, and cooking to do. What does this mean to you? Probably not too much, unless of course, you’re a devoted reader of this blog who can’t seem to go a day without a fix. Yeah, yeah…I know there’s sooo many of you out there *wink*. Seriously, though, it does mean that there’s a good chance my posts will become more erratic for a while. This is not to say that they haven’t been erratic in the past, but I’m just trying to forewarn everyone. I’m considerate that way.

So on with the post of the day – Question: What do a pair of shoes, President Bush, and an Iraqi journalist all have in common?

Answer: If you haven’t heard…During President Bush’s last visit to Iraq an Iraqi journalist threw a pair of shoes at the, soon to be, ex-pres. Now, why shoes? In Iraq it is considered to be a great disgrace to have shoes thrown at you. I’m not exactly sure why, R’s take on the matter was that “You throw a shoe at a dog” which may very well be on track here. Bush was able to duck out of the way and was not injured or even touched by the shoes, but the man was arrested nonetheless.

A couple of things here – Bush’s reply, when asked about the incident, basically stated that he believed this to be the opinion of one man and not at all a reflection of the Iraqi populace’s feelings. My take…OMG get real Bush! Iraq has been thrown back into the dark ages here, their infrastructure destroyed, their way of life altered forever, and lets not forget to mention the tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children who have died as a direct result of this war that was waged in the name of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that everyone but apparently Bush knew were not there. Can Bush, by any minute proportion, actually believe what he is saying? Good God, I give up!

Next, and this is really the most important point of my post today, so please if you pay attention to nothing else, read this –
The journalist who has a wife and family to care for has been placed under arrest. He is facing up to two years in prison for throwing a shoe people! Give me a freakn’ break. Let’s be honest here. Ok, so what he did could “technically” be considered (what?) an assault on a government official. What it actually boils down to is a frustrated man, who has been placed under extreme hardship conditions, living in a country where neither he nor his family can safely exist, who attempted to have his voice and frustration heard. He wanted Bush to understand that he blames him for the atrocities he has seen and still has to live with. And how did he do this? By throwing a shoe! Not a bomb, not a knife, he didn’t take a shot at him. He used a pretty harmless object, an object that anyone with children has probably witnessed flying through the air at some point in time. And for this, the man may receive two years in prison. What, long enough for his family to die under the current hardships faced by the people of Iraq? For throwing a shoe he and his family should be given a death sentence? I personally think it’s amazing that an actual attempt on Bush’s life wasn’t made by someone there. What about you? Do you think two years in an Iraqi prison is a bit too much? I’m very interested in knowing how others view this situation. Please, leave your thoughts.

And…Happy Holidays because even when the world sucks, life goes on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Environmental Fugitives

I came across an interesting article today. It seems that there’s a new most wanted list out now. This list doesn’t concentrate on the average criminal, though. The new list highlights environmental fugitives. These are people who are either responsible for, or have aided others, in environmental crimes. Now they have fled in an attempt to evade justice. The list is a way to bring these people’s faces to the public so that it might be harder for them to hide and, therefore, get away with their crimes. Now, some may wonder what the big is regarding environmental crime, so I thought I’d put up some pictures today that show what the big is. The rest of this post will show the sad side of our world. These pictures show the way the world is in too many areas. Our planet is far from pristine, the last thing we need is people exploiting her for their financial gain. I mean really, that’s like them saying “I’m going to come over to your house today and dump some industrial waste in your backyard so I can make a buck. You don’t mind do you? How’s the kid’s sandbox work for you, ok?” The planet isn’t large so anything they do does affect us in some way whether it is dirty air or water, or toxic materials lying in wait. I hate to see this side of our world but it’s a good reminder that not everything in nature is beautiful and wondrous and that our planet needs help. I know I don’t want to look at something like the following for the rest of my life.

Air Pollution

Water Pollution

Nuclear Waste

Industrial Waste

Strip Mining

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What lingers in the fog?

It creeps its way through the back woods and travels along the vacant pathways. Silent, as it descends down the wooden stairs and into the back yard. Gently rolling over the patio, it spreads itself between the flower planters; the cedar absorbs the mist and hides it in their porous beams. As the water beads and drips to the concrete the puddles vibrate and spread. The tiniest waves make their way up to the door and partially reform into a blanket of white that curtains the glass. I look out, unsure. I begin to slide the door open and peer into the vapors. Seeing nothing I step, onto the patio “ARRHHH!!!!” the water sinks through my slippers and soaks my socks. Wet feet, wet feet, stunned and lingering in the fog.

Don’t bother asking me where this came from; I honestly have no idea. It just came out. Sometimes my brain just wonders like that. I’m told that it’s only insanity if you’re poor, otherwise it’s eccentric. Crap! I guess that means I’m nuts, huh? Oh well, today I shall go on my merry little crazy way.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Playing the Catch Up Game

I’ve been introduced to a new phenomenon. Well, ok maybe it’s not exactly new but I’ve never been exposed to it or any thing like it. I’ll spare you the tension…it’s Facebook. Ooo and you thought it was going to be something all out of the ordinary didn’t you? I never got on the My Space kick so I really don’t have any knowledge when it comes to these places. So far, I do like it. It was rather overwhelming at first; there was just so much to take in, but I think I’m adapting now. I’ve been able to have closer contact with many of my friends and I’ve even been reacquainted with a dear friend from my childhood.

It’s sort of bizarre, though, that the technology seems so busy. One would think that a person with a degree in Computer Technology wouldn’t have such a freaky experience with something like Facebook, but here I am. I’m sure that being out of the industry since 2001 has had its effect and left me behind the crowd, but still. I guess the only thing I can figure is that I was a network person more than an applications type. It’s just amazing, though, to find how advanced even the networking has become. So…my amazement aside, that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of days…working on Facebook.

Yes, that means that I have also neglected my PAD Challenge although I’m not out of luck. I have a few poems to go to finish off the 30 that were requested and I do plan on finishing those. Why, you may ask? Ok…I’ll tell you. It’s because Writer’s Market, the creators of Poetic Asides, have put forth a contest using the November theme poems. Participants are to select 10 -20 of their poems and put them together into a submission where they will be judged. Now, at the moment the only “prize”, so to speak, is bragging rights; it has been mentioned that a really good win may be submitted for a chapbook publication. So, I’m going to submit my work and keep my fingers crossed. Please keep yours crossed for me. Thanks. The winner will be announced February 2nd.

Other catch up news, this weekend is Vampire game weekend. My character is on the verge of being killed due to my “OMFG She Didn’t” experience. It seems that a scape goat may be needed since last game the masquerade was broken when the video made it out to the WWW. This, of course, is very bad for me. I am currently hiding out and may have to abandon my clan and turn to the Toreadors for aid. All of this does seem to be in accordance to our game master’s plan so…I guess this horse will drink deep of the water she has been led to. If anything majorly exciting happens I’ll throw out an update after the game.

As for the bad news….R was notified that the transport company he works for will be eliminating 60% of their workforce by March. Gotta love this economy, huh? We don’t know for sure yet if he will be a part of the elimination, it’s a waiting game now. The cuts will include people from every level, though, so the possibility is certainly there. To my understanding it means over a hundred jobs. Our area here has been hit with this news, and the news of about another 300 – 400 other job losses as well. Hold on folks…it’s going to be a bumpy ride!