Archive | December, 2012

The Humanity of Charles Durning

25 Dec

I’m grieved to hear that Charles Durning and Jack Klugman both died yesterday.  In reading Durning’s obituary in the New York Times you see the large scope of this actor’s work from the father who fell for Dustin Hoffman masquerading as a woman in “Tootsie” to the plantation owner in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Turns out Durning was a soldier in World War II and took part in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day and won several medals.  The Times talked about a Parade magazine article where “he recalled the hand-to-hand combat. ‘I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium,’ he said. ‘A German soldier ran toward me carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot.’

They grappled, he recounted later — he was stabbed seven or eight times — until finally he grasped a rock and made it a weapon. After killing the youth, he said, he held him in his arms and wept.’ ”

This was a man, not some blood dripping cartoon of a soldier by Tarantino.

Klugman made us laugh in “The Odd Couple”.  His version of a New York ’70’s “Christmas Carol” (with Tony Randall)  is a classic.  It’s up on you tube and you can see the first section here.

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About the U.N. Decision to Declare Palestine a “state”

2 Dec

I’m of several minds about the decision of the U.N. as it

Decides to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations,”

A. Theoretically, as international lawyer and law school professor Francis A. Boyle notes,

    “This can be the start of a ‘Legal Intifadah’ by Palestine against Israel:

     1. “Palestine can join the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court and file a Complaint with the ICC against the illegal settlements and settlers, who are committing war crimes;

    2. “Palestine can join the Statute for the International Court of Justice, sue Israel at the World Court, and break the illegal siege of Gaza;

    3. “Palestine can join the Law of the Sea Convention and get its fair share of the enormous gas fields lying off the coast of Gaza, thus becoming economically self-sufficient;

    4. “Palestine can become a High Contracting Party to the Four Geneva Conventions [this deals with the laws of war];

    5. “Palestine can join the International Civil Aviation Organization and gain sovereign, legal control over its own airspace;

    6. “Palestine can join the International Telecommunications Union and gain sovereign legal control over its own airwaves, phone lines, bandwidths

B.  On the other hand Lebanon is a state with full membership in the United Nations.  It’s repeatedly ravaged by Israel and can’t do a thing about it.  Even when the U.N.’s own base was bombed in 1996 Israel was not punished in any way.  So what’s the good of observer status or even full membership?  Has the PA done anything as member of UNESCO to protect Palestine cultural and historical landmarks? Would it dare to cross its U.S. paymaster and demand Israelis get put on trial for war crimes?

C. The resolution does a lot more than just declare Palestine a state.  Read the whole thing here.

It is totally a two-state recognition.  Palestinians have the right only to land taken by Israel in 1967 including East Jerusalem.

It basically establishes a 22% Palestine, not on the original 48% recommended on Nov. 29 1947.

It includes the words “a just resolution of the problem of the Palestine refugees in conformity with resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948” which I think is the sneaky Saudi language of ten years ago that means abandonment of actual right to return and instead would lead to talks where Palestinians could get some money and some token number returning behind the Green Line.  That’s totally unacceptable.

D.  On the other hand the recognition has caused several fairly non-political average people to start conversations about Palestine with me.  They didn’t do this after the recent bloodbath in Gaza, only after this U.N. vote which they see as a big deal.  I take it to mean this vote grants a new respectability for the idea of a Palestine.

E. Yet, there are half a million Jewish settlers inside the U.N.’s “Palestine”  totally backed by the Israeli government.  They are totally linked by roads, water and infrastructure to Israel.  It’s so total that Israelis never even know when they are in the West Bank.  That term and geographic area has disappeared from Israeli maps and books.  How are they ever to go away?  Would it really be easier to move them out than to transform the whole present state (between the Mediterranean and the Jordan)  into one with equal rights for all?

F.  It was so very nice to see the U.S. and Israel isolated for the vote supported only by South Pacific colonies and the surprisingly reactionary Canada and Czech Republic.  I’m sure average Americans noticed this for the first time (though we know this kind of vote happens every year on issues concerning Palestine).

I’ve seen this all before.  Palestine declared “independence” in 1988, lots of jubilation and then….nothing.  Palestine gets a road map…and then nothing.

I say stick with the basics, BDS, Right to Return, and equality for all from the River to the Sea.

Other comments:

Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American activist and the founder of Electronic Intifada, told Al Jazeera that the celebrations were uncalled for and that the UN was a “giant distraction”.

“I wish that all this hype and dancing in the streets of Ramallah and self-delusion among the people were for a real achievement that actually returned rights to the Palestinian people.

“There is something incongruous and tasteless about the Palestinian Authority sponsoring a dance festival on the streets of Ramallah while families in Gaza are still mourning their children.

“This [vote] is a giant distraction; a cheap gesture, which allows people to celebrate as if they were in a football match.”

These are the thoughts of Noura Erakat

Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law,
.”