EVENT TODAY: Congressional Views on US Approaches to Gaza

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american international school gaza.jpg
Today at 12:45 pm, I will be hosting an event in the US House of Representatives on the subject of “Congressioal Views on US Approaches to Gaza.”
Regrettably, we can’t stream the program live because of logistical challenges with the room we are in, but I will posting a digital file of the event later here at TWN. The public is invited to attend. The room is 2253 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC, and an
RSVP page is here.
Joining me today will be the Honorable Keith Ellison (D-MN) and a new member of the House International Relations Committee as well as the Honorable Brian Baird (D-WA) who is a Member of the House Science & Techology Committee. New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force Director Daniel Levy will be responding to their comments.
Congressmen Ellison and Baird recently traveled to Gaza recently and were profoundly disturbed by the logistical impediments to providing humanitarian relief and support to innocents caught in the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
Congressman Baird issued this statement. Rep. Keith Ellison posted these video clips from their Gaza tour.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

51 comments on “EVENT TODAY: Congressional Views on US Approaches to Gaza

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    “The hasbara thing is kind of silly and pointless, whether or not
    it once was true. (I’ve never engaged in that discussion.) Why?
    No need for a government program: there are plenty of articles
    in Ha’aretz and other newspapers calling upon Israeli citizens
    and friends to run to the internet barricades and sway world
    opinion by posting on websites in Europe, America and beyond.
    Full editorials, with quoted officials, and full-throated language
    ‘in this time of crisis, Israel needs you now more than ever.’
    See? It’s all out in the open. No need for a conspiracy. No need
    for a government program.” (rich)
    ————————-
    Good point, rich. If I openly promoted and defended the policies
    of the Norwegian government 7 days a week at TWN, why
    speculate whether I “secretly” promoted the same policies?
    And to varanasi and … : I welcome your effort to play devil`s
    advocate.

    Reply

  2. Kath Leen G says:

    Interesting conversation on the middle east here
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/

    Reply

  3. Kath Leen G says:

    Interesting conversation on the middle east here
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/

    Reply

  4. Kathleen G says:

    … Hamas has recognized Israel based on the internationally recognized 67 border.
    Until Israel stops expanding illegal settlements and building illegal outposts. Until they get out of the West Bank, take down the part of the wall built on Palestinian land Israel proves over and over again they do not want Peace.
    The only way forward is a one state solution. But guess what Israel does not want a two state or a one state solution.
    Hamas offers truce in return for 1967 borders
    No Israeli response, but U.S. rejects it as ‘no change’
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24235665/

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    thanks varanasi.. i agree with you! best to stay focused and positive, which is sometimes a good challenge…

    Reply

  6. varanasi says:

    thanks, …
    see, i knew there is a lot that we agree upon! instead of constantly focusing on our differences, it is quite refreshing to to build consensus. this is the crux of conflict resolution and the *only* healthy way forward for israelis and palestinians.
    it’s too bad that not everyone agrees, but poa does in a way represent our worst inclinations. endless anger, resentment, hostility – they are a vortex. imo, his mindset and disposition are the root of all geopolitical tragedies. who knows, maybe the human condition is all about rescuing ourselves from this downward spiral.
    in the meantime, i’m lifting my glass of sleemans to you, …

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    varanasi – until hamas accepts a two state solution, they essentially seal themselves off from any true dialogue and negotiation… if they could make it to this, they could also renounce violence as well.. they all seem to be primarily driven by the pain of past, which is an unhealthy place to operate from… perhaps the concept of forgiveness isn’t in their vocabulary… until these points change, i don’t see how anything will change for the palestinian people… one has to adopt positive change in order to get others to come around to the idea..

    Reply

  8. Kathleen G says:

    Interviews like this one…do not help resolve the I/P conflict. Rachel Maddow did not push Andrea Mitchell what so ever.
    Rachel Maddow’s interview with Andrea Mitchell about Hillary’s middle east trip.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keq3DnAUkLI
    Rachel Maddow states and ask Andrea Mitchell ” For so long we have thought about the center of the potential resolution between the west and the middle east the the whole relationship between the west and the Muslim world we have thought at the center of gravity there being the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I wonder if you sense that the Obama administration still views the center of the gravity in the Muslim world as Israel Palestine? Or ist it possibly the crisis in south Asia the crisis in Pakistan that is starting to really rise in terms of importance in terms of what the Muslim World is paying attention to and what our relationship is with Muslims around the world?
    Andrea Mitchell “Oh I think it’s definitely Af/Pak is what they would call it”
    SO RACHEL MADDOW IS ASKING ANDREA MITCHELL WHAT “MUSLIMS AROUND THE WORLD” CONSIDER TO BE THE CENTER OF GRAVITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. ANDREA MITCHELL?
    JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH RACHEL MADDOW YOU MIGHT CONSIDER ASKING SOME MUSLIMS THAT QUESTION….NOT ANDREA MITCHELL.
    GEEZ I THOUGHT RACHEL WAS MORE ON TOP OF IT. Pathetic person to ask that question
    Andrea goes on to take this opportunity to share her extremely lopsided views on the I/P conflict. Rachel does not call her out on it just goes along with the lopsided perspective that Andrea spews. I expected more out of Rachel

    Reply

  9. Rose Hunter says:

    Please excuse ME!!! very much!

