Dorit Beinisch is currently president of the Israel Supreme Court, and is I suppose relatively humane as Israeli officials go - although her advocacy for collective punishment against those trapped in that open-air prison called Gaza, as well as her statement in a ruling against conscientious objectors don't exactly impress me.
Tzipi Livni, Israel's Foreign Minister, has quite the colorful background - including a dad who was a terrorist back in the 1940s; Juan Cole notes she never repudiated her dad's actions. So it goes. In her eyes, some terrorists are more equal than others. She's an avowed "centrist" who rose to prominence as a right-winger back in the 1970s.
Dalia Itzik is Speaker of the Knesset, and I suppose deserves to be recognized for finally recognizing that Arabs are discriminated against in Israel. Fancy that. Beyond that she just comes across as the usual warmonger and corrupt politico that one would expect.
I suppose that's the cream of the crop.
Of course, Eli has already done a splendid job in offering an alternative picture of what Israel really is. I'll only add a few of my own, realizing that whatever is being offered is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
This is Israel:
"[Between 16:45 and 17:00], [o]ne bulldozer, serial number 949623, began to work near the house of a physician who is a friend of ours ... Rachel sat down in the pathway of the bulldozer ... [It] continued driving forward headed straight for Rachel. When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer. She got so high onto it that she was at eye-level with the cab of the bulldozer ... Despite this, he continued forward, which pulled her legs into the pile of rubble, and pulled her down out of view of the driver ... We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted, one activist with the megaphone. But [he] continued forward, until Rachel was underneath the central section of the bulldozer ... Despite the obviousness of her position, the bulldozer began to reverse, without lifting its blade, and drug [sic] the blade over her body again. He continued to reverse until he was on the boarder [sic] strip, about 100 meters away, and left her crushed body in the sand. Three activists ran to her and began administering first-responder medical treatment ... She said, "My back is broken!" but nothing else ..."This is Israel:
So, Israel has committed another massacre, this time pounding 33 farmers into the dust and wounding twenty more as they engaged in provocative fruit-picking activity. The new ways of looking at it? First of all, let's not forget that Hezbollah is firing some unguided missiles into Israel. The BBC doesn't. It's front page explains: "An Israeli air raid near the Lebanese-Syrian border kills at least 28, as Hezbollah fires 40 rockets into Israel." Meanwhile, lots of news outlets have a brand new angle: "Israel Severs Lebanon Road Link to Syria" says ABC News. Ditto says the Houston Chronicle. So, how come we never heard or saw the headline: "Hamas severs bus" with the reminder "as Israel continues to brutally occupy Palestine"? Israel expands Lebanon bombing, remarks CBS rather vaguely. The New York Times prefers to be very slightly more specific: Israel expands strikes north of Beirut. Threat to attack Tel Aviv says The Australian, appearing to miss the point entirely.This is Israel:
The fact that this killing was part of an attempt to destroy the aid routes and transport infrastructure is of course indicative that the war continues to be a war against the population - but to notice this would be, well, tasteless.
But Hadawi will never return home to Jerusalem. Like his wife before him, he leads his life in painful reminiscence and will carry the grief with him to a grave dug in a foreign land.This is Israel:
The 99-year-old Toronto resident's dilemma is inextricably linked to the thorniest of all issues at the heart of the Middle East conflict: Palestinians' right of return.
Israel denies it. Palestinians insist on it. The failure to reach a compromise has meant a continuing loss of opportunity for a resolution of the conflict.
The beginning of Hadawi's story, like those of other Palestinians, is buried under decades of displacement and yearnings for restitution.
He was born in West Jerusalem in what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. Growing up in his grandfather's house in the Jewish quarter of the city, he worked for the British government during its mandate of Palestine and at age 44 moved to a house he built for his own family in the Christian quarter.
Little did Hadawi know that the days following his move would usher in a period of homelessness for his family and coincide with the beginning of an era of regional wars and political unrest in the Middle East.
