Friday, September 30, 2011


Cross Posted at Daily Kos

I took last week off due to the speeches and so forth surrounding the U.N. appearences of Palestinian Authority (P.A.) President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There was already substantial discussion going on regarding that so I felt it best to not do Fry'd Daze as I think it would simply have gotten lost in the "noise" of the events on that day. Anyhow we are back this week so please read and discuss.

Our first story is one of those that are "so strange it has to be true type stories". I will let the headline speak for itself: Al-Qaida slams Ahmadinejad for blaming 9/11 attacks on U.S.. It seems that Al Qaeda is pissed off because it feels that President Ahmadinejhad is not giving them the credit they feel they deserve for killing 3,000 innocent Americans during the September 11th Terror attacks.
"Why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?" asked the article's author, Abu Suhail. He said Iran wanted to portray itself as a country that stands up to the U.S.
"For Iran, anti-Americanism is merely a game of politics. It is anti-American when its suits it and it is a collaborator with the U.S. when it suits it," Abu Suhail said.....
.....Abu Suhail said Iran is jealous of al-Qaida's "success" in the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that because Tehran couldn't strike at the U.S. itself, the Iranians want to "to discredit Sept. 11 and what better way to do so than conspiracy theories."
He said Iran and the Shiites opposed giving al-Qaida credit for the 9/11 attacks "because this would expose their lip-service to jihad (holy war) against the Great Satan," a term Iranian officials have used to describe the U.S.
okie dokie.......

Our second story comes out of Syria: Tens of thousands take to the streets across Syria as Assad's army battles defectors A day after Syrian loyalists assaulted the U.S. Ambassador due to their anger at the U.S.' discussions with Opposition leaders:
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Syria on Friday demanding the removal of President Bashar Assad, as fighting continued between loyalist forces and insurgents in the centre of the country, activists said.
Government troops have been fighting army defectors in the town of Rastan in the first prolonged armed confrontation since protests erupted against Assad six months ago....
....At the United Nations, European members of the Security Council softened a draft resolution condemning Syria's crackdown but Russia said it could not support the new text. The latest version of the resolution showed that drafters Britain, France, Germany and Portugal had deleted a reference to UN human rights chief Navi Pillay's recommendation that the council consider referring the Syrian government's crackdown to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Our Next Story comes from Maan News: Fight for votes as UN meets on Palestine. In this fight the U.S. in an attempt NOT to use it's veto is trying to convince the majority of Security Council Nations to vote "NO" on the issue of Palestinian Statehood. Currently five Nations are definite yes': Russia, China, Lebanon, India, and Brazil.  According to Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Palestine Center think tank in Washington
Because of this exposure, he said the UN initiative “can be a game-changer because it makes returning to Washington-led negotiations for the Palestinian leadership that much more difficult.”
"We know that the United States is working really hard to try to make sure that they don’t get the nine votes, so they won’t have to use their veto, which in itself is a very interesting thing because the United States in the past has never shown a hesitation to be the only vote in the Security Council in support of Israel.”
He also said: “I think what that says to us is that the Palestinians truly hit a nerve with the United States and in the wake of the revolutions going on in the region is truly doing this (opposing the Palestinian bid) recognizing their waning influence in the region.”
Related to this Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly condemned the latest Israeli announcement that it would be adding on to the Gilo Settlement just outside the Green Line claiming that this building calls into serious question Israel's commitment to Peace talks and a Palestinian State in the West Bank (as if that were not a question at this point already).
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the decision to green-light new Jewish housing units in east Jerusalem has "raised doubts that the Israeli government is interested in starting serious negotiations" with the Palestinians, her spokesman said Friday.
Steffen Seibert said in a statement that Merkel called Netanyahu to tell him "it is now necessary to dispel those doubts."
The Prime Minister's Office responded in a statement, saying that "Gilo is not a settlement. It is a Jerusalem neighborhood that is located five minutes from the center of the city, and all of Israel's governments have built in it."
Further related: PLO effectively rejects Quartet proposal to resume talks citing Israel's continued construction on settlement projects as reasons to reject the Quartet's call to resume negotiations.
RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- The PLO on Thursday effectively rejected a proposal by the European Union, the United States and Russia to resume suspended peace negotiations with Israel next month without preconditions.
 The PLO executive committee, meeting in Ramallah, noted the proposal but said, as expected, that Israel must halt all settlement building in the occupied West Bank before they will restart talks, as President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted.
"The Palestinian leadership stresses clearly that it cannot accept holding negotiations that lack the minimum limits of responsibility and seriousness amid the continuation of settlements and stealing of land," said PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Finally,  we have more bad news coming from deteriorating relationships for Israel with former friends Turkey and Egypt. First, Report: Israel scrambles IAF warplanes toward Turkish ship. Apparently, Israeli F-15's and an Israeli helicopter flew a mission to check out a Turkish research ship. Eventually after repeated warnings two Turkish F-16's were scrambled to track the Israeli jets and the Israeli plans left the area
On September 23, Turkey dispatched its only research vessel, the Piri Reis, to the eastern Mediterranean.
"Piri Reis, escorted by warships, has started research in the same area where Greek Cypriots are exploring," Omer Celik, Vice Chairman of the ruling AK Party who oversees foreign affairs, said on Twitter.
"We have shown clearly to everyone that we will not allow the eastern Mediterranean to become a Greek Cyprus-Israel goal," he said in another message.
Along with this Egypt's envoy to PA: Israel wants to retake Sinai
Egyptian envoy to the Palestinian Authority Yasser Othman said Friday that Israel's escalating rhetoric against Egypt's post-revolution security apparatus suggests of an Israeli plot to retake Sinai.
In an interview with Palestinian news agency Maan, Othman claimed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's repeated incitement against the security situation in Sinai indicates of their plan to recapture the peninsula.
The Egyptian envoy noted that Israel has been acting tirelessly to tarnish the reputation of the new government, claiming Egypt is unable to secure its border with Israel in order to mount international pressure that will provide the Jewish State with the necessary pretext to occupy the area.
Othman's statement came days after Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammed Amr said that Cairo intends to respect its peace treaty with Israel.
The Israelis responded by saying that this is not true and that Israel recognizes and supports the Peace treaty with Egypt.
Anyway, please throw your thoughts into the mix and let's discuss.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yossi Sarid and American Jews

I was reading Haaretz last night and I came across this article from Yossi Sarid:  Dear U.S. Jews, please don't let Netanyahu deceive you in where he talks directly to the American Jewish Community saying:

This appeal is being directed to those friends who can still think for themselves and demonstrate responsibility when it comes to us. Don't submerge yourselves in the flood of nationalist-religious history that is currently washing over us. Don't confuse governments that come and go with the state, which must always remain.....

