Sunday, October 25, 2015

Confessions of an Israeli Traitor


The occupation is destroying our own society, too

By Assaf Gavron
October 23, 2015
Washington Post
Assaf Gavron's latest novel, "The Hilltop," is out in paperback.

A Palestinian argues with Israeli policemen during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron this month. (EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN)
I was an Israel Defense Forces soldier in Gaza 27 years ago, during the first intifada. We patrolled the city and the villages and the refugee camps and encountered angry teenagers throwing stones at us. We responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Now those seem like the good old days.
Since then, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has seen stones replaced with guns and suicide bombs, then rockets and highly trained militias, and now, in the past month, kitchen knives, screwdrivers and other improvised weapons. Some of these low-tech efforts have been horrifically successful, with victims as young as 13. There is plenty to discuss about the nature and timing of the recent wave of Palestinian attacks — a desperate and humiliated answer to the election of a hostile Israeli government that emboldens extremist settlers to attack Palestinians. But as an Israeli, I am more concerned with the actions of my own society, which are getting scarier and uglier by the moment.
The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others. Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not “supporting our troops” are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Obama Just Signed a Blank Check for Endless War in Afghanistan And one congresswoman is not having it.


By John Nichols

The Nation

Oct 15, 2015 - Barbara Lee has always had the clearest vision when it comes to the US role in Afghanistan—and the rest of the world.

The California congresswoman cast the sole vote in the US Congress against the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. As a veteran congressional aide and legislator who has a long history of highly engaged and thoughtful involvement with global issues, Lee did not oppose responding in appropriate and necessary ways to genuine threats to the United States. But she feared the open-ended authorization would become a blank check for endless war in the targeted country of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Lee was right. On October 7, 14 years after the launch of the Afghanistan War, she noted that it has become “our nation’s longest war” and said that “sadly, there seems to be no end in sight. Despite a war-weary public, calls continue to keep more U.S. troops in Afghanistan for many more years.”

On Thursday, President Obama listened to the calls for more war—as opposed to the wise counsel of the congresswoman who has so consistently been correct in her assessments of the folly of endless war making in distant lands.

“This war has already cost our nation too much.” —Congresswoman Barbara Lee

The president, who was elected with the strong support of Congresswoman Lee and other war foes, announced that the planned withdrawal by US forces from Afghanistan would be suspended. Instead, current troop levels of roughly 10,000— along with the full capacity for air strikes, like the October 3 one that devastated the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz—would remain in place through 2016. While Obama suggested that the Afghan military is “fully responsible for securing their country,” his decision to maintain US troops levels effectively guarantees that the United States will remain deeply involved in Afghanistan until after the president leaves office in early 2017.