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/must-jews-always-see-themselves-as-victims-1639277.html
    An excerpt…..
    It’s perfectly possible to acknowledge the pain caused by increased anti-Semitism but reject wild scenarios and counterproductive ways of dealing with the problem – such as demonising strong criticism of Israel. We should be able to have a dialogue about alternative ways of interpreting what’s happening and what needs to be done. Sadly, the Jewish establishment here and other self-appointed gatekeepers of Jewish dignity see this as traitorous and a denial of anti-Semitism.
    Nothing illustrates better how we are in thrall to the uniqueness of our suffering than the shocking silence from most Jewish leaders that has greeted the rise of Avigdor Lieberman – a politician who, in Haaretz’s words, “conducted a racist campaign against Israel’s Arab citizens and is suspected of grave criminal acts” – to king-maker for the next Israeli government. It’s sickening that the leaders of Israel’s three largest parties have courted him and conferred respectability upon him, with not the slightest hint that they might be metaphorically holding their noses.
    Before we put down the mirror, the final image we see is that of Lieberman.
    We are not condemned to accept the fate which the closed-minded ethnocentricity of so many Jews dictates to us. Ameliorating our predicament, restoring the balance, could come from acknowledging modest but profound truths, even if we get to them through distasteful comparisons.
    I know that the siege, bombardment and invasion of Gaza were not like the German obliteration of the Warsaw ghetto – a comparison that critics of Israel are spreading through the internet I believe. And our need for calm and compassionate examination of the reality of the conflict would be greatly enhanced if we could retire such comparisons. But if we pause to think of the suffering of a dying Jewish child in the ghetto and a dying Palestinian child in Gaza, who would dare to suggest that their suffering is any different. Yet, as Professor Baron seems to imply, we fall all too easily into the trap of thinking that there is something unique about Jewish suffering. There isn’t.
    Antony Lerman is the former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    You aren’t “with me”.
    Your abrasive and irritating manner is only designed to disrupt. Pick another “ally”, because I think you’re trying to nurture the destruction of discourse, and involve me in the effort if only to discredit me.
    There needs to be a key on this damned thing that works as a flyswatter. Or better yet, as a can of Raid. Pfffft, hit the key, and the insects disappear.

    Reply

  12. Rose Hunter says:

    I am completely with Pissed Off, and I also am PISSED OFF abt. Zionism, which is a geo-political-economic stratedgy that tries to hide its’ henious intent behind, RELIGION????? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since their counterparts have done that in the US with the KKKristians!

    Reply

  13. DonS says:

    “Congressmen Ellison and Baird recently traveled to Gaza recently and were profoundly disturbed by the logistical impediments to providing humanitarian relief and support to innocents caught in the conflict between Hamas and Israel”
    Hillary was disturbed, too, by the lack of flow of humanitarian relief. Not, however, to the point of asking for full opening of the border crossing points. Rather tepid actually, but in the context of the US being Israel’s gofer, it was considered quite a statement none the less. Part of it even garnered a rebuke from the mayor of Jerusalem (about some more demolition of Palestinian houses)
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/03/clinton_abbas.html
    As to joining the “you show me yours” game, I (this is “bigot” here, remember), what’s the point. The cases are made, ad nauseaum, by proponents and detractors all the time. I’m for peace, getting rid of the bad actors on both sides, and living reasonably sanely. But I am at least and probably more concerned with regaining control over US foreign policy that has been compromised in terms of US interests. To repeat the obvious: Israeli and Palestinian “interests” are important; I’m concerned about “American” interests.
    And I understand the use of assymetrical tactics against a technologically advanced foe. In my book, they’re all equally legitimate combatants or insurgents/terrorists, take you pick. Unfortuntately, it’s the innocents who pay the heaviest price.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Pots of urine, feces on the walls – how IDF troops vandalized Gaza homes
    By Amira Hass
    Tags: Gaza, Amira Hass
    GAZA – We had already visited this house, belonging to the Abu Eida family. It is the only one of the family’s nine large houses that remained standing at the eastern edge of the city of Jabalya following Operation Cast Lead. The demolition of the family’s houses and its four cement factories spells the loss of 40 years of hard work.
    One Hebrew word scrawled on a wall tells the story of the 10 days when young Israeli soldiers became the ostensible prison wardens of five people. The youngest is Suheila Masalha, 55; the eldest is her mother Fatma, who is perhaps 85 or 90 or older. The only man is her brother Mohammed, 65, who is paralyzed and dependent on the women of his family. And there were two more women from the Abu Eida family – Rasmiya, 70, who owns the house, and her sister-in-law Na’ama, 56, who is blind.
    “Jail” (“mikhla’a” in Hebrew), wrote the soldiers on the wall of the room where they kept the man and the four women. They did not allow them to use the toilet, but forced them to use all kinds of plastic containers kept in the room, for nine of the days.
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    From other graffiti you can conclude that it was the soldiers of the Golani Brigade – who were drafted in August 2007, and in January and March of 2008 – who sketched orientation maps on the walls of nearly every room. For example, “Position: entry. Direction: southeast,” and a few squares that indicated the houses in the area. “Us,” or “We are here,” or just an X marked on square No. 5 – Rasmiya Abu Eida’s house that became an Israel Defense Forces base.
    The soldiers kept kosher, judging by the words “meat” and “dairy” scrawled in red on the kitchen cabinets. Maybe someone was kidding around, or maybe someone thought this was going to be their base for several more months, because they also wrote “Kosher for Passover” on one of the cupboards. Also in red.
    White flags
    The Masalha family lived in a kind of tin shack and raised their sheep near the Abu Eida family (the shack and the sheep were destroyed). On the evening of Saturday, January 3, when the Israeli ground incursion began, they fled the shelling and sought refuge with the neighbors in concrete houses that seemed safer. But the shells and shooting from close range only increased and the children were scared; they cried and screamed and members of the extended family decided to head west, on foot, with white flags.
    The adults carried the children – without suitcases and clothing, and even without ID cards. There was no one to carry Fatma Masalha and her son Mohammed, who remained behind. Na’ama and her sister-in-law Rasmiya decided to stay with the guests who had sought shelter. That was on Sunday, January 4, at around 3 P.M.
    A spacious, well-kept, generously furnished home awaited the soldiers on the following morning, when they arrived. There are other houses like this in Gaza, especially on the agricultural lands in the outskirts, which over the years have become bourgeois areas. These are exactly the places where the signs of shelling and the fires caused by the phosphorous bombs made clear to the civilians that they should leave if they held their lives dear.
    On January 18, when the forces pulled out, similar sights awaited people whose homes had become military bases in their absence. There were bullet-pocked walls, ripped-up sofas and armchairs, smashed televisions and computers, shards of glass and porcelain dishes and broken wooden thresholds. Clothing was ripped up. And there were mountains of very Israeli garbage – empty tin cans, cardboard boxes, empty bags of potato chips and chocolate, and full bags of sugar and raspberry-flavored drinking powder. Everything was kosher for Passover under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate. And there were Hebrew newspapers, including the January 9 issue of the army magazine Bamahane.
    In one house they left behind lots of unopened canned goods. The local people assumed that commanding army officers had stationed themselves there, as well as in other houses where there was no racist graffiti and family belongings hadn’t been vandalized. Remnants of ammunition and IDF equipment were also found in and around many houses, as well as books of Psalms, the “Wisdom of the Sages” and “Hafetz Chaim,” which is about rabbinical laws concerning slander and gossip.
    Like ants
    In the midst of all of this were plastic bottles of urine and many closed bags – in some houses, olive-colored ones – of excrement. People assumed that the commanders stayed there. There are houses where excrement was smeared on the walls, or where dry piles of it were found in corners. In many cases, the smells indicated that soldiers had urinated on piles of clothing or inside a washing machine. In all the houses the toilets were overflowing and clogged, and there was filth all around. When the Abu Eidas returned to house No. 5 in Jabalya, they discovered pots of urine and excrement in the refrigerator.
    continues….

