No, this is not a headline from The Onion.
News broke yesterday on Twitter and several local blogs that the Minnesota DFL Progressive Caucus unanimously passed a resolution to divest from Israel bonds.
[UPDATED: Having broken the news of the resolution’s passage on her Twitter account yesterday, Elisabeth Geschiere decided that she stood behind her resolution so strongly as to scrub her Twitter account clean of the post. As of late last night, an error page appears when the post is accessed. Luckily for us, several blogs had already picked up an image of the original tweet.] The full text of the resolution read:
“Be It Resolved that the State of Minnesota shall divest from all Israel bonds investments.”
No kidding! So according to the DFL Progressive Caucus, democratic Israel should be counted alongside genocidal Sudan and terrorist-sponsoring Iran in the annals of “the only regimes awful enough for Minnesota to divest from.”
Worse than Russia, which leveled the Chechen capital Grozny so utterly that the UN called it “the most destroyed city on earth,” leaving not a single building undamaged.
Worse than China, with its ongoing brutal oppression of Tibet, which has so far netted over 1 million Tibetans killed, and over 6,000 monasteries destroyed.
Yet they did not resolve to divest from either of these, or any of the long list of such actors. Instead, we get a call to divest from Israel – a country whose efforts at sparing civilian lives amid open warfare have been so exemplary as to prompt British military expert Col. Richard Kemp, CBE, to say:
I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.
(Watch the full BBC interview with Col. Kemp below).
This does raise the obvious question of what it is, exactly, that sets Israel apart from all other countries in the eyes of the righteous voters of the DFL Progressive Caucus? As far as I can tell, the only thing setting Israel apart from every other nation state, like Egypt or Russia, is that it is the only Jewish state. But I am certain that this is not at all what the DFL Progressive Caucus had in mind, leaving me wide open to other suggestions.
Now, before we all start writing angry letters to our closest Minnesota Democratic officeholder, I would like to point out that the DFL Progressive Caucus does not speak for the entire Minnesota Democratic party. In fact, Brian Melendez, Chair of the Minnesota DFL, took time yesterday evening to respond and write to the DFL Central Committee concerning this resolution.
According to Mr. Melendez, far from being representative of the large and diverse membership of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, “the Progressive Caucus has 25 voting members, not all of whom were present.” Mr. Melendez goes on to comment on the resolution’s debate: “I understand that the pro-Israel view was not meaningfully considered.” Mr. Melendez further goes on to clarify that “the divestment resolution … is antithetical to the Party’s long-held view in support of Israel’s right to exist,” and that “the divestment resolution does not represent the Party’s views — in fact, it flies in the face of the DFL Platform.”
Watch for developments on this resolution at your upcoming DFL Precinct Caucuses on February 2nd.
Thanks for the timely article. It is important to pay attention and keep context – you did both very well.
This is very sad and very frightning news!
Holly – thank you very much for the feedback!
This is definitely disturbing, especially here in “nice,” “open minded” Minnesota. Interestingly, when I was a student at UC Berkeley in 2002, the Berkeley city council – long a paragon of pragmatism and moderation! – actually rejected a resolution to divest from Israel.
The one upside I see here is that this is definitely a small group within the larger Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, and I think the party chair made it pretty clear that this resolution goes completely against everything the party as a whole has always stood for (and thus possibly violates the Caucus constitution, but oh well). The thing to watch out for is for this not to trickle in little by little and become mainstream party policy a few years from now. So those of you who are DFL members should definitely attend your precinct caucuses in February and make your voices heard on this issue in no uncertain terms!
I’m glad to see the DFL Party chair swiflty denounce this resolution as flying in the face of the DFL party platform’s strong support of Isreal.
Jeremy – well said! I think it is very important to recognize the DFL leadership for standing up to this action by a narrow ideological group, and making it very clear that the party does not stand behind any such attempt to undermine Minnesota’s long standing warm relationship with the State of Israel.
Thanks for highlighting a story that would have easily been missed. It will be interesting to see how the DFL deals with this fringe element, beyond the formal statement against the resolution. I’m glad that you suggested that people who care about where the DFL is headed take time to attend precinct caucuses in Feb. Time will tell if this fringe group is able to gain any traction.
This is a well written article which conveys the urgency and the severity of the matter.Events like these stand to smudge the goodwill that DFL party has historically harbored for the struggle of Israel.
Avoy – Great to hear from you! I’m glad you liked the article. I think you and Sally are absolutely correct that what is going to be cruicial right now is to watch how the DFL party responds to and deals with this issue. I know I’ve said this before, but I think this year especially, if it important for all concerned DFL members to attend their precincts caucuses or contact their party leadership, and make themselves heard on this issue. I’ve already heard from one local DFL activist that he is *definitely* not missing the caucuses this year over this issue. And I would encourage everyone to distribute this article to any DFLers in your circle, to raise awareness and encourage them to make their voices heard.