.........None of them will pay the full price of the recklessness and craziness. Not Obama. Not Hillary Clinton. Not Dennis Ross or AIPAC or Chabad in Brooklyn. When the price in blood has to be paid, and it will come soon, it is only we who will pay, as always. So we are telling it straight. Don't be more patriotic than we are. Don't do us any favors. It's our blood we're talking about.

Now Sarid's letter contains mistakes such as overestimating the message that voters in NY - 09 sent to the President regarding Israel. The fact of the matter was that NY-09 was far more about America than it was about Israel, yet, the narrative is being spun to reflect an alternate reality. But for the record, Weprin and Turner had almost identical stands on Israel. No, this election was about a relatively conservative base reacting to conservative rhetoric in an election where many of the voters (but not most) were Jewish.

And as for rhetorical flourishes regarding the freedom loving Palestinian People and Mahmoud Abbas being "a man of dialogue", statements regarding the Right of Return and PLO Ambassador Areikat's rhetorical bombs about the ethnic cleansing of Jews certainly give lie to that.

However, Sarid has a point and one that I personally have felt conflicted about for a long time.

What is the role of the diaspora and American Jewish community in Israel? Really, where should we be commenting and where should we be holding?

Sarid is right.. American Jews are not the ones who have to man checkpoints in the West Bank. They are not the ones who have to live under the threat of rockets from Gaza, Lebanon or possibly from a Palestinian territory on the West Bank, They are not the ones that would have to fight should an annexation of the West Bank be declared. So really, how is up to us (American Jews) to be more patriotic than Jewish Israelis particularly when we are not exactly picking up and moving there in vast numbers.

On the other hand, the diaspora community has always been vital to the survival of Israel. America contributes $ 3 billion dollars annually to help Israel. Private donations help fund multiple projects in Israel that benefit all Israelis, Our polity has promised to guarantee Israel's security. SO... maybe we do have something to say.

For me (and this is just a personal observation), it is not up to me to tell the Israelis what to do, but, I do believe that as a Jew and as someone who strongly supports the existence of Israel I think it is right to be able to comment and as good friends do, point out flaws where they exist. That said, it is up to the Israelis as to whether they want to listen and do something about it or do they simply ignore it.

Sarid's last sentence is telling and he is right - Israelis have to pay the price of their actions. Unless we (the American Jewish Community) want to go over and share the obligations they face then this is up to them, and not us.

This is an article that hits at the heart of the diaspora/Israel issue and it is one that is going to become far more important as things heat up in Israel.

Wrestling with our Angels

The history of the Jewish people has been a history fraught with hard decisions. In biblical times, Jacob has his name changed to Israel after an all night wresting match with an angel in Genesis 32: 24-30,

24-25  But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn't get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob's hip out of joint.
 26 The man said, "Let me go; it's daybreak."
   Jacob said, "I'm not letting you go 'til you bless me."
 27 The man said, "What's your name?"
   He answered, "Jacob."
 28 The man said, "But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it's Israel (God-Wrestler); you've wrestled with God and you've come through."
 29 Jacob asked, "And what's your name?"
   The man said, "Why do you want to know my name?" And then, right then and there, he blessed him.
 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (God's Face) because, he said, "I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!"

Current times are no different and now the American and Israeli Jewish communities face some difficult decisions. The week of the Palestinian push for Statehood at the United Nations is here and what happens this Friday will alter the course of relations in the region for years to come. Oh, maybe not at first but, down the line this will be a "game changing event".

At the end of this week the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations Security Council for a vote on Statehood. As things currently stand, the United States is planning on vetoing this measure (or so it has announced). Both the United States and the European Union favors direct negotiations over this move but as far as anyone can see only the U.S. is planning a veto.

As for the main players.. .the Israeli people strongly oppose this move though there are widely dissenting opinions on how to handle it. Interestingly enough, the Palestinian People are mixed on this. Palestinian polls offer widely differing opinions on the matter. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

83% support going to the UNSC to obtain recognition of Palestine as a state. Moreover, 74% believe that there is no point in returning to negotiations with Israel without acceptable terms of reference or without freezing settlement construction and that therefore president Abbas is right in seeking UN involvement.

Whilst (59.3%) of the respondents are of the opinion that it’s necessary to go first back to the negotiations with Israel as to reach a permanent peace with the Israelis then resort to the UN, (35.0%) however support going directly to the UN seeking the recognition of the Palestinian state unilaterally without the need for concluding a peace accord with the Israelis.

So if the people involved are so divided, how should American progressives and liberals look at this upcoming vote and it's implications for The United States and the region?

First of all, it should be a given that this measure has enough votes to pass the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It most likely has Security Council support or at least abstentions from everyone BUT the United States (who plans to veto). Given this America now needs to make an informed and important decision.

For American progressives and liberals this question is fraught with pitfalls, longterm traps, and really no good answers. On one hand, there are many reasons to support the Palestinian quest for Statehood (a quest I support along with supporting the maintenance of a strong Israel as the Nation State and Homeland of the Jewish People), from the yearning of the Palestinian people to be free to run their own polity to the necessity of maintaining the Jewish people's legitimate rights to self-determination. On the other hand, the Palestinian Polity is badly fractured between a group that actively calls for the destruction of the State of Israel (Hamas)and a group of individuals that are committed to creating a State that considers Jews as settlers in the land and talks of their expulsion of an ethnic group (Fatah/PLO). Neither Fatah/PLO or Hamas represent anything remotely progressive or liberal in their polity. SO... the question remains what should the U.S. do.

Further complicating the matter for the American team is a potential draft of wording on the resolution which DOES NOT call for establishing borders based on June 4th, 1967 armistice lines but on declaring Statehood and deciding borders based on negotiations (land swaps) of those borders at a later point. This position has been a big part of the American position regarding the resolution of borders for the conflict.