    Reply

  15. varanasi says:

    btw, what’s with all the “Gads”?
    sounds like something out of an old archie comic.

    Reply

  16. varanasi says:

    oh well.

    Reply

  17. varanasi says:

    what a sad, sad man.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, what a fraudulent posturing little worm.
    You really don’t get it, do you varanasi?
    You gave us a glimpse of your C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R with your attack on my profession, and your snide comments on where you wrongly suppose I live. Do you really think this insipid little goody two shoes horseshit is going to change my opinion of you, or my manner of engagement with you?
    And you are sorely mistaken if you think “rage” motivates my commentary or the manner in which I interact with spineless worms like yourself. “Rage” is far too laborious an emotion to employ for someone so ridiculously inconsequential as you have demonstrated yourself to be. It appears as though Pimples is more than willing to play in your sandbox, so congratulations, your shallow pose has fooled at least one of the regular commenters here. I will be watching with amusement, curious as to how long you can mantain the charade. It takes exceptional will to conceal buffoonery, and I am personally doubtful that you are up to the task.

    Reply

  19. ... says:

    varanasi – thanks for the exchange… i would like to continue, but i have to take off for a while and do some other stuff… happy trails and hopefully we can continue with this later… it is my turn next!

    Reply

  20. Cee says:

    Time to stop the foreign aid
    JERUSALEM, March 5 — After Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week criticized plans to extend a park across 88 buildings that house Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said she was meddling in local control over zoning and the city’s economic future.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/05/AR2009030503294.html?hpid=sec-world

    Reply

  21. varanasi says:

    here’s my take 2:
    the israeli political establishment’s tacit and explicit approval of the building of more new settlements every year, directly undermines the prospects for peace and creates a dynamic whereby the extremists on both sides are empowered.
    i would also argue that in addition to marginalizing palestinian national aspirations, the ongoing building of settlements also increases the suffering of israelis in general, to say nothing of the majority of palestinians who reject violence and want nothing more than to support their families and educate their children.
    anyone else want to join in? try it. let’s elevate the discourse here and make steve’s endeavor worthwhile.

    Reply

  22. varanasi says:

    good for us, …!
    this a great exercise and the spirit of it is *exactly* what is needed to resolve the israeli/palestinian conflict and transform the lives of those living in its grip.
    leave it to an indian and a canadian to demonstrate empathy 😉

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    hamas brutal treatment of fatah members (suspected snitches i guess) indicates a complete intolerance for a diversity of views on how to resolve the impasse between palestine and israel.. it doesn’t bode well when the relatively new leadership (hamas) is as hostile to divergent views they need to act brutally terrorizing their own people.. unfortunately that appears to have happened.. they are unwilling to release the soldier – gilat and instead choose to use him as a bargaining chip, indicating an unwillingness to take a positive step to end the madness and suffering of their own people…

    Reply

  24. varanasi says:

    i maintain that a good portion of the blame for the last 10 years of conflict in israel and palestine falls squarely at the feet of ariel sharon and his supporters.
    his march up the Temple Mount on september 28, 2000 was the cause of the the resulting al aqsa intifada and was akin to kicking a sleeping person awake.
    what’s worse is that the “visit” (with dozens of armed police) was a coldly calculated ploy to gain political power. needless to say, it worked.
    it was needlessly antagonistic, highly destructive and emphasized personal, political ambition at the expense of the greater good of society. for this i vociferously condemn ariel sharon.
    how’s that for starters?
    it’s your turn.

