Gaza situation, who’s to blame?

The events in Gaza are a trying time for everyone. It’s not politics. It’s unrestrained actions with full military might versus unarmed civilians caught in the feud between two opposite ideologies.

When civilized negotiations fail, there is room for bloody actions which resolve nothing but just increase the enmity between the two sides.

It’s sad to see that only atrocities can unite the Israelis and the Palestinians against each other when it is hard for them to achieve lasting peace.

From what it is seen, Israel is facing criticism from the international community over its attacks in Gaza, not because of siding with Hamas but because of the casualties that were caught in its fires intended for Hamas locations and fighters.

When there are attacks, the Palestinians are sure to stand against Israel. What can decide the popularity of Hamas are free and fair elections within the Palestinian territories to see if people in Gaza want to be ruled by Hamas or to have a new leadership.

Hamas can be a news star during the Israeli attacks. But the question that remains if Hamas policies are the only possible ones to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If not the Palestinians should have had the chance to have their say about Hamas’s stay in power before things developed into bloody actions.

What can solve the Palestinian problem is democracy among the Palestinians and fruitful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
There are many questions that should be answered vis-à-vis these attacks:
1- In such a situation who should be accused of crime against humanity: is it Israel who is making much more casualties among the civilians than the armed groups or is it Hamas who has its weapons and weapon factories in densely populate areas?

2- Should Egypt be accountable for turning a blind eye to the tunnels from which weapons are smuggled or for closing its borders with Gaza, making it easy for Israel to impose its total blockade on Gaza?

3- Wouldn’t it have been better for Israel to mount a ground invasion of Gaza and arrest Hamas leaders and armed factions instead of mounting air strikes that randomly killed innocent civilians?

4- How will such attacks in Gaza affect Israel relations with moderate Arab countries and will this mean its contact with them will be low-key?

Hamas can be strengthened only by the desperate Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza. These have nothing to lose as they feel they’re living in a collective prison under blockade. Their life can have meaning by fighting and dying for the Hamas cause.

But Hamas getting strength from despair can’t solve the Palestinian problem which is politically very complex. There must be political solutions through negotiations and not by Hamas Qassam rockets and Israeli destructive and deadly air attacks.

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Is it the age of the green car?

Cars have become a necessity. Despite the current crisis in its industry, the car will continue to attract investment as cities are continuing to grow. But the culture of transportation should change by opting for common transport , which should be punctual and comfortable for the passengers.

It’s the dream to have a green car as it will solve many environmental problems and make environmentally conscientious drivers not feel guilty about driving. It’s a change of mentality that is needed to opt for green cars despite their possible shortcomings compared with the current cars. This can be possible if the car companies can invest in green alternatives and the consumers are ready to make sacrifices by paying more and not consider big speed as a priority in driving.

It’s unimaginable to think that it’s the end of the age of the car as it was first made to stay with us. Cars have changed throughout the ages since their creation. The car industry is vital for the economy, especially in the USA where 10% of the jobs are related to it in one way or another.

What is needed is an approach to car industry in terms of production and marketing. There may be the possibility to create fast cars. But the mismanagements of the car industry can slow the economy. The cars are here to stay. They can break down from time to time. But the economy can’t afford to keep breaking down. It needs a strong engine to keep it roaring. It’s the whole financial operations from investment to loans that need to be carefully designed for the economy to keep going on the right track. It’s like a vehicle when it breaks down in the middle of nowhere the passengers get lost. Like a car, the economy needs to have its wheel in good and careful hands.

A four state solution in the Middle East? Or just a problem?

Hamas has ended its six month ceasefire today, which for the umpteenth time brings the search for a Middle East peace process back into the forefront of many of our minds. Jonathan Freedland is a leading commentator in the UK argues that a new approach and a new reality need to be acknowledged.

A four state solution isn’t the right solution as that will mean continuous division in the area. It isn’t the answer as that will mean more interventions and influence from the outside. Hamas will look to the Iranians (Israel’s enemy number one in the Middle East) for its protection and support. Fattah will mainly rely on the West and moderate Arab states. As such, the problem will continue as it’s unlikely to create trust between all the four parties. The conflict will continue under different forms. But Lasting peace is hard to achieve in view of the intransigent views from all sides. It’s like asking Gaza to unite with Egypt and the West Bank to unite with Jordan and to leave the rest of the land to Israel.

Thee will be continuous suspicion between them, especially between hard-line Palestinians and hard-line Israelis. At the same time the establishment of a Palestinian state is now just a wishful thinking as it has been postponed since the Oslo peace agreement in 1994 on many occasions.

Almost each year after this date there has been optimism that the Palestinians can have their state. But the differences between the Palestinians themselves on one hand and Israel on the other hand has put this plan on halt.

In case of the establishment of Gaza and Judea as states, it will be interesting to see how diametrically religiously opposed entities can survive and coexist and if Israel West Bank can really make good neighbours.