SO... here is a short list of the political and realistic Pro's and Con's of an American Veto:

CON'S (Why a veto would be bad)

1. America's standing and prestige in the area will take a hit. American prestige is already low and is being challenged by both Turkey and Iran (who are also lining up as opposing forces). This symbolic move for statehood is popular both with the "street" and with governments within the region. A U.S. veto would be go directly against these wishes and would inflame the Arab "street" making relations with the U.S. difficult. Though many of the governments involved here (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc....) have strong ties to the U.S. they would be faced with massive unrest should they continue their relationships with the U.S.

2. Ultimately the Palestinian people need a State and as such will keep asking the United Nations for recognition.Despite the wishes of the Israeli ruling coalition and the U.S. administration, this move will succeed in the U.N. at some point even if it does not succeed in the UNSC. It will pass the UNGA this time around. Should there be responsible behavior on the part of the Palestinian polity it is just a matter of time for it to pass the UNSC as well. When the U.S. veto's the Palestinian resolution it will further reduce America's diminshed ability to influence behaviors of the Palestinian Polity.

3. This measure would bring about strong international pressure to actually end the conflict. Whether the Israelis like it or not, this would force their Right Wing into decision making mode and there would be no more ambiguity to what position they would take regarding a number of issues involving the West Bank and Jerusalem. As the colloquial saying goes... at this point Israel would have to "Shit or get off the pot" relative to what they see as the fate of the occupied territories.

PRO'S (Why a veto is the right thing to do)

1. This will do nothing to settle the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Given recent Palestinian pronouncements regarding ethnically cleansing Jews from their territory, pronouncements on Right of Return, and Hamas' recent signal that they might accept the Palestinian move at the U.N. as long as the future Palestinian State refuses to recognize Israel. The Israelis are simply not going to end their occupation because this measure passes. Far from that, what will likely happen is that the security meme will become dominant (as it is already) and that even Israeli Center - Left groups will adopt the Center-Right's narrative on Security (see my article Avodah Rising). This in turn would lead to conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians and could even lead to a violent Third Intifada.

2. The Palestinian polity is simply not ready for this despite the popularity of such a move. There is no coherency or unity there. Should there be a State, it would be a split policy with Hamas ruling part of the State and the Palestinian Authority ruling the other part. Who would anyone negotiate with as far as borders or peace? It potentially could set off a Palestinian Civil War, a conflict that could explode in other parts of the Arab world.

3. Unilateralism does not solve conflicts. The U.S. (rightly so) feels this issue should be settled through direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The U.S. feels that it is not up to the United Nations to set borders between two nations and that only direct negotiations between the parties involved can do that.

4. The United States made a pledge to Israel, Whether right or wrong, the U.S. has "made it's stand". What would this tell our allies about what our words mean? Not too mention that Israel has been our strongest friend in the region. Not vetoing this would be seen as us turning our back on some of our best friends in the world.

So given what we are facing we are indeed faced with a task no less than Jacob was when he wrestled with an angel of G-d. He was wounded in the fight (as was evidenced by his permanent limp following the battle) but he emerged stronger and with the new name of Israel. How we wrestle with our own angels will determine how we come out of this fight.

Friday, September 16, 2011

FRY'DAZE - Progressive Zionist Style

Welcome to the return of Fry'd Daze. Fry'd Daze has been a long running series on Daily Kos dedicated to dialogue in the Middle East. For a while I pulled it, but recently was asked to bring it back and decided that I should. These articles are not intended to be a flame forum, but rather something where community members can meet and exchange ideas about I/P and/or issues that concern the Middle East.
Generally, these articles take the form of four to five news articles and short commentary selected by the diarist. These stories however, are just a platform to get discussion going.

Our lead this week is:

Abbas: Palestinians to seek full UN membership:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that the Palestinians plan to approach the United Nations Security Council for full recognition, clarifying that they are seeking to delegitimize the occupation, not Israel, by taking the UN route for Palestinian statehood.

He stressed that Israel is a legitimate state, but that by continuing to build in the settlements and rejecting the internationally recognized borders of a future Palestinian state, they are engaging in illegitimate activity.

"What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have been taking place over 63 years living under the occupation," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians, like every nation, deserve independence, adding that the Palestinians want a state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

So, President Abbas is determined to take this to the U.N. Security Council where the U.S. has promised that it will veto the move.

Ynet further reports Abbas as saying the following:

I’m going to the UN in order to demand our legitimate rights and secure full membership for the state of Palestine," the Palestinian president said in Ramallah. "We hope to secure full membership."

We are not going to annul Israel's legitimacy," he said. "Nobody can annul Israel's legitimacy. It's a recognized state," he said. "We wish to isolate Israel's policy."
Israel's policy of occupation is the Palestinians' "catastrophe and nightmare," Abbas said, slamming Israeli arrests and attacks by settlers.
"We wish to isolate the legitimacy of the occupation, but not Israel's legitimacy," he said.

He also does go on to say that he does not advocate violence and he did urge that all marches and demonstrations be peaceful.  Rumors in the area talk of the P.A. buying crowd control devices/weapons (the P.A. denies)  from the Israelis so that they can better handle crowds and not allow for clashes between Israeli Settlers and Palestinians.

One thing about about Abbas' comments stands out to me. It is when he talks about 63 years of occupation. The 1967 war was 44 years ago so the 63 years he talks about is the founding of the State of Israel (1948). YET... he says that he doesn't want to delegitimize the State, he just wants to delegitimize the occupation. However, he considers the State of Israel as an occupation. So... What does this mean?

To me it says that he refuses to consider Israel as the National State and Homeland of the Jewish People. He seems willing to accept that there is a State of Israel but he also seems to want to insist on Palestinian Right of Return to that State. Hence the comment about occupation. In effect it seems that Mr. Abbas is talking about recognizing Palestine now and negotiating for Palestine within Israel of 1967.

The second question I have is where are the Palestinians going to get their funding for their State? By going to the U.N. Security Council, they force the U.S. into a corner. This move is obviously going to succeed in the United Nations General Assembly. Despite a promise of ethnic cleansing from Ambassador Areikat and the P.L.O. this move will pass. So the U.S. now needs to do something completely against regional and world general opinion.  In doing this the U.S. puts its various alliances at risk and opens itself to losing regional influence to Turkey and Iran, two countries trying to force their own hegemonistic visions on the area.

Given that the U.S. is the largest single funder of the Palestinian Authority ($400 - $600 million per year), and is contemplating cutting off all funds to the P.A., exactly where do they think that money is going to come from? Their brother Arab States have been notoriously bad at keeping debt promises and the European Union simply doesn't have the kind of continual flow of money that the P.A. needs to sustain itself. Haaretz covers the myriad of congressional responses here:

Congress mulls closing PLO mission in light of UN bid -

Congress is considering taking punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority or closing the Palestinian Liberation Organization's mission in Washington should it go ahead with plans to seek full membership at the United Nations Security Council next Friday.

The Americans were frustrated that years of financial aid, currently comprising 600 million dollars annually, intended to promote peace negotiations and stability did not yield many material results.
At the discussions, which took place at the House of Committee on Foreign Affairs, some experts called to cut the aid, while others warned it might undermine the Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation, and would thereby undermine Israeli security.

Both President Abbas and PM Netanyahu will be addressing the U.N. next week AND President Obama will be meeting with both Israeli PM Netanyahu and Turkish Premier Erdogan in NY, so look for a great deal of movement on both sides in the coming seven days.

Our second story comes from Maan:  Israel calls in Egypt envoy, says peace deal vital -

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel's Foreign Ministry called in the Egyptian ambassador on Friday to stress the importance of the two countries' historic peace accord, an Israeli official said, after Egypt's prime minister said the treaty was not "sacred".

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told Turkish television on Thursday that the 1979 peace accord with Israel could be changed for the benefit of the region.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Foreign Ministry Director General Rafi Barak told Egyptian envoy Yasser Reda that treaties must be honored to the letter.

and Haaretz delves into further depth here with:

The Foreign Ministry summoned Egypt's ambassador to Israel to a meeting on Friday morning, in order to clarify remarks made by Egypt's interim Prime Minister that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty should be revised.

A source in the Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Ministry Director General Rafi Barak requested clarifications over the remarks, especially considering previous contradictory remarks made by the Egypt's military council that the peace treaty should be preserved.

Earlier in the week Egypt's ruling cabinet had called for an emergency meeting to deal with the aftermath and diplomatic repercussions of the incident when protesters had stormed the Israeli embassy and Egyptians commandos had to rescue the besieged Israelis.


Erdogan: Those in Syria who inflict repression will not survive 

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stepped up his rhetoric against Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday, saying those in Syria who inflict repression on the people will not survive.

Erdogan, who is visiting Libya, told a cheering crowd in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square, formerly Green Square, that by ousting Muammar Gadhafi the Libyan people had set an example to others seeking to throw off oppression.....

....The Turkish prime minister added, "do not forget this: those in Syria who inflict repression on the people will not be able to stand on their feet because oppression and prosperity cannot exist together."

In yesterday's column called "Suggested Reading" there is an article about Erdogan as the rising star of Middle Eastern politics. It is well worth a read after this.
Please participate. The only thing we ask is that you keep comments respectful, reality based and please no use of Anti-Semetic or Anti-Arab memes. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Todays Suggested Reading

Here is a great article that appeared in Tablet Magazine:

Summer Heat - by Etgar Keret

About maintaining the amazing coalition that came together this summer to fight for social and economic justice on the streets of Israel

Palestinian September is an Israeli-Palestinian disaster - Avi Shavit

A stark picture of what is about to occur

Netanyahu's masquerade is over -  Sefi Rachelevsky

A brutal look at Prime Minister Netanyahu and what exactly is going on.

Israel’s siege mentality - Hanan Naveh

An understanding of the Right Wing mentality that is affecting Israel.

The Mideast's new hero?  - Roee Nahmias

A look in at the populist rise of Erdogan with the Arab Street.

Blair floats proposal to buy time on Palestinian UN bid - Herb Keinon / JPOST

Tony Blair tries to buy some time before the U.N. vote.

Here are some interesting articles. I hope you find them as informative as I have.


A Rebuttal to Ambassador Areikat

Reading Maan News today, I was struck by a lack of reflection involving commentary and meaning of Ambassador Areikat's statements. Here is what the Ambassador actually said (as reported in the Huffington Post and Daily Caller):

"Well, you know, I think - I still believe, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future. But after the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction I think it would be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated at first."

Now in the Huffington Post and Daily Caller they also reported that Areikat said:

“Listen, again, we have nothing against Jews. This is a political conflict,” he explained. “Once the political issues our resolved, every Palestinian should be welcomed in Israel. Every Israeli should be welcomed in Palestine. But under the current circumstances — an occupation power occupying a people against their will — this is something we are trying to end.”

Later Areikat in an interview with the Huffington Post stated:

In the interview with HuffPost, Areikat reiterated that Israeli soldiers and settlers -- "persons who are amid an occupation, who are in my land illegally" -- would be rejected from the new Palestinian state.

But he added that he would not like to see any restrictions on access to religious or holy sites for any person of any faith or nationality.

When it comes to religious freedom and the right of all to visit respective sites in Israel and Palestine, of course all cities should be open to all religions," he said.

"Jerusalem right now is restricted -- Palestinian Muslims and Christians cannot visit it. Christians, Muslims and Jews must be able to visit their respective sites in both countries. This wasn't even on my mind when we asked the question -- I thought he was talking about settlers staying in Palestine."

Now first of all, Jerusalem is not restricted to Muslims and Christians. That is just plan bullshit. There are occasional restrictions on services at Al-Aqsa (which I actually don't agree with) due to the fact that at times some of the more zealous worshippers have gone up there and dropped rocks down on the heads of those worshipping at the Western Wall (I witnessed when I lived there). As for the City itself, no...  that is not true.

But let's break down the Ambassador's words a bit more.

Ok for Gaza there are exactly ZERO Jews. There are no settlers and no Jews that remained in the strip even if they were Palestinian.

For the West Bank there are Approx. 350,000 Jews 99.9% of whom live in settlements and neighborhoods (some of which are over 40 years old). SO.. exactly what Jews would be allowed to stay in a new Palestinian State? I mean is he talking about theoretical Jews that were theoretically born in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, East Jerusalem (when it was under Arab control)? I cannot find numbers but my bet is that it would be somewhere between 0-100 with a high probability that it would be closer to 0. I am sure that the three Jews  in Ramallah (/snark) will be happy to hear this.