    Reply

  25. ... says:

    well varanasi, it would be fun to see you take the lead and set an example… avoidance and evasiveness are traits i think you display here regularly, so i’m not holding my breathe…also i answered affirmatively to your 12:25, but instead of acknowleding this, you’ve created a new game to play on the posters here… this is another aspect of your persona at twn that i find tiring..
    i maintain the imbalance in regular coverage in the isreal/palestine issue is so pronounced it’s much more difficult to find mainstream voices in the news, whether they be high ranking usa, canadian or.. politicians ever articulate a view that doesn’t always favour or support israel.. perhaps you see it differently… the level of accepted discourse is so out of sync with the realities of the past few months with the conflict in gaza it’s shocking.. (the picture above is from gaza, not israel).. i think this explains why many posters here resort to alternative news outlets, with the washington note being one such source..
    i also maintain their are very powerful interests that aren’t interested in peace, but more of a continuation of war in any number of places this area included… contrary to others views here, i think it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with money… i think those same folks are intent on framing it as having everything to do with religion and nothing to do with money and i see you as one more of them… i suppose we will have to disagree on that..

    Reply

  26. varanasi says:

    how’s this for a creative idea:
    what if we all switched “sides” for a spell and played devil’s advocate? what if you, rich, dons, poa and all the others made the case against palestinian leadership, and wigwag and myself focused our criticism against israel?
    think you could do it? could the others? and not just for the sake of argument, but real criticism. as i’ve said repeatedly (despite reports to the contrary) there is PLENTY of blame to go around for both parties to the conflict.
    this might be an interesting way to increase empathy and an exercise in finding common ground.

    Reply

  27. varanasi says:

    … wrote “all that you’re capable of”
    don’t be patronizing, …
    and in case you missed it, poa, the person who i first posed the question to, DID disagree with it.
    further, need i remind you that this is an anonymous “comments” section of a blog? none of us are under any obligation to do more than that. comment.
    like anyone else, when i feel that someone respects me and my opinions i’m happy to respond and engage, although my life’s work keeps me very busy and i don’t have the time to post point by point, 500 word rebuttals. heck, a few threads down from this one i even posted a south asian reading list for someone who asked!
    same goes for rich who posted a very considerate comment above. i responded in kind.
    but, when people here call me every name in the book, accuse me of doing israel’s bidding, of being a murderer, nazi, or somehow morally and intellectually bankrupt, i don’t take kindly to it. would you? isn’t this the kindergarten law of reciprocity?
    however, if on the other hand, people here respond to me in a considerate fashion, drop the personal animus and debate opinions – which we all admit we each have an equal right too – i will certainly respond in kind.
    unfortunately, there some people in here who are incapable of playing nice, or admitting that there is heaps of *mutual* blame to go around in israel and palestine.

    Reply

  28. ... says:

    varanasi – i don’t think anyone would disagree with your 12:25 comment… to suggest such would seem to suggest you are drawing conclusions without being fair..
    i think the difficulty many have with your approach here at twn is twofold and they’re both related… you express generalizations like the 12:25 comments, while continually ignoring more specific questions put to you in a thoughtful manner by people like rich…
    it gets tiring witnessing regular superficial one or two line responses to others comments, while ignoring the more specific comments put to you by people rich who appears very thoughtful and considerate towards you… that is a disappointment for me, but it might be all you’re capable of.. i would love to be proven wrong and i’d be pleasantly surprised with a more articulated and nuanced post from you on the specifics that are periodically asked of you here… i can’t remember you ever offering that here, but perhaps you have and it has been a while and i can’t remember.. it is helpful to give others the benefit of the doubt, which is what i would like to do with you..

    Reply

  29. varanasi says:

    thanks, rich.
    btw, when you get a chance to read it, you will see that my 12:25 comment was very brief and only a yes or no answer is needed in response. in fact, i’ll ask it again here:
    “some israeli actions are indefensible.
    but then again,
    some palestinian actions are indefensible.”
    do you agree with this statement? yes or no?

    Reply

  30. rich says:

    didn’t read it. haven’t been able to follow the last exchange. was replying to the 11:30am and earlier exchange.
    if this is a new you, it’s a refreshing and unexpected change of pace. if you now fall back into familiar refusals to lift your end of a productive give-&-take, then we can write the above as an insincere feint.
    still no time to read or evaluate; gotta run but thought you deserved a reply.
    best
    r

    Reply

  31. varanasi says:

    ok, rich, how about you?
    do you agree with my 12:25 comment?
    a simple yes or no will do. no need to pontificate, offer conditionality or rationalize.
    yes or no?

    Reply

  32. varanasi says:

    thank you for making my point better than i ever could have, poa.
    my 12:25 comment could not have been less controversial or more straightforward. the fact that you couldn’t respond with a simple yes (or no for that matter) speaks volumes about you and your immutable bias.
    in diplomatic jargon, you’re a bad actor.
    …and bad actors – israeli, palestinian, californian, or otherwise – will *never* be part of a constructive solution to any conflict.
    truth is, people like you find pleasure in perpetuating their rage.
    enjoy it, poa.

    Reply

  33. rich says:

    POA,
    “Has anyone EVER seen varanasi, or Wig-wag, condemn an action of Israel, unbidden by debate?”
    Basically never, parTICularly when in debate with commenters here. For precisely that reason these exchanges rarely rise to actual dialog.
    But POA, that’s the game. Never give an inch, never admit even a micron-scaled fact to the other side, for even a sliver of common ground is a threat to the totalitarian mindset because it might lead, however improbably, to a solution.
    varanasi,
    “i don’t defend all israeli actions – imo, some *are* indefensible. but neither do i affix all blame for the conflict to the israelis or give the palestinians a free pass on the fact that they have *also* contributed to the causes of the current situation .”
    I disagree that you’ve ever admitted some Israeli actions are indefensible, except in the abstract, nor conceded a solitary point in conversation here at TWN. Asserting it in the abstract doesn’t make up for lost ground — though it’s particularly ironic that you want credit for it when you won’t extend the same consideration to commenters who’ve repeatedly and continually taken pains to condition their statements on a broader view displaying evenhanded assessment through an unbiased lense. The whole of your stance is a refusal to concede a thing.
    Many commenters provide a corrective lens to the near-totalizing refusal to report all sides of the I/R conflict or account for the full range of legitimate interests in making policy. Just because every comment doesn’t explain that and go so far as to hold your hand, doesn’t mean our views aren’t far more balanced than anyone else’s. There is an effort here to balance the record, to add corrective information and weight to an unbalanced scale — so of course many here focus on what’s missing or censored.
    You may refuse to engage sufficiently to grasp that, but it does not follow that everyone else is somehow biased. Intransigence does not confer moral standing.
    “and talk about bogeymen, you create them every day on this website. … .. accus[ing] us of being engaged in some kind of coordinated israeli state-sponsored propaganda program is ridiculous.”
    The hasbara thing is kind of silly and pointless, whether or not it once was true. (I’ve never engaged in that discussion.) Why? No need for a government program: there are plenty of articles in Ha’aretz and other newspapers calling upon Israeli citizens and friends to run to the internet barricades and sway world opinion by posting on websites in Europe, America and beyond. Full editorials, with quoted officials, and full-throated language ‘in this time of crisis, Israel needs you now more than ever.’ See? It’s all out in the open. No need for a conspiracy. No need for a government program. And why should I have a problem with it? I’ve never commented on the hasbara thing or the various overly broad statements thrown around here. And you’re entitled to your opinion — but given the broader context of a public sphere that doesn’t even acknowledge the whole story, it’s not simply poor form to waltz in and accuse folks who are supplementing the record with omitted facts & censored events of somehow being biased — it is fairly reckless and more than a little Orwellian.
    You go on the attack as though you’ve been wronged. Yet we are not the one’s who’ve been building a massive wall through Palestinian land — and beating and arresting CIVIL protesters in the process. What recourse do those civil, peaceful landowners have? Amputating native landowners from their lawful domain, from their property and livelihoods, amputating them from access to jobs, the right to travel, engage in commerce — let alone seek redress of grievance — that’s something you’ve never addressed.
    What would you have them do? How do you reconcile that with your inexplicable sense that you’ve been met with some sort of universal unfairness? With your need to have your point of view be the only one that matters?
    What would you have them do?
    It is their land. And it will always be their land.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    No. Its just a shallow charade, more braying.
    Your “clarity” has already been irrevocably demonstrated by your past commentaries.
    You ain’t much, varanasi, despite your opinion of yourself.

    Reply

  35. varanasi says:

    or how about a ONE WORD answer, poa.
    do you agree with my 12:25 comment?
    i wonder if you are capable of a simple yes or no…
    perhaps we can actually find some common ground, or would you rather perpetuate hostility and conflict?

    Reply

  36. varanasi says:

    for the umpteenth time:
    SOME ISRAELI ACTIONS ARE INDEFENSIBLE
    but, likewise
    SOME PALESTINIAN ACTIONS ARE INDEFENSIBLE
    is this clear enough?

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Has anyone EVER seen varanasi, or Wig-wag, condemn an action of Israel, unbidden by debate?
    Both of these people CLAIM a degree of moderation and lack of bias when defending their own consistent defense of Israel, yet they NEVER post criticism of Israel except when they seek to argue their own lkack of bias.
    When Israeli attrocities are unfolding, such as the incineration of civilians in white pohosphorous, their silence tells us far more than their dishonest and insincere assertions of fairness do.

    Reply

  38. ... says:

    erichwwk – my comment was directed to gary…

    Reply

  39. varanasi says:

    poa wrote:
    “People such as this “gosh” idiot, or even the blustering fool “Gary”, can be forgiven for their ignorance. But the likes of Wig-Wag or varanasi are despicable beyond redemption. These are people that realize the monstrously indefensible gravity of the Israeli policies, yet still engage in concocting justifications that are not founded in conviction or moral grounds, but instead are based in crass bigotry and scripted Israeli propaganda.”
    wrong, poa. i don’t defend all israeli actions – imo, some *are* indefensible. but neither do i affix all blame for the conflict to the israelis or give the palestinians a free pass on the fact that they have *also* contributed to the causes of the current situation – a fact, that i believe is largely ignored by most members of this community.
    and talk about bogeymen, you create them every day on this website. my opinions are mine alone, not part of some “scripted israeli propoganda.” the fact that you are unable to acknowledge that many people agree with my position of mutual blame in israel/palestine, and instead accuse us of being engaged in some kind of coordinated israeli state-sponsored propaganda program is ridiculous.
    are you capable of acknowledging that others have convictions every bit as strong as yours? must you demonize people who disagree with your geopolitical views, and if not, what makes you any different than the worst, most intolerant elements of israeli or palestinian society?
    your demeanor might be fine for anonymous online commenting, but it is completely counterproductive when it comes to conflict resolution.
    …and save your keystrokes, poa, i have zero interest in your personal attacks or engaging you in online character assassination. been there, done that and, at this point, it is beyond boring

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  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its important to note that Baird’s commentary was posted on his website on Febuary nineteenth. In the ensuing time since, the media seems to have ignored Baird and Ellison’s observations and comments. I imagine Baird’s honesty will come at no small price to him politically.
    His use of the term “indefensible” in the following utterance is a refreshing dose of reality…
    “If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance. We are glad that the Obama administration acted quickly to send much needed funding for this effort but the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible. People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in”-end quote
    Of course, as we all know all too well, Israel’s actions WILL in fact be defended, both by the incredibly ignorant, such as our new poster “Gary”, or the incredibly despicable, such as “Wig-wag” or “varanaasi”, and, regretably, 99.9 percent our Congressional body, who have been funded, bribed, threatened, and cowed by an organization that should long ago have been kicked out of the country, or, at the very least, forced to register as a foreign agent.
    Many are so closed minded, or simply too lazy, to click on the link that Steve provided to Baird’s website, so here is the statement, in full, as cited at the website. I challenge any here who use the Hamas rocket attacks as justification to rebut Baird’s observations with something other than their usual deflective horseshit, straw arguments, or accusations of “anti-semitism”….
    Brian Views Destruction in Gaza; Calls for Immediate Relief and Change in Policy
    (Feburary 19, 2009)
    Washington, D.C. – Two members of Congress, Brian Baird (D-WA-03), and Keith Ellison, (D-MN-05), visited Gaza on Thursday to view firsthand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks and to meet with international and local relief agencies. This visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the U.S. government has entered Gaza in more than three years.
    Prior to Gaza, both Congressmen met with the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Saeb Erekat, as well as with Dr. Riad Malki Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority. On Friday, Baird and Ellison will tour the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been the target of numerous rockets before and throughout the recent attacks launched from within the Gaza strip.
    “Staff from the U.S. State Department advised us of security concerns for our own safety, and we are well aware of the sensitive political issues involved in this visit,” said both Congressmen in an official release.
    “We believe it is important to be here to see what happened for ourselves, to meet with people who have been affected, and to express our concern and support,” said Congressman Baird.
    “We also want to better understand what can and must be done to recover from the destruction, address the underlying issues, and work toward a lasting, just and peaceful resolution,” added Congressman Ellison.
    After spending the day visiting various locations within Gaza and meeting with civilians and relief workers, Baird and Ellison were deeply affected by what they had seen and heard.
    “The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”
    “The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.”
    Inquiring about the status of relief efforts, the Congressmen learned that some aid material has been allowed in since the intensity of the attacks lessened a month ago, but much is still being blocked by the Israeli defense forces. Examples of aid that has been banned by the Israeli Government include: lentils, macaroni, tomato paste, lentils and other food. Basic building materials, generator fuel and parts to repair damaged water treatment equipment have also been kept out.
    “If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance. We are glad that the Obama administration acted quickly to send much needed funding for this effort but the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible. People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in” said Baird and Ellison.
    The Congressmen’s concerns about treatment of Palestinians were not limited to Gaza. They also visited Palestinian hospitals that treat patients from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There they met with doctors, nurses and hospital directors who described how official Israeli policies and restricted border checkpoints make it exceedingly difficult and expensive for patients, nurses, medical technicians, and other essential personnel to reach the hospital to receive or provide care.
    “It’s hard for anyone in our country to imagine how it must feel to have a sick child who needs urgent care or is receiving chemotherapy or dialysis, then be forced to take a needlessly lengthy route, walk rather than drive, and wait in lines as long as two hours simply to get to the hospital. As a health care professional myself, I found this profoundly troubling, no, actually it’s beyond that, it is outrageous,” said Baird.
    Responding to this and other issues the Congressman emphasized that fundamental changes and solutions are needed beyond the immediate challenges in Gaza.
    “The first and most urgent priority must be helping the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing. The entire region and the international community must recommit itself to making the difficult but necessary changes to bring about lasting and just peace and security for the region. President Obama has made important and encouraging initiatives, now it is up to leaders and citizens here to move forward toward that shared goal”

