Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Palace of Whores In a Sea of Indignation

There is no other way to describe the spinelessness of the recent Congressional resolution denouncing Hamas and blaming the Palestinians for Israel's invasion of the Gaza.

House Adopts Measure Backing Israel on 'Durable' Gaza Truce

By Adam Graham-Silverman, CQ Staff Adam Graham-silverman, Cq Staff Fri Jan 9, 1:43 pm ET

The House overwhelmingly adopted a resolution Friday to express solidarity with Israel and condemn the Islamist group Hamas for its role in the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

The non-binding measure (H Res 34), adopted 390-5, calls for a "durable and sustainable" cease-fire.

During floor debate, some supporters of the resolution sought to balance Israel's right to self-defense with the loss of life on both sides.

"I have no trouble justifying the war Israel has undertaken. I am deeply troubled, however, by the suffering, destruction, and loss of innocent life that war inevitably entails," said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, D-Calif. "It is imperative that a way be found to stop the killing on both sides - but in a manner that will ensure that this round will be the last round."

Others were less measured.

"While Israel seeks to lie aside a Palestinian state, Hamas seeks to kill or expel every Jew in the Middle East," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Nonproliferation, Terrorism and Trade. "Hamas proudly holds the flag of ethnic cleansing."

Democrat Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio and Texas Republican Ron Paul were among those who opposed the measure. Paul, the lone GOP "no" vote, said the resolution was not in U.S. or Israeli interests, and arming Israel leaves the United States with a moral responsibility for Palestinian deaths.

"There's a political liability which I think is something that we fail to look at because too often there's so much blowback from our intervention in areas that we shouldn't be involved in," Paul said.

Twenty-two members, all Democrats, voted present, including Keith Ellison, D-Minn., one of two Muslim members. Ellison said he supported Israel's rights but the measure did not do enough to encourage peace.

"Hopefully we can urge this Congress to not simply declare its support of its ally but ... actually move its ally and the rest of the region toward a more durable, sustainable, final solution to this conflict," he said.

In March 2008, the House voted 401-1 to condemn rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. In that case, Paul was the only vote against, while four Democrats voted present.

Friday's measure calls for a "durable and sustainable" cease-fire, which American and Israeli officials say must prevent Hamas from rearming and continuing attacks.

The resolution calls on Hamas to end its rocket attacks, but makes no mention of Israel's bombing or ground attacks. It says the humanitarian situation in Gaza is "becoming more acute" and humanitarian needs should be addressed "promptly and responsibly." It offers condolences to all victims and says "the lives of innocent civilians must be protected to the maximum extent possible."

It also calls on countries to place blame on Hamas for ending a six-month cease-fire and for the resulting casualties, and to condemn the group for embedding itself among civilians. It urges Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms and other goods across its border into Gaza.

The Senate adopted a similar measure (S Res 10) by voice vote Thursday.

The language is a sort of mirror image of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire. That measure, approved 14-0 Thursday with the United States abstaining, emphasizes humanitarian issues and makes no direct mention of Hamas.

"As the ancient rabbi stated, those who are merciful to the cruel, as the U.N. has been, will end up being cruel to the merciful -- in this case, Israel," commented Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs panel.

One cannot help but notice the lack of any mentioning of the context in which this is taking place. It is not as though Hamas sprouted from thin air and launched some rockets. Hamas's rocket launches were primarily a response to Israel's blockade of the Gaza (an act of war under international law). This was Israel's response to Hamas seizing power of the Gaza, which itself was precipitated by Hamas winning elections for control of the Palestinian National Authority (elections that were insisted on by the US and Israel). And Hamas's election did not occur in the backdrop of a peaceful environment, but one of a cordoned population that had been occupied by a foreign power for four decades (and ruled over by an existing political group, the PLO, noted for corruption and cronyism).

