Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 51 (since 2011-11-22 03:09:17)

A lifelong NYC resident, from a progressive Jewish family - civil rights, labor, anti-war movements - who finds it appalling how so many otherwise progressive people start sounding like Netanyahu as soon as Israel/Palestine comes up.

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  • Take the right position on Israel and you can raise 1/4 million, Senate candidate is advised
    • Ellison just redeemed himself on Chris Hayes' MSNBC show. He came out strongly not just for a cease fire but also for an end to the blockade of Gaza.

  • Feinstein, Baldwin, Kaine, Paul among 12 senators who didn't sign AIPAC letter blasting Palestinian gov't
  • Anti-Cantor coalition included Tea Partiers, Independents, Democrats
    • Thanks, Annie, I didn't know that independents can vote in Virginia primaries, so that certainly puts a different spin on the result than we've heard from the mainstream media. My other take on this race: Cantor had the big bucks behind him and Brat had very little to spend. Whether it was the Tea Party, people like Beq, or as is likely, a combination of both, the candidate who spent the most by far was defeated. Kind of gives one hope that maybe it's just possible, even under this corrupt political system, that another big monied "lobby" can be defeated!

  • Fiddler on the Nakba
    • Back in 1969, in the wake of a contentious, racially charged teachers strike in NY City, a white, Italian-American chorus teacher staged a mostly African-American production of "Fiddler on the Roof" at a middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. This teacher had to contend with opposition both from the local community and from the mostly Jewish teachers and administration in the school. Ultimately, much of the school community, and many of the students and parents, recognized that "Fiddler" speaks to the shared experience of all people who have been oppressed.

      I am continually struck by the sad and painful irony of the oppressed people of Anatevka turning into the oppressors of the Nakba. The parallels of expulsions, violence and demolitions foisted on an innocent population are so close that one can perhaps envision a (slightly edited) Palestinian version of "Fiddler on the Roof" speaking to the shared experience of Palestinians and Jews. "Black Fiddler" (as the teacher, Richard Piro's, book about the experience was entitled), probably touched not many more than the few people who saw it (though it did warrant a "60 minutes" spot: link to youtube.com, and a longer documentary: link to youtube.com). Would a "Palestinian Fiddler" reach at least some people of conscience with the shock of recognition of our common history of catastrophe, and jolt at least some of the oppressors into seeing themselves as the oppressed?

  • Debbie Almontaser salutes Donna Nevel
    • When Debbie Almontaser was thrown under the bus in the Khalil Gibran fiasco by our previous Mayor (not to mention the schools chancellor, the NY Post, and countless others), I remember Donna's eloquent defense in, among other venues, an education listserv we both belonged to. I second Annie' statement that these are two moral giants! And what a refreshing change, to see two of our top city officials at the event. It does beg the question of where our current Mayor was that night; hopefully not at some AIPAC event!

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
  • Khalidi: It's time for Palestinians 'to get off their knees' and turn to Europe and ICC
    • As it happens, I've just been reading Khalidi's, "The Iron Cage". He has the credibility not just of a brilliant academic, but of one who has been involved in the political process (and been thrown under the bus by Obama, a former friend, to boot!). He is absolutely right, of course. And the deal between Fatah and Hamas, if it holds, can only help by providing some essential unity if and when the PA goes to the ICC and UN, and Israel tries to turn the West Bank into another Gaza. My sense is that if that occurs, liberal Zionists the world over will flock to support the Palestinians, because it will no longer be possible to live in denial.

  • Friedman prepares American Jews for a divorce from zealot Israel
    • Rereading the Friedman article, something just struck me that I missed the first time: "[Defense Minister] Yaalon wasn’t talking about Palestinian terrorists. He was talking about Jewish terrorists, renegade settlers, who slashed the tires of an I.D.F. jeep parked in the settlement of Yitzhar ..." Mr. MSM columnist was actually calling it like it is and acknowledging what these folks are doing is terrorism. Whatever else Friedman says or doesn't say in this column, using this term is a big deal. Now, if he'd only take the next step, pointing out the historical parallels to the original Zionist terrorists, the Irgun and Stern Gang, and how, even though supposedly (according to mythological history) their terrorism was directed against the "authorities" - the British in that case - in actuality in both cases the terrorism was directed just as much if not more against the Palestinians.