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    March 6, 2009
    Obama and Israel’s Military: Still Arm-in-Arm
    by Stephen Zunes
    In the wake of Israel’s massive assault on heavily populated civilian areas of the Gaza Strip earlier this year, Amnesty International called for the United States to suspend military aid to Israel on human rights grounds. Amnesty has also called for the United Nations to impose a mandatory arms embargo on both Hamas and the Israeli government. Unfortunately, it appears that President Barack Obama won’t be heeding Amnesty’s call.
    During the fighting in January, Amnesty documented Israeli forces engaging in “direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate.” The leader of Amnesty International’s fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip and southern Israel noted how “Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes.” Amnesty also reported finding fragments of U.S.-made munitions “littering school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people’s homes.”
    Malcolm Smart, who serves as Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East, observed in a press release that “to a large extent, Israel’s military offensive in Gaza was carried out with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with U.S. taxpayers’ money.” The release also noted how before the conflict, which raged for three weeks from late December into January, the United States had “been aware of the pattern of repeated misuse of [its] weapons.”
    Amnesty has similarly condemned Hamas rocket attacks into civilian-populated areas of southern Israel as war crimes. And while acknowledging that aid to Hamas was substantially smaller, far less sophisticated, and far less lethal – and appeared to have been procured through clandestine sources – Amnesty called on Iran and other countries to take concrete steps to insure that weapons and weapon components not get into the hands of Palestinian militias.
    During the fighting in early January, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization initially called for a suspension of U.S. military aid until there was no longer a substantial risk of additional human rights violations. The Bush administration summarily rejected this proposal. Amnesty subsequently appealed to the Obama administration. “As the major supplier of weapons to Israel, the USA has a particular obligation to stop any supply that contributes to gross violations of the laws of war and of human rights,” said Malcolm Smart. “The Obama administration should immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Israel.”
    Obama’s refusal to accept Amnesty’s call for the suspension of military assistance was a blow to human rights activists. The most Obama might do to express his displeasure toward controversial Israeli policies like the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied territories would be to reject a planned increase in military aid for the next fiscal year and slightly reduce economic aid and/or loan guarantees. However, in a notable departure from previous administrations, Obama made no mention of any military aid to Israel in his outline of the FY 2010 budget, announced last week. This notable absence may indicate that pressure from human rights activists and others concerned about massive U.S. military aid to Israel is now strong enough that the White House feels a need to downplay the assistance rather than emphasize it.
    Obama Tilts Right
    Currently, Obama is on record supporting sending up to $30 billion in unconditional military aid to Israel over the next 10 years. Such a total would represent a 25% increase in the already large-scale arms shipments to Israeli forces under the Bush administration.
    Obama has thus far failed to realize that the problem in the Middle East is that there are too many deadly weapons in the region, not too few. Instead of simply wanting Israel to have an adequate deterrent against potential military threats, Obama insists the United States should guarantee that Israel maintain a qualitative military advantage. Thanks to this overwhelming advantage over its neighbors, Israeli forces were able to launch devastating wars against Israel’s Palestinian and Lebanese neighbors in recent years.
    If Israel were in a strategically vulnerable situation, Obama’s hard-line position might be understandable. But Israel already has vastly superior conventional military capabilities relative to any combination of armed forces in the region, not to mention a nuclear deterrent.
    However, Obama has failed to even acknowledge Israel’s nuclear arsenal of at least 200-300 weapons, which has been documented for decades. When Hearst reporter Helen Thomas asked at his first press conference if he could name any Middle Eastern countries that possess nuclear weapons, he didn’t even try to answer the question. Presumably, Obama knows Israel has these weapons and is located in the Middle East. However, acknowledging Israel’s arsenal could complicate his planned arms transfers since it would place Israel in violation of the 1976 Symington Amendment, which restricts U.S. military support for governments which develop nuclear weapons.
    continues…….
    http://www.antiwar.com/zunes/?articleid=14356

    Reply

  42. s says:

    Where is the digital file posted?

    Reply

  43. erichwwk says:

    “by all means work to discredit them without offering anything tangible.. it says a lot!!!”
    I hope my post was NOT construed to discredit this anomaly to actually look for ways to relieve Palestinian suffering because of my disgust with Israeli genocide.
    I certainly have no intention of discarding the good in the search for better, and commend this effort and hope it finds some way to increase aid to Gaza in all forms.
    While I am saddened by anyone’s use of force to resolve disputes, whatever rocket attack increases result from such increased aid seem to me small in relation to the suffering imposed on Palestinians for decades.

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    From the thread below…..
    “How dare you criticize Israel?? America will always stand behind Israel, even if you don’t think so. I love Israel and so do all true Christian patriots! Next time you think of smearing Israel, think about your family being killed by terrorists. That is everyday life in Israel, which you apparently despise”
    This kind of stupidity is awesome! It is these kinds of simple minded idiots that have the likes of Hannity, Coulter, and Limbaugh smiling all the way to the bank. The poor ignorant soul fantacizes about muslim boogymen coming in the night to slaughter his family, while ignoring any reflection about what it must be like having your family want for food, medical care, jobs, and freedom in neighborhoods overcrowded, with sporadic power, and raw sewage running in the streets.
    Those that were gifted with a more plentiful bounty of brain cells than the poor simpleton quoted above, yet still ignore the gulag conditions of the Palestinian people, are far more despicable, for they can only be motivated by bigotry. The citation of the Hamas rockets as a justification for the blockade of Gaza, the theft of Palestinian land, and the internationally recognized crimes of using cluster munitions and White phosphorous on civilian populations has become laughably inadequate. Only a person that considers the Palestinian people less than human could rationalize, justify, or defend Israel’s treatment of these fellow human beings.
    People such as this “gosh” idiot, or even the blustering fool “Gary”, can be forgiven for their ignorance. But the likes of Wig-Wag or varanasi are despicable beyond redemption. These are people that realize the monstrously indefensible gravity of the Israeli policies, yet still engage in concocting justifications that are not founded in conviction or moral grounds, but instead are based in crass bigotry and scripted Israeli propaganda.

    Reply

  45. DonS says:

    On Freeman, it was reported yesterday that Schumer had placed a call to Emmanuel but had not [yet] demanded Freeman be withdrawn. Part of the story is that the WH had not fully vetted Freeman, which doesn’t sound likely. Sounds like built in deniability.
    DC rules: AIPAC determines who is acceptable. Period. Tie to break the habit.

    Reply

  46. benedict arnold says:

    intelligence fhairman freeman stirs israeli ire
    wednesday, march 4, 2009 4:05 pm
    by: arnaud de borchgrave
    http://www.newsmax.com/borchgrave/Israel_Intelligence/2009/03/04/188391.html
    a rarity in washington, the secret was kept well until the announcement from national Intelligence director dennis c. blair: his deputy as chairman of the national intelligence council is charles “chas” w. freeman jr., a chinese-speaking iconoclast with a brilliant analytical mind that is anathema to the israel lobby and the neocons.
    lucky for former ambassador freeman that judaism, in contrast to christianity, does not believe in mortal sins. but his sin is beyond redemption in washington. freeman is convinced that u.s. and israeli strategic interests are not necessarily one and the same.
    this triggered a cascade of name-calling, ranging from from “saudi puppet” to “chas of arabia linked to saudi cash” to “china-coddling, israel-basher.”
    leading the charge was steve rosen, former
    foreign policy director at the american israel public affairs committee. rosen, long one of the committee’s most influential officials on capitol hill, has been under federal indictment since aug. 4, 2005, for alleged violations of the espionage act while carrying out the lobby’s work.
    rosen, who now is with the middle east forum, and codefendant keith weissman face a frequently postponed trial, now scheduled to begin april 29. rosen won’t have much trouble establishing the fact that policy planning documents routinely made their way between friends from the pentagon to the israeli embassy.

    Reply

  47. ... says:

    varanasi and gary – bellyachers anonymous is calling…
    someone forgot to mention daniel levy is also involved and will be responding to comments from both ellison and baird…
    now, i know it’s shocking to actually have a few american congress reps who have been to gaza in the past month and might have a few things to say about it… i suppose folks like gary are abhorred by the thought they are actually allowed to speak out on this issue with a degree of freedom never witnessed before or something! it is quite outrageous that an american politician could potentially voice a view that isn’t like what has typically been offered the past however many years….
    by all means work to discredit them without offering anything tangible.. it says a lot!!!

    Reply

  48. Gary says:

    Keith Ellison and Brian Baird talking about Gaza. Yeah, real fair and balanced.

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  49. varanasi says:

    i don’t know if you’re reading this rich, but you’re right.
    clearly there is no anti-israel bias in this community.

    Reply

  50. fidel castro ruz says:

    the ongoing crime against the palestinians is commited with americas complicity.
    what can the poor american politicians actually do to counter the anti human behaviour of the israelis with rahm emmanuel and the israeli lobby in obamas kitchen.
    http://antiwar.com/orig/giraldi.php?articleid=13773
    though born in chicago, he was an israeli citizen through his father until he, according to his own account, renounced his dual citizenship when he turned 18. when the united states went to war with iraq in 1991 the 31-year-old emanuel rushed off to join the colors, though the colors in this case were the blue and white flag of israel. he claims that he was a civilian volunteer in the israeli army who was assigned the task of “rust-proofing brakes” on military vehicles, an assertion that has been questioned because his father’s background suggests that he would likely have been offered something much more important.
    emanuel’s father, an israeli physician, was a member of the terrorist group irgun in the 1940s. irgun was responsible for blowing up the king david hotel and ethnically cleansing much of palestine through selective massacres of arab civilians. in an interview in the jerusalem post, dr. benjamin emanuel said he was convinced that his son’s appointment as white house chief of staff would be good for israel. “obviously he will influence the president to be pro-israel,” he was quoted as saying.”
    poor americans, they have a leech on their neck bleeding them dry…this nation and its superhero politicians are like the zombies in the night of the living dead movie…you think you are alive but you cant escape the reality that israel and its hordes within the walls of this once great nation control and terrorize you into being their slave.

    Reply

  51. erichwwk says:

    I hope this forum will not be so narrow as to exclude what is happening in the West Bank:
    From today’s UK Guardian:
    THE REAL ISRAEL-PALESTINE STORY IS IN THE WEST BANK
    “Israel’s targeting of civilian resistance to the separation wall proves the two-state solution is now just a meaningless slogan.
    It is quite likely that you have not heard of the most important developments this week in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the West Bank, while it has been “occupation as normal”, there have been some events that together should be overshadowing Gaza, Gilad Shalit and Avigdor Lieberman.”
    rest here: http://tinyurl.com/cyzreq
    Basically, the view is that focusing on Gaza is a diversionary tactic. Even Juan Cole now says:
    “there are now only three options left for Palestine/Israel: “apartheid”, “expulsion”, or “one state”.

    Reply

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