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    It’s a mad, mad world….

    August 6, 2014
    Increasingly, I am certain that I inhabit an insane parallel political world where we are merely an upside down, inside out mirror of what political sanity is. Case in point; Israel, a nuclear power, the poster boy Goliath state, portrayed as a hapless victim, whereas Gaza; a 360 km2 of land with no real governance, […]
    Hebron

    Hebron: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”

    March 17, 2014
    I recently read Haggai Matar’s recent piece in 972 mag about Hebron.  Just another day of harassment and assault on a population that can’t defend itself at all, especially in the light of the presence of the IDF.  I sometimes read the headlines and don’t even bother reading the article, because in places like Hebron, […]
    Rachel_Corrie

    I’m Here Because I Care.

    March 16, 2014
    Today is the 10th Anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie and nothing much has changed. Dear Rachel: In some ways, it has changed for the worse and Gaza, although not internally occupied by Israel, is still occupied. Two major military incursions have led to the death of almost 2,000 people, the population is locked […]
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    Is criticism of Israel anti-Semitic?

    December 22, 2013
    I have been accused on several occasions of harbouring anti-Semitic feelings.  My criticism is of the State of Israel’s policies in regard to the Palestinian population.  It has nothing to do with Judaism, nothing to do with Islam, it has everything to do with human rights. My criticism of the State of Israel doesn’t make […]
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    Hope Springs Eternal

    January 13, 2013
    gazawar

    Dear Israel…I am sorry

    December 12, 2012

It’s a mad, mad world….

August 6, 2014
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Increasingly, I am certain that I inhabit an insane parallel political world where we are merely an upside down, inside out mirror of what political sanity is. Case in point; Israel, a nuclear power, the poster boy Goliath state, portrayed as a hapless victim, whereas Gaza; a 360 km2 of land with no real governance, no military presence and 1.5 million people living in a virtual fishbowl, is viewed as housing a subhuman, inherently violent population whose sole purpose is to wipe out the world’s Jewish population, to “throw them into the sea”.It’s a mad, mad world.

There is no battlefield, as Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas of the world, is crammed like a tin of sardines – no way in, no way out. IDF; self described as the “most moral army” in the world, pontificates that it takes care to protect civilian life. Leaflets instructing Gazans to evacuate the area are dropped from the skies above, ignoring reality. There is no place to go, no place to hide.

Facilities housing those seeking refuge, the elderly, the sick ; such as UN schools and hospitals are attacked. All of Gaza is a battlefield leaving citizens nowhere to flee, nowhere to hide. Casualties are predominantly civilian and are estimated to be upward 80%.

With rare exception, North America’s mainstream media spins it’s own tale of the conflict, standing solidly and without question behind the State of Israel’s actions against an entire population. Although this most recent battle has little to do with rocket attacks, but everything to do with further marginalizing a people, the mantra, “Israel has the right to defend itself” against Hamas’s rocket attacks is invoked time after time. This too, has little to do with reality. How many rockets did Hamas deploy from November 2012 until this latest incursion? None. How many rockets did Palestinian militants dire? 55 down from over a thousand. “In fact, according to the Israeli Security Agency, 2013 Annual Summary Report, “2013 saw a sharp decrease in the rate of terror attacks originating in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to 2012: 55 attacks as opposed to 1,130 in 2012 (of which 1,085 were high trajectory launchings towards Israel). The circumstances that lead to this decrease were the Pillar of Defense ceasefire agreement in late 2012 (14-21 November) which curbed terrorism from the Gaza Strip.” Alternatively, how many times has the great state,of Israel violated that same said ceasefire? Too many times to count.

Politicians in both sides of Border; the United States and Canada, regurgitate the same lopsided narrative, claiming moral authority. What does morality have to do with war crimes, dead babies and destruction? Where is there honour in flying over an open air prison in US manufactured fighter jets dropping an arsenal upon a civilian population? The actions of the state of Israel are deplorable and condemnable, however, blame cannot be solely attributed to them. The United States and Canada certainly are culpable as their unwavering, absolute support of Israel’s actions have given license to act with complete impunity and a complete disregard of international law. Criticism one levels at the state of Israel becomes subject to accusations of antisemitism. Activists that dare to criticize the governance of the State find themselves labelled as antisemitic.

