Friday, October 21, 2011


Our first story today comes from Haaretz and Maan both.

It comes out of news last night that had stated Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had offered Palestinian Authority President a Settlement Freeze on all government construction. This offer was rejected by the Palestinian Authority which cited that most of the construction was done by private contractors so really, they are saying that it would not be much of a freeze at all.

Palestinians confirm Israel offered partial West Bank settlement freeze in return for talks
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to freeze government construction in West Bank settlements as well as construction on government land there in return for an agreement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to resume direct peace talks.
Erekat told the Associated Press that the proposal was offered to the Palestinians via a third party and that the Palestinians rejected the proposal because it only applied to government construction and most settlement construction is carried out by private contractors.
"If Netanyahu wants to resume negotiations, he has to say that settlement building will stop. Either it stops or it doesn't stop," Erekat said.
During this, Palestinian President Abbas has reportedly threatened to resign if there is no diplomatic progress during the next three months.

Our second story is from Maan News where there are conflicting news stories regarding President Abbas regarding unification talks with Hamas. First there is a report that the date for those talks has not been set: Fatah: No date set for meeting with Hamas
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- No date has been set for President Mahmoud Abbas' meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to discuss national unity, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Friday.
Al-Ahmad, who heads Fatah's reconciliation delegation, told Ma'an that the meeting would be held after the president's regional tour.
He said Abbas initiated the meeting with Mashaal to implement the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo in May to end years of bitter rivalry between Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas' Fatah party, which heads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The president also hoped to discuss Palestine's future with Mashaal, who leads the Hamas movement from exile in Damascus.
Abbas left for Cairo on Friday to meet with Egypt's military ruler Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
However... in these "non-existent meetings" Report: Abbas to offer January elections
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will propose elections in upcoming meetings with Hamas officials, Time Magazine reported on Thursday.
"We're suggesting January, because the law requires 90 days notice," Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah told Time.
The reconciliation agreement signed on May 4 by the president's Fatah party and Hamas set out plan for a unity government of technocrats, the release of political prisoners and holding of elections.
Implementation has stalled as the sides dispute the candidates for the joint government, notably current chief of the Ramallah-based government Salam Fayyad, whom Hamas rejects.
Today's Maan online seems confused however.... For instance, they are reporting that the Palestinians are unaware of Israel's offer for a partial settlement freeze but as we see above they have responded. Either way... interesting developments could be afoot.

Next we have the leader of Hizbollah Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah promising: Next war with Israel will start in Tel Aviv
The next war with Israel will start in Tel Aviv, not on the northern border, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned on Friday, the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported. “If Israel decided to wage a war against Lebanon, we will not only break the Israeli soldiers’ bones, we will smash them,” Nasrallah was quoted as saying during a meeting with Hezbollah members.
"The war would be waged without any red lines, and [Hezbollah] would in return commit to the new equations,” Nasrallah said.
“[Hezbollah] has many surprises that will change the face of the region,” he added.
And there we have it more bloviating from the hidden leader of Hizbollah... This part: "The war would be waged without any red lines" is telling. Fortunately this is like a monthly occurance for Nasrallah who generally more than anything likes to hear himself sound tough (all while hiding from the Israelis). Oh the Irony.....

Finally.. spurred on by the events in Libya and the fall of Moammar Gadhafi the Syrian Protest movement is sparked. Gadhafi's killing fuels Syria's Friday protests
The killing of Libya's Muammar Gadhafi fuelled demonstrations across Syria after Friday prayers that called for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, braving a heavier than normal security presence, activists and residents said.
Syrian forces shot dead on Friday at least 13 anti-Assad protesters, according to activists and residents.
Most of the killings were in the central city of Homs and in Hama to the north, scene of some of the largest military operations in a crackdown on the seven month uprising, where a nascent insurgent movement has also emerged, they said.
"Gadhafi is finished. It is your turn now Bashar!" shouted demonstrators in the town of Maaret al-Numaan in the northwestern province of Idlib, according to one witness.

Please feel free to discuss and bring in stories that are relevant to the M.E.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Terrorist Speaks

One of the terrorists released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap already has me wondering how long until she once again winds up in an Israeli prison or killed by the IDF in an attempted terrorist attack on innocent civilians. Not only is she unrepentant, but she has called for others to join her in attempts to murder innocent civilians:

"I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs," Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to her home in the northern Gaza Strip.

This was said in address to what Ha'aretz described as cheering Gaza schoolchildren. After she finished speaking, the children started chanting:

We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.

Seeing this, and the fact that she was exiled to Gaza, one would think that Biss is a member of Hamas. She's not. She's a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, which originated in Fatah. Along with Hamas, it was one of the largest perpetrators of suicide bombings during the second intifada. So, this isn't coming from someone who was in the rejectionist Hamas. This is coming from someone who was a supporter of Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah, the party nominally committed to a two-state solution and with which Israel has negotiated throughout the entirety of the peace process.

Peace needs to come. And it's going to come from quite a few bad guys given the whole mess that is the peace process. However, we need to hold those guys accountable until that peace does come. Biss and others speak in the language of "martyrdom" and murdering as many innocent Jews as possible. So long as that happens, I will not remain silent. Hopefully, her words are just that and they go no further. However, the moment they do go beyond words, I will fully support Israel's actions to defend itself against all those that intentionally seek to murder as many civilians as possible. Israel has the right to defend herself and her citizens, the claims of some in this world notwithstanding.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Left Hand of Darkness - the Other side of the Shalit Deal

As has been noted here, I am in favor of the Shalit deal. As a parent, I can only approach this as Noam Shalit did. He wanted his son home... I can respect and understand that. ALSO.... The Shin Bet, IDF and Israeli Cabinet all approved of the deal so who am I to question that. I am neither Israeli nor am I currently in Israel. It is their decision and I trust that they made the right one for their soldiers and for their citizens.

Additionally, the fact that the Israelis care so much about their own, that they would trade 1,000 people just to secure one individual is AMAZING. It also says a lot about Israel's opponents that they make that same valuation about their own people. They won't trade One for One but will trade 1,000 for One. Interesting is one word that comes to mind.

SO along with Sgt. Shalit (he has been promoted) coming home this does speak to the fact that Israel and Hamas were and have been negotiating contrary to the claims of both polities. AND with all the bombast and rhetoric that flys about, the two sides were able to come to a deal.

Now onto the immediate fallout (since we have no idea of the long term ramifications of this deal).....

First we have the obvious gain of Hamas in the Palestinian Polity. There is no doubt that this will revive the flagging political hopes of Hamas within the Polity itself. AND Hamas is playing this up to end. Ismail Haniyeh is quoted as saying:

“This is a strategic turning point in our struggle against the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said at a celebration in Gaza on Tuesday evening, adding “it was thanks to our resistance that we were able to release the land and the people.”

“First of all, the Palestinians released were from all Palestinian groups and factions, and secondly, the prisoners were from all parts of Palestine,” Haniyeh said.

Maan News further reports that:

Yehya Al-Sinwar, a top Hamas security strategist who spent 23 years in jail and is now tipped for a top post in the Hamas leadership, was cheered by the rally and mobbed on stage.

"I call on all the leaders of the Palestinian resistance factions and foremost the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam to shoulder the responsibility for liberating the remaining prisoners in the shortest time possible," he said.

"This must be turned immediately into a practical plan."

