Editor’s note: This is a response to Report from the Middle East: Gaza Under Attack; 133 Killed by Flo Razowsky and others, published last week in Pulse.
Under Fire in Sderot, Israel
For the last two years, towns in Israel, near the northern tip of the Gaza Strip have come under frequent attack by Palestinian terrorists indiscriminately firing crude but deadly Qassam rockets. Hardly a week passes without a story of a home damaged or destroyed by a Qassam falling into a young girl’s bedroom or a family’s kitchen.
The village most frequently attacked is Sderot, a working-class town populated
largely by immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union.
Sderot is less than one mile from the Gaza Strip and well within firing range
from the neighborhoods of Beit Hanoun and Jabaliya in Northern Gaza. Including
the rocket which killed two toddlers and wounded over 20 others on Sept. 29,
more than 400 Qassam rockets have been fired at Sderot. Several have landed
in neighboring kibbutzim and even as far from the Gaza Strip as the outskirts
of the coastal city of Ashkelon, 10 kilometers north of Gaza.
The attackers are members of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Islamic
Jihad whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. They do not care if their
victims are civilians or soldiers, men or women, young or old, merely that they
Members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad live in Jabaliya and Beit Hanoun, hiding
amongst innocent men, women and children and using them as cover to launch their
attacks. Terrorists wear no identifying uniforms and after launching attacks,
they simply disappear within the city. The Gaza Strip, ostensibly under the
control of the Palestinian Authority, is really under the control of rogue terrorist
gangs who are clearly more concerned with killing Israelis than they are for
the safety of their Palestinian neighbors.
The Israelis have an obligation to protect themselves from these random yet
frequent rocket attacks. Hamas and Islamic Jihad will not stop by their own
volition and after more than four years of terror, it is clear that Yasser Arafat
and his cronies will not stop it either.
Despite attempts by the United States to mediate a solution, both the Oslo Accord
and the Road Map peace plan stalled when Palestinians failed to meet their simple
obligation to stop terrorist attacks on Israel. The bias of the United Nations
is apparent in its one-sided resolutions condemning Israel for their response
to terrorism while turning a blind eye to the murder of innocent Israeli civilians.
days, hope can be found in Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. In the next
year, the Israelis will unilaterally withdraw four settlements from the West
Bank and all settlements from the Gaza Strip, and remove the Israeli military
presence from the Gaza Strip, while expecting nothing in return. Putting security
control of the Gaza Strip back in the hand of the Palestinians gives them an
opportunity to set the peace process back on track. The Palestinian Authority
can prove themselves a genuine partner for peace if they return the rule of
law to Gaza by denying terrorists unfettered access to the area as a staging
ground for terror.
The Israeli public clearly supports a withdrawal from Palestinian territory
and the creation of a Palestinian state, but that state must be free from terrorism.
Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in peace and security. As the post-Arafat
era in Palestinian politics appears to be approaching, let’s hope that
moderate leadership emerges that eschews terrorism in favor of negotiations
that will lead once and for all to a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Israel and International Affairs Commission of the Jewish Community Relations
I will never shop at Wal-Mart again. Not that me taking my business elsewhere
will shut down the doors of this multi-billion dollar conglomerate, but making
a statement like this makes me feel good. I know others have boycotted these
giants and I want to tell my story.
A few days ago I bought a White Stag peacoat made of synthetic leather for
$10.88 at the Pittston, Pennsylvania Wal-mart. I do not regularly purchase clothing
at Wal-Mart, but the onset of winter weather made me peek at the coat racks
while shopping for household items. Saturday, I wore it to a wedding, and en
route, we smelled something pungent. It was the same smell found in our mudroom
earlier in the week, which we thought was gas or septic fumes. We realized what
was making us nauseated was the coat. The smell actually bled through to my
dress and even my hair. I left it out on the porch to air out overnight, but
the stench was still unbearable. I called a fabric guru friend who informed
me “pleather” is manufactured of petroleum. This is why I reeked
of gas. I had to get rid of this!
I headed off to my nearest Wal-Mart, 40 minutes from my rural home. After waiting
patiently in the customer service line, I joked, “Bet you can guess why
I am here from the stench!” The woman responded, “My dear, eew,
what is that?” and made another woman smell it too. She asked for my ID,
proceeded with the return procedure and then gazed up at me. “I’m
sorry, ma’am, we cannot take this back. You have a bad check with Wal-Mart,
you have to call this customer service number.”
This was a huge embarrassment. In a day of debit cards, I have not written
checks in years for in-store purchases. I did not remember having a bounced
check at Wal-Mart. At this point, getting the $10.88 back was not important.
I felt like they were making me out to be some scumbag looking to get money.
It’s not like I was doing something illegal, like stealing a DVD player
and then trying to get store credit. For cripes sake, they had a stinky coat
in their hands they smelled with their own snouts. I paid money for a product
I was not going to use, and had a right to get it back. I told them to keep
it, or donate it to someone. Can you believe they would not even let me GIVE
it back? She said I owed Wal-Mart money, I couldn’t return an item, and
handed me back the coat. I threw it in the trashcan in the customer service
department to prove a point- I did not care about the money; I just wanted rid
of coat, and figured there was something else I could buy with the measly $10.88.
They shook their heads, probably thought I was being difficult. But, I wasn’t
going to keep the ‘stinkin’ thing.