Both the United States and even more so Canada revel in their self declared status as true friends of Israel even while their actions ensure its destruction. Let’s be honest, the two-state solution is dead and buried. When negotiation is based on Israel’s wish list, rather than through the framework of international law, there is nothing left to negotiate and our unwavering support regardless of Israel’s actions will with certainty leave us on the wrong side of history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hebron: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”

March 17, 2014
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I recently read Haggai Matar’s recent piece in 972 mag about Hebron.  Just another day of harassment and assault on a population that can’t defend itself at all, especially in the light of the presence of the IDF.  I sometimes read the headlines and don’t even bother reading the article, because in places like Hebron, nothing ever changes.

This is the most recent exchange between the settler population and Palestinians:

“The group of girls, encouraged by the recent arrival of the soldiers, is starting to heckle the horse riding group. “You’re ugly,” shouts one girl at another child looking her way. “You’re all heathens and I want you all to die,” laughs another 7-year-old, meaning every word. “Why are we afraid? Let’s tell the soldiers to kick them and their horse so that we can play,” calls out a third as a challenge to her friends while holding a football in her hand. No one moves. Two older women pass by and one girl spits in their general direction and half-whispers “fat whores!” Nothing happens. The soldiers stand on the side, talking to each other, and the other kids keep going on and off the horse, looking timidly at the girls. They know that they cannot possibly talk back without the soldiers intervening. In the background, loudspeakers are blasting a song into the air. “We shall overcome…” No. Seriously? Yes. This is Hebron.” [Waiting for Obama: Hebron youth take cue from U.S. civil rights movement", 972mag.com]

Hebron, with a settlement population of around 500 to 800 armed settlers protected by 2,000 policemen (the ratio of settler to police seems to be 1:4), is the face of the occupation.  I try to keep it in check, present a reasonable, logical argument based on the historical record, on the statistics, on international law.  When I read of Hebron something happens to me.  The bile rises, the anger I so carefully keep in check begins to let loose…sometimes I weep uncontrollably.   Who wants to listen to a sobbing, ranting, middle-aged woman carrying on about the injustice perpetuated upon the Palestinian people?

The Palestinian population of Hebron is around 250,000.  The are essentially defenseless against a terrorist population that blatantly abuses them, beats them, shoots them, spits at them, vandalizes property while in full view of the “police” who are specifically hired to defend the settler population.  How is this possible that a state that considers themselves morally superior to every other nation, to a police force who are intentionally blind, sometimes actually participatory in violence, harassment, denial of fundamental basic human rights and the absolute model of Apartheid supported by nations such as Canada and the United States?  How can any human being knowingly defend this type of abuse and horror with terse statements like “Israel is not perfect” or “a few bad apples”?

It is beyond me, beyond my simple comprehension that one can know this and stay silent.  One thing I do know, while we go on about Palestinian terrorists, perhaps we need to examine who actually are the terrorists.  Perhaps, each and every time we hear about an act of Palestinian violence, we need to remember this and realize that this is how terrorism is born, through the denial of fundamental, basic human rights, the practice of Apartheid upon a population and constant humiliation and violence perpetuated upon a defenseless community in the full view of “policemen”.   These aren’t “bad apples”; they are the true representation of the systematic disenfranchisement and brutal military occupation perpetuated upon an entire population.

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I’m Here Because I Care.

March 16, 2014
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Today is the 10th Anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie and nothing much has changed.

Dear Rachel:

In some ways, it has changed for the worse and Gaza, although not internally occupied by Israel, is still occupied. Two major military incursions have led to the death of almost 2,000 people, the population is locked into the world’s largest open-air prison to be shot at by helicopters and fighter jets on a defenseless, civilian population. There is one exit, through Egypt, that can only accommodate 300 people daily.

