Tag Archives: Gaza

NEWS DAY | Peter Erlinder freed / U.S., Israel, Suez, Lebanon / MSM this weekend

Free on “unconditional bail,” Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder is now out of Rwanda and on his way home. Supporters say he will hold a news conference in Kenya on Sunday afternoon.

A fleet of battleships including at least 11 U.S. and one Israeli vessels, crossed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea on Friday, according to Arabic, Israeli, German and Norwegian news media reports. (Strangely, neither BBC nor the mainstream U.S. media are carrying the story, though Firedoglake has a connect-the-dots blog post.) Egyptian authorities lined the canal with thousands of security forces to protect the passage and stopped all non-military traffic and all fishing in the area. According to Ha’Aretz: Continue reading

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Unemployment numbers, MN nurses, Gaza news, BP cap

Officially, unemployment fell slightly in May, to a seasonally adjusted 9.7 percent. The total unemployment figure, including those who are marginally attached to the workforce, discouraged workers, and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work – seasonally adjusted at 16.6 percent. Continue reading

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News Cut / Twin Cities schools / BP, Gaza, Afghanistan

I’m a fan of MPR’s “Five by 8” – five stories highlighted by 8 a.m. in the NewsCut blog. They range from the deadly serious (competing video accounts of Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla) to the whimsical (robots creating robots) to the silly (do dogs prefer HDTV?) A little later than 8 a.m., my picks for the stories of the day include Twin Cities school news and lay-offs, Gaza news coverage, attacks on peace talks in Afghanistan, and BP’s ongoing failures as the oil slick nears Florida beaches. Continue reading

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News Day: Chicken towns / Hot property / Lutherans come to MN / Police violence on video

Photo from video by Ashley Siebel Chicken towns St. Paul may soon have more chickens, reports the Star Tribune. A proposed new ordinance would allow St. Paul residents to keep three or fewer hens without getting permission from their neighbors, and with a reduced license fee of $25. The Strib quotes St. Paul city environmental manager Bill Gunther: “I’m a city kid, and I’m thinking they’re an agrarian animal that belongs on a farm,” he said. “But there’s a shift in thinking. Chickens are nothing more than a big bird.”

Of course, St. Paul already has some backyard chickens. So do Minneapolis, Anoka and Burnsville (but not Hastings.) Minneapolis even has a chicken rescue operation. And, unlike St. Paul, Minneapolis allows roosters in its backyard flocks.

Hot property The Star Tribune tagged Lake and Knox in Minneapolis as a “hot property:”

Details: Minneapolis property owners Nick Walton and Daniel Oberpriller have gotten approvals for a two-part development at a highly visible “gateway” into the Uptown neighborhood.

The article did not mention the strong community opposition to the development, or the protest resignation of Lara Norkus-Crampton, ECCO resident and Minneapolis Planning Commission member for the past three years, when the Planning Department and Planning Commission overruled the Uptown Small Area Plan (USAP).

More unallotments Late on Friday, Governor Tim Pawlenty released notice of another round of unallotments. The $13.6 million comes from agency operating budgets for FY 2011. Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson’s letter and accompanying documents (PDF) list all of the agencies that will be affected.

MPR reports that the biggest cuts come from a Revenue Department account, the Human Services Department, and Metro Transit aid. The cuts are widespread, ranging from the governor’s office to public health outreach and education. the Natural Resources Department also received more than a million dollars in cuts.

Lutherans come to MN You thought they were already here? Well, that’s true, but this week, Minnesota’s home-grown Lutherans will be supplemented by 1,000+ delegates to the national gathering of the 4.8 million member ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The most controversial item on the agenda is “rostering” of openly gay, non-celibate pastors. While some gay and lesbian pastors already serve congregations, the synod does not officially recognize them.

The Minnesota Independent reported on leading voices on both sides of the issue last week, and the Star Tribune reported yesterday that, although a close vote is expected, the Lutherans insist that a tradition of politeness will prevail.

Episcopalians also face issues over gay and lesbian clergy, with breakaway groups trying to recruit more congregations to their ranks, as dioceses in Minnesota and Los Angeles plan to consecrate gay or lesbian bishops.

So far, the defections represent only about 5 percent of the 2.3 million total membership. But in July, the spinoff denominations announced an aggressive plan to launch 1,000 congregations in the next five years. …

On Aug. 1 — less than a month after the end of a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops that was put in place to appease restive congregations — the Diocese of Minnesota announced that one of its three nominees for bishop is the Rev. Bonnie Perry, a Chicago priest who is in a long-term same-sex relationship. The next day, the Diocese of Los Angeles included two openly gay priests on its list of nominees for assistant bishop.