On the way home, I called the customer service line to inquire- closed for
the weekend. I did call this morning, Monday, and found that I had a bounced
check in 1997- when I was a sophomore in college, my first year in my own apartment,
and with my own checkbook. Ooops. I was eighteen and made a mistake. The amount?
About $20.00. I am sure I was charged a fee from my bank at the time, and almost
a decade later, I am sure that $20.00 was written off as a loss for the Waltons.
The past came back to haunt me- one bounced check at a discount chain eight
years ago. I am not a teenager anymore, but a young professional with a career,
a house, and the means to buy a real leather coat.
There are people who steal from Wal-Mart everyday, and now I know why they
feel no guilt. Wal-Mart stole from me too: ten minutes of my dignity, and $10.88
worth of gas that somehow was made into a coat. Wal-Mart, if you ask me, is
stealing from every American. Example- headlines and quotes from a quick web
search for “negative press Wal-Mart”:
· New report details Wal-Mart’s labor abuses and hidden costs-
2/16/2004- Press release from California congressman George Miller’s
· Wal-Mart agrees to pay $2,000 to each tenant at the mobile home
park it is planning to buy out- 07/29/2004, Indianapolis Star
· “…after (Wal-Mart) saturating (Iowa) with box stores,
there was a net loss between 1982-1993 of 535 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores,
293 building supply stores, 161 variety stores, 269 men’s or women’s
apparel stores, 153 shoe stores and 116 dry goods stores..” -07/28/04,
The Herald, Randolph, Vermont
· Analyzing the "Sins" of Wal-Mart- At a California conference,
a diverse crowd, from academics to union workers, explored the growing backlash
against the giant - Business Week Online, 04/14/04
· “Taxpayers have directly and indirectly footed the bill for
more than $1 billion in publicly funded subsidies and incentives to build its
stores and distribution centers.” – The Quad City Times,
- entire Websites dedicated to links to negative press about the company. You
be the judge.
When I flip through magazines like Forbes in their special editions of the richest
people in America, it sickens me to see a half-dozen Walton’s. They are
billionaires, and I can’t even return a $10.88 jacket. This is one other
reason why the big man will keep getting bigger and the little man will get
littler, until he completely disappears.
Bush's Record (W is for Worst)
I've finally figured out what the W in "George W. Bush" really stands
for. It's not "Walker" as we were led to believe. It's "worst,"
as in this guy is one of the worst Presidents ever.
He's reacted to problems rather than prevent them. He ignored warning from
several credible sources about serious and specific threats from Al Qaeda.
Richard Clarke, former advisor on counter-terrorism for all Presidents from
Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, laid out the threat (in writing) from nearly
day one. On January 25th, 2001, just a few days after Bush was inaugurated,
Clarke laid out the threat. Bush didn't act on it until September 2001. Clarke's
memo has since been classified.
Other sources, including a British intelligence briefing in August 2001, warned
Bush prior to 9/11 (see the SundayHerald.com). Bush’s daily
briefing on August 6, 2001 contained warnings that Al Qaeda was planning to
attack on US soil and that they were interested in hijackings.
In the seven and a half months from his inauguration to 9/11, he spent more
time on vacation or asleep than almost any President that I can think of it.
He used to be proud of it. No longer.
about health care? During his administration, health care costs have soared,
posting double digit cost increases while the average family's income is stagnant.
He's given carte blanche to lobbyists for big business, including pharmaceutical
companies, leading Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to refer to one piece of Bush legislation
as "No Lobbyist Left Behind."
Meanwhile, seniors have struggled to keep up with drug costs. Some have resorted
to taking bus or train trips to Canada to save money. Others are trying to import
the drugs from Canada, but the Bush administration has blocked this.
Warnings about the potential problem with the flu vaccine went unheeded from
2001 until now. One of Bush's proposed solutions was to contact the Canadian
government and request help. During the final Presidential debate, Bush mentioned
this. I nearly fell off my chair.
While Canada does have a surplus of the vaccine, and they are willing to help,
Canada is a nation of 32 million people. They couldn't possibly bail out the
USA, with 9 times the population!
This is too little too late. I think even Bush realized what a crock it was
when he said it. I remember the look on his face that said "I know this
sounds really lame, but..."
(Why the Canadian government is willing to help is beyond me. The Bush Administration
has abused Canada and other allies on trade and on priorities in the war on
terrorism. To their credit, Canada bit its collective lip and did the right
I could go on for days...The Bush administration's record on a number of issues
is abysmal. He's the first President to lose jobs since Herbert Hoover. Like
his father, he has focused heavily on Iraq, but casualty rates are higher than
Terrorism continues around the world and many of the weak spots at home (cargo
containers, etc.) have not been addressed.
Policing has not been as well funded as it should be and Bush has not worked
to renew the Assault Weapons Ban, putting the lives of police in danger.
Nuclear sites in Iraq have gone unguarded, radioactive material has gone missing,
but the Oil Ministry has been secured.
Multi-billion dollar contracts with Halliburton and other GOP contributors
have been awarded with insufficient scrutiny.
Republican backers Diebold have expanded the use of their flawed voting machines
into 11 states. (Hackers from Rice University and Johns Hopkins have exposed
Meanwhile, many of the problems in the electoral process have not been addressed,
potentially making the USA a laughing stock again.
Based on his record, Bush doesn't deserve this second term. America deserves
a President, not a cheerleader.