In the West Bank, the occupation, predictable, relentless and brutal, marches on. Daily, the Palestinian population is humiliated by young, bored soldiers who believe Palestinians were placed upon the earth, solely for their amusement. Non violent protesters are shot at, sometimes killed. People, including children, are arbitrarily arrested without due process. Houses are demolished, displacing families and rendering them homeless.

I did not know you. I didn’t meet this incredibly strong girl wearing a badge of courage carrying justice in her heart. Your call for justice, your sense of what is right and your selfless act has changed me forever.

I watched the videotape of your 5th grade speech to end hunger. This tiny girl with a steady voice called for the end of poverty. You were strong, resolute. I thought, what would this world be like if you had lived? I came to the realization that you have changed the world. You brought the occupation to the attention of the world. You live through those who became passionate about the Palestinian plight by reading about your struggle against the occupation. You, more so than anyone, built an army of non-violent protesters and activists who fight against this injustice. Rachel, you have made the world a better place because you cared.

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Is criticism of Israel anti-Semitic?

December 22, 2013
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I have been accused on several occasions of harbouring anti-Semitic feelings.  My criticism is of the State of Israel’s policies in regard to the Palestinian population.  It has nothing to do with Judaism, nothing to do with Islam, it has everything to do with human rights.

My criticism of the State of Israel doesn’t make strike me blind to the horrors inflicted on the population of many of the Islamic States of the Middle East.  I am not claiming that the governance of those states is superior to the governance of Israel.  I am not claiming support for these states and their leadership.  My criticism of Israel stems from their portrayal as the moral light unto nations, their complete denial of wrongdoing and violations of human rights and their continued colonialization.

When I look at a Middle Eastern State, what I see is what I get.  Violations of human rights is not necessarily the exception, but is the rule.  It is clear to everyone what they are doing and why they are doing it.  When I look at Israel, I see a nation which has been oppressing the indigenous population for over six decades and claims to be an “leader” of democratic governance.  I see a state that, until recently, received unconditional support from Western nations even if it allowed the oppression of another population continued on.  I also see a state which denies the history of the Palestinian people, denies their basic fundamental right to self determination all for the one simple objective, land expansionism.  What bothers me the most, is I see the state of Israel, along with their Western puppets, Canada and the United States, deliberately demonize a population based upon their faith through distortion, manipulation and outright lies, in order to fulfill a political agenda.

As long as nations like Canada equate valid criticism to anti-Semitism, there is no chance for peace.  To legislate and ban terms such as Israeli Apartheid, Canada is placing a roadblock on the road towards peace.  How can one engage in honest dialogue when it is forbidden to criticize Israel’s actions that are illegal under International law? When actions of a state fall within the scope of the legal definition of Apartheid, why is it illegal to call it what it is?

The United States, along with Canada’s recent best friend status and unconditional support to the State of Israel is not only allowing Israel to redefine human rights under occupation, but is denying the Palestinians their history.  Considering the history of the Jewish people is often denied and met with valid accusations of anti-Semitism, the application of these tactics to another population is troubling.  If the State of Israel cannot even acknowledge the ills perpetuated on the indigenous population, how is a just peace to be brokered?  Until then, we will just see more of the same until “the problem” of the Palestinians ceases to exist.

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Youth, hope of a nation.

August 21, 2013
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Since November 2012, when Nathan Blanc first consciously objected to serving in the IDF, he has been sentenced to prison for the 9th time. In a short six months, he will have served 150 days for objecting to what he sees as an “aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect”. He believes “as citizens and human beings”, we “have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game”.

At nineteen, 150 days is a lifetime. It is remarkable that someone so young stands up with forethought, intent and conviction refusing to participate in an immoral act, a war crime. Seeing one stand up against the official narrative based on an existential threat invoking imagery of the greatest crime perpetuated upon a people, the Holocaust, reignites hope I thought I had forever lost. You see, it isn’t just Nathan Blanc, it is Omri Evron, it is Noam Gur, it is Alon Gurman and Omer Goldman. It is the thousands before Nathan who chose to follow their conscious.

