Sunday, July 31, 2011
They were mainly young, secular and Ashkenazi, but also groups with signs representing South Tel Aviv, the Hatikva Quarter, Jaffa, all predominantly Sephardi neighborhoods. And Russians proudly carrying signs in Russian proclaiming that we are here too. And some young Ethiopian girls, whooping it up. And Arabs from Jaffa, even a smattering of ultra-Orthodox Haredim. Someone was carrying a placard which looked like the ghost of Che Guevera. And someone else wore a t-shirt with a picture of Gandhi on the back.
The predominant slogan was "The people demand social justice!" And periodically, a loud rumbling cry emerged from sections of the crowd, like a wave – people simply feeling their strength and empowerment.
"Look at this," said Rany Trainin from Kibbutz Beit Nir, whose son lives in Tel Aviv and has been involved since the beginning. "This will be a formative experience for this whole generation of young people".
Thursday, July 28, 2011
What I want to address here is the review by Ami Eden, the editor in chief of the JTA news service. Eden is critical but not truly hostile in his view of J Street. The problem is that he's not always accurate.
His most problematic point is on the contentious matter of George Soros.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
When I raised the problem of the Ariel settlement bloc being "too obtrusive" into West Bank territory for the Palestinian Authority to accept, this individual responded that the Palestinians consider "all the settlement blocs equally intrusive." But this is clearly untrue. They have a special concern for Ariel (and to some extent, with Maaleh Adumim). The "Palestine Papers" revealed that PA Pres. Abbas (in late 2008) would have gone along with most of the settlement bloc towns except for Ariel. And this is without even discussing East Jerusalem, where the PA would accept all the pre-2009 Jewish settlements/neighborhoods except for Har Homa (which blocks off the preexisting social and economic links between Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank).
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
* We did not take to the streets when Golda Meir turned her back on Anwar Sadat and King Hussein [Before the Yom Kippur War! zr ].
* We stayed at home when Yitzhak Shamir fended off the London Agreement with the Jordanians and the Palestinians.
* Most of us submitted to Ehud Barak's lie of "there is no partner"
* and bought willingly Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, without an agreement with the Palestinians.
* We passed when the historic Arab peace initiative was proposed - nearly 10 years ago.
* For the past 44 years we have sent our children, and soon our grandchildren, to protect with their bodies a piece of land that is not our own.
* In the 1970s we turned the newspaper's pages indifferently, showing the photograph of Defense Minister Shimon Peres planting the first tree in Ofra.
* We listened with apathy to his decision to stick the settlement of Ariel in the Palestinians' throats like a bone.
* Because Israel holds on to Yitzhar and Kiryat Arba, at the heart of the occupied territories, it spends more money on security, roads and public relations than it does on housing, education and health.
Monday, July 25, 2011
My torn instinct led exhausted me to stay in Jerusalem to hear Dr. Hans-Gert Pottering, former president of the European Parliament talk about "The Arab Spring and the New Middle East", together with three other German colleagues, at the nearby Konrad Adenauer Conference Center at Mishkenot Sha'ananim.
The event itself was quite fascinating, as was the networking at the post-event reception, though it was a little unnerving to hear four Germans speaking in Jerusalem in German (of course with simultaneous translation into Hebrew and English). I was told that the fact that Chancellor Merkel was allowed to address the Knesset in German broke the ice about Germans speaking German in Israel.
But of course, I simultaneously wondered what I had missed at the Paul Simon concert, and carefully read all the reviews. From the playlist of 22
Friday, July 22, 2011
When we planned our demonstration campaign, "Netanyahu, Don't Lead Israel Off a Cliff!", we knew our timing wasn't optimal. After all, who starts a campaign in the middle of summer?! The student population is dispersed, Jewish youth movement leaders are away at summer camps, and most of the rest of us are thinking about getting away on vacation, or beating the heat. "Maybe we should just put this off until September?", we wondered.
But quickly we realized how ridiculous this thought was. We were launching this campaign davka because the situation is urgent, davka because the danger to Israel's future is all too real. How could we turn around and decide to put it off until it was more 'convenient' or the logistics were better?
Thursday, July 21, 2011
|Ami Isseroff (2nd from right) with wife and children to his left|
The tireless blogger and commentator, Ami Isseroff, passed away on June 29, 2011, at the age of 65. He made aliyah from the US as a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and remained in Israel for most of his life, working as a science and technical writer, computer programmer and news analyst from his home in Rehovot.