Look at his comments closely, he does not say that Jews should be allowed to LIVE in the new Palestinian State, He says that Jews should be able to VISIT holy sites in the new Palestinian State. Big difference there.

Another key part of this is the phrasing: "Once the conflict is settled...". How vague does one need to be? The fact of the matter is that this conflict won't necessarily be settled once a Palestinian State is established. According to the last winners of the Palestinian Elections (though it should be noted I cannot see this repeating itself) Hamas has stated that the conflict will not be resolved until the all of the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River is Palestinian. A sympathy echoed by the secular "One Staters" and Palestinian Civil society. THEN as Ambassador Areikat says where would the "occupiers" of that land be allowed to live?

Like all international conflicts and resolutions, the devil is in the details.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Avodah Rising - Maybe.....

Yesterday was the first round of new elections for the leadership of Avodah (Israel's Labor Party), and while there are no results to publish Haaretz, ran a poll of Israeli voters and the results are surprising.

From Haaretz:

Less than a day after the first round of voting in the Labor Party’s election for a new leader, it seems that there is still life in the once-powerful party, which had been written off after years of in-fighting and an ever diminishing parliamentary presence.

Based on the results of a Haaretz poll conducted Tuesday night in conjunction with Dialog, if nationwide elections were held today, a Labor party led by journalist-turned-politician Shelly Yachimovich would win 22 out of the Knesset's 120 parliamentary seats. Were Labor headed by Yachimovich’s key rival Amir Peretz, the former party leader who resigned after the Second Lebanon War, it would win 18 seats in a general election held today.

This is a significant jump from the 13 seats Labor secured in the last elections, of which it only now has eight, after Ehud Barak jumped ship in January to form the Independence party, taking his cabal of four MKs with him. Apparently, this is the first instance of a leader rehabilitating a political party by leaving it.

Previous polls had suggested that Avodah would slightly gain strength in the coming elections but to suggest 22 Seats... that is quite the gain. Most of this gain as the article suggests would be at the expense of Kadima (a party created mainly to shore up Ariel Sharon and his bid to withdraw from Gaza) which had included Avodah in coalition had moved from being a Likud knockoff to something more Centrist.

Labors demise had been a long time in the making and seemed to culminate in the fourth place finish in the 2009 election where under the leadership of Ehud Barak they finished with 13 seats in the Knesset. Since that time they were reduced to 8 seats with the defection of Barak and four MK's when they left and formed Atz'maout. However, since then particularly with the Yachminovich's candidacy Avodah has been gaining strength.

One question I would have regarding the Haaretz poll is this:

With Yachimovich at the helm, Kadima would lose six of its 28 seats to Labor; with Peretz in charge, Labor would take four of Kadima’s seats.

So if (as the article states) Labor would have 22 seats where do the other eight seats come from? Right now the math works this way.. Labor has 8 seats. They pick up 6 seats from Kadima which would take them to 14 seats. So where are the other eight coming from. Meretz? Atz'maout? YB? Likud?

The next question I would ask is that if this is tied to the economic protests of the summer. I do know that Yachimovich was looking hawkish on security but reaching out to the protestors economic and social concerns. I am wondering if that blend of leftist economics and centerist/rightist security advocacy fits in with the way Israelis are thinking.

A favorite site of mine for Israeli Polling data is Jeremy's Daily Knesset Blog. Jeremy tracks polling from a number of different sources. I am looking forward to seeing the whole poll here but in his last two polls he shows the Right Gaining although he also show Labor picking up seats. One part of his poll shows the tent protestors or Yair Lapid getting up to 20 seats should they run... With Yachimovich at the helm of Labor I wonder if that would still be the case (I highly doubt it). But in any case read the site. It has all of the happenings in the Knesset and so forth.

With all the goings on in the area this is an "under the radar" story that could be important. I think it is well worth checking out.


Mahmoud's Protocols

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad channeled the infamous antisemitic libel The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his recent interview with The Washington Post.  His rhetoric also mirrored the language of the Hamas Charter in blaming the "Zionists" for all the evils in the world.  Rather than let others whitewash his language, and claim that is not what he really meant, here is what he told The Washington Post:

The United States has a population of 300 million and the whole population is going to be sacrificed for the interests of a few hundred Zionists.  A dreadful party, a feared party, the party that was behind the first World War and the Second World War.  Whenever there is a conflict or war this party is — behind it.

Ahmedinejad then goes on to effectively deny the historic connection between the Jewish People and the Land of the Israel:

I hope that [the Palestinian state at the U.N.] will happen very soon and that can be the beginning point. That should be the beginning of the liberation of the entire Palestinian land. The Palestinian nation existed before the Palestinians had unwanted guests pour into Palestine with guns.

Unfortunately, this is not Ahmedinejad's first brush with antisemitism.  He consistently speaks of wiping the "Zionist Entity" off the map.  He cannot even bring himself to mention Israel's name.  Additionally, he has routinely denied the Holocaust in the past, usually in the guise that he's "only asking questions," as if there existed any doubts about the extent of the horror reined upon our people, upon my relatives, that remained in Europe.

This is the man that keynotes the antisemitic hate-fests better known as the U.N.'s Durban Conferences, the newest of which will be held here in New York this month.  Between that, and the constant criticism of Israel, and singling out Zionism, Jewish nationalism, and Zionism alone, as racist, people really wonder why so many of us consider the U.N. an antisemitic forum?


AND... There we have it.

Saying that it would be in the best interests of all concerned, the P.L.O.'s Ambassador to the United States, Maen Areikat commented that the future Palestinian State would be "free" of a Jewish minority.

From Haaretz:

"Answering questions on minority rights in a future state, Areikat was quoted by USA Today as saying on the possibility of a Jewish minority: "After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated."

This is significant in a number of ways:

1. For years "One State" advocates both Jewish and Palestinian talk about how the two peoples need to come together and can live together for a  "just" future. They pattern their philosophy on creating an idealized version of a "United States of Palestine" if you will. Now, some of these advocates are hardly sincere in their wish for Jews and Palestinians living together and really simply want to get rid of Israel... BUT for those that are sincere, they take a view that despite the history of the conflict and despite the intransigence found on both sides of this conflict people will somehow come together in peaceful co-existence.

