Friday, July 28, 2006

Day 16

Day 16: This war has gone on long enough for CNN to have accumulated "stock footage" to run as filler on all of its programming -- a woman wailing in a Haifa doorway, leaflets falling from the sky in Tyre, tanks lining the road on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border, motorbikes dodging rubble in southern Beirut. I keep waiting for that "Anderson Cooper/Katrina" moment when someone in the western media will finally have seen enough carnage and wanton destruction to finally question why 2,500 lb. bombs are falling on civilian slums and speak truth to power. Waiting. And waiting ...

Tonight I noticed that most of the coverage is coming from south of the blue line (because its far safer?) And the IDF will not allow embeds. So the few journalists left in Lebanon do "talking points" rather than actual reporting and answer only the questions that are asked, never deviating from the script.*

Much has been made of the ball bearings in the Katyusha rockets, designed to inflict "maximum civilian damage" -- Katyusha rockets which are basically "point and shoot" like my $6 camera, with no targeting capability. Yet there's little mention of cluster munitions and phosphorus bombs being dropped on civilian areas of Lebanon with great precision, except when one happens to take out a UN station or a string of Red Cross ambulances "by accident". Since the US is providing these laser guided missiles and bunker busters (on a rush basis, I might add), I wonder if they, too, are tipped with depleted uranium such as the US military has been using in Iraq and what the long term environmental/health effects will be.

So far, in addition to UN outposts and Red Cross vehicles, the IDF has managed to hit roads, bridges, food depots, airports, gas stations, fuel depots, Palestinian refugee camps (dating back to 1948), civilians holding white bedsheets out the windows of minivans while attempting to flee to higher ground, and even make several successful strikes against Lebanese Army barracks, the very same Army that the world is counting on to take up the slack (under UN Resolution #1559) once Hezbollah is eliminated, or at least contained. Does anyone else see parallels with Fallujah in this picture?

In addition to the stock footage, new myths (or talking points) have developed over the last 16 days: Hezbollah as Jihadist, ties to Syria, Iran and even Al-Qaeda, a new Caliphate from Iran to Spain, and the ever popular (and particularly disgusting) Islamo-Fascism. As Gaza and the West Bank fall off the media radar and Iraq and Afghanistan recede into the background, all the rhetoric is now applied to Lebanon. Shrill voices are calling for Lebanon to uphold UN Resolution #1559 while the 66 plus resolutions (beginning with 242 and 338) regarding Israel's occupation are forgotten. (And John Bolton will probably squeak through the Senate towards a permanent appointment to the UN and be in a better position to keep the 66 plus resolutions regarding occupied territories, apartheid walls, civilian infrastructure, water grabs, land grabs and the protection of civilian populations under occupation from ever being discussed, let alone enforced.)

The US is generously giving $30 million in emergency aid to Lebanon. That's 1% of the $3 Billion given annually to Israel. One percent. The Bush Regime likes quantifiable data and metrics, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld. How's this? The Bush Regime has quantified Lebanese (or Palestinian) life as worth one percent of Israeli life.

*A footnote: Did anyone else think that Prime Minister al-Malaki's speech before the bicameral session of congress sounded like it had been written by Karl Rove or Dick Cheney and then translated into Arabic?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Clean Up in Aisle L

So ill from the news. Shades of 1982, 1988, 2000, 2003. I won't update this site with *news* because anyone who has found the site has already heard it all. But the idea that the Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora is talking of suing Israel for damages struck me as not quite good enough. I put forth the following:

Sue George W. Bush and Condi Rice for not demanding that Israel stop the indiscriminate killing and wanton destruction in Lebanon from Day One. The idea of giving Israel "another week or so" to clean out Hezbollah is just disgusting. It will only create more destruction and more enemies.

Sue every member of the Senate and the House, present and past, living and dead, for the last 58 years for gifting $3 billion plus of American tax dollars annually to the State of Israel to use as it will, ignoring any caveats against the use of funds for construction in the occupied territories and/or offensive war.

Sue every major (and minor) weapons and equipment manufacturer who has sold weapons to Israel which are now being used to target civilian populations and infrastructure. And don't do it in American courts but on the international stage, beginning tomorrow.

Once all these lawsuits have been filed, I'd suggest that it's time for Abu Mazen to think of a Clean Up on Aisle P (which includes W and G), beginning with a lawsuit against Caterpillar. Let's not wait until even more Palestinian infrastructure is demolished, more Palestinian land appropriated, more women and children dead.

Of course, none of these lawsuits will bring back the life of a single child. Time for me to cry now.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

War on Wheat?

