Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘West bank and Gaza

A first? Palestinians portrayed as human beings on CNN?

Amer Zahr posted on September 16, 2013 in the Civil Arab: “Anthony Bourdain, Will You Marry Me?”

Something amazing happened on CNN last night. Palestinians were portrayed as human beings.

In his show “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain travels to exotic and controversial localities to examine the intersection of food, politics, and everyday life. Last night, he visited Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

He was immediately mesmerized by Palestine, which is a common phenomenon.

It is an amazing place, where the gravity of the history and spirituality is heavy in the air. It feels majestic.

Something is a little off.

Bourdain felt the splendor, but, as he said, “Then you see the young draftees (teenage Israeli soldiers holding machine guns) in the streets, and you start to get the idea.”

bourdain1

Anthony Bourdain?

He began his journey with an Israeli chef and author, Yotam. They started by tasting some falafel in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Yotam told the audience, in a stunning admission, “Israelis made falafel their own, and everybody in the world thinks falafel is Israeli, but in actual fact, it is as much Palestinian, even more so, because it’s been done for generations here… The question of food appropriation is massive here.”

Now if they could only say the same thing about the land, the houses, and the air, we might be able to get somewhere.

Bourdain then made his way into the West Bank. And on his way to visit a settlement, he said something that Americans never hear on TV:

In 2003, Israel began construction of a wall along the green line representing the Israeli-Palestinian border. The wall now stretches 450 miles. When completed, it will span 700 miles, 85% of it in Palestinian territory…

Since 1967, 500,000 Israeli settlers have moved into the West Bank, all in contravention of international law, many in contravention of Israeli law, though in effect it seems to make little difference, they’re here and in ever larger numbers.

Anthony, you will be hearing from certain individuals and organizations in the coming days. They will be upset. They’ve been trying to keep this stuff a secret.

Before he got to the settlement, he noticed some Hebrew graffiti on a Palestinian house in a neighboring village. His driver translated it for him: “Death to Arabs.”

Anthony, you will be hearing from certain individuals and organizations in the coming days. They will be upset. They’ve been trying to keep this stuff a secret.

Bourdain finally made it to the settlement of Eli.

Eli is located north of Ramallah and in the heart of the West Bank. It is nowhere near the 1967 borders.

He asked the chief executive of Eli, Amiad, what Palestinians might think of the existence of Eli.

Amiad told Bourdain, “Actually they are happy we are here. We gave them prosperity for the past 45 years.”

I was worried the show might go in a bad direction, but then Bourdain said, “I’m guessing a lot of people would disagree with that statement.”

Wow, I think he’s getting it. Then Bourdain said, “So, from the high ground, you can see anyone walking at night, you can see pretty far out.”

Wow, he is getting it!

Anthony, you will be hearing from certain individuals and organizations in the coming days. They will be upset. They’ve been trying to keep this stuff a secret.

As Bourdain prepared to leave Eli, he brought up the disturbing graffiti he saw with Amiad. “Why not paint it over?” he asked innocently. The response? “Good question. Maybe we should. You’re right.”

I’m sure Anthony knows he’s not the first person to suggest such a thing. Now, Anthony, I am a bit more experienced with Israeli talk than you are, so let me translate that. “Good question. Maybe we should. You’re right,” really means, “Silly question, we definitely won’t, get out of my face.”

Bourdain then made a quick visit with a now famous group of Palestinian female drivers called “The Speed Sisters.”

This visit had nothing to do with food, but he was able to be in a car alone with Betty Saadeh, a hot Palestinian woman.

And you don’t turn down an opportunity like that. He even looked like he caught a little case of Palestinian fever. I can relate.

After visiting Jerusalem, Bourdain took the short but interesting drive into Bethlehem, through a checkpoint, and past the infamous wall:

It’s right there for all to see. And it feels like something out of a science fiction film. This is the wall. From the other side, from inside this place, it doesn’t feel like anything other than what it is. A prison. (The Ashkenazi Jews ghetto style within Israel?)

