Land Swaps?

Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s  speech last Thursday, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

“So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

and here is the reality:

It’s no wonder that in his meeting with Obama on Friday, Netanyahu said,

“While Israel is prepared to make generous, compromises for peace it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible…They don’t take into account demographic changes that have taken place on the ground.”

Demographic changes.

Fabulous euphemism. What Netanyahu fails to mention, what seems to be omitted from Israeli discussion of the logistics of creating borders, is that their illegal settlement construction which has occurred for decades is the cause of the “demographic changes” that frankly make a two state solution inconceivable.

Just what sort of “land swaps” do you ever see happening that could possibly resolve the “demographic realities” of that map?

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Asking the Right Questions

Just finished reading Yassin Alsalman’s “Diatribes of a Dying Tribe,” his master’s thesis and multimedia collaboration with Omar Offendum, Excentrik, and Ragtop in “Fear of an Arab Planet, also known as the Arab Summit. I thoroughly enjoyed his analyses of the interactions between hip hop, identity, cultural appropriation and the political realities of “Middle Westerners,” those of us of Middle Eastern descent living in the West who are faced with the types of questions that have risen to thematic ubiquity in my recent writings and musings. The questions of home and belonging, otherness and loyalty are important and contentious; i.e. what does it mean for me to have watched Egyptian police throw tear gas that was “Made in the USA“?

The book is academic poetry, and well worth the read. Download the Arab Summit or buy the book here.

“If the restaurant of life were an Arab establishment, dictators would be the waiters to a Capitalist chef.” (37)

OBL’s Death; Hoping for the End of an Era

Last night, as it was being announced that the president would make a speech my friend said, half-jokingly, that we had probably found bin Laden.

We did.

I was in fifth grade on September 11, 2001.
I have grown up watching my country descend into a quagmire of
militarization, subjugation of Muslim and other Arab Americans, and self-destruction as it stains its international reputation by torturing and committing other war crimes.

The America whose freedoms I was raised to love and treasure, and under whose flag I said the Pledge of Allegiance that and every morning has, under the guise of the “war on terror,”  consistently abandoned its values and ideals in pursuit of the nebulous other of “Islamofascism” in lieu of the real bad guy, OBL and Al-Qaeda.

My America has a volunteer-run military, not a hotbed of economic coercion.
My America believes in the value and dignity of every human being, not just those in a United States or Allied uniform.
My America believes in freedom of speech, not hate-speech, bigotry, and legislated ignorance.

I was ten years old when we invaded Afghanistan… I never dreamed I would have friends deployed there.

2,000 + people dead in IED drone strikes in Pakistan.
14,000-34,000 estimated civilian deaths in Afghanistan
over 1,000,000 people dead in Iraq since 2003
Trillions of dollars spent….

How many of those who serve will come back de-sensitized, traumatized,
horrified with a system that promised a paycheck and a college degree,
but didn’t warn about their inability to treat PTSD?

I agree with Peter Beinart that OBL’s death opens the door for a re-evaluation and re-prioritization of American policies, both foreign and domestic– and for that I am glad it has happened. A renewed focus on actually solving the mountain of debt is important, but insufficient as a final goal. I’m going to continue (naively) holding out hope that we will cut the defense budget and bring my friends home soon. Meanwhile, let’s take a step back, learn from our mistakes, learn from each other, and figure out how our nation can participate in a mutually beneficial way in this global age.

Over half of my life as a citizen of the United States has been spent with my country at war, devastating the lives of people across the globe: in Afghanistan, In Iraq, in Pakistan, at Guantanomo and other detention facilities, at United States military bases all around the world, in the homes of the family members of those directly affected by the conflict: 9-11 families, civilians in occupied lands, the loved ones of service-members, and in the bank accounts of every American whose federal taxes paid for much of this destruction.

Forgive me if I’m not outside with fireworks just yet.