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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Stamping out evil"

I'm strongly convinced after fifty some years on the planet that the idea that the righteous will stamp out evildoers is an illusion.  Listen to the grim, strained voices of Israelis explaining why their most recent attack on Hamas resources is the justified only response they can make after being swarmed by rockets out of Gaza landing in their towns and neighborhoods.   Juxtapose that with the grim, strained voice of Gazan residents explaining that the air attacks on buildings, tunnels, homes, offices in the Strip have killed children and neighbors who have nothing to do with Hamas.
These voices are (in general) voices of the just,  ordinary people pushed to despair and anguish by the violence around them.   

Israel's attacks cannot succeed at stamping out the evildoers and stopping the rockets.   Gazans who do not support Hamas in the Gaza don't have any way of stopping Hamas from shooting rockets into Israel.   That being the case,  does the military response to Hamas serve Israel's interest?  Probably no more than the last incursion did.   Instead,  it fuels the stereotypes in the Arab street asserting that Israel is a monster bent on eradicating the Palestinians.   It takes some of the attention away from the Jewish state's own battle with out-of-control zealot settlers.  And so the cycles continue.

In fact, the only way to truly marginalize Hamas may be the hardest to carry out--politically with domestic audiences and internationally as well.   Hamas would lose much of its importance if the borders between Israel and the Gaza were open,  if Palestinians could shop and work and travel and purchase services.  It would be the outward focus and even welcoming actions of Israel to erase the differences  with Gazans by making them part of the Israeli economy and culture in ways they have not been allowed to do.   The price?  The risk of vulnerability to suicide bombers and other violence within Israel,  some increased public costs for the services which would have to be present.  And patience, immense patience---Jobian patience--- would be necessary because there would be mistrust and hostility for years.  But in the long haul,  this would be likely to take away Hamas' ability to be the 'one stop shopping movement' for Gazans and others.   And Israel would be seen as a a culture too open and mature to be goaded by rockets into what is happening now.   

Sadly this is probably the most unlikely strategy.  Shalom or Salaam.  Able and Cain. 

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Headsup to Local News: quantity doesn't equal quality

In the recent winter snow storm blanketing much of Oregon and southwest Washington,  our local television affiliates pulled out all the stops to provide saturation coverage.   The Oregonian covered the phenomenon with its own article about the "non stop" hours of live storm coverage.   As consumers of news, however,  we found it almost useless to tune in from the perspective of information gained.   I recall the news anchor on one station cutting to his reporter in the field who spent two or three minutes standing in front of a car in a snow drift explaining that there was a risk of this happening all over the Metropolitan Area.   My suspicion is that few viewers lacked that information.   Twenty minutes later,   the same station cut back to the same intrepid reporter and beached car.   This is not "news"!  Equally problematic were the meterologist reports.   On the same station,  the meteorologist closed his segment saying "That's right,  the temperature will be above or below that freezing level in most areas tonight."   On Wednesday afternoon,  the 24th,  I-5 northbound shut down,  apparently for a variety of reasons,  from Salem fifty miles south of here to Portland.   I-5 southbound shut down at approximately the same time,  largely due to ODOT's decision that the road was impassable  and required them to scrape and plow intensely.  The resulting traffic tie ups were monumental and long lasting.   Some of our offspring,  driving north,  were unfortunate enough to be caught the trap.   They left Salem at about 3PM and had not gone twenty miles by eight.   They didn't reach Portland until almost midnight.   Most frustrating was that the news chose to focus on replaying the ODOT equipment and the backup at Wilsonville since that probably was where they could conveniently site their camera without getting in the traffic jam themselves.   While we could talk with our kids by phone and could tell them what was on the Traffic Cams ahead of them online,    the news coverage gave us almost no information.   Short story: biggest winter storm in my lifetime and the news coverage remained stuck in a drift the whole time.

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