Sunday, February 22, 2009

Suicides 2-22-2009

22, February 2009 Suicides
The Philadelphia Inquirer is to be commended for spotlighting public attention on the alarming escalation of US military suicides. Last year, the Pentagon reported 143 soldiers took their own lives. The actual number may be significantly higher. According to reporters, Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna, “The soldiers seemed to be suffering classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: explosions of anger, suicidal and homicidal ideation, flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia. The Army was responding, for the most part, with disciplinary action rather than treatment, evincing little concern for possible underlying problems. The soldiers self-medicated further with predictable outcomes.” 

These soldiers have paid the ultimate price for the failed policies of Bush and Cheney who had little concern for the outcome of their failed policies. Let us bring these weary soldiers back home to their families and offer them the care and support they so desperately need. Let us send a strong message to the new Obama administration that the American people will no longer tolerate these foreign adventures which is depleting our treasury of billions of dollars and sending our young to their early graves. Our bloated military budget only encourages us to build and use more terrifying weapons of human destruction while our nation is drowning in a sea of debt.  The planned escalation of troops in Afghanistan is a tragic mistake. Failure to act will sink us deeper into another Vietnam-type quagmire. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Response to local letter writer re: Israel 2-17-2009

17, February 2009                 Response to local letter writer re: Israel

Desmond Tuck’s letter of February 15 claims that Bob Simon’s report on 60 Minutes portrayed a skewed reality of the West Bank and illegal settlements. Glaringly omitted from his letter was any factual information to counter Bob Simon’s excellent report. Tuck, who hails from South Africa, may not be aware that the African Council of Churches and the Reverend Desmond Tutu have excoriated Israel for its war crimes and apartheid policies. Jewish-Israeli author, Susan Nathan, lamented that Israel has “dishonored the holocaust” and Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur, said that Israel's actions against the besieged Gazans were reminiscent of "the worst kind of international memories of the Warsaw Ghetto." 

Tuck is right condemning grotesque acts of violence targeting civilians. I presume he is referring to the large scale slaughter of civilians in Gaza which has been condemned by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Perhaps Tuck could explain why so many schools, mosques and even the UN building in Gaza were razed to the ground when precise coordinates of these buildings were given to the Israeli Defense Forces? Finally, I would ask Tuck to explain the rationale of deliberately withholding critical supplies of food, medicine and fuel from a starving population of 1.5 million Gazans?   

Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel (Response to local letter writer) 2-2-2009

2, February 2009 Israel (Response to local letter writer)

Writer Norman Licht (Post Feb 2, 2009) offers more twisted logic to justify Israel’s war of terror. Glaringly omitted from Licht’s scores of letters is the terror tactics used by Israeli settlers to dispossess Palestinians of their land. These include demolition of hundreds of Palestinian homes and thousands of trees. The construction of hundreds of illegal settlements in the West Bank in an orchestrated effort to deny the Palestinians their own state. Perhaps, Licht could explain the rational of building bypass roads for the exclusive use of Jews in the settlements. Even apartheid South Africa did not sink to such levels. Perhaps, Licht could explain Israel’s decision to impose a crippling blockade of humanitarian aid of food, medical supplies and fuel to an already impoverished 1.5 million hostages in Gaza. Is this not an act of terror and a clear violation of international law? Perhaps Licht could explain the deliberate targeting of densely populated civilian areas in Gaza with high velocity military weapons. Many of those that perished had deposits of white Phosphorus burns – a banned chemical substance.  Finally, I would ask Licht why the UN compound was targeted and many civilians bled to death because ambulances were often forbidden from helping the injured? 

More on Gaza:

Israel’s savage assault on Gaza has stirred world-wide condemnation. Most poignantly, a veteran anti-apartheid leader, Dennis Brutus led a huge demonstration in Durban, South African. Brutus was instrumental in organizing a highly successful cultural boycott against South African which eventually resulted in freedom for the oppressed native Africans It has impoverished 1.5 million residents of Gaza by its crippling blockade of food, medical supplies, fuel and electricity. It has deliberately targeted homes, medical clinics, ambulances, schools, mosques and the University. It has displayed callous unconcern for human life bombing high density areas killing hundreds of civilians including a large number of women and children. More recently, Israel deliberately rammed a ship carrying critically needed medical supplies condemning scores of civilians to a slow, painful death. Fearful of the images of dead and wounded and the infrastructure damage reaching the world press, Israel has forbidden press photographers and journalists from entering Gaza. I urge readers to contact their representatives and demand an immediate cease fire and suspension of military aid to Israel. Failure to do so will make us complicit to the genocide of the Palestinians. Largely hidden from the US press is the large scale protests in Israel. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak hurriedly canceled his planned visit to Tel Avis University. An Israeli organization called Courage to Refuse called on IDF soldiers to refuse to participate in the genocide in Gaza.  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak cancelled his visit to Tel Aviv University on Jan. 19 after students called him a “murderer.” One war resisters’ organization in the Israeli state, Courage to Refuse, published a newspaper advertisement condemning the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians and calling on soldiers to refuse to fight in Gaza.