Clinton disappoints but doesn’t surprise

Hillary Clinton attended the donor’s conference for Gaza, today, and announced the United States has pledged $900 million dollars, but warned none would go to Hamas, and only one third is earmarked for Gaza reconstruction. No word about where the other two thirds will be spent. In all, donors pledged $3 billion in aid.

Reuters reports that Kamal Hassouni, a minister in the Palestinian Authority, broke down the aid package as follows:

$348 million of the foreign aid would be used for housing, $119 million for transport services, $266 million for farming and $146 million for industry. About $1.45 billion will support the Palestinian Authority 2009 budget and the rest will fund other government expenses.

The Palestinian Authority plans to judge each Gazan house, individually, and make payments for damage directly to the homeowner.

That’s a great thought, except how is the homeowner supposed to rebuild their home? With the Karni Crossing closed, no construction supplies can reach Gaza, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because the Israelis won’t allow steel beams or cement into Gaza.

Would adobe work there?

Here’s where Clinton has a say, but says nothing meaningful, demonstrating her total lack of understanding of the situation on the ground in Gaza and at the borders. She reiterated that we won’t deal with terrorists, won’t deal with Hamas, but will deal with Abbas who she says “offered a more peaceful future.”

Which is where her lack of understanding completely comes into play.

Abbas, is a member of the Fatah Party, and was Yassir Arafat’s protegee. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, is

a network of West Bank militias affiliated with former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat’s Fatah faction and has been one of the driving forces behind the what Palestinians call the “Second” or “Al-Aqsa Intifada” (uprising). While the group initially vowed to target only Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in early 2002 it joined Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a spree of terrorist attacks against civilians in Israeli cities. In March 2002, after a deadly al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the State Department added the group to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, and ceased regarding Arafat as a viable partner in peace negotiations….

In 2004 the brigade engaged in a ceasefire with Israel but resumed attacks when Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, according to the State Department. The 2006 Country Report says that the brigade continues intra-Palestinian violence and adds to the “overall chaotic security environment.” The brigade operates primarily in the West Bank but have also carried out attacks in the Gaza strip and Israel.

Note their affiliation is with Fatah. Hamas, in the run up to the elections, had honored a ceasefire with Israel and contiued to honor it, for 18 months. The Fatah group started the rocket fire, while Hamas was still honoring the ceasefire. I’m not sure how this bodes to be a “more peaceful future.”

The State Department asked ordinary Americans what to do about Gaza. The vast majority said Hamas can’t be ignored, they are a stakeholder. The vast majority said to stop funding Israel and stop providing military aid unless they stop indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians. The vast majority of those who responded, want us to be honest brokers of the peace and stop choosing sides within Palestine, and stop backing Israel unconditionally.

Perhaps Madame Secretary didn’t get a chance to read our recommendations, or perhaps she didn’t care what they were. I hope it’s the former.

I just know that since the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade is a Fatah organization, and since Mahmoud Abbas was a member of the PLO, whose charter also doesn’t recognize Israel, and since there are many Arab nations that we deal with who refuse to recognize Israel, this whole idea of cutting out Hamas because they don’t recognize Israel is a straw dog argument.

Israel doesn’t recognize Palestine’s right to exist either.

The notion that Abbas is the best hope for peace, is laughable considering his group, based in the West Bank, has been responsible for the following actions, again according to the Council on Foreign Relations:

* In January 2008 the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade joined with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to shoot rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel retaliated by blockading the Gaza strip;
* A January 2007 suicide bombing in Eilat that killed three people. The attack was the first suicide bombing in Israel in nine months and both al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for it;
* In June 2006 members of the brigade kidnapped an American college student after mistaking him for an Israeli. Initially they said he would be killed unless Israel released all of its Palestinian prisoners but released him the same day upon discovering his nationality;
* In January 2006, the European Union mission in Gaza was overtaken for a half hour by masked gunmen who demanded that Denmark and Norway apologize for publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. There were no shots fired or injuries;
* An October 2005 suicide attack at the Gush Etzion junction that killed three Israelis and wounded three others;
* A March 2004 suicide bombing at a checkpoint at the Port of Ashdod that killed ten people. Hamas also claimed responsibility for the attack;
* A January 2004 attack on a bus in Rehavia, Jerusalem that killed 11 people;
* A pair of January 2003 suicide bombings in downtown Tel Aviv that killed 23 people and injured about 100 more, one of the bloodiest attacks of the current Palestinian uprising;
* A November 2002 shooting spree at a kibbutz in northern Israel that killed five Israelis, including two children, and wounded seven more;
* An April 2002 suicide bombing at a marketplace in Jerusalem that killed six people and injured 104 more;
* A March 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed three Israelis, prompting Israel to call off ceasefire talks with Arafat’s Palestinian Authority;
* Another March 2002 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem café that killed 11 Israelis and wounded more than 50;
* A March 2002 sniper attack on an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank in which the gunman methodically killed 10 Israelis, including seven Israeli soldiers, before escaping;
* A January 2002 suicide attack in Jerusalem by a female terrorist that killed an elderly man and wounded about 40 other people.

If they’re stocking their peace prospects with this crowd, good luck. Even the right wing Israelis don’t trust Abbas. I don’t know why we do. Looks like half the donor money for Gaza is going straight into the pockets of Fatah and its supporters.

And people wonder why the Palestinians elected Hamas….

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Secretary of State Clinton asks: What is the best Path Forward for Gaza?

Dipnote, the U.S. State Department blog, has a new question, what should we do about Gaza?

On March 2, Clinton will participate in the donor conference for Gaza reconstruction. Until then, she will be taking suggestions from ordinary Americans.

