We watch the Israel/Palestinian crisis with personal concern in our house.

Neither my wife nor I are feeling good about the Middle East this morning.  Some background first: Elly is Jewish by descent and I am from an Episcopalian household. Although neither of us are believers in a God or practitioners of a religion, it doesn't remove a cultural background from our family.

Our son Bud, who is now in his mid twenties and in the process of applying to grad schools, is, by default, half Jewish by cultural descent.

Israel has a Right of Return program which lets all American Jews (since it is his mother who is Jewish, Bud is, by cultural definition, as much a Jew as if both his parents were) which Bud was accepted in and is scheduled to make his trip to Israel very early in 2009. Everything is paid for by the Israelis and extreme precautions are taken to keep participants safe during the trip. Bud is in the last year that he qualifies for this trip... and after 2009 he will no longer be eligible... and he wants to go.

Now the Fighting over the Gaza Strip actions has brought Israel and Hamas to the point of extreme violence: missiles being fired by Hamas at Israel which have killed 4 people as of this morning, and jets bombing the Gaza strip which has killed over 300 Palestinians as of this morning. A 48-hour cease fire that was supposed to be in effect since yesterday didn't hold, and they are back at it.

On top of that, Iranian fundamentalists are seeking their government's approval to send suicide bombers from Iran into the Gaza strip to worm their way over the Israeli border and kill civilians deep into Israeli territory.

This is where our fear really bubbles up. No matter how far the Israeli organizers of this program go to keep their American charges safe, there is nothing stopping a suicide bomber attack at a seemingly safe location... a mall, or a movie theatre, or a cafe... and we could lose our son.

Up until yesterday, I don't think Bud was really worried about it, but now he informs us that he has requested information on the possibility of getting his travel deposit (we pay the plane fare) back. I'm sure he hopes he doesn't have to do that. And if he doesn't go this year, he won't be able to do it at all.

So we keep our attention glued to MSNBC and CNN and are waiting to see what happens... and we don't feel very good about it.

Under The LobsterScope

Tags: Gaza, Israel, Palestinians (all tags)

Comments

50 Comments

Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

don't know you saw the interview on morning joe where mika Brzezinski had her dad on to debate this issue.

It was remarkable how he said 1000's rockets coming into Israel was an annoyance and not really a reason for Israel to attack on the scale its is being done.

Yup, everyday since 2005 rocket attack on your country is an annoyance. Just because they can't aim well or that their rockets have not yet landed on a school with kids and killed very many ... the great Brzezinski ( Jimmy carters national security adviser or such), says its Israel fault.

by MumbaiBurns 2008-12-31 03:35AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

Now, be honest he did not say 1000 rockets.

by jsfox 2008-12-31 03:53AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

yeah, I was not quoting him verbatim.  he said rockets coming into Israel was an "annoyance" at best .  Since 2005 , Hamas has probably sent 1000's of annoyances over.

by MumbaiBurns 2008-12-31 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

since they're home made, and they hardly ever hit anything and since Gaza is under extreme sanctions that lead to lost lives, I'd rather then speak about whether the sanctions are also an annoyance, whether women giving birth at checkpoints is an annoyance, where farmers cut off from their fields is an annoyance, whether the Palestinian request for international observers is an annoyance, whether marauding settlers breaking up business is an annoyance, whether kids shot by Israeli soldiers firing 'in the direction' of something or other is an annoyance.  

Maybe we can rate them? An annoyance that doesn't kill directly but lots indirectly, a home-made missile that kills no one, is that more annoying or less?  

There are plenty of annoyances from both sides, but far more Palestinians kids get killed by Israelis annoyances.  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

Plus there's been 15 Israeli deaths as a result of those rocket attacks... Compared to how many Palestinian deaths?

Now I firmly believe Israel has a right to retaliate, I just think they are overdoing it.

by John in Chicago 2008-12-31 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

i don't agree that retaliation is smart, it's time for empathy and showing respect to those from different backgrounds and with different beliefs.  It's time for words.  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

actually its been 3000 rockets in 2008 alone.

by canadian gal 2008-12-31 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

And it has also been almost 5,000 Palestinians killed since 2000, including over 850 children.