Not to be left out of the proceedings Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had this to say:

We thank God for your return and your safety," Abbas said, greeting the prisoners. "You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland." He also said that Israel had promised him to free more prisoners following the two-stage swap. It was the first mention of such a release.

"We hope soon to see [Marwan] Barghouti and [Ahmed] Saadat, as well as every prisoner freed,"

Amongst the hoopla of the release of the Palestinian 1000 (some of whom are unrepentant terrorists) Hamas, is claiming total victory and telling anyone who will listen that their way of negotiating (terror strikes, total resistance, kidnapping) is the only way to go. They say "Well, look what we got from this stand and look what you got from all your negotiations". Of course, this is foolhardy concerning anything else like peace or land deals but that is what they claim.

Furthermore, by getting 1,000 prisoners released from all across the Palestinian Polity, they can claim that they are truly the ones looking out for ALL Palestinians, not just those folks in Gaza. They are so confident of their postion that they are summoning P.A. President Abbas to Cairo with the following message:

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mashaal alled on President Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday to hold a meeting next week in Cairo to implement a reconciliation deal signed in May.

Speaking at a news conference after celebrating the prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, Mashaal urged Abbas to meet with him in order to review the "policy of negotiation" with Israel.

He urged Abbas take note of Hamas' strategy of negotiations, adding that "whoever goes to negotiations without strong cards" is not likely to succeed. Mashaal was apparently referring to the swap deal compared to a decade of Palestinian negotiations which have produced little

How will this bode for the peace process.... Well, honestly, this kind of rhetoric is the dream of the Israeli Right. When the Palestinian people chant: "We need another Gilad Shalit" and the Popular Resistance Committee claims that now they need to take more Israelis captive obviously one has to wonder. The Rightists however will have a field day with this saying "Look, we cannot deal with these people. What kind of peace deal can we expect with this?" It will then allow them to continue on with their policies of expansion into the occupied territories and all but making a Two State Solution close to impossible.

Of course the Palestinians are not adverse to this notion of conflict. Not much else seems to be going their way and politically President Abbas simply cannot give into the demands of PM Benyamin Netanyahu to give up Palestinian RoR and declare recognition of Israel as the Nathonal Homeland and State of the Jewish people. The second he did that, his term as President would be over as would his life.  The second intifada was a disaster for the Palestinians the whys of a sudden change in the leadership would be taking Hamas' path rear their head.

For today though, Hamas has revived itself and with it the darkside of the Palestinian Polity. Now it is up to the Palestinians to pick their path. Hamas may have had this success but it's leadership has been an unmitigated failure in creating a better life for Palestinians. How long will they be able to "ride this wave" and what that means for Israel or the P.A is yet to be seen.

Gilad is Home

This isn't going to be a particularly long post. It's also something that has been said many other places ever since the news broke that Gilad Shalit would be swapped for over 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, most of them a motley assortment of terrorists, murders and other bad people. For the first time in over five years Gilad Shalit is home and for the first time in over five years his family gets to celebrate a holiday with him since we're still in the middle of Sukkot. Even coming at the price that it did, that's a great thing for Gilad and his family. It also shows the great value that Israel places upon the lives of her citizens and her willingness to bring all her citizens home, even at great cost.

Like many Jews, both in Israel, and here in the Diaspora, I was moved to tears reading about how he's finally home after all these years. I was moved to tears by how he finally got to see his family. I was moved to tears about how he's finally going to be able to sleep in his own bed. Sure, he's a little worse for the wear after all that time in captivity, with his rights being constantly violated and denied all contact with his family, but he's home; that's more than many can say. There are still missing soldiers out there. They're likely gone by this point, but their families still wait for closure. It truly is wonderful to see a family be able to celebrate because they don't need the closure of being able to bury their loved one, but instead are able to enjoy the many years, G-d willing, he has ahead of him.

What's not so great is the tremendous cost that Israel has paid to bring Gilad Shalit home. Terrorists who have been in prison for longer than 20 years are being released. The woman who drove the suicide bomber to the Sbarro in Jerusalem is being released. These terrorists are unrepentant, and, if they could do so, would almost assuredly repeat their dastardly and murderous actions in a heartbeat and without second thought. What of the families who are seeing the murderers of their loved ones — terrorists sentenced to repeated life sentences — go free?

If I was in Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision, I too might have made the same decision he did. I'm not Israeli. I've never served in the military. I'm not a parent. I'm not a brother. I don't know what I would have done. That, however, doesn't make me any less concerned about the possibility that other soldiers will be kidnapped in the future and the idea that Israel is willing to trade over 1,000 prisoners for one soldier will only encourage such behavior. In fact, at least one of those released has promised to attempt just that.

Today, we celebrate for the Shalit family. Tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and as long as this conflict lasts, we pray that there is never another Gilad Shalit. And, G-d forbid, if that day does come, and another soldier is kidnapped, we will remember him or her just like we remembered Gilad.

Friday, October 14, 2011


This first story saddens me a great deal. At first I was outraged... and honestly I still am but, there is more to this than meets the eye. Nothing in the vandals past excuses this action but it does place it in context of the conflict. Tel Aviv: 'Price Tag' in Rabin memorial
First reprisal following Shalit deal? The memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv was vandalized Thursday night. The words "Price Tag" and "Free Yigal Amir" were spray-painted on it.
Eye-witnesses reported that the perpetrator was arrested by Tel Aviv municipal guards. The suspect is Shvuel Schijveschuurder, 27, from Givat Shmuel whose parents were murdered in the Sbarro restaurant terror attack in Jerusalem in 2001.....
.....Nadav, an eye-witness, saw the man vandalizing the memorial. "I began crossing the junction towards him as he was finishing writing and pouring white paint. A municipal security guard chased after him. He entered a taxi and was forcefully taken out of it."
 According to the eye-witness, the guard asked the suspect "why did you do it?" and he replied: "You don't know who I am, my family was murdered." He was then taken into questioning.
This is part of the fall-out from the deal for Gilad Shalit. There are names on the list of freed prisoners who are mass murderers and people are rightly concerned about their release. However, the IDF and the Shin Bet say that they feel that this deal makes sense and that the security risks will not be increased with the prisoners who are slated for release.
These despicable "Price Tag" attacks have been on the rise with the recent vandalization of Arab cemeteries in Jaffa
Some 25 tombstones were vandalized at two Jaffa cemeteries belonging to Muslims and Christians. The messages “Death to Arabs” and “Price tag” were spray painted on the graves.
Police forces arrived at the site and launched an investigation into the incident, but no suspects had been arrested for the time being. The acts prompted Jaffa residents to hold an emotional rally on Jaffa's streets Saturday evening.
President Shimon Peres condemned the vandalism acts at Jaffa’s Christian and Muslim cemeteries, referring to them as “despicable acts that disgrace us and contradict the moral values of Israeli society.”
The hard right seems to now be expanding their hatred and trying to add "fuel to the fire" in an effort to forestall any efforts at peace.

