Posts tagged with "united nations"

March for Gaza: Thousands Rally in DC for Global Day of Action

Thousands rallied at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., Saturday as part of a global day of action calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war that started on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants launched an attack on Israel killing about 1,300 people.

Since the start of the war, Israel has launched an aggressive bombardment of Gaza and other parts of Palestine in response, sending shockwaves across the world. More than 23,350 people have been killed – mostly children and women – during its retaliatory attacks on Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

Last week South Africa brought a case against Israel accusing it of committing the “crime of all crimes: genocide.”

Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are to decide whether Israel, in its war in Gaza, is guilty of an attempt to “destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part,” as defined by the 1948 Convention on Genocide.

Freedom Plaza overflowed onto Pennsylvania Avenue with marchers chanting the popular “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as they waved a sea of flags in support of the Palestinian people who remain under siege.

Some marchers prayed on mats in the crowd, and outside the FBI building. Some of the speakers shared stories of losing hundred of people in their families and waiting helplessly for word on relatives surviving the night. The Biden administration has not called for a ceasefire in spite the urging of the international community, including the United Nations.

Escalation in Israel-Hamas Conflict: October 7, 2023

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has once again escalated, leaving countless civilians dead and the international community deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis. On October 7, 2023, the region witnessed a surprise attack by Hamas, a militant Islamic resistance movement, that caused a significant spike in violence, marking a disturbing chapter in this long-standing conflict. This article provides an overview of the events that transpired on that fateful day and the broader implications of this intensifying confrontation. The Israel-Hamas conflict is a protracted struggle that dates back several decades. Rooted in historical, territorial, and religious tensions, it has resulted in numerous clashes, wars, and ceasefires, all of which have left a lasting impact on the people living in the region.

October 7, 2023 – A Day of Escalation

On October 7, 2023, violence in the region escalated significantly. The day began with a series of rocket attacks launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. These rockets targeted civilian areas, posing a severe threat to the lives and security of Israeli citizens. In response, Israel initiated a swift and powerful counterattack, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launching airstrikes on multiple Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. The IDF’s disproportionate response was immediate, as they aimed to destroy the resistance groups’ infrastructure and minimize their ability to launch further attacks. As the day progressed, reports of casualties on both sides began to emerge. The situation rapidly deteriorated, and it became clear that this was one of the most serious escalations in violence seen in recent years. Making matters worse, is the western media and government’s response to the crisis in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself, inspite of the inhumane and unjust occupation of the region after WWII that led to the creation of the Jewish state.

“Palestinian territory – encompassing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israeli government has established a two-tiered legal and political system that provides comprehensive rights for Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing military rule and control on Palestinians without any basic protections or rights under international law. The Israeli government has also engaged in a regular practice of inhumane acts, as well as extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of fundamental human rights, arbitrary detention and collective punishment. The UN Human Rights Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and Israel concluded in June 2022 that continued occupation, as well as discrimination against Palestinians, are the key causes of recurrent instability and protraction of conflict in the region.” – R2P

An Israeli soldier patrol a street of Gaza on October 21, 1973, during the 1973 ArabñIsraeli War. On October 6, 1973, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 ArabñIsraeli War. This war provoked the oil shock of 1973 and led to the opening of peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, concluded by the Camp David agreement in 1978. (Photo by Gabriel DUVAL / AFP) Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territory

Humanitarian Concerns

The Israel-Hamas conflict has always posed a significant humanitarian challenge. The renewed hostilities on October 7, 2023, only exacerbated these concerns. Civilians on both sides of the conflict found themselves in the crossfire, with innocent men, women, and children suffering the consequences of the violence. Hospitals in Gaza are being bombed and facing an influx of injured individuals, stretching their already limited resources. In Israel, residents of southern communities spent much of the day in bomb shelters, living in fear for their safety. The impact of these ongoing hostilities on mental health, particularly among children, is profound and deeply troubling. The disinformation and misinformation of the hospitals bombing in Gaza has also flared tensions across the globe. Israel has shut off water, electricity and other essential supplies and aid in Gaza, creating a greater humanitarian crisis and internationals calls to immediately cease fire and restore water and electricity, and to permit aid to reach civilians.

