…the Bleacherman has entered the arena…

Several days ago, I read the commentary, “Calling out Israel’s Campaign against Palestinians is not anti-Semitism”. It appeared on the website, ‘Politicususa.com on July 22, 2014 and was authored by “Rmuse.”

In many ways I agree with the author’s overall view that the Palestinians have for decades now been a people lied to, victimized and sacrificed like pawns on a chess board. I also agree that happening to the civilian population of Gaza in this recent outbreak of violence is an absolute tragedy. Whatever an individual’s geopolitical views are, one cannot ignore the unfolding tragedy that is happening right in front of us as Hamas and Israel prove that even adults can’t play nice in the sand box.

The Bleacherman is an old hippie – the operative word here being old. He grew up believing in the words of poets and song writers who painted a picture of a world that can be a beautiful place to live in if we somehow found a way to nest the powers of peace and love in our souls.

Yet, unfortunately, the words of the Arthurian idealist ring so hollow today. There is no room for idealism and altruistic visions in the microcosm of geopolitics.

The Bleacherman’s objection to Rmuse’s commentary rests in who he blames for the situation in the Middle East. He finds Israel to be the sole and exclusive party at fault. Rmuse gerrymanders the facts so much in order to satisfy his indictment of Israel, that ‘truth’ has been banished into oblivion by his accusatory hyperbole.
For more decades than anyone of us want to remember, Arab and Jew have been fighting over a narrow patch of land to call home. Each side claims ownership and seeks to destroy the other. Generations of Arab and Jewish children are indoctrinated into hating the other side. Hate has become part of the genetic makeup of both Arab and Israeli. And when one is born to hate, born to distrust, born to cynicism and suspicion; violence becomes second nature.

Rmuse, in setting the groundwork for his commentary, opines that supporting Israel has become “the hallmark of American patriotism” and if someone who attacks Israel for its actions or inactions, one is condemning oneself to be seen as committing an attack on God, being anti-Semitic and assaulting the holy Bible and affronting the basic tenets of Christianity itself.

A little over dramatic and an exaggeration on steroids, I would say.

Rmuse continues his march towards self-proclaimed righteousness by bloating his hate-filled bravado by proclaiming that innocent Palestinians civilians were “herded onto a Native Amercing-like reservation under threat of annihilation or tricked into going there with a false promise of being granted a homeland.”

There is no doubt that, in 1948-1949, there were forced and often violent migrations of Arabs out of the land that Israel was about to claim under an armistice brokered by the United Nations. There were also similar forced and sometimes violation migrations of Jews from land ceded to Jordanian control and referred to as the West Bank. What is also true was the fact that Israel offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees back into Israel (out of a total of about 700,000) but the Arab nations, not wanting to even tacitly recognize Israel’s existence, refused the offer.

Instead, for the most part, Arab nations “housed” the Palestinians in horrid refugee camps; promising that soon, Israel would be wiped out and the Palestinians would be allowed back into their homes. This false promise, a promise made to the Palestinians by surrounding Arab nations, was the lie. It was perpetrated not by Israel but by Arab nations who to this day, except for Egypt and Jordan, want to pretend that Israel does not exist.

The Palestinian people have suffered because they have been treated as pawns; expendable pawns in a greater conflict. There are no innocent parties here. Israel, Arab nations and militant groups like Hamas share blame for the disaster that has fallen upon the Palestinians.

To solely blame Israel for their plight is a manipulation of history and does nothing to move the ball towards peace. Yes, the West Bank is under occupation. That is a fact. But what does Rmuse suggest? That Israel unilaterally simply pulls its troops back across the arbitrary lines drawn before the 1967 war? Would such a move really bring peace to the region? Or, without a comprehensive peace plan and mutual recognition of each other’s right to exist as a Palestinian and Jewish State, would such a move be the seminal act of a more horrific and horrible war?

Can you imagine the consequences if Hamas began firing rockets at Israel from downtown Hebron or East Jerusalem?

It is easy to blame one side or the other; especially when both sides bear equal guilt. The Palestinians want an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank but refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. It takes two sides to end war and make peace.

More than a half century ago, Golda Meir said that peace could only come to the Middle East once Arab nations love their children more than they hate the Jews.

So let us all show that paramount in our lives is to love our children. Make peace.

…the Bleacherman has left the arena…

…the Bleacherman has entered the arena…

Once again, the United Nations has proven to be a total waste of time, money and property. The land it occupies in New York should be immediately turned over to Donald Trump for development. At least it would do some good by producing some tax revenue for the city and state of New York.

The United Nations reflects a history of incompetence, ineffectiveness and total impotence. It talks the talk but never walks the walk. Its human rights organizations are so biased and self-serving that one can only laugh at their declarations and condemnations.

A week ago, a representative of the UN’s Human Rights Organization indicated that Israel was violating international laws that prohibit the targeting of civilians. What, of course, was conveniently and politically omitted from this condemnation were the facts that, one, Hamas admittedly uses human shields and purposely locates its missile launchers in civilian residences and places of worship and to is targeting civilian populations when it sends its missiles into Israel.

The doctrine of fairness sometimes is a principle foreign to the United States.
Yes, it is true that Palestinians are dying while Israelis are running into their bomb shelters. The asymmetrical result of the current fight is largely due to Israel’s development of its anti-missile system, Iron Dome. I imagine things would be much easier for the UN if dozens of Israelis were killed by Hamas. It would make the “death counts” much more even and then give an element of reality to the UN’s make believe, fairy tale view of the world much easier to digest.

As international pressure continued to build on Israel to end its conflict with Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza enclave, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the Israeli military must abide by international law. This, of course, dismisses Israel’s right to self-defense and in a de-facto gesture of omission, affirms Hamas’ right to send missiles aimed at Israeli cities.
Pillay went on record to say, “We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

So I guess, according to Mr. Pillay, the UN’s only measure of lawlessness is in body counts. (I didn’t know that United States Army General William Westmorland, of Viet Nam fame and failure, had such policy influence some nine years after his death.)

The truth is that the UN can only be measured by its failures. Its history is marked by ineptness and impotence.

In Sri Lanka, the UN did its ubiquitous lip service dance by declaring how appalled it was over the situation but did absolutely nothing to stop the fighting. The UN did nothing to neither stop the Serbs from their ethnic cleansing madness nor interfere with the Khmer Rouge’s reeducation murders and death camps.

And let us not overlook the UN’s failures on the continent of Africa. In Darfur, Sudan and Rwanda more than a million have died and the number keeps growing. The UN simply tries to feed the survivors rather than actually intervening to try to stop the genocide.

In 1967, the UN had positioned its forces on the border between Egypt and Israel. These troops were to act as a buffer between the two warring nations. However, in May of that year, President Nasser of Egypt demanded that they get out of his way. He wanted to attack Israel. The UN quickly complied and weeks later both sides were engaged in a shooting war.

Great job, UN! Great job!

So my message to the United Nations is stop pretending that you are an unbiased organization seeking world peace. Stop using up good real estate that Donald Trump can develop. Stop taking up and abusing valuable parking spaces in New York City. Stop Wasting US tax dollars that are paid to you as dues.

If I want to see good drama, Broadway is only a few blocks down the street.

…the Bleacherman has left the arena…

ARE NOT ALL ATROCITIES EQUAL?

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Politics

…the Bleacherman has entered the building…

When is one atrocity more outrageous, more revolting and more appalling than another? Is there a rating scale by which we can give a qualitative or quantitative value to an act so revolting that we shudder to even think about its vile rejection of basic human values? Is there an atrocity equivalent to the geologist’s Richter scale for measuring the intensity of earthquakes, for acts of utter madness and malevolence?
I ask this question because in recent articles appearing in magazines and on-line, there seems to be a loud and condemning outcry amongst journalists over the brutal, vicious and ungodly death of a sixteen-year-old boy named Mohamed Abu Khdeir. The young Palestinian was sitting outside a mosque near his home in East Jerusalem when he was pulled into a car and kidnapped by Israeli Jews. He was then beaten and burned alive.

This young man’s death sickened Arab and Israeli, Jew and Muslim. There was no reason for such action. But “revenge killings” exist in a microcosm of absolute evil that is far from the reaches of cause, logic or morality. There is no justification for such acts of insanity.

While the Bible, Torah and the Koran all make reference to the tribal and barbaric notion of an eye of an eye; modern and education ‘man’ must resist such temptation. Man must resist his nature to lash out and manifest anger into acts of malevolence and malice.

But my purpose here is not so much to seek some ordained moral high ground and start singing “We Are the World” as it is to voice my concern over how easy it was for journalists to simply dismiss, downplay and even mitigate the kidnaping and killing of three Israeli teenagers. In many articles, the three Jewish boys were simply and dismissively mentioned almost as if their deaths were just a footnote to the “real” story – the killing of an innocent Palestinian boy.

Raja Shehadeh, in a recent article written for the New Yorker Magazine, takes such a position. At least that is my opinion – for whatever it is worth. He calls for action – for peace –hoping that the death of the Palestinian boy will open the eyes of Israeli Jews.

But I am compelled to ask whether or not the recent deaths of three Israeli teenagers open the eyes of the Palestinians? Will, the deaths of over 800 Israeli civilians since 1989 (at the hands of suicide bombers) open the eyes of the residents of Gaza who are quick to cheer outgoing Hamas rockets aimed specifically at Israeli cities and even quicker to condemn incoming Israeli missiles?

Both the Israelis and the Palestinian have civilian blood on their hands. Both sides have committed unspeakable atrocities against the other. And, unfortunately, both sides have yet to produce political leadership both willing and capable to make the compromises necessary to actually make peace with the other.

Israel has an absolute right to exist as a Jewish State within safe, secure and defensible borders. Palestine has an absolute right to exist as a Palestinian State, free of occupation and with borders that are viable and conducive to growth and prosperity for a people that have been treated as pawns by everyone for far too long a period of time.

I ask both Netanyahu and Abbas to just meet. No preconditions, no guarantees, no preset price of admission. Sit down with a fresh map, a pencil with a very big eraser and start drawing borders that make sense to everyone involved. Make the compromises that need to be made.
It takes two to tango and it takes two to make peace. Once and for all, put an end to an environment that breeds atrocities and revenge killings. Teach the children to make peace, not to make war. Teach love, not hate. (God, I sound like a 1960’s hippie.)

…the Bleacherman has left the building…

In four months, Americans will once again participate in the crown jewel of our democracy – the exercising their right to vote to elect those that they, the people, wish to be governed by.

It all sounds so noble, so inspiring, so inspirational that one almost wants to stand up and begin to hum some patriotic John Phillips Souza march or George M. Cohan musical tribute: ‘You’re a grand old flag, You’re a high-flying flag , And forever in peace may you wave. You’re the emblem of the land I love, The Home of the free and the brave.”

But as one friend once told me, “the difference between theory and reality is the universe of transcendentalism.” Believing that all Americans have an equal and unalienable right to vote is akin to a Disney fantasy or trying to tell me the world is only seven or so thousand years old and was created by some supernatural entity that got bored and needed some toys to play with to occupy its vast omnipotence.

Having worked in a number of polling places, the Bleacherman can tell you that there were times he felt as if he was in a third world country experiencing its first encounter with the freedom to vote. Lines were several hours long, proof of identity was so specific he wondered whether or not the person standing in front of him was trying to exercise his absolute right to vote or being granted to access to some top secret nuclear facility.

Tell me, anyone, tell me how here in America, a country that prides itself on its ability to claim its soul to be exceptional, can people be forced to spend up to seven hours in the heat and humidity of southern Florida just to vote. We’re not talking about attending a rock concert here; we’re talking about the one’s Constitutional right to vote. A right we pound our chests in pride, a right we tell other nations is something to strive for, something to fight for, something worthy of pursuing.

Yet to our own, to people who are being victimized and electorally disenfranchised because of partisan politics, what do we tell them? How do we tell them that some state governments care little about protecting their constituents most valued democratic right – the right to vote? How do we tell them that some flag-waving self-proclaimed patriots care little about what America stands for? How do we tell them that those that scream when the fabric of the flag is burned are those who in the shadows go out and try to circumvent the very ideals that the flag represents? How do we tell them that those who claim to be members of the party of moral values are the ones who go out and tell lies about their neighbors?

But my anger today is not about the hypocrisy that has become the core value of the Republican Party; my anger is about the indignation I feel when people try to circumvent one’s right to vote. Limiting voting hours is neither a Godly value nor the act of a true American patriot. Throwing away voter registration forms is neither at act of value nor should it be the act of someone who stands with a straight face in front of a crowd and says, “God Bless America.”

So stop waving the American flag and stop singing ‘America the Beautiful,’ stop evoking the name of God in a political context and stop bullshiting the American constituency with stories of a desire to return to Constitutional fundamentalism and start working to defend that constitution from partisan zealots who only care about winning and care nothing about the ethics that they pretend to represent.

The Republicans want to sue President Obama for – in their opinion – disregarding the mandates and restrictions as amplified in the Constitution. Yet, these same people have no problem in disregarding the basic and fundamental rights spelled out in that same, precious document.

Can you imagine someone being denied their right to vote only because, after standing in a line for over five hours, are forced to seek a bathroom? Absurd!

How can we claim American exceptionalism when we slap ourselves in the face with such policies? Too many people believe that America’s greatness is measured on how fast our fighters are, how big our bombs are and how willing we are to exercise our military might across the globe. Seeking world respect is not some testosterone contest. Respect comes from proving that America is indeed the democracy it claims it represents.

…the Bleacherman has left the building…running…angry…sad…

…the Bleacherman has entered the stadium…

Every time I see a news clip of men and woman walking into stores and restaurants with automatic weapons strapped to their backs, I begin to wonder how the open carry law – which permits people to openly display a wide host of weapons in very public places – will sit with people who live in states where the Stand Your Ground Law – which essentially says that if one feels threatened one can shoot first and ask questions later.