After watching 24 straight hours of news on CNN and MS-NBC, I've concluded that Israel has declared a "War on Wheat".

Words like "asymmetrical", "disproportionate" and "restraint" have been repeated until they have lost their meaning. The media keeps reminding me that Hamas started this cycle of violence by kidnapping an IDF soldier on June 25, while neglecting to mention that on June 24 the IDF kidnapped a Palestinian doctor and his brother from their home in Gaza and they have not been heard from since (see Ha'Aretz's Gideon Levy's reports of July 8) or that the previous months were a living hell with indiscriminate rockets, bombs, gunboat and helicopter strikes against 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza, the nightly sonic booms keeping frightened children awake, the closing of border crossings turning all of Gaza into one large open-air prison. Nor do they discuss the incursions into the West Bank, the land grabs, the detentions and the arrests which occur on a daily basis.

But, unlike Gaza, where every missile or bomb is a direct hit on a "munitions factory or warehouse" and all the dead and injured are "militants and/or armed terrorists", there are actually international media in Lebanon who can send out live feeds and actually report what might pass for a truth if there weren't so much ridiculous and ill-informed commentary.

In retaliation for Hezbollah's attack on IDF forces at the blue line of Israel's northern border and the capture of two soldiers, 15 civilians in a minibus were obliterated in Southern Lebanon Saturday while trying to seek protection from nearby UN forces. Other "legitimate" targets have included airports and landing strips (3), border crossings into Syria (2), roads, bridges, ports, lighthouses, gas stations, petrol tanks and reserves, religious and political offices in heavily populated civilian neighborhoods, television and radio stations and several actual Lebanese military installations.

But strangest of all, the Israelis targeted and took out three wheat silos. Since when does a country declare a "War on Wheat"?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Eyeless in Gaza

Eyeless in Gaza -- apologies to Aldous Huxley.

Eyesless in Gaza -- as the mainstream media avoids reporting on Gaza (for days on end) until today's events on Israel's northern border. And, once again, Israel uses a blow torch to swat a fly. And, once again, Palestinians (and now Lebanese) pay the price while the Regime in Washington tries to drag Syria and Iran into the conflict.

Eyeless in Gaza -- now eyeless, headless, and homeless. No bridges, electricity, running water, sewage or trash services; no food, medicine, money; no access or exit; no airport, sea port, border crossings; no hope. Was this the plan behind Sharon's unilateral withdrawal 11 months ago -- to create one large open air prison where not even the press or NGO's can access the truth and to drive 1.3 million men, women and children (mostly children) either mad (as in insane) or mad (as in another generation ready to experience yet more war)?

Eyeless in Gaza -- no witnesses. Only tears falling from blind eyes.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's the Economy (Stupid!)

Watched the Dow plummet 135 points on Friday due to a variety of factors, one of which was fear of inflation due to the dramatic increase in the average hourly wage paid in May -- an increase of 0.5%. The "average hourly wage" is more than three times the "minimum wage" of $5.15 per hour (which Congress refused to increase -- again -- while voting themselves a hefty sum). Didn't catch the exact number quoted for the "average hourly wage", but it was less than $18 per hour.

I'm not a math whiz, but 0.5% of $18 is nine cents. So a whopping nine cents sent the Dow reeling at week's end. Interesting ... I wonder who got the nine cents (72 cents per day), what he or she plans to spend it on, and who will take the blame the problems with the economy (stupid!)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Not Getting "It"

I don't get it ... It's justified as self-defense for the IDF to target cars carrying elected Hamas officials with missiles fired from helicopters and to bomb a Hamas-run Islamic University in Gaza, but if the PA or Hamas were to target a Yeshiva in the Occupied Territories, it would be labeled as anti-Semitic; if a Muslim were to damage one stone of a seminary anywhere in the Western world, it would be considered an act of Islamic terrorism.

I don't get it ... It's perfectly acceptable for George W. Bush or any number of talking heads from the US government, its think tanks or the media (Fox News, CNN, MS-NBC) to make reference to "Islamo-Fascism", but if anyone were to refer to Judeo-Fascism, they would be labeled as anti-Semitic; if anyone were to utter the words Christian-Fascists, they would be considered a threat to Western Civilization as we know it.

I don't get it ... The Bush Regime labels Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil". Then the Regime refuses face-to-face talks with either Iran or North Korea, but invades Iraq (Hello? No WMD!), continues to threaten Iran (while still refusing two-party talks), and is "shocked, just shocked I tell you", when the one country who actually may have or want such weapons attempts to launch a missile that might, just might, have the range to hit Alaska. And Bush still refuses face-to-face talks, calling for six-party talks that have never worked.

I don't get it ...