He was a passionate voice for socialist Zionism and for peace, but he also became increasingly embittered and distrustful in his final years. And he was often too caustic in discussing political events to win him many friends.
Still, he raised a loving family, including three children, and drew the respect of his chaverim in the "ShomerNet" online discussion group. And he focused attention on Muslims who advocated peace with Israel. He also championed the West Bank Hope Flowers School, which pioneered the teaching of peaceful co-existence with Israel and Jews.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The foreign minister says Yesh Din, the organization of whose public council I am a member, is a terrorist organization -- 69 years after the British Mandatory government defined me as a terrorist.
In , ... I enlisted in the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah, and during my period of activity in the framework of the Jewish resistance movement the British government considered me a "terrorist." Afterwards I fought in the War of Independence and spent another 32 years in the Israel Defense Forces as a career soldier.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
"Your guideline for 'pro-Israel' debate" by Shmuel Rosner Sunday Jul 17, 20111
Here's an interesting attempt  to agree on the "guidelines" necessary for more "serious" discussion of Israel-related matters among American Jews. It is really an attempt to define what "pro-Israel" means today. Can it work? I doubt it. Do I agree with all five points of this plan? Not necessarily. But I do really like the measured tone of Prof. Brent Sasley . Try it:
Monday, July 18, 2011
THIS article by Ruvy, 'The parliamentary fists of the majority," speaks for itself and is important in the dialogue with those of us in the Diaspora who criticize the Occupation and worry about its impact on Israel's democracy. Here is Ruvy Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset, a follower of Jabotinsky, who is also concerned about the future of Israel's democracy. This is one area where the Left and some Right wingers can come together.--Lilly
Sunday, July 17, 2011
|Green sticker on right marks product as "manufactured in settlements." |
Friday, July 15, 2011
A good explanation by Gershom Gorenberg of Anti-Boycott legislation just passed:
.... The Prohibition on Instituting a Boycott Act was submitted by Zeev Elkin—a West Bank settler and Likud politician who chairs the ruling coalition in Israel’s parliament. On Monday night, the Knesset passed the Boycott Act on a straight party-line vote, with the 47 members of the coalition and a far-right opposition party voting in favor, and the 38 members of center and left-wing opposition parties voting against.
.... [P]ublicly organizing or even supporting a boycott is grounds for the boycott’s target to file a civil suit, and for a court to award punitive damages even if the plaintiff doesn’t prove actual financial harm.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Aaron Sharif's Israeli Chatterbox (http://aaronsharif.blogspot.com/)
Hello to friends, acquaintances, and to some whom I've yet to meet:
I know, this is a bit unfair of me. Having sent you a blog-letter just a few days ago…..here I am again. But sometimes things move fast and I get the urge to contact you once more. Bear with me….
Our Government Is On A Roll…….
OK…..it took a few months, but glory-be…….we finally got the new law passed by a comfortable majority in our Knesset. Our country is now better protected from the possible ravages of our enemies.
We began with small steps to further hamper the movements and speech of our local Israeli Arabs. The existing burden of inequality was insufficient. We needed to further display our indignation at their continued existence in a country meant by God to be ours and ours alone. So we passed a law further forbidding them to live in a variety of our communities. We passed a law to essentially forbid them to mourn their disaster of 1948.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"A soldier for sexual equality" By Aviva Lori
As long as the army has such a central influence over life in this country and Orthodoxy is dominant, asserts Prof. Alice Shalvi, there won't be equality between the sexes. Despite this, at 85, the Israel Prize laureate is still energetically working toward achieving that lofty objective.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Re-printed from The Third Way blog
Virtually no one disputes the fact that the Netanyahu government has become the most isolated in Israel’s history. Whether one supports or opposes Bibi’s policies, and whether or not one thinks the global reaction either worthwhile or unavoidable, the question of how to raise Israel’s standing in the world is one that people grapple with across the political spectrum, albeit in different ways.
Today, Israel finds itself with a new opportunity in North Africa, and a renewed relationship with a Mediterranean state in Europe. Only time will tell if Israel will make something of this chance, and it will probably depend even more on Benjamin Netanyahu’s successors than it does on Bibi itself.
