Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I’m in a Stupor

Really, I want to do some serious writing, but I’m having some trouble here. While I’d like to do this Blog entry, I would actually prefer to be working on my novel. The problem with that, though, is there’s too much activity going on right now to be able to bring my thoughts together. So…frustration ensues.

My brain is spending a little bit of time here and a little bit of time there, but I can’t seem to bring enough of it together to even get an entry out of it. Honestly, it’s taken over an hour just to get this far.

I have 19 year old daughter in crisis mode, 9 year old son in birthday day mode, birthday cake bake mode, chicken and noodles super mode, writing mode, cats on the table mode and the world has gone and left my brain to cope. That’s a dangerous thing to do.

So, today’s entry is just this. Here’s hoping tomorrow I can get things together. Peace.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Where to Now?

Time for a new poem. I felt the need to create today and so, here is the first draft. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess. Don’t mind the picture (45grave); it doesn’t really go with the poem. I just felt like being a bit obscure.

Far Away

Far away the world falls
into a blackend oath after
scaling the nerve of
scratching nails down the chalkboard

Watching letters of no one fly
past the window of opportunity
into a dark night of
anxiety and pleasure

Shock absorber walls keep out
undesirable thoughts
and deeds
Inside a trapped innocence
battered, broken, bleeding

The lives of many hold
the few torn remnants of a
wishing world turned inside out
Ready to take on the

Far away she sings in the garden
looking out into humanity
feeling, pleading, loving,

Caressing the moment of respite
that has become her anchor
of redemption
creating a new life within
the tattered womb of isolation

The beginning moments of a
charitable love fall backwards
through the last sentiments of
a long ago day where time stands
still then erupts into echo

Far away they leave
forgetting that they once lived
sheltered in the garden where
the echoes of birth have faded

Friday, January 9, 2009

Israel and Gaza Continued....Humanity

Here we stand on the edge of one more humanitarian crisis in the world today. Where does end? Will it ever? Of course these are unanswerable questions at this time and place in history. One thing we do know is that humanitarian crises have occurred time and again throughout history, and still, they continue. It is up to humanity as a united front to put a stop to it. Does that mean, intervening in political battles, or jailing those we deem to be guilty? Some people may feel that it’s a necessary action due to the lack of other options at this time. Possibly. I think it’s going to take a huge overhaul in the mentality of the human animal before a true humanitarian concern becomes the status quo. Educating people to the plights of those suffering may help. If a person is first unaware of another’s suffering, or misinformed as to why they are suffering; it stands to reason that they’re not going to be concerned. But, I think humanitarianism goes far beyond that. I think there is a crucial state of being that needs to be present within the human psyche. A humanitarian, to me, is a type of person just as an artist is an artist, or an engineer an engineer. These are traits, characteristics…skills…that a person learns and develops through intentional practice. Humanitarianism requires that a person be able to consciously act against their own interest in a situation, when it will provide a means or way for another being to live a better, less sufferable life. Sometimes this can be a difficult road, especially if that person lacks adequate training. You wouldn’t expect a weather person to perform brain surgery. Why expect someone who has never been given humanitarian training to act humanely? I’m just sayin’. While some of you may believe that most people carry a compassionate trait in them; I’m saying humanitarianism goes beyond. Want to learn? Start by practicing patience…next time you go to the store intentionally pick the longest line and then, wait. Can you do it without feeling anxious or annoyed? If so, then you may be on your way. If not, keep at it until you can. K, today’s post isn’t about lessons in humanitarianism. It’s about the crisis in Palestine. Remember, the whole educating people who may be unaware or misinformed thing mentioned earlier? Well, that’s what this is about today. Maybe some future posts will have more exercises in humanitarian training…be patient ;-)

The occupied territories, Gaza and the West Bank have effectively been under siege since Britain left the lands in 1947. We’ve had the history, so you know that’s when Israel claimed the land after several Arab nations declared war on Israel and Israel was victorious. Since that time many Palestinian families have been displaced. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000 Palestinian families were uprooted from their homes at that time, in what was now Israeli land, and relocated to refugee camps in areas that included Gaza and the West Bank. The remaining refugee areas were eventually handed back to the Arab nations, but Gaza and the West Bank remained under Israeli authority. There has now been two generations of Palestinians who have known no other life, than existence in a refugee camp, overseen by Israel. These are people who, for the last 60 plus years, have not been allowed to leave the sealed off West Bank and Gaza strip, without Israeli permission. Think Russia, during the cold war. It takes a great deal of money, power, and manipulation to obtain a pass out of these areas. That means, they are not free to visit America, or Syria, or even their remaining family members who live outside of the West Bank, or Gaza Strip without special papers and permission from Israel. In other words, they are captives whose basic freedoms are denied on an enormous scale. But, this is just the beginning.