Is it possible to get the names of the people involved in the DFL Progressive Caucus?
The chair and associate chair of the DFL Progressive Caucus are listed on the DFL Party’s website here. That site also contains the DFL Progressive Caucus’ mission statement, charter, and annual report.
This is the first I’m hearing of this, and for me it’s alarming on a broader scale. I’ve found, in my very unscientific-based observations, that there are a large amount of progressive liberals (of whom I am one) that are in synch with my beliefs on every issue except one – Israel’s right to defend itself. They view the IDF with the same distain as groups like Hezbollah and Al-Queda. As much as we can try to educate them (and Jenna, you do a great job of that with your Middle East presentations), they’ll still believe what they want.
Sheryl – I think you’re right that there has recently been a definitely, and troubling, pattern emerging around progressive liberals’ attitudes toward Israel. I think this is a very unfortunate development, considering the historic support that Israel has had completely regardless of party lines (including from great liberals like President Truman and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
The only explanation I have ever been able to come up with is that there is not nearly enough education and understanding on the conditions on the ground and the history in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Coupled with that is a great desire by Western liberals (which I think is often an admirable one) to find the “good party” and the “evil party” of every issue, and side against the “evil party.” Unfortunately, in the case of this conflict, things are not nearly so simple, or easily simplified, and that, coupled with the lack of education and understanding of the issues, leads to unfortunately, and mistaken, leaps in judgement. The tendency, without having better information, is to say “Israel is doing well, therefore it must be the evil side,” since historically, liberal causes have tended to fight the strong or those in power. But that is a non sequitur argument, and that conclusion does not actually follow from the evidence at all.
The only thing I can offer, in the spirit of improving the level of understanding on this issue, is that I participate in a Speakers’ Bureau from the JCRC that has a group of speakers who go out to various groups in the community (churches, synagogues, rotary clubs, community education, random groups of friends gathered together) and teach about the history of the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. If anyone is interested in having a speaker come to speak to their group, please respond back in the comments, and we would be very happy to come out and share our presentation with your group. (Even if it’s just a group of friends or neighbors getting together for brunch! We love brunch!)
ITA, Jenna. Getting the word out and participating in Speaker’s Bureaus is a great way to educate people. In my case, my friends are already educated/aware – what other groups would benefit from a presentation? BTW – speaking of brunch, we were going to do lunch. Let’s look at our calendars 🙂 I’ll email you.
Here is a video of the local march in support of the Gaza Freedom March, which hoped to alleviate the desperate situation of the 1.5 million people trapped in Gaza w/o sufficient freedom of movement, food, drinking water, medical supplies, educational opportunities due to the illegal siege of Gaza
The resolution to divest the State of Minnesota’s holdings of Israel Bonds is an act in support of the Cairo Declaration, and supports human rights and international law. Since the DF Party Platform also speaks to supporting human rights and international law, the resolution adopted by the DFL Progressive Caucus is hardly antithetical to the principles of the party.
Here is the resolution and supporting “Whereas” statements:
WHEREAS, Israel has consistently defied rulings by the international court of justice, more than 65 UN Resolutions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention;
WHEREAS, Israel’s apartheid system has caused thousands of civilian deaths, including children, and widespread human rights violations;
WHEREAS, Israel annually receives billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars as aid;
WHEREAS, the U.S has a history of divesting from countries that commit human rights abuses;
WHEREAS, Minnesota has divested from Iran and Sudan for their human rights abuses.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the State of Minnesota shall divest from all Israel Bonds investments.
The most obvious answer to the obvious question is the obvious use of US made weapons in attacks on civilian infrastructure, and the use of US made weapons that are considered illegal by most nations of the world (e.g. cluster munitions).
Posed by this post’s author “the obvious question of what it is, exactly, that sets Israel apart from all other countries in the eyes of the righteous voters of the DFL Progressive Caucus?”
Perhaps a more direct reaction than that called for in the Cairo Declaration (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) would be triggering an investigation of the obvious violations of the US Arms Export Control Act (Leahy amendment). Yet former Senator Mitchell has not gone there yet in waving carrots and sticks, trying to get the parties back into peace talks, he has only raised the threat of canceling loan guarantees, which the Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz says is not a threat.
Thank you for your response. I find it interesting that you say that ” the resolution adopted by the DFL Progressive Caucus is hardly antithetical to the principles of the party,” given that Brian Melendez – the DFL’s actual sitting chair – states very clearly in his letter that “the divestment resolution … is antithetical to the Party’s long-held view in support of Israel’s right to exist,” and that “the divestment resolution … flies in the face of the DFL Platform.” It seems that you have a disagreement with Mr. Melendez on this point, and I am a loss to see how your interpretation of the party platform could be more accurate than the party officer’s.
The DFL platform says that we support Isreal’s right to exist, that does not mean the state cannot evaluate what Isreal does with the money we loan it. Isreal’s right to protect yourself does not extend to obvious violations of international law and war crimes. The Goldstone report on Gaza should be required reading for all American Jews who are more supportive of Isreal’s illegal actions than many Isreali citizens.
Add to that the continued building of illegal settlements in occupied lands, the hardship and human rights violations incurred by the illegal wall, and the use of cluster bombs and white phosphorus on civilians in Gaza, Lebanon and the west band, and all American Jews should be concerned about what we are supporting with our taxes, our donations and now our pension funds.
I suggest listening the speach by Eli Wiesel recently broadcast on MPR.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel speaks about morality http://minnesota.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=minnesota/news/programs/2009/07/29/midday/midday_hour_2_20090729_64
Let’s review. Party A builds houses. Party B blows up houses. Party A builds a wall. Party B shoots rockets over the wall.
David Tilsen chooses to criticize Party A. Interesting choice.
Be that as it may, perhaps you’d consider issuing even stronger criticism for Party B?
Party A has destroyed more houses than Party B.
Party A has dropped more bombs, commited more masacres on innocent people and violated more UN resolutions and international law than Party B.
Party A has the second most powerful army in the world, Party B has nothing.
Party A continues to use illegal weopons (white phosphorus – think napalm on steroids), cluster bombs, and blockaids of food medical supply clothing and fuel on civilian polutions.
Yes Hamas are fundamental thugs. I wish they had not gotten elected, that does not justify bombing and starving the citizens of Gaza. If it did, then do you also justify the bombing of the World Trade Center by people who did not like the government of the US.
If people are going to claim some moral authority, then they must evaluate their actions in a moral context.
As an American Jew (who loves himself and his religion by the way, even thought I reject what Zionism has wrought) I am happy to have my actions, beliefs and principles evaluated. I reserve the right to do the same to people who spend my money and act in my name.
Wow, so many myths to dispel, so little time…
On the Goldstone Report, I would urge you to see this illuminating article by an Israeli professor of moral philosophy who says that he is well left of center: http://www.tnr.com/article/world/the-goldstone-illusion .
Professor Halbertal not only details ways in which the report is a political document rather than an investigative report (e.g., taking Hamas claims at face value without verification while dismissing Israeli information out of hand), but also sheds great light on Israeli military’s ethic of minimizing harm to civilians.
An easily understood example of how Israel puts the lives of Palestinian Arabs in many ways ahead of the lives of its own soldiers are the myriad instances in which, though able to bomb Hamas or Hezbollah positions from safety, the army instead sends in ground troops, many of whom inevitably die — all to spare civilians’ lives.
(More later, I promise.)
About the US giving “billions” to Israel:
First of all, how did that come about? After Egypt’s sneak attack on Israel on Yom Kippur 1973, the ensuing war was ended by a truce. Later, when the first Camp David accords were being negotiated, the US hit upon a solution which has given lasting peace between these two countries. The US buy them off.
The US committed to annually give both countries aid — both economic and military, to each country — of over 1 billion per year.
Aid to both grew somewhat in years that followed, until recently (around the turn of this century) Israel volunteered to give up most of its share. Benjamin Netanyahu, reasoning that Israel has become an economically developed country, committed Israel to steadily reduce taking American aid. (Needless to say, no such move from Egypt followed.) By now Israel receives no economic aid.
It has kept some of the military aid, but this has less to do with US foreign policy in the region and more to do with lobbying by US defense contractors. Israel is obligated to spend all the aid given on buying from US defense firms. In effect, this is a US subsidy to US defense firms by way of Israel. So, don’t worry, critical American taxpayer — this money, like a good chunk of the rest, is going to Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
Mr. Tilsen- Perhaps you have forgotten that from the very start, the international community offered Hamas the opportunity to gain the legitimacy it sought- accept Israel’s right to exist, honor prior agreements made with Israel by earlier governments and end the incitement to violence. They steadfastly refused to do so, and there are consequences to such decisions, both for Hamas and for the people that elected them. The suffering of the people of Gaza- and I don’t deny it for a minute- could end tomorrow if their leaders cared more about building a future for their people than they do about continuing their war against Israel. If the day ever came that Hamas would say to its people “Our war with the Jews is over. We are going to build our own amazing state right here next to them”, the outpouring of aid from international community would be astonishing.