Only 19 years old, yet Nathan has effectively summed up, so succinctly, what a thinking person knows. The difference? He is courageous enough to state the obvious and guided by a morality that refuses to allow him to participate in an exercise in futility, one that doesn’t lead to deterrence, only bears the fruit of continued hatred. Nathan is brave enough to state what world leaders, such as Obama, skirt and avoid; hatred is born from what one does. He understands the simple law that rules the physical world that applies as well to life, every action elicits a equal and opposite reaction.

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Hope Springs Eternal

January 13, 2013
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“One should . . . be able to see things as hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

I often wonder about the people who have been oppressed throughout the duration of the well over four decade (for some well over six) Israeli Palestinian conflict.  These people who have lost their homes, their land, their families and left without a shred of dignity.  I wonder how one can go on without hope?  What makes them continue on, year after year, knowing that the manifestation of their hope grows dimmer and dimmer with every passing year.

When I think of the things that I hold near and dear and ponder loss of them, I cannot imagine going on.  The loss of a child, a grief so insurmountable, is something many Palestinians face.  In some cases, loss of an entire family, wife, children, nieces occurs, yet they manage to go on.  They manage to continue on, resisting the occupation, demanding their fundamental human rights, demanding justice.

In the span of one week, four Palestinian young men have been killed by the IDF.  The IDF portrays these young men as threats to the existence of the State of Israel, but let’s be honest, when are a handful of rocks a threat against the most technologically advanced weaponry.

Mustafa Abu Jarad shot (deceased), Samir Awad shot (deceased), Yazan,; aged 12 or 13, shot and one unnamed Gazan farmer, shot  (deceased) all in the span of one week.  Even if the IDF reports are correct, when is it acceptable to extinguish the life of a human being over stone throwing, or coming to close to a barrier which sits on the victims land, not the land of the oppressor.  I think of the grief of the mothers, the fathers, the siblings, understanding the enormity of their loss, the magnitude of their pain and wonder how can they possibly hold onto hope.

These unnecessary deaths of these four Palesitnians prompted thoughts about the trials of Dr. Izzeidin Abuelaish.  During the massacre on Gaza in 2008, I remember Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish who lost three daughters and a niece when his house was shelled.   During Operation Cast Lead, Dr. Abuelaish  was regularly updating the on ground operation in Gaza and moments after the attack were broadcast on live television.   Dr. Abudelaish, who has led his whole life to bring peace wrote a book, “I Shall Not Hate” after the death of his family.

I guess that basic human nature is what makes us carry on when it seems that we have nothing to carry on for.  I think though it is our choice to decide whether we want to make things better or not.  “Hope springs eternal” comes to mind when I think of the courage, the love and the strength of human spirit this man possesses.  The book concludes with Martin Luther King’s “”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remem

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Dear Israel…I am sorry

December 12, 2012
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Dear Israel:I want to say that I am sorry about the UN disaster.  Actually, I am so, so sorry about so many things.  I should have spoke up a lot sooner.  I don’t know with the Americans if it the guilt or the knowledge that they failed to do too little, too late or is it our own Canadian wish to play with the big boys that led us down this road.  At the end of the day, it came down to you, the United States and us, along with a few States that can be barely defined as nations, against the world.  My heart reached out to you, even full well knowing that it is a misery you created for yourself.  At some point in time, one has to stop pointing fingers at everyone else, and start looking inward.  A little reflection is good for the soul and perhaps some serious soul searching is in order.  With that said, we all do share the blame for we led you down the road to hell which is always paved with good intentions.

When you were created, we easily forgave what were viewed as slight flaws in your character.  Mighty big shoes were left for you to fill.  We understood you were in a new environ, unfamiliar with the landscape.  We understood the fear you must have felt and admired your chutzpah.  We forgave your mishaps, believing that you would learn as you get older and wiser.  We cajoled you when you were angry, we dried your tears when you cried and we continued to give you, your heart’s desire.   We believed that gentle guiding rather than the rod would develop your character, failing to realize that we gave you no example to follow.