How would you feel if you had to ask permission to cross the street so you could go to the store and buy food for your family? How would you react to being told that you were not allowed to send your children to school on some given day or days? How about not being allowed to work? Would any of these situations upset you? Answer honestly, and we all know that of course they would. We wouldn’t stand for it. But, these are the conditions Palestinians have been living in for the last 60 years. And who’s blinking an eye?

Of course, this too is only the beginning. Besides being denied access on a regular basis to places of daily life, let alone travel out of the country, many times food, fuel, and medical supplies are stopped from coming in. Hmmm…let’s see…this is not a starving Ethiopian suffering from conditions beyond his control. This is a Palestinian child suffering due to the impossible living conditions placed on him by an occupying state.

Again I ask, what if this was your life? What if this was your child? What if you knew your child was starving to death because of the restrictions placed on you by the governmental authority ruling over your state?

Alright, let’s talk about what it’s like to see that governmental authority in your presence everyday. You consider yourself fortunate because you have been given papers that allow you to hold a job, many you know are not. You leave at 5 AM walking your half an hour walk to your job. On the way you must pass through 2 check points guarded by soldiers. At the first check point you present your papers, then your body is searched, a stranger’s hands rub up and down your arms and legs, your torso is patted down, then you are told to sit and wait. You stay at that check point waiting for over an hour with no explanation as to why you have been detained. Finally, you are allowed to pass. When you get to the second check point you find out that it has been shut down. There is no access in or out until further notice. This may be a matter of minutes, hours, possibly even days. You sit and wait. It’s now 9 AM; you were supposed to be to work by 5:30. The check point opens, after standing in line you present your papers, are patted down and allowed through after watching many others be denied for no apparent reason. By, 10:00 you make it to work. You head back home at 4 PM, going back through the check points, knowing you could be detained for any period of time. You are at the soldiers’ mercy.

When you arrive home you are excited at the news that your wife was able to buy flour today. There was no produce allowed into the market but you have meat and bread. Your son and daughter work on their homework. At 7PM you hear the announcement over the area’s loud speaker, a curfew has been put into place until further notice. You hear gunfire at the end of the street, screaming, after a bit it gets quite. You stay in your home being sure to avoid the windows. In the morning you don’t bother getting up for work the curfew is still in effect. You understand that a curfew here means anyone caught outside their home after a curfew has been established will be shot. Your children’s homework goes ungraded and you hope the flour your wife bought will be enough to get your family through until the curfew is lifted. Over the next 2 days you listen to the sounds of sporadic gun fire and feel the rumbling tanks making their way down your street past your front door. You think how nice it would be to have some more meat to go with the small bit of bread that’s left. Finally, after 3 days the curfew is lifted and you are allowed to begin your day’s journey back to work. When you get home that night you discover that on their way to school your children came under gunfire and had to take cover in a blown out building. The group they travel with came out ok, this time. – If you think this scenario is embellished in any way, you’re wrong. This is what it is like to live in the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli occupation. Could you / would you live like this?

The latest outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza is just one more incident of hatred and fear building up to an explosive point. Living under inhumane conditions would drive all of us to desperate measures. What if this was your child?

Understand that Israel claims this treatment is necessary to protect their people. That they have been the victims of bombardments and suicide bombs there is no doubt. Israel is certainly threatened by many of the surrounding Arab countries, and weaponry is in no small supply where terrorists are concerned. But let’s face it after 60 plus years of living the way the Palestinians have been forced to live is it any wonder things are getting worse instead of better. What is taking place, and has been taking place, is ethnic cleansing plain and simple. Most Palestinians only want to live a normal life, where they can go to work, earn a living, and provide an education for their children. A humanitarian crisis has developed over the years to a point beyond reproach. The world (WE) must stand up and demand the end to this. No person…no human being…should ever be subjected to conditions such as this. You know it, I know it. You wouldn’t stand for it if it were you. Are you willing to stand for it because it’s not?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Israel and Gaza at War....Politics

The Political Perspective

I plan on presenting both sides of the political battle here as best as I can. Please keep in mind that Israel has a more open media policy than does Hamas. In fact, the information regarding the Hamas perspective, their goals, and their ideology has mostly come from US sources such as; the FAS (Federation of American Scientists) and the CRS (Congressional Research Service), and the Washington Institute. Now, while I would like to think these are reliable sources, it does need to be noted to anyone reading this that this is where the information has come from. I also read the news from the Al Jazeera web site, that’s about as close as I can get to any actual Palestinian political input. The following pictures of the Israeli government and Hamas are presented in a manner that, without doubt, influences the senses into one of civility VS terror, but keep in mind, too, that access to Hamas photos is also very limited. My past experience in activism and input from friends has also influenced my perspective, so please keep all of this in mind. Thank you.