But it is not only the Israeli right that is upset. According to German intelligence: Iran could try to sabotage Gilad Shalit swap deal, mediator says
Iran could still try and sabotage a prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas that would set Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit free, top German intelligence officials said on Friday, adding that the situation will continue to remain "fragile" until Shalit's arrival in Israel.....
Speaking to reporters in the Berlin headquarters of German intelligence (Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND), the officials expressed their satisfaction with the completed deal, and from their contribution to its completion, adding, however that the situation was still "fragile" until the terms of the deal take place on the ground.
The German officials especially stressed their fear of an Iranian move to sabotage the deal's execution, claiming that Iran, who wields significant influence on Hamas, was not happy about the Israel-Hamas agreement.
Related to that: Haniyeh: Gaza paid 'dear price' to free prisoners
Ismail Haniyeh said Friday that "Our people today will harvest the fruit of one destination of Jihad and steadfastness. "Gaza has paid a dear price of blood and martyrs and agonies in actions the occupation had carried under the slogan of freeing Shalit," Haniyeh told a crowd of worshipers before prayers in a Gaza City mosque.
"The great Palestinian people paid all that price in order to free the prisoners because we believe that the value of man is derived from the value of the homeland."
Israel will release a list of prisoners to be released in the beginning stages on Saturday. The first part of the exchange is to happen on Tuesday... I think many on both sides will be waiting with "baited breath" to see how this works out.

The first part of the exchange is to happen on Tuesday... I think many on both sides will be waiting with "baited breath" to see how this works out.

Our second story: Palestinian Authority cuts ties with pro-Palestinian U.S. lobby over criticism of UN statehood bid

The Palestinian Authority has cut ties with a major U.S. pro-Palestinian lobby on Thursday, in what seemed to be continued fallout over the group's conspicuous criticism of a Palestinian move to gain recognition in the United Nations.

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) had been a key link between the Palestinian leadership and the U.S. administration in recent years, especially due to the lobby's moderate political stance, and as a result of the friendship between the lobby's head, Dr. Ziad J. Asali, and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad....

....However, the sound relationship between the PA and the ATFP began fraying over efforts by the head of the Palestinian delegation to the U.S., Ma'an Erekat, to distance the pro-Palestinian lobby.

Those tensions increased dramatically, additionally, over the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN late last month, a move Asali openly criticized for its potential to mire relations with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.

Currently the Palestinian Authority is on the full diplomatic offensive with the U.N. after reports of Israeli continued building in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel has formally submitted plans for a new settlement neighborhood of 2,610 homes in annexed East Jerusalem, Peace Now said on Friday.
East Jerusalem's first new district in 14 years, Givat HaMatos, lies within Bethlehem's original municipal borders and will cut off the West Bank city from East Jerusalem, the group said.
Peace Now said building up the neighborhood, standing between Israeli settlements Gilo and Har Homa, was "a game changer that significantly changes the possible border between Israel and Palestine."
"Unlike recent plans that caused controversy in Gilo and Pisgat Zeev which expanded the footprint of existing neighborhoods, the new plan creates an entirely new footprint of a new Israeli neighborhood in East Jerusalem," Peace Now said in a statement.

The Palestinians have repeatedly said that they will NOT sitdown and negotiate with the Israelis as long as they Israelis continue to build in the West Bank.
SO rather than enter direct negotiations with the Israelis Official: PLO will apply to join UN agencies
RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- The PLO will apply for full membership of as many United Nations agencies as possible as part of push to advance national interests, an official said. The plan is likely to generate more criticism from the United States, which has pledged to veto a Palestinian request last month for full membership of the United Nations, if it comes to a vote in the Security Council.
The drive for membership of the UN agencies, prepared over the past two years, is part of a plan to get ready for statehood, said Omar Awadallah, who heads the UN department at the foreign ministry.
"Our policy is now towards gaining membership of all international organizations, and specialized organizations of the United Nations as a full member," he told Reuters in an interview. "We are not looking for confrontation, we are looking to secure our rights," he said.
Anyway, there is a lot here to discuss so please do and let's keep this substantive and productive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Breaking... Both Haaretz and Al-Arabiya are reporting that are reporting adeal reached between Hamas and the Israeli Government for the release of Gilad Shalit.

According to Haaretz:
How it happened / The breakthrough that led to the Shalit:
David Meidan, the top Israeli official in charge of Shalit talks, has been spending the last few days in Cairo, contemporaneously with senior officials in Hamas' military wing. Both sides agreed to show flexibility one last time in order to seal the deal.
On Sunday, Netanyahu convened an eight-hour Forum of Eight meeting which lasted until 4 A.M., a meeting the very existence of which was placed under gag order. Ministers who attended the meeting refused to reveal any of the issues discussed.
On Monday, the diplomatic-security cabinet was assembled to discuss the details of a possible Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
Despite all of those meetings, Netanyahu insisted on the deal being approved in the widest cabinet forum possible. At 6 P.M. Tuesday, ministers received a message informing them of an emergency meeting.
Some of the ministers were not even informed as to the subject of the meeting, with Netanyahu personally calling others to update them and ask for their support as the deal comes to be approved by the government.
and from the folks who broke the story at Al-Arabiya
Israel has agreed a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas to secure the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who will be “coming home” in a few days, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
“We have concluded arduous negotiations with Hamas to release Gilad Shalit. He will be coming home in the next few days,” the prime minister said in a nationally televised address.
Shortly after the announcement tens of thousands of people flooded into the streets of northern Gaza to celebrate the deal that will see Palestinian detainees freed in exchange for Shalit.
In a statement, Hamas said tens of thousands of people were taking part in celebratory rallies after a deal that is expected to see hundreds of Palestinians released in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier.
Azay YOFFEEE - This is great that Gilad will come home....


Monday, October 10, 2011

Why You Should Want Israel To Be A Jewish And Democratic State

How should Israel be constituted in a just resolution to the I/P conflict?

The standard consensus viewpoint that Israel should emerge as the "Jewish and democratic state" has recently received a lot of pushback here. In this diary, I hope to further explain the concept of what it means for Israel to be Jewish and democratic, and why this is something that progressives should support.

Much of the objection to Israel being constituted as a Jewish state emerges from a misunderstanding of what it means for a country to be Jewish, and also what it means for a country to be a national homeland and democratic.

Some commenters elsewhere have raised the objection that a 'Jewish state' would be like a Christian or Muslim state, i.e. a theocracy or something religiously based. This is simply not the case. We have established, with near unanimity, that the Jewish people are just that - a people - and not a religion. There is the religion of Judaism that many Jewish people practice, but there are also many Jewish atheists and agnostics, including many in Israel.

Israel being constituted as a 'Jewish state' in no way means that it would be a theocracy or lack religious liberty. It means a secular national homeland for the Jewish people.

Some people have objected that the concept of a 'national homeland' is not in alignment with progressive values. However, it most certainly is in alignment with progressive values. To see why, please carefully consider the following case study:


In the Southeast corner of Europe is a great country with a proud history that is unfortunately going through some tough times at the moment. This nation is called Hellas by its inhabitants, but for some reason in English we insist on calling it Greece. Here I will follow the locals and call it Hellas.

Hellas is the national homeland for the Greek people. It was explicitly set up as such in the Greek wars of independence, and has remained so since. What does this mean? It means that Hellas is a state where the Greek language is preserved, Greek symbols, customs, and culture are promoted, and where Greek people can flee in a time of crisis.

The later property was of the utmost importance, when millions of ethnic Greeks escaped Turkey in the war following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. They would have likely been the victims of a major massacre, had they not been able to flee somewhere.