It was 1948, the year of the partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel.
Sitting in his room at the Gibson Retirement Residence in Toronto's northeast end, Hadawi recalls the harsh circumstances of his departure.
"I spent all my life building a house and I lived in it for six or seven days. The house was taken away from us. We were thrown out ... I never wanted to leave ... I left everything ... I was left with nothing."
Hadawi says the pain of parting with his homeland, and the memory of losing his wife shortly after, remains undiminished after all these years.
"I try not to think about the past, because the past hurts a great deal. You don't want to hate people; you don't want to curse people ....
"I had nothing against the Jews all my life ... but what was done (in Palestine) was unforgettable."
Hadawi's account of his family's exodus from the land of his ancestors is representative of stories of many Palestinians now living in the diaspora. What was seen by immigrating Jews at the time as the realization of a dream of nationhood was viewed by displaced Arabs as a catastrophe of deliberate depopulation.
The wall was the starkest expression of the international boycott of Hamas imposed by the United States, Israel, and the European Union after Hamas won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections of January 2006 and formed a government the following March. Hamas has been in sole control of the Gaza Strip after it executed a coup d'état against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007. Since then, Israel has tightened the siege of Gaza which had been in effect since June 2006.This is Israel:
Despite the siege, Israel continued to provide electricity and water to the Gaza Strip, allowing people to live on the edge of survival, hoping that the economic pressure would bring down the Hamas government. Half the population now depends on charity handouts from the UN refugee relief organization and other humanitarian NGOs. Four days before the wall came crashing down, Israel sharply cut back fuel and water supplies, imposing a harsh collective punishment on the entire population of 1.5 million.
Meanwhile, at Rafah Egyptian security forces initially tried to stop the Palestinians from streaming across the border. But as the numbers swelled to tens of thousands, the government had no choice but to acquiesce.
This is Israel:
Now:You get the picture.
I offer no justification beyond that I KNOW Israel to be the land promised to us by G_d, and that I KNOW her to have awakened and embarked upon a march to glory.
To deny Israel her place is to deny the sun-rise, or the tides or the exquisite forces of gravity. We might idly ruminate on matters of the world, but to so do marks nothing more than the passage of time.
Israel's destiny is concrete, and here people might justly celebrate at such a time.
Nerdified LinkIn his victory speech, Olmert called on Mahmoud Abbas to make peace. But this is an empty gesture. No Palestinian could possibly accept the terms Olmert has in mind. So, if the Palestinians don't show that they are "partners," Olmert wants to "establish Israel's permanent borders unilaterally," meaning that he wants to annex something between 15 percent and 50 percent of the West Bank.
Nerdified LinkIn his inaugural speech, Olmert continued to insist that Israel has inalienable historical rights for all the land west of the Jordan River...
The wall is planned to enclose Greater Jerusalem and most of the main settlement blocks in the West Bank. It will extend deep into the West Bank as far as Maale Adumim, a settlement of 32,000 inhabitants halfway down to Jericho, and in the west to the large city of Ariel, twenty kilometers inside the West Bank. This will not only divide Palestinian Jerusalem residents from their families and businesses outside the city but will, in effect, cut the West Bank into at least two enclaves. Olmert also wants to retain freedom of action in the remaining West Bank against terrorists and maintain a "military presence" in the Jordan Valley. Israel will therefore establish a security zone along the river that will further cut into the West Bank, taking up a considerable amount of territory.
By contrast, Palestinians were at first encouraged to emigrate and later prevented from buying apartments in the new Israeli suburbs. The municipal government still badly neglects the remaining purely Palestinian neighborhoods. Many are sadly run down. Behind the Mount of Olives and in the Valley of Hinom, below the Old City walls, the Palestinian quarters look more like Cairo slums. Mountains of garbage lie in the street, there are potholes everywhere, no sidewalks, no proper streetlights, and no parks, as there are on the Jewish side. An open sewer runs though muddy streets.