Of course the main failing of the approach is it's complete ignoring of reality. America was founded as a non-religious, non-ethnic State. The ideal behind the U.S. was to create a society that was independent of ethnic, religious, or racial dogma. But the creation of Israel and the future creation of Palestine are based on providing homelands for specific ethnic groups of people. The divides between the sides are great and to think that these divides would be forgotten is naive at best.

In Europe (also touted as examples of modern tolerance), States only became multi-ethnic after years of strife and struggle a process that has not ended. Look for instance at the resurgent Right Wing in many European countries. Even in Scandinavia, touted as the most open societies on Earth, there is ethnic backlash and conflict.

2. This statement does not bode well for future peace efforts in the region. Only the most extreme members of the Israeli polity (National Union), advocate transfer of populations between Arab and Jewish States. Yes, Likud Coalition partner Yisrael Betainu has advocated positions similar to this, although even they don't go so far as to advocate that their can't be an Arab minority in Israel.

This comment by Ambassador Areikat seems to reiterate every talking point of the extreme right in the Israeli Polity and now gives them ammunition they need to say: "See, the Palestinians admit that they don't want to live with us, how can we make Peace with them."

3. More ominously, when the Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.), the recognized body of the Palestinian people in the United Nations makes a statement like this what does this mean for a future in which Palestinians strive for a Right of Return to pre-1967 Israel. A return that would create another majority democratic Palestinian State next to the State of Palestine. Could Jew's live in that Israel as well? Using the P.L.O.'s logic the answer would be "Certainly Not". Given that how can Israelis/Jews think that there could possibly be a peaceful solution to this issue.

Of course, given this as well, how can Israelis take this statement as anything different from the Hamas statements calling for a Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River? Just today Hamas stated that they could not back the Palestinian move for the U.N.

Al-Bardaweel told the workshop that the consequence of getting the UN to recognize a Palestinian state would also be recognition of Israel's boundaries.

"Going to the UN draws the borders of Israel, which was established on stolen lands and still has no borders," he said.

Abbas' UN bid, he explained, would mean that the Palestinian state would exist only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and not in all of historic Palestine, as Hamas wants.

Moreover, he said, once a Palestinian state is ratified, "the Palestinian resistance won't be allowed to fire one single gunshot at the Israeli occupation."

Given Hamas' advocacy for ONE PALESTINIAN STATE and the P.L.O. insistence that the two sides cannot live together.... how can Israelis/Jews take this information than anything other than what it is. A call for ethnic cleansing from BOTH sides of the Palestinian Polity. Moreover, the last sentence is chilling and a reminder that should there be a Palestinian State, Hamas rejects that it can't still shoot at Israeli targets, particularly since it considers Palestine occupied since 1948 NOT 1967.

4. This statement shows that the Palestinian Polity simply does not have it's act together on the eve of their U.N. move in the General Assembly. They are promising the world an ethnically pure state in an area where conflict defined by ethnicity is a major problem. What amazes me is that the PLO thinks that the Israelis would compromise along lines that the Palestinians can accept given the potential message being sent to the Israelis. Can the Palestinians really think that the Israelis would dismantle every settlement and move 300,000+ people back into Israel when the Palestinians just stated that Jews would not be welcome in their country????

My question to other progressives and the world community in general is: How can one support the creation of a State that supports the ethnic cleansing of a minority and plans to have no presence of a given minority in that country? What is progressive or even sane about this policy? I understand what Mr. Areikat is saying but honestly, it is a policy that speaks to the worst in all of us.

I call on those people of good will and of conscience to reject this statement and all of it's implications.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

UN Human Rights Council Once Again Blames Israel

The UN Human Rights Council, which already had to undergo a name change, partly because of its anti-Israel bias, has once again issued a report blaming Israel and ruling the Israeli blockade of Gaza illegal.  This conflicts with the previously issued Palmer Report, which found the blockade legal, although finding that Israel used excessive force when interdicting last year's Gaza flotilla.  The difference between the two reports is that the Human Rights Council answers to no one and is infamous for its anti-Israel bias, whereas those responsible for the Palmer Report answered to the UN Secretary General, who, in turn, answers to the Security Council.

Heading the Human Rights Council panel was Richard Falk, the special rapporteur for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza.  Falk retains his position despite being a truther.  This, of course, only further diminishes the credibility of the Human Rights Council, as he has remained in place despite this incident occurring months ago in the wake of the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona).  Although, considering the council's reputation and work before that time, specifically as it relates to the council's membership, it did not have much credibility to begin with.  It is quite laughable that Saudi Arabia, a country with, arguably, the most misogynist laws in the world, along with Cuba and China and other nations, are members of that council.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the Human Rights Council has once again come to the conclusion that Israel has no right to defend itself.  I seriously wonder what they would consider valid self-defense by Israel.  Would the Yom Kippur War, where Israel, the Jewish State, was attacked, without provocation, on the holiest day of the year for Jews, count?  In the minds of most people, I do believe that would count.  However, based upon the evidence, I find it likely that the Human Rights Council would rule Israel's counterattacks, and not letting the Egyptian and Syrian armies march right through, was unprovoked and illegal aggression.

If terrorists based in Canada were lobbing missiles across the 49th parallel, or terrorists based in Mexico lobbing them across the Rio Grande, would the United States stand for it and not take any action?  For that matter, would anyone expect the United States to stand still?  Remember, Gaza is controlled by a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction and the genocide of the Jewish People.  One only need read their charter to see them state so in plainly obvious terms.  Furthermore, based upon the previous Israel-Hamas ceasefires, it is clear that when Hamas is so inclined they are able to stop the missiles.  Therefore, whenever those missiles do launch, they do so with Hamas' implicit, if not explicit, approval.

The citizens of Ashkelon and S'derot and Be'er Sheva have the same right to live in peace that everyone else does.  They have the same right to not have to constantly run to safe rooms, whether in their apartments or bus stops or anywhere else, because some terrorists in Gaza have decided that it is a good idea to launch missiles with the intent of murdering innocent civilians.  They rightfully possess the expectation that their government will protect them against such actions.  Just because the so-called "Human Rights Council" has once again denied that such a right exists on the part of the Israeli government does not actually make it so.