The end of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel should be based on the respect of mutual rights. A ceasefire between the two sides is just a prolongation of the conflict which resumes once it ends.

Is a salary cut the solution to the current economic crisis?

Around the world workers are already complaining about poor salaries, which is making it difficult for them to have both ends meet on daily basis. Asking them to accept salary cut is just asking them to accept an increase in their financial hardship.

Many people have been hit by the increase in the prices of basic commodities, making their budgets overstretched. Those affected have to make do without -among other things- leisure activities to satisfy their demands for basic needs.

A salary cut means a halt to personal plans like getting a house or having a relaxing holiday. Should people spend their time looking for cheap goods , watching TV and chatting over empty beer glasses to reduce the effect of salary cuts? For people in the West, it will be difficult to ask them to help aid organisations like Oxfam to help the poor when they themselves need help. An impoverished person in the West means more impoverished people in the already poor countries.

A cut in salary can be accepted. It is far better than redundancy and receiving unemployment benefits (which is not the case in the majority of countries around the world). At the individual level, this can be a good compromise. But for the national economy, this can have devastating effects as other industries will suffer, especially leisure activities like tourism. Less money for tourism means a slowdown in the sectors related to it like aviation, hotels and so forth.

If a cut in salary is a necessary price for a promising economic recovery for all, let it be. It can be an opportunity for people to consider the era of ME is over and it must be the WE era. Ordinary workers can accept a salary cut if the bosses also accept to have drastic cuts in their income and to experience the financial limits until full economic recovery.

If salary cuts are general, how can the economy keep going? Less income means less spending. Tightening one’s belt can be acceptable if only it is temporary. Salary cuts and massive sacking of workers are an introduction to economic collapse. What is needed is a policy for economic stimulus to keep the production and consumption chain going.

Working mothers and childcare

Childcare is bad for your baby, working parents are warned

A UNICEF study suggests that government policy is at odds with the developmental needs of children under 12 months.

So how can parents balance their economic needs with the needs of their children?

It’s rare to find someone to care for children with love as their duty is to take care of them and not to love them as if they were their own. A childcare is a professional centre. There is just “artificial” care. A mother’s care is second to none. It’s like breastfeeding which naturally can’t be replaced by bottle -feeding in terms of physical and emotional contact between the mother and the child.

However childcare remains a necessity for mothers who have no relatives to look after their child when at work. As a compromise, there should be well-trained staff in childcare centres at least for the child not to feel neglected, to have some social skills. But the building of a child’s personality is the responsibility of the mother. A child can have different tutors but basically he/she has only one mother. She should work out how to create a motherly atmosphere for her child even for a limited time every day.

Children in early age don’t need to be transported from home and childcare on regular basis. They need to be carried in the arms of their parents. For that, a child must feel that he/she belongs to a home and not to a childcare centre.

Broadcast assisted suicide

The wife of a man whose assisted suicide was filmed for television has defended a programme about his death.

assisted-suicideA lot of people aren’t unfamiliar with seeing someone dying. There are numerous situations in fiction and reality in which the death of a person is witnessed. The famous death in the 21st century is the hanging of Saddam Hussein and the controversy it engendered following its broadcast on Youtube.

Death is a recurring event almost every second. However, the death of a person through euthanasia shouldn’t be broadcast. At best, it should be debated. In other words, it shouldn’t be a “spectacle” talked about passionately by some and indifferently or even jokingly by others.

It may be argued that some people have the right to die when they are terminally ill. This should be done in private. It shouldn’t be public through a broadcast.

And to be sarcastic, should a camera be installed in the grave of the person whose death was broadcast to see the body decomposition step by step!? This also should be open to debate.

Unrest in Greece

The ongoing unrest in Greece over the shooting of a 15 year old boy by the police is just a trigger of the underlying problems facing Greek society. The list of demands by the protesters will put the current government under hard test. As an EU member, Greece should be immune from corruption and other abuses.

On the whole Greek problems can’t be solved just by demonstrations. There should be the political will and a scheme to deal with them before things get out of hand. It seems that the Greeks still have a long way to go to realize their demands as the eradication of corruption, the narrowing of the disparity between the rich and the poor via a sound economic recovery will take time.

A weak Greece will be advantageous just to Turkey, a neighbour it loves to hate. However a stable Greece is beneficial to NATO and the EU. As a member of these two groups, it’s imperative that it should clean its house before getting outside prescriptions about what should be done.

Torture and martyrdom

It is still difficult to make an accused person make full confessions if they have the skill to hide the truth. Torture proves wrong when the tortured person comes out innocent after all evidence.

As it is difficult to read a person’s mind and to extract all information from them about sensitive issues, any harsh method is acceptable as long as it isn’t life threatening or causing permanent handicap. However odd it may sound, torture should be about inflicting “safe” pain, with the threat that it will be ongoing until the required information is acquired.