Bourdain visited Aida refugee camp, just north of Bethlehem. There he met Abdelfattah Abusrour, my friend, and the founder of Ruwwad, a group that uses theatre for young people to express their desires and feelings.

Abusrour sees Ruwwad as nonviolent resistance, a way for young people to express themselves, creating what he calls “a peace from within.”

The honest portrayal of the residents of the camp, from their squalor to their own struggle to find productive channels of resistance, was something I had never seen on American TV.

Bourdain noted that these Palestinian children do not have the luxury of idolizing pop stars and athletes. They turn to politics early, sometimes idolizing martyrs and politicians.

And he’s right, there’s something wrong with that.

We Palestinians are normal in so many ways. And we’re so not normal in so many others.

Then Bourdain went to Gaza:

Getting in and out of Gaza from Israel is truly one of the most surreal travel experiences you could have on Earth.

Over 1.5 million people live in Gaza, most of them considered refugees, meaning they are not from the place they are compelled to live now. In most cases, they are either prohibited from or unable to leave. Israel decides who comes and goes, what gets in and what stays out.

In Gaza, he met Laila Haddad, a well-known Palestinian author and activist who has written books about Gaza life and cuisine. As she explained that Gaza’s cuisine should include a lot of seafood, she noted that fishermen can rarely get prize catches as the Israeli military limits how far out they can sail. If they go too far, the Israeli navy shoots at their boats and cuts their nets.

Bourdain and Haddad then visited the Sultan family, where they were served a Palestinian staple, maqloobeh.

That dish happens to be one of my specialties (Yes, ladies, I can cook.) As they were eating, the man of the house was worried about being rude. Why?

The cameramen were not eating. His wife asked Bourdain to open a restaurant for her. We Palestinians are always looking for a hook-up. We need it.

Her husband continued to yell, but Leila assured Anthony. “This is a normal tone of voice. He’s not upset, by the way. This is how we talk. We yell.” I can relate.

Before Bourdain left Gaza, he met and dined with one more group of men. These men, like 75% of Gaza’s population, were refugees. As he sat, laughing and eating, he told us:

Many of these guys are not too sympathetic to my country, or my ethnicity I’m guessing. But, there’s that hospitality thing. Anywhere you go in the Muslim world, it seems, no matter what, you feed your guests, you do your best to make them feel at home.

It’s true. We Palestinians are overly hospitable when people visit our homeland. Sometimes too much.

The episode ended with Natan, the owner of a restaurant right outside of Gaza in Israel. Natan’s daughter was killed by a mortar bomb in the constant struggle between groups in Gaza and Israel.

Since 2008, over 1,600 Palestinians in Gaza have also been killed in this conflict.

Natan spoke of the senseless deaths on both sides. He clearly disliked settlements, and he believed it was possible for like-minded people from both sides to get together and make peace. I would agree,

if just more people like Natan existed. But the people who are pointing the guns at me aren’t named Natan… They’re named Netanyahu.

By the end, Bourdain did not seem too optimistic about the prospects of peace.

“One doesn’t even have to speak metaphorically because there is an actual wall… or a fence, depending on who you’re talking to.” Natan told him, “No. It is a big wall. It is ugly. It is really ugly. You can see it, it’s not far away from here.” Unfortunately, it’s not far away from anywhere.

Anthony, you will be hearing from certain individuals and organizations in the coming days. They will be upset. They’ve been trying to keep this stuff a secret.

Part of being Palestinian in America is getting really excited whenever someone tells the truth about us on American TV. Kind of depressing, right?

Anthony, in the beginning of this episode, you gave the following announcement:

By the end of this hour, I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse.

I didn’t see any of that. I just saw what happens to anyone who actually interacts with Palestinians.

You fell in love with us, and we fell in love with you.

Crowd-sourcing in Syria? Satellite crisis-mapping Imagery Analysis?

