PUBLIC ADVOCACY: Israel Perspectives: Visit to IDF, GAZA BORDER

January 27, 2013

1. Part of the Ministry of Defense, Executes government policy in the West Bank and Gaza. A young captain coordinates all the goods going to Gaza. Cement goes thru foreign entities like the UN or WHO. Every item is logged and tracked.

This is the Buffer Zone and the Israeli Military coordinates thru here. Working conditions are harsh. A CHARMING YOUNG OFFICER WITH A LOVE FOR THE DIVERSITY OF THE ARMY UNITS; DRUZE, ETHIOPIANS, FRENCH, YEMENITES, is one of many , responsible for Israel’s defense on the Gaza Border.

She is a Lone Soldier. It’s a Hard life , made better by the Friends of the IDF, who provide a warm home for every kid who wants to serve their country.

At the EREZ BORDER terminal, 350 people cross daily. They thought it would serve 100′,000 but most Gazans cross the border for medical treatment only in Israel. Though Gaza has a hospital, most prefer to travel one hour to the closest Israeli hospital.

We saw photos of the GAZAN TUNNELS, large structures capable of transporting food and cars and equipment to the Gazan population. Commerce appears to travel under and over ground. There is an acknowledged water shortage in the region which has not been resolved.

Living in this region is a hard life. No matter which part of the fence you’re on, this is hardship duty. Young IDF soldiers sit glued to their monitors trying to protect the peace. There is very little joy at this out post; however, on the day we visited, the Captains had their first family outing In a year with their wives and children. A carnival was in progress, replete with rides for the kids and cotton candy.

Our next stop was Askelon, a beautiful city by the sea, within striking distance of the Gazan rockets. WE VISITED THE ORT SCHOOL FOR KIDS IN THE REGION. These 12 th graders had experienced several rocket attacks and felt the trauma. When questioned, they felt that both sides were being terrorized. They believe that the Palestinians are being used by their government. Cleary, when speaking with the Palestinian authority the next day , they had little sympathy for HAMAS.

When meeting with members of the local Askelon populace, they too felt abandoned by their government. They have been asked to accept a multitude of minorities entering Israeli society, which has weakened their economy. THEY, TOO, ARE LOOKING FOR PEACE WITH THE PEOPLE OF GAZA. They walked the streets of Askelon before, they participated in the Southern Israel Society, the people of the Southern Israel region would trade Peace for rockets.

Though Gaza and the West Bank are linked together, they can be separated, with different solutions for both areas? It’s a choice?


Public Advocacy: My thoughts/ Israel

January 27, 2013

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1/26/13. Thoughts on Israel : presumptions vs the actual experience. ( note: first 2 photos are of Ramallah. The last photos are of Rawabi.)

I never felt unsafe in Israel, not even when we went to the Gaza crossing at Erez or drove into the West Bank with a member of the PLO. My experience, though it started with a lack of hope for Israel,and the Palestinians, ended With hope.

Starting in the town closest to the Gazan border and throughout the Southern Territories there was a sense of commitment to peace. A real longing to tear down the barriers and develop commerce and dialogue with the people of Gaza. Left to
themselves it might be better for both groups to start a dialog of compassion and mutual problem solving. This never occurred to me; my Initial thoughts were, PEACE, NEVER!

As our group moved on, we wound up in Rawabi, a new town being built in the West Bank. So much promise, so much industry, a true destination point. I could only think of the possibilities for the Palestinians and the Israeli’s. I’ve always believed that if people were exposed to McDonalds, Malls, Culture (theirs or ours) they would choose life over Rockets.

For me , Rawabi offered hope. There are always choices?

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PUBLIC ADVOCACY: From Israel; new perspectives , the people speak

January 27, 2013

1. Day 2 on the way to Gaza. Since the elections are today, there are no schools or government buildings open. We are currently in Moshav on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. ( For the history buffs, Gaza was given to Israel by Egypt when Israel with drew from Sinai.)

‘What does it mean to live 1/2 mile from Gaza? The meeting house now has 2 shelters to protect the Israeli’s from missile attack. THEY FEEL INTENSE TRAUMA.

