Wednesday, August 31, 2011
It's clear (even within the full context of what he wrote then) that Derfner meant to shock Israelis into action against the occupation and for a two-state solution rather than to applaud Palestinian terrorism. I'm somewhat divided on whether The Post should have fired him. Following his apology and explanation, it can be argued that the firing was not justified. On the other hand, The Post faced an understandable backlash from many readers.
His blogging colleague, Dimi Reider, has pointed out that the right-leaning Post does not discipline its right-wing writers for their misdeeds. I'd add that The Jerusalem Post was absolutely wrong for firing Naomi Chazan during the Im Tirtzu-New Israel Fund brouhaha last year.
Robert Mackey, in his NY Times Lede blog, has admirably summed up the issues in this matter. He also includes important links and references, should you want to examine this further.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Beinart spoke briefly and effectively, emphasizing the vital Jewish interest in forging a viable two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. He began: “We come here not because we take lightly the murder of Israeli Jews, our brothers and sisters in Israel. Quite the opposite.” Then he referred to Tisha B'Av, when Jews traditionally recall the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and the end of Israelite/Jewish independence both times--remembering also that “ethical collapse preceded physical collapse."
In referring to Pres. Obama, Beinart mentioned that he is, at bottom, a self-interested politician, and that he cannot want a peaceful solution for Israel more than we do as Jews. So it's up to us to press this issue and this goal with our governmental representatives and leaders.
|With Rangel staffer: Gil's at right (photo by Laura Mahalel)|
We then proceeded, under police escort, with our banners and in our J Street/two-states tee-shirts to present thousands of postcards with the two-state solution message to aides of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand at their respective New York offices nearby. After this, some of us formed delegations that went to the offices of US Representatives Rangel, Nadler and Maloney.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
From: xiaoyu zhangDear Hillel,
This is Zhang from China Radio. Hope you still remember me: I'm planning a report about the new trail [train] in Jerusalem and would like to invite you for a ride and hear some of your comments. Would you do me the favor? I'm especially interested in opinions of Palestinians in
east Jerusalem but don't speak their language, and most of the time they hide from foreign media of what really is in their minds.
Are you available anytime tomorrow? Or Thursday afternoon, if it's better for you. We can meet at somewhere along the route, like Zion Square, or at the New Gate of the Old City. ... Thanks a lot and looking forward to seeing you.
China Radio International
|Xiaoyu Zhang phones Beijing|
|Photos by H. Schenker|
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
.... One hour after the cease-fire was supposed to begin, there were reports of mortar and Kassam rocket fire. I spoke with one of the Hamas leaders ... who said to me that all of the Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, had given direct orders to all of the factions to cease all rocket fire. Hamas strongman Ahmed Jaabri deployed his troops throughout Gaza to stop and arrest any violators of the order.
As strange as it sounds, Hamas has become the moderate force in Gaza today. Yes, Hamas is still ideologically committed to the elimination of Israel. It has not changed its belief in the legitimacy of using terrorism against Israel, but the burden of governing, the need to provide basic services – electricity, healthcare, education, welfare, food, employment, accountability to the public – these have all had an impact on the general outlook of Hamas’s political leadership.
Monday, August 22, 2011
|March of silence (photo by H. Schenker)|
|Keeping the flame alive|
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
|Tent encampment as part of massive protests. (AP)|
Until just a few weeks ago, the word “community” was, for my generation, something you could find only on the Internet, in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods or among homo-lesbian groups.... And from that point of view, this fight, which I hope will try to achieve a great deal more, has already succeeded. It has broken out of the alienating, individualistic cage of the radical capitalism on which we were raised. ... And the passivity and herding instinct have been temporarily restrained.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
|Israelis protest prohibitive housing costs. (AP)|
In the last month, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have poured into the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and beyond to protest the cost of living, the cost of housing, the cost of cottage cheese –- and maybe a lot more. They’ve built a tent city and railed against tycoons and inequality. Shouted they want their country back. But back to what?
This hour On Point: After the Arab Spring, we’ve got the Israeli Summer. What do Israelis want?"
Sunday, August 14, 2011
1) Yesterday I was walking along Chernichovsky Street near Gan Meir (Meir Park), and there was this little 6 year old kid (I estimate) marching along with his father, carrying a balloon, shouting Ha'am doresh tzedek chevrati! (The people demand social justice!). Trailing behind was a mother and a taller girl, looked 7-8 (his sister?), saying/asking her mother Ha'am doresh tzedek chevrati? Isn't that right? Then, apparently convinced, she started shouting it as well;
2) At the pool this morning I asked Dov, a pensioner in his 80s, who osilates between Lieberman & Meretz on political issues, depending upon the headline, if he'd been to the Rothschild Blvd. tent encampment. "Of course", he responded -- "went with my son. And what did we see yesterday?", he said with a smile -- "a big improvised road sign pointing in the direction of Beersheva!" where tonight's major demonstration will take place. He's all positive about the protest movement, seeing it as a very encouraging sign.
|Demo in Jaffa (photo by H. Schenker)|
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Most people are unaware of the aftermath of this occupation, when the Czech people took revenge on their German-speaking neighbors. This story is explored in a German-Czech-Austrian feature film co-production, Habermann.
