Sometimes Afghanistan is just like Gaza

‘In a statement, Colonel O’Hara said, “[F]orces exercised great restraint and prevented any civilian casualties at the same time the enemy placed the whole village in harm’s way by operating the way they do.”’

Besides the fact that O’Hara is an unlikely last name for an Israeli colonel, it’s hard to tell whether this statement applies to Gaza, Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, it’s part of an American response to accusations that U.S. Special Ops killed 13 civilians in a raid on an Afghan village this month.

As the world (rightly) remains outraged at the destruction in Gaza, it’s good to remember that the U.S.A. continues a similar campaign in Afghanistan. The parallels should not be overstated–after all, Afghanistan is not our neighbor as Gaza is Israel’s. But these Afghan civilian deaths seem to take place further from the world’s attention than those in Gaza.

Let’s keep our eye on them, and keep pressuring Obama to make changes to his policy in addition to his rhetoric.

Jon Stewart keeps it real for Gaza

If Jon Stewart was a total partisan about anything, he wouldn’t be doing his job. So I expect him to be more cynical and keep a better critical distance from the bombardment of Gaza than I have been able to do. (But hey, I don’t think I’m doing such a bad job myself!)

Still, it was a huge relief to see him joking about the Israeli incursion in a way that made all the Israel apologists on TV look like dum-dums. (They tend to be much more annoying than Israel apologists in real life, because their position on the matter seems much more a political stunt than actual conviction.)

My favorite part of Monday’s show: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg asks, If a crazy neighbor was shouting through your door threatening to kill you, wouldn’t you want the NYPD to send all available resources, not just a single cop?

“That depends,” says Stewart, “if I was forcing that person to live in my hallway and pass through a checkpoint every time he needed to take a shit.”


Palestine: get on the bus

Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to look back at the year 1983 and recall being on the fence about Apartheid in South Africa?

“Gosh,” you thought, “I mean, I don’t think it’s ideal that blacks and whites are separated in that country. But S.A. does plenty of good things. And I can’t imagine those wild terrorists, the ANC, taking over.”

I hope I’m not really describing you here. My point is, with the power of hindsight, it’s hard to see how anyone would have shied from denouncing Apartheid, let alone openly supported it. Yet plenty of powerful people stood by while one of the most ruthless and distasteful political systems in modern history thrived for more than 40 years. Our own Reagan administration blocked sanctions against South Africa and believed the racist government could be nudged toward reform by helping Apartheid’s architects get richer. (His plan didn’t work.)

Nearly 20 years after Apartheid ended in South Africa, the world finds itself at a similar juncture with regard to the Palestinian people. With Israel’s blasting of Gaza, there’s no better time to make sure that, 20 years from now, you don’t find yourself in your own embarrassing hindsight moment. It’s time to get on the bus for the Palestinian people, especially if you’re an American. It’s time to demand that Palestinians receive the same rights that Israelis have. That they have the same opportunities to live long and prosperous lives. That they are not physically confined to walled, impoverished homelands (like the black “homelands” in South Africa) based on their ethnicity. Continue reading