The feeling in the Israeli village is to listen and understand the GAZANS point of view. The Israeli’s feel They need to agree to coexist under a two state solution. Otherwise, the citizens of this TOWN are living in shelters and experiencing the impact of the missiles colliding with the iron dome.

The entire village is protected by an electrified fence which is closed at 11PM every night. The areas residents have help from Trauma specialists on a full time basis. THEY BELIEVE LIVING WITH BUNKERS IS NORMAL. ,THE KIDS RELY ON THE BUNKERS, EVEN WHEN TRAVELING AWAY FROM GAZA TO JERUSALEM.

2. 10 miles from Gaza the kibbutz we visited had been under attack from Gaza. There was no warning , you can still hear the terror in a woman’s voice. The death of one member of the Kibbutz , on Independence day , has traumatized the entire community. The adults and children required therapy.

Why is Israel retaliating? THEY will tell you: 55 bombs, 60 bombs, 100 bombs, 1500 bombs. Over a month to 6 wk period from Oct to Nov. of 2012. When there is a Red alert , a person has 10-15 sec to run for cover. There are not enough bunkers or time to secure your safety. They have not recovered.

3. The difference between the two areas we visited was; Communication with the GAZANS . The first village we visited had a history of commerce and communication with the Gazans. So , even when the villagers #feel trauma they have empathy and compassion for each other; Both the GAZANS and the Israeli’s feel a bond. This is not happening in the kibbutz. They are isolated and rely on extensive Trauma Services.

4. Gaza is right over the hill and the Palestinians are their neighbors. The mother we met wants her children “to not hate the Palestinians”. They want peace and mutual respect.

5. The people feel they can get used to Trauma, but they recognize that peace is the only solution for the region.

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PUBLIC ADVOCACY: FROM ISRAEL ; Many perspectives, People Ascendant

January 22, 2013

1. Day 1 , 1/21/13 , SWFS MISSION TO ISRAEL. Prof Uzi Rabi. From the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Cites his book; the 5 ways to analyze the Middle East. To paraphrase, we Need to develop a new set of Insights. He stated, that in order to understand the culture you need to know the language ( Arabic), too.

The first Theme in understanding the Middle East involves The Arab Spring. THE Barrier of fear collapsed. The dictators of the police states collapsed. The people became part of the narrative, there is no longer a one man show! The square has now become the focus of the people’s protests. During this period it is expected that the Nation’s will deal with instability. Therefore, in the coming years , other State’s will experience THIS ARAB SPRING. Patience is required.

The next theme to be developed is “The transition from PLUTOCRACY”, Similar to 1848. The people protested in the square and didn’t leave it till there was change; change occurs. Is it always Democracy. There are choices?

In The next phase of understanding The Arab Spring, one has to understand the failed State. A no man’s land, like Mali, is an example. Are we stating that the failed states, have now become divided states that become a hub for Al Queda? Or are these states, which were originally formed by Europeans , should never have been drawn together in the first place? There are choices. All these changes are inherent in a Society when change occurs. It seems that the failed states may also be experiencing their form of the Arab Spring?

2. The resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, it is proposed, is a two state solution . It is The only way for Israel to exist as a Democracy. They need bold and creative leadership; they need a dance partner, some body to help with empathy and compassion for all sides.


PUBLIC ADVOCACY: What’s. new? Let’s understand the system

January 21, 2013

1. NY TIMES 1/16/13 Record taxpayer cost is seen for Crop Insurance? The worst drought in 50 years ( some of it man assisted) could leave taxpayers with $16 Billion crop insurance costs due to poor yields. Worse, these subsidies could cost the American taxpayer more then $94 Billion in 10 years. Is this how we want to spend our tax dollars? To be fair and balanced, when do small businesses qualify for tax payer dollars and insurance guaranteed by the US GOVERNMENT to protect us from failure and bankruptcy? It’s our choice?

2. NY TIMES 1/18/13 MASSACRE. SWAYS PUBLIC IN WAY OTHERS DID NOT: When 1100 adults were polled nationally the results were overwhelmingly in favor of the following: A nationwide Ban on semi- automatic weapons. A ban on the sale of high capacity magazines. A national Database of all gun sales. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. It’s up to the legislature to propose and enforce laws. It will certainly make the understaffed ATF’s job easier. It’s our choice?

