Palestine –Conception?

Mahmoud Abbas

138 countries voted on Thursday   (November 29, 2012) to upgrade Palestine to a “nonmember observer state” of the United Nations. 9 countries voted against this move and 41 countries abstained from voting.  While the vote does little to bring Palestine closer to statehood, it does give Palestine access to international legal forums to challenge Israel on its activities in West Bank.  This also reveals the world’s growing sympathy towards the cause of Palestine. However, not much change is expected because of this announcement.  Hamas and Fatah have their fundamental differences.  A spokesman for Hamas said recently, “We do not recognize Israel, nor the partition of Palestine, and Israel has no right in Palestine…Getting our membership in the U.N. bodies is our natural right, but without giving up any inch of Palestine’s soil.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, is willing to pursue the two states UN Partition Plan of 1947, but will not open negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu while Israel is trying to develop the region of the West Bank.  The US stand on Palestine has to undergo a metamorphosis. Rula Jebreal, of the Daily Beast writes, “The question that the US must ask is whether  it wants to empower moderates or the more violent Palestinian factions.  The status quo will only help Hamas and other extremist groups, and demonstrates the dysfunction and the double standards of American foreign policy in the region”. (11/29/2012)  The US cannot promote cease-fire/truce as it did a week ago or curb the influence of Hamas in the region without acknowledging need for negotiations between Fatah and Israel.

Who Shot JR ? Larry Hagman (1931-2012)

Larry Hagman, the actor who played J.R. Ewing on the television series “Dallas” died of complications due to cancer at the age of 81.  Last year, I bought the entire series on DVDs and had a grand time watching them.  Here is a sample of his acting:

He also acted in another hit series “I Dream of Jeannie” with Barbara Eden.  His staid, uncomplicated  character as the astronaut Major Anthony Nelson was endearing but as the Texas millionaire with  wicked, wicked ways, he created a character viewers loved to hate.  “I really can’t remember half of the people I’ve slept with, stabbed in the back or driven to suicide,” Hagman said of his character. 

Emergence of a New Breed of Voter

Obama’s win is significant as it celebrates the importance of a new kind of citizen—a global intellectual, who sees himself in relation to his community and environment, recognizing equality of all, and valuing the effort of his fellow human beings. This citizen has distanced himself from the society the Republicans represent that seems utterly male-dominated, with values that are outdated and totally uncompromising, sanctimonious and indifferent to the needs of non-whites. The ethnic composition of the American population is constantly changing; that is what makes this country unique. This is the only President who recognized this fact, judging by the cultural diversity of his campaign volunteers. In fact, nobody who owns a computer these days, conducts business on it, communicates with different parts of the world and exploits the information he receives has any right now to regard himself racially superior or to even claim gender superiority. 

The Republican candidate for the Senate in the State of Missouri, Todd Akin’s comment on “legitimate rape” reveals an appalling ignorance, an inexcusable insensitivity and gross callousness. EMILY’S List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to political office, was spurred into action by this comment.  They supported the rival candidate Claire McCaskill, spending over $255,000 on her campaign, and led her to victory.  The organization’s mission is to “continually make investments to help women develop political skills and cultivate resources so that we can bring more women into politics and elected office. Only then can we build a lasting progressive majority dedicated to social justice, civil rights, diversity, economic reform and compassion—and construct a society that values the contributions of all of its citizens.” The Republican landscape is not palatable any more.  Their priorities do not reflect a changing world. They are stuck on abortion, religion and marriage every election year. People came to this country to practice their religion without fear of persecution. Yet they force Christian values on others, find it hard to separate Church from the State and impose outrageous restrictions on women seeking abortion. Their pro-life arguments are based on religious reasons, namely that killing of the fetus is the killing of a sentient life.  It is hypocritical of them, in that case, to promote guns, and the killing of 90,000 cows every single day. 

Martha C. Nussbaum in her article “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” (Boston Review, Oct/Nov, 1994) argues, “The American student must learn to recognize humanity wherever she encounters it and be eager to understand humanity in its ‘strange’ guises.” Since the place of birth is but an accident, “we should not allow differences of nationality or class or ethnic membership or even gender to erect barriers between us and our fellow human beings.  We should recognize humanity wherever it occurs and give its fundamental ingredients, reason and moral capacity, our first allegiance and respect.” This extends to illegal immigrants in this country. Politics and compassion seem strange bedfellows. Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer denied drivers licenses and other benefits to illegal immigrants who could take advantage of President Obama’s ‘deferred action” immigration policy.  The President won 75% of the Latino vote last night. Elise Foley of The Huffington Post reports that, “Immigration isn’t the top issue for most—jobs and the economy rank higher—but it remains an important one, and for many Latino voters it’s something of a litmus test.  If a politician seems to disrespect immigrants or Latinos overall, or if the party seems uninterested in winning their votes, the support isn’t going to come.  This year, it didn’t.”  Although Romney won the State of Arizona, he faced intense opposition from the Latino voters.  

Presidential candidates must express their concern for social development as much as their concern for economic development.  The nature of the family unit has changed, lifestyles have changed, and gender roles have been redefined. How do we understand these trends without a solid foundation of education?  Mitt Romney has been particularly silent on the subject of educational reform.  NEA(National Education Association) President Dennis Van Roekel told The Huffington Post that, “education is key to the nation’s success and helping us solidify the economic recovery of the last few years.” Van Roekel said, “President Obama gets that, it’s why he’s supported education programs from early childhood through making college more affordable. Mitt Romney just doesn’t get that true education reform takes all stakeholders — educators, parents, and community — working together for students. Being divisive and providing kids with only the education they can afford hurts all of us in the end.”  Recognizing the need for reform is the job of the public service official.  He represents the people, and steps in when there is a pressing need for interference. Instead, Romney saw government intervention as an opportunity for the poor people to behave like victims and not take responsibility for their lives: “These are people who pay no income tax.  Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that is what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

What ultimately happened was Romney did not convince them to vote for him.  The thinking man rejected him.  A new breed of voter has emerged.  He is the world citizen who craves economic stability but respects human dignity more.

Yay Governor Christie!

Republicans have finally accepted the role of Government in our daily lives.  At least, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has.  Here he is, grateful to President Obama for his support in the wake of Hurricane Sandy disaster.  Snubbing Fox host Steve Doocy in an interview recently when asked if he would tour the disaster areas with Mitt Romney, Christie declared, “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.  I’ve a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff.  I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power.  I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state.  If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”


Trees are down, damaging power lines.  There are still 1.7 million homes without power and I have no hope of getting it within the next week. There is also a gas shortage.  However, President Obama has taken steps to provide immediate disaster relief.  Kudos to Governor Christie for putting aside partisan politics and taking care of NJ in distress.