Israel and Palestine

by Paul Olson, President Emeritus

And so Israel and Palestine are back at it again—not the biggest conflict in the world or even the biggest in the Middle East. The Shia/Sunni conflict pitting Russia against the U.S., Shiite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia, and the intermingled Shia and Sunni regions extending from Lebanon to western Afghanistan involves a far greater geopolitical theater, global energy resources and hundreds of millions of people. In contrast, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict embraces no more than 11,000 square miles and 11 million people. (To provide a sense of scale, Nebraska encompasses 77,000 square miles and only 1.8 million people. Palestine/Israel contains six times as many people as Nebraska in one seventh of the area). Real children, however, are dying from Israeli bombs on the supposition that a Hamas member may live in their house. Real rockets scare Israeli urbanites nightly and disrupt life constantly. The struggle has gone on since 1948. We have been desensitized. “It’s just the Israelis and Palestinians going at it again for a week or two.” But the more than 50-year-old war sits in the center, and the other Middle East conflicts are its entailments.

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Income Inequality: Is There Any Hope for Change?

by Hank Van den Berg
UNL Professor of Economics

The popularity of Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, suggests that people are finally waking up to the fact that economic inequality has increased sharply over the past 40 years. Piketty presents a great many charts and tables, based entirely on official U.S. government data, to show that both income and wealth have become as unequal as they were during the ‘Roaring Twenties’ of capitalist excess. What is frustrating is that this rise in inequality in the U.S., the highest among all developed countries, comes after New Deal programs and subsequent social legislation actually greatly reduced inequality during the 1950s and 1960s.

Even more troubling is Piketty’s finding that just in the past five years inequality has continued to grow. The wealthiest 10 percent have recovered from the financial collapse very nicely, but the rest of the U.S. population has not. There is no sign of the growing inequality reversing itself. We must change the system; we cannot just tweak it.

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The Situation in Syria:

Nebraskans for Peace has long called attention to the dangers implicit in the growing confrontation between the Sunni powers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, and the bloc of Shiite nations and militia powers extending from Iran through Iraq and the Alawite Shiite-ruled nation of Syria to the Hezbollah Shia armies in Lebanon.

A few months ago, Nebraskans for Peace hosted Sr. Agnes Miriam of the monastery of St. James the Mutilated from Syria. She warned us about the jihadists organizing in eastern Syria and Iraq, an organizing that has culminated in the march of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant on Baghdad. Unfortunately Sister Agnes Miriam did not receive the attention that she deserved from the media press.

The United States has been largely indifferent to the tensions between Sunni and Shia in the Middle East since the détente of 2005 when Sunni tribes in Anbar province decided to cooperate with the U.S. and the de facto government in Iraq. After they did this and were promised inclusion, they were increasingly excluded from power by a Maliki government dominated by Shiites and exclusionary of other groups, especially of Sunnis. This failure by our ally in Iraq has created the organizing momentum for the Sunni ISIL group in Iraq. The same sort of failure has fueled the rebellion against the Assad government in Syria. The U.S. needs to cry out loud and long at the Iraq government’s exclusionary policies and its failure to rid itself of corruption.

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Paying for the Climate Change Pivot

This article by John Feffer and Emily Schwartz Greco was published under the title, “Paying for the Climate Change Pivot” in Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, which has been a trusted resource for Nebraskans for Peace for 40 years.

We only have a few decades to deal with climate change.

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Take Part in Raising NE Minimum Wage

The following message is a plea by Better Wages Nebraska to get petitioners to help raise the minimum wage in Nebraska. Please take a moment to read their words and find a way to do your part.

The campaign to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska has officially launched, and we want you to be involved. We are working hard every day to reach Nebraskans and gather the signatures to put a minimum wage increase on the November 2014 election.

Here's how you can get involved:

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