Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 33: Chicago

On to the windy city today. Despite essentially crossing one state (Illinois) the trip was about 5 hours. The scenery - as with most legs of our trip - was always interesting and unique. Whether it was the numerous wind farms or bizzare billboards we had a lot to catch our attention.

Before long we were upon the city. The Sears Tower, (which I just discovered, as typing this post, is now called the Willis Tower since about a year ago) as seen below really stands out from the city skyline.
We checked in to our Hilton Hotel amid Palestinian protesters blocking the way. Not sure what Hilton did to warrant their protests but as most of you know, there is an international controversy brewing.

Given how much press coverage this has garnered and given the overwhelmingly anti Israel slant that most news coverage has had on the subject, I feel the need to clarify a few facts.

Beginning of David's Editorial
Since June 2007, Hamas has governed the Gaza strip region of Israel. There are two indisputable facts about Hamas. First, it is a terrorist organization. Second, it has as part of its mandate the goal of destroying Israel.

In response to this, Israel has had an ongoing naval blocade which affects the Gaza region. Instead of permitting transport directly to Gaza, Israel's blocade requires such transport to dock in Israeli ports which gives Israel a chance to screen shipments for things such as weapons.

Another indisputable fact is that Israel has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks over the past decade particularly. These terrorist attacks have had the specific intention to deliberately kill unarmed civilians. Accordingly, screening for weapons is a logical step in Israel's self defence which is precisely what this blocade accomplishes. It is also important to note that such blocades, even in international waters is a normal tactic that has been employed by numerous nations and it is permitted in customary international law.

The current controversy occurred when a flotilla departing from Turkey specifically gave Israel a big middle finger and said "we are going to defy this blocade".

Israel's response was to simply enforce its blocade. It started with clear verbal warnings which were received by the flotilla to stop and turn back. These early and low impact measures were responded to with disdain, profanity, and disregard.

As the video shows, the next step was Israeli troops boarded the flotilla - again in order to enforce the blocade and inspect the contents of the flotilla. If you watch the video it is clear that from the moment the troops arrived they were met with violence.

I personally find it difficult to reconcile the way that many media outlets have covered this incident. It is regrettable that people lost their lives in what ensued, but we have to stop and think: virtually all other nations, in a similar situation would have reacted in a similar manner. If any country had a legal blocade and a foreign entity attempted to defy it, it only makes sense that the country would first try to warn the entity and then attempt to stop it through reasonable meaures which might include boarding the vessel. If in boarding the vessel the country was met with violence, isn't it reasonable to understand that force would be used? I think it is.

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Okay, back to the day at hand. After checking in we went to a restaurant called Moto. Tamara and I first saw this restaurant on the Food Network. It features a 20 course tasting menu that includes numerous novel and creative food presentations including the use of fire, lasers, liquid nitrogen and other interesting combinations.

The whole meal took 4 hours to complete, hence the late blog post.

Okay and with that, I'm off to bed!