Archive

Archive for the ‘West Bank’ Category

Pity Norman Podhoretz: He ignores the real issue in his recent WSJ op-ed

April 14, 2014 Comments off

A good friend, Dan Sabol, President of the Chicago Chapter of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, asked me to comment on Podhoretz’ recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal,  Pity the Palestinians? Count Me Out found here:  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304640104579487444112949138?mg=reno64-wsj   In the piece, Podohoretz excoriates the Palestinians with gleeful delight – but fails to address the real issues.  Here is what I wrote to Dan:

 

This op-ed is pure, unadulterated tripe.  Mr. Podhoretz is known for his Israel right-or-wrong viewpoint, which he promotes vociferously and acrimoniously via Commentary.

He shows his bias from the very first paragraph when he labels John Kerry’s diplomacy as “farcical”.

Provoked by the predictable collapse of the farcical negotiations forced by Secretary of State John Kerry on the Palestinians and the Israelis, I wish to make a confession: I have no sympathy—none—for the Palestinians. Furthermore, I do not believe they deserve any.

I agree that many did predict that the talks would collapse – so therefore the failure was “predictable”.  And even more, probably most, while not “predicting collapse”, gave the chance of success as low.  But certainly folks said the same thing about George Mitchell in Ireland.  As Mitchell so famously said:  “We had 700 days of failure and one day of success”.  By inference, I assume that Mr. Podhoretz also found Mitchell’s work in Ireland to be farcical as well.

Further, in virtually every paragraph he says something that is either factually incorrect, incomplete or biased in interpretation. [Which I don’t have the time nor desire to go into here – but certainly can]

All this is fine.  But there are two things that aren’t.

First, his attitude, which is gleefully acrimonious, tendentious and supercilious.

But my biggest issue with this article is that he does not really address the problem.  I, too, have no sympathy for the Palestinians that want to destroy Israel and even less (I don’t know if you can have less than no sympathy, but I do) for those who want to kill all of the Jews.  But what Mr. Podhoretz does not address is that while blaming the Palestinians might make us fell righteous and good, the occupation is really our problem – no matter what the Palestinians do.  Nor is how other Arab states treat the Palestinians or their citizens relevant to our problem.  As a Jew, what I care about is how Jews treat other people.  I believe we Jews choose to hold ourselves to Jewish values – higher values.  The Occupation endangers Israel remaining both a Jewish and democratic state.  That is our problem as Jews.  We need to find a creative way to end it.

No water in East Jerusalem for two weeks. Yet Israel claims that ALL of Jerusalem s/b the capital

March 27, 2014 Comments off

25 Days Without WaterOne of the main stumbling blocks to coming to a peace agreement with the Palestinians is Jerusalem.  The Israelis claim the entire city of Jerusalem (as they define it – including the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980) as Israel’s capital.  The Palestinians also demand Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as their capital – although it seems that they might accept East Jerusalem and the holy sites as sufficient.

A recent post in +972, tells about an East Jerusalem neighborhood that has been without water for three weeks:

The East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ras Shehada, Ras Khamis, Dahyat A’salam and the Shuafat refugee camp, which are cut off from the rest of the city by the separation wall, have gone without running water since March 4.

And further:

Palestinian East Jerusalem residents turned to Israel’s High Court on Tuesday demanding that running water be restored to their homes, after suffering for three weeks without it. The petition was filed on their behalf by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

So this raises a question:  If the municipal authority of Jerusalem does not systematically offer the same services to East Jerusalem as it does to the rest of Jerusalem, how can it claim that it is all part of the same city?  In the U.S. there is a law that if you don’t retain some aspects of private ownership over a piece of property, it falls into the public domain.  You may notice this via plaques on ground of certain building setbacks or even closing off of small areas of public walkways that exist on private property for some hours or a day to maintain private rights.  So, isn’t the current situation in Jerusalem somewhat analogous?  That is, if basic municipal services are not being systematically provided, or like in this case, repairs are not made within a reasonable time, doesn’t that provide an argument that, in fact, the municipality has given up some right to claim these neighborhoods as part of its city?

