Obama On Israel

Yesterday, “conservatives”, fanned by Faux News and Mr. RomneyCare himself (with several others) began pitching a fit that President Obama was “turning his back on Israel” (one of the gentler phrases I heard repeated quite a bit).

Here’s the problem: He didn’t. Yet again, conservatives LIE to push their own agenda, and in Faux News’ case, to increase their ratings.

Here, via the LA Times, is the section of BHO’s Mideast Speech yesterday that deals specifically with Israel and Palestine. Other than the fact that he repeatedly pledges American assistance – to BOTH groups – it is actually a reasonable approach, one centered on trying to at least get a truce in a 6,000 year old war that truly won’t be settled until Christ returns. (With various emphases added by me)

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.

I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. That’s certainly true for the two parties involved.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders — must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them — not by the United States; not by anybody else. But endless delay won’t make the problem go away. What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows — a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition and peace.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Now, let me say this: Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel:

How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

The GOP reaction of the past 24 hrs or so does NOT move us forward – it is hard to go backward in this case, and I do not believe the GOP reaction does that, it simply makes it that much harder to move FORWARD, and FORWARD in this particular case is towards a lasting peace that should be the goal of ALL nations.

To the rabidly “pro” Israel crowd, (I would actually say they are very much “anti” in their actual positions, based on their words and actions), I point out that Obama specifically left a MASSIVE concession to Israel in there: that a Palestinian State would not have a military to defend itself with. Were I a Palestinian, that would be one of the first things I would take OFF the table – but it would not preclude me from going to the table to begin with.

How would the US like it if someone told US we had to give up our entire ability to defend ourselves??

But as you can see above, what ACTUALLY happened and what the conservatives said happened was, as is FAR too often the case, EXTREMELY different from each other, and is yet another reason why conservatives should NEVER be trusted without triple checking them, and then triple checking them again.

Texting 911!

This is a post whose idea has been floating in my head for a couple of days, so bear with me here.

A couple of days ago, my mind wandered while waiting for a test document to load. (For those curious, it sometimes seems like a large part of being a programmer is making a minute change, then waiting several minutes while the computer decides whether your change actually worked. Rinse and repeat.) So I wrote the general idea on my palm, shoved it back to the back of my head, and continued debugging my program.

One of the things I’m currently somewhat excited about is buying my first gun at some point in the near future and learning how to use it effectively. The primary reason here is that my wife and I will be on our own, with no family around, for the first time in our lives. And I’m doing everything I can to protect her – which means both of us are getting guns and learning how to use them, while hoping we never have to fire a shot for defensive purposes.

So during that particular test, my mind wondered to what would happen if someone actually did break in. It is these mental exercises that I use to prepare myself for any and every emergency, so that even without actually practicing the maneuvers physically (which would be even better), my mind reacts “instinctually” as soon as one of the scenarios begins playing out.

During this particular scenario (someone breaking in during the night, with both me and my wife asleep in the bedroom), the response I decided on was pretty straightforward. Both of us grab our guns and my wife takes the dog and the cat and hides quietly, while I venture out carefully to find out what is happening and deal with it.

But it is what happens next in this scenario that made me start thinking even more:

She needs to alert 911 that something is happening, but I do NOT want a sound coming from where she is hiding, as that could expose her to even more danger. If she calls, no matter how quietly she talks, in a silent apartment it will be loud enough to be heard.

She needs to TEXT 911 and let them know what is going on…

but no 911 system I am aware of has such a capability!

911 systems are some of the best, most capable emergency response systems around. They could pinpoint a phone (using addresses and landlines, or even a rough triangulation using cell phone towers) long before GPS was a standard cell phone feature. They can direct any number of emergency responders to any location in their area within seconds.

Yet they cannot handle a simple text message, something virtually EVERY OTHER SYSTEM currently in use (most social networks, cell networks, even some VOICE networks can translate text to voice and vice versa!) can do.

I don’t know what it would take to upgrade a 911 system to handle text messages. I’m pretty sure they can already do at least some level of data exchange, due to the fact that they can communicate with the in-dash systems in police and other emergency vehicles.

But think of how much safer our families would be if they did not have to give away their location in a life or death, “someone is literally here and willing to kill me” situation!

Like I said, somewhat rambling post, the idea is still running around the back of my head. But what do y’all think?

FOR SALE!!!!

As most of you know, I’m currently living in Aiken SC. I moved here a month ago, while my wife is still in Leesburg finishing up her teaching contract with the Lee County School System. Memorial Weekend, we’re FINALLY reunited on a permanent basis again. While I’ve enjoyed the past month of learning to date my wife again (though it SUCKS being away from her during the week), I’m REALLY looking forward to Memorial Weekend.

That said, this presents a problem:

She still owns the house in Leesburg, and obviously we can’t afford a mortgage and rent on only one salary. So we need to sell this great house right beside nearly every school in the best school system in the Albany Ga general area.

Here’s the ad my wife just put up on FB, newspaper style:

FOR SALE: 3BR/2BA house in Leesburg. 1400 sq ft, master suite w/ 3 closets, split floorplan design, sprinkler system, 6 ft privacy fenced backyard, energy efficient, close to schools, very cute! Only $113,900 OBO. Call Tonya Sexton at 229-881-3499 for more information. Please repost if you think your friends might be interested.

And here’s a few of the better pics of us in and around the house over the past 4 yrs…

and we should have more (and better!) pics up soon, so check back! 😀