July 25, 2014
It is heart-wrenching and deeply saddening to see video and photos of children, innocent children, perish in the most awful way as victims of war in Gaza and Syria or to hear story after story of children fearing for their lives from the violent gangs of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
This insane killing of civilians, especially children, has become so commonplace in today’s world that too many of us in this country just walk by the television and stare for a moment only to switch to a sports channel. The world has become immune to the killing, hoping it will end, but not seeing the death and destruction as events that touch people personally.
These killing fields around the world are certainly the result of harsh social and political conditions – Israel vs. Palestine, Syria vs. rebels, border children vs. gangs. Each side is blamed for the killing of innocents, but there is a distinction that must not be forgotten. Blame is everywhere, but it does reside in the tactics used by terrorists, dictators and gang members.
To fire deadly rockets into Israel from high density neighborhoods, schools or hospitals as Hamas is doing is deliberately placing civilians and children at risk. To drop barrel bombs with pieces of shrapnel in them without a real target as Syria’s Bashar al Assad has done is designed to send a horrific message. And to kill young boys and rape young girls just for refusing to join the M-13 street gang in Honduras is an act without conscience and a callous disregard for the sanctity of life.
Certainly there are official arguments for the use of deadly force in each of these terrible killing fields, but the politics and the power games mean little if terrorists, dictators and gang members think nothing about those who just want to live their lives in peace and not be used as pawns to win a war or make a statement or control turf.
May 19, 2011
If the United States is going to jump on the Arab Spring bandwagon rather than be overtaken by events and reject the inevitable course of history, it cannot avoid the push to recognize Palestine as a sovereign nation – The West Bank and Gaza – or simply the two state solution.
President Obama in his latest Middle East speech came out for the two state solution in a clear attempt not to fall behind the rush of change in the Middle East or ignore the United Nations resolution in September that is certain to support the two state solution.
But while Obama’s Middle East speech from the State Department gave a boost to Palestinian aspirations for statehood, it is Obama’s speech next week before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee -AIPAC- that will provide the answer to the key question – Just how far is the President prepared to go in supporting a two state solution?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it crystal clear that no agreement will be achieved toward a two state Palestine unless Hamas rejects violence and accepts Israel’s right to exist- two conditions that are just not feasible.
So was the President’s position on two states for Palestine just another aimless public relations ploy or did the pressure on Israel to take the next step toward peace just get racheted up a few notches? There has been so much smoke and mirrors diplomacy between Israel and Palestine that it would be difficult to see the President’s words as only that, words. Remember George Mitchell, the special envoy to the Middle East, just took a walk, allegedly in disgust over the failure to get the Obama administration behind a solution to the Palestinian issue.
But with that UN resolution in September hanging over the Middle East, this may indeed be a time when talk is not idle, compromises are reached and deals made. Obama took the first step with his speech today, but there will be reactions throughout the region and there will also be other speeches. What will be important is the diplomatic maneuvering behind the scenes. If history is any guide, this will just be another failed effort at bringing a resolution to a decades long stalemate. Hopeful words and earnest proposals are all well and good, but as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.