International Response

The international community has responded to the escalating conflict with growing alarm. Nations worldwide have called for an immediate ceasefire and urged all parties to exercise restraint. International organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity have expressed their concern and called for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Various actors, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhave attempted to mediate and de-escalate the situation. Egypt, a historical mediator in the Israel-Hamas conflict, has been in contact with both parties, striving to broker a ceasefire. International envoys and diplomats have also been working tirelessly behind the scenes, aiming to find a path toward peace.

Implications for the Region

The escalating violence on October 7, 2023, underscores the complex and volatile nature of the Israel-Hamas conflict. As this situation unfolds, several key implications become apparent:

  1. Regional Destabilization: The ongoing conflict in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Hamas, has broader implications for regional stability. It can influence the dynamics of other conflicts in the region, including those involving neighboring countries.
  2. Impact on Civilians: The civilian population, on both sides, continues to bear the brunt of the violence. The physical and psychological toll on the people of Gaza and southern Israel remains a pressing concern.
  3. Stalled Peace Process: The conflict poses a significant obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East. A lasting resolution has been elusive, and these recurrent hostilities make it even more challenging to achieve a meaningful peace agreement, including a two state solution.

The events of October 7, 2023, in the Israel-Hamas conflict serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in the region. The international community’s calls for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution are critical, but history has shown that achieving lasting peace remains a complex and elusive goal. As the world watches the situation with growing concern, the hope remains that diplomatic efforts will ultimately lead to an end to the violence and a path toward a more stable and secure future for all those affected by this enduring conflict.

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China & America: The New Geopolitical Equation

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

A recent talk in New Hartford sponsored by Upper Mohawk Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association, (UMVUNA) highlighted some of the factors facing U.S.–Sino relations as the two sides work to settle contentious trade agreements. Visiting Assistant Professor of Government & Politics, Jun T. Kwon, Ph.D. says to fully grasp the foreign policy directions of both countries we have to understand the Five T’s; Thucydides Trap, Trade, Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen.

Starting with the first T, Kwon says the two sides share a relationship that is mainly rooted in the “Thucydides Trap,” referring to ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ reasoning of the Peloponnesian War. “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Kwon says, “The 21st Century belongs to China.” He says it’s this fear that’s causing disruptions in U.S.-China relationships. “China’s power is growing and it’s causing fear in America,” he said. He explains that despite the pessimistic prospects of the two countries, some are optimistic of China rising especially as it pertains to world politics. “They welcome China challenging the U.S. in world politics.”

When it comes to the second T; Trade, Kwon says, “There’s definitely a trade war going on. Free trade benefits everyone. The issue is who will gain more? The U.S. wants to curb China gaining but the U.S. and China are economically intertwined. And, so many other countries are losing to U.S. in trade policy. Chinese growing power is striking fear.” Despite the circumstances, Kwon says, “There’s a compromise expected in the next couple of weeks on the U.S.-China trade dispute.” He adds that ultimately, without an agreement, its American consumers that stand to lose because they’ll see prices skyrocket when China retaliates over trade disputes. Kwon says the negotiations are ongoing because trade relations should be reciprocal.

The third T; Taiwan, may be one of the most contentious issues between China and the U.S. Although Taiwan is a self-governed island under U.S. protection, China claims it as part of the PRC, (People’s Republic of China). Kwon states, “President Trump signed Taiwan Travel Act last month which would facilitate and expand high level visits and exchanges between senior officials in Washington and Taipei. It has fueled the already strained relations between the U.S. and China. One China policy is a principle from China’s point of view that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.” He goes onto say that China sees it as U.S. intervention into Chinese domestic affairs. “Nothing is angering China more than perception of foreign intervention into domestic affairs.”

The issue of Tibet covers the fourth T. Tibetan independence is undoubtedly an issue causing social instability in China. Kwon says the U.S. stands accused by the Chinese government of instigating Tibetan independence and with an expected White House visit from the Dalai Lama soon, China is concerned about what President Trump will do to harm already strained relations. Kwon says, even though China is eagerly awaiting the death of the Dalai Lama who has tirelessly worked—even in exile–toward Tibetan independence, the concern is a real one for the country because other minorities want to break away from China too. “Tibet refers to one of the most sensitive sources of social instability in China, which is so-called ethnic minority issue. In particular, two notable minorities which have expressed their independence sentiments are Tibetans and Uyghurs who are Turkish speaking Muslims residing in Xinjiang Province in Northwest of China.”

The final T is centered on an important moment in China’s political liberation; 1989 Tiananmen Square. “There has been no meaningful protest since,” Kwon says. This, despite the human rights violations China stands accused of by the U.S. and other world organizations. When the Chinese government removed constitutional term limits to allow President Xi Jinping to be president for life, the Chinese people didn’t seem to care about removing the 10-year term limits and Professor Kwon says, “This is a problem with the lack of activism since Tiananmen Square.” Adding, “China is not democratic at all. But how democracy should be defined is relative. Whether human rights are universal is relative. And, what is democracy? How do you define it? Comparing U.S. and China; U.S. is focused on the By The People part while China focuses more on the For The People part,” he says, adding, “The U.S. wants to use human rights and democracy to make China look bad.” Nonetheless, Kwon says democracy in China will take time and imposing values on others is not democracy.

In a labor intensive industry the U.S. can’t compete with China because China has labor power. “And this threatens U.S. markets.” Asked if the fear is justified, Kwon says, “China wants to come back as the super power. To be number one on the world’s stage. There will be conflict because the U.S. does not want China to take over. If that happens, it’s going to be a major conflict similar to a 1920s war.” Professor Kwon explained that China is not interested in injecting their influence around the world other than in East Asia. However, China does want to expand its economic power around the world, especially in Africa. “The U.S. has military alliances with 58 countries. China has only one; North Korea.”

There is some good news coming from the attention China is receiving as it negotiates new trade agreements with the United States. China, a member of the Paris Agreement, is actively working to reduce pollution. One way is by controlling the purchase of cars by putting limits on purchases, and working to expand where people live and work by building mega cities all over the country to entice people to relocate there and ease congestion in its larger more densely population cities like Shanghai and Beijing. And as it pertains to its relationship with North Korea, Kwon says, “China is nervous about North Korea drifting away from them and forming a relationship with Trump. China wants North Korea to pull back because it’s concerned they are moving too fast to meet with the U.S.”

The recent and third inter-Korean Summit’s focus was the geopolitical landscape and according to Kwon North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons. He says, “Security guarantee from the U.S. is the only way North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons and that’s never going to happen.” He adds, “The U.S. goal is to handcuff North Korea. And, North Korea is scared. They feel threatened.” As it pertains to unification, Kwon says it would mean the collapse of North Korea unless it’s a very slow process of unifying the two Korea’s. He says part of the problem has to do with pathological nationalism. “North Koreans have been brain washed by pathological nationalism. They are brainwashed to worship their leader and blame the U.S. for their economic hardships.” Regardless of the views held from either side of the geopolitical landscape on the future of U.S.-Sino relations, it’s safe to surmise; China’s time as the world’s number one super power will come.

 

Public Broadcasting In The U.S., The Changing Media Landscape And Its Impact On Global Policies

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

A visiting media scholar from Jagiellonian University in Poland, Dr. Rafal Kus, gave a poignant public lecture for the United Nations Association at the Unitarian Universalist Church in New Hartford on Thursday. Dr. Krus was invited by Utica College’s Communications and Media Department thanks to a grant from the Erasmus Program of the European Union. Dr. Krus specializes in the study of American television media.

The local United Nations chapter—Upper Mohawk Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association—is tied to a global network of UN supporters and educators dedicated to educate, inspire, mobilize and strengthen the U.S. system in order to achieve the goals stated in the UN charter. The talk, which aims to do just that, focused on public broadcasting in the U.S., media and politics, and the impact of media systems in the world.

Part of the goal, according to organizers is to learn how U.S. foreign policy has been shaped by the international media climate and how it relates to the United Nations. There’s currently a bill being considered in Congress that aims to slash funding to the UN And Greg M. Smith who serves as Vice President of the local chapter, UMVUNA, says the cuts are in addition to the UN reducing its own budget by $200 million. “Now the United States is saying an additional $250 million needs to come away. That’s problematic because if we do that then we’re going to lose some of the seats we have within the United Nations. And, without a voice or a presence in committees we don’t have a voice in what happens within the United Nations and very easily the UN could become the League of Nations which we all know didn’t’ do very well to prevent WWII.”

The full talk can be heard here: