Friday, May 31, 2013

What Our Nation Has Sunk To

Here is just a slight look at how much this nation has changed in just 56 years. I am 64 years old at the time of this posting and can attest to the validity of these comparisons. I was very much one of these school kids in 1957 and know exactly how real these scenarios are compared to the news you see and hear about how life for a school kid is in this early part of the 21st Century. If we have slid downward this far in only 5 decades just where will this nation be in the year 2069? Perhaps George Orwell was only off by his date, not his vision of the future.

ELEMENTARY and HIGH SCHOOL -- 1957 vs. 2013

Scenario 1:

Jack goes quail hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.

1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack and they discuss hunting.

2013 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies or keep their distance from that time on.

2013 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1957 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2013 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes successful in his chosen career.

2013 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse, Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused (spanked) herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal who is also suffering from a headache out on the smoking dock.

2013 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 7:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2013 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents - and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:

Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1957 - In a short time Johnny feels better and goes back to playing.

2013 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

I know some of these examples may sound farfetched but our current day court files and arrest records would verify their accuracy.

Have we plunged too far to get our equilibrium and return to sanity? If not now - when? If not you - who?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

U.S. Angry at Israel for Building Homes

The United States government is angry at Israeli leadership -- again. Why this time? Because of the announcement on May 29, 2013 that the building of 300 additional new homes in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem which would place these new dwellings beyond the U.N. “Green Line” is back underway. Just one note: Ever notice how often the U.S. publicly shows its anger at its ally but when and if it ever is angry at the Palestinians it doesn’t make itself as overtly vocal about it?

This “Green Line” was established during the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan after the beating they took from the less than a year-old fledgling State of Israel. This same line was used to demarcate the areas recaptured after two thousands years when the 1967 Six-Day War had concluded, again, a war begun by the Arab States surrounding Israel and attacking them for no other reason than Israel existed.

It should, however, be understood that this so-called “Green Line” while agreed to by the U.N. was never established as internationally sanctioned or was it to be viewed by anyone - the world, the Arab States or Israel as a permanent border. At the time the UN came up with this idea Stephen Schwebel, the deputy legal advisor to the United States State Department made it very clear to one and all that “the armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and DID NOT PURPORT TO ESTABLISH DEFINITIVE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THEM.” (emphases mine)

It should also be made clear that the decision and approval to build these homes was granted and set into motion back in November 2012, well before the current peace climate now active in the region and fostered by now U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It was also spurred on by the Palestinian Authority’s ambitious move to go after independent Statehood apart from negotiation with its Israeli partners in the initiative which was already underway. Basically Mr. Abbas in the West Bank went around the talks, including those being fostered by the U.S. and Jordan to assure a Palestinian State and thereby mudding the waters, causing further delays in the process and setting back the efforts of peace at that time. And while Abbas got something from the U.N. for his effort, an unofficial nod from the U.N. as a non-member observer state, it never-the-less set back Secretary Clinton’s peace effort and put it on the back-burner until it was revived again in 2013 by Mr. Kerry, Jordanian King Abdullah and all other parties involved.

The issue of home building has always been a sticking point with the PA, however, as it concerns Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, many are of the opinion the PA has no claim or right to be disgruntled and certainly a third party such as the United States certainly has no reason to have its feathers ruffled. The U.S. may not publicly or officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but in reality that is exactly what it is and as long as the American government continues to ignore this fact for the sake of appearing unbiased then it will always find itself in the position of someone who looks like it is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. After all, if the Prime Minister of Israel wants to come to the U.S. and meet with the American President he doesn’t meet him in some podunk town somewhere in the country. No, he comes to Washington D.C. the internationally recognized capital of the United States of America. It is time for the U.S. to take a final stand on this issue. Either recognize the reality that it goes to Jerusalem in order to do business with the Israeli government and it is therefore Israel’s capital, or it should unequivocally state that it does not and therefore can no longer participate with the government of the State of Israel anywhere within the borders of Jerusalem, ipso-facto making our two nations allies in name only.

It would be a fool’s errand to ever think the PA in the West Bank or the Hamas-led government in Gaza will ever recognize an undivided Jerusalem as the sole capital of the State of Israel. Hamas doesn’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist at all much less its government in Jerusalem. That being the case Israel has no need to even take into account what they or the PA thinks about them building more homes in Jerusalem just because they may fall on the other side of the non-definitive borders of the Green Line. Jerusalem belongs to Israel and they can build within their capital wherever the hell they want.

One last point on this issue. Some on the Palestinian side of this issue say that Israel’s continued building in the region is one of the main factors and roadblocks to peace. Yet during the many times Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and those who have held that job in the past have ordered freezes to Israeli construction projects in order to woo the Palestinians back to the peace negotiating table the PM’s efforts were spat on by the PA and they would refuse to come to the table even after promising to do so once the construction was halted. If the Palestinian leadership could not be trusted to stand by their own promises so many times in the past, and we are talking recent past not something decades ago, then why would anyone, especially those within the Israeli government halt construction of homes that can house their growing citizenship today?