More photos here:  PHOTOS: 13 days without water in East Jerusalem

 

It’s That Time of Year for A Repost: Contemplating the Message of Passover

April 5, 2012 1 comment

Pesach is my favorite Jewish holiday.  The traditions are so rich and the Seder is the ultimate joyous, jubilant Jewish celebration:  the symbols of the Seder plate, the smells and tastes of real Jewish food (I will put Margie’s golden chicken soup up against any in the world), the struggle with matzoh for eight days, the four cups, the laughter, the singing, Elijah.  Those are all so memorable.

But it is the message that permeates the holiday that is so important.  While the book of Exodus holds perhaps more of the basic concepts, precepts, commandments and narratives of the Torah than any other book, the Haggadah‘s lessons seem much narrower.

There are many different interpretations of the meaning of the story from the manifestation of The Lord acting directly in the world, to the molding of the Jewish people into a nation, to the miracles of the Passover and the parting of the Sea of Reeds itself.  Yet to me the most straightforward and overriding message is simple:

  • REMEMBER.  You were slaves in Egypt
  • RELIVE.  How it felt to be enslaved. To be oppressed
  • REPUDIATE.  So that, You, personally, and, Jews as a people, will never become oppressors yourselves

Every Jewish holiday harks back to a connection with bedrock stories from the Jewish community’s past like the recitation of the Akedah and story of Jonah on the High Holidays, the Megillah on Purim, Akadmut and Ruth on Shavuot,, or the rededication of the Temple at Hanukkah.  But the Seder and the Haggadah ask something of us that is wholly unique and of an entirely different nature than any other Jewish holiday.  It specifically tells us that we must place ourselves inside the story – we must be in Egypt to feel the pain and oppression – and the redemption.  This is one of the main lessons of the telling of the story of the Four Sons, which acts as an answer to Mah Nishtanah – Why is this night different from all other nights? 

So why is it so important to more than sympathize, more than empathize, but to actually experience being slaves in Egypt?  The answer seems straightforward.  Each of us needs to understand what it is like to be oppressed so that we will never become oppressors ourselves.  We must feel the weariness of the excruciating labor, the pain of the task masters’ whips, and shed the tears of a people without rights or freedom.  Having lived through it ourselves, it should be unthinkable for Jews to oppress others.  And lest we forget, we are commanded to relive our slavery each and every Pesah.  We must understand the pain of the oppressed and the evil of the oppressor – so that we never allow the roles to be reversed.

One of the traditional prayers at the end of the Seder is “next year in Jerusalem”.  The problem is that now when I look to Jerusalem, I see Israel occupying Arab neighborhoods.  Pushing people out of homes that have been in their families for decades or longer.  And beyond that, I see checkpoints, and identity cards, and political prisons.  Most of all, I see one people subjugating another.  This is not fantasy.  This is reality for anyone who cares to take a look.  But if an American Jew talks about it, he is told,  “You have no right to criticize Israeli policy because you don’t live there.  You don’t have to serve in the IDF.  You don’t have to dive into bomb shelters when the sirens sound.  You don’t have to fear that your children will be killed riding in a school bus.”  That is so very true.  And I am so sorry that life is indeed that dangerous for those living in Eretz Yisrael.  But I am also sorry to say that I believe the Haggadah not only gives me the right, but also the obligation as a Jew, to speak out when I see fellow Jews oppressing another people.  As Peter Beinart said when he spoke at Northwestern, “The morality of a people must not be measured when they are powerless.  The question is how they act when they have the power.”

In Response To A Direct Question In N.H. About Settlements, Candidate John Huntsman Says Best US Policy Towards Israel Is When “There Is No Blue Sky” Between U.S. and the Israeli Government

October 10, 2011 Comments off
Official photo of United States Ambassador to ...

Image via Wikipedia

Former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China, John Huntsman, gave a stump speech in New Hampshire where he was asked a direct question that given the fact that the settlements seem to be the stumbling block between getting the two parties together what would he do if President.  He said that in order to let our closest allies know that they can count on the U.S., the best policy is to align directly with the Israeli government.

Go here to hear John Huntsman’s foreign policy speech.  Israel-Palestine question begins at 34:32.  http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/301950-1

House Freezes Palestinian Aid

October 4, 2011 Comments off

According to the JTA, Ilana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is holding back almost $200 million of aid to the Palestinian Authority unless they back off their actions at the U.N.

The question:  Why?  Does she have an answer as to what the potential consequences of withholding these funds will have on the ground?  If the P.A. cannot maintain its payments to its security forces or its humanitarian aid – doesn’t this a) increase the likelihood of protests, b) reduce the ability of the P.A. security forces to help quell any violent reaction, and c) potentially increase the attractiveness of Hamas? 