Circus tumble The young performers at Circus Juventas flew through the air with their usual aplomb, but spectators tumbled to the ground last night as half of the bleachers collapsed at the end of the performance. Half of the audience of 900 fell with the bleachers, and seven people were hospitalized. Broken wrist or ankles were the most serious injuries expected, according to the Pioneer Press. The collapse happened as the audience rose to applaud the end of the final performance of the three-week run of “YuLong: The Jade Dragon” at the Circus Juventas academy’s Big Top, in St. Paul’s Highland Park.

Violent police video Minneapolis police say that they used reasonable force in a February traffic stop, but the defendant, David Jenkins, his lawyer, and the squad car video tell another story, according to a report in the Star Tribune. The county attorney’s office dropped assault charges against Jenkins “in the interest of justice” after they reviewed the video, which can be viewed on the Star Tribune website. Jenkins was stopped for allegedly going 15 miles over the speed limit. He was also charged with refusing to submit to a blood or urine test, but a judge dismissed those charges.

After being thrown to the ground by the first police officer on the scene, Jenkins was beaten and kicked and tasered three times by police.

He required seven stitches above his eye after six officers punched and kicked him while he was face-down in a snowbank. He was treated at the hospital and then jailed for four days.

Jenkins said he was the victim of an unprovoked attack simply because he had vigorously questioned Officer Richard Walker about why he was stopped and asked to talk to his supervisor.

Police chief Tim Dolan said he would review the video on Monday.

World/National News

Public option going down? The New York Times says that the “public option” for health care reform may be abandoned by the administration in favor of nonprofit health care co-ops.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to produce a bill that features a nonprofit co-op. The author of the idea, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Budget Committee, predicted Sunday that Mr. Obama would have no choice but to drop the public option.

Former Vermont governor and Democratic party chair Howard Dean disagrees, reports AP:

“You can’t really do health reform without [a public option],” he said. Dean maintained that the health insurance industry has “put enormous pressure on patients and doctors” in recent years.

He called a direct government role “the entirety of health care reform. … We shouldn’t spend $60 billion a year subsidizing the insurance industry.”

Gaza Some 13 people were killed in clashes between Hamas government forces and an extremist religious sect, reports the Washington Post:

According to wire service and eyewitness reports of Moussa’s sermon, the cleric said the group drew its inspiration from al-Qaeda, demanded that a strict Salafi form of Islam be imposed in Gaza, and criticized Hamas for its occasional meetings with Europeans and Americans, including former president Jimmy Carter.

Hamas officials said they dealt with the sect as an illegal group possessing guns and weapons.

Suicide bombing in Russia A suicide bomber in the violence-plagued North Caucasus region attacked a police station in the city of Ingushetia, killing 20 and wounding many more, reports the New York Times:

The attack seemed to further undermine the authority of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, Ingushetia’s populist president who came to power last October vowing a softer approach in dealing with rebel violence than Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of neighboring Chechnya. It was the bloodiest single attack to hit Ingushetia for some time, though violence against police and government officials in this and other North Caucasus republics occurs almost daily. Mr. Yevkurov himself announced last week that he would soon return to work after he was seriously wounded in a suicide attack on his convoy in June. Ingushetia’s construction minister, Ruslan Amirkhanov, was assassinated in his office last week.

Iran Accusations of jailhouse violence, beatings and sexual abuse continue, reports the New York Times. Reformist cleric and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi refuses to back down despite calls for his arrest by conservative clerics and politicians.

War Reports

Afghanistan Five days before national elections, reports the Washington Post, s suicide bombing in Kabul killed seven people and wounded dozens more.

Iraq A “witch hunt” against gay men in Baghdad has killed 90 since January, reports BBC, which says that “Mehdi army spokesmen and clerics have condemned what they call the ‘feminisation’ of Iraqi men and have urged the military to take action against them.”

Afghanistan drug money A new Senate report says that the Taliban is getting only about $70 million of the estimated $400 million in drug profits each year, reports the Los Angeles Times. According to the Times:

Al Qaeda’s dependence on drug money is even less, according to the report by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which found that “there is no evidence that any significant amount of the drug proceeds go to Al Qaeda.” …

In one of its most disconcerting conclusions, the Senate report says the United States inadvertently contributed to the resurgent drug trade after the Sept. 11 attacks by backing warlords who derived income from the flow of illegal drugs. The CIA and U.S. Special Forces put such warlords on their payroll during the drive to overthrow the Taliban regime in late 2001.