The film's press packet points out that three million German-speaking Czech citizens were violently pushed into Germany and Austria after the war. The film's poster quotes Czechoslovakia's President Eduard Benes on getting "rid of these Germans forever" and Franklin Roosevelt's concurrence. 270,000 Czechoslovakian Germans were "unaccounted for" -- most probably murdered.
Yet, since most of the film depicts the Nazi occupation and instances of local German collaboration with the Nazis, Habermann should not be taken as an unseemly exercise in revisionist exculpation of the Germans. Rather, it mostly treats its characters as morally complex individuals. For example, we see how a Czech hotel manager maneuvers between the Nazis and the resistance to survive and prosper.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Here in the United States, we have become only too familiar with the paranoid rantings of those who warn of “creeping sharia.” Sharia, of course, is the body of religious Muslim law. Neo-conservatives and their fellow travelers have had a good deal of impact scaring Americans about this non-existent threat.
Thankfully, numerous analysts and reporters, such as Matt Duss at Think Progress, have done outstanding work exposing this fear-mongering propaganda for what it is.
Maybe, though, it’s time we American Jews, and our Israeli counterparts, woke up to the real threat in Israel of “creeping halakha.”The Knesset is considering a bill now that would change Israel’s Basic Law defining Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” to promote Israel’s “Jewish character” as superior to its democratic nature.
In other words, as Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin, a leading figure in the anti-democracy movement in Israel, explains, the new law would frame “the state as the Jewish nation state in (court) ruling(s) in situations in which the Jewish character of the state clashes with its democratic character.”
Can we be any more blatantly anti-democratic than that? Actually, yes.
Because the bill contains another provision, one which would provide that “If the court sees a legal question requiring a ruling, and finds no solution in legislation, custom or clear analogy, it will rule in light of the principles of freedom, justice, integrity and peace in Jewish heritage.” In other words, as Ha’aretz puts it, the “…clause states that Jewish law will be a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts.”
It may well be that this clause will not be part of the law that will be passed. It does have the whiff of a clause that was put in to stir up controversy so it can be removed and the rest of the legislation will be less targeted.
But even if that is the case, and one hopes that it is, the inclusion of this clause is a warning to us all of the increasing religious influence in the Knesset. This is a cause for grave concern for a number of reasons.
As Jews, we must all be concerned that the world’s only Jewish state would represent not a national state, but a religious one. We, better than any other people, know the dangers of religious states. Contrary to the dissembling on the right, most progressive Jews are very concerned about human rights abuses in theocratic countries, including, though not limited to, Muslim countries (we just don’t like it when those concerns are cynically used to shield Israel, or other countries, from legitimate criticism of their own human rights violations).
And it is obviously true that a theocratic Israel (and despite what some of its detractors say, it is not a theocracy, though its character as an ethnocracy is certainly emerging clearly) will not be able to compromise for peace, whereas a broad government that could include religious parties (as Israel is now and as a Palestinian unity government would be) can, at least in theory.
If one issue has always spoken to American Jews throughout our history in this country it is the separation of church and state. We know we live in a majority Christian country, where we are a small minority. Only that separation guarantees our protection from discrimination.
Israel’s Muslim and Christian communities, as well as those of other faiths, desperately need the same protection.
This has been a core principle of Jewish life ever since the Haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment. Are we going to allow it to be abandoned in Israel? It is unthinkable, and it is an issue that every Jew, from Zionist to anti-Zionist, Israeli or Diaspora, has an enormous stake in.
There’s more in this loathsome bill. It “allows” other ethnicities to set up “separate communities.” Need we even discuss the implications of that?
And the bill would make Hebrew Israel’s only official language, removing Arabic and English.
As Noam Sheizaf at 972 Magazine puts it, this bill aims to “strip Israel of even the appearance of democracy… this new bill takes the game to a whole new level, by formally making 20 percent of Israel’s citizens—a native population that predates the state—as second class citizens.”
And, as if we needed more cause for concern, 20 of 28 Knesset members from the so-called “centrist opposition” party, Kadima support this heinous offense to decency and the values for which Jews have fought throughout the modern era. It is also an affront to the values espoused by virtually every founder of Zionism, from Ahad Ha’am to Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Many Jews these days are deciding, understandably, to disassociate themselves from an Israel that is sliding into fascism. But like it or now, Israel is a major part of the Jewish people. Israel may have the right to chart its own course, but it doesn’t have the right to take actions that will affect every Jew in the world without hearing what the rest of us have to say. Hopefully, more of us, from a wide swath of political beliefs, will raise a voice.