Israel was given a large majority of Palestinian land between the 1920s and the 1950s by the UN. By 1967, due to wars/attacks instigated both by Israel and Arab nations Israel came to occupy the West Bank and the Gaza strip, originally dedicated to Palestine in 1947. It’s easy for Israel to look at the West Bank and Gaza as a benefit of war. When one country wins a war it’s only natural for that country to occupy the land in which it has claimed. This outlook has been around since the dawn of time. So, in the eyes of Israel, they fought and died for their right to exist not only in Israel proper but also in the occupied territories. In their agreement to give the West Bank and Gaza back over to the Palestinians they feel they have made a great compromise. Israelites will be displaced, some who have lived in the occupied territories for a long time, and new accommodations within Israel proper will need to be made for them. The main thing that Israel is asking for is that the Arab nations recognize their right to exist as a nation, and allow them to live in peace and safety.

Israel states that in 2005 they withdrew from the occupied territories, allowing for the self-government of the Palestinian people. After the Palestinian elections in 2006 the West Bank fell under the jurisdiction of Fatah (formerly the PLO), while Gaza fell under the authority of Hamas. Fatah has been recognized as a legitimate governing body by both Israel and the UN. Hamas, on the other hand, is only recognized by the Arab states; in the eyes of Israel and the US Hamas is a terrorist group. This has brought on two different forms of negotiation between Israel and the West Bank, and Israel and Gaza. While fighting has lessened in the West Bank an onslaught of attacks has continued between Israel and the Gaza strip. The latest outbreak that we are now witnessing has occurred because Hamas claims Israel broke the latest peace treaty by denying the entry of essential food and medical supplies into the Gaza strip, and so began unleashing rockets in retaliation. Israel claims that the accusations from Hamas are untrue and that they have been under sporadic rocket attack all year. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA) claims that 1,212 rockets and 1,290 mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip have struck southern Israel since the beginning of the year (Jan-Nov 2008). They believe Hamas has broken the truce and they feel it is their duty to defend the Israeli people. Israel does not recognize Hamas as a legitimate government; they see them solely as terrorists and will not concede to a Palestinian terrorist state. Israel claims that they are deeply concerned for the humanitarian condition of the Palestinian peoples within the Gaza strip, but they believe their ultimate safety and well being falls to the responsibility of Hamas. Israel is basically saying, enough is enough, lets end this now. They are tired of dealing with hostile people who they believe will not stop until Israel is conquered, and so, they must defend themselves until a sure victory is had.


Came into being in 1967 as a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, They grew into Hamas during the first intifada in the 80s. Their agenda is based strongly on Islamic Fundamentalism and their popularity within the Gaza strip has grown over the years. In the 2006 elections Hamas was voted into power and recognized as the ruling authority in Gaza by the Palestinian people. Fatah was elected by the peoples of the West Bank as their governing authority. The ideologies of Hamas and Fatah are deeply at odds when it comes to the recognition of Israel. Fatah is willing to recognize Israel as a state and negotiate with Israel. Hamas on the other hand takes the position that Israel never had a right to their land, that it was given to Israel under false pretence and that they hold no rights to it. They are calling for the complete withdraw of Israel from Palestine proper according to the Pre-1947 boundaries. It is widely believed that should Hamas be victorious that open warfare between Hamas and Fatah would follow.

Many of the Palestinians who have chosen to support Hamas have done so because they feel that Fatah has been ineffective in resolving the Palestinian crisis. They have seen year after year of occupation and oppression. They have been removed from their land, denied many basic human rights and feel that Israel is their enemy. They believe Israel’s primary goal is to eliminate them as a people and that Fatah is helping them to achieve that goal by negotiating with them. They strongly believe that Israel is a terrorist state. Combine that belief with the belief that Israel has taken their lands illegally and you have one volatile mixture.

It is believed that Hamas is being funded primarily by Iran, and probably by Jordan and some groups in Saudi Arabia. Hamas relies on violence as its chief means of achieving its goals. They believe that a truce is to be used as a means of regrouping and regaining their strength. Until Israel makes them a “serious” offer, which includes the complete withdraw from Palestine (pre-1947), they will not end the jihad (holy war). They have openly declared in propaganda pamphlets that Palestinians should “increase attacks with knives, grenades, and guns against the cowardly Jews in their houses and turn the day into darkness and the nights into intolerable hell * * * view every Jewish settler as a target to be killed, whose blood and money are for the taking.” [From the FAS / CRS ]

Looking at things through this perspective certainly gives one a feeling of hopelessness when it comes to seeking a tolerable solution to this problem. Keep in mind, though, that there are many, many Palestinians who do want peace. They would like nothing more than to be able to raise their children in safety, send them to school, go to work, and have a “normal” life. These are the people who unfortunately become the victims of this horrific battle. There have been so many painful and intolerable acts committed on both sides of this war that I believe its very difficult, if not fully impossible to cast blame on any one people. The fact of the matter is this…the politics of this situation has cost too many people their lives. Men, women, and children have been suffering for generations and the political aspect, negotiations, and wars have done little, if anything, to resolve the crisis. I believe that the only solution is to be found through a united humanitarian front. That front begins with educating people about the humanitarian crisis that has taken place and continues throughout the lands of Israel and Palestine. The next post will be an attempt to do just that.