    • "The three-year window would be likely to witness vigorous debate within Israel and induce new political currents that may be more conducive to a swift and authentic deal with the Palestinians over two states, probably within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative for which there is polling evidence of growing support among the Israeli population."

      If it were just a matter of extending the "same old same old", in Friedman's words, I'd agree that it would only be a cover for further Israeli intransigence and expansion. But "vigorous debate", not only within Israel but also the US and around the world, would likely not just center around two states but around other alternatives as well. Just the process of setting a deadline could put a whole new dynamic in place. I have recently seen myself the slow but steady transition of many of the liberal Zionists I know towards acceptance of the possibility of alternatives to the two state solution. If a three year window can both increase acceptance of alternative solutions and stimulate the generation of new and creative ideas for fair and equitable governance, whether one state, two states, or some sort of bi-national confederation arrangement, it would be time well spent in the long run.

  • 6 DC heavyweights tell Kerry, Netanyahu in West Bank is like Putin in Crimea
    • Good to hear these foreign policy experts weighing in with such sensible arguments. There is a big difference with the Russia/Crimea situation, however: In I/P, we have been actively supporting and enabling the occupation, which not only makes us complicit, but we can influence the situation by simply withdrawing that support. We have little influence, nor do we have any real national interest, in the situation in Crimea.

  • 'New Yorker' satirist Borowitz won't touch Adelson's Israel agenda with a barge pole
    • Yes, seanmcbride, I did write that, and thanks! I agree about the groveling, he is very smart to steer clear of it, and given Paul's non-interventionist stance, I sense that he might even manage to avoid getting sucked into it in the future. Too bad about his right wing social policies, but if it came down to him vs neocon Hillary, if I don't go third party, I might just give him a look.

    • Chris Christie’s recent political troubles grew last Saturday when he used the term “occupied territories” in the presence of Sheldon Adelson. But according to a source close to the casino magnate, the New Jersey Governor, in apologizing to Mr. Adelson, explained that he meant to say “transportation”, not “occupation”, and was referring to his new Middle East peace plan.

      Mr. Christie went on to detail his proposal to tie up bridges and roads in the West Bank with lane closures, thereby keeping residents from “making trouble”. “They’ll be so busy stewing in traffic”, he reportedly told Mr. Adelson, “that those Palestinians won’t even notice all the new settlements that Bibi is building.”

      Unfortunately for the Governor, his streak of bad luck continued when he immediately had to issue another apology to the Republican kingmaker for using the term “Palestinians”.

  • U.S. intel analysts doubt Israeli claim that captured weapons were headed to Gaza
    • As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"

      By the way, shouldn't there have been a "Mission accomplished" sign in that picture displaying the captured missiles?

  • Shira Robinson explains the DNA of Israel
    • This is a wonderful interview, especially timely for me as I've been reading "Citizen Strangers" so this provides a good companion overview as well as a window into who she is and how her thinking and values developed. I always wish, as I read a book, or afterwards, that I could converse with the author, so many questions come up, so much more I want to know. In that vein, Phil, I wonder if Mondoweiss might ever consider some sort of "authors' series", where your readers could meet, hear from, and converse with some of the writers featured on the site, such as Shira Robinson, Max Blumenthal, Miko Peled, Pamela Olson, etc. You could even do it as a fundraiser for MW; perhaps one donation level to hear them speak with a Q and A, another level for a reception with a chance to converse at greater length. Just a thought ...