What if we crowdsourced satellite imagery analysis of key cities in Syria to identify evidence of mass human rights violations?

Looks like using micro-tasking, with backend triangulation to crowdsource the analysis of high resolution satellite imagery for human rights purposes, is definitely breaking new ground.

This is precisely the question that Patrick Meier and his colleagues at Amnesty International USA’s Science for Human Rights Program are being asked to follow upon.  

Patrick Meier of Crisis Mapping at Ushahid has been publishing posts on mapping Syria military concentration. The post is titled “Help Crowdsource Satellite Imagery Analysis for Syria: Building a Library of Evidence” and says:

“I coordinated this pilot project for Somalia.  AI-USA has done similar work in the past with their Eyes on Darfur project. But using micro-tasking, with backend triangulation to crowdsource the analysis of high resolution satellite imagery for human rights purposes, is definitely breaking new ground.

A staggering amount of new satellite imagery is produced every day. Millions of square kilometers’ worth of images are mapped according to one knowledgeable colleague. This is a big data problem that needs mass human intervention, until the software can catch up.

I recently spoke with Professor Ryan Engstrom, the Director of the Spatial Analysis Lab at George Washington University, and he confirmed that automated algorithms for satellite imagery analysis still have a long, long way to go. So the answer for now has to be human-driven analysis.

Professional satellite imagery experts, who have plenty of time to volunteer their skills, are far and few between.

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), is composed of a very small team and a few interns. Their focus is limited to the Sudan and they are understandably very busy. My colleagues at AI-USA analyze satellite imagery for several conflicts, but this takes them far longer than they’d like and their small team is still constrained given the number of conflicts and vast amounts of imagery that could be analyzed. This explains why they’re interested in crowdsourcing.

Indeed, crowdsourcing imagery analysis has proven to be a workable solution in several other projects & sectors. The “crowd” can indeed scan and tag vast volumes of satellite imagery data when that imagery is “sliced and diced” for micro-tasking.

This is what we did for the Somalia pilot project thanks to the Tomnod platform and the imagery provided by Digital Globe. The yellow triangles below denote the “sliced images” that individual volunteers from the Standby Task Force (SBTF) analyzed and tagged one at a time.

We plan do the same with high resolution satellite imagery of three key cities in Syria selected by the AI-USA team. The specific features we will look for and tag include: ”Burnt and/or darkened building features,” “Roofs absent,” “Blocks on access roads,” “Military equipment in residential areas,” “Equipment/persons on top of buildings indicating potential sniper positions,” “Shelters composed of different materials than surrounding structures,” etc.

SBTF volunteers will be provided with examples of what these features look like from a bird’s eye view and from ground level. Like the Somalia project, only when a feature—say a missing roof—is tagged identically  by at least 3 volunteers will that location be sent to the AI-USA team for review.

In addition, if volunteers are unsure about a particular feature they’re looking at, they’ll take a screenshot of said feature and share it on a dedicated Google Doc for the AI-USA team and other satellite imagery experts from the SBTF team to review. This feedback mechanism is key to ensure accurate tagging and inter-coder reliability.

The screenshots shared will be used to build a larger library of features. For example, what a missing roof looks like as well as military equipment in residential areas, road blocks, etc. Volunteers will also be in touch with the AI-USA team via a dedicated Skype chat.

There will no doubt be a learning curve, but the sooner we climb that learning curve the better. Democratizing satellite imagery analysis is no easy task, and one or two individuals have opined that what we’re trying to do can’t be done. That may be true, but we won’t know unless we try.

This is how innovation happens. We can hypothesize and talk all we want, but concrete results are what ultimately matters. And results are what can help us climb that learning curve. My hope, of course, is that democratizing satellite imagery analysis enables AI-USA to strengthen their advocacy campaigns and makes it harder for perpetrators to commit mass human rights violations.