Finally, the last who should be angry that Israel is building in Jerusalem is the United States. Are the leaders of America that dense to think they can appease the PA by siding against Israel on this issue just in the hope that President Abbas may be happy with their decision to put on the public face of animosity against its democratic ally? Well, knowing this current administration perhaps he does have cause to think this way.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shimon Peres’s Speech at the World Economic Forum - Full Text

Thank you, Your Majesty, for graciously hosting us under your roof.

Your Majesty, thank you for inspiring the Middle East with responsibility and hope.

Ladies and Gentleman,

History is made of biographies of men and women who failed to forecast the future. We were born in the age of agriculture, and reborn in the age of science.

This new age changed our agenda and our lives. Depending on land divided people. Borders were marked and armies were built to defend them. The yields of the land hung on the travail of farmers, and the grace of heaven that blessed us with rain or punished us with drought. The yields were limited.

Science is borderless, and its achievements are limitless. Armies cannot control science. Police cannot arrest innovation. Globality and isolation do not go together. Modern agriculture is cultivated with computers, rather than with ploughs. Sciences enables us to make three drops of water from one drop.

Israel’s shortage of soil and rain has created an agriculture based on hi-tech. Israel is sharing its experience with many other countries and is willing to share it with its neighbors as well. Israel is moved by developments, not just by events.

Looking at the developments in the Middle East today, it is blessed with a young generation, one of the youngest in the world. 99 million of its inhabitants are already online. The young generation uses modern tools to enter the new age.

Friends, the Arab Spring voiced by so many youngsters may become an opportunity for jobs and progress. The age of science calls for economic cooperation, educational exchanges, and scientific collaboration. It provides equal opportunities for young and old, and equal rights for women.

Despite the many hurdles on the way to peace, we must never lose sight of the positive developments in our region. Egypt and Israel made peace. Jordan and Israel made peace. These agreements stand the test of time.

We extend our hand in peace to all countries in the Middle East.

There is no country, no religion, which we consider as enemies. The only enemies are the enemies of peace. The Iranian people are not our enemies. It is the Iranian regime’s policy which is a threat to us all.

Our region, and the whole world, cannot accept this brutal regime’s hegemonic ambitions. And the international community cannot tolerate brutal threatening weapons as a norm for the rest of the world.

Friends, we and our Palestinian neighbors must return to negotiations as soon as possible and bring peace. President Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours. You share our hopes and efforts for peace, and we share yours. We can and should make the breakthrough. We should not permit the hurdles to overcome us. History will judge us not by the process of negotiations, but by its outcome. The today obstacles will pale in the light of peace.

The “Arab Peace Initiative” is a meaningful change and a strategic opportunity. It replaces the strategies of war with the wisdom of peace. We must depart from the skepticism that claims that war is inevitable.

War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable.

We appreciate the presence of the American Secretary of State John Kerry at this gathering. Secretary Kerry brings with him an impressive momentum and desire to contribute to the completion of the peace process. It will be matched with an imaginative economic plan. President Obama, while visiting our region, offered a new opening for the peace prospect. Dear John, I know that all sides can count on your determination.

The peace process already has a beginning. We have agreed on a common ground to complete it. A two state solution. A Jewish state — Israel — and an Arab state — Palestine. Living side by side in peace, dignity and freedom.

Friends, we Israelis and Palestinians are aware that peace is first and foremost for us and depends upon us. I know from experience how difficult these decisions are to make, on both sides. But this is the time.

Our leaders must say yes to a future of peace.

Our leaders must overcome the difficulties and the dangers, and lead their peoples to a better tomorrow. What holds back the renewal of the peace negotiations are some gaps in the bridge between the beginning and the conclusion. Knowing very well the nature of the missing link, I am convinced that this gap can be bridged.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is still an open wound on the map and this is the terrible bloodshed in Syria. Secretary Kerry is currently trying to bring an end to this tragedy. Israel is not intervening in the Syrian crisis. We support the Secretary’s efforts to bring an end to the violence. We are silent, but not indifferent. There is a need to lower the flames.

Ladies and Gentleman, the potential in our region is remarkable. The attempts to release this potential are worthy and needed. We welcome the efforts of “Breaking the Impasse” initiative.

The fact that hundreds of business leaders from both sides are joining hands to promote the two-state solution and to emphasize the urgency in reaching that solution is an important development. These people can attest to how valuable peace is for economic prospective. Peace should be made between people, not just between governments.

Friends, I am here to express the hope and desire of the Israeli people to bring an end to the conflict and a beginning to a peaceful new age. I hope that this forum will voice a timely call against skepticism. I pray that it will allow for tomorrow’s horizon to shine bright. A horizon that will illuminate the fruits of freedom, science and progress.

Let us cast away the divides and suspicions of the past as a future of harmony awaits. We are still writing the biography of the unknown future.

My friends, it must be a future of peace.

Thank you.