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News Day: RNC acquittals / More Michelle / MN tax and budget wrangling/ Ethanol, books, coffee, more

I’m writing on the fly this morning — literally — and hoping to post when we land in Newark, so advance apologies if I miss any late-breaking news. I’m out of town until Wednesday, so Monday-Wednesday blog posts may be shorter, later, or just a little different.

Not guilty for RNC protesters Two more RNC protesters were acquitted by a Ramsey County jury Thursday. That continues a solid winning streak, with no protesters yet convicted at trials. The jury evidently found police testimony not credible. Another RNC trial is still going on, with Sean McCoy facing misdemeanor charges of parading without a permit and fleeing a police officer. Some lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild suggest that St. Paul city attorney John Choi should just throw out all of the remaining misdemeanor cases. (He’s already decided that hundreds of arrests lack a basis for prosecution.)
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News Day 2/12/09: Between bailout and stimulus / $7 billion MN deficit? / MN Job Watch / Housing prices, and more …

Between bailout and stimulus Sick of reading about it / thinking about it / worrying about it? So am I, but I still keep trying to understand how and why we bail out the bankers and bash the poor. One of today’s better analyses:

Steve Perry, writing in MinnPost collates a number of analyses of the latest bailout and concludes: “Thanks to the ways the money is being used–to keep the banks in private hands and their shareholders out of harm’s way–the chances that these unthinkable sums will actually prevent continuing disaster appears to diminish by the day.”

And the sums are truly unthinkable: Bloomberg reports that the total amount of bailouts, and government loans and pledges to banks, and stimulus is close to $9.7 TRILLION — “enough to send a $1,430 check to every man, woman and child alive in the world … almost enough to pay off every home mortgage loan in the U.S., calculated at $10.5 trillion by the Federal Reserve.”

Meanwhile, Congress continues to quibble over the economic stimulus package, now nibbled down to $790 billion by cutting such unworthy projects as $20 billion in school construction funding and additional amounts in Medicaid spending, according to the Washington Post.

And back to Perry:

The ultimate peril of our monstrously overgrown financial sector–which, pre-crash, accounted for about 20 percent of GDP and 30-40 percent of U.S. corporate profits, proportions that are absolutely unprecedented in U.S. history-is that government has a very hard time seizing control of the banking system when the banking system, for practical purposes, has seized control of the government.

A billion here, a billion there Gov. Pawlenty said that MN’s $4.8 billion deficit could grow to $6 or $7 billion by March. That’s almost 20 percent of the state’s budget, notes the Strib. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis predicted that the recession will last through 2009 — not exactly a surprise. The Fed predicts MN unemployment rates of 7.8 percent, but the hardest-hit part of the region will be the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with a predicted 14 percent unemployment rate.

MN Job Watch Toro cut 100 salaried and office jobs Wednesday, three-quarters at its Bloomington HQ, reported the Strib. The company earlier accepted 50 voluntary retirements.

More than a thousand Minnesotans are applying for unemployment benefits each month, and four out of ten will be unemployed for 26 weeks or more, exhausting their benefits, reports Annie Baxter on MPR. For most of them, a federal extension will give them up to an additional 33 weeks, and possibly another three months after that. Lee Nelson, the state’s head unemployment benefits attorney, told MPR that, “Minnesota paid out a whopping $45 million in jobless benefits and extensions the week before last,” and payments are likel to keep increasing at about a million dollars a week.

According to the Washington Post, more employers across the country are contesting worker applications for unemployment benefits, claiming employee wrongdoing or quitting, in an attempt to keep their claim level and rates down. Department of Labor figures show record highs of just over 25 percent of claims being contested.

The play’s the thing Penumbra became the latest TC theater to announce budget woes Wednesday, cutting its operating budget by 24 percent, but maintaining plans for a half-million dollar renovation and keeping all staff on board, reported Rohan Preston in the Strib. Penumbra will postpone production of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” from May to October.

Revise, not recount Secretary of State Mark Ritchie proposed changing election laws to require fewer automatic recounts and to allow voters to vote early and in person, and to register online. Meanwhile, the recount court is considering Coleman and Franken arguments on what categories of absentee ballots should be considered, and the end is not yet in sight.

Buyer’s market? The median home price in the Twin Cities fell 24 percent in January, writes Christopher Snowbeck in the PiPress. The St. Paul Area Association of Realtors reported a median home price of $155,000.

More on the local housing market: Lenders discriminate. Housing is segregated. Communities of color are hit harder by the foreclosure crisis than anyone else. That’s the ugly face of racial discrimination in the Twin Cities revealed in a 54-page report released by the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Flowers for sheep Sheep will eat most of the flowers raised by Gaza farmers again this year, but Israeli authorities have agreed to allow the export of 20,000 carnations to Europe for Valentine’s Day. According to BBC, “Cut flowers, along with strawberries, were some of Gaza’s main exported raw goods, providing a valuable source of income to thousands of families in the Gaza Strip” before the Israeli blockade stopped almost all exports in June 2007. Before the blockade, exports brought in half a million dollars a day.

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News Day – January 13

Crime decreasing … for now Looking at FBI figures, the the PiPress reports that crime in St. Paul rose slightly during the first six months of the year, compared to 2007. “Slightly” means 0.2% or ten more crimes than in 2007. St. Paul police say that the crime figures showed a decline by the end of 2008. In Minneapolis, the Strib reported that crime fell during the first six months of 2008. Nationwide, violent crime fell by 3.5% and property crime by 2.5%. Final crime stats for the entire year will be available in the fall.

But can it last? Though crime stats show decreases, city governments across the state face major budget cuts. MPR interviewed Wadena Mayor Wolden:

Wolden said cities are struggling with Gov. Pawlenty’s admonition not to cut budgets for public safety.

“We understand that. We’re not dumb. We know that people want to dial 911 and have somebody show up at their door in 60 seconds, 24/7/365. It’s what we do. That’s why they pay taxes,” Wolden said. “We are going to try to hold them as harmless as possible. But this is forcing our hand. This may have to be the cut.”

Liberians need a pathway to permanent residence. Once again, Liberians lawfully in the United States under a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) face forced departure as the latest extension of TPS expires in on March 31. TPS was first granted in 1991, and extended year to year until 2007, when President Bush changed the status to Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Liberians who fled war and persecution, have lived here for more than a decade, starting businesses, buying homes, and raising families. Each family has its own story. MPR tells one of the stories:

The possibility of deportation would pose an immediate dilemma for Kirkpatrick Weah. He has two young American-born sons who both need special education. He’d have to decide whether to take them with him to Liberia, where the schools may not offer the programs that can help them succeed, or whether to leave them in the U.S.

Minnesota is home to about 25,000 Liberians, one of the largest populations in the United States, and many live under the threat of departure on March 31.

MN Job Watch: Hutchinson Technology, which had announced layoffs of 1100 just a month ago, increased the number to 1380, according to the Strib. The new plan calls for cutting 950 jobs in Hutchinson (pop. 13,929) and 50 in Plymouth. According to the Strib:

They are not alone. Many manufacturers are swinging the employment axe as the grip on the economy tightens. Manufacturers scrubbed 600,000 jobs and shut dozens of plants last year. In Minnesota, 3M, Andersen, Select Comfort, Pentair, Imation and other manufacturers cut 8,500 jobs in just 10 weeks. Hundreds more are coming as retailers Best Buy, Linens and Things and now Cost Plus World Market shut stores and trim corporate staff.

California-based Seagate Technology announced cuts of 800 jobs in the United States. The company employs 53,000 worldwide, about 8,000 in the United States, and about 3,300 in Bloomington and Shakopee, according to the Strib.

Ford is offering buyouts in St. Paul. “About 240 of the 771 union members working at the St. Paul Ford plant are eligible for the buyouts, said Roger Terveen, president of UAW Local 879” in the PiPress. The buyouts would take effect in January. The last round was in 2006.

Gubernatorial tease Both T-Paw and Wisconsin Guv Jim Doyle say they’ll make a major announcement of a joint initiative on Tuesday at 11 a.m., and neither is telling what it will be, AP says, except that it involves efficiency and spending cuts.

Immigrant struggles MPR reports on the struggles of immigrants, many of whom had professional degrees and practices in their home countries, to make a new life in Minnesota. For Damaris Perez-Ramirez, that meant leaving her PhD in psychology and 12-year psychology practice and starting over.

Starting from scratch meant cleaning houses, working as a translator and coordinating parenting classes for Latinos in the Twin Cities. These weren’t exactly the kind of jobs she had in mind when she arrived in Minnesota in 2001. …

A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute shows that, nationally, more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants are either unemployed or working in jobs such as dishwashers, taxi drivers or housecleaners.

Gaza war update Yesterday the Israeli government banned Arab political parties inside Israel, and even TPM confessed to not being sure what to say or think about the decision, which may well be overturned by the Israeli courts. As casualty figures, with the death toll nearing 1,000 and the number of injured topping 4,000, Bill Moyers presented a searing indictment of the Israeli war (“Brute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism”), and Naomi Klein urged a boycott of Israel. Israel warned (promised?) continuing escalation.

And the recount saga goes on … Yesterday, MN Supreme Court Justice Alan Page appointed the three judges who will hear the Coleman lawsuits in the election/recount battle. MPR reports:

They are:
• Elizabeth Hayden of Stearns County who was appointed by DFL Governor Rudy Perpich in 1986;
• Kurt Marben of Thief River Falls who was appointed by Independent Jesse Ventura in 2000, and
• Denise Reilly of Hennepin County who was appointed by Republican Arne Carlson in 1997.

Franken also asked that the Guv and SoS issue him a certificate of election yesterday — both declined, pointing out that the law requires them to wait until after the court decides on all legal challenges.

Popular public schools Choosing a school is a mind-boggling process for parents of kindergartners. Last weekend, TC Daily Planet visited the school choice fairs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and talked to parents.

Parents at both fairs moved aggressively from booth to booth, peppering parent volunteers and administrators with questions. Many were so intent on their search that I found it hard to stop them for an interview.

“It’s definitely overwhelming,” said Caralin Dees of St Paul, who was looking for a kindergarten for her four-year-old daughter with her husband Matt. The couple said they hadn’t done much research before the fair. “We’re looking for an elementary with a math-science focus…but really, how much do we want to limit her. I mean, she’s only four!”

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The on-going tragedy in Gaza commands the attention of the world. Both the genesis of the current war and the possible path to an eventual resolution defy simple definition. This article is not an attempt to point to a solution, but only a description of differing positions and some pointers to resources for further information and analysis from a variety of points of view.

One step toward resolution must be understanding what the various parties believe to be true about their situation. Four sources, among many, offer differing points of view from the region, in English:

Al Jazeera, an international on-line media source with a particular focus on events and issues in the Middle East.

Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli mainstream daily newspaper

HaAretz, a left-wing Israeli daily newspaper

The Daily Star, a daily newspaper from Lebanon

Near-universal calls for an end to Israeli air strikes focus on the civilian death toll and the continuing immiseration of the population of Gaza. Democracy Now reports:

Four Israeli citizens, including two Arab Israelis, have been killed by rockets from the Gaza Strip since Israel began its offensive on Saturday. Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed and at least 1,600 injured. Latest reports indicate Israeli bombs have hit the network of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border that many have described as a “lifeline for the Palestinian people,” because it’s been a major channel for smuggling in basic supplies from Egypt. Israel maintains the tunnels are used to smuggle weapons in.

Gaza is a small strip of land, thirty miles long and ten miles wide at its widest point. Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2006. Israel responded with economic sanctions and blockades, and military conflicts escalated throughout the year, culminating in an Israeli ground invasion in northern Gaza in November 2006. A ceasefire followed the Israeli withdrawal, but did not last. According to the Guardian:

After Hamas seized full control of Gaza in late June 2007, following a near civil war with its rival Fatah, Israel stepped up its air raids. On a single day in June, 12 Palestinians were killed in what an Israeli minister called “preventive measures” against rocket attacks from Gaza.

At the same time, Israel tightened its economic blockade, reducing the flow of goods into Gaza to a bare minimum, stopping all exports and placing severe limits on those Palestinians it allowed to leave Gaza through Israel. By September it had declared Gaza a “hostile territory” as militant rocket attacks and Israeli military raids continued.

A new round of US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began at a summit in Annapolis, in the US, in November 2007 – but the conflict in Gaza continued.

A ceasefire was reached in June 2008, but broke down in November.

Israel condemns Hamas, which has been shooting more and more powerful missiles deeper inside Israel as the months go by.

Moshe Arens writes in Ha’aretz that there are seven ways to stop the rockets, but only one way that is effective:

Why has it been so difficult for our leaders – civilian and military – to understand this? The prospect of ground forces entering the Gaza Strip is not particularly attractive, especially after we have been told that “we have left the Gaza Strip forever.” But nobody has yet found a way of defeating an enemy without invading their territory. Call it occupation or whatever else you like, but that is how wars have always been won, and if we are going to defeat Hamas and stop the rockets from raining on Israeli civilians that is what we will have to do.

Seth Freedman, writing in the Guardian, defends Israel’s attack:

As Israeli spokesmen have reiterated time and again in the media, there is not a country in the world which would allow such assaults to take place on a daily basis without taking action to defend their citizens. Hamas knew this, and that their barrage of rockets would inevitably bring retaliation on the people of Gaza. Despite the ever-louder sabre-rattling by Israeli politicians during the last week, Hamas continued to use heavily-populated civilian centres as launching pads for their daily attacks on Israel.

On the other side, most of the world condemns the current Israeli war on Gaza, which has killed hundreds, wounded hundreds more, and wreaked death and havoc on the civilian population.

Gideon Levy, writing in HaAretz, eloquently describes the consequences of the bombing:

In four days they killed 375 people. They did not, and could not, distinguish between a Hamas official and his children, between a traffic cop and a Qassam launch operator, between a weapons cache and a health clinic, between the first and second floors of a densely populated apartment building with dozens of children inside. According to reports, about half of the people killed were innocent civilians. …

Do the pilots think about them, the children of refugees whose parents and grandparents have already been driven from their lives? Do they think about the thousands of people they have left permanently disabled in a place without a single hospital worthy of the name and no rehabilitation centers at all? Do they think about the burning hatred they are planting not only in Gaza but in other corners of the world amid the horrific images on television?

David Grossman, also writing in HaAretz, says that, no matter what the provocation of the past, now Israel should simply stop:

After its severe strike on Gaza, Israel would do well to stop, turn to Hamas’ leaders and say: Until Saturday Israel held its fire in the face of thousands of Qassams from the Gaza Strip. Now you know how harsh its response can be. So as not to add to the death and destruction we will now hold our fire unilaterally and completely for the next 48 hours. Even if you fire at Israel, we will not respond with renewed fighting. We will grit our teeth, as we did all through the recent period, and we will not be dragged into replying with force.

Moreover, we invite interested countries, neighbors near and far, to mediate between us and you to bring back the cease-fire. …

That is what Israel should do now. Is it possible, or are we too imprisoned in the familiar ceremony of war?

On the last day of 2008, however, neither Israel nor Hamas showed any interest in a cease-fire. Instead, Israel appeared poised for a ground invasion.

Facts on the ground–number of air strikes in Gaza, number of rockets landing in Israel, number of people killed, mosques, schools and jails destroyed–these are not in dispute. The disputes come in assigning meaning and blame, and in the intractable problem of finding a way to peace. Ezra Klein, writing in The American Prospect, describes the depth of the differences:

One important disconnect in Israel/Palestine debate is that Israel’s supporters tend to focus on what the Palestinians want while Palestine’s supporters tend to focus on what the Israelis do. Israel’s defenders, for instance, make a lot of Hamas’s willingness to kill large numbers of civilians. Palestine’s defenders make a lot of the fact that Israel actually kills large numbers of Palestinian civilians.

The Israelis see themselves as threatened innocents, not oppressors. They point to the public statements of Hamas, and they are right. The Palestinians see themselves as an occupied people, not aggressors. They point to their death toll and the settlements, and they are right.

The disaster in Gaza goes beyond the immediate devastation of the current war. In an editorial, Lebanon’s Daily Star points to the longer-term problem:

The international community’s reaction to the crisis in Gaza betrays an ugly truth about the world’s attitude toward the decades-long plight of a dispossessed people: No one cares about the Palestinians unless they are being murdered in their hundreds, and their unjustifiable suffering will in all likelihood be forgotten again whenever the guns fall silent. …

[The] Gaza Strip, where nearly half the population is under the age of 14, has been strangled by various forms of Israeli blockade for nearly three years. During this time, countless reports have emerged detailing horrors such as malnourished children, hospitals lacking electricity and basic medical supplies, and human beings being forced to rummage through garbage bins like animals in search of food. Where was the international outrage then? And where will the scores of flag-waving demonstrators be when the current slaughter comes to an end? …

Nothing of substance will change until the Palestinians have a state to call their own. And neither spontaneous demonstrations nor barrages of rockets will help the Palestinians to reach this objective. What is required is an intelligent, sustained and proactive effort aimed at reaching a peace deal that will result in Palestinian statehood.

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