  • On John Judis's 'Genesis,' and its critics
    • This is an important and illuminating commentary, and I have always admired Prof. Slater for his scholarship and his values. However, that "kinder and gentler" ethnic cleansing bit disturbs me. I suppose one could compare that sort of "transfer" to the idea of eminent domain, moving citizens around for the common good. But in that case, people are at least ostensibly chosen fairly, on geographic terms, say a block where everyone has to move to make way for a highway. But if this were done as Prof. Slater suggests, it is more as if some of the residents of the block were moved out due to their religion or ethnicity, while the others remained. It would be an odd highway route indeed. Personally, I am agnostic on the issue of one state or two, as long as the democratic and human rights of all of the state's (or states') citizens are respected. But the idea of even "gentle ethnic cleansing" reveals the basic flaw in liberal zionist thinking, that this sort of thing can ever really be fair.

  • 'Daily Beast' labels Abbas 'stubborn' for refusing to recognize Israel as Jewish state
    • Hmmmm, I think there's one way that the Palestinians might be willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Abbas says to the Israelis: "Hey, how can we recognize you as a 'Jewish state' if you guys can't even figure out amongst yourselves just what that actually means? But given how important this is to you, we'll help you out on this. It's not really our business, but since you can't do it yourselves, we're willing to determine what a Jewish state is; and to make it even easier, we'll decide for you what the borders are. And then, we'll gladly recognize that state." Problem solved!

  • Israel's endless enemies -- the dangerous myth in Ari Shavit's book
    • Besides the missed opportunities of peace with the Arab states that Prof. Slater relates, another thing left out by Shavit was discussed in Miko Peled's book, "The General's Son": the missed opportunities of peace directly with the Palestinians. I don't have the book handy at the moment, but as I remember it, Miko talks about how his father, General Matti Peled, had suggested (I think it was at a cabinet or other high level meeting), after the 1967 conquest, that with Israel finally face to face with the Palestinians, with no states in between, now was the time to make peace with them. This proposal was summarily rejected by the Israelis. Had that happened, the future conflicts with Egypt and Syria might not have occurred, nor would Hamas, Hezbollah, et al. have even existed.

  • Why do US media insist that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf states oppose Iran deal?
    • Juan Cole's post today on this subject is worth reading (link to juancole.com). It occurs to me that deflecting the world's attention from the ongoing land grabs in Palestine is not the only ulterior motive for Israel harping on the Iran nuclear issue. From reading Cole, it seems that one of the main reasons most of the Middle East countries seem so happy with this agreement is that it eventually could increase pressure towards a nuclear free Middle East; the last thing Israel wants is international pressure for it to give up its nukes!

  • Netanyahu says Rouhani denies the Holocaust. But he doesn't
    • “There is no moral equivalency between the slaughter of 6 million Jews and millions of other innocent men, women and children in the Nazi gas chambers and the plight of the Palestinian people living in the West Bank and Gaza.”

      Whenever I hear people saying this sort of thing, I think of this quote from Palestinian writer Afif Safieh:
      "If I were a Jew or a Gypsy, the Holocaust would be the most horrible event in history. If I were a Black African it would be Slavery and Apartheid. If I were a Native American, it would be the discovery of the New World by European explorers and settlers that resulted in near total extermination. If I were an Armenian it would be the Ottoman-Turkish massacres. And if I happen to be Palestinian, it would be the Nakba-Catastrophe. No one people has a monopoly on human suffering. It is not advisable to try to establish a hierarchy of suffering. Humanity should consider all the above as morally repugnant and politically unacceptable. And humanity is increasingly beginning to express its adhesion to the principle that there is only one mankind and not different kinds of men and women."

  • No one knows what Obama stands for
    • My reaction exactly. In fact, if Obama would seek out certain Jewish advisors, perhaps the likes of Noam Chomsky, Miko Peled, Max Blumenthal, or for that matter Marc Ellis or our own Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz, we would all be better off!

