Gaza – Stop the Bleeding

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel from Gaza. With unspeakable and nightmarish brutality they killed roughly 1,200 people, including women and children.

The government of Israel responded with a massive and indiscriminate bombing campaign. Hospitals, water treatment plants, apartment complexes and other civilian infrastructure in Gaza have all become rubble. At this writing, the Palestinian death toll approaches 30,000 (mostly women and children); and over a million people face a humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah.

Here in the USA, these events have driven such a deep rift into coalitions of Progressive Democrats that it seems they were designed to do so.

Those sympathetic to the Palestinians see Israel as a colonial state that expelled their recent ancestors from their homes and took their land. They call out the desecration of holy places, and see Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians as genocide.

Those sympathetic to Israel remember the Holocaust of the mid-twentieth century, leading to the establishment of the nation of Israel as a safe homeland for Jewish people. Horrible memories are triggered when that nation is attacked, and they feel that Israel is surrounded by nations who are determined to exterminate them just as the Nazis did.

At a fundamental level, both sides are right. This presents a challenge for President Biden and other world leaders. Both sides have legitimate humanitarian and security concerns, and it’s difficult to satisfy one side without inflaming the other.

But in many ways, both sides are wrong. Each camp is dominated by extremists who are preying on fear of “the other” to promote a campaign of demonization and annihilation. So anti-Semitism is whipped up on one side, and Islamophobia on the other.

There are voices in Israel calling for the “elimination” of the Palestinian people. There are voices in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Arab world) calling for the “elimination” of the state of Israel. There are voices on each side calling for control of “all land, from the river to the sea.”

These voices must be rejected and marginalized. It’s time for cooler heads to prevail.

Ordinary Palestinian families in Gaza are not Hamas. Ordinary Israeli families are not Likud extremists.

Most people on both sides want to get along and to peacefully go on with their lives. They are fed up with the fringe elements among them who sabotage reconciliation.

What side am I on? I’m on the side of the young Israelis celebrating at a rave party. I’m on the side of the little Palestinian girl trapped in a car, pleading to be rescued. I’m on the side of all good-hearted people in the region who wish to accommodate each other and live peacefully as neighbors.

The shooting, bombing and bleeding must stop; and all hostages and prisoners must be allowed to return to their families.

Israel has a right to exist, but it must abandon its illegal occupation and settlements, and return to its pre-1967 borders. Palestine also has a right to exist, and to have a secure homeland it can call its own. People of good will on both sides must resume work on such a two-state solution.

Finally, American support for war crimes must not be tolerated. Israel may be a US ally, but unless/until the Netanyahu regime behaves in a civilized manner, the US checkbook must be closed.

Jesus Wept for Notre Dame

I cannot begin to express the anxiety and heartbreak we are feeling over the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Tears have been shed. I feel a way that I haven’t felt since 9/11.

Notre Dame is THE iconic structure of Paris. When the Eiffel Tower was completed, Notre Dame had already been standing for over half a millennium. It is central to the city’s identity.

The only “good” news is that there was no loss of life (at least none known so far) and that this tragedy is not the result of an act of terrorism or war. It was an accident with horrible results.

But any other good news will be hard to come by. Medieval builders didn’t have access to strong fire-resistant building materials. In other words, there is a lot of old, large wood in that building that will joyfully burn until it is consumed. As I type, the roof is gone, and the stained glass is probably melted by now.

When we were in Europe in 2001, we saw many old churches and cathedrals that were burned by Henry VIII or bombed in the second world war, and all that remains are the stone walls and steeples. My worst fear is that this is what will be left of Notre Dame, and so far I haven’t seen any news to deny that.

Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran

This story scares the insides out of me.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.


Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

Both these countries are behaving like childish adolescents. The “mini-nukes” rationalization in this story is like an adolescent thinking that shooting someone is ok as long as you use a .22 instead of a 9mm. Once the guns come out – no matter what size – a terrible escalation is inevitable.

Breaking out the nukes can do nothing but make things worse, no matter how ‘mini’ they are. But both sides believe in Armageddon, so they don’t really care if they trigger the end of civilization as we know it.

It also bothers me that the rest of the world hasn’t risen up in outrage. It’s been invisible in the rest of the media. If this story is credible (and the London Times is pretty credible, in spite of Rupert Murdoch), then Israel is about to metaphorically throw a burning match into a warehouse full of high explosives.

Not to scream bloody murder amounts to complicity.

Two Kinds of Christians

I am an atheist, but I grew up with enough Catholic indoctrination to recognize that there are both good people and bad people who call themselves “Christians”.

The “Good Christians” can be found feeding people, comforting the sick and their families, or working for peace and justice. They spend more time practicing than preaching, and they don’t impose their faith onto others.

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