Friday, February 20, 2009

Under Cover of Darkness 1 (Gaza: The Climate)

As Israel’s bombardment of Gaza fades into the collective memory, perhaps seldom to be recalled, due process must take place: first, questions relating to war crimes and the use of unethical or banned weapons require answers, without restrictions; second, humanitarian aid needs to reach Gaza; third, transparency needs to prevail over mis-speak and propoganda (from both sides). Only after these basic, but extremely difficult, tasks get completed will an atmosphere prevail in which Mitchell can begin to work his magic.

Although a number of outstanding Israeli and Palestinian citizens have accomplished extraordinary things, a significant portion of the general population subscribes to distrust and hatred; furthermore, in North America especially, there’s a media ban, for all inents and purposes, on any criticism of Israel. As a result, it can be difficult to gain an informed opinion on the matter; in order to do so, I consult the opinions of Israelis who do not condone violence and alternative (non-mainstream media) stories about Palestine.

In the first category, Norman Finkelstein (a Jew and son of Holocaust survivors) presents strong and cogent opinions and Ilan Pappé (an Israeli historian who for political reasons no longer works in Israel) provides common sense and deep insight. Both are academics and experts worth consulting. Although both note that the kill ratio was excessive 100 Palestinians for every Israeli, Mark Steel expresses this fact best. Non-academic opinions are also important, e.g., Judith Stone (a Jewish woman who participated in the Rally for the Right to Return to Palestine). Kathy Kelly (a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence) also makes some excellent points and If Americans Knew provides an excellent breakdown of the confilct.

In the second category, alternative news sources, some can be a little extreme, but most are excellent and evoke strong emotions:

Now that you’re aware of some of the news sources out there, you may ask, “What can I do?” First, vote with your dollar by purchasing fair trade items (I’ve already mentioned Zaytoun olive oil). You can also, depending on your convictions, boycott Israeli products; for me it means not purchasing products by Coke, Timberland, and Biotherm (I already eschew McDonalds). Sending donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (the charity whose appeal the British media banned) and Lights for Gaza (you get an awesome solar powered flashlight in a buy one/send one deal). Last, petition your elected officials. Be heartened that protestors have netted results in South Africa and Scotland.

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