Let us put this in hypothetical terms our esteemed members of Congress fail to recognize (willfully or otherwise). Imagine a foreign power (comprised of partial descendants of some ancient native tribe that at one time lived on part of our land) invading this country, taking half of our territory, carving it to make their own country (as a response to what someone else did to them in another part of the world), and the remainder of our states are used as dumping grounds to house our fellow countrymen and women who were expelled and/or displaced. Then, the remainder of our so-called free territory is invaded and occupied by this new country carved from ours, our population thoroughly pauperized, and the leading great power that is sponsoring all of this insists that the only way to peace is for our cantonized people (without a state or real army) to have free and fair elections.

Now, in that environment, what kind of people do you think your fellow countrymen and women will be voting into power? Remember the response of Americans right after 9/11 (with many on the right-wing calling for the potential internment of Muslims inside of the US, the numerous attacks and murders of Muslims or Muslim-looking people, and even a few commentators going so far as to call for using nuclear weapons on Mecca in the event of another attack)? How do you think people like that would respond to a situation like the one described above? Do you think they would be using someone else's religion to justify what happened to them? I think instinctively you know the answer. It is that missing context, which is so often ignored when talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that we need to bring into any discussion on peace in the Middle East.

Instead, we are treated to having our foreign policy in the region in question become a lobbying subsidiary of a group like AIPAC. And yes, they are as close to controlling our foreign policy with regards to the Middle East as the Cuban American National Foundation does in controlling our policy of a continued trade embargo against Cuba.

Of course, even observing this would be, in the words of Alan Derschowitz, an anti-Semitic sentiment, and yet you never hear the self-victimization card when someone like playwright David Mamet writes a book, the Wicket Son, comparing any non-race-conscious, non-religious Jew, or Gentile who disagrees with his interpretation of Judaism and Israel, to the Nazis. Think about how far we have bastardized things to descend to the point that to even disagree with any actions of Israel, or to think differently, is the same as murdering en masse several million people in a world war.

Try to envision any white Southerner titling it "race treason" (Mamet's own words to describe liberal Jews) for any white person to criticize the history of the South.
Today, that person would be laughed out of the room, would go unpublished, and it is not an exaggeration to say that at the very least he or she would not be a celebrated playwright on Broadway. If one read Mamet, you would never know that the people who founded Israel were mostly socialists from the kibbutz movement, secular nationalists who felt religious Judaism was a waste of time (i.e., the same folks he claims are "race traitors").
Amongst Western democracies, only in America can someone like a David Mamet get away with being acceptably racist (and celebrated for it) against those perceived to be suffering from insufficient racial pride.

How far from reality are we in the US (Jew and Gentile alike)? Back in 2006, I was in China conducting research for my dissertation, and I was there during the Lebanon War. During that conflict, if you may recall, the Israelis (almost on cue) bombed a UN post, killing several UN observers. One of those UN workers was a Chinese national. Ideologically and historically, China is about as far removed from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a man on the moon, but the entire country overnight became very interested after that bombing because of the excuse Israel used to kill those civilians (they forgot that the post belonged to the UN and were targeting Hezbollah fighters [the same Israeli intelligence who can find the cell phones of their intended targets, plant bombs and detonate them, but still forget about which party owns a building, even one emblazoned with 'UN,' in a country whose area they occupied for more than two decades]).

People throughout the PRC were angry and very frustrated by this bombing incident (and did not appreciate having their country dragged into such a war). The cab drivers, the real street in just about any developing country, refused to pick up anyone who looked like a Westerner in many cities. I was in Shanghai when the war started, and I will never forget the manner in which I had to polish off my German and French to convince the cabbies that I was a European (i.e., permissible ride). When one of them realized that I was an American, I suddenly had to answer a barrage of questions about Israel. "How could you let them bomb that UN building? How could you let Israel do this? When did you start bombing Lebanon?" I was treated as though I was giving the orders to the Israeli Defense Forces to attack Lebanese civilians and UN workers. They simply could not fathom that Israel would do anything on its own, ever. And this is in China, a country one would be hard pressed to claim is teeming with Islamofascists out to feast on the remains of infidels.

