JERUSALEM & TRUMP • GUNS: SENSIBLE VIEW OF THE SAFE ACT

 

COMPLIANCE: NOT THAT DIFFICULT

Perhaps the most widely discussed and debated law in the history of the state of NY, the NY SAFE Act, was enacted by a large bipartisan vote of the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2013. It has been a hot-button topic by gun owners and activists since that time. Personally, I am more concerned about my taxes, family healthcare and quality education for my children.

But now, after 5 years handgun owners are now “up in arms” again over the fact that they have to recertify that they are entitled, under law, to possess a handgun.

Recently newspapers, radio, and television news have been awash with reports reminding gun owners of their obligation to comply with state law. The TV news accompanied of course with the obligatory footage of guns and weapons firing; County Clerks are holding seminars.

I visited the NYS website set up for just this purpose (safeact.ny.gov) and registered my handgun more than a year ago; it took all of 5 minutes and I am now fully compliant.

This fact only demonstrates the point that too many gun owners don’t know, don’t care or choose not to know the law (remember it’s been 5 years). In their view, any gun safety legislation is wrong (the camel’s nose in the tent of gun confiscation!). Perhaps SCOPE and like-minded gun organizations should have discussed this matter at their regular or special meetings to share the information. We know gun owners talk – I’ve visited the websites.

The reality of the need to recertify is to ensure that a legal gun owner has not run afoul of the law since receiving his/her most recent pistol permit. If, in the interim, a handgun owner has been convicted of a felony or of domestic violence (perhaps assaulting a spouse or child); was involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility; has been dishonorably discharged from the military; is a fugitive from justice; an unlawful alien or one who renounced American citizenship, the recertification will not be allowed. At the time of recertification, the gun owner is required by statute merely to affirm that he/she is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. The applicant will then be subject to a federal background check.

By the way, I am a gun owner, handgun and long gun; but I am fed up with the widespread devastation caused by wanton gun violence and the mindless fealty to the NRA and its affiliates’ spin that all gun laws are unconstitutional and will lead to gun confiscation. There are 300 million guns in our country – do the math. That is why I joined NYAGV to fight back and to provide a voice for those of us, gun owner or not, who see the need to protect the next generation from this one.

Rick Fuller

West Seneca, NY

Member – New Yorkers Against Gun Violence

 

JERUSALEM AND THE DANGER OF TRUMP

I was not planning on writing you this week, but I am sure you have seen the terrible news: Trump has just upended decades of US foreign policy by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This effectively hands Israel a blank political check for its illegal annexation of Jerusalem and legitimizes Israel’s ongoing displacement and disenfranchisement of the city’s Palestinian residents. Trump’s move is politically dangerous, and morally egregious.

We are raising our voices in protest of this unprecedented move that flies in the face of international law, and are bringing Palestinian rights back into the conversation. You can read our official statement here, and see our take on the situation in The Washington PostThe InterceptMiddle East EyeBuzzFeed News, and USA Today.

Trump is telling Israel that its current separate-and-unequal – otherwise known as apartheid – regime between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, which discriminates against Palestinians in municipal planning services, taxation, housing and education, and is designed to demographically engineer a permanent Jewish majority in Jerusalem, is A-okay. He is also legitimizing Israel’s violations in Jerusalem of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including but not limited to its demolition of Palestinian homes, its illegal settlements, and its apartheid wall.

For 70 years now, the US has given Israel tacit approval and diplomatic cover to steal Palestinian land, build illegal Jewish settlements, and deny Palestinians in East Jerusalem and elsewhere their rights. In spite of this, official US policy has always opposed recognizing Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the city.

Not anymore. Trump’s recognition does away with any pretense that the US is an unbiased mediator, and further endorses Israel’s illegal actions and abuses of Palestinian human rights in the city.

This move is but another example of Trump emboldening Israel’s extreme right-wing government and settler movement, and drives home the shared values of Trump and Netanyahu’s right-wing governments: stoking racism, xenophobia, and fear for political gain.

If you are looking for more information about the implications of this move, read our policy paper on the topic, “Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem: Historical, Legal and Policy Considerations.”

Trump’s announcement makes it glaringly obvious that it is long past time for the world to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian human rights through support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). We will continue to uplift BDS as we fight for freedom, justice, and equality. Trump has made clear today that BDS is more important than ever.

Sincerely,

YOUSEF MUNAYYER

 

A historic day – the end of American mediation in the Middle East

Gush Shalom statement, December 6, 2017

The Trump speech will not change the reality of Jerusalem. West Jerusalem will remain an Israeli city, where Israel’s government is located since 1949. East Jerusalem will remain an occupied Palestinian city, which is not and cannot be a part of Israel. Believers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam will continue clinging to their holy sites in Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, this is a historic day. In the person of President Donald Trump, the United States today officially, ceremoniously and with a  bang abdicated its role as the mediator between Israel and the Arabs.

This mediating role had endured for more than forty years. Henry Kissinger created it with his “shuttle diplomacy” of the 1970’s. All later Presidents and Secretaries of State strove to maintain it. All later Presidents and Secretaries of State were jealous of the American monopoly over Middle East mediation, even to forcibly grabbing hold of negotiations processes started without them – between Israel and Egypt in 1978, between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993. Until Donald Trump came along and in typical Trumpian style decided to spectacularly smash up this mediation role.

In fact, the US mediation role had always been a curious anomaly. In no commercial dispute would it be conceivable to have as arbiter the business partner of one of the contending parties. But in the world of Middle East diplomacy, it was accepted almost without question that the role of impartial honest broker be given to Israel’s closest ally, the provider of billions in financial aid and state of the art weapons systems and an almost automatic veto in the UN Security Council.

Obama and Kerry did make some belated and half-hearted efforts to appear impartial. But Trump decided to tear off America’s face any mask of impartiality and trample it underfoot.

What now? Well, for some time there will be no mediator in the Middle East, and hence no kind of Peace Process. But sooner or later, the vacuum is going to be filled. Who might fill it? One name which comes to mind is of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who had just shown himself able to play a highly effective and energetic – though quite brutal – role in Syria. Russia has long-standing cordial relations with the Palestinians, in the past decade Putin has built up intensive relations with Netanyahu as well. Taking up the abandoned mediation role between Israel and the Palestinians would fit nicely within Putin’s project of restoring Russia’s global power.

Then, the European Union – even though beset by many crises – might take up a more assertive role in the Middle East. Especially France, which has traditionally tended to take its own independent initiatives. Or even China, which not so long ago appointed its own Middle East representative.

Altogether, there might eventually emerge a mediator or mediators who would be a bit more impartial than we had so far. And if so, there might be an ironical reason to feel grateful to Donald Trump…

Sincerely,

Adam Keller