SBTF volunteers will be carrying out the pilot project this month in collaboration with AI-USA, Tomnod and Digital Globe. How and when the results are shared publicly will be up to the AI-USA team as this will depend on what exactly is found.

In the meantime, a big thanks to Digital Globe, Tomnod and SBTF volunteers for supporting the AI-USA team on this initiative.

If you’re interested in reading more about satellite imagery analysis, the following blog posts may also be of interest:

• Geo-Spatial Technologies for Human Rights
• Tracking Genocide by Remote Sensing
• Human Rights 2.0: Eyes on Darfur
• GIS Technology for Genocide Prevention
• Geo-Spatial Analysis for Global Security
• US Calls for UN Aerial Surveillance to Detect Preparations for Attacks
• Will Using ‘Live’ Satellite Imagery to Prevent War in the Sudan Actually Work?
• Satellite Imagery Analysis of Kenya’s Election Violence: Crisis Mapping by Fire
• Crisis Mapping Uganda: Combining Narratives and GIS to Study Genocide
• Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis for Somalia: Results of Trial Run
• Genghis Khan, Borneo & Galaxies: Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis
• OpenStreetMap’s New Micro-Tasking Platform for Satellite Imagery Tracing

In particular, we are looking to identify the following evidence using high-resolution satellite imagery:

  • Large military equipment
  • Large crowds
  • Checkpoints
The idea is to provide volunteers the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) Satellite Team with as much of road map as possible so they know exactly what they’re looking for in the  satellite imagery they’ll be tagging using the Tomnod system:

Here are some of the links that Chris already sent us for the above imagery:
Comment:  This a great endeavor. I suggest to Patrick Meier to start crowd sourcing on Israeli check-points, road-blocks, concentration of military centers in Jewish colonies in the Palestinian occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Let us be fair and equitable in matters related to human rights, regardless of what States like to define their political systems and disseminate false images.  Palestine is an independent State, recognized by the UN.
Note 1: Patrick Meier, born and raised in Africa, is director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers. Previously co-directed Harvard’s Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning.
Note 2: In one of the many articles I published related to Syria uprising in the last six months I wrote: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/whats-going-on-in-syria-any-insider-pieces-of-intelligence-part-two/
Note 3: The same technique is being used for the search of the missing Malaysian airliner this March 2014.  Apparently, about 30,000 registered clients view each of the shots and report whether they have seen any party of the wreckage.  If many report on a shot, the image is sent to a specialist to decide before forwarding the shot to the proper authorities. This search has not been successful so far.

Israel “Breaking the Silence” movement: Soldiers serving in occupied Palestinian territories

The collectivity Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the silence) was founded in 2004 by Israeli soldiers who were serving in Hebron and needed to expose the reality of occupation from a different point of view.

Testimonies of Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied Palestinian territories between 2000-2010 were gathered in the book “Occupation of the Territories” (of the West Bank and Gaza).  It is estimated that around 60,000 Israeli soldiers served in the occupied territories since the second Intifada of 2000; 750 soldiers were interviewed.

A soldier returned from the front, during the Gaza preemptive war of 2008, and told his family his story: “I was in my dug out and a few Palestinian kids, of no more than 12 year-old, threw stones on us. We had order to shoot if the distance is close to a stone throw: Kids might throw hand grenades for example.  I want to believe that I aimed at his feet, so that I could sleep at night.  My parents considered my actions as emanating from a hero and told my story at the synagogue.  I flipped since I was still in state of chock.

“Occupation of the Territories” is the most complete testimony of Israel modus operandi in the occupied territories.

Soldiers revealed that they shot on civilian Palestinians out of peer pressure; they executed Palestinian police officers in retaliation for an activity in a nearby checkpoint; orders were to approach a dying Palestinian and shoot through his mouth; scenes of rapes, vandalism, and stealing were common behaviors...

Avihai Stoler said: “It was not a casual horror show acted by Tsahal: It is the story of a generation of Israelis of our own generation.  The last three decades after the preemptive war of 1967, most of the debates focused on whether it was necessary to occupy or occupation was a monstrosity to avoid like the plague.

The irony is that nobody in Israel mention the word “occupation” anymore.  The State preferred to substitute the terms of Judea and Samaria, but never occupied territories.

For example, during a television emission someone said: “I can confirm that the increase of crime and violence in Israel is the cause of our occupation“.  Orders came to demand from the invited person to apologize for mentioning the term “occupation” and recant.

Since the second Intifada, control exercised over Palestinians is methodical, systematic, and “scientifically” applied:  It is as if all the ancient and modern control and humiliation tactics and methods have been synthesized and tried for efficiency rating.

For example, the military institution uses jargon such as:

1. “Prevention measures against terrorism” to mean propagating fear and terror amid the civilian population;

2. “separation zones” to mean appropriation and annexation;

3. “life fabric” of constructing special routes for the colonies to mean controlling all the aspect of Palestinian life.

Our mission was to perturb and harass the life of citizens. I think the formula is still applicable even today.  Destabilization activities in the occupied land were not due to negligence, but the main tool to administer the occupied land.  If a village produces activities, then it is time to creating insomnia in the village.

For example, Stoler stayed in the Hebron district for three years and witnessed events such as soldiers coming in mass to the center of the city and detonating bombs so that the “Palestinians remember that we are here“.

Loud manifestations of soldiers and colons accompanied with random ransacking of houses, installing checkpoints for several hours… “We were ordered to instill a feeling of persecution so that Palestinians never fell at ease...”

Note 1: Article inspired from a piece published in the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatic” by Meron Rapoport

Note 2: In June 2014, 3 Israeli soldiers disappeared in Hebron. Nobody claimed anything, and nobody know if they were kidnapped.

And yet, Israel has been ransacking villages, detaining administratively over 300 Palestinians (many of them who have been released recently after a brokered deal) and many Palestinian youth killed by live bullet and many injured.

I wrote in a previous article that “Israel has no longer any strategic allies in the region, not even minor allies:  The people in the region guarantee that no State regime in the region will dare schmooze and negotiate with any Israeli leader who refuses a Palestinian State, support the resumption of building in occupied land, and is not serious of transferring the Jews of colonies in occupied land back to Israel. Not a single State around Israel is scared of Israel’s military retaliation of any kind: the people have risen from the ashes of humiliation and imposed foreign policies.

The regime of Shah of Iran has long vanished since 1979, Turkey has been alienated and Israel still refuses to apologize for the crime against the peace boat incident, Mubarak of Egypt is down.  Tunisia of Ben Ali is down; the people in Jordan are putting the squeeze on the Hashemite monarch; the people in Lebanon have fired ex-PM Saad Hariri; the Palestinian Authority is discredited with the latest WikiLeaks and Hamas of Gaza and the West Bank are is on the ascendance.”

Fact is, Israel shares two common denominators with Lebanon and the Palestinian people.

First, Lebanon political system comprehends that to sustain security and stability it must support a stable Syria and satisfy its strategic policies in Lebanon.  The same mentality coincides in the relationship between Israel and Egypt:  Israel considered in the last 30 years that its stability is strategically linked to a stable and secure Egypt.  There is a single fundamental difference:  While the Lebanese share strategic, social, trades, historic, and geopolitical features with the Syrians, what the Israelis share with the Egyptians?  A “peace treaty” signed by Egyptian dictators?

Second, Israel and the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are totally dependent on the European States economic and financial support; not just for long-term development but actually for daily survival. Period!

