Monthly Archives: November 2008

Peace- Too Little For Too Long Or Too Late For Peace?

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas have been circling around one another for a few years, exchanging words about peace and compromise, but never finalizing anything other than they both have a desire for peace. Now, as Olmert prepares to leave office due to a scandal, he is saying, “in principle, there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future– you don’t need months to make a decision.” Of course, had this been said a year ago, there might now be peace between Israel and Palestine. In 1993, the Oslo accords gave hope of peace, but what was agreed upon somehow got lost in the process of trying to implement the agreement.

Palestinian police have restored law and order to several cities such as Hebron, and IDF forces no longer have to patrol cities such as Nablus and Jenin. The Abbas government has improved in many areas of administration such as in its banking and accounting offices. If Oslo is any example, it proves the importance of following up on agreements by working on implementing details, not grand theories.

Barack Obama has to ensure the United States works with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to ensure the details of peace become a high priority and a reality.

Karzai Blasts US And Coalition

President Karzai allowed his frustrations at the conduct of the war to explode in vigorous condemnation of the efforts by American and coalition forces to combat the Tabliban. “We haven’t accepted the international community so our lives could get worse,” he said, arguing his people could accept some difficulties in the war, but the style of fighting as conducted by the United States and NaTO, “can’t be the only way forever.” He insisted he was not asking for those fighting on his side to leave but he did want a date by which they had accomplished their goals. Karzai is particularly upset at the constant air strikes which all too often result in the death of innocent civilians.

All Secretary of State Rice could respond is that “I don’t think one sets timetables on when wars end.” Actually, there were timetables in operation during World War II which may help to account for being able to know if one was winning or losing. The lack of timetables means wars can go on forever.

Of course, it would help if Karzai actually ran an honest government that met the needs of people.

Georgian President Warned To Foster Democracy

George Bush has been responsible for fostering many myths about democracy including his claim that Georgian President MIhheil Saakashvili was a defender of a democratic society which was invaded by brutal Russia. The issue as to whether Georgia or Russia initiated the war is still a debate, but there is no doubt Georgia is not a democratic nation. A prominent European think tank said Georgia must follow through with needed economic and political reforms in the coming months. The Brussels based International Crisis Group, said Saakashvili’s administration will “be severely tested politically and economically in the winder and spring ahead.” It charges economic and political liberalism have been thwarted by his authoritarianism and stifling of free speech.

The Georgian opposition is now charging Saakashvili began the war with Russia and insisting democratic reforms are necessary. The Brussels group called for creation of an independent judiciary, elimination of high level corruption and freedom for the media to report the truth, not the government’s view as to what constitutes the truth.

Bigoted Canadian Native Leader Reveals Ignorance

It is common for those who support the fight to increase rights for oppressed people to assume, based on their own experience, their leaders would fight to end hatred in the world. David Ahenakew, former leader of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, has damaged his group/s fight for equal rights by constantly attacking Jews and preaching the hatred of racism. “Everybody says I’m a Jew hater. I don’t hate Jews, but I hate when they do to people.” In his bigoted view, Jews caused World War II and the Holocaust. He believes the Holocaust was justified because, “how do you get rid of a disease like that, that’s going to take over, that’s going to dominate?”

This ignorant man insists Jews “damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war” and Hitler was simply trying to protect the German people against the evil Jews by making sue “the Jews didn’t take over Germany or Europe– that’s why he fried six million of those guys.”

Mr. Ahenakew, undoubtedly has encountered discrimination and hatred in his life, but, unfortunately, has only learned from that experience that hatred must be met with being a hating person. His comments on the Holocaust are so ridiculous one can not take time to refute his undoubted ignorance. Killing six million innocent people, regardless of what some people from their group do or don’t do, is never an excuse. The punishment for Mr. Ahenakew should be to tour death camps and learn about the Holocaust.

Mumbai Violence Just Another Chapter In Indian Violence

The violence which engulfed Mumbai was horrific but it is basically simply another chapter in the turmoil which has plagued India since it was freed from British rule. The moment of independence was marked by strife which resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands as Muslims an Hindus clashed with one another. The clash over Kashmir has sparked additional conflict and deaths as both sides insist they have a claim to an area that historically was mainly Muslim. In 1992, a mob of Hindu extremists destroyed a Mughal era mosque which resulted in fighting that took over 2,000 lives. A year later, terrorists struck back by killing over 200 Hindus. In 2002, the state of Gujarat witnessed a massacre of over 1,000 Muslims by Hindu mobs.

India is the world’s largest and among the most successful democracies but it has not been able to shake loose from extremists from both Hindu and Muslim factions. Perhaps, it is time for Muslim and Hindu clerics to united in the struggle to restore peace to all areas of the country. Perhaps, it is time for both Indian and Pakistan school systems to work on peace education and religious tolerance programs.

