US Lawless Again on Israel

Every member of the UN Security Council issued a statement demanding that Israel stop settlement construction in the West Bank, except for the United States.  Despite allegedly harsh condemnation by the US of the settlements, the UN is not considered an appropriate venue for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.  The unstated, but rather apparent, reason for this is that an international law settlement actually holds Israel accountable.  The other countries that sit on the UN Security Council are not full of rabid anti-Semites to say the least:

China

Russia

France

United Kingdom

Azerbaijan

Colombia

Germany

Guatemala

India

Morocco

Pakistan

Portugal

South Africa

Togo

Israel, the US, and the General Assembly

A new statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demonstrates a real imperial mentality (I really don’t like using bombastic rhetoric, but it really is imperial).  Regarding Israeli settlements in Jerusalem he said,

Now I want to remind you that building (settlements) in Jerusalem is with accordance to Israeli law. If anyone wants to investigate further, they can go to the Bush letter and see all those settlements blocks and the changes in the territory which the U.S. president spoke of.” (my italics)

Lieberman is stating that settlements in Jerusalem are legal because they are in accordance with Israeli law and official US policy of the Bush administration.  This makes it quite clear that the Israeli government does not care what anyone thinks outside of Israel and the US.  It was demonstrated quite clearly in the recent UN vote upgrading the status of Palestine a non-member state.

Lieberman is referring to a 2004 letter from Bush II to then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon stating:

In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”

Just to point out the obvious, just because the president of the United States (or any country) says final borders must reflect the reality of Israeli settlements does not raise it to the level of international law.  Especially when the vast majority of the world has declared that the settlements are not permissible in the General Assembly Resolution “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine,” which is approved yearly, and most recently in November of 2011.  The most recent version states that the UN reaffirms “the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.”   This document was adopted by a vote of 167 to 7.  The 7 no votes were the US, Israel, Canada, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and Nauru.  There were 4 abstentions: Austrailia, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Tonga.

Furthermore, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on Jerusalem on November 21, 2011, stating its

determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever and calls upon Israel to immideately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.

The vote on this one was 164 to the same 7, with 5 abstentions.  Perhaps the US and Israel would should remember the phrase from the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence emphasizing the importance of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”

Palestine Takes the Legal Route: Israel Declares Itself Lawless

Two brief thoughts on the recent UN upgrade of Palestine to a “non-member state.”  First, it is ludicrous that the US and Israel are so opposed to the Palestinians push for UN recognition.  When Hamas or any other Palestinian organization commits acts of violence, the right of Israel to defend itself is relentlessly repeated.  When Palestinians take the nonviolent, legal approach based in international law, it is considered “counterproductive.”  Hillary Clinton said that the only way the Palestinians can get a state is through negotiations with Israel.  No one can expect equal-footed negotiations between Palestinians, who are under siege in Gaza and steadily losing their land to settlements in the West Bank, and Israel, one of the most modern, heavily-armed militaries in the world.  Has Netanyahu ever indicated that he would stop settlements in the West Bank if Palestinians agree to talks?

I think Israel’s response in announcing 3,000 new settlers around Jerusalem speaks volumes.  Palestinians took a legal approach based in international law and Israel has responded by taking over more land.  It is as if Israel is saying “You may have law and public opinion on our side, but we control facts on the ground so we will do as we please.”  Israel and the US seem to want Palestinians to cry uncle and say that it is ok that they don’t have a land to call their own.

It strikes me as a bit ironic  that the UN recognized Palestine as a state, Israel is already recognized as a state, yet Hillary Clinton said,

“We have been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace they both deserve: two states for two people with a sovereign, viable independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

So the international community recognizing Palestine as sovereign and independent makes it harder for Palestine to be sovereign and independent.  In other words, if only those Palestinians would accept that they just aren’t as important as Israelis, they might get what they want.

 

Now Israel is Really in Trouble…

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency…yes, the title of my post is meant to be sarcastic

 

Source: Stevie Wonder to cancel Friends of IDF gig

November 28, 2012

(JTA) — Stevie Wonder is set to pull out of a performance at a fundraiser for the Israel Defense Forces,  a source told JTA.

Wonder’s representatives will claim that he did not know the nature of the group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and that he believes such a performance would be incongruent with his status as a U.N. “Messenger of Peace,” according to a source who has read email exchanges between Wonder’s representatives and organizers of the event.

Wonder was scheduled to headline the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces annual gala in Los Angeles on Dec. 6. The event raises millions of dollars annually to support the Israeli military.

An official of Friends of the IDF, reached at its Los Angeles office, had no comment. Wonder’s agent at Creative Artists Agency did not return a request for comment.

The spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General also had no comment on the matter.

The United Nations does not impose restrictions on its goodwill representatives. Wonder most recently performed at a U.N. concert commemoratiing its 67th anniversary. Elie Wiesel, the Nobele Peace Laureate and Holocaust memoirist who is also a staunch defender of Israel is also a U.N. Messenger of Peace.

Wonder had come under intense social media pressure to pull out of the event. An online petition calling on him to cancel his performance had garnered more than 3,600 signatures.

The petition was launched more than a day ago on the change.org website.

“You were arrested in 1985 protesting South African Apartheid, now we ask you: please remember that apartheid is apartheid, whether it comes from White Afrikaaner settlers of South Africa or from Jewish Israelis in Israel,” the petition reads. “Desmond Tutu has recognized that Israel’s Apartheid is worse than South Africa’s — will you stand with us against apartheid and cancel your performance at the IDF fundraiser.”

A second petition, launched by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, calls on Wonder to “(p)lease continue your legacy of speaking out for the oppressed. Please be a ‘full-time lover’ of justice by standing on the right side of history and canceling your performance for the Israeli army.”

Wonder performed at a 1998 gala honoring Israel’s 50th anniversary.

 

Support Wal-Mart Workers

An organization of Wal-Mart workers called “OUR Walmart” is staging a number of walkouts on Black Friday and are otherwise trying to get Wal-Mart to adopt fairer labor practices.  The group has an online petition, which is pasted below, that can be signed at their website.  The video at the bottom is Democracy Now’s report on this group.

I think it is important to keep in mind that these type of workers face losing their jobs and the only way that can be avoided, or that Wal-Mart will adopt fair labor practices, is if the workers receive public support.

We, the hourly Associates, are the life-blood of Walmart. Our company is stronger because of the values we embrace – a strong work ethic, compassion for one another and honesty. Yet we are not treated with the respect we deserve. The fundamental desire to be shown respect is what led us to join together as OUR Walmart – an organization of Walmart Associates, by Walmart Associates, for Walmart Associates. We are one Organization United for Respect at Walmart.

  • One of Sam Walton’s rules for building a successful business was, “Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking.” We are following that winning philosophy. However, too many of us do not have a true voice at our stores. Our concerns about providing the highest quality customer care and about making our jobs, quality jobs are ignored. Walmart should listen to OUR Walmart, celebrate our initiative, and follow our recommendations.
  • We are the foundation of the quality service and value Walmart provides its customers. Walmart should honor the hard work and humanity of Associates by living up to Mr. Sam’s promise of “respect for the individual.”
  • Associates who assert their freedom of association frequently face retribution from the company. Walmart should allow Associates to freely join OUR Walmart without fear of negative company action.
  • Associates who have tried to utilize Walmart’s Open Door have found that their issues are not resolved and confidentiality is not respected. Walmart should ensure confidentiality in the Open Door and provide in writing resolution to issues that are brought up and always allow associates to bring a co-worker as a witness.
  • Walmart publicly claims that pay for full-time Associates averages more than $13 per hour in some communities, when in truth most of us work for less than $10 per hour and are only scheduled for part-time hours, making it difficult to support our families. Walmart should follow through on its public statements and pay at least $13 per hour and expand the percentage of full-time workers.
  • Our schedules are often irregular and inflexible making it difficult to care for our families. Walmart should make scheduling more predictable and dependable.
  • Too many of us are unable to access Walmart’s health care because it is too expensive or we lack the hours to qualify. Walmart should expand health care coverage and continue to work to expand coverage when health reform goes into effect, rather than taking advantage of loopholes in the law to deny coverage.
  • Too often Associates are faced with retaliation when speaking out about issues at work. Walmart should honor our constitutional right to freedom of speech and adhere to company policies that support dialogue and resolution.
  • Walmart’s management often chooses to enforce written policies only when it is in their own interest, leaving Associates guessing proper protocol. Walmart should do more to ensure managers are properly trained on how to evenly and equitably enforce Walmart’s written policies at all times and to provide all Associates with a policy manual.
  • Too many of us have been denied equal treatment. Walmart should adopt affirmative policies that secure full access to opportunity and equal treatment to all Associates regardless of gender identity, race, disability, sexual orientation, or age.
  • We know our company has an impact around the globe in terms of its standards and practices. Walmart should require that suppliers and stores around the globe operate with the highest standards and ensure that workers’ freedom to associate is respected.
  • Far too many of us have to rely on government assistance for our basic needs. Walmart should provide wages and benefits that ensure that no Associate has to rely on government assistance.

We envision a future in which our company treats us, the Associates of Walmart, with respect. We envision a world where we succeed in our careers, our company succeeds in business, our customers receive great service and value, and Walmart and Associates share all of these goals. And finally, we close with one more rule from Mr. Sam: “Share your profits with all your Associates, and treat them as partners.”

DEMOCRACY NOW ON OUR WALMART:

 

Israelis Calling for War Crimes

A few Israelis are really off the deep end.  Not just sort of wacky, but really off the absolute deep end in their calling for the killing of civilians.  In the past few days:

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said,

The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

Ariel Sharon’s son, Gilad Sharon said in a Jerusalem Post op-ed,

There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire…We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”

He added,

To prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel. The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.”

Obama’s Hypocrisy on Missiles

This weekend Obama said:

There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”

So does this mean Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen all have the right to defend themselves from us?  Do they have to “tolerate” it?

 

Republican Economics the Same in 1920′s and Today

Since I teach high school history, I thought I’d share a couple graphs I found for one of my classes.  During the 1920′s, GNP per capita was increasing…

But gains were concentrated the top…

Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were the proponents of supply-side economics and “rugged individualism” from 1921-1932.   Republicans spout the same ideas today.  Look at 2007 in the graph above.  Do we have any reason to think the superrich aren’t at it again?

What If Iran Had a Drone 18.5 miles off the US coast?

It was just released this evening that the US is claiming Iran attempted, but failed to shoot down a US drone, eliciting warnings to Iran.  One very quick but important observation: If Iran had a drone about 18.5 miles off the coast of the US, would we just let it be, since after all it would be in international waters?