Read more at JTA:   House committee chair places hold on Palestinian aid

+972’s Joseph Dana Posts A Telling Video of Today’s Protests at the Jerusalem-Ramallah Checkpoint

September 23, 2011 Comments off

If you want to get a REAL feel for what may be the beginning of the Third Intifada, watch the video filmed by Planxtysumoud & Haitham Al-Khatib and posted by
 +972’s Joseph Dana .  While obviously things have not yet escalated into ‘real’ violence on either side – the video certainly gives a taste of what modern warfare is like.  This is not “Band of Brothers”, “The Pacific” or John Wayne.  This is a surrealistic scene where passing cars conduct their day-to-day business as the combatants spar in their own highway-divider delineated arena.  Where stones, rolling blazing tires, and fireworks match forces with rubber bullets.  Where a Fox News reporter can jest that at least the “tear gas is clearing up my sinuses”.  But the strongest impression is that for now this is a contest of that certain type of Male Testosterone that dominates young men.  Frankly, I don’t really see much difference between these boys on either side.  They are kids – representing their people.  Two tribes – facing down each other as tribes have done for thousands of years.  For now, while tragically there are injuries, they are nothing compared to what we all can imagine will happen if things escalate as they did during the Second Intifada.  I only wish that the American Jewish Community would be doing more to prevent it by urging our politicians to hold down the rhetoric here in the U.S.  By loudly protesting against the threat of pulling aid from the Palestinian Authority.  By supporting the long-held official policy of the U.S. against the building of settlements in the West Bank.   The “Israel – Right or Wrong” position of seemingly the loudest and wealthiest in the Jewish community is as dangerous now as the “America – Right or Wrong” advocates were during the Vietnam war.  The consequence of stifling debate always leads to bad decisions.

So please – watch this – and let me know your thoughts with a comment below. 

 

Joseph Dana – Ramallah – So much attention has been focused on the question of whether violence will break out in the West Bank due the historic United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. Yesterday, mass peaceful rallies were held inside West Bank cities such as Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. However, late yesterday afternoon, clashes between stone throwing Palestinian youth and rubber bullet firing Israeli soldiers broke out at the Qalandia checkpoint, the main checkpoint separating Jerusalem and Ramallah…

The rest of his commentary can be found here:  WATCH: Against UN backdrop, violence erupts in West Bank

After the Optimism of the Arab Spring – Mayhem Returns All Over the Middle East

August 4, 2011 Comments off

Not much time here, so here is a short list of events – with no attempt to prioritize:

Hama, Syria Under Fire 

1. Syria – Tanks rolling into Hama to violently put down civilian rebellion

2.  Israel – Protests in the streets re: housing, etc and other, mostly economic, issues.  Tent city (Twitter: #tent48) in Tel Aviv

3.  Israel – Settlers disrupt protests by engaging protestors with slurs and obscenities (#j14)

4.  Israel – Gaza fires missiles into Southern Israel (Sderot & Ashkelon) – luckily only minor injuries

rockets - AFP - April 10 2011 An Iron Dome missile outside Ashkelon responding to a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip in April 2011.
Photo by: AFP

5.  Gaza – Just minutes ago, Israel retaliates with large bombing raid on Gaza.  Early reports are a couple of children injured

Gaza IAF airstrike AFP 24.02.2011 A Palestinian man walking at a destroyed beach front facility in Gaza City on February 24, 2011 following an Israeli air strike the previous night.
Photo by: AFP

6.  Israel – Knesset continues to move to the right with its legislation – anti-boycott law, proposals to reduce rights of Israeli-Arabs, etc.

7.  Palestine – Meeting last night to finalize plans to appeal to the UN for recognition

8.  Lebanon – Hezbollah rattling sabres

9.  Egypt – Mubarak going on trial

Visceral anger at Mubarak and his inner circle helped unite Tahrir Square during Egypt’s 18-day uprising [EPA]

10.  Libya – Fighting drags on

11.  Iran – Announces new missile a few weeks ago

Raouf Mohseni/AP – Iranian revolutionary Guards personnel watch the launch of a Zelzal missile during military maneuvers outside the city of Qom on Tuesday.

Other than that, not much going on…

%d bloggers like this: