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July 15, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2002-07-15

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VIEWPOINT
1 Israel: Hope in the face of terror

Monday, July 15, 2002 - The Michigan Daily - 5
Sesame St brought to you by the letters H,I,V

BY DAVID Itvswiz
Their faces were filled with
gloom and anger. Some were sad,
others concerned - but they were
all afraid. Walking down a hall at
the World Zionist Congress, I
couldn't help but notice the look of
fear in people's faces. A suicide
bomber had just struck in Jerusalem
and 19 students had their lives
ended on their trip to school. A mile
away, people at the congress were
wondering whether they were next
on the list of terrorist targets.
Wherever I went at the congress
that day and whomever I spoke to
one thing was unmistakably present
- a sense of fear. Fear that by the
virtue of being Israeli they were tar-
gets in a war. The people I saw
weren't soldiers, most weren't gov-
ernment officials; their occupations
varied from carpenters and janitors
to computer scientists and lawyers
- they were ordinary people. And
they all seemed to know that as
Israelis they are now a target in a
war that they believe is being fought
to destroy Israel. Yet despite the fear
and depression, I was struck by the
undeniable presence of hope in the
eyes of these people. In the face of
the bloodshed of the past 18
months, they were still hopeful that
peace could be reached and were
willing to compromise to make this
happen.
What really saddened me during
my time in Israel is seeing the
impact that the unprovoked terror-
ism has had on the prospects for
peace. The continual bombings of
Tel Aviv, Netanya and other Israeli
cities has convinced Israelis that the
battle they are fighting isn't for the
settlements or to stop a Palestinian
state from being born, but is rather
a battle for the survival of their
state, their homes and their lives. As
one Israeli told me: "This isn't
about a state -- the Palestinians
want to kill us, plain and simple."
The first casualty of these attacks
has been Israel's willingness to
make further concessions for peace.
Israelis aren't delusional. They rec-
ognize that their government isn't
perfect. Many see the settlements as
a problem and are willing to remove
them. But the continuing terror
attacks have zapped the strengths of
these people. They feel that the
Palestinian terrorists along with the
Palestinian leadership have made a
conscious decision to achieve their
goals by killing as many civilians as
they can -- and to Israelis this is
unacceptable. Even Amnesty Inter-
national, hardly a pro-Israel organi-
zation, agrees in a report issued this
week, Amnesty argued that "the
attacks against civilians by Palestin-
ian armed groups are widespread,
systematic and in pursuit of an
explicit policy to attack civilians.
They therefore constitute crimes
against humanity under internation-
al law." These terror attacks have
only succeeded in frightening
Israelis, who as a result are less
willing to compromise.

At the same time, the hope in
Israel for peace between Israelis
and Palestinians is real and is
shared by the majority of the popu-
lation. Surprisingly to me, these
people, who were subject to one of
the cruelest terrorist campaigns
ever, still have faith and a desire to
negotiate for peace with the people
who waged that campaign - all
they ask is that the bombing cease.
Every person I spoke to reminded
me of a statistic that we in the Unit-
ed States often forget: 70 percent of
Israelis favor withdrawing from the
territories so that a Palestinian state
could be created, while 68 percent
of Palestinians favor suicide bomb-
ings and think Israel should not
exist. Many Israelis simply feel hurt
- they offered the Palestinians a
state at Camp David, while they
realize the offer was far from per-
fect, at the same time they feel that
at least Israel made a meaningful
offer. However, Yasser Arafat, the
leader of the Palestinian people,
turned down their offer and chose
violence as a way of getting his
demands. The Israelis feel as if they
are caught in a situation where their
"peace partner" is talking peace
while simultaneously shooting at
them. Any wonder they reject any
compromises with such a "leader"?
This is why many Israelis hope that
the coming Palestinian elections
will bring a more reasonable and
professional Palestinian leadership
to replace the current gang of thugs
that governs the Palestinian authori-
ty. Israelis hope that this new gov-
ernment will stop the terror attacks
and allow them to withdraw from
the territories, make peace and
focus on something other then
'defense for the first time in over 50
years.
The time I spent in Jerusalem
helped me understand what average
Israelis feel. Living in Ann Arbor, it
is easy to buy into the propaganda
being constantly pushed by Pales-
tinian advocates. If one isn't careful
and doesn't research the issues, one
might actually be tempted to believe
that Israel is largely made up of
warmongers who enjoy making
Palestinian lives miserable. Luckily,
this image has no connection to
reality. Israelis hope, dream and
pray for peace. They would like
nothing more then to create a Pales-
tinian state that would coexist side
by side with Israel. However,
Israelis are also afraid - they are
afraid to leave their homes, to go
out to eat or to go dancing because
they realize that in the war of elii-
nation being waged by the Palestini-
ans, any venture from their homes
might be their last. So, Israelis stay
indoors and hope -- they hope for
the violence to end, for a new and
honest Palestinian leadership to
emerge that will prefer talking to
shooting. And most of all, they
hope for peace.
Livhi i ia univc'rsitcuilunii
sered s Ilduaxh Delegate to the
34th We/rldZionut Congre.n

T he cameras
flashed at the
Children's Tele-
vision Workshop press
conference. Reporters
timidly dished tough
questions while tears
streamed down the
cheeks of frumpy
bearded puppeteers. It
was a sad moment for puppets everywhere.
For the first time in ages, the sun was not
keeping the clouds away from Sesame Street.
Naively, the cloth-caped humorists believed
they were immune, instead they were reck-
less and empowered by their own perceived
immunity and immortality, but now, finally,
HIV/AIDS has befallen one of their own.
Yes, a friggin' puppet has HIV
The unnamed female character (tentative-
ly named "Whorio" at press time) is rumored
to be an orphan and has indeed contracted
the HIV virus. It is not known or has not
been announced how Whorio contracted the
illness, but it does lead doctors to believe that
it might be possible that the HIV virus can be
transferred through the hands. Whorio's pup-
pet-master has declined blood testing and has
not returned my phone calls.
The character is set to debut on "Takalani
Sesame" (South Africa's own "Sesame
Street") and it is undecided what color the
new character will be. God help us if they
make her black, or white, or red, or any color
that any group in the world can associate
themselves with because then we'll no doubt
have an excessive amount of complaining
about how all of the 'orange' people feel like

they are being stereotyped as carrying the
HIV virus. CTW Vice President Joel Schnei-
der said the new puppet would be very confi-
dent and proud. They certainly don't want to
give the impression that HIV is something to
be concerned about. Keep the morale high at
any cost "Sesame Street." At any cost.
The possibilities this character opens for
the show are endless for the Sesame Street
viewer (average ages between three and
seven). Schneider maintains that the new
character will not explicitly discuss anything
about sex or anything that is inappropriate for
children to watch. Nevermind the implica-
tions that a character with HIV brings along
with it. Especially an orphan. Whorio
could've been molested in a back alley after
she was abandoned or seduced by the
orphan-headmaster-person or raped by her
Catholic priest. But how would a priest get
AIDS? That's for another time.
Let alone the possibilities when Mr.
Snuffle-upagus' trunk is thrown into the mix.
Contrasting news reports from Reuters
have indicated that CTW has no plans to
bring the character stateside, however,
Reuters also reported that negotiations to
introduce Whorio to the United States ver-
sion of the programwere already underway.
Special thanks to Reuters for making
absolutely no sense with these reports.
In a nation like South Africa where in
some areas as many as 40 percent of people
have AIDS (again, this a Reuters fact, and it
makes little sense. In America, in a hospital,
which would be an 'area' by definition you
could say that 90 percent of people have
AIDS - see, worthless) there seems to be

some cultural relevance to a character living
-with HIV What makes an issue culturally rel-
evant in South Africa doesn't make it relevant
or pressing in the United States. If Schnei-
der's remarks are true, and the U.S. branch of
CTW is in negotiations to bring the character
stateside, "Sesame Street" is setting itself up
for a Mr. Hooper-like decline. Viewers will
rightfully see no reason for their preschool
age children to learn about HIV and dealing
with an issue so complicated that the majori-
ty of adults can't handle it. There is no reason
to burden a child with information that it
took a weeping Magic Johnson to break to
the public, children don't need to think about
HIV, they need to be concerned with being
children.
"Takalani Sesame" will likely deal with
tough issues, like what to do when someone
cuts their finger, how to properly care for
someone carrying a disease, etc. Are these
really things that 3-year-olds need to be con-
cerned about? When little Billy cuts his fin-
ger open on the dump from his Tonka Truck,
will Susie know what to do? These kids can't
even go poo-poo in the potty, let alone have
minormedical training.
Another danger found in this is that it
diminishes the reality of the disease. Kids
will inevitably think, "Oh, the felt puppet has
HIV real people don't" and yes, I know kids
will think that because kids are stupid. And
people who try to socialize children with bur-
densome social issues are stupider.
Yep, stupider.
Luke Smith can be reachedat
lukems@umich.edu.

Neocons and the muddled road to Baghdad

ZAC PESKOWITZ 7
W ithin the past
10 days,
conflicting
reports on the Bush
administration's solu-
tions for the "Iraq
problem" have been
divulged. A July 5 arti-
cle in The New York
Times detailed a Penta-
gon battle plan that centers around a multi-
faceted, 3-sided attack on Iraq. The
exhaustive document indicated an advanced
level of military planning. Six days later,
USA Today led with the news that "senior
officials" had a radically different outlook on
the possibility of war. They depicted a cau-
tious strategy that would bar large-scale
intervention unless tensions with Iraq were
dramatically escalated.
While it is possible to explain the diver-
gent reports by the Department of Defense's
predilection for thorough contingency plans,
their existence points to a rift in the center of
the administration. This rift, which exists
throughout modern conservatism, is between
traditional conservatives and a small group
of self-styled foreiga policy woks, the neo
conservatives.
The neoconservative revolution that
began in the 1950s and reached its culmina-
tion with Ronald Reagan's presidency has
now thoroughly infiltrated the foreign policy
establishment. Their worldview, as evidenced
by former President Clinton's championing
the NATO-led intervention in Kosovo, has
even made inroads into the Democratic Party.
But, its core remains among conservatives.
From positions at the American Enter-

prise Institute, the Hudson Institute and,
most famously, Commentary magazine,
prominent neoconservatives have called for
military campaigns to indirectly combat the
Soviet menace and unyielding support for
Israel. The band of intellectuals is often cred-
ited with accelerating dte Soviet Union's col-
lapse. Another aspect of their legacy is the
United States' support of"freedom fighters"
throughout the '80s - a legacy that has sub-
verted democratic interests in nations as
diverse as Nicaragua and Angola. Their
beliefs have caused both suffering and an
erosion of the United States' popularity
throughout the world. r
Neoconservatives, however, have yet to
achieve the hegemony they seek in the
administration. And for one reason: Their
ideas don't work. Although their support of
Israel is legendary, both their prescriptions
for U.S. foreign policy and Israeli foreign
aand domestic policy have helped lead Israel
to its most precarious situation in 30 years.
Yet, neoconservative strategies enjoy broad
popular support. Their simplistic policies
which apply moral absolutes to every nation,
with the exception of the United States, sow
war for the sake of war.
While they have repeatedly earned well-
deserved criticism from the Left, perhaps
their most persistent opponents can be found
in the military's elite. None of the major neo-
conservative figures have served in the mili-
tary. This lack of first-hand knowledge of
combat also helps explain their cavalier
approach to battle. For them, war is a preci-
sion tool. A belief that is irreconcilable with
the experiences of seasoned military offi-
cials. Their unfamiliarity with actual combat

also leads to wildly unrealistic ideas. In a
column in The Nation, David Corn discussed
a conversation in which arch neo-con
Richard Perle argued that the United States
could successfully invade Iraq with a mere
40,000 soldiers. The Pentagon's current fig-
ure is 250,000.
The apogee of neoconservative policy
was the support of a group of warriors
against a Soviet invasion..The mujahideen
and a minor student-led movement that
eventually seized power in Afghanistan were
nourished by an influx of kalashnikovs and
Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from an amica-
ble Reagan administration. The same school
of thought that helped empower the Taliban
is now the advocate for a major military
campaign that poses similar long-term reper-
cussions. While'it would be difficult to find
a government as equally vile as the Taliban
for the United States to support in its efforts
to overthrow Hussein, an invasion of Iraq
would alienate European allies and leave the
United States as a solitary actor.
The neoconservatives have fiercely plead-
ed for a final confrontation with Saddam
Hussein since 1998 and their voices grew
louder after Sept. 11. The Bush administra-
tion (Secretary of State Colin Powell) has rec-
ognized that a hasty, poorly-planned invasion
of Iraq would be disastrous. They have been
able to hold oft the advances of the admiinis-
tration's neoconservatives like Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. But their
defenses could be crumbling - and the
nation's international ethos will fall with it.
Zac Peskowitz can be reachedat
zpeskowi ufunmich.edu.

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