Forum to discuss political, philosophical, and gastronomical concerns of college folk and their associates.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Sports Illustrated: Debut of Freddy Adu

This story has caused quite a stir in American soccer circles. As a player from this area, I know people who have played with and against Adu and speak highly of him. His seems to be a very mature soccer player and quite a well adjusted person. I invite any comments on the situation of a child of his age becoming a professional athlete. |

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

So we played with fire and sort of got burned. If you want to post long arguments, that is cool, but please do it in the form of comments in the future. Otherwise people will think this site is just about Jonathan's encyclopedic knowledge about Israel or Alex's course notes, or my ranting about racism, economic injustice and the virtues of Seinfeld and Elimidate. That being said, allow us to move on.

AP: Bush Campaign Attacks Soft Money Use by Opponents

In an effort to discredit Kerry, who does have a precarious record on fundraising, the Bush campaign has filed a complaint with the FEC regarding the use of soft money contributions by Anti-Bush groups. Firstly, Kerry has definitely done nothing illegal. His campaign would have to do very little to motivate many of these groups, which arose before he began his candidacy, to raise outrageous amounts to defeat Bush. Secondly, it shows the inherent flaws in the federal campaign funding system that Bush can raise bundles of hard money and still collect if from large single donors and it is still technically legal. Ideally we could get Russ Feingold (D-WI) to run for president, but in his absence, defeating Bush will be the biggest step forward for campaign finance reform.

The Economist: Uzbekistan Deals With Terror

While no reasonable person can support terrorism anywhere, I condemn the Uzbek government just as much as the Islamist militants who perpetrated these attacks. Karimov's government is scarcely different than that of the worst Soviet dictators, which Karimov was until the veil of capitalism became enough cover to deter American "justice". Groups like these are only able to take root in Uzbekistan, as they have throughout the Muslim world, because of corrupt and repressive dictators like Karimov that have all to often been supported by world powers like the Soviet Union and the United States. I find it repugnant that Karimov is our ally because he is certainly not a far cry from Saddam Hussein. The main difference is that Karimov is much more in control of himself. Until the current administration makes some effort at regime change in Uzbekistan, I will hold to my contention that a double standard is in use to identify "rogue" regimes.

Running For the Right: God Bless America

It is great that America is taking a stand to defend the rights of this girl to wear what she pleases and practice her religion freely, but do not use this an an example of why America is more principled than France. We are not fighting a war against all enemies of freedom, but selected enemies. We are not invading Russia, Uzbekistan (see above post), North Korea, China, or ceasing to support anti-democratic insurgents the Americas. America chooses its battles carefully, as it should, but not always according to any one principle. I am not going to say that this is a PR stunt (albeit trivial), as I would have no evidence with which to back up that claim. But I would not be surprised if it was.
I'd like to thank Alex for his informative response to my post. I've read the World Net Daily article again, and while I certainly agree with Hagee's conclusions regarding UN actions in Israel, it is true that he throws in a few other points without providing any real evidence. Clearly, Hagee's article is no substitution for a thorough history of the entire conflict, and in particular the 1948 war. That said, I cannot agree with all of Alex's conclusions.

The crux of the matter seems to be Hagee's statement, "When you declare a war – and lose that war – you must be prepared to live with the consequences of that war." I'll get to that in a moment, but first I'd like to introduce another quote. "This will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." That was the Arab League's secretary general, Abd al-Ahlman Azzah Pasha, on the eve of the 1948 war. There are many similar quotes, but I think that this one is particularly vivid. Had the Arabs won, there would have been no Jewish refugees -- only Jewish corpses. Accusations that Israel acted too harshly ignore this crucial fact.

To keep my post from being longer than the articles themselves, I’ll skip the important issue of how large numbers of Palestinians became refugees – in other words, what exactly Israel’s actions were – though perhaps I’ll get back to it another time. Instead, I’d like to talk about the Palestinians themselves. “When you declare a war – and lose that war – you must be prepared to live with the consequences off that war.” The first phase of the war, lasting from November 29, 1947 until April 1, 1948, was a Palestinian offensive resulting in heavy Jewish casualties – and therefore Palestinian Arabs share the blame for the attempted “war of extermination.”

But should Israel have let the Palestinian refugees back in anyway, as the UN asked? I don’t think so; the following words of the Egyptian foreign minister speak for themselves: “it is well known and understood that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of their homeland, and not as slaves. More explicitly: they intend to annihilate the state of Israel.”

So much for the Palestinians’ intentions; but what of their historical claims? Have “the Arabs of this territory lived there for centuries?” I don’t think so – the vast majority moved to Israel to take advantage of the economic opportunities that resulted from Jewish settlement, and indeed from 1921 to 1939 far more Arabs immigrated to Palestine than Jews. At the same time, there had always been a Jewish presence in Palestine, especially in Jerusalem. While it is important to understand the anger of the Palestinians, it is also important to recognize that their anger could stem from something other than an actual historical wrong – for example, it could come from the constant incitement to, in the words of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, “Murder the Jews. Murder them all.” Similar incitement continues to this day on PA television and in PA-controlled mosques.

Finally (and I know I’ve gone on way too long), I question whether Hagee’s idea that the Arab states could accept the Palestinian refugees is indeed foolish. They do indeed share a common language and culture, and Israel assimilated an even larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab states. Addressing the past in a truthful and open manner is a starting point for finding real solutions, and I think that one person who may realize that is Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), recently the prime minister of the PA, who has said that the Arab armies abandoned the Palestinians after they “forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live.” No lasting peace is possible until the Arabs stop cynically exploiting their own refugees. “We brought disaster upon…Arab refugees…” said the former prime minister of Syria, Khalid al-Azm, in 1972, “in the service of political purposes.” No lasting peace is possible until the political purpose of the Arab states ceases to be the destruction of Israel.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Visitors may notice that they can now post comments on posts they find interesting. This has happened for two reasons: 1) Some new people have begun to post things that might elicit comments 2) I found the code to make comment posting possible. What a world we live in.

The Economist: Rwandan Recovery

Here is a good example of when democracy goes wild. For nations making a transition from colonialism to self-rule, sometimes democratic government is not the best starting point, especially when ethnic tensions have built up as they had here. This example reminds me of the Balkan states from the period between the World Wars and immediately after the end of the Cold War and of contemporary Iraq. With respect to the potential for horrifying ethnic violence, Central Africa seems no different from any other part of the globe.

I think the Rwandan example is a good one for other Central African nations that have endured decades of ethnic violence that seemed to be a unending cycle. Certainly the policies of the current government will need to be altered in the future and hopefully a democratically elected government will eventually be able to rule in peace in years to come. However, I can imagine no better temporary solution to the perpetual blame game that led to the bloodiest civil wars ever than to forget about them for a while and remember how to live in peace. If only the Union had been as good about de-programming Confederates at the end of the Civil War, perhaps we would not have the strains of bigotry and separatist terrorism that haunt America today. Hopefully Rwanda can continue to learn from the mistakes of others. |
World Net Daily: UN Israel Policies

Above is an article Jonathan posted to add to our understanding of what's going on in Gaza. This article talks a lot about the 1948 War, which is very important because it's consequences are the roots of the current situation. I have learned some about this war in my history class on this conflict, and although I don't know a whole lot, I know enough to see that in this article Dr. John Hagee is making some serious historiographical errors.

In 1948 Palestine had just been handed over to the United Nations by the British, whose mandate over the Ottoman territory they had acquired after World War One proved disatrous. The conflict between Palestinians and Jews was becoming worse and worse, so the UN voted to divide up Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish State. The Zionists proclaimed the independent state of Israel and very quickly the Arabs attacked, and impressively and surprisingly quickly the Israelis had repelled them and taken territory that the UN had set up to be Arab land. Most importantly, nearly 100,000 Palestinians who had been living in the land now called Israel and in the extra area Israel conquered, were gone. Some of them fled, some were encouraged by their own leaders and by Israelis to get out of the way of the war, and some were undoubtedly exiled and forced to leave the country.

Many villages were destroyed and the remaining ones were soon filled with Israeli settlers. Dr. Hagee says that the Palestians had all 'fled' their homes and makes it seem ridiculous that they now want to come back even though their homes happen to no longer exist. But after extensive debate between historians it seems quite clear that the Palestinians did not all leave on their own volition. The UN asked that the Palestinians be given back thier homes once they wanted them, but Israel has refused.

Hagee says, "When you declare a war – and lose that war – you must be prepared to live with the consequences of that war." There are several problems with this insinuation. First, he simplistically equates Palestinians with all the other Arab states that fought Israel in 1948. Second, it is important to remember that from the Arab point of view, the war was declared when a foreign country was suddenly and artificially created right in the middle of their territory. I do not mean to imply that Israel did not have a right to exist there, but I just think that seeing it from the Palestinian point of view is helpful to fully understand the situation. Third, Israel did not just defend it's right to exist as the UN mandated, it took new territory. Finally, it must be remembered that once, in 70 ad, the Jews lost a war and were expelled from Eretz Yisrael, lived in the Diasopora for centuries, and then fought to regain the territory, citing their rights to the historic homeland. Similary, the Arabs of this territory lived there for centuries, and now were forced out of it, and still to this day are struggling to regain it. This comparison is clearly flawed because the Jews did not use suicide bombings to get their state, but by looking at it in this way we may understand what makes the Palestinians so angry.