The newly-independent South Sudan is building a relationship with Israel. With few friends in the region, that’s something Israel desperately needs.
This is not lost on the Israeli government, and it represents a return on years of investment. While neither side ever admitted it, it is a widely held belief that Israel has been helping to arm the Sudan People’s Liberation Army for years, and the issue of Sudan has been a cause célèbre for the organized Jewish diaspora community for years.
On top of the belief that Israel helped South Sudan gain its independence, Israel also represents, to many South Sudanese, the country that refugees saw as their… refuge. While many progressive Israelis have rightly criticized the treatment Sudanese refugees have gotten in Israel, as Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner points out, “…however grudging or ungenerous the state’s reception of these people had been, Israel had treated them a hundred times better than Egypt had, and a trillion times better than Sudan had.”
All of this is a sound basis for an Israeli-South Sudan friendship, assuming the fledgling state survives and grows into stability.
But long-term, Israel will face the same problems it is facing all over the world.
Right now, South Sudan sees Israel as the country that helped it fight and at least allowed some of its refugees into the country. But at some point, their own history, to which of course, the Israeli occupation of Palestinians cannot and should not be compared, will call into question their support for a country holding millions of people without rights and basic freedoms due to their own historical, ethnic conflict.
On the European side, there is Israel’s revised relationship with Greece.
When the Greek government stepped in to stop the second Gaza flotilla, it came as something of a surprise, but it actually represented the fruits of a year of labor.
This was Netanyahu’s baby. It’s worth noting that he took the task of building a relationship with Greece on personally. It’s a sign of the dysfunctional nature of his government that such diplomacy must be carried on by the Prime Minister’s office, as the Foreign Ministry has made it abundantly clear it is much better at burning bridges than building them.
Netanyahu was a powerful advocate with the International Monetary Fund, pushing for the relief plan that Greece accepted during the flotilla controversy, which sparked major riots in the country. Israel also supplied tear gas to help the Greeks in quelling those riots.
Again, this is a short-term gain with a dubious future. From the Greek side, the occupation is very unpopular there, as it is in most of Europe. The current government is also unpopular, especially now, and the current unrest will not reflect well on Israel for many Greeks.
From the Israeli side, enhancing a friendship with any European country is a plus these days, and turning to Greece was intended to provide Israel with an alternative to Turkey. But Israel knows very well that a relationship with Turkey is much more important than one with Greece, and will be prepared if that relationship warms to take advantage of that. So this is a coin whose value will vary depending on regional politics even in the near future.
In the cases of both South Sudan and Greece, Netanyahu has made significant short-term gains. But in the long run, the overarching problem, the occupation, is not going away and will eventually complicate these relationships as much as it does so many others for Israel.
It seems likely that the Netanyahu government is going to take the wrong lesson from these developments. Specifically, they will conclude that it shows that Israel can revise and create new relationships with other states, and, along with the unswerving support of the United States, and ongoing warm relations with Canada, Germany and a few other countries, is not really heading toward global pariah status.
What it really suggests is that Israel still has an opportunity to end the occupation, allow for a real, viable, secure and self-respecting Palestinian state to emerge, and safeguard its own security while allowing a new Palestine to be secure as well. Indeed, these developments should be incentive toward that, and a wise and forward-looking leader would realize that such a thing is worth giving up the settlements, including those in blocs such as Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim, that are situated in such a way as to make a secure and viable Palestinian state impossible.
I’m not convinced that any Israeli party to the right of Meretz would be willing to make the necessary compromises to secure Israel’s future. But we’ve seen more than enough evidence in the past two years to know that this government is not.
While I’m not sure that Israel has not already killed the two-state solution, it is hard to argue that both Israel and the Palestinians are running out of time to make it happen—if that’s what they want.
And that’s a shame. Israel has some new friends, and still could repair much of its image in the world. But until it determines to end the occupation and proves that determination by stopping all settlement activity, taking down the outposts it has committed to eliminating rather than maneuvering in shady ways to “legalize” them, its standing in the world will continue to deteriorate, and the new friendships it builds will always be tenuous.
Until I read this morning's Israeli newspapers, I thought I was going to use this platform to discuss the flotilla and the fly-in protest. After all, these two related campaigns have dominated the Israel-Palestine conversation for several weeks. It's what everyone's talking about.