I think you have a bias, no?

by MainStreet 2009-01-01 06:57AM | 0 recs
bias is irrelevant

to factual data. You're pretty biased yourself, I don't think you'd want someone to disregard your data simply on that basis.

by Neef 2009-01-01 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: We watch the Israel/Palestinian

The rocket fire into Israel has always been in retaliation for Israeli military incursions into Gaza and the West Bank, when Palestinians were routinely killed. B'Teslem, which keeps death statistics, has shown that yearly, between 5-600 Palestinians are killed in the territories.

You can hear about this reality in European news media, as the US media only likes to tell half of the story, where Israel is presented as the victim, not the military occupier and colonizer of Palestinian lands that it is.

Needless to say, Israel needs Hamas since there no other red herring available for it to avoid peace negotiations or a peace settlement, like Bush's two states proposal last year.

by MainStreet 2008-12-31 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Your son...

Your son would do well to join demonstrations by the Israeli peace activist orgs, who have a better understanding about what is really going on over there:

Israeli electioneering with bombs
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 30 December 2008

"Of the three politicians who announced the military assault on Gaza to the world on Saturday, perhaps only the outgoing Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has little to lose -- or gain -- from its outcome.

Flanking the Israeli prime minister were two of the main contenders for his job: Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and the new leader of Olmert's centrist party, Kadima, and Ehud Barak, the defense minister and leader of the left-wing Labor Party.

The attack on Gaza may make or break this pair's political fortunes as they jostle for position against Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing party, Likud, before a general election little more than a month away.

Until now Livni and Barak have been facing the imminent demise of their ruling coalition as Netanyahu and the far Right have surged in the polls and looked set to form the next government.

Both have strenuously denied that the election has any bearing on the timing of the Gaza operation. But equally they hope a successful strike against Hamas may yet save them from electoral humiliation.

In the run-up to the election, observed Michael Warschawski, a founder of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, "all Israeli leaders are competing over who is the toughest and who is ready to kill more."

The rest here:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article 10074.shtml

Israel refused Hamas' conditions for continuing the ceasefire, which amounted to stopping the siege and allowing food and humanitarian aid to freely enter Gaza. Apart from starvation, lack of electricity, and the deaths of medical patients not permitted to leave Gaza, over 290 counted, the UN two weeks earlier had to close its food distribution centers for lack of food and supplies. Israel also refused to stop military incursions into Gaza in order to kill alleged militants. Israel just never conformed to the conditions of the previous Egypt sponsored ceasefire. And of course, it has been continuing its military occupation of the other territories while confiscating more and more land, and expanding the settlements.

Get your son to consider joining orgs like Gush Shalom or the ICAHD or in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace.

by MainStreet 2008-12-31 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Your son...

actually no.  hamas refused to renew the previous 6-month cease fire , and instead launched hundreds of rockets into Israel.

the crap you peddle is laughable mainstreet.

by canadian gal 2008-12-31 06:57PM | 0 recs
You can laugh if you wish, but the truth is....

during the Egyptian negotiated ceasefire of six months, Israel continued its incursions into Gaza and the West Bank to kill Palestinians,

but it also continued the siege and prevented food and medical supplies from entering Gaza. A few weeks before it ended, the UNWRA relief centers had to shut down because it did not have any food to distribute. Six months earlier, the UN reported malnutrition among Palestinian children.

Hamas agreed to continue the ceasefire if Israel would end the siege and allow adequate food and medical supplies into Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement in fact sent small boats into Gaza with some medical supplies, but it was totally insufficient. During this period, Israel also intercepted larger ships with supplies from Libya and Israel (by Israeli Arabs) and turned them back.