Making them more desperate and humiliated and wishing that they would just dissappear into the neighboring Arab states where Hagee foolishly assumes that they would be welcomed because they have "the same religion [and] speak a common language," certainly isn't going to help. I don't pretend to know a solution because many of the mistakes were made nearly half a century ago, and I'm just starting to educate myself on this issue, but I know that if any solutions can be found we cannot let history be written like Dr. Hagee did. |

Monday, March 29, 2004

Hello Matt -- and hello, America. Well, maybe just Matt. I would like to comment on the "silly" nature of Israel's actions regarding Gaza. Let's talk about what exactly Israel has done. Has Israel kicked UN aid workers out of Gaza, or forced the UN to stop immunizing children? No, of course not. Israel has tightened the Erez border checkpoint, the site of numerous suicide bombings and frequent gunfire. Is this action "silly"? Moreover, is it "harebrained," which according to Microsoft Word is a synonym for "silly"?

Middle East Info: Erez Checkpoint

Take a look at the article on the above website. The Erez checkpoint was supposed to be a checkpoint where Palestinian Arab workers could move in and out of Israel with a minimum of hassle and delay. A Palestinian woman responded to this opportunity by going to the checkpoint, pretending to be an ailing invalid, drawing sympathy from the Israeli soldiers, and then murdering those soldiers and a nearby civilian.

How do I know that there have been numerous other attacks, including frequent gunfire? That's because it says so in the CNN article itself! "Abu Hasna said the crossing is the site of frequent gunfire and exposes U.N. workers to unnecessary risk." In other words, when Palestinians are launching terrorist attacks on the crossing, the U.N. doesn't want to be around -- but they insist that Israelis leave themselves in harm's way by not tightening security around the checkpoint. Sure U.N. workers want to drive right through the checkpoint -- but do you think Israel is stopping those cars and containers because they hate it when Palestinians get food and immunizations? No, it's because Israel's first priority is, and must be, stopping suicide bombings.

This "silly" priority is especially important in light of the UN's lack of neutrality when it comes to Israel. The UN spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year in Gaza -- on food and immunizations, yes, but also on arming Palestinian terrorists and ensuring that these unfortunate Palestinians endure a "permanent refugee" status, where their squalor can always be blamed on Israel. This article lays it all out:

World Net Daily: UN Israel Policies

Through this -- and numerous other anti-Israel and anti-Semetic policies -- the UN has forfeited all right to special neutral status in Israel at the expense of security against suicide bombers. |
CNN: UN Withdrawal From Gaza

I agree with my friend Brian that this approach seems quite silly. Punishing those is Gaza is not an effective tool to change the behavior of Israelis or and militant groups on the other side of the conflict. |
The Drudge Report: Clark Book Deal

Obviously this story and others like it are meant to highlight the gains that Richard Clark is making in order to characterize him as an opportunist who has no regard for the state of the nation. However, nobody makes those accusations when Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter write books that use the war on terror or some other sensitive issue to level criticism exclusively at liberals. Clearly the timing of this book release is not ideal because it will influence voters, but this election cannot happen in a vacuum. And more to the point, why should Clark be vilified for presenting his opinion of the facts. If the administration would declassify his testimony and perhaps provide some evidence of their own besides attacks on Clark's character and credibility, then perhaps the American people could make an informed decision on their own without the standard partisan information dissemination that happens with every story from inside the beltway. |
New York Times: Kerry Delivers Speech to Missouri Congregation

I do not understand how the White House can find fault with Kerry speaking about compassion in a church. If Bush can use his spiritual beliefs in speeches about abortion rights and gay marriage, then why can Kerry not discuss his in a church of all places. The White House is using some strange double standard in this regard. Kerry's comments may have been a bit odd in light of the already bitter tone of this campaign season, though I agree that Christian compassion is a valid point to address in a president to admits to let his religion guide his policy decisions, but the reaction is the real demonstration that this race has too much of a negative focus to sustain interest. If the Republican Party is trying to turn people off from the election in the hope that low turnout will help Bush, they are off to a good start but our electoral system is not. |

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