Here is a link to unbiased, factual information about the crisis, that fairly reports violence perpetrated by all sides, and the need to protect civilians: http://www.ochaopt.org/
*mlk jr was a republican.
the recent rash of well-heeled terrorists has obliterated the liberal byline linking terror to poverty, but only christianity is disparaged by the left which has elevated islam to the peak of its victimhood hierarchy.
the left is increasingly cavalier with its hatred of israel/jews. david horowitz has described the leftist/islamic alliance for years and last week, jodie evans (obama bundler and code pink founder) asked the terror organization, the muslim brotherhood, to ‘ help cleanse our country.’
these developments are no surprise to me as the poisoned fruits of moral relevancy can only lead to the abandonment of the clearly morally superior state of israel, by so-called progressives–and to those jews who are ever beholden to the democrat party for tertiary and emotionally driven reasons (and a misunderstanding of conservatism), the day is fast approaching (and has likely already passed), where you will resemble the age-old jew who worked for the enemy to save his own neck while casting his lot against his own people and effectively sealing their doom. obama’s (anti-semitic) anti-semitism czar shall be your guide and soon you’ll see where the waning far right meets the rising heart of the left; the land of jew-hatred.
if you are an intellectually honest progressive, you’ll come to see that you do indeed agree with their diseased thinking on all accounts, and can no long withhold israel based on personal longings or biases.
OR, you might come to see that you’ve been bamboozled by the left, and that you must align with those who support israel because it’s right-or at least ‘more right.’ you can even continue to worship gaia and ‘womyn’s rights.’ i’ve found and will argue that the GOP has a far larger ‘tent’ and is far more tolerant of people who share core beliefs (ie. natural laws and moral clarity), yet stray on tangential issues like same-sex marriage and carbon dioxide.
i do wonder if these progressives are going to stop using cell phones, computers, and instant messaging services (plus countless medical technologies).
i wonder if they’re indignant at the development of the wall on the gazan/egyptian border?
and, i’m curious if they’re upset that jordan (65% palestinian population) is revoking palestinians’ citizenships.
oh, they haven’t heard of those things?
weird, i thought the jews ran the media!
well, maybe so but only ‘progressive jews.’
history has shown us where this ends.
yes the people of Gaza elected bad people. They (especially the women and children) are suffering for it, but still, collective punishment of an entire population is illegal and a war crime for a reason.
You cannot justify torture by saying you can make it stop any time, just be a better person, it is still torture.
I am very sorry for people who want to love the state of Isreal so much they have damaged their own souls in its defense. I again, ask you to listen to
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel speak about morality http://minnesota.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=minnesota/news/programs/2009/07/29/midday/midday_hour_2_20090729_64
I am done here for the day except to say that all of the mythology about Isreal’s caring for the Palestinians and its attempts to debunk the Goldstone report is so much sophistry.
You are certainly entitled to your own opinioins, but you are not entitled to your own facts.
I am very sorry and very sad, but criminal acts and war crimes cannot be ignored by moral people.
Mr. Tilsen, thank you for the link; I listened to the full hour of Eli Wiesel speaking. I just had to hear — did he really condemn Israel, or any Israeli action, as you implied by your context. I just had to hear!
And I am relieved. Because, in fact, no, Eli Wiesel said nothing against Israel at all. He said that what’s happenning there breaks his heart, he said that suicide terrorism is a blemish on the story of humanity, he said that violence must stop, and he sid that he still has hope. Oh, and, earlier in his lecture, he talked some about just war — a concept that critics of Israel should investigate.
So, Mr. Tilsen, either shame on me for misunderstanding you, and thinking for a moment that someone like Eli Wiesel could ever condemn Israel for defending itself, or shame on you for implying it!
David Tilsen is right — “criminal acts and war crimes cannot be ignored by moral people.” That’s why moral people are refusing to ignore the criminal activities and war crimes of the Palestinian terrorist leadership and militias which openly declare their intention of wiping out the Jewish people of Israel . . . and have enthusiastically begun that lethal process. When the Palestinians exult in their sermons about pushing the Jews “into the sea,” they are not talking about sponsoring vacations for Jews at a beach resort in Eilat, hon.
Fascinating to claim that Israel has the 2nd most powerful army in the world, but imply that the Arab and Palestinian world has “nothing” – who would call the combined brutality of the vast armies of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and other nations united against the Jews in israel . . . nothing? Hundreds of rocket attacks on innocent civilians in Israel, sent over by . . . nothing? An imminently-nuclearized Iran talking about “wiping Israel off the map” with a nuke. . . “nothing”? Oh yeah, Israel has nothing to worry about militarily.
And what of this reference to an “illegal wall” in Israel? We must be talking about the life-saving security fence which has virtually eliminated hundreds of murders by Palestinian terror bombings throughout Israel in nightclubs, Passover seders, hotels, schools, and buses. Oy, what an inconvenience for the deadly armies that support the Palestinian cause.