Does Hellas being the national homeland for the Greek people mean that it is undemocratic? Absolutely not. The ethnic minorities within Hellas, which include Albanians, Bulgarians, and Slavic Macedonians, enjoy full civil and political rights. And Hellas is a secular state, with the Greek Orthodox Church enjoying no theocratic status. People are free to practice whatever religion they choose, or no religion.

In this way, Hellas is the national homeland for the Greek people, and is also a secular democracy with full civil and political rights for ethnic and religious minorities. National homelands constituted as such are quite common in the Old World.


Israel as the Jewish and democratic state is like Hellas as the Greek and democratic state. In a Jewish and democratic Israel, Jewish symbols and customs, and the Hebrew language, would be preserved and promoted. Jewish people would have somewhere to flee in times of danger, which as we know seem to happen all too often. And the ethnic minorities within Israel - Arabs, Druze, Armenians, and so on - would enjoy full civil rights, and the full rights to preserve their cultures and languages. And people would be able to practice the religion of their choice, or no religion.

In fact, this the vision of a Jewish and democratic state that has been part of Israel since its founding. What I just said is actually stated in the 1948 Israel 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;

In 1948 the UN wisely partitioned the British Mandate - where two peoples were living - into two states for two peoples. Israel accepted that partition with the Declaration of Independence quoted above. Unfortunately, the surrounding nations invaded, setting in motion everything that has happened to the present, with all of the injustices perpetrated by all sides.

The just resolution to the I/P conflict is the two state solution, which consists of a Jewish and democratic Israel, as described above, alongside a Palestinian and democratic Palestine.

Israel as a Jewish state, and a democratic state, is fully a part of the progressive vision for a just resolution to the I/P conflict. And you don't have to take just my word for it. Israel as the Jewish and democratic state was and is the vision supported by such human luminaries as Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, JFK, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and the many Nobel Laureates who have endorsed the position of J Street.

Thank you for reading and considering.

Peace. .שלום. سلام and while we're at it, ειρήνη.

Do Zionists Help Restore the Tuba-Zangaria Mosque? Yes, Zionists Do

Cross Posted from Blue Truth by Dr. Mike

As many of you know, last week a mosque in the Arab village of Tuba-Zangaria in the Galilee was attacked by arsonists, presumably extremist Jews (because of the "price tag" graffiti left at the site). One suspect has been arrested.

Not only is this act repulsive on many levels (and was immediately condemned in the strongest terms by both Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as by Israel's Chief Rabbis), but it also took place in an Arab village whose residents fought alongside the Palmach during Israel's War of Independence, whose young men commonly enlist in the IDF, whose village leaders decided they would not participate in the Arab riots in October 2000, and whose village sports center is named after Yitzhak Rabin.

And just yesterday, Muslim and Christian cemeteries in Jaffa were vandalized with similar graffiti left at the sites of the desecrations.

And while I don't always agree with Bradley Burston, I think his eloquent column in Haaretz about this is completely on the mark.

Those of us who are Jewish have just completed our prayers on the Day of Atonement.  Th
e centerpieces of that day's prayers are the community confessionals, the Vi'dui and the Al Het, in which we all request forgiveness for the sins that, though we may not have committed them ourselves, fall upon us because members of our community did commit them.  This Yom Kippur, the desecration of the mosque of Tuba Zangaria was prominent in my mind during those prayers. 

The "price tag" phenomenon is a dangerous one for Israel in many ways.  These acts are those of vigiliantes who openly challenge the rule of law and the authority of the state of Israel.  Up until now, these attacks have only taken place on the West Bank.  There, they attack not only their neighbors, but also IDF soldiers (on whom, ironically, they depend for their own safety in their West Bank settlements).  They undermine the authority of the state, and they feed into the mostly false stereotypes created by anti-Israel activists, of violent settlers attacking peaceful Palestinian villagers who want nothing more than to live in peace; that false impression creates more international pressure to force Israel to withdraw from the very land which the settlers want to keep for their own.   When these attacks take place within the state of Israel itself, it challenges one of the fundamentals of Israeli society that we proudly hold up as a response to those who maliciously misrepresent Israel's status as a Jewish state-- that Israel's Arab citizens have full political, civil and religious rights equal to the Jewish citizens, and far better than the rights enjoyed by Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East.  If Israel's Arab citizens, especially those who express friendship and support to their Jewish neighbors, are the subject of acts of terror such as this, then it is not only those Arab Israelis who suffer, but the Jews of Israel as well.   

We also make the argument that Israel acts more morally than the Palestinian leadership that turns terrorists into heroes, and that broadcasts an incessant stream of venal anti-Semitic propaganda . And we correctly point out that the terrorists of Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Islamic Jihad openly celebrate the slaughter of children in their bedrooms,  because "itbach el-Yahud" ("kill the Jew") has been a rallying cry for Arab rejectionists since the days of the Grand Mufti (and can be heard even on the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area) .

It is therefore vital for those of us who support the existence of a Jewish state of Israel, to stand with what we know is the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora against such vile acts done by an extremist minority in our community; even the leadership of the settler movement condemns these terrorists.  Our enemies routinely distort "Zionism" into a hateful caricature; this is an important opportunity for us to stand up for the Zionism that we know and to reclaim it from those who use it as an epithet.

This is not about settlements, nor about borders, nor about negotiations (or lack thereof) between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  This is about standing with the Israeli citizens of Tuba-Zangaria and elsewhere, just as we stand with Jewish Israelis who have been the victims of religious and political acts of hatred. 

Israel's Declaration of Independence states: 

"WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions."

The people of Tuba-Zangaria answered that appeal in the affirmative. It is time now for us to honor that.

In the spirit of atoning for the sins of others in our community, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, in partnership with the Israel Religious Action Center, is raising funds for the refurbishing of the Tuba mosque.  It's the Zionist thing to do. Please join me in donating.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Note from Reuven for Yom Kippur

This is a beautiful post from Rueven (Mets102) over at Daily Kos about Yom Kippur. He was gracious enough to let me cross post here:

I am human.  I make mistakes.  I do things I should not.  I accept that.  Some of those wrongs, undoubtedly, have come at this public forum.  In that spirit, I offer my apology for those wrongs in a public manner.  My belief is that the apology should be made in the same context as the wrong committed.  That is why I write this piece here.  Those wrongs were publicly made, and, therefore, the apology I offer for them is appropriately made in a similarly public manner.

Today is Erev Yom Kippur.  Tonight, Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement — begins.  Kol Nidre will be recited in synagogues across the world before the holiday actually begins.  Evening services for Yom Kippur will then follow.  Tomorrow, many Jews, myself included, will spend much of the day in synagogue.  Even more Jews will observe the traditional 25-hour fast.  Finally, after 25 hours of holiday and fasting, the shofar will  sound, signaling the end of the holiday.

Since Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and marks the end of the High Holy Days (Days of Awe).  They begin with Rosh Hashanah and conclude with Yom Kippur.  During these days, while G-d decides our fate for the year, we repent for our wrongs.  This diary is in that spirit.  I am offering my repentance for the wrongs that I have committed here.  I know over the course of this year I will once again commit wrongs, as that is human nature, and thus, when this time comes next year, I will once again offer my repentance.
Over the past year, I have engaged in needless fights.  I have let myself join with others, both those with whom I agree, and those with whom I disagree, in lowering the discourse here.  I have let this, at times, become a game and have let myself join with others who seek to make this no more than a game.  I am only human.  I know this cannot be completely avoided, for we are imperfect creatures.  I know this will almost undoubtedly happen again.  What is in my power is to think even more before I make comments or write diaries.  What is in my power is to reduce the number of times I let myself be caught up in this behavior.  What is in my power is to control myself better.