  • Obama gets it
    • I'm glad to see your optimism, Phil. I, too, would like to see Obama's speech in that light. One thing that fuels my optimism is that Obama, at his best, seems to master the art of saying one thing to mollify one constituency, while behind the scenes actually addressing another. In the recent Gaza war, he seems to have said the "right" words to publicly pacify Israel, while actually pressuring Netanyahu to negotiate and make concessions to Gaza. One would hope that his words of support to Israel in the first part of the trip might similarly be designed to publicly pacify the Israeli right wing, while perhaps applying behind the scenes pressure to freeze settlements or to take other actions.

      On the pessimistic side, even if he really does "get it", given the facts on the ground it's probably too late for a two state solution acceptable to the Palestinians (or anyone else interested in fairness and human rights). And I just can't imagine Obama ever supporting a one state solution.

  • Pamela Olson starts book tour of Palestine memoir in CA
    • Congratulations, Pamela, on both the book and your upcoming wedding! Looking forward to your NY book event April 24 at Barnes and Noble.

  • Richard Falk praises Pamela Olson for 'intelligent innocence'
    • Having read "Fast Times" twice, and having had the privilege of an extended conversation with Pamela about the book and her experiences, I would say that Falk has totally captured the essence of the book and its author in this review. I plan on purchasing multiple copies, and look forward to distributing them to my liberal zionist friends and relatives. I expect it will be truly transformational for them.

  • The limits of liberal Zionism: 'NYT' columnist Roger Cohen misrepresents the Nakba and the right of return
    • Of course then there's the irony of people who claim a "right of return" for themselves after 2000 years denying that right to those who have been displaced from their homes for a mere 65 years.

      The other irony is that when Israel is finally compelled to accept a full right of return, and a true democratic state is established, the sort of compromise that Mandela actually did have to make in order to "keep the peace" - economic power being retained by the groups that already have it in return for political power to the majority - will likely be on the table. But that is, I guess, a fight for another time.

  • Chuck Hagel said idea of going to war with Iran is 'Alice in Wonderland'
  • Another Jew describes his journey away from Zionism
    • Thanks, David. Without "converts" of some sort or other being welcomed there would probably not be many of us on this site. Growing up in the Secular Jewish Left, I was fortunate not to have been exposed to much of the propagandistic drivel that many others I knew were indoctrinated with. But even in my circles, true information about the reality of Israel/Palestine was hard to come by, and it is not hard for me to understand how so many well meaning people could be taken in and not see what was happening. The vision of those "socialist" kibbitzim was often celebrated, none of us realizing that many of them were built atop destroyed Palestinian villages. While I have opposed the Occupation from the beginning, it was only recently that I have become aware of the situation, both historically and in the present, regarding the Palestinian citizens of Israel. It's information that one often has to seek out, not always obvious unless it's pointed out. Even when I had the opportunity about 30 years ago to speak to some members of the PLO Observer Mission to the UN (who I met at a party), conditions within the Green Line never came up as we discussed the Occupation. If I wasn't going to hear it from them, how was I to hear it? (It actually took until I discovered this site, and links to books such as John McCarthy's, "You Can't Hide the Sun"). And "converts" from Zionism are often the most credible people to learn the truth from; one of the best examples, probably THE best, is Miko Peled ("The General's Son").

  • On crossing cultures as a western visitor to Palestine
    • You make some good points, Sasha. Even having grown up in a family that has fought for progressive causes for generations, I have come to realize that even those of us who grew up truly believing that "we're all equals" are not immune to the effects of racism and privilege, and cannot always truly appreciate what oppressed people go through.

      Having said that, however, sometimes we need to guard against over-analyzing and, as tokyobk says in a comment above, "talk about other humans, not lecture notes". And that is what is so striking about Pamela's comment, and her book. What she has accomplished is to "humanize" people that have been largely "dehumanized" by not only the right, but by liberal zionists as well.