Let’s say that I lived in a state that has a very liberal interpretation of the Stand Your Ground law. Let’s say, for the sake of this argument, that I owned a weapon and chose to carry it concealed (with proper permits, of course) under my t-shirt. Let us add to the scenario that I am sitting in a restaurant with a wife and three children in tow.

I look up and see a half dozen people entering the building with large, menacing looking automatic weapons strapped to their backs. My mind leaps into family protection mode. My mind explodes. Synoptic energies and impulses race through brain matter. Is this a robbery? Is this the preamble to a mass shooting? Is my family in danger?

Rationale thinking quickly regresses into emotional and instinctive reaction. I and my family are threatened. Wait, I have a gun. I know how to use it. I live in a state where I can use it if I feel threatened.

Shooting begins. Innocent people begin to die.

Or…

I see the people with their guns strapped to their backs enter the restaurant. I am scared. The internal debate between rationale thinking and instinctive reaction begins. This time the rationale side wins the argument. These people are just flaunting their perceived right to carry weapons and intimidate people. They care little about the visual they create nor know little of the Constitution they say they are defending.

I do nothing.

I was wrong. Weapons are quickly aimed.

Shooting begins. Innocent people begin to die.

We are truly a Nation of the insane.

…the Bleacherman leaves the stadium.

…the Bleacherman has entered the stadium…

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer wrote a column a few weeks ago arguing that Islam “is a contagion that must be quarantined,” that ” the time has come to suspend Islamic immigration into the United States” in order to save our country. He advocates collective guilt because, he says, though “the great majority of Muslims are nice people who don’t wish us any harm… there is a significant and lethal minority that does want us dead, and the problem is we have no reliable way to identify them.”

Fischer, who has previously said Muslims are parasites who must convert or die, is adamant that Islam presents a major problem and threat to the United States.

He goes on to sat that when it “comes to terrorism, it’s time to cap the well. Islam is a contagious infection, a totalitarian ideology that threatens the social health of its infected host, the United States. This contagion needs to be contained by stopping Islamic immigration at our border. Just as we screen immigrants for contagious physical diseases, so we need to screen immigrants for contagious cultural diseases.”

These are words from a good Christian, American patriot. I wonder what Jesus would think about such an exercise in brotherly hate.

I, of course, love when he demands that Muslims must convert or die. Didn’t the man ever hear of the Inquisition? Or maybe that is how this pervert gets off; dreaming of setting fire to a mass of non-converting Muslims.

Now Mr. Fischer has a First Amendment right to be an idiot and speak and even promote his idiocy. But to connect his hateful,vile and disgusting hate mongering to the words “family” and “values” makes a mockery of anything and everything “righteous” in the word “values.”

I want to know where are the good Christians of the world. Where is Laura Ingraham who proudly wears her cross on her clothing? The cross is great, Laura, but where are the values beyond the metal you wear.

Where have all the values gone?

…the Bleacherman has left the building…

…the Bleacherman has entered the stadium…

Once again the warmongering GOP has shown that it has little value for the life of an American soldier. From sending America’s children to fight and die in the name of Dick Cheney’s lies to leaving behind an ailing soldier, the GOP loves to talk warmongering tough when the life or lives at stake are the lives of someone else’s children.

Senator Mike Rogers, who never served a day in combat, was quick to seek a microphone and condemn Obama’s conduct in freeing a soldier from extended captivity. “If you negotiate here, you’ve sent a message to every Al Qaeda group in the world — by the way, some who are holding U.S. hostages today — that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn’t have before,” Rogers said. “That is dangerous.”

I wonder if Rogers would feel the same way if it was his kid being held by the Taliban. Would a single life still have no meaning. I highly doubt it. But America’s wars are now being fought by middle class and poor America. God save those Capitalists. God forbid they should have to sacrifice their children to protect their money dominated legacy.

But back to Mike Rogers concern for American soldiers…tell me, I’m-too-good-for-the-military Mike, what message did the GOP send when it tortured enemy soldiers? Did you ever think about a similar fate waiting for American prisoners? Of course you didn’t. Again, you yielded to the other-people’s-children syndrome.

Tell me, Mike, when Israel traded thousands of prisoners for the release of one Israeli soldier, did you see a massive tsunami of kidnapped Israeli military being held for trade.

The horrors of war are not real to you or the likes of Dick Cheney. You have no skin in the game except your bullshit talk is some new ruse to rail against Obama and a new talking point to raise money.

Over 2,500 of our soldiers never came home from Viet Nam. How many did we abandon? How many is an acceptable number to you, Mike? Well let me tell you: one is one too many!!!

Damn you to hell, Mike Rogers. Damn you to hell for not caring about one soldier’s life.

…the Bleacherman has left the stadium…