I proudly stand with Israel.

Journalistic Freedom and the Israel Palestine Conflict

From the Israeli Declaration of Establishment:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

And in Israel one certainly can see evidence of journalistic freedom, front and center. Just look at the pages of Haaretz and featured columnists Amira Hass or Gideon Levy. Look at +972 online magazine.... the evidence is everywhere. In fact, today in Haaretz Bradley Burston comes right out and argues for acceptance of a Palestinian State at the U.N. which is in direct conflict with Israeli policy. Still he does that, and does it freely. Where in any other country in the region can you get that kind of freedom. I often use Maan News as a source to see what is happening with regards to the Palestinians. I find however, their criticisms to be muted (not always but far less than what the Israeli journals post).

Part of what makes Israel special is the value it places on open and honest journalism (well for the most part, the papers are still businesses and are still subject to editors). One of the defining measurements of an "enlightened society" is the ability of that society to support freedom of the press. The more freedom of ideas the more open the society.

In reading Maan today I cam across this article: MADA: Increase in violations against Palestinian journalists which while it certainly pokes Israel for violations (although one is against an Islamic Jihad affiliate), but it also criticizes the Palestinian polity:

MADA reported a "remarkable decline on freedom of expression in the past month" perpetrated by Palestinian security forces, after some improvement over the previous three months.

In Gaza, Hamas internal security forces prevented Alhuriya Lil’lam Center correspondent Wisam Zogbor from filming on Aug. 17, MADA reported.

On Aug. 18, Hamas forces summoned correspondent Fathi Tbeil, who works for the official news agency of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, WAFA, the report noted.

Tbeil had reported on a solidarity sit-in with Palestinian refugees in Syria who were attacked by Syrian government forces. Hamas' headquarters are located in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Hamas police also attacked a Wafa correspondent preparing a report in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

A correspondent for PA radio station Palestine Voice, Tamim Muamer, was interrogated by Hamas internal security as he left Gaza for Egypt at the Rafah crossing.

Meanwhile Palestinian Authority preventative security services summoned journalist Majdoen Hasouneh for investigation in Nablus in the northern West Bank.

When Hasouneh refused to appear, PA forces
detained two of her brothers.

PA preventative security services also arrested presenter Muntaser Nassar at his home in Hebron on Aug. 20, MADA reported. Nasser works for the Hebron University station Radio Alam.

Writer and academic Abdel Sater Qasem was also arrested. He was released after several days following a personal appeal from President Mahmoud Abbas, the report said.

It seems that BOTH sides are acting in bad faith here. With the deadline for Palestinian Statehood getting closer this is a troubling sign. A free press and a free cross flow of information is one of the only things that can help make this future more secure. If the Palestinians don't understand what the Israelis are thinking and don't see what they are saying this bid for statehood is doomed. Constant bashing of Israel will only make things worse, yet if the Israelis see that the Palestinians are committed to freedom of the press and understand the different forces at work in the Palestinian polity, there is a chance. Of course this is simplistic but I think the concept is easily understood. The more open Palestinian society is the less of the "unknown" exists. The less of the "unknown" the harder it is to demonize or vilify an opponent. The less demonization and vilification the more empathy towards the "other" party.

Same for the Palestinians. they need to see the Israeli polity for the diverse place that it is. They need to be able to understand the forces at work that shape the Israeli political landscape. It is the only way to create  an environment that will foster acceptance of Israel. Palestinians need to be given portrayals of Jewish History from both the Right and Left. They need to understand what motivates Israelis and how best to understand the need for the State of Israel .

It is only through freedom of the Press that the flow of information needed to solve this crises is can be received. By demonizing and vilifying one side, all that happens is that the processes of information become corrupted and true solutions become hidden.

Hamas calls for overthrow of Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords

And extremists do it again..... Yesterday of course we had the Shin Bet warning us about the Right Wing in Israel growing more terror oriented and now today out of the Palestinian Territories we have their Right Wing growing more desperate by the moment. Hamas, who is losing ground to Fatah in the Palestinian Polity wants to see an end to Oslo agreements (eerily similar to those on the extreme right in the Israeli Polity).

So, what drives this....

Well, The Palestinian Authority's move at the U.N. is popular with the Palestinian Polity. Fatah has gone from being seen negatively to having huge positive ratings. According to the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion in a poll out Sept. 6, 2011, Fatah polls at:

(57.3%) said "very good", (21.9%) "somewhat good", (9.4%) "somehow not good", (5.9%) "not good at all" and (5. 5 %) said "I don’t know".

While Hamas polls at:

(17.4%) said "very good", (42.0%) "somewhat good", (15.9%) "somehow not good", (14.9%) "not good at all" and (9.9%) said "I don’t know".

As for the popularity of the Palestinian move at the U.N. support this with 35.4% saying they should do it unilaterally (as they are now doing) and 59.3% support returning to the negotiating table first and then going to the U.N. However, in an interesting twist 53% of the Palestinian Polity stands firmly against any effort by P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas to step back from the U.N. bid in September. Certainly, confusing data in the sense that while most Palestinians polled want this not to be a unilateral move now that it is in motion they seemingly don't want it to stop.

Having failed at efforts for a "unity government" it seems that Hamas is going the "rejectionist" route and looking for an abrogation to the Oslo Accords.

For information sake:

The Oslo Accords, which are officially called the "Declaration of Principles," were negotiated in secret and signed in Washington on September 13, 1993. They call for a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and Palestinian rule in both regions for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent solution.

Haaretz reports Hamas saying: "it was time for the Palestinians to "work to overthrow" the agreements, and called for "establishing a new era of national unity, building up a unified Palestinian front and a wise, unified and powerful leadership to face all the upcoming challenges."

The driving motivation here seems to be that Hamas is staking out a position on the Far Right (along with Palestinian Islamic Jihad) so it can maintain it's power base and "rejectionist credentials", after all, the money from Syria and Iran has to go to someone. In fact, Hamas reinforced its relationship with Syria as is reported in Maan News:

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas confirmed on Monday that it would not be moving its headquarters from Syria following unrest in the country, a party statement said.