As long as there are ruthless criminals, there should be ruthless methods to deal with them, at least until all evidences are gathered. Torture becomes wrong when it is used for the slightest offences or suspicions. Torture shouldn’t also be used to scare people showing political discontent and democratically aspiring for change. In other words, torture should be banned in case of political prisoners asking for peaceful change. If not, torture will remain just a form of barbarism, a shame for human values and rights.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s confession ( allegedly under torture )shows he has nothing to lose. Admitting that he was behind 9/11 terrorist attacks means he will be seen as a hero by Al Qaeda sympathizers. His act will continue to be considered as “glorious” inflicting great damage on the “infidels”.

As Al Qaeda is erroneous in its tactics and considering them the most righteous, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed desire for martyrdom can be materialized for him when executed. But this isn’t much of martyrdom. As I understand martyrdom is to die for a cause and not to kill and to ask to be killed. Al Qaeda cause has proven the deadliest in the 21st century. No one in his right mind will consider its action as heroic. Even bloody heroes ask to be face to face with their enemies and not to randomly select targets to quench their thirst for blood.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed can also hang himself if he can in case he’s spared execution. The US justice shouldn’t be fooled by his claims. There should be hard evidence that he actually was THE or ONE of the masterminds of 9/11 attacks before passing any irrevocable judgement.

Is it right to intervene in troubled countries?

Africa and the SADC have been reluctant to take firm action against Mugabe despite his vote rigging and use of violence to repress his opponents. Zimbabwe is practically paralysed. it needs the support of the international community lo lift it from its current misery and to allow the Zimbabweans to live in dignity.

 

Countries shouldn’t be at the mercy of regimes that have disregards for basic human rights, including the right to life. As such the world should use its means to save endangered lives and not to consider threatening cases like cholera and other endemic diseases as an internal matter.

 

For Mugabe to refuse humanitarian aid should be seen as a crime against humanity. He has no right to take the Zimbabweans his hostage just for his survival. It goes without saying that the survival of a country is far important than the survival of a regime; especially, the one that has no respect for human rights.

 

In the case of Zimbabwe, African leaders are unlikely to take any action – military or economic- against Mugabe. The West should have the determination to find means to save the Zimbabweans at least from the spread of cholera and famine before finding the means of saving them from the chronically ailing Mugabe regime.

The West has had successful interventions in Liberia and Sierra Leone that were torn by savage civil wars. Why not give a try to find a permanent solution to the current situation in Zimbabwe?

 

The West needn’t show double standards by quickly intervening in strategic parts of the world like Iraq and ignoring areas that aren’t a threat to its interests.

In view of the current economic crisis affecting the West, it’s unlikely there will be drastic interventions in countries like Burma and Zimbabwe. As long as such countries aren’t a threat to strategically political balance, there will just the policy of wait-and-see or the policy of first-things-first.

It’s laudable to intervene to redress political situations in foreign countries notorious for human rights abuses. But there are the political calculations that set priorities. Statistically, how many countries are known for the violation of human rights and is it feasible to intervene in all of them? Singling out one countries among the rest won’t set a good example. As such there will always be regimes that can escape sanctions and interventions as long as they have the stick to deal with their people and the carrot to coax outside forces; especially the West with vast interests in them.

 

Can governments really protect us from terrorism?

Terrorists are too smart to be destroyed easily. They’re like a cancer that finds a way to grow when it’s attacked in its first location. Like a cancer, it should be treated in its infancy. But now it has become lethal threatening to develop unnoticed because it has its evasive ways.

The fight against terrorism shouldn’t be at the expense of privacy and individual freedom. Politicians should be accountable for terror attacks if their security measures are lax and terrorist attacks are carried out when they should have been prevented in advance.

Governments can fight terrorism radically if it has sophisticated security means and the whole population is mobilized to refute its strategies and ideologies, and to inform about any suspect terrorist individual or network. If terrorists can’t be put out of existence, at least they won’t have the chance to create havoc now and then on regular basis and at places of their choice, leaving the security corps look impotent and fooled.

Morocco wasn’t immune from terrorist attacks as it was disastrously its victim on May 16th, 2003, leaving 42 dead. However, precautions were taken to surround Isalimsts suspected of sympathizing with terrorism or planning it.

However, Morocco, despite its ongoing dismantlement of many terrorist cells remains a safe country for its citizens and visitors. Millions of tourists visit it each year mainly from Europe. There are thousands of Europeans who have come to live in it, especially in the old city of Marrakesh where they easily and comfortably mix with the locals.

What matters to deal with terrorism is continuous vigilance, sensitizing the citizens about its dangers and securing for them a stable life not to see destabilising the country through terrorism or otherwise as a means to voice their protest and to take action.