As to “illegal” settlements, I assume we’re talking about Jewish children, women and men living in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. Just Jews living in houses: sometimes in Arab neighborhoods, sometimes in Jewish neighborhoods. Just like Somalis live in St. Paul, but we don’t call their houses “settlements.” For some reason, the Islamic world has persuaded U.S. progressives to swallow the myth that Jews are uniquely the only people who should not be allowed to live where they wish. . Hence, the demonization of “settlements” filled with those pesky Jews. (Of course, the Palestinians are certainly restricted in where THEY can build their own houses — within Jordan and inside other Arab nations, which have with impunity expelled thousands of Palestinians. . . and Jews).
And please don’t bring up any analogies against Israel that even mention the September 11 Trade Center Bombing as a metaphor — the joy expressed by thousands of Palestinians, cheering in the streets as they celebrated their comrades’ Sept. 11 attack, doesn’t lend itself easily to using those 3,000 U.S. deaths (planned by the virulently anti-Israel horror show Osama bin Laden) as a symbolic defense of Palestinians.
Even with all of its flaws, Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East – remains an inspiration to me as a liberal Democrat in Minnesota. In a region of the world known for mass oppression (of millions of gays, women, religious minorities and yes, of Palestinians themselves) by a dozen wealthy Arab and Islamic nations, Israel is a shining light of tolerance and justice. Is Israel perfect? Hardly. But it is worth supporting as a vision of what the Palestinians themselves could achieve, if they put down their nail bombs and devoted themselves to peaceful co-existence, rather than their dream of continuing the Nazi genocide that their hero, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, supported back in the early-1940s.
“You cannot justify torture by saying you can make it stop any time, just be a better person, it is still torture.”
Mr. Tilsen, is this truly how you understood my point? Sigh. No one who lives in reality is holding out hope for Hamas to become better people, but it is possible to expect them to comply with the conditions that the international community set forth. Please use caution when throwing around the word “torture”. While I don’t disagree that life in Gaza is very hard, calling it torture is incorrect. To do so strips the word of its true meaning. What word, then, will be left for us to describe the truly horrific acts that human beings are capable of doing to each other, and which I don’t think need elaboration here?
I have not had time to read all the comments, but I think the divestment is a hypocritical piece of showmanship. The money quote in Jenna Mitelman’s piece:
“According to the DFL Progressive Caucus, democratic Israel should be counted alongside genocidal Sudan and terrorist-sponsoring Iran in the annals of “the only regimes awful enough for Minnesota to divest from.”
“Worse than Russia, which leveled the Chechen capital Grozny so utterly that the UN called it “the most destroyed city on earth,” leaving not a single building undamaged. Worse than China, with its ongoing brutal oppression of Tibet, which has so far netted over 1 million Tibetans killed, and over 6,000 monasteries destroyed.
Yet they did not resolve to divest from either of these, or any of the long list of such actors.”
I have a friend who is active in the Republican party who keeps asking me why Jews continue to vote for Democrats. When I see things like this, I have to say that it is getting harder and harder to answer him.
We need to divest from the Israeli killing machine to stop the pogroms against the Palestinian people.
Minnesota should have divested its Israel bonds long ago.
Sell the bonds and pay off the state’s debt.
Saying there are “Israeli progroms against Palestinian people” reminds me of the old saying by Joseph Goebbels: If you repeat a big lie often enough, people begin to believe it. The facts on the ground are that Israelis, like Palestinians, do not want war. They are ready and willing for a two-state solution. Extremists – on any side — are hurting the process, and profiting from it.
I also discovered some interesting information about the woman who introduced the resolution at the DFL Progressive Caucus:
The fact that you claim a site that is dedicated to publicizing the crises in Gaza is “unbiased” and “fair” is both distressing and comical.
It is inarguable that there is a crises in Gaza, and that Palestinians there are suffering, and no one on this site, or in their right mind would say otherwise. It is simple (and irresponsible) to zoom in and say “The Palestinians are suffering, therefor the Israelis are at fault,” yet this misjudgment of the conflict just goes to perpetuate the fighting and does not help the Palestinian people in any way.
You pulled something I would expect from the far right: posting a clearly biased link and claiming it to be “fair and balanced.” You’re not going to convince anyone here, go back to WAMM.
Well, if this accomplished anything, it got me to put Feb 2nd on my calendar and energized me to get back into DFL politics.
What disappoints me most is how unresponsive the leadership of the progressive caucus has been. Neither the Chair nor Co-chair would answer any questions about this resolution, and the co-chair asked me not to contact her any more. This got me digging and I hope to have a more full report soon (maybe a new blog post).
At a time when most Minnesotans have bigger issues on their mind, this resolution would do nothing but divide democrats. Don’t we have better things to work towards than divesting .19 % of our bonds, which are in Israel municipal projects?
If you want to contribute less to Israel’s military, fine. But your beef is with US Defense contractors, and this would do nothing to change the current status quo.