American supporters of Israel, as well as Israel itself, are residing in a planet that looks more and more in disbelief at what is happening in the Gaza. There is no way of avoiding this perception or defeating it with a Congressional resolution, which only isolates us further from reality. And it is an ugly reality. Here is but one example, the kind you will not be seeing on Fox 'News' anytime soon.

Gaza video genuine, journalists say

(CNN) -- There's no truth to accusations by bloggers that a Palestinian camera crew staged a video showing the death of the videographer's brother after an Israeli rocket attack, said the team's employer.

"It's absolute nonsense," Paul Martin, co-owner of World News and Features, said of accusations leveled by bloggers at videographer Ashraf Mashharawi.

"He's a man of enormous integrity and would never get involved with any sort of manipulation of images, let alone when the person dying is his own brother," Martin said. "I know the whole family. I know them very well. ... [Mashharawi] is upset and angry that anyone would think of him having done anything like this. ... This is ridiculous. He's independent."

Raafat Hamdouna, administrative director at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, said Friday that "Mahmoud Khalil Mashharawi, a 12-year-old, was brought to the hospital, and he was breathing, but he was hit in the head and all over his body by shrapnel. He died later in the hospital. He was treated by the Norwegian team. When he was brought in, he was breathing. The team did their best to save him. I am not really sure if they even tried to rush him to the surgery room, because he was badly hurt."

Mashharawi's video footage originally appeared on British television's Channel 4 and later on CNN. It showed futile attempts by doctors to resuscitate Mashharawi's 12-year-old brother, Mahmoud, after he and his 14-year-old cousin, Ahmed, had been wounded in what the family said was a rocket attack from a remote-controlled drone Sunday. Video Watch doctors try and save the boy »

Ahmed also was taken to the hospital, but he had been fatally struck in the head and chest by shrapnel and had lost a foot, Hamdouna said. Hamdouna said the hospital records reported Ahmed's age as 16, not 14, as the family said.

At the time of the attack, the family said, the two boys were playing on the rooftop of the family's three-story house. The video showed a blood-splattered area where an explosion had taken place and where shrapnel had pierced the roof.

Mashharawi has regularly worked with World News and Features since 2004, Martin said. His multimedia company serves television, radio and newspapers.

Martin said accusations that Mashharawi owns a company that hosts Hamas Web sites were falsely based on Mashharawi having worked at a company that created the PS suffix to allow anyone of any political persuasion to create Palestinian Web sites.

The video footage appeared on CNN television networks and on for 24 hours before CNN removed the material in the belief that it had no further right to use it. CNN, standing by the video, has since reposted it. Some bloggers had cited its removal as evidence that CNN did not stand by its reporting.

Responding to accusations that the resuscitation efforts of Mashharawi's brother appeared inauthentic, Martin said that, based on his years of reporting from Gaza, doctors often go through such efforts even with little hope that a patient can be saved.

In the video of the incident, the boy appears lifeless when brought to into the hospital.

In a brief conversation with CNN, Mashharawi said that doctors tried everything they could to save his brother and that he rejected suggestions that any of his work was inauthentic.

Before bloggers made their accusations, Mashharawi told CNN, "I believed at that moment if I didn't record that nobody will believe what's happened to my brother. Because it is unbelievable. Until now, I can't believe what's happened."

Credit must be given to those brave few who had the guts to stand up and say no. There were only five members of Congress, all in the House, who had the decency to take a stand against Israel's invasion, and yes, dear right-wing lefties, that includes your most favored libertarian union-buster Ron Paul. Another was Dennis Kucinich. If you want to see why the House Democratic leadership did everything it could to unseat Representative Kucinich last year by bankrolling a primary opponent, this is it.

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