We failed to tell you that your birth came at the expense of another people, that lived, loved, laughed, cried for centuries on that same plot of land we awarded to you to make up for our failings, not yours, but ours.  It eased our conscience. We failed to tell you that they would be angry, unhappy, rightfully so.  We failed to tell you how incredibly difficult it would be to overcome the anger and hate you would face.  The wounds of what happened to you and your people were still fresh and raw, we didn’t want to make it worse.  We were shamed that we didn’t act sooner, braver and stopped the horrors you were subject to.  even when we privately hung our heads in shame.

As you grew, there were times we had to correct your path, we would admonish you, but it never lasted long.  We weren’t very consistent; we gave into your demands.  We attributed your tantrums to growing pains, to teenage angst, we looked the other way.  We clung to the hope that you would one day you would grow into your long pants and become the state you were destined to be. We told stories about you thickly laced with superlatives, expounding on your fairness, decency and strong moral compass.  We rightfully so, bragged to the neighbours about medical development, progressive thinking, technological advancement you were bringing to the world.  We heard rumblings of what others were saying under their breath.  They never quite met our eyes when they politely inquired about you and we filled their ears with our pride in your accomplishments in such a short time.  We dismissed their behavior satisfying ourselves in the secret pleasure that they were jealous, as green as the olives grown in the orchards.  If they dared to question our shining monologue of such great accomplishment, we would react with such scorn and contempt, they never dared to question your superiority again.

There were times you made us so very proud.  Against your own instinctive response, you reached your hand and took a chance to make a peace that has lasted for over three decades.  We know how hard and difficult it was to do this, the uncertainty and fear you must have overcome to reach across the abyss and take a chance on peace.  We know how you suffered for it, at the hands of your own people, but the sacrifice made by blood saved countless of innocent lives.  We were so proud, overwhelmed by your true efforts at achieving peace, making the world a better place.

We don’t know quite what happened after that.  We would have understood that if you had gambled and lost, you would have been hesitant in building the bridges between yourself and other nations.  The courageous risk you made for peace though paid off better than ever expected.  What made you stop abruptly in your tracks becoming an opportunist, benefiting from the pain and suffering of others?  Demanding what was not yours, raising the bar a little higher for them to reach, yet failing to meet the same bar.

As you continued to careen drunkenly around, subverting any chance for peace, it became harder and harder for the friends that loved you to stay and watch.   You became isolated, alone in the world, your stature eroding with each and every escapade.  Occasionally, you seemed to approach the situation with new found resolve, with an exceptional insight into the situation. Was it fear or was it cowardice which made you turn away?

You became mean and then hurtful, joyful in the pain and horrors you inflicted on another.  You made their lives a living hell, denied their basic, fundamental rights, maimed, killed, all the while playing the perpetual victim.  After decades of misery, they dared to fight back, to defend themselves and you squashed them like the cockroaches you believed them to be.  You interpreted their resistance, their self-defense as a “direct threat” to your security and safety, rather than a response to your actions.  It never occurred to you that your behavior, your use of unacceptable disproportionate force was the catalyst to which they responded to, not the other way around.  If anyone dared question your motives, your cruelty, they were met with such a violent response, they no longer dared to speak.

Gaza, poor, poor Gaza and what you have done to them.  We stayed silent fearing your wrath.  The horrors you inflicted upon a defenseless civilian population, we witnessed, we knew, we said nothing.  In 2008 and early 2009, your justifications and denials no longer no longer held water, the sheer arrogance and brutal disdain you demonstrated made us feel criminal.  You killed 9 human rights activists participating in the flotilla to break your inhumane siege on Gaza claiming them to be terrorists, silence.  You killed an American non violent protestor, silence.  You spat in the face of the United States, so filled with self-righteousness that people wondered what nation they were dealing with and yet we remained silent.