      I myself found Pamela's book transformational. While I have always supported the Palestinians - perhaps even with more fervor than for other oppressed groups since as an American and a Jew I feel a special responsibility for what is happening to them - it took reading Pamela's book to fully appreciate who these people are and what they are going through. There is nothing simplistic about it; far from "barely scratching the surface", I think Pamela gives us a picture of the Palestinians at a gut level, in a way that reaches not only lifelong progressives like myself, but (as I have found by sharing the book with less progressive friends and family) the average person who has seen the Palestinian people only through the tainted lens of the mainstream media.

  • Stop calling him 'Bibi'
    • "Bibi" - conjures up the image of the sort of character who would employ a bizarre, cartoon like picture of a bomb to plead his case to a distinguished group of world dignitaries. But then again, that would never happen in real life ...

  • Trapped
    • Eloquent as always, Phil. Your gut is telling you that something fundamental is changing over there. Maybe it's just that you're in a particularly more pessimistic mood this time, but I have a feeling that your experienced journalistic mind would not allow your gut to speak that way without good cause.

      I haven't been there, but what I'm beginning to hear also tells me that something is changing, even within the green line and in the perceptions of visitors who might not be expected to see it. Example: A colleague of mine has a granddaughter who did a Birthright trip last year. Loved it, couldn't wait to go back. Went back this year, on her own with a friend. When she got home, grandma expected to hear gushing about how great it was. Instead, the granddaughter hated it. Couldn't quite put her finger on it, but it sounded like part of it might have been the pervasiveness of the ultra-orthodox and gender discrimination, partly that many of the Israelis seemed to her rather harsh and uninviting. All this from a self described supporter of Zionism, who went with a totally positive expectation; out of the "Birthright bubble" it just wasn't what she anticipated. And I've heard recently from other people, visiting for the second or third time, who have said they found a very different feel this time; "uncomfortable" was a word I heard more than once from such visitors.

      So something may indeed be changing, on both sides of the green line. Yes, there is good reason for pessimism. But, as we all know, the status quo is untenable. Change is essential. So it can't hurt that some of the folks who usually engage in "happy talk" are feeling more than a little disturbed over there. Maybe, just maybe, there are some chinks in the Zionist armor beginning to show. And maybe, in these wisps of change, there is still hope - and opportunity.

  • Jon Stewart on Romney's painfully oblivious racism against Palestinians
    • Thanks for posting this Pamela; feels good to laugh out loud about it for a change! Hmm, Stewart just gave me an idea: A massive march on one of the checkpoints, everyone carrying an EZ Pass application. If we can't beat them any other way, let's drown them in paperwork and choke them on their own bureaucracy!

  • To understand the history of Palestinian dispossession look to the words of Zionist and Israeli leaders
    • Thanks for the reference. It helped me find part of Dayan's quote from The Iron Wall on Wikiquotes:

      "Let us not today fling accusation at the murderers. What cause have we to complain about their fierce hatred to us? For eight years now, they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their eyes we turn into our homestead the land and villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.
      We should demand his blood not from the Arabs of Gaza but from ourselves. . . . Let us make our reckoning today. We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and gun barrel, we shall not be able to plant a tree or build a house. . . . Let us not be afraid to see the hatred that accompanies and consumes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who sit all around us and wait for the moment when their hands will be able to reach our blood."

    • Speaking of quotes, here is one from Vladimir Jabotinsky, father of Revisionist Zionism: "The Arabs loved their country as much as the Jews did. Instinctively,
      they understood Zionist aspirations very well, and their decision to resist them
      was only natural ..... There was no misunderstanding between Jew and Arab, but
      a natural conflict. .... No Agreement was possible with the Palestinian Arab;
      they would accept Zionism only when they found themselves up against an 'iron wall,' when they realize they had no alternative but to accept Jewish settlement."

      I saw somewhere an account of a speech that Moshe Dayan gave, back in the '50's, at a funeral of an Israeli killed in a terrorist attack. I wish I could find the source. But his speech was described as starting out sounding like an eloquent defense of the right of Palestinians to resist. He talked of how they lost land and homes, and spoke poignantly of what it must be like to look across a border at your home, but not be allowed to go back to it. But then he went on to say basically what Jabotinsky said - some version of, "They may have a right to fight us but we have to win."