Language, such as Ms. Robbin’s, does nothing to advance her position, and if anything, makes reasonable people, like Jenna Zark, question why she should be supporting the DFL anymore. Jenna, take heart, there are still MANY reasons to support the DFL, and this little blip just reminds us to stay active and vigilant.
Thank you Jenna and Leora for breaking this story.
Two weeks ago I was at the Gaza border and met with Knesset members and generals who were involved in Cast Lead. Most people don’t know that Israel (not Egypt) supplies most of their gas and water (even after the 3,000+ rockets and mortars in 2008). In addition Israel dropped leaflets and called those in areas they were entering to minimize civilian casualties, even putting their own soldiers at greater risk to do so. I think those unfairly criticizing Israel should visit a playground in Sderot and see how the bomb shelters are painted in bright colors so the kids feel more “comfortable” about going inside. Palestinian journalist for the Jerusalem Post Khalid Abu Tomeh asked me “Why is Gaza Israel’s problem? Why is Israel supplying gas and water to them? This is an Arab problem. Where is Egypt?” I will respond to those on here spewing out Anti-Israel bumper sticker lines with one of my own “RAFAH CROSSING!!!”
When even Noam Chomsky is against divestment in Israel, you know that people who are in support of it are truly off the fringe.
Are you saying that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs is biased against Israel?
Are they coordinating humanitarian affairs in Haiti out of bias against Israel, too?
Seriously – they use precise, emotionally neutral language to report the casualties to civilians on all sides in the Protection of Civilians database.
I am sorry that Mike felt that I implied that Eli Weisel condemmed Isreal. I don’t think I said or implied that. I encouraged people to listed to his entire talk about morality. He said, among many other things, that immorality was to see hungry and suffering people and not try to help. He said many more things that I felt moved by, and that are the reason I am working to bring peace to the Middle East. As an American Jew, I am compelled by my morality to speak out and try to stop what is happening. I think it is called an intervention when you try to stop someone you care about from acting in a manner with is a danger to others and is self destructive. Go ahead and vilify me if you want to, I can take it, but please, look into yourself. The irony that the descendents of the Warsaw ghetto are going into the 4th year of a blockaid of food, medical supplies, fuel, building materials etc. of their neighbors is too awful for me ignore.
It is unfortunate that your views have been so skewed that it seems worthless for me to argue with you. Not only do you use confirmation bias to find support that the U.N. is unbiased towards Israel, you enjoy putting words into my mouth at the same time.
Did I ever get into why there was relief work being done? NO. Nor did I even talk about relief work being done. That said, I feel that the relief the Palestinians are getting is necessary and highly important, and if they stopped getting it, I would be protesting.
Yet besides simple AID in the form of food, water, and other materials, little is being done by these organizations, politically inside of Gaza, and outside (Israel & the UN) by these groups to help the Palestinian people. In my opinion, instead of helping them get out of the situation, they are providing them with ways to perpetuate it, and put blame in places where it doesn’t belong, and in places where it wont help the Palestinian people. Not very often is any public pressure or blame put on Hamas, the government of Gaza (I wont get into how many suicide bombings and rockets Hamas has fired), yet it always seems to be put on Israel, for retaliating. Israel is stronger, and bigger, and can defend themselves, yet they wouldn’t need to defend themselves if they were not constantly being attacked.
Instead of the mindset you seem to be in: Israel stops and the Palestinians are ok, you should take a moment to zoom out and see in a more realistic way: Rockets and bombs stop coming into Israel, Israel stops retaliating, and the Palestinians are able to redirect the attention they put into their military, into rebuilding. If that happened, Israel, the U.N. and other Arab nations would absolutely step in and help rebuild. This could all theoretically stem from the cessation of attacks targeted at innocent Israeli women and children (except for now w/ the wall the attacks have dropped dramatically. It is an unfortunate necessity.)
Lastly, to be frank, your comment about Haiti highlights your ridiculous mindset. I’m almost embarrassed for you. The U.N. is clearly giving AID to Haiti because there are people in need, as there are in Gaza. I’m sorry you took what I said and made something completely different and insulting out of it.
You said, “The fact that you claim a site that is dedicated to publicizing the crises in Gaza is “unbiased” and “fair” is both distressing and comical.”
OCHA seems to be dedicated to coordinating humanitarian affairs, not publicizing one crisis or another, and their statistics cover the rocket attacks and violence towards settlers.
Israel’s naval blockage and siege of Gaza are aggressive acts, acts of war, and stand apart from the piecemeal retaliation for rocket attacks.
The attack by siege and blockade have been unrelenting since even before operation Cast Lead, through periods of ceasefire observed by the Palestinians in Gaza.
President Obama has called for an end to the siege, as have many federal DFL legislators.
