“You’ll be here until we kill someone”

Those of you who are regular readers probably saw the story where the BBC crew was held hostage in Nablus by Israeli Troops. Now, finally, we get their story, fresh from the BBC Website.

Apparently storming the homes of random civilians and using them to shoot children in crowds is what passes for an Israeli Right to Self Defense these days.

Of course the IDF murdering (or in this case trying to murder and simply wounding) Palestinian children is nothing new. Hardly a week goes by in which at least one such story doesn’t wind up on our website. What makes this interesting though is that we’ve got the eyes and ears of BBC journalists within the actual residence the IDF was occupying, and while their cameras and whatnot were confiscated, they still tell the tale, in vivid detail.

Its probably the most interesting article you’ll see this weekend, unless American massacres in Iraq are something you really get into.

An Army of Fun?

Some Soldiers Seem to Be Enjoying the Whole ‘Killing’ Thing a Little Too Much

“I enjoy killing Iraqis,” says Staff Sgt. William Deaton, 30, who killed a hostile fighter the night before. Deaton has lost a good friend in Iraq. “I just feel rage, hate when I’m out there. I feel like I carry it all the time. We talk about it. We all feel the same way.”

Disturbed yet?

Thats from an article in the LA Times. That’s not just some random crazy guy either, that’s a person that the United States government felt it would be a good idea to hand a gun to and send to an occupied nation as a ‘peacekeeper’. And at least in his opinion that’s how they all feel.

Then, just like everything else nowadays, they blame video games for desensitizing these people to violence. Now either they are vastly overestimating the power of Super Mario Bros., or they are vastly underrating a normal human being’s aversion to killing others.

I play video games, lots of them… and killing Iraqis doesn’t sound remotely enjoyable. I’ve got news for you people: If Splinter Cell makes you thirst for the blood of Iraqis, you had some major problems to begin with.

Just the kind of problems that make you perfect for running some Iraqi prison, or patroling the streets of Baghdad, apparently.

Your Money’s No Good Here

I just had what has to be the most extraordinary day I’ve spent in quite some time.

This requries a little backstory: I just went through a major hassle with my previous bank, somebody stole my check card number and bought some stuff online, I filed a fraud complaint, they called me a liar, the whole thing was just a mess. Today it came to a conclusion, and I withdrew all my money and closed my accounts with that bank.

I checked online, and found another bank with local branches which offered the services I wanted, so I headed over there, money in hand, intent on opening new accounts.

Didn’t happen…

They require ID to open an account. I expected that, I mean, that’s obvious. But apparently, under the USA PATRIOT Act, the amount of ID that bank now requires is so excessive as to make opening an account virtually impossible. They wanted two types of ID.

Driver’s License… I’ve got that, no problem

And another form of “acceptable ID”. They were pretty vague about what was acceptable, but they were quite clear about what was not acceptable, which is to say everything. Social Security Card? No good. Student ID? Not a chance. Car insurance card? That one stopped her for a second. Do you own a car? No… I just have road service for driving other people’s cars. Then the card is no good.

The only things the woman would confirm as actually acceptable secondary ID were:

Proof of Car Ownership

Major Credit Card

Military ID Card

So basically, I’d either need to go buy a car and then prove to them I own it, or join the military, or no banking for me. Major Credit Card struck me as particularly funny. Oh, you mean one of those things banks give you after you have an account with them?

Well, this went on for awhile, and she ultimately said if I could bring in a voter registration card, my cable bill, and a paycheck from my employer, they’d look it over and might be able to help me then. God only knows what happened to my voter registration card.

Ultimately we decided that I just wasn’t a fit customer for that particular bank. The woman gave me something which I consider to be quite an intriguing collectible, a pamphlet entitled:

Protecting America
Protecting You

I feel safer already, don’t you? The pamphlet describes how the war on terror requires them to collect all sorts of crazy information to prove that I am who I say I am, and how they reserve the right to do pretty much whatever the hell they want.

But the final result is, I walked into a bank with a wad of cash, tried to give it to them, and they said “no”.

The thing that struck me as most interesting is that I could have taken my money over to the gun store and bought a bunch of weapons and ammo, and they wouldn’t have required half as much information about me.

Now, you’d think I’d be mad, but quite honestly the whole situation was so surreal, so unexpected, and so downright entertaining that the smile never left my face the whole time I was there. Even now, I consider the tale more humorous than deleterious. I mean sure, I’m out an hour’s time and I’m still without a bank, but at least I had something interesting to write here.

Blowing Up the Peace Process

Saturday must’ve looked like a promising day to Palestinians.

The International Court of Justice had just declared the Israeli wall illegal, the UN was in the process of drafting resolutions criticizing Israel about it. Ariel Sharon’s position was weakening, he had just turned to Shimon Peres, who made his cooperation conditional to speeding up the pullout from Gaza.

Of course, anyone who has paid any attention to the last half century of this war knew that couldn’t last.

So today, al-Aqsa, a militia affiliated with Fatah, decided this would be a good idea to blow up a bus in Tel Aviv, killing one innocent woman. So now Sharon has postponed his meeting with Peres and is childishly blaming the attack on the ICJ. One can only assume he’ll respond with some kind of retaliatory attack.

Yassir Arafat, for his part, condemned the attack. But it still leaves me sitting here thinking “he’s the leader of Fatah, right?”. I mean, I know al-Aqsa and the other militias operate independently of the parent group, but surely if he had called for an end to attacks beforehand, perhaps while cheering the ICJ ruling the other day, it might’ve been prevented. Even if it hadn’t, calling for an end to attacks would’ve been more meaningful if he’d done it before, rather than after.

Moreover, as he so often does, he suggested that Israel was responsible for the attack. Now, assuming that was true, why would al-Aqsa take credit for it? I mean, again, he’s the leader of Fatah… surely he could’ve at least convinced the militias not to take credit for the thing if they really didn’t do it. That’s almost as stupid as blaming the ICJ for it.

So now Sharon has another excuse to escalate the conflict, and that retaliation will lead to more retaliation from groups like al-Aqsa. Fifty plus years in you’d figure one side or the other would’ve figured out retaliation ad-infinitum isn’t going to end this war.

I Feel Sorry for Ariel Sharon

We here at Antiwar.com are often very critical of Ariel Sharon, and rightly so. He has, after all, spent the last 50+ years killing civilians in a war few ever seem to get tired of. He’s directly responsible for tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths, and is now gleefully walling them in.

Indeed, its not terribly hard to find op/ed pieces that call him a genocidal madman. I’m not going to do that here, mostly because it makes it a lot harder to feel sorry for him.

But over the last few days, something interesting has happened. There exist those in Israel who are even further to the right than Mr. Sharon, and despite his past record, they really don’t feel he’s quite genocidal enough. In fact, they feel so strongly about this, some are plotting to kill him.

Although it may not look like it to those of us outside of Israel, Ariel Sharon has actually become something of a centrist, and in a society that has very strong opinions one way or the other on the Palestinian question, that is a very dangerous position to be in. He’s got to come down off the fence to save his own neck, and he knows it.

Two days ago when this story first started coming together, if you’d asked me which side he’d wind up on, I’d have guess the right. After all, this is Ariel Sharon we’re talking about. He’d probably decide he was going soft in his old age and get back to what he does best, killing Palestinians while the Right cheers. Miraculously though, it doesn’t look like that’s what is going to happen.

Instead, he has turned to one of his longtime rivals Shimon Peres, Labour Party Leader and founder of the Peres Center for Peace. The redoubtable Mr. Peres, to his credit, instead of taking the easy path to power has made his cooperation conditional, Israel must withdraw from the Gaza Strip, or he wants nothing to do with them.

The Other of Two Evils

Kerry Defines Middle East Policy

This is the first of what I hope will be many blog entries here. As those of you who read Justin’s article already know, I’m Antiwar.com’s latest hiree.

Today we got a glimpse at John Kerry’s official Middle East Policy. Now, obviously I wasn’t expecting Kerry to emerge as an antiwar candidate or anything, but some of this stuff is pretty surprising. Note that the stuff in italics isn’t paraphrase, nor is it an interpretation, these are direct quotes.

John Kerry understands that America must guarantee Israel’s military superiority

Now, its obviously been US policy to defend Israel from its many, many enemies. But I believe this is the first time its actually been suggested that it is America’s duty to keep Israel militarily superior to them. Obviously this means military aid, and lots of it. Indeed, elsewhere in the policy report Kerry brags about his record of opposing any cuts to Israeli aid.

John Kerry understands that anti-Semitism masked in anti-Israel rhetoric is a dangerous trend threatening both Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

Its been extremely fashionable, of course, to suggest that those who oppose any action by Israel are defacto anti-Semites (indeed, more than one Antiwar.com columnist has had that charge levied against him), but isn’t making such accusations more the job of the mainstream media than politicians?

Now that’s not surprising in and of itself, but the rest of the paragraph kind of was:

John Kerry has always fought against anti-Semitism and as president, he will take governments around the world to task for failing to address this escalating threat.

How does one address a belief that is considered threatening? There’s one obvious answer: censorship.

In the wake of this pretty much blind support of Israeli policies, there’s a question that’s begging to be asked. What’re the odds it will be? Pretty close to 0%, I’d say:

“Senator Kerry, recently Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister asserted that Israel could wipe out the entire Gaza Strip in a matter of hours. You have said in your Middle East Policy that you support the right of Israel to ‘eliminate threats’ to its citizens, would you support Israel taking such action, even though it would almost certainly result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians? “