Immigrant Children To Finland Need More Assistance

Finland increasingly has become the destination of thousands of immigrants. During the past four decades the new Finnish immigration has come from the Middle East and Africa which is a revolutionary change for the Finnish education system. A recent study in Finland suggests a growing gap between what immigrant children need and what is being delivered by the school system. A child from an African or Arab background undoubtedly will encounter school bullying or discover few teachers in the school have the language skills needed to work with these new immigrants. The report notes, “Finnish language and remedial teaching” must be vastly improved.

Finland, like so many European nations is experiencing a new diversity arriving and they are discovering a lack of trained educators, reading materials, and sensitivity toward their needs within existing school systems. Educators have to learn more about the cultures of the new immigrants as well as how there is need to adjust teaching materials and methods.

Mugabe Stalls, Zimbabwe Suffers!

The situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse by the day as thousands are now dying because of a cholera attack. Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai pleaded for a new mediator to take over from former South African president Mbeki. A basic problem from the initial appointment of Mbeki is his refusal to exert pressure on his deal old friend, Mugabe in order to make him abide by agreements. Tsvangirai has finally thrown up his hands in disgust and demanded the appointment of a new mediator– one who is impartial. “The humanitarian crisis that is now engulfing all Zimbabweans,” said Tsvangirai, “represents the greatest threat ever to face our country. While millions face starvation in the coming months, the deal toll from cholera is now sitting at over 50 people per day.”

Over three million Zimbabweans already have taken refuge in South Africa and now thousands more are headed in that direction. Mbeki has not only failed the people of Zimbabwe but also his own people who must now assume responsibility for caring for thousands of immigrants.

Is Integration Working In Netherlands?

The media eats up stories about cultural conflict and problems societies confront in dealing with newly arrived immigrants. A survey of Dutch newspapers usually reveals statements such as:
“We’re plagued by an epidemic of Moroccan violence”
However, a new report by the Dutch national statistics organization, Statistics Netherlands(CBS) offers a sharply different view of Dutch society. The CBS study shows non-western immigrants and their children are closing gaps with native Dutch citizens in various areas of society. More immigrants are enrolled in higher education and more are graduating from high school. There has also been a sharp rise in the number of immigrants in the workforce.

According to Jan Latten, a researcher with CBS, “when you work, you meet colleagues, you speak better Dutch, you might have to take the bus, you have to know the way to work. It adds up to social cohesion. Work gives structure to your life. Those who stay on the sidelines have a tough time taking part in other things. So it also has social consequences.”

There is still some feeling among native born Dutch about young immigrant youths. But, adults invariably have problems with adolescents and when young people speak a different language or have some different customs, it only accentuates problems.

Are Indonesian Moderate Muslims Losing Battle?

Many Indonesian moderate Muslims increasingly are concerned if their nation’s historic pluralistic approach to religion is being overwhelmed by more radical extremists who seek to impose strict Islamic ideas on the nation. They wonder how deep is the moderate Muslim feeling within their nation in light of recent events such as passage of an anti-pornographic law which could be used against those who fundamentalists regard as opposing their views on life or the banning of the Jamaah Ahmadiyah minority sect which has its own interpretation of the Muslim religion. There is also evidence in some areas of Indonesia that local authorities are imposing a variation of Sharia law within their own jurisdictions.

Indonesian women have never gotten into what in some other Muslim nations is termed “traditional Muslim dress” such as the burka or wearing the chador. The assumption of some experts is the average Indonesian voter is pragmatic and votes for candidates who can bring prosperity and deal with their immediate needs. If moderates can achieve those goals, they will gain support of most Indonesian Muslims.

Ahmadinejad Again Displays His Stupidity

iranian President Ahmadinejad once again proved he is a man whose mouth barely disguises his ignorance of what is important to Muslim people in the world. The Iranian government angrily disassociated itself from an Arab and Islamic attempt to reach out to Israel with a peace plan that could restore stability and foster economic prosperity to the Middle East. The Ahmadinejad government is furious the advertisement calling for Israel to agree to restore the 1967 borders contained pictures of the flags of all nations including that of Israel. The Iranian government told newspapers it was furious that Arab leaders were agreeing to broker peace with Israel whom it termed an “illegitimate” regime. It does not want its flag displayed in any such effort because the Iranian government is committed to violence, distrust, and hate as the only way to bring peace to the region.

The Palestinian Authority which is obviously directly involved in these negotiations took the initiative of placing the ad in Hebrew language newspapers. A Saudi Arabia newspaper published the ad but a Jordanian one refused. What exactly do those opposing the advertisement propose–continue the present non-functioning peace process? More violence? More hate?