3. The recovery is underway. Listen to the news. But if you dig deeply, the housing recovery belongs to the victors , those investors who got the benefit of short sales and foreclosures. The Bank Settlements, agreed upon by the SEC , gives little money back to the unwitting victims of Bank Fraud. But we’re moving on? Job recovery, may be happening, but there is still a substantial number remaining unemployed. We have choices. According to Professor Joseph Stiglitz , we should be investing in education and acquiring revenue from a progressive tax structure and by taxing financial speculators. WE HAVE CHOICES?

4. LOL Financial Times 1/19/13. Rather then implementing an amendment to overturn CITIZENS UNITED , the politicians are adapting to the SUPER PAC. President Barack Obama is proposing his own PAC, Organizing for Action. “It will work to turn our shared values into legislative action, and it will empower the next generation of leaders in our movement.” We have choices? Will Jon Huntsman’s. No Labels, problem solvers organization have the same point of view? What are our choices?


Photo from the robot practice in Bedford, NY Boces training

January 14, 2013

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PUBLIC ADVOCACY: The news isn’t good , but we have choices!

January 13, 2013

1. I was at a Private Party the other night when someone suggested their idea for making money, $500,000 jewel encrusted evening bags? You read correctly. Fast forward to the NY TIMES 1/13/13. Numerous articles on the State of Americans and America. Drought in the West, homeless in Wyoming, frozen crops in California; yet as a Nation we look, but don’t see the tragedy that’s unfolding before us. The climate is changing, the recession is continuing and we are sitting on our hands. WHERE’S THE CRY FOR EDUCATION, FOR INFRASTRUCTURE ? WHO NEEDS $500,000 EVENING BAGS? WE HAVE A CHOICE.

2. When I was growing up , BOCES, was an organization dedicated to helping the intellectually challenged. NOT ANY MORE! BOCES, HAS BECOME A HANDS ON LEARNING INSTITUTION, CREATING FUTURE ENGINEERS . I watched for hours, as (4) groups of 8 , juniors and seniors, scrimmaged, tweaking their robots to compete against teams. The kids were engrossed, engaged, actively working within their groups to create a robot to lift weights and extend it’s arms. The all girls team, THE TECHNO CHICKS, were equally as engaged as the guys; isn’t this what we want? Instead BOCES IS CUTTING THIS PROGRAM BY 50%; TO ACCOMMODATE THE GROWING NEED FOR COSMETOLOGISTS? We complain that we have no skilled workers. Yet when a program does provide engineering hands on training for our youth, we cut the program? WE HAVE A CHOICE!

3. if you’re reading my blog you care about our Society and humanity. May I suggest reading the NY TIMES OPINION, BY HELENE OLEN, author of “Pound Foolish : Exposing the dark side of personal finance”. Can’t save? Here’s why? As the average household net worth plunged 40% between 2007-2010, the cost of everything from health care to housing has risen for decades. Almost half of us our living pay check to pay check. Our collective STUDENT LOAN DEBT EXCEEDS $1TRILLION. Helene Olen, urges us to talk about money! Pick a cause and resolve to fight for change….

4. LOL. NY Times 1/13/13 THE LOW POLITICS OF LOW GROWTH, by Annie Lowrey. The grand bargain, just made in Congress, will in fact be punitive to the American worker, who’s real wages has been stagnant for 15 years. According to Milton Friedman, the Harvard economist, the legislated tax cuts, will decrease economic growth below 2%. Further, as corporate productivity climbs, corporate profits soars and wages are frozen at major corporations? The top 1% of households garnered 65% of all the nation’s income growth from 2002-2007 when the recession hit. Professor Katz , also of Harvard, says it would make sense to create a more progressive tax system when corporations and the top 1% are commanding more of the economic pie. THE CHOICE IS OURS, BE AWARE, BE CONCERNED/ FIGHT FOR CHANGE? ( Steven Greenhouse, NY TIMES & author, “The Big Squeeze, Tough times for the American worker”)


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