Israel is Suppressing a Secret it Must Face

Previously Posted Friday, 02 May 2008
Israel is Suppressing a Secret it Must Face
by Johann Hari

With all that has been happening lately in regards to the Israeli settlements, I just had to repost this article from last year by Johann Hari on the issue of sewage from these settlements onto Palestinian land… Sadly, it seems nothing is improving, peace is missing it’s bus to arrive to the end of these many conflicts.

Johann Hari: Israel is suppressing a secret it must face

How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago end up throwing filth at cowering Palestinians?

Monday, 28 April 2008

When you hit your 60th birthday, most of you will guzzle down your hormone replacement therapy with a glass of champagne and wonder if you have become everything you dreamed of in your youth. In a few weeks, the state of Israel is going to have that hangover.

She will look in the mirror and think – I have a sore back, rickety knees and a gun at my waist, but I’m still standing. Yet somewhere, she will know she is suppressing an old secret she has to face. I would love to be able to crash the birthday party with words of reassurance. Israel has given us great novelists like Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, great film-makers like Joseph Cedar, great scientific research into Alzheimer’s, and great dissident journalists like Amira Hass, Tom Segev and Gideon Levy to expose her own crimes.

She has provided the one lonely spot in the Middle East where gay people are not hounded and hanged, and where women can approach equality.

But I can’t do it. Whenever I try to mouth these words, a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit. Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.

Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me: “Recently there were very heavy rains, and the shit started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn’t act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time…” He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.

Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting “the wrong way”, the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing “a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions”.

So how did it come to this? How did a Jewish state founded 60 years ago with a promise to be “a light unto the nations” end up flinging its filth at a cowering Palestinian population?

The beginnings of an answer lie in the secret Israel has known, and suppressed, all these years. Even now, can we describe what happened 60 years ago honestly and unhysterically? The Jews who arrived in Palestine throughout the twentieth century did not come because they were cruel people who wanted to snuffle out Arabs to persecute. No: they came because they were running for their lives from a genocidal European anti-Semitism that was soon to slaughter six million of their sisters and their sons.

They convinced themselves that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without land”. I desperately wish this dream had been true. You can see traces of what might have been in Tel Aviv, a city that really was built on empty sand dunes. But most of Palestine was not empty. It was already inhabited by people who loved the land, and saw it as theirs. They were completely innocent of the long, hellish crimes against the Jews.

When it became clear these Palestinians would not welcome becoming a minority in somebody else’s country, darker plans were drawn up. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, wrote in 1937: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

So, for when the moment arrived, he helped draw up Plan Dalit. It was – as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe puts it – “a detailed description of the methods to be used to forcibly evict the people: large-scale intimidation; and laying siege to and bombarding population centres”. In 1948, before the Arab armies invaded, this began to be implemented: some 800,000 people were ethnically cleansed, and Israel was built on the ruins. The people who ask angrily why the Palestinians keep longing for their old land should imagine an English version of this story. How would we react if the 30m stateless, persecuted Kurds in the world sent armies and settlers into this country to seize everything in England below Leeds, and swiftly established a free Kurdistan from which we were expelled? Wouldn’t we long forever for our children to return to Cornwall and Devon and London? Would it take us only 40 years to compromise and offer to settle for just 22 per cent of what we had?

If we are not going to be endlessly banging our heads against history, the Middle East needs to excavate 1948, and seek a solution. Any peace deal – even one where Israel dismantled the wall and agreed to return to the 1967 borders – tends to crumple on this issue. The Israelis say: if we let all three million come back, we will be outnumbered by Palestinians even within the 1967 borders, so Israel would be voted out of existence. But the Palestinians reply: if we don’t have an acknowledgement of the Naqba (catastrophe), and our right under international law to the land our grandfathers fled, how can we move on?

It seemed like an intractable problem – until, two years ago, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted the first study of the Palestinian Diaspora’s desires. They found that only 10 per cent – around 300,000 people – want to return to Israel proper. Israel can accept that many (and compensate the rest) without even enduring much pain. But there has always been a strain of Israeli society that preferred violently setting its own borders, on its own terms, to talk and compromise. This weekend, the elected Hamas government offered a six-month truce that could have led to talks. The Israeli government responded within hours by blowing up a senior Hamas leader and killing a 14-year-old girl.

Perhaps Hamas’ proposals are a con; perhaps all the Arab states are lying too when they offer Israel full recognition in exchange for a roll-back to the 1967 borders; but isn’t it a good idea to find out? Israel, as she gazes at her grey hairs and discreetly ignores the smell of her own stale shit pumped across Palestine, needs to ask what kind of country she wants to be in the next 60 years.

j.hari@independent.co.uk

Independent.co.uk

Crisis to Recovery

Disclaimer: Though this isn’t career related, I feel it is important to be posting this here since we’ve discussed sustaining our careers though simple budgeting.

“Crisis to Recovery” was a community resource fair that was held earlier this week on Saturday in San Francisco to support community members with any financial trouble; specifically any mortgage or debt related ones. Amongst the speakers presenting, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (District 12 Representative), City Supervisor Carmen Chu (District 4), Patrick Murcia on the government’s Making Home Affordable and Jeanne Lu on the SF Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.

Financial counseling was then provided by banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America to over 200 attendees to go over their questions and concerns. So many resources and even translation for our Cantonese speaking community members was provided throughout the event. Throughout the day, I was very impressed and simply grateful for our community members.

Below are links to some of the videos from the presenters as well as links to some of the resources. If you are not from San Francisco, check with your local city supervisor or congress representative to see if such an event is being planned in your area. Should you need help, please feel free to contact me.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Crisis to Recovery opening remarks

Supervisor Carmen Chu
List of local resources for SF

Patrick Murcia’s presentation of Making Home Affordable
www.makinghomeaffordable.gov
888-995-HOPE (4673)

Jeanne Lu’s presentation of SF Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

SF Consumer Credit Counseling
www.cccsf.org
800-777-7526

Politically Speaking

I thought about entering the political spectrum for a while. Well, maybe that thought got even more fueled during the Obama mania (yes I read “Audacity of Hope,” I’ll have a review of that soon). After Obama was elected and seeing history before my eyes, I too wanted to further contribute to society through public service.

I started small, volunteering as an intern at my local district supervisor’s office once or twice a week. It helped me learn that I wouldn’t do well in weekly committee meetings, meeting with companies and organizations out for their own benefit, tedious tasks of reading and summarizing ridiculous reports on how a department over spent and now needs MORE money to cover themselves (FYI, I’m not a fan of the SFMTA).

I guess that its probably the fact that I’m more of a people person rather then a meeting person. I mean, I’ll meet if I have too but weekly for three different committees going on for hours at a time, no! When does one see their constituents, partake in their fruits of labor or actually get anything done? No wonder it takes months if not years for a bill to pass and the bureaucracy behind it all, my God! I’d just die if I had to sit through a minute of it without calling out the bullshit!

Maybe I’m too loud, aggressive, assertive and have too much concern for the people that being a public servant might not necessarily be my calling. I’m not ruling out one day running for political office, I’m just speaking of my short inside look at things in San Francisco City Hall. Things could be done more effectively, with less cost, to better serve the people. That could start with our local governments.

 

To Craigslist or Not to Craigslist

I have been researching some of these job search engines out there today but focused on the local ones. One in particular always stands out to me, Craigslist. I’ve always used and respected the work Craigslist has done in regards to finding local work, gigs and community events. Something I noticed with Craigslist which I wanted to share with my job seekers.

Disclaimer: I’m not promoting or advertising for Craigslist, just giving pointers on how to use them.

I put my resume on Craigslist where my email address was viewable. In one hour, I had received a good 30 emails, none of them were real jobs. Just a bunch of scam companies promoting working from home wiring money. The same happened when I then posted my resume with the option to make my email address anonymous. When I posted my resume without my email address and just my phone number, then I got about two calls with serious job offers.

Obviously, something is up when using Craigslist.

The companies that continued to email me rarely had any postings up on Craigslist. That could be explained by two things, 1. it does cost $75 per job posting and 2. Craigslist let’s its users flag postings that are seen as spam. It would make sense that companies really looking to hire would invest the time and money to find the right candidate.

What can job seekers do to better utilize Criagslist? I suggest that must you post your resume, take your email out of the equation. You’ll get fewer responses but at least they are serious calls. I would prefer that you DON’T post resumes on Craigslist. Instead, designate time to search jobs posted. You can even have search results from keywords emailed to you on a daily basis so that you don’t miss out. That works more efficiently then getting 30 spam emails.

There are plenty local job search Web sites right here in the Bay Area that you can utilize including Bay Area Help Wanted and Bay Area Jobs. Share your favorite local job search Web sites by posting a comment below, on our Facebook group or message me on Twitter.

Kucinich’s Statement on Iraq

…I just had to share this interesting statement made by Dennis Kucinich on June 30th as noted here

Kucinich: “Troop movement should not be confused with a troop withdrawal from Iraq”
Washington, Jun 30

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement regarding the announcement that U.S. troops have left the cities and towns of Iraq and turned over formal security to Iraqi security forces.

“The withdrawal of some U.S. combat troops from Iraq’s cities is welcome and long overdue news. However, it is important to remember that this is not the same as a withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors from Iraq.

“U.S. troop combat missions throughout Iraq are not scheduled to end until more than a year from now in August of 2010. In addition, U.S. troops are not scheduled for a complete withdrawal for another two and a half years on December 31, 2011. Rather, U.S. troops are leaving Iraqi cities for military bases in Iraq. They are still in Iraq, and they can be summoned back at any time.

“This is not a great victory for peace. On May 19, the Christian Science Monitor reported that Iraqi and U.S. military officials virtually redrew the city limits of Baghdad in order to consider the Army’s Forward Operating Base Falcon as outside the city, despite every map of Baghdad clearly showing it with in city limits. In fact, according to Section 24.3 of the “SOFA” U.S. troops can remain at any agreed upon facility. The reported reason for this decision is to ensure U.S. troops are able to ‘help maintain security in south Baghdad along what were the fault lines in the sectarian war.’

“This troop movement should not be confused with a troop withdrawal from Iraq. In reality, this is a small step toward Iraqi sovereignty as Iraqi security forces begin assuming greater control over security operations, but it is a long way from independence and a withdrawal of the U.S. military presence.”

In Memorandum, Marcelle Demetri

Being raised by immigrant parents, English wasn’t spoken much at home so that we can learn and keep both Arabic and English. We were exposed to music, movies and other media in both languages but socialized more in Arabic. Starting elementary school was when I learned to better balance and socialize in both languages. During my first six months, a few people were of great help to me. Some staying in my life long after those months and for the many years that followed. One of those people was Marcelle Demetri.

Marcelle Demetri, 1943 – 2009

It was something about her smile and warmth that attracted me to her when I was young and shy. Turns out, she’s an old family friend of my parents who happened to be working at Fairmont Elementary School as a teacher’s aide. Even after my elementary years, our families were always in touch. We were always at her home, playing with her dogs and watching movies. She baby sat us a lot during my parents separation.

Despite her illness, she was always there through the good and bad. During many difficult events in my life, I’ll never forget that she was there regardless. Rain or shine, stairs or elevator, this amazing strong woman defied being in a wheelchair with an amputated leg to be there for her friend’s family. People like her are one in a million, a true rare gem.

I always remembered her for her warm touching hugs and beautiful smile. Seeing her on Thursday, June 25th during her wake and knowing this was the last time I’ll see her smiling face was difficult. Touching her hand that had turned cold was just heartbreaking. She was an amazing and important part in my life.

I truly miss her know that she’s in a better and healthier place. May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light… AMEEN.