“We confirm that the news reports on some media outlets claiming that the movement considers moving its offices or part of its leadership from Damascus, upon request from Syrian security, are false and not real at all,” the statement said.

One then should ask is the impetus for the overthrow of Oslo simply part of Hamas' overall hatred for Israel and their desire for conflict on the order of "Cast Lead", (a conflict they were crushed in militarily but were successful in propagandizing) or is it a product of internal Palestinian politics and the overall issue of influence not only within said polity but from backers in Teheran and Damascus?

In this authors opinion it is a function of both but I would say more towards the latter than the former. Hamas has always been committed to the end of Israel and to the genocide of the Jewish People in the long run (even though they make noise of a hudna in the short term), but this and their earlier distancing themselves from the Palestinian Authority's bid at the U.N. comes more from a battle for the "hearts and minds" of the Palestinian Polity. Not just for themselves but from the folks that bankroll them in Damascus and Teheran.

It will be interesting to see the rise of Turkish influence in the region and how that affects the Iranian push for regional hegemony. Right now despite efforts of Iran to win over the developing Egyptian polity, the Turks seem to have a stronger foothold. As that develops, the question is whether Hamas will become increasingly radicalized and take a stronger line against the U.S., Israel (which they see as an extension of U.S. colonial power) and the P.A. (who they claim is an extension of Israeli polity) to better serve their paymasters and counterbalance the Turks. Needless to say, it seems that with the confirmation of a continuing alliance with Syria, Hamas is rejecting all forms of moderation in favor of a radicalized agenda of perpetual war against foes both foreign and internal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shin Bet warns of Right Wing Terror

Today's Haaretz is Reporting that the Shin Bet (Israel's version of the FBI) is warning that Right Wing Groups in Israel are forming into Terror Cells.

From the Haaretz story:

Extreme right-wing Jewish activists in the West Bank have moved from spontaneous acts against Arabs - following the demolition of Jewish homes by Israeli authorities, or terror attacks against Jews - to organized planning that includes use of a database of potential targets, according to new analysis by the Shin Bet security service.         

A left-wing activist was apparently the latest "price tag" victim yesterday, when threatening graffiti against a Peace Now leader was discovered on the front of her Jerusalem apartment and in a nearby stairwell. The incident follows last week's vandalism attack on an Israel Defense Forces base in the West Bank, in apparent revenge for the demolition of unauthorized Jewish construction in settlement outposts there.

Sources in the Shin Bet noted that the planned attacks against Arabs and left-wing Israelis constitute terrorist activity, for all intents and purposes.

There is simply NO EXCUSE for this. It is one thing to disagree with others, it is quite another to terrorize them through physical and mental intimidation.

There is room in the Jewish community for criticism of governmental policies particularly when they threaten the democratic nature of Israel. Remember, where the State came from and why it exists; To provide a National Homeland and State of the Jewish People. Civil disagreement is a function of all strong democratic societies.

A few years ago, I wrote this on the Americans for Peace Now Website:

As an American Jew who loves, respects, and fully believes in the Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland in the land of our forefathers/mothers, I worry about those "New Purists" those who are attempting to steal open discourse from a community and culture that has always prided itself on it's openness, intelligence, and willingness to grow, as well as adapt and empathize with the downtrodden and oppressed in the world. These "new purists" seem to be on a quest to re-define Zionism and who can be part of that movement.

First though, here is a beautiful passage from the Israeli Declaration of Independence:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The ideals enshrined in this document embodied the ideal of creating a nation that was to be "as a light unto nations". Yet the "new purists", those individuals who deem themselves more properly Jewish or Zionist than those of us who believe in the Israel of its founders, are embarking on a campaign that threatens the very State of Israel itself. From the public defamation of dissent by Im Tirzu, to the snubs from the Israeli government of American Zionist organizations dedicated to supporting Israel, to the arrests and violence against the protestors at Sheikh Jarrah who are trying to help innocent families being pushed out of their homes - the "new purists" are trying to define who are the "real" supporters of Israel.

Well I say to these "new purists" that your efforts to claim "Greater Israel", create a "witch hunt" in the diaspora community and in Israel for imagined enemies, and politically stifle debate on issues that are so important to the modern State of Israel, are destroying support for Israel not only within the International community but within the Jewish community itself. Those of us in the Progressive Zionist movement love "Ha'aretz". We love that it is a haven for Jews no matter where they are who are threatened by those who would harm us for our faith, culture and nationality. The continued existence of Israel as a Jewish State is paramount for our survival as a people.

The political rigidity that you support runs contrary to our history as a people. You are creating a place that takes the worst from other nations, not something that is an example for others. By focusing on destroying the Progressive wing of Zionism you are splitting our already small community. You are putting the very existence of Israel as a 21st century democracy in peril.

We ask that you look at your roots and look at the roots of a country we love. We on the Progressive Wing of Zionism support and love Israel. We want Israel to grow and prosper in the 21st century and for centuries to come. The world is a changing place and we as a people need to adapt and embrace this change, not fear it and resort to tactics of our enemies. Because when we do that - we lose the very things that have kept us alive for so many centuries regardless of the levels of oppression we have endured.

Am I a subversive for writing this.... of course not. More than ever I think it is important that we as Jews remember our heritage and make sure that we do not turn into the worst of our enemies. Of course this is not to say that one needs roll over and bare ones throat. Standing up for ourselves is also very important. But, we have to strive to do better... not just become like our enemies.


Welcome to the Progressive Zionist

Welcome to the Progressive Zionist Blogspot. What we will be doing here is presenting views from the Left and Center Left of the Zionist polity. Of course, most opinions are welcome but please make sure to be civil.

To steal from Team Shalom at Daily Kos (A group I helped found)... The Progressive Zionist represents:

A Group of people supporting a fair, pragmatic, and realistic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the two-state solution. We support Israel's continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state, with it existing alongside Palestine, a Palestinian and democratic state, as friends and neighbors. We believe this is the only way forward and the only way to achieve an enduring peace. This is the view endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the world's nations, including the Quartet, which consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations."

One thing that I ask is do not post meta complaints about other sites. I really don't care what they do and it is not the job of this site to watch them or drive traffic to them. As we go forward I will start posting an FAQ but for the time being... Let's try this first.

So Welcome, Shalom and I hope that you all will enjoy the articles and the site.