Over the past year, I have felt the religious and spiritual aspects of my Jewishness increase.  My observance has somewhat increased and I have begun attending synagogue again.  That, however, is not the only aspect of Jewishness.  Many tend to view Jewishness as a purely religious issue.  It is not.  Jewish is an ethnicity.  Judaism is the religion.  As I stated on Erev Rosh Hashanah:
It is important to remember that my Jewish identity has two components.  One component is ethnic and related to my Jewish heritage, connecting me to a shared heritage with my fellow Jews spanning back to time immemorial.  The other component is how I practice the religion known as Judaism.  There are Jewish atheists out there.  There are Jewish agnostics out there.  There are people out there like me — Jewish people who practice the religion known as Judaism.
To those I have wronged, let me once again apologize.  To everyone, Gmar Hatima Tova.  May you and your loved ones be sealed for a good year.  May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.  May all of those fasting have an easy and meaningful fast.  May the days that follow these Days of Awe be good and sweet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Progressive Zionist FRY'D DAZE - Yom Kippur Edition

Welcome to the Progressive Zionist - Yom Kippur Edition of Fry'd Daze.

I am writing this early due to the fact that Yom Kippur starts later tomorrow night for me (I am on the West Coast of the U.S. and I don't plan on being on the computer for 24 hours once sundown hits. SO... without further ado, here we go.

Our first story is from Maan and Haaretz where it is being reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke and told the European Council:

Addressing the council's parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, Abbas appealed to Europe to support Palestine's bid for full UN membership, which is under review by a Security Council standing committee.

"Today we are at the heart of the Arab spring: we say that the hour of the Palestinian spring has struck," he told European parliamentarians.

"You supported the Arab spring which was seeking democracy and freedom," he said.

"Now the Palestinian spring has arrived, asking for freedom and an end to the (Israeli) occupation. We deserve your support."

Abbas further went on to say :

Abbas told the Europeans that Palestinians were not against negotiations, but they must take place in a more constructive environment, with greater clarity about the conditions, and with a freeze on Israeli settlement building on Palestinian lands.

"We don’t intend to isolate Israel or take its legitimacy but we want to gain our legitimacy and decide our future and our goals without occupation and settlements," the president said.

To that end Abbas is running counter to the Quartet proposal which is trying to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table but does not specifically end all Israeli settlement activity. Given that President Abbas is now traveling the world to get U.N. approval he seems to be wanting to build a State without having to actually talk to the Israelis.

On the other hand, Mr. Abbas has a point in that P.M. Netanyahu has made it clear that some/most of the settlement activities will continue in areas that Israel now claims for itself. Currently Abbas is looking for a settlement along the lines of the 1967 borders while Netanyahu at best is offering only about 50% of the West Bank in a combination of the Lieberman plan meets the Allon plan. So one can see his point if he thinks this is all worthless. I personally think he should talk to the Israelis but, I am can't honestly say at the same time that I wouldn't at least think about doing what he is doing.

Our next story is from Ynet where the paper is reporting the apprehension of the criminals who killed Asher Palmer and his 18 month old son Yonatan.

Two Palestinians from Halhul were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion they murdered Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan near Kiryat Arba last month. The two were arrested following an investigation involving the police, the Shin Bet and the IDF.

A gag order has been placed in the identities of the detainees and the details of the investigation.

During their interrogation, the suspects admitted to throwing the stone which caused the deaths of Asher and Yonatan. The stone was hurled from a driving car. Police are also looking into the possibility that the two are behind 17 other cases involving stones being hurled at Israeli vehicles.

Funeral of Asher and Yonatan Palmer (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)
Funeral of Asher and Yonatan Palmer (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)

Three other Palestinians were also arrested and confessed to taking Palmer's gun after the attack. Police have found and are in possession of the weapon.

All I can say is that I wish the Palmer family peace and hope that all of us would send condolences for this horrible tragedy.

Next we have a Haaretz piece on the Social Protest Movement in Israel and where do they go from here:

The organizers of this summer's social protests are busy planning their next steps, as they are far from satisfied by the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee on socioeconomic change. Stav Shafir, one of the tent camp protest organizers, is preparing a strike by students when the universities and colleges are scheduled to start their new academic year at the end of this month, immediately after the mass protest rally planned for October 29.

The social protest movement is now facing a turning point. The last remaining tent encampments in Tel Aviv were demolished at the beginning of the week and most of the protesters have gone home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to push the Trajtenberg committee's recommendations through his own cabinet on Monday - and has yet to provide the protesters with any concrete results. Netanyahu appointed the committee to provide answers to the protesters' demands, but the organizers have rejected the proposals, saying the recommendations may be correct in principle, but they will do little to make any major changes in policy, or in citizens' lives.....

.....A big student rebellion at the beginning of the school year is quietly being organized," wrote Shafir yesterday on her Facebook page. She said the strike would shut down the system and "return it to our hands," and asked for help from students.        

The plan is for the strike to start immediately after the mass rally scheduled for October 29. Shafir said she is looking brave students to volunteer to help organize the strike.

"Our demands, after two and a half months on the streets, have not been answered. We cannot return from the summer to our studies and work when our society is still falling apart - there is no public housing, nor proper employment, and no new social budget. So we are not returning until we receive what we deserve," Shafir said.

Given what is happening in America with the Occupy Wall Street movement this is particularly timely in it's newsworthyness. These young people are working for change in their country as people are working for change in ours. I recommend one reads up on both the U.S. and Israeli movements - it is interesting stuff.

Finally we have this from Carlo Strenger at Haaretz: An Open Letter to Mahmoud Abbas on Yom Kippur

Please just read this letter

You, Mr. Abbas, know that Israelis will never accept the right of return. This, for them, is a red line they will never cross. Today, the vast majority of Israelis were born here. In the last six decades, a vibrant culture has come into being here. They have nowhere to go – and they don’t want to go anywhere. This is their home, and they will fight for it without compromise.

This is not the just the view of people like Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, for whom, as you know, I have little sympathy. It is the view of Tzipi Livni, of Shaul Mofaz and Shelly Yechimovich. You need to realize that it is even the view of the three remaining MKs of Meretz, Israel’s party most committed to liberal values.

You are faced with a terrible dilemma, Mr. Abbas. Your legitimacy as leader of the Palestinian people seems to depend on not renouncing the right of return. Your success in establishing a state for your people depends on convincing Israelis that you accept Israel as the homeland of the Jews.

It will also help you gain support from EU countries, who would be more inclined to support your bid for UN recognition if it were connected to recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. You may remember that Spain, the country spearheading support for your UN bid, also just recognized Israel as a Jewish state – and you might take this as a lead for a fruitful line of action.

Mr. Abbas, I know that this proposal is very difficult for you to accept. I write to you on the eve of Yom Kippur, because my heart is weary and full of sorrow, because I see the two-state solution slipping away, and along with it the State of Israel as I had hoped to see it – and the State of Palestine that I believe your people deserves.

Let me wish you all G'mar Chatimah Tova... and please discuss.


I am a Jew. I am a Democrat. I support the President. Let me be counted.