Give people here a break, Gal. The bullshit just never ends.

by MainStreet 2009-01-01 03:21PM | 0 recs
yes.

the bullshit never ends.  but spreading lies and well - lets be blunt - propaganda will not solve anything will it mainstreet?

the actions of the IDF would not have been unnecessary had hamas forsaken terrorism and agreed to renew the tahidye. israel is engaged in self-defense and it takes great pains to direct its military actions exclusively against terrorist targets, while hamas deliberately positions its forces inside the most vulnerable of civilian areas: schools, religious institutions, residential areas and the like. further, hamas launches its attacks from crowded civilian areas.

hard as it is to fathom, hamas callously calculates that if enough palestinian civilians are inadvertently killed, the international court of opinion will view israel as the guilty party, regardless of hamas' sole culpability, cynically manipulating the media with gruesome pictures of its self-inflicted carnage against its own people.

sad that its not working this time though huh?

israel's objective is to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in gaza and prevent hamas from launching further attacks against israelis. since it is the primary responsibility of any sovereign state to protect its citizenry, the israeli government should be expected to do nothing less.

lets consider what american demands would be if san diego were substituted for sderot and tijuana for gaza. how long would californians put up with rocket attacks from mexico?

president-elect obama, during a visit to israel last summer, unequivocally defended Israel's right to protect its citizens: "if somebody was sending rockets into my home where my two daughters sleep at night, i would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

by canadian gal 2009-01-01 03:51PM | 0 recs
i share your frustration...

but im not sure i understand your lack of caring.  real people are getting killed every day.

by canadian gal 2009-01-01 05:14PM | 0 recs
Can't he go over

as a normal tourist, at a later/safer date?

I sympathize with your situation. My father lives in Paris, and before 9/11, I saw him yearly. Now, it's down to once per 4/5 years, and I haven't taken his granddaughter over yet - just too afraid.

by Neef 2008-12-31 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Can't he go over

Is it Paris that you are afraid of  or just flying period?

by MumbaiBurns 2008-12-31 06:07AM | 0 recs
mostly Paris

I'm leery of intercontinental airports, but that's more of a general concern.

Paris is a problem. I don't know if you remember a while back when the Parisian suburbs were in flames? I was getting a blow-by-blow from my father, and it was pretty damn intense. There is a lot of anger there, and deep divisions opening in French society.

On top of that, there has always been an undertone of Anti-American sentiment, which has become much much worse of late. Fifteen years ago, it wouldn't be uncommon for someone to sort of derisively yell "Hey, American!". In this climate, I just can't see bringing my daughter there.

by Neef 2008-12-31 06:18AM | 0 recs
I spent a fair amount of time

in Paris over the past two years and never encountered a problem, including any anti-American sentiment.  Paris can be an aggressive city by nature, but I have always found it to be a bit like NY, where I live.

by orestes 2008-12-31 07:44AM | 0 recs
I was just in Egypt and Turkey....

I think you are safe, unless you make a spectacle or go where you shouldn't go IN ANY COUNTRY.

I truly think most people blame the admin in power, though they are STILL shocked we but idiot frat boy back in power in 2004.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 07:49AM | 0 recs
Why are you afraid to go to Paris?

by louisprandtl 2008-12-31 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Why are you afraid to go to Paris?

See above =)

by Neef 2008-12-31 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Why are you afraid to go to Paris?

Can you fake a British accent?

Also, don't wear white socks.

by Jess81 2008-12-31 06:54AM | 0 recs
Just tell then you're Canadian...

A lot of folks traveling right after 9/11 did that...

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 06:56AM | 0 recs
Interesting

Would that work? I've never been quite sure what so accurately identifies me as "American".

by Neef 2008-12-31 07:00AM | 0 recs
Tell them you live in Vancouver BC

It's pretty much a slam dunk.

Unless you were a flag lapel pin (required ONLY to be POTUS as we all know now) they can't tell the difference.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 07:02AM | 0 recs
Oh, and don't wave your passport around

The Canadians have Red, we have blue.

Keep it hidden most of the time.

If you want to go all the way, you could always get a Maple Leaf Tee-Shirt!

Or, say "eh" at the end all sentences!

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh, and don't wave your passport around

so far they haven't taken it out on tourists, American.  So far they see a difference between American foreign policy and American people.  Barack could change that, he's supposedly the best we have on diplomacy and he's missing in action right now.  All he has to do is chime in and say this is a stupid war, it will not gain its objective if the objective is living side by side in harmony and having police on both sides deal with crazies.  

Barack, here's a dumb war to be against?  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 10:45AM | 0 recs
lol

I never wore white socks. They clashed with the Lee jeans, Nike sneakers, Izod Jacket and Coca-Cola tee-shirt =)

by Neef 2008-12-31 06:58AM | 0 recs
It's worse to be English

The French and English hate each other.  And the English are the worst tourists in Europe (yes, worse than Americans), so the Parisians are particularly unkind to them.  A friend of a friend thought I was English and only warmed up when she realized I am American.  But, j'adore les Francais.

by orestes 2008-12-31 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: It's worse to be English

one time I was taken for a British guy, and was mocked for looking so girly.  My friend who speaks French told me later.  That was a weird travel experience, no one had ever taken me for a guy before that, and no one has since.  Maybe they were drunk.  If I'd understood I might have said, watch it buster.  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 10:49AM | 0 recs
it was the french wine talking...

by louisprandtl 2008-12-31 01:23PM | 0 recs
I'm Irish Catholic...

And my GF is German Catholic..

And we are watching this with churning stomachs.

I was in Israel only once, visiting Intel Israel, but I have had many conversations with Israeli citizens when I used to work with them over here, training them for use of our equipment.

These folks YEARN for peace, but all have been touched, a dead relative, a wounded brother.

The pain and blood runs deep on both sides.

Many felt that the people in power again on both sides were very deeply involved in NOT solving the problems, in kowtowing to the extremes and holding onto power that way.

Many felt the extremist in their own country were WORSE then the Palestians.

I have commented before, for all the wailing and nashing of teeth about the poor Clintons...

Our incoming SOS, potentially the most powerful since Kissinger, has 8 years to TRY and do what no one has done..to BEGIN to find a real solution to this conflict.

And, as was commented on MSNBC yesterday, NO ONE knows the interworkings of both sides of this better then Bill Clinton.

I used to believe Hillary's place in history was Universal Health Care?

Perhaps it lies someplace else...

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re; HRC

I am beginning to believe this "team of rivals" thing the MSM was pushing is a load of hooey.

I don't think Hillary's appointment was political at all, perhaps Obama simply knew he'd have to be a domestic President, and wanted the absolute "A" team handling FP.

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall while the two of them discuss this situation.

by Neef 2008-12-31 07:08AM | 0 recs
I'm thinking maybe THREE at some point

Funny, Bill was SOOOO pissed at Obama, but, in the end, those two need each other.

Not saying Hillary is not up to the task, but, as I said, Bill Clinton is so highly thought of in Israel, his weight on this can help.

A team is right, cause we need A++++ if we have a chance to start to bring a lasting peace to that part of the world.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm thinking maybe THREE at some point

but, does Barack see this as a stupid war (I do). Does he really think this will help foster the cause of peace? Does he really think that understanding the Israeli 'need' to kill occupied people rather than work with them is smart?  Barack has his vision, Hillary will carry it out, but what is his vision?  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 08:30AM | 0 recs
I hope

he doesn't have a predefined vision. There are too many kneejerk opinions on either side, I'd like someone to try and figure it out before taking action.

by Neef 2008-12-31 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: I hope

I'd like for him to have figured it out by now, and to make a statement about negotiation and understanding and empathy and actions that make things better, not worse.  How far will this be allowed to go on without our next president saying his vision.  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 10:41AM | 0 recs
Fair enough

But I look with deep skepticism on anyone who tells me they remotely understand what's going on over there. So far I've read a dozen takes on the situation, and every single one reeks of partisanship. I want someone to try to get it right, and if that takes a month, that's what it takes.

They've been embroiled in this endless war for forty years, another few days won't change much.

by Neef 2008-12-31 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Fair enough

here's the formula - make them; sit down together and keep talking until some agreement is reached, and then they keep talking while the agreement is carried out and keep talking until they come to another one.  

How about telling the truth rather than simple blaming?  How about asking for international peace-keepers and a free press that can report accurately on the ground situation?

How about admitting there is no military solution?

How about admitting that both sides are wrong but one is much more powerful than the other, and so can institutionalize wrongs, and rights?

How about us being a fair broker for peace?  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 12:08PM | 0 recs
anna, even line one

is problematic.

One of the (few) things I remember from sales training is the BATNA - Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It's the best course of action open to both parties without negotiation. It defines not only the parameters of the negotiation, but the feasibility.

Getting the two sides to sit down includes the implicit assumption that they think sitting down is better than continuing to fight. At this point, it is completely unclear whether that's true, and you can only judge if it's true through contact with both sides. You need external diplomacy, you can't just brainstorm something that will tell you how feasible negotiation is.

Just as a case in point, if either side actually thinks they can win, why would they go to the table? If I hold a straight and I know you hold a pair, I'm not splitting the pot.

Their willingness to negotiate is an external fact, and statement for a desire of peace in that area impacts that willingness in possibly unknown ways. Again, "we want you guys to calm down" sounds great if you're getting your butt kicked, but if you are "winning" it is essentially a threat. All this is predicated on the mindsets of the two sides, which you do not know without diplomatic contact. Presumably (and here I'm guessing) a President-elect doesn't have the same level of contact a President does.

I don't think we disagree on the goals - peace in that area. Perhaps the difference is just your fear of delay versus my fear of hamhanded, Bush-like foreign policy making.

by Neef 2008-12-31 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: anna, even line one

getting them to sit down requires no other act but having to keep sitting down and keep talking or being there to listen.  That's all that can be demanded, pre-conditions mean either side can duck sitting down.  It's only problematic for the side that refuses to even sit down and talk. Now, which might that one be? The same as the one that won't allow international peacekeepers into the region, that won't allow UN assistance, that puts a blockage on food and medicine and then expect that people won't go nuts from seeing their kids die, and their brothers and wives and parents?  

Sit down, that's all, and don't get up until it's over, even if it takes fifty years.  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm Irish Catholic...

Hillary is an AIPAC whore. Sorry, just my opinion.

by MainStreet 2009-01-01 03:24PM | 0 recs
Concern for America

Let us not forget that the situation in Israel and our support of Israel has greatly increased the chances for a terrorist attack on the U.S.. This war will only increase the ranks of terrorist organizations. And it's Bush's last F you to Obama and America.

by venician 2008-12-31 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

Let's say, for example, that the U.S. completely abandoned Israel and, without U.S. support, Israel was destroyed by its enemies.  Do you think that would decrease chances of a terrorist attack on the U.S.?

I don't.

And this is not Bush's war.  This is Israel's response to Hamas sending hundreds of rockets into its territory after Hamas failed to agree to extend a cease fire.  You may not agree with Israel's response, but it wasn't Bush's decision.

by markjay 2008-12-31 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

Let's say that the US became a fair broker for peace, supporting the Israeli nation's right to exist but also supporting the occupied people's dream for a separate state.  It's not all or nothing on either side, and if we take Barack at his word, he thinks we need empathy, not for those we agree with but for those we don't necessarily agree with. How can he invite Warren and not speak to the suffering of the Palestinian people?  

by anna shane 2008-12-31 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

Israel doesn't blink without asking the U.S. first. We are just about the only country that support them and as such would not start a war unless they knew we were there to back them up. So yes this is Bush's war.

by venician 2008-12-31 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

From an article by Johann Hari http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-har i/the-true-story-behind-thi_b_153825.htm l

"Before it falls down the memory hole, we should remember that last week, Hamas offered a ceasefire in return for basic and achievable compromises. Don't take my word for it. According to the Israeli press, Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Israeli security services Shin Bet, "told the Israeli cabinet [on the 23rd] that Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms." Diskin explained Hamas was requesting two things: an end to the blockade, and an Israeli ceasefire on the West Bank. The cabinet - high with election-fever, and eager to appear tough - rejected these terms".

by venician 2008-12-31 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

The cease fire wasn't broken by the Palestinians first. See my comment below.

by venician 2008-12-31 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Concern for America

Venician , that's the first time you have commented on an opinion and the you look like a fool making one. stick to the one liners kid.

by MumbaiBurns 2008-12-31 08:28AM | 0 recs

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