Dear 100 Hour Board,
-My Name Here
Dear name here,
Great place for an embassy. In the words of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support ("yea" votes included Democrat Senators Biden, Daschle, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Lieberman, and Reid with only 1 Democrat and 4 Republicans voting against):
Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital. Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel. The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
The United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic friend and strategic ally, the State of Israel.
Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.
Sounds pretty reasonable to me, notwithstanding the fact that Hamas, a terrorist, anti-Semitic organization that doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, cynically got some of its people killed over the issue by threatening Israeli security in a way calculated to force exactly the response they received.
Without being a firsthand witness, it's hard to be sure exactly what happened on the border between Israel and Gaza, but there are a few things that I can feel relatively certain about.
Since the protests began on March 30, a total of 104 Gazans have been killed in demonstrations, with 12 more killed in other circumstances. Most were shot by Israeli snipers. Over 12,600 Gazans have been injured, about 55% of which required hospitalization. In contrast, exactly one Israeli soldier has been "slightly wounded by shrapnel." Again, just to be clear: the casualty rate is over 12,700 to 1 in Israel's favor.
Now, I'm not saying that Israeli soldiers should just wait to be hurt before fighting back, but do you really expect me to believe that they are employing the minimum force necessary to protect themselves when they can kill over a hundred people and injure over ten thousand without any of their own people being seriously hurt?
Meanwhile, let's take a brief look at the conditions in Gaza. All data is taken from this Wikipedia page unless otherwise noted.
The Gaza Strip is about 141 square miles and is home to about 1.85 million people. About 45% of the population, or 0.83 million people, is under the age of 14 (see here). Most of the population is descended from Palestinian refugees who lost their homes in the wake of Israel's war of independence.
About 18% of children in the Gaza Strip are malnourished, and 53% of women and 44% of children are anemic. About 70% of Gazan households experience food insecurity in some form.
Israel has imposed a 300-foot buffer zone along its border with Gaza, rendering an estimated 30% of the region's arable land useless. Israel has also imposed a naval buffer of one nautical mile around Gaza, making fishing impossible. Because both Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza, the entire population is effectively sealed into their own country. Due to the blockade, Gaza's economy has also been decimated, and its ability to export goods extinguished almost entirely.
According to one UN report, if significant changes are not made, the entire Gaza Strip will be rendered functionally uninhabitable within decades.
Meanwhile, immediately across the border, Israel is one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
Tell me, honestly: If you lived in Gaza, if you watched your friends shot and your children starving, if you lost your job to the blockade, if you were blocked on pain of death from leaving the country, if you watched the people who took your grandparents' home and made your family into refugees enjoy the wealth of a modern nation, what would you do?
I am no supporter of Hamas. Indiscriminate terrorist attacks are evil. But I am losing the ability to discern the difference between indiscriminate attacks on Israelis by Palestinians and indiscriminate attacks on Palestinians by Israelis. Nothing you say can convince me that Israel's use of force over the last month and a half has been proportionate to the threat the protests created. Again: 12,700 Palestinian casualties to one Israeli casualty. That's not proof of human rights abuses, but it is absolutely a giant waving red flag.
Now, on a related topic: I do not believe that criticism of the government and state of Israel is automatically anti-Semitism. But I have seen a lot of people in positions of influence on Twitter and elsewhere get awfully close to that line. When you use "the Jews" to refer to Israel or its government, I notice. When you treat Jewish people as a monolith as opposed to a collection of millions of individuals with millions of beliefs and viewpoints, I notice. When you dehumanize the Jews as so many people are prone to dehumanizing the Palestinians, I notice.
In a way, I'm glad the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The fictional role of the United States as a neutral party in negotiations between Israel and Palestine has finally been abolished. Maybe that will be the breakthrough that finally prompts some sort of change.
But probably not. Man's inhumanity to man is functionally limitless, and I have no doubt that those with power will continue to exert it with absolute disregard for the welfare of those without power for as long as our species exists.
Dear My ~
One of my favorite places in the world. Yellow still owes me a second honeymoon there. It played a large part in our courtship. Based on revelation and prophecies, I have high hopes for it still being there and peaceful someday.
~ Dragon Lady
I mentioned that I was incredibly uninformed on the subject at a dinner party last week, so my good friend offered to help me out. She sent me the following email, and it's been an incredibly helpful primer, despite her disclaimer, that will help you understand what's going on.
Here are some links I personally think are helpful. They are not perfect! Some sort of disclosure about how I am just a Jewish kid with a laptop and not a professor on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, so you know, do more research independently! This issue is very complicated and emotional for people and my opinions are my own or whatever!!!!
Great overview primer -- it's not too long, but does a fairly good job at hitting all the main issues. Definitely worth a read as a starting place -- http://www.palestine-studies.org/institute/fellows/primer-palestine-israel-and-arab-israeli-conflict
Al Jazeera's Timeline also helps break down the history of the conflict in a really useful way -- https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/palestineremix/timeline_main.html
Visualizing Palestine is also a great resource for the visually minded, and helps break down some big concepts (a few of my faves below)
Some more helpful specialized articles --
- What factions hold power in Palestine - http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/projects/thepalestinepapers/201218205949656112.html
- History of Hamas -- http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13331522
- Decoding media coverage of Palestine -- https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/mainstream-media-palestine-wrong-171230101955202.html
- Why was Trump moving the American embassy controversial - https://www.vox.com/2018/5/14/17340798/jerusalem-embassy-israel-palestinians-us-trump
- What is BDS -- https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds
- What is Palestine's position in the UN -- http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13701636
- Zionism as a trauma-based philosophy - https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-why-israelis-live-in-fear-and-who-capitalizes-on-it-1.5462456 and http://mondoweiss.net/2017/05/collective-traumatic-oppression/ (insert the "Remember that We Suffered" song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend here)
- An overview of the policies of Israel's PM - https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/01/201311113412274889.html
- The link between evangelical Christianity (ie Donald Trump's biggest fans) and Israel - https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/08/opinions/jerusalem-israel-evangelicals-end-times-butler-bass-opinion/index.html and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo77sTGpngQ
Hope this helps you understand the general picture a little more!