But as I clicked through to the various articles in today's Haaretz, I was disturbed to discover that, with all eyes glued to the Audacity of Hope, the Juliano Mer and the other flotilla vessels, Israel's government was busy promoting some rather dreadful measures that too few are paying to attention to. So rather than write the thousand and first treatment of the Gaza situation (important issue though it is), I decided instead to discuss land expropriation, the ‘boycott bill', and an initiative to undermine the funding of Israeli human rights organizations.
Let's start with land. Although Chaim Levinson's report on the issue is rather dry, his opening paragraph says it all: "For the first time in three years, [Israel] has confiscated uncultivated land in the West Bank. The land will be used to legalize a nearby settlement outpost." The outpost in question, we learn, is "HaYovel", which, according to Shalom Achshav's Settlement Watch database, is a mile away from the nearest ‘authorized' settlement, Eli. Eli, by the way, is well southeast of Ariel, and far, far away from the settlement bloc area that many feel should eventually be incorporated into Israel as part of a swap of territory with the Palestinians.
So let me see if I have this right: At a time when Prime Minister Netanyahu insists he is interested in getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table so that Israel can make a "generous" offer on territory (according to his speech to Congress), his government is deepening Israel's hold on occupied areas that it supposedly has no desire to retain. Interesting.
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Thursday, July 07, 2011
“Locally Recognized Jewish Leaders”?
Miss Arendt mentions two Polish Judenrat Chairmen, Adam Czerniakow in Warsaw and Chaim Rumkowski in Lodz. Her references are worth pursuing, for there were three-quarters of a million Jews in Warsaw and Lodz. The fact is that neither of these men was a “recognized” Jewish leader. Czerniakow was a “little-known leader in the Artisan’s Union.” Under his chairmanship the Warsaw Judenrat degenerated into a “gang of operators and swindlers,” despised by the starving Jewish population. In Lodz, no recognized Jewish leaders offered to serve in the Nazi-organized Judenrat. Rumkowski and two others were appointed. Thus Rumkowski, a small welfare official, emerged from obscurity and whispers of corruption to become dictator of the Lodz Ghetto. In the early days of his despotism, there were strikes and public demonstrations of protest. Rumkowski asked the Nazis for troops to shoot down Jewish demonstrators. Miss Arendt refers to Rumkowski as a Jewish leader. She fails, however, to inform her readers that it was not the Jews of Lodz but the Nazis who raised him to prominence.
The Judenräte of Eastern Europe were not usually elected by the Jewish population. They were Nazi appointed bodies. Moreover, the councils had a history and a development—something one would never imagine from Miss Arendt’s timeless picture.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
It's noteworthy and heartening to me that a radical leftist like Ezorsky includes a section that shreds Arendt's contention that Eichmann had true Zionist sympathies. Ezorsky is at her most caustic in this paragraph:
One of Miss Arendt’s troubles is her conception of Zionism. ... Miss Arendt does not find Eichmann’s 1939 Nisko project inconsistent with his Zionist opinions—although that project called for a “Jewish state” in an area without water and ridden with cholera, dysentery and typhoid. The earlier Nazi policy was to rob Jews and let them emigrate to Palestine for there were few countries which would accept Jewish emigrants. This is the stage that Miss Arendt consistently characterizes as “pro-Zionist.” Were the anti-Semitic hooligans who chased Jews in the streets of Eastern Europe yelling “Go back to Palestine” also pro-Zionist? The directive to allow Jews to leave Germany for Palestine came from Hitler after he had studied not the Zionist classic, Der Judenstaat, but a Nazi tract of Alfred Rosenberg’s on the racial question. Was Hitler also pro-Zionist?I can't comment on her harsh criticism of "The Origins of Totalitarianism" (which I haven't yet read) or of Arendt's views in general, but Ezorsky's criticism of Arendt's view of Eichmann as "banal" is devastating. For one thing, she points out that the only real evidence Arendt uses to contend that Eichmann wasn't personally anti-Semitic, are his own self-serving words while being prosecuted in Israel. Ezorsky's article also reinforces my conviction that Arendt was shockingly unfair to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust by her wholesale attack on the so-called Jewish councils (the Judenräte), and her unseemly and factually flawed claim of Jewish passivity: