Goodbye, settlement roads! 
Posted: 09 May 2010 10:20 AM PDT

You have to watch this: fabulous Elton John parody-medley done by John Greyson, the Canadian filmmaker who touched off the Toronto explosion last fall, calling on Elton John to cancel his June 17 Tel Aviv gig. Check out the last ten seconds that dream about Palestinian freedom, beautiful.

Israel doesn’t get it yet–but they sure are hearing 
Posted: 09 May 2010 08:46 AM PDT

Daniel Gordis of the Shalem Center has a piece in the Jerusalem Post, wringing his hands over the protests against fellow aliyah-shapeshifter-Michael Oren appearing at the Brandeis graduation. It used to be that our side did all the handwringing! No more. Inter alia, Gordis shows that he recognizes the real trends that are working against blind Diaspora support for Israel. I’m cutting all the flubber in the excerpt:

For many young American Jews, the only association they have with Israel is the conflict with the Palestinians. Israel is the country that oppresses Palestinians, and nothing more.
No longer is Israel the country that managed to forge a future for the Jewish people when it was left in tatters after the Holocaust. Israel is not, in their minds, the country that gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from North Africa when they had nowhere else to go, granting them all citizenship…
For many young American Jews, it is only the country of roadblocks and genocide, of a relentless war waged against the Palestinians for no apparent reason….
Jeremy Sherer, president of the Brandeis J Street U Chapter, wrote to [the school paper] The Justice, “I am… bothered [by the invitation to Oren] because I disagree with his politics.” That’s what education is now producing – people who want to hear only those with whom they agree? “I’m not exactly thrilled,” Sherer wrote, “that a representative of the current right-wing Israeli government will be delivering the keynote address at my commencement.”
…The president of the Brandeis J Street U Chapter, who writes that he’s of “Israeli heritage” (whatever that means), did not see fit to say a single positive word about Israel. Not one. One wonders what the “pro-Israel” part of J-Street’s “pro-Israel, pro-Peace” tag line means to Sherer….
Ironically, though, some of the attempts to defend the invitation to Oren were no less distressing. A student representative to the Board of Trustees writes in a disappointingly anemic piece to the The Justice that Oren “is being invited for his academic achievements, not his political ones,” and then launches into a recitation of Oren’s many academic accomplishments.
Here, too, however, not a single positive word about Israel… That sort of pride appears nowhere in The Justice’s editorial, the J-Street representative’s piece or the op-ed defending the invitation. For too many American Jewish undergraduates, it’s simply no longer part of their vocabulary.

If the lobby wants to save ‘the Zionist dream,’ it needs Mearsheimer and the realists