Thus, Israel believed that it could flaunt the US policies for a Palestinian State as long as Egypt is stable and secure; Egypt closing its borders with Gaza; Egypt harassing Hamas for various reasons; Egypt supporting and planning Israel preemptive wars against Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza…

Israel should no longer expect free oil and gas from Egypt.  What is this deal signed in 2005 for Israel to getting Egyptian gas paying just one dollar when the market price is $85 per million unit of gas?  No more free phosphate from Jordan.  No more free water from Lebanon and Syria.  No more lands by force or negotiations. No more moving nuclear submarines through the Suez Canal…

The policies of the US for establishing the so-called Greater Middle East is down the drain:  the US invasion of Iraq has been routed; the US troops in Afghanistan are readying to retreat from a war that cannot be won; the credibility in the sanity of the US Administration’s policies in the Middle East region has disintegrated; the faulty programs of the International Monetary Funds have not been revised for transparency and discussion with the concerned parties that led to the latest upheaval in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen.

Israel has to come down its high horses:  Israel is a tiny and artificial State, barely surviving on the economic and financial support of the European Union and the USA; Israel depends on subsidized goods and preferential status for open market in the European markets.

Israel is no longer in a position to play coy and humiliate the US and everybody else during the negotiation of a Palestinian State, not even Saeb Erakat, one of lame and cowardly Palestinian negotiators.  The crude statement of Tzipi Livni  (Israel ex-foreign affairs minister) “To create your Palestinian State, you have got to agree with Israel in advance on everything.  Your only choice is to relinquish any choices in the future.  Those are the founding bases for negotiation” is one of Israeli posturing relegated to history bins.

The Palestinian State in formation, already recognized by Russia, most of Latin American States, and Cyprus, refuses to be totally dependent on Israel economy, finance, and military support.  The Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza will demand total withdrawal of Israeli troops to the 1967 border; it demands the dismantling of all the Jewish colonies in occupied land; it refuses swapping small portions of lands to legitimizing forced settlement; it wants borders with Jordan and Egypt, it wants and an international airport and a maritime port and full autonomy.  A new election for the Palestinian people is necessary before the resumption of any “peace talk” with the extremist Israeli government and all the major Palestinian factions, including Hamas, will be represented in the negotiation team.

This masquerade of offering free parcels of land to Israel, a parcel from here and a parcel from there and pretty soon there is no land to giving away, is no longer accepted.  The quarters of Har Homa, Gilo, the Armenian quarters, Ariel, and Maaleh Adumin belong to East Jerusalem, the Capital of the Palestinian State.

Israel has a new window of opportunity to live in peace . Israel shred to pieces the Oslo agreement of 1993 and is refusing to return occupied lands in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.  This makeshift democratic mask, hiding blatant apartheid policies, can no longer be sustained by the Western States with the frequent public Israeli policies reinforcing the apartheid and racist activities.

Israel has to fulfill two requirements for short-term peace and security.  First, Israel has to return all conquered lands in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Second, it has to facilitate the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, the sooner the better.  Israel has to desist demanding unfeasible conditions such as Syria disengaging from Iran or pressuring Hezbollah to disarm.

The long-term strategic policy to living in peace and be accepted in the region is for Israel to start demonstrating that it has the interests of all the people in the region as her own for survival and human development:  What rational State refuses to comprehend this basic requirement?

Down with the Wall of Shame separating people along the dividing line.  Time for Israel to deal with the UN Charters for human rights, prisoners rights, legal prosecution processes, crimes against humanity, sex market, slave market, drugs market, arms market.

The European Union (EU): Modern Europe leading human rights; (Nov. 10, 2009)

 

The previous post “European Union (EU) describes Modern Europe” covered a few statistics and then a short description of the EU administrative and legislative institutions. This follow up post will cover what is working, then analyzing what need to be ironed out, and then how the world community is expecting modern Europe to lead.

The 27 European States forming the EU counts 6 States among the twenty leading economy in the world.  By deceasing rank we have USA, China, Japan, India, Germany, Russia, Britain, France, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Canada, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, Australia, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. Actually, those six European economies constitute about 90% of the EU in economy and in populations.