      As I frequently point out in arguments about the history of the I/P situation, such quotes prove that the facts are not really in dispute. No serious historian believes that the Zionists just settled on empty land, or even that the Palestinians didn't have valid reasons to resist. The dispute is all about values. Benny Morris was one of the first Israeli mainstream historians to expose the ethnic cleansing of Palestine (Palestinian historians, of course, were saying this from the beginning). But Morris then concludes by saying basically the same thing as Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky, Dayan and the others - "Yeah, we did it, but it was necessary and we had to win."

      It is both necessary to be educated about the facts, as well as to look at with what system of values we view them. Thankfully, we have the Henry Cliffords, the Phil Weiss's and the Adam Horowitz's of the world around to remind us of both.

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Israel
    • Yes, the idea of Obama visiting Israel at this time is a rather scary prospect. I wish he could visit the West Bank or Gaza, though. It seems to be such an eye-opener for those who actually see the occupation close up, that maybe the experience would give him some steel in his backbone. Besides, it's probably a far safer place for him to visit.

  • Are the Jews a nation? And more importantly, can they hit a curveball breaking low and away?
    • Your comment reminds me of the book/movie "The Chosen". It starts with a rather intense baseball game between a Hasidic yeshiva and a modern orthodox one. Later in the book, there is an even more intense conflict over the creation of Israel, between the Hasidic Rebbe (against, because they believe this cannot happen until the Messiah comes) and the Zionist parents of the modern orthodox kids. I don't remember who won the ball game, but if only the other conflict had turned out differently!

  • The blatancy of apartheid
    • Eloquent, powerful, sensitive post, Phil. There may be hope for the Times, though, post-Goldstone. Jodi Rudoren is showing some promise, as in today's article:
      link to nytimes.com
      If she keeps speaking to folks like this, how can she help but see more and more of the apartheid system for what it is? How long before the word gets into mainstream press articles like hers? If they let her ...

  • African Americans for Justice in the Middle East & North Africa: 'Silence in the face of oppression is unacceptable'
    • "We believe that there is a special significance to working with progressive Jews in the USA and Israel who share our abhorrence to the system of oppression experienced by the Palestinian people."

      The relationship between African Americans and progressive Jews is indeed a special one; we share similar histories of oppression, and of working together to fight for each other and for other oppressed peoples. Just as it pains me to see how all too many of my fellow Jews have abandoned their support for and cooperation with African Americans in this country, it is equally painful to see how so many of them fail to see how Israel, in our name, has perpetrated oppression instead of fighting it.

  • Mid-summer lull
    • Being given a few days away from obsessively checking the Mondoweiss site will perhaps allow me to finish my current "good book", Saree Makdisi's "Palestine Inside Out", which I highly recommend. On my "recently read" list, which I also recommend for anyone else who needs reading material to fill this partial Mondoweiss "hiatus" is Karl Sabbagh's "Palestine: A Personal History", a great basic history from the Palestinian perspective, including the involvement and roles of the author's own family. Also don't miss Miko Peled's, "The General's Son". It's a great book to cite when arguing with your Zionist friends and relatives, given that Miko comes from an impeccable Zionist background and eloquently describes how his misgivings developed. In fact, it's a good book to actually give to your Zionist friends and relatives, if you dare. And grab the ebook version of Pamela Olson's "Fast Times in Palestine" before it goes temporarily off line at the end of the month in preparation for her "Mainstream" publication. Also a great gift - my 22 year old daughter is absolutely in awe of her and of the book.

  • Deep political differences became the elephant in my therapist's office
    • Mooser, if the therapists that were the subject of this and the other MW post were unprofessional in letting their political views affect the therapy that they did (which seems to be the consensus) so would I be unprofessional if I let my own strongly held views (similar to yours, I am sure) affect my ability to work with this client. My point was really that it is difficult, no matter what one's perspective, to resist the temptation to take advantage of one's position in a professional relationship, but ethically it does need to be done. Having said that, you do make a good point about the damage he can do if he donates to the settlements (or the IDF, JNF, or whatever else for that matter).