Anyway, it seems like everyone misrepresented the actions of the DFL Progressive Caucus, beginning with MDE/Luke Hellier, to score small political points, and the final word of DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez seems to be “The Progressive Caucus and its members, like all DFLers, are free to advance whatever resolutions they like at precinct caucuses. We are a party with a big tent and an open mind.”
Mr. Sorenson, an organization may not itself be consciously biased and yet still produce reports the information in which is skewed.
Sometimes, the skewing is systemic.
For example, let us say that National Public Radio is not biased against Israel. Yet its reports about Gaza, including those about operation Cast Lead, come from biased sources. Because Hamas bans western journalists, all NPR’s primary sources are Palestian Arabs. ALL of the sources. From this comes a biased result.
David, FYI: The majority of Jews in Israel are Sephardic and Mizrahi and most of those with an Ashkenazi origin did not necessarily come from the “Warsaw ghetto.” Irony?
Descendants of the Warsaw Ghetto?? What?? It’s my understanding that most of those in the Warsaw Ghetto don’t have descendants today.
If the progressive caucus stood behind their last minute resolution, they’d respond to people asking for clarification. The chair and co-chair won’t even respond to simple questions. What are they afraid of? Where is the courage of conviction? Go ahead, contact them, try to get answers. We’ll wait.
What do you think about Hamas? You are ignoring them in all of your arguments. Hamas is/has been for the last decade firing rockets into Israel with the sole purpose of killing Israeli civilians. Hamas’s charter states that their goal is to drive Israel into the sea through armed struggle; they do not care about the Palestinians…if they did, they would spend money on improving the lives of the Palestinians (instead of spending money on digging tunnels to smuggle weapons, while shooting Palestinians if they do not cooperate with them).
Israel is doing everything it must in order to protect its civilians. Israel is also doing everything it can to fight Hamas while not hurting the Palestinian people. Remember, Israel sent aid into Gaza during the last Gaza war (they had to stop because Hamas stole all the aid). Israel also dropped thousands of pamphlets over Gaza that said when and where Israel was going to attack. This was meant to warn the Palestinians so they could move, even though this gave Israel a huge disadvantage strategically (Unfortunately, Hamas forced the innocent people to stay in the line of fire). In addition, top Israeli officials, via television, begged the Palestinians to stop firing rockets so there would not have to be a war.
Look at the West Bank, where Hamas does not hold power. There is currently no violence and the economy there is improving. The Palestinians in the West Bank lead much better lives than the Palestinians under Hamas’s control in Gaza.
That being said, why blame Israel, the country fighting to protect its people? What about Hamas?
Also, but completely unrelated, Israel has a naval blockade on Gaza because Iran keeps trying to smuggle weapons to Hamas, which is also an act of war. And because the smuggling occurred first, Israel has every right to enforce a blockade to retaliate.
Mike Rothman promised that Senator Al Franken will attend the next DFL Progressive Caucus meeting to express his views about the resolution.
If the State of Minnesota owns any Hamas bonds, we should sell those, too. If the US Government has allowed Hamas to buy weapons manufactured in the US, that should stop, or the crimes they are accused of in the Goldstone Report should trigger enforcement of the Leahy amendment.
We need a foreign policy based on principle, and cannot extend these ideas of American exceptionalism to just one or two favored client states.
To begin with, the reason I am so distressed about this issue is that I consider my self between liberal, and very liberal, and to see my Democratic party, be it a small section, pass an amendment like this, is incredibly concerning.
In my book, your most recent comment about similar divestment in Hamas gets you a lot of respect. I rarely hear that from those who promote BDS against Israel.
On a side note, where did you hear about Mr. Rothman’s promise about Senator Franken? I’m sure that will be an interesting meeting, I’d love to sit in and listen.
Also, I was a bit over zealous w/ calling the factions of the U.N. which you mentioned biased. I believe that the U.N. in itself somewhat of a biased entity when it comes to Israel, given the human rights records of some of the countries that stand on the committee.
What I often see anti-Israel propagandists giving out as much sad info (pictures, videos, articles, etc) about how terrible everything is in Gaza. That is acceptable and important to do. But the next step, once they garnered sympathy, is to say “This is Israel’s fault, they are the aggressor.” That is unacceptable and while they have a military, and superior technology, they are not fighting any type of “enemy” that we have learned or faced before. In summary, there is a thin line between showing the crisis in Gaza, and blindly blaming Israel. From the links you posted, I think I was too quick to jump on you for that. That said, I know your record when it comes to this issue and was hoping to preempt blame on Israel with no explanation as to why it is happening.
In regards to your “siege on gaza” comments. What you are saying is 1/2 true, and 1/2 a propaganda term used by anti-Israel fanatics (probably not the right word but I’m at a lack for a better one). Siege involved cutting off supplies through military blockade – Yes Israel does this. Yet the other half implies it is done w/ intent to conquer the land, which Israel could easily do in a week or two, if they wanted to. The blockade (via Israel’s borders and the sea) are in place for 2 reasons.
