Ceasefire needed in Palestinian-Israel conflict

Dead Palestinian children after Israel drops bombs in residential area

Dead Palestinian children after Israel drops bombs in residential area

Reported by Reuters, Christian leaders in Jerusalem called for a cease-fire and an end to the bloodshed in Gaza.

 

From the Reuters story:

 

In a joint statement issued by the Vatican, patriarchs, bishops and heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem also pressed all parties to chose non-violent methods to resolve their disputes.

“We also call on the international community to fulfil its responsibilities and intervene immediately and actively to stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation,” they said.

Signatories included the Catholic “Custos of the Holy Land,” who oversee major Christian pilgrimage sites, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch and a bishop from the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“We believe that the continuation of this bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility — and thus continued confrontation between the two peoples,” they wrote.

Yesterday in Dearborn, over 1,000 people of diverse backgrounds, Muslims, Jews and Christians, Arabs and non-Arabs, protested the violence in Palestine and Israel and called for a ceasefire. 

Let me be clear that the protest was not in favor of Hamas.  Their firing of rockets, be they homemade rockets to Kaytusha & Qassam rockets, is not acceptable nor wise.  However, the Israeli response has been disproportionate and is accelerating the suffering of Gazan civilians, who have been living in conditions much worse than inmates in US prisons.  Children are dying, and people are starving.

Yesterday at the Dearborn rally, I urged those in attendance to contact their Federal elected officials immediately to ask them to call for a ceasefire.

Click here to listen.

Israel is the opium of the people and other Taboos

Israel is the opium of the people and other Taboos
By Mona Eltahawy

NEW YORK – “Why aren’t you as an Arab lady writing about Gaza?”

“Where are your columns about Gaza?”

“Say the Israelis are wrong!”

The messages started to arrive soon after Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed close to 300 Palestinians. Implicit was the pressure to toe the party line, Hamas is good, Israel is bad. Say it, say it! Or else you’re not Arab enough, you’re not Muslim enough, you’re not enough.

But what to say about a conflict that for more than 60 years now has fed Arab and Israeli senses of victimhood and their respective demands to stop everything else we’re doing and pay attention to their fights because what’s the slaughter of anyone else – be they in Darfur, Congo or anywhere else – compared to their often avoidable bloodletting?

Hasn’t it all been said before? Has nothing been learned?

And then the suicide cyclist in Iraq made me snap and I had to write, not to take sides but to lament the moral bankruptcy that is born from the amnesia rife in the Middle East.

On Sunday, a man on a bicycle blew himself up in the middle of an anti-Israel demonstration in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The technique legitimized and blessed by clerics throughout the Arab world as a weapon against Israel had gone haywire and was used against Arabs protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

That twisted and morbid full circle completed on the streets of Mosul can be captured only by paraphrasing Karl Marx – Israel is the opium of the people.

What else explains the collective amnesia on display this weekend in the Middle East?

Has Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni forgotten already that just last year she was close to ousting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his handling of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon launched under very similar circumstances to those that preceded the bombardment of Gaza? And yet there she was making the rounds of U.S. Sunday news shows to explain why Israel had to act against the Muslim militant Hamas movement in power in Gaza.

Does Israel want to make heroes of Hamas in the way it did Hizbollah? What has been achieved from the blockade of Gaza except for suffering of civilians whose leaders care for them as little as Israel does?

Talking about Hizbollah and unwise leaders, has Hassan Nasrallah forgotten that while he rails against Egypt for aiding the blockade of Gaza that he lives in a country, Lebanon, keeps generations of Palestinian refugees in camps that serve as virtual jails?

And the demonstrators in Jordan and Lebanon? Who reminds them that in 1970, Jordan killed tens of thousands as it tried to control Palestinian groups based there, forcing the Palestine Liberation Army into Lebanon where in 1982, the Phalangists, Christian Lebanese militiamen, slaughtered 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camp?

Not a single Phalangist has been held accountable for that massacre. An Israeli state inquiry in 1983 found Ariel Sharon, then defense minister, indirectly responsible for the killings at the refugee camps during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But don’t hold your breath for an Arab inquiry. It is Israel that gives sense to our victimhood. The horrors we visit upon each other are irrelevant.

It is difficult to criticize Palestinians when so many have died this weekend but the Hamas rulers of Gaza are just the latest of their leaders to fail them. For those of us who long to separate religion from politics, Hamas has given the truth to the fear that Islamists care more about facing down Israel than taking care of their people. The Palestinians of Gaza are victims equally of Hamas and Israel.

Where was the anger when two Palestinian schoolgirls were killed in Gaza when Hamas rockets meant for Israel misfired, just a day before Israel’s bombardment?

As for my country of birth, Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak, in power for more than 27 years, has presided over a disastrous policy that on the one hand maintains a 1979 peace treaty his predecessor Anwar Sadat signed with Israel and on the other unleashes state-owned media fury at Israel that has fanned a near-hysterical hatred for the country among ordinary Egyptians.

Yes, Israel’s occupation of Arab land angers Egyptians but there is absolutely no space in Egyptian media, culture or intellectual circles for discussing Israel as anything but an enemy. And neither is there an attempt to forge it.

And now Mubarak, old, tired and out of new ideas, is reaping a policy that plays all sides against each other in an attempt to make his regime indispensable.

But my question to Egyptians and others across the region incensed at Israel is where is their anger at the human rights violations, torture, and oppression in their respective countries? If such large crowds turned out onto Arab capitals every week, they could’ve toppled their dictators years ago!

It is the ultimate dishonor to the memory of Palestinians killed this weekend to call for more violence. It has failed to deliver for 60 years.

We honor the dead by smashing through the region’s amnesia until we break through to the taboos and continue to smash. Talking to Hamas? Israel should do it if it will end the violence. Focusing on internal issues in each Arab country and ignoring the opium that is Israel? Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians et al should do it before their respective states fail for the sake of Palestine.

Palestinians still have no state. What a shame it would be for one Arab state after the other to fail in the name of Palestine.

Mona Eltahawy is a columnist for Egypt’s Al Masry Al Youm and Qatar’s Al Arab. She is based in New York.

Copyright Mona Eltahawy 2008

Israeli ‘massacre’ in Gaza continues

Wounded Gazan child by Israeli airstrike (Getty Images)

Wounded Gazan child by Israeli airstrike (Getty Images)

Attacks continue today in Gaza killing up to 280 people according to last reports, many of them civilians including children being killed while walking to school and worshippers killed praying in a mosque.

An Israeli official on “Meet the Press” this morning stated that civilians were killed because the Hamas security forces (police) take cover in residential areas.  The last time I checked, it is common practice for police forces to have stations around residential neighborhoods.  At least, that is how it’s been in every place that I’ve resided in America.  Very odd justification indeed.

See AP story below:

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081227/NATION/812270410&imw=Y

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israeli assault on Hamas kills more than 200

Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel / Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli warplanes rained more than 100 tons of bombs on security sites in Hamas-ruled Gaza Saturday and early Sunday, killing at least 230 people in one of the Mideast conflict’s bloodiest assaults in decades. The government said the open-ended campaign was aimed at stopping rocket attacks that have traumatized southern Israel.

Most of the casualties were security forces, but Palestinian officials said at least 15 civilians were among the dead. More than 400 people were also wounded.

The unprecedented assault sparked protests and condemnations throughout the Arab world, and many of Israel’s Western allies urged restraint, though the U.S. blamed Hamas for the fighting.

But there was no end in sight. The first round of strikes began around noon Saturday followed by successive waves of attacks that continued into the early hours Sunday.

Israel warned it might go after Hamas’ leaders, and militants kept pelting Israel with rockets — killing at least one Israeli and wounding six.

Hundreds of Israeli infantry and armored corps troops headed for the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion, military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity under army guidelines.

Arab leaders in Metro Detroit condemned the Israeli attack, saying it was an overly harsh response by Israeli forces.

“Today’s attack – which amounts to a massacre – was definitely a disproportionate response to a few cheap, homemade, makeshift rockets being fired across the border,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan.

“The Bush administration dragged its heels with regard to the peace process,” he added. “We call on the incoming Obama administration to take a real hands-on approach so that innocent women and children won’t be killed whether they’re Palestinians or Israelis.” (MORE)

Christmas & pre-Jesus connections

Although Muslims believe in the immaculate conception of Jesus (`Isa), Muslims do not celebrate Christmas.  Besides many Muslims aversion to celebrating birthdays of anyone, there is no historical basis that Jesus was born on December 25th.

It is known, however, that the pagan Romans blended many of their traditions into the religion of Jesus.  December 25th during the time of the pagan Romans was the Day of the Unconquered Sun in which the pagan Romans worshipped many gods including forces of nature.

Closer to monotheism, Mithraism, a form of Zoroastrianism, teaches that Mithra, who was believed to be the Son of G’d, was born on December 25th.

Eastern Orthodox Christians currently celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

Either way, it is safe to say that Jesus was not born on December 25th and is a day influenced by polytheism practices that came before Jesus.