    • I am a clinical social worker/psychotherapist. One relevant term we use in the field is “conscious use of self”. Sharing personal feelings or opinions can open up a can of worms, but I have always felt that if that sharing is done consciously, with a defined purpose, it can actually benefit the therapeutic relationship. A client that I have been seeing, an older man, is a fervent, right wing Zionist. He knows I disagree with him, but in showing him that I respect his right to his opinion and his feelings, I am able to help validate his own self-respect. The fact that I disagree with his opinions might even enhance my work with him since gaining the respect of someone with whom you disagree can be even more significant than with one who shares your opinion. But I have to be extremely careful and constantly monitor my own feelings and interventions. The temptation to try and “convince” this man is a strong one, but as a professional I have to scrupulously avoid this. Thankfully, this man influences no one but himself; I imagine treating someone with real influence like a major politician or journalist with those views would be rather more of a challenge. I should have such problems!

  • Richard Falk: No issue needs more open debate than moral and political cost of I/P policy (going back to USS Liberty!)
    • This also brings to mind the Jonathan Pollard situation. People wonder why he remains in prison, this spy for a "friendly" country. But as the Liberty affair points up, Israel's interests and the US's do not necessarily coincide. Was he involved in plotting a similar assault on US interests? We may never know, but whatever he was up to must have been pretty egregious for our Government to buck the Lobby for so long by keeping him locked up.

  • Israelis arrest Palestinian theater's artistic director at 3 a.m.
  • Heading for the exits?
    • While you may be right about the diminution of non-orthodox institutionalism, as for the apathy, some of that, as in my case, may come out of precisely that disenchantment with Israel. Israel is indeed more than the occupation, which is why I have more and more trouble with what it is, as I'm sure have many others have who previously marched in the parade.

      Is it even possible to have a "Jewish State" and still fulfill Jewish, let alone humanistic and democratic values? I've had to rethink a lot of what I have supported; the "ideal" that I had thought was possible, a truly democratic and Jewish state, seems to be an oxymoron. As I read people like Jerry Haber at the "Magnes Zionist" blog (an orthodox professor of Jewish studies and philosophy), I realize that it's "OK" to be Jewishly identified and still question Zionism.

      I'm still ambivalent - maybe I can still support a Jewish state (whatever that is), but it would have to fulfill some pretty tough conditions: Right of return for all people displaced in the Nakba and subsequently; full and equal rights for all residents; total end to the occupation; if it's a 2 state solution, Palestine must be a viable nation, controlling its resources, airspace and water, and be able to defend itself, meaning no demilitarization. A tall order for Israelis to accept, fraught with difficulties even within the Jewish community, which is much of why I am so ambivalent over this sort of solution.

      If I've thought long and hard over all this, I have to assume that I'm not alone. Hard to say how many no longer march in the parade for these reasons, but I'm sure it is a factor for many.

    • Yes, the parade is still a big deal. But I have seen with my own eyes, from year to year, how interest, certainly among the non-orthodox, seems to be waning.

      I am an example of that phenomenon. Until this year, I marched with my synagogue every year for the past 10 or so. While I have been extremely critical of Israel's occupation, treatment of the Palestinians, and stonewalling of the peace process for as long as I can remember, I was able to justify my participation as support for what Israel should or could be rather than what it is. And it was fun; as you say, very festive. But the more I learn about what is actually going on over there, and the more I study the history of the State, it has become harder and harder to justify even that level of participation.

      I am a proud Jew, identified with my heritage, religion and people. I feel a draw towards the "Holy Land", just as many other Jews, Muslims and Christians feel. I would like to visit there. But I don't want to visit an apartheid state that is built on someone else's land. I want to visit a state that democratically represents all of its people. That's the sort of state whose parade I will happily march in. And that's the sort of parade that will hopefully bring back many of the rest of those 750,000, and a lot of others, for a real celebration (God willing/Inshallah!)