As a block, the economy of the EU may surpass the USA with a twist: the three largest industrial multinationals in every sector are US.  For example, in aeronautics we have United Technology, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin; in medical materials we have Medtronic, United Health, and Alcon; in Medias we have Walt Disney, News Corporation, and Comcast; in pharmaceutical/biotechnology we have Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer; in informatics we have Microsoft, IBM, and Google.  Besides, the US is the first military power in technology, Navy, Bombers, and aircraft carriers.  The EU is totally dependent on oil and gas energies imported from Russia and elsewhere.  France has adopted a policy of being sufficient in electricity via nuclear energy (60% of the total of France production of energy).  Denmark is 25% sufficient in Aeolian technology and Germany about 15%.

The EU is facing problems. First, the “community vision” is eroding: the decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall and disintegration of the Soviet Union sent the wrong message of jumping in the band wagon of US globalization; thus, the well to do citizens wanted to get rich fast by emulating liberal capitalism. Individualism overshadowed the need to resume a common culture of developing institutions that are trained to work toward the common interest and be reformed to keeping the EU spirit intact in human rights and human dignity.

Second, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 took Europe by surprise.  The euphoric undertaking of uniting East Germany quickly exhausted West Germany with the multitude of social, economic and political problems of this unification and captured most of Germany’s resources and time and prevented it to ponder on the EU necessities.  The opportunity to deepen European consciousness for reformed institutions to expanding eastward was missed.

Third, the EU was discussing the two possibilities: either the strengthening the current union for the longer term expansion or hastily absorbing the many eastern European newly independent States.  The political decision was to go ahead and allowing these tiny states to adhere to the union.  I think that this was the appropriate decision because new States had to root their future into a tangible alliance or fall back into past habit, inclinations, and culture; thus, forming close alliances with Russia. The EU was the appropriate framework for ethnic communication and more democratic realization of social aspirations.  The problem is that these tiny States feel that they should aspire to the same standard of living in no times.  The latest financial crash has left al these States in bankrupt conditions and it is up to the rich EU States to salvage this predicament.  Maybe this fact should remind the EU that not all States should enjoy the same rights until they can show the same capability to shouldering responsibilities.

 

The actual challenges are many. First, there is a political space to reconstruct:  The budget of the EU institutions is merely 1% of the gross GNP while States allocate over 30% to re-distribute to collectivities, social protection, and welfare. The richer States are not that inclined to contribute heavily to the social stability of the poorer EU State members. Second, the EU has unified its currency (it overcame the States’ monopolies to issuing paper money) but is lacking a unified economic government.  For example, the EU lacks common public spaces, no political party or organization has been created or formed to focus on specific EU interests, and the EU Parliament has no power to raise taxes to finance common policies.  So far, the government chiefs are wary of relinquishing their interstates legitimacy and power.

As a block, the EU is still unable to challenge the US on crimes against humanity committed by the US and Israel;  it is fully cooperating with the US on taking Israel off the hook in the UN for daily crimes against human dignity, rights, and apartheid policies in the West bank and Gaza. There are a few States in the EU that are showing trends to opposing Israel’s apartheid practices and boycotting its products grown and manufactured in the occupied West Bank; it is the people in these States who have set the stage for human rights and dignity reversal toward the Palestinian endemic plight since 1948.

 

The world community is on its toes: will the EU refresh its initial objective of “community vision” or will it relapse in petty interstates interest of monopolies and idiosyncrasies?  We need the EU to be the caldron of community communication among ethnicities, languages, and cultures. We need the EU to be the social and political testing ground for viable alternatives in vision, institutions, ecological human survival, human rights and dignity. We need the EU to invent new reasons to living together and reducing man inequality.

The European Union is the most striking political and social achievement in the 20th century.  The backbones of most of the UN peace keeping forces around the world are European contingents; the EU is the highest contributor in humanitarian budgets and for reforming obsolete public institutions in the under-developed States. The EU needs a refresher community vision and the world community should raise its voices and aid Europe in its endeavors.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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