The final recent assault on Gaza has now led us to this very spot we stand, You, the United States, Canada, Panama, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Czech Republic and the Marshall Island against the rest of the world.  The people who truly were your friends, fled long ago. The countries that abstained in yesterday’s UN debacle showed true friendship, the error of your ways.  They could no longer support your destructive aggression.  They realized that friends do not watch and allow other friends to drive off a cliff recklessly.  Their message to you is clear, take this last chance, this last opportunity which may never arise again and take the olive branch which is being offered, sit down at the table and negotiate not from what you feel you deserve, but what you are actually legally entitled to.  Remember that no matter what race we all descend from, we are all the same, we are all human beings wanting the same simple things from life, to be safe, to be respected, to have food on our table, warmth in our hearth, a better life for our children and to be loved.

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Banksy Christmas Card…Another year

December 12, 2012
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Another year for Banksy’s Christmas card.  With each passing year, we see the viability of the Palestinian State erodes while the world stands by silent, complicit while the Hasbara machine continually churns out its rhetoric, transforming the aggressor into the victim.

Religion is not something I hold near and dear, but even so, I have to wonder why Christians aren’t screaming from the rooftops in the name of justice, in the name of international law, in the name of the very tenet they claim in their names, their Christianity?  It is not just Muslim Palestinians who are being turned away not only from the holy places held by Israel, separated by family, but also affects the Palestinian Christians.  It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s famous “The East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”.

As the West Bank works towards statehood, the State of Israel becomes more and more oppressive.  Once conditions demanded of the Palestinians by the Israelis are met, the bar is raised a just little higher.  While facts are being created on the ground, any chance of a viable Palestinian state is gobbled up by settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian territories.  It has been almost 20 years since the famous handshake between Arafat and Rabin took place on the front lawn of the White House.  Rather than seeing marked improvement, the situation has eroded, allowed for almost doubling of settlement building while the State of Israel is recreated a system of governance, eerily reminiscent of Apartheid.

Gaza, poor tortured Gaza, where 1.7 million people are herded like cattle into 365 square miles with only one entrance, one exit, allowing approximately 350 people to cross each way daily.  The border is open from 9 am to 5 pm and on some days completely shut down.  During the week of the Egyptian elections, the border was completely closed down.   After Hamas was elected in 2007, the border crossing remained closed (opening infrequently) until May of 2011.

For Israel, Gaza is convenient.  Dov Weinglass said this of the withdrawal from Gaza,

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.  The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

When Israel feels pressured to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, military engagement with Hamas is the solution.  When Hamas is pragmatic or reasonable, bombardment of Gaza.  Gaza, under Hamas control, has allowed the State of Israel to avoid any discussion of peace.  The victims of this action are the Gazans.  On the eve of the American Presidential Election 2008 (November 4), Israel violated a well-maintained ceasefire, which for six months had allowed both Gazans and Israelis (especially those living close to the border) live in relative peace, leading to a month of back and forth retaliatory violence between Israel and Hamas.  On December 27, 2008, the state of Israel began an assault on Gaza, which concluded with three weeks of violence aimed at a civilian population, leaving almost 1,400 Gazans dead of which 300 were children.  Israel targeted infrastructure including schools, hospitals UN structures and homes leaving 600,000 tons of rubble in its’ wake.

A long-term truce was being negotiated between Gershon Baskin and Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari.  It has been reported that Jabari was prepared to sign the agreement, while with the Palestinian’s bid for UN status upgrade was quickly approaching which had necessary international support.  Israel was quickly running out of options and in November 2012, the State of Israel, effectively quashing any negotiated ceasefire, leading to the second assault on Gaza in four years leaving 136 dead of which 66% were civilians, assassinated Jabari.

Where is it acceptable to kill use a civilian population as fodder for a political agenda?  The usual actors, the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany all essentially turn a blind eye to this naked aggression.

This is what is left.  The two states solution has been effectively killed by the State of Israel, Gaza is used for political gain while any challenge to the actions of the State of Israel are met with accusations of anti-Semitism. I no longer believe that in my lifetime I will see Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem with no wall to impede their journey.  I see no viable alternative where the State of Israel will agree to, allowing for a Palestinian State.  I believe the United States, Canada will continue to support the war crimes Israel perpetuates upon these people and the popular “it will get better” will not apply to the conflict and in fact, it will get worse.

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