    • Anyone notice the ironic theme of this year's parade? "Israel branches out". No kidding! From the flier soliciting groups to participate:

      "We invite you to join us in learning about Israel as it relates to: flowers, blossoming, being fruitful, growing, going out on a limb, branching out into (hi‐tech), stem‐ming the tide of ...., trees, plants, agricultural models, finding our roots, seeds etc. Put on your thinking caps and use your fertile imaginations to create a Garden of Delight on 5th Avenue!"

      Think maybe the "branching out" into more and more Palestinian land has anything to do with the dwindling numbers?

  • Restraint
    • "The Palestinian response to the establishment and expansion of Israel can be summed up in one word, restraint."

      I recently began using that very word to describe the Palestinians after reading Pam Olsen's marvelous book, "Fast Times in Palestine", seeing how these remarkable people manage to keep going under such horrid circumstances, and wondering how many of us - Americans, Jews, or anyone else - could exercise the same restraint.

  • Senate challenge to Obama on refugees came from Israel
    • So Palestinians will have to prove they were "original" refugees, not descendants, in order to have any rights. Sounds fair ... as long as the same standards are applied to the Israelis. May be a bit tough, though, to prove they were actually the ones that were there 2000 years ago and not just their descendants. Mel Brooks, the "2000 year old man", may end up being the only one who can stay!

  • Activists fume as NJ attorney general finds NYPD broke no laws in spying on Muslims
    • “NYPD detectives were not profiling based on religion when they spied on Muslims in mosques ...".

      The Attorney General went on to assure the Muslim leaders that, "In fact, they didn't discriminate at all. The NYPD spied on whoever was praying in those mosques, whether they be Catholics, Jews, or even Atheists."

  • Bill Kristol celebrates Republican Party purge of 'oldfashioned Arabists' Scowcroft, Baker and Bush I
    • "... by and large, Jews are afraid to share our "communal" conversation. Eisner said that some in the audience had written on their question cards that maybe the Jewish community should be more “circumspect” about having this debate, because it would arm the anti-Semites. "

      I'm sick and tired of hearing how this sort of debate "arms the anti-semites". To my mind, it's the likes of Kristol and his ilk that are arming the anti-semites. It's the same argument that the Orthodox community uses to sweep child molestation under the rug because they think it will harm the image of Jews. Whether it's sexually abusing kids or physically abusing Palestinians, such perversions of Jewish values can only aid the case of those who are truly anti-semitic.

  • If you deduct the Israelites, Pharaoh's Egypt was actually a marvelous country
  • Hot off the presses -- Jewish Voice for Peace's 2012 Haggadah
    • This is the best Haggadah I've seen yet! It took me years to get my relatives to agree to abandon the old Maxwell House one, but I think I'd have to stage an "Occupy Passover" tonight with the 2 or 3 real progressives at the table in order to use any of this one. But from now on when we say, "next year in Jerusalem", we can say it in the hope that a Haggadah like this will someday be used there as a model for all of us - Jews, Muslims, Christians, people of all religions and atheists and agnostics alike - as we celebrate true freedom in Israel/Palestine for all peoples.

  • Gorenberg on why one state is a non-starter: Jews would have to pay higher taxes or receive fewer services
    • The situation in South Africa since apartheid ended is a more likely precedent, and another example of how it doesn't take a majority to retain a huge degree of power and influence. In South Africa (by design - read Naomi Klein's chapters on this in "The Shock Doctrine") the white minority has retained much of its wealth and power, to the detriment of the majority. According to Klein, the IMF was a major player in the deal that led to this - the same IMF, incidentally, that Fayyad was a part of. I'd worry more about how the Palestinians would fare under a single state than about Gorenberg's "dire" predictions.

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