• Category Archives Ethics
  • Phyllis Bennis: Violating International Law in Gaza

    water systems damaged in Gaza
    Numerous water systems and wells have been badly damaged in the airstrikes, limiting the water supply to the people of Gaza. (Photo: flickr / cc / Mohammed Al Baba/Oxfam)

    As Israel’s assault claims the lives of hundreds of Palestinian children, there’s no doubt that it’s a form of collective punishment.

    As Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip rages on, ceasefires come and go. Most last just long enough for Palestinians to dig out the dead from beneath their collapsed houses, get the injured to overcrowded and under-resourced hospitals, and seek enough food and water to last through the next round of airstrikes.

    “There is nothing left but stones,” Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer quoted an old woman saying as she searched desperately through the rubble of what had been her home.

    Casualties are soaring. By late July, Israel had killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, at least 73 percent of them civilians including hundreds of children. Fifty-six Israelis, almost all of them soldiers, have died too.

    July 28 poll shows 86.5 percent of Israelis oppose a ceasefire. Yet we continue to hear that Israelis want peace.

    It’s true that at least some of them do. An Israeli protest in Tel Aviv brought 5,000 people into the street. That’s good — though a far cry from the 400,000 who poured into the streets to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon back in 1982.

    And when a young Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and tortured to death — burned alive — in Jerusalem after the bodies of the three kidnapped young Israeli settlers were found, many Israelis tried to distance themselves from the horrific crime. “In our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed.

    But in fact, there is a place for those who call for murder — at the highest political and military levels of Israeli society.

    Meet Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset — Israel’s parliament. She belongs to Israel Home, a far-right party in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. She issued on Facebook what amounts to a call to commit genocide, by deliberately killing Palestinians, including women, children, and old people.

    “The entire Palestinian people is the enemy,” Shaked posted. “In wars, the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

    The Knesset member went on to say that the mothers of Palestinians killed should follow their dead sons to Hell: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

    Her language reminds me of a chapter in our own history — the genocidal Indian Wars. U.S. military leaders had called on their troops to wipe out all the Native Americans andCol. John Chivington was asked on the eve of the Sand Creek Massacre about killing Cheyenne children. “Kill and scalp all, big and little, nits make lice,” he replied.

    Shaked’s comments also echo the words of an Israeli colonel who testified under oath at the wrongful death trial of Rachel Corrie, a young U.S. peace activist killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored bulldozer in Gaza. “In a war zone there are no civilians,” said the military officer — who was responsible for training Israeli soldiers to serve in the occupied territories.

    There’s no question that Hamas’ primitive rockets violate international law. They can’t be accurately aimed at military targets. But that doesn’t justify Israel’s violation of its own obligations under international law as the occupying power in Gaza.

    Israel has the region’s strongest military, the only nuclear weapons arsenal in the Middle East, and the unconditional backing of the United States. Its assault on Gaza violates the Geneva Conventions. Israel is imposing collective punishment against all Gazans, attacking hospitals, and using disproportionate force.

    Israeli officials know full well that the best way to protect their citizens is to implement a real ceasefire — a breakthrough that would require opening Gaza’s borders. Some of them also know the best way to keep their citizens safe long term is by ending the occupation altogether. Problem is, not enough of them will admit it.

    U.S. taxpayers also have a stake in this conflict because Washington keeps sending Israel billions of our tax dollars and refuses to push Tel Aviv to stop violating international law.

    For real peace, both of those things must change.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

    Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  Her books include Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A PrimerUnderstanding the U.S.-Iran Crisis: A PrimerEnding the Iraq War: A Primer, and most recently Ending the Us War in Afghanistan: A Primer. If you want to receive her talking points and articles on a regular basis, click here and choose "New Internationalism." You can find her on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/PhyllisBennis

  • NCR: Conservatives Squawk Over Pope’s Tweet on Inequality

    From the National Catholic Reporter:

    Another week, another communications controversy for Pope Francis?

    That’s how it was looking after a three-word tweet from Pope Francis — in Latin — about inequality left some conservatives dazed and confused over Catholic teachings on economics. They were still digesting last week’s news about the pontiff’s call to an Argentine woman that left them wondering whether Rome was going wobbly on the sanctity of marriage.

    The latest dust-up began routinely enough, with a Monday morning post to Francis’ Twitter feed that said: "Iniquitas radix malorum."?

    "Inequality is the root of social evil" is how the English translation ran, and that tracked closely with other language versions.

    Honestly, have these people read the prophet Amos? How about the teachings of Jesus Christ?

    Try Matthew 19:21 –

    Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,* go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Adding that because many of these "conservatives" call themselves Christians.

  • Video: Vermont Approves Single-Payer Health Care: ‘Everybody in, nobody out’

    From our friends at Occupy Democrats regarding the state of Vermont adopting a single-payer health care system where all hospitals will operate as not-for-profits:

    The program will be fully operational by 2017, and will be funded through Medicare, Medicaid, federal money for the ACA given to Vermont, and a slight increase in taxes.  In exchange, there will be no more premiums, deductibles, copay’s, hospital bills or anything else aimed at making insurance companies a profit.  Further, all hospitals and healthcare providers will now be nonprofit.

    This system will provide an instant boost the state economy.  On the one side, you have workers that no longer have to worry about paying medical costs or a monthly premium and are able to use that money for other things.  On the other side, you have the burden of paying insurance taken off of the employers side, who will be able to use the saved money to provide a better wage and/or reinvest in their company through updated infrastructure and added jobs.  It is a win-win solution.

    Win-win indeed.

    This, by the way, is precisely the way Canada moved to a single-payer health care system: state by state.

    And now it’s our turn.

    Thank you, President Obama!

  • Take Action: Sign Jeff Merkley’s Petition – Disclose the Big Money!

    From , Jeff Merkley U.S. Senate candidate from Oregon:

    Ever since the Supreme Court’s outrageous Citizens United decision, corporate spending on political campaigns has skyrocketed.

    But much of that spending never gets disclosed anywhere. We have no idea who is attempting to influence our elections.

    Republicans in Congress may have blocked action, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the power to do something about it. They can create a rule that requires corporations to disclose to their shareholders (and thus, to the public) whether and how much they are spending to influence voters.

    But so far, the SEC has opted to do nothing. That’s not OK.

    Sign our petition and tell the SEC it’s time to stand up and take action.

    If we’re going to fix our democracy, we have to make sure that voters know who is trying to pick winners and losers in our elections.

    Jeff Merkley

    Sign on!

  • The Science of Arousal and Rape: Popular Science

    Worth your time to drop over here and read this article.

    An excerpt:

    Rape is not always violent. Some survivors surrender to protect themselves or their loved ones. Some are intoxicated, drugged, physically or mentally incapacitated, or in a position without power. Some (doubly horribly) are children. Rape does not always include penile penetration. Some rapists are married to their victims. Some rapists are women. Some women rape men. And sometimes, in the middle of an act that is always a violation, a rape survivor will experience increasingly intense physical sensations leading to climax – an orgasm.

    Judges, juries, prosecutors, all in the legal system need to be aware. An orgasm during rape does not imply consent. In fact, it only makes the shame greater.

    Worth your time.

  • On Conservatives and Safety Nets: Robert Reich

    Robert Reich on conservatives and safety nets:

    Conservatives don’t like safety nets because they allegedly make people lazy and careless. But what about safety nets for top executives who fail? Yahoo’s recent decision to pay its chief operating officer $96 million for 15 months of work before firing him is just the latest example of handsome rewards for failure in corporate suites.

    At least safety nets for the poor help those in need. Safety nets for corporate executives give them no reason to work hard because even when they fail they can vastly increase their wealth. One way to discourage these is to prevent corporations from deducting generous executive severance payments from their taxable incomes. What do you think?

    So, what do you think?

  • Can I Say That I Love The Pope? After This (Video), I Certainly Do

    What you see here seems so simple.

    So simple.

    But remember this…

    What you see is anything but simple…

    This man "proves" by example.

    "Teaches" by example.

    "Loves" by example.

    This pope understands the teachings of Christ.

    And none of those teachings stipulate that Christ never, ever said, "DO NOT LOVE."

    On the contrary.

    First, there is no ordination in the Catholic Church higher than bishop.

    Cardinals are appointed. Popes are elected.

    The Pope is Bishop of Rome, and has an incredible amount of authority, power, whatever.

    Which is why this is so striking.

    The pope confessed his sins to "an ordinary priest."

    Wow. Wow. And, Wow.

    Love this guy, forever.

    Francis should be the Patron Saint of Popes, moving forward.

    I love him.

  • Man Framed by New York Detective to Get $6.4 Million



    And more wow.

    From the New York Times:

    A man who was framed by a rogue detective and served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive $6.4 million from the City of New York in a settlement that came before a civil rights lawsuit was even filed, lawyers involved in the case said on Thursday.

    A $150 million claim filed last year by the man, David Ranta, was settled by the city comptroller’s office without ever involving the city’s legal department – which the lawyers involved in the negotiations described as a “groundbreaking” decision that acknowledged the overwhelming evidence the city faced.

    More here.

  • Newark Archbishop John Myers Is America’s Bishop of Bling

    The previous winner of the “Bishop of Bling” awards was Germany’s now-disgraced Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg.

    America has own contender for this ungodly award.

    Meet Archbishop John Myers of New Jersey:

    Newark, N.J., Archbishop John Myers’ decision to expand his summer residence cum retirement home — already a model of luxury with five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, an elevator, a three-car garage and a large outdoor pool and valued at nearly $800,000 — is nothing short of an assault on the goodwill and trust of the people of God.

    The 3,000-square-foot addition, at a minimum cost of $500,000 (it is reported that furnishings, architectural costs and landscaping are not included in that figure), will bring the total area of the residence to 7,400 square feet and the total value to at least $1.3 million.

    More at the National Catholic Reporter

  • IHSA Disqualifies H-F Girls Basketball, Says Coach Is A Cheat

    So it turns out cheaters will not win this year, at least one in particular from H-F.

    I especially feel bad for the kids affected, and, again, for those who were honest from the get-go.

    From Joe Biesk at the Sun-Times:

    Homewood-Flossmoor’s girls basketball team was scheduled to play T.F. North Wednesday. Instead, the Illinois High School Association has disqualified the team from the state playoffs over bylaw violations.

    The Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team and its acclaimed first-year coach Anthony Smith were top contenders for the state title this season. Now, they won’t even play a game in the tournament. In a decision Wednesday, issued about an hour before H-F was to play its opening game in the tourney, the Illinois High School Association dashed all hopes of the team’s postseason glory. Citing several violations of its bylaws, the IHSA banned H-F from competing and forfeited its 21 victories this season. The Vikings, ranked No. 1 by the Sun-Times, was scheduled to play T.F. North at 6 p.m. in Calumet City.

    Read more here.

    From the Chicago Tribune:

    Just hours before the top-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team was to take the floor to begin its playoff march, the state high school athletic association delivered a bombshell Wednesday, suspending the entire team and its highly regarded coach for rules violations.

    The sanctions by the Illinois High School Association come just weeks after a lawsuit rocked the highly touted program, accusing coach Anthony Smith of improperly recruiting star players from other school districts in his first season at H-F. That prompted the school district to conduct an internal investigation that led it to acknowledge it had violated rules, though none for improper recruiting.

    More here at the Trib