My title is not sexy. I know that. It goes against the meme that the Republicans, and their willing accomplices in the mainstream media, are relentlessly trying to push — that Jews are abandoning the president, and the Democratic Party, in droves — that 2012 will be the year Republicans finally make significant inroads into the Jewish-American community. My title says it all. I am a Jew. I am a Democrat. I speak for the overwhelming majority of Jewish-Americans. Let us be heard. Let us be counted.

They like to point to NY-09, the special election to replace Anthony Weiner. They say it was all about Obama and Israel. Are there people for whom Israel is their most important issue and what they base their vote on? Sure. That makes them exactly like those who base their votes solely on abortion or marriage or guns — single-issue voters. Nothing more. Nothing less. Besides, one look at Orthodox Jewish blogs makes clear exactly what was driving many of their votes.

The late Tip O'Neill famously said that all politics is local. That's what happened here. It wasn't Obama or Israel that did in David Weprin. It was the fact that he voted for equality. He followed his conscience and voted for marriage equality. He didn't say that there should be a right to religious marriage equality. He simply said that all should be the same before the eyes of our civil law. Nothing more. Nothing less. For that, many turned on him. It wasn't Israel or Obama that did him in. It was voting for marriage equality. And, you know what? Even knowing all this ahead of time, I would still tell him to vote for it. Civil rights are non-negotiable.

What they all ignore is the fact that the overwhelming majority of Jews remain Democrats and among the most liberal groups in society. If society at large reflected Jewish opinion we would already have single-payer; we would have marriage equality; we wouldn't be looking to balance our budgets on the backs of the poor; we would never have gone to war in Iraq. Oh, and one more thing, the last Republican president would have been elected all the way back in 1920. Think about that for a second. No Richard Nixon in the White House. No Ronald Reagan in the White House. No George W. Bush in the White House.

So, why are we so liberal? Read the Tanach (Jewish Bible). That is where we get the idea that while we are individuals, we are part of a larger community. That is where we get the idea that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. That is where we get the idea of tzedakah — of justice — from; and that justice is really about everyone getting their fair share and the neediest amongst us being looked after. That is where we get the idea of Tikkun Olam — repairing the world through good acts — from. Look at these core Jewish values and you see the core values of liberalism.

It is for these reasons that we will not abandon the Democratic Party. Sure, many of us have our criticisms of President Obama's job performance -- and polling reflects that. It's just like many Democrats, our criticisms of the president come not from the right, but from the left. If anything, we believe the president should be more liberal. We believe he should be more forceful against the Republicans and take a harder line in negotiations with them. That is not the view of someone ready to vote for Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann or Mitt Romney.

Republicans; members of the mainstream media; heed these words: I am a Jew. I am a Democrat. I support the President. Hear my words. Let me be counted.


Just a quick note... in true Progressive fashion (not like the faux progressives that only support one issue and don't even support progressives there) we will be posting articles and photo diaries from the #Occupy Wall St. people.

This is truly a progressive movement with grassroots at it's base and it seeks economic and social justice for all Americans.

It is very similar to the Tent protests of the Israeli Summer in Tel-Aviv. So now along with I/P issues you will see a number of progressive themed articles appearing.

We are after all "Progressive Zionists" and being Progressive means supporting Progressive causes the world over, not just supporting the Jewish People's Legitimate Right to a homeland and self-governance.


...As the Chickens come home to Roost

It is a scientific axiom... for every action there is a reaction. In Israel this is proving to be the case, after months or years of promoting a settler agenda for the nation the right is seeing it's "chickens coming home to roost".

Last week we had a settler mob in Anatot beating on Leftist activists, vandalizing cars and a host of other violent activities.

Writing on Ynet: Yishai Rosen-Zvi talks about this in his editorial: Lynch the Leftists. In this article Rosen-Zvi had this to say:

.....Friday evening, at the end of Rosh Hashana, a lynching was carried out outside the settlement of Anatot. No less. View the videos online and see for yourselves. Fortunately, the incident ended with only 26 people wounded and several razed cars, with no fatalities. However, those exposed to the story via the media heard at most about “clashes” between leftist activists and settlers. Three people were held by police for questioning – leftists, of course.....

....“There are some guys who wish to come here and kick your ass,” “you dogs,” “you whores are sleeping with Arabs, “all the residents will come here,” “there will be death here.” What does it sound like? An angry mob marching with raised fists and yelling, with blazing eyes, “death to the Arabs.” A stone is hurled, a spike (knife?) is pulled out, people are lying on the road, bleeding; broken noses, shattered windows. What does it look like?

I saw the video on that and indeed it was a mob scene. As I mentioned in another place it is understandable that the people in Anatot were pissed off - here are people telling them they are "colonist land thieves", telling them they have to give up their homes to give to people who belong to a polity that wants them out of Israel completely. So I get that they are pissed. Not only that, but the people standing up for those that want to take away their homes, cleanse their families from Israel are fellow Jews and fellow Israelis. That is is even more maddening. HOWEVER.. That is simply no excuse for forming a lynch mob, verbally assaulting people, and beating them. That is no reason to contravene democratic norms. Moreover it is indicative of a horrible trend that is allowed and even encouraged that has seriously racist tinges to it.

The fact that people were attacked and bloodied in the manner of a good old mob attack all for speaking out for their political beliefs is disgusting and should be dealt with but it was not. It was simply pushed aside, not dealt with. In fact, it was the leftists who were questioned - even though it was the mob that used violence. Where as Jews, have we seen this before? We have seen this throughout our history. Except that the violence was perpetrated on us. No matter how obnoxious the activists were that is no reason to assault people.

But the government, a government that seems to be going out of its way to support the elements of the mob, a government that seems to be run increasingly by the outright rightists on the YESHA Council and by Yisrael Betainu seems to want to shut down criticism. Loyalty oaths, laws about directing speech and behavior aimed at leftists.. this is not characteristic of a democracy.

So now the chickens have come home to roost. From Haaretz: Dozens of settlers surround IDF patrol in West Bank and assault soldiers

The incident began after rumors circulated that the Gal Yosef illegal outpost is about to be evacuated. At approximately 9 P.M. the settlers erected roadblocks and blocked the entrance to the outpost with their cars.

settlers - AP - September 21 2011 Masked West Bank settlers, top, clashing with Palestinians in the village of Assira al-Kibliya yesterday.
Photo by: AP

An IDF patrol vehicle that arrived on the scene was blocked by settlers. The soldiers tried to turn back, but were stopped by more roadblocks.

The vehicle was then surrounded by a few dozen youth from nearby settlements. When the soldiers asked them to let the vehicle pass, one of the soldiers was punched in the face, prompting a violent clash between the two sides. Soldiers who were called to the scene were able to detain one of the attackers, but he managed to escape.

A senior IDF commander said that "the army sees this incident as crossing a red line, and the settlers who were involved in violence against the soldiers will be arrested soon by the police."
Officers serving in the West Bank have reported recently that tensions between security forces and settlers are on the rise. According to one senior office, "the security forces spend more time dealing with incidents involving Israeli citizens than confronting Palestinian terrorism."

So now this behavior is leading to attacks on the soldiers. The very people charged with defending the nation, these are the people that the Rightists are attacking.

Is this defending Israel? Is burning a Mosque in the Galilee making Israel safer? Is this something that the government really wants to encourage. We criticize this behaviour in Hamas and the P.A. We rightly criticize these organizations for their allowing the demonization of Israel. Well, if we do that then where is our criticism when our own side engages in this.

The "Red Line" has indeed been crossed, what is the government going to do about it. When mobs of settlers shouting racist slogans and beating on those who are not committing violence are not only left alone but encouraged, well then something needs to change. Now is this a call to support the Palestinians, no... Those of you who know me, know that I criticize their violence as well. It is a call for Israel to really take a hard look at what is happening and deal with those reactionary elements that bring out the worst of what should be a "light unto nations"


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shlomo Avineri "Drills one out of the Park"

In today's Haaretz, Columnist and Professor Shlomo Avineri hits a "Home Run" (a column that is so, so very right) when he says that there is No Realistic Chance at Permanent Middle East Peace.

I would quote this article in full but I believe I could run afoul of copyright infringement so I will simply print the following:

Even those, like myself, who believe that the settlements are a political and moral mistake, would be naive to believe that a democratic government can easily evacuate hundreds of thousands of settlers; that the Palestinians will give up the right of return; that a slogan like "Jerusalem, capital of two states" can resolve the tangle of problems involved in the city's status; or that the Palestinians - who do not believe the Jews are a nation - can accept the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews
We must change our approach and understand that there is now no chance of a permanent agreement. There is only one way forward, as in Cyprus, Kosovo and Bosnia: lacking a realistic chance of negotiations on a permanent status agreement, diplomatic efforts must be invested in alternative arrangements - interim agreements; confidence-building measures; unilateral (but mutually acceptable) steps; and continued pragmatic cooperation on the ground.

In political jargon, it is a transition from the failed attempt to attain a comprehensive solution to partial steps of conflict management with the final goal of "two states for two peoples" constituting the diplomatic horizon. The parties agree to an endgame on principle, but are aware of the difficulties in attaining it now.

Avineri is absolutely correct here. The Palestinian Polity is simply not ready for compromise as recent comments from President Abbas and Ambassador Areikat show, not too mention the lunatics in Hamas.

But that doesn't let the Israeli Government off the hook either. It's not like the Likud and their Righist buddies in the coalition are dealing in good faith either. Right now, neither side is at a place where they want to end the status quo, which is too bad because the status quo is toxic for both Israelis and Palestinians.

As Avineri says:

"....Pious talk of a final agreement in a year or two is no substitute for realistic policy which takes into account the serious state of affairs on the ground. Only those without unrealistic utopian illusions can promote both Palestinian and Israeli interests simultaneously and assist both peoples to emerge, very slowly over time, from the harsh grip of the conflict"

After having dealings with both One State anti-Zionists and Super Nationalist Zealots I can honestly say that Avineri nails this one. Neither of these two groups that dominate the blogosphere (and their reflected compatriots on the groun) seem to care one bit about the the other side and what is really at stake. By promoting this kind of myopia both sides can feel smugly comfortable but honestly contribute nothing towards a solulton except hard feelings.

Thank you Prof. Avineri for this great article

Progressive Except for Palestine: The Real Meaning

There comes a time when every movement needs to look within itself and face some ugly facets of it's being. Any ideology at some point creates problematic situations particularly as it grows in size and adherence. Look at the implementation of Communist ideology in Russia or China, look at what unbridled Capitalism brought to the United States in it's earlier "Robber Baron" era and what it's adherents are trying to do now.

Just as these two ideologies fail so does the ideology of "Progressivism" when it hits the ugly reality that is the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.

Yesterday on Daily Kos we got to see this first hand. In an article that rightfully criticized Israeli handling of an attack by settlers (some of whom were off duty police) on left wing activists, what I consider anti-Progressive elements moved into the article to claim the false equivalency of comparing the Israeli Government to the Nazi Regime of Germany from the thirties to the mid forties. In this story so called "progressives" (though they are hardly that) made or fully supported this analogy. Their only objection to this analogy was that it was "unhelpful" to the discussion and served as a distraction so that their message was muddied. However, they were more than happy to have someone who called the Israelis "Nazi's" continue to partake in their little discussion as long as this person didn't make the "unhelpful" comparison. Not only that but one of the leaders of this group made a Nazi analogy himself, he doubled down by supporting a comment saying that the current Israeli Government was equivalent to the German Government of WWII.

What was sad and disappointing here was that many so-called "progressives" and "human rights" activists not only turned a blind eye to this rhetoric but actively engaged in lying, and defamation to support their friends making those statements. Here are supposed progressives calling other progressives "Israel first trolls" and "pro-occupation users" all the while whistling in the air as one of the most offensive meme's imaginable passed by.

Only one person of these so-called "progressives" said anything about how wrong this was. Only one.

Now, aside from the obvious offensiveness of making comparisons between the genocidal Nazi regime and the Government of Israel, it takes an amazing leap of illogic to even make an allusion toward this. The Nazis brutally murderd millions of people (including 6 million Jews) in an attempt to eradicate the Jewish people from the planet. As I said yesterday in the article in question on Daily Kos:

Here is what the Nazi's did:

After systematically denying the humanity of entire ethnicities they took members of those ethnicities and tossed them into Concentration Camps (the lucky ones) were they were fed 850 calories per day and forced to do heavy slave labor. The unlucky people were shipped to DEATH CAMPS where they were systematically either worked to death, were starved to death or were gassed to death (or burned to death), where they then turned into lampshades, soap or other fine household items. Some were medically experimented on and then killed.

Both the "lucky" and "unlucky" victims of the Holocaust were shipped to these camps in Cattle Cars with little to no ventilation, no food, no water, no bathroom facilities and no place to sit for days on end....

Nothing, the Israeli government does resembles anything remotely even approaching this. Yet so-called "human rights activists" merely sat on their hands and allowed the demonization of Israel and it's supporters continue unabated.

Similarly "progressives" and "human rights" activists gladly will take assistance from the most vile anti-Semites (just take a look at the sewer that is to see what passes for progressive commentary) if they can help them in their cause. They happily suck up nonsense spewed by Paulbots (supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) who is the farthest thing from Progressive there is but they love him and all is forgiven due to his favoring of  U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East) or known bigot and lunatic Lyndon LaRouche. That "progressive website" they so love features such luminaries as Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmom, and Holocaust Revisionist Jeffrey Blankfort (it was the Zionists fault), amongst the usual neo-Nazi and racist cranks that populate that site. What is disappointing is that the progressives trying to get in front of this issue blindly turn away or make excuses for this all in the name of "the cause".

But enough on that, but these so-called "progressives" put their support into a Palestinian Polity that has absolutely ZERO progressive credentials. They support some mythical One State solution where Palestinians will happily protect Jewish rights all while ruling in a perfect democracy. Of course, the fact that the Palestinian and Arab polity has never exhibited anything remotely resembling this is besides the point. These "human rights" activists don't care. They are happy to overlook that the people they want to turn over the government too, have a law on their books stating that anyone selling land to Jews will face the Death Penalty. They overlook or try to excuse the Palestinian Authority President who said that the Occupation of Palestinian land had to end and then stated that the Occupation was from the founding of Israel. They overlook a PLO Ambassador that stated that Jews and Palestinians could not live together and that any Jew living in Israel since the Occupation started would not be allowed to stay. Somehow that gets ignored.