1) Because there is a drastic increase in the number of weapons coming into Gaza, and therefor the number of rockets launched (getting more sophisticated month to month), and when there is free flow of weapons, the cross-border attacks on Israeli civilians is easier/more numerous.
1.5) You could say: “Open the borders, let the food in, weapons are bound to come in but if the people of Gaza are happy and there is no blockade then there will be no reason to shoot rockets.” Valid argument, except for the fact that attempts at this have failed in the past. Israel is also not willing to wait for the generation of those who grew up not under blockade to take power, in the hopes that they will stop the tens of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians, by the time that this would occur.
2. The blockade is not only in place to prevent weapons from reaching the hands of terrorists, but as an unfortunate only way of punishment against Hamas, the government of Gaza, for launching these rockets into Israel and for holding Gilad Shalit hostage. I could not agree more that collective punishment is wrong, even keeping in mind that Hamas was an elected government. That said, there is no other way to target terrorists that are on video launching rockets from schools, storing their ammunition in Mosques, and keeping their headquarters under a Hospital, to use civilians as a shield. That is unacceptable, and the only way to counter such activities is unfortunately the blockade.
That said, I could speak to great lengths about items that Israel either supplies to Gaza, or lets into Gaza. Sometimes it is stolen and stockpiled by Hamas, and sometimes the Ambulances that Israel gives to Gaza are used to shuttle terrorists or smuggle bombs into Israel. Usually not, but again, that is unacceptable behavior on the part of a government (the fact that I’m calling them a government and not terrorist organization is in the hopes that legitimacy given to them will cause them to stop terrorist activities, and negotiate for peace).
Sean, I think you are rather too kind to the UN.
It is, in fact, hopelessly biased against Israel.
The bias of the UN General Assembly is unavoidable and even entirely “natural,” given its structure. Since each of dozens of Muslim countries has a vote, as long as Muslims are biased against Israel, there is a pre-made coalition against Israel.
This structural bias is reflected in the results. As some here have pointed out, dozens of resultions have been passed against Israel. (Never mind that most of them are entirely repetitive, constantly condemning Israel in near-identical language for supposed wrongs and calling on Isreal to unilaterally surrender.)
Another result of UN bias is seen in the so-called UN conferences on racism, the latest of which have been at Durban, South Africa. At these gatherings, instead of discussing racism, examples of which sadly (and violently — see Darfur) abound the world-over, these meetings devolve into “is Zionism racism” confabs. Nevermind that the Arab-Israeli conflict (a petty one, from a global view) is one between two closely-related Semitic peoples, so that, quite by definition, racism is out the question — the resounding answer at Durban is “Yes, Zionism is racism!” These conferences have become so transparently anti-Semitic and so obviously not-about-racism that the US, Canada, and many European countries simply refused to participate.
And then there is the UN Human Rights Commission, which you mention. Now, this is a global travesty, not just an anti-Israeli one. To have countries like terrorist-sponsoring Lybia, China (brutal oppressor and ethnic cleanser of Tibet), and, until recently, genocidal Sudan passing human-rights judgments on the US and other western countries that not only invented “human rights” but are the only ones that protect them is absurd. (The peak of the absudity was when the US was voted off and and replaced with Sudan.) And, of course, Israel is the bloody tirants’ favorite target. Naturally — the Muslims hate it, and China at best doesn’t care.
The UN bureaucracy is not immune from the the UN’s bias. They are appointed by UN, and the UN determines their budgets (and, so, salaries). Plus, take a look at an agency like UNWRA. Ostensibly, it exists to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. In reality, it (with Arab countries’ connivance) keeps Palestians in camps and rependent on the UN dole — for decades on end. Could the fact that none of its staffers would have a job if the Palestinian refugee problem were to be solved tomorrow have anything to do with that agency’s stances?
So, let’s not be vague about this — the UN _is_ biased against Israel.
I agree w/ you on the U.N’s inherent biased against Israel. Looking at recent year’s resolutions condemning human rights violations around the world, Israel has 5x more (percentage wise) resolutions against it.
In the recent years, Israel has had more resolutions condemning their human rights situation than all other countries combined. (I’ll grab my sources and post links ASAP)
On the other hand, the U.N. seemingly has good intentions and does attempt to help refugees and those populations in need. That said, I could not be more in agreement w/ you in regards to the Palestinian situation and the perpetual poor situation that they are in, with no help from the UN in any form other than food, water, shelter (sometimes).
All in all, I think the U.N. is a fine idea, it just needs to be reworked from top to bottom because at the moment, in regards to Israel at least, it is a failure.