Here is the link. Lend your voice in our participatory democracy, or shut your piehole and live with their decisions. 🙂

Excellent explanation of the Israeli media spin

For those who don’t understand the true cost of media “spin”, here is a well-written explanation by Yonatan Mendel that even the most clueless could probably understand.

A small excerpt:

In most of the articles on the conflict two sides battle it out: the Israel Defence Forces, on the one hand, and the Palestinians, on the other. When a violent incident is reported, the IDF confirms or the army says but the Palestinians claim: ‘The Palestinians claimed that a baby was severely injured in IDF shootings.’ Is this a fib? ‘The Palestinians claim that Israeli settlers threatened them’: but who are the Palestinians? Did the entire Palestinian people, citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, people living in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states and those living in the diaspora make the claim? Why is it that a serious article is reporting a claim made by the Palestinians? Why is there so rarely a name, a desk, an organisation or a source of this information? Could it be because that would make it seem more reliable?….
Another example: in June 2006, four days after the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from the Israeli side of the Gazan security fence, Israel, according to the Israeli media, arrested some sixty members of Hamas, of whom 30 were elected members of parliament and eight ministers in the Palestinian government. In a well-planned operation Israel captured and jailed the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem, the ministers of finance, education, religious affairs, strategic affairs, domestic affairs, housing and prisons, as well as the mayors of Bethlehem, Jenin and Qalqilya, the head of the Palestinian parliament and one quarter of its members. That these officials were taken from their beds late at night and transferred to Israeli territory probably to serve (like Gilad Shalit) as future bargaining-chips did not make this operation a kidnapping. Israel never kidnaps: it arrests.

The Israeli army never intentionally kills anyone, let alone murders them – a state of affairs any other armed organisation would be envious of. Even when a one-ton bomb is dropped onto a dense residential area in Gaza, killing one gunman and 14 innocent civilians, including nine children, it’s still not an intentional killing or murder: it is a targeted assassination. An Israeli journalist can say that IDF soldiers hit Palestinians, or killed them, or killed them by mistake, and that Palestinians were hit, or were killed or even found their death (as if they were looking for it), but murder is out of the question. The consequence, whatever words are used, has been the death at the hands of the Israeli security forces since the outbreak of the second intifada of 2087 Palestinians who had nothing to do with armed struggle.

Read on yourself, it’s fascinating and disturbing. Read our newspapers, and watch the action words…and the modifiers. Talk about disturbing….

We don’t have an independent press, essential in a democracy. That’s why we came so close to tyranny.

The Next Debate

Campaigning in Ohio, a supporter brought to Hillary Clinton’s attention, two Barack Obama mailers that criticize her health care plan and challenge her position on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement which is widely accepted to have caused much of the job losses in Ohio since its passage. Clinton angrily called Obama on the carpet and challenged him to discuss his tactics at the debate that is to take place on MSNBC, Tuesday at 8pm Central.

Clinton, who is trailing Obama in delegates and whose campaign is in serious trouble, is right to call attention to the mailers one which points out that her plan would make purchasing private health insurance mandatory for every American and would financially penalize those who don’t, and the other noting that in her book, she championed NAFTA as a victory of her husband’s administration.

In a state such as Ohio, with a high unemployment rate and a lack of jobs, such information could certainly be damaging to her failing bid for the White House.

Though the mailers are factually correct, at this point in the race, damage control is certainly in order, and today Clinton called on Obama to debate his tactics in Ohio.

Sorry Hillary, the nationally televised debate on Tuesday is not the place for a discussion of campaign strategy and political tactics.

In the last debate, an inordinate amount of time was spent asking Clinton if she truly believes Obama is all talk and no action and if she thinks he is ready to be commander-in-chief, not that the American people need either candidate’s assessment of the other in order to choose their president.
Unfortunately, not discussed in the debate were issues such as how high the cost of food has gotten, just what do the candidates consider to be an “affordable” cost for health insurance, where will they get the money for the green infrastructure they both want to build to create jobs, and how they plan to take unemployed factory workers and retrain them so they can once again have jobs that will enable them to provide a decent living for their families. And who and what will pay for all of that?

Also not discussed were issues such as Iran, our lack of a standing army, the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey’s incursion into Iraq and the United States’ obsession with spreading democracy around the world. Is that what caused the burning of our embassy in Belgrade, because that is certainly what everyone over there is saying. You’d think we would have learned about democracy spreading after the Shah of Iran, El Salvadore and Nicaragua, all dismal failures which we continue to pay for today.

Nor did we get to hear what they plan to do about lead paint in China, though Obama alluded to it. They want to rethink the free trade agreements, but no details as to what is being rethought. Hillary said we have to look at NAFTA again, though nothing specific as to what we are looking for. And Obama, though greeted with silence, mentioned that future agreements must have better wages and environmental controls built in so we can lift these countries up.

The silence should have been a clue to him that the failure to lift other countries up is not what is bothering the American people about free trade agreements.

Obama also said that companies that export jobs should be taxed and those that keep jobs here should be rewarded. He got applause for that one. Hello……..is anybody home? That is on the right track.

But Hillary wants instead, to debate Obama about his campaign tactics, something that is so irrelevant to those trying to decide who to choose for president when we live in a country that has banks borrowing billions, foreclosures in the millions, unemployment in the hundreds of thousands and heads of families working two and three minimum wage jobs because the last few presidents, including Bill Clinton, thought it would be just grand to make the United States’ most plentiful employment opportunities, low paying service jobs, and were satisfied with intellectual property being our biggest export.

No, this is neither the time nor the place to debate a couple of mailers. If your campaign is hinging on two pieces of paper that accurately describe your health care plan and quote your book, perhaps you should bow out now in the interests of party loyalty and spend the rest of the primary season helping Obama build enough momentum so that in November, we don’t find ourselves with John McCain as president committing our children, grand children and great grand children to spending the next hundred years in Iraq.

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