Then these so-called "progressives" miss or make excuses for the other part of the Palestinian polity that is made up of religious quasi fascists that suppress their people with impunity and carry out acts of terror. But none of this matters. I constantly ask these so-called human rights activists what is it about the Palestinian Polity that is Progressive. Generally they cannot name anything. But they don't care because really being progressive is not on their agenda. They may talk about some mythical One State Solution that has the support of one. Well no one outside of a small group of Utopians. Well, that or simply a Palestinian State where Israel ceases to exist.

So where is the Progressivism here?

Now on the Israeli side, true progressives speak up against the growing nationalistic sentiment that is changing the very democratic character of the State. True progressives speak up for Social and Economic justice in the Israeli polity. While the demands of the "tent protests" were not as coherent as they could be, they spoke to a frustration that the average Israeli feels (just look at the support levels throughout the country for the protests) with neo-conservative destructive economic policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cronies.

As to social justice, not only does a true progressive ask for social justice for Israelis but also for Palestinians that live in Israel and in the Occupied Territories. This does not mean that one supports the Palestinian bid to end Israel and true progressives recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish people to self-governance. But it does mean that minorities within Israel need to be treated as full citizens with full civil rights.Whether or not the Arab/Palestinian side supports this doesn't matter, it is what we do for ourselves that does matter. It is how we define ourselves within the Zionist framework

For the Occupation.... a true progressive works for a Two State solution where both the Palestinian and Jewish people have safe and secure nations based on historical precedent and current realities. I believe a true progressive stands against increased settlements and the continued encroachment on land that really should be Palestinian Land or that realistically will be Palestinian land come any "reasonable" Two State Solution. I think a true progressive does not do this because it empowers Palestinians, only they can do that for themselves. I believe a true progressive does that because of a moral sense that promotes the legitimate self governance of the Palestinian people. It comes from a stance that we should ask for others what we ask for ourselves.

Again, however all of this has to be done in a way that fosters real progressive ideas such as gender equality, protection of LGBT people, freedom of religion, press, and speech . It can't just support some vague Utopian idea that will have no progressive outcomes whatsoever.

Anyway, that is what I am discovering about progressivism and P.E.P. which is very much in evidence though not in the way most people mean it. The real progressive supports both peoples legitimate rights to self governance and respects the full rights of all people involved. The real progressive does not turn away from the racism and hatefulness that pervades one side or the other just for political expediency.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SYRIA Threatens Regional War

Though it is not talked about much, what is turning into a Civil War in Syria is now threatening to become a regional conflict.

Today.. Bashar Assad the brutal Syrian Dictator that threatened Israel and the United States were it to be attacked by anyone (not necessarily Israel or the U.S.) seeking to end the slaughter and repression that the dictatorship is currently engaged in regarding it's citizens.

According to the Israeli Daily Haaretz Online, Assad: Syria will shower Tel Aviv with rockets if attacked by foreign powers
During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Assad was quoted by the Iranian semi-official news agency Fars as saying that Syria would not hesitate to strike major Israeli cities if it was attacked.
"If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than 6 hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv," Assad said.
In addition, Fars reported indicated that the Syrian president told the Turkish FM that he would also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a rocket attack on Israel, adding: "All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. and European interests will be targeted simultaneously."
Now as Haaretz indicated this comes on the heels of comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan regarding sanctions against the Assad regime, and at a time when Turkish troops are mobilized for an "exercise" in South Eastern Turkey. The manuvers in Hatay involve the 39th mechanized infantry brigade and 730 reserve soldiers. The 39th is part of the Turkish Second Army VI Corps
Anyhow, there are also many Syrian refugees (approx. 7000 in Hatay one of whom is the Highest ranking Syrian Military Defector; Colonel Riad Asaad:
Colonel Riad al-Asaad told Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency he had been the target of a Syrian military crackdown in the Rastan region near the city of Homs, but had escaped.
"We live in a safe place in Turkey," he said, thanking the Turkish government for giving him refuge. Anatolian's report was datelined Hatay in southern Turkey, where 7,000 Syrians have fled to escape Assad's crackdown on protesters.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has predicted the Syrian people will "sooner or later" overthrow Assad, his former friend, said he would unveil plans for sanctions against Syria after he visits Syrian refugees in Hatay in the next few days.
Turkey also announced a nine-day military exercise in Hatay, a territory long claimed by Syria, starting on Wednesday.
So given Turkey's commentary (which is making Syria nervous), rather than go after the people threatening him, Assad wants to attack a civilian target Tel Aviv (which he says his forces and Hizbollah forces can do within six hours of an attack on him) AND with his allies Hizbollah and Iran want to attack not only American shipping but other Israeli civilian targets as well. Great.

One question one might also ask is what role Hamas would play here? It's political leadership is headquartered in Damascus and despite reported difficulties between Khalid Meshaal and the Assad regime Hamas is still ensconsed in Damascus. Just today Gaza militants attacked an IDF convoy but there were no casualties.

I think the main question then becomes, if Syria and it's allies (Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran) try to ignite a regional war with the U.S. and Israel what do other countries do? I mean attacking Tel Aviv would not be an unpopular move in the MENA region BUT, would it be welcome enough to save the brutal Assad regime? Israel, off course would then fight back. At this point would Assad be able to position himself as a great defender of regional pride, or would people see through this obvious ruse and do the right thing (condemning Syria for this and standing against Iran's regional ambitions)?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Flickers of Hope

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

In our darkest hours, humanity always looks to the future — the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel — to keep us going. That hope, oftentimes, seems impossibly out of reach, and yet, despite that, we persevere. That light allows us to build up the courage necessary to cross that dark path and emerge at the end. We need this hope when times seem the worst and there is absolutely no end in sight. Sometimes, this hope is found in the most unexpected of places.

There is a sense among many that the conflict between Jew and Arab in the Middle East has reached a new dark hour. The Israeli and Palestinian governments are digging in their heels and refusing to budge. As Israel builds in the settlements, the Palestinians refuse offers from the Quartet to facilitate a return to negotiations. Just today, a mosque in Israel was set ablaze in what Israeli officials said was an act of price-tag terrorism by Jewish right-wing extremists.

Despite all this flickers of hope are emerging through the darkness. Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, and her chief rabbis, are all visiting the mosque to show their solidarity. Israel’s political leaders, both government and opposition, are making clear this behavior has no place in Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has accepted the proposal put forth by the Quartet (U.N., E.U., U.S., Russia) to resume long-stalled negotiations and achieve a permanent settlement in the nearly century-old conflict.

None of this means that peace is just around the corner. It was, after all, Israelis who set that mosque on fire. That behavior does not come out of thin air. The Palestinians still refuse to return to the negotiating table. When they say that Israel’s current government is not interested in reaching a permanent peace agreement, those arguments have great merit while Israel continues expanding her settlements. And those that argue the same of the Palestinians are not lacking in merit either so long as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks of 63 years of occupation , intimating that Israel itself, and not merely the lands captured in 1967, is the occupation.

The situation in the Middle East is still extremely complicated and the mood is still dark. There is a long way to go before the situation emerges from that darkness into the light. No reasonable person can deny that. Despite all that, our hope is not yet lost to the darkness. We still have those tiny embers that penetrate the darkness. We must give them fuel — we must allow them to grow — and soon, they will become a blinding, and beautiful, light.

Optimism, even when flying in the face of all reason, is part of the human condition. It is what makes us what we are. Despite all the darkness, I still have my hope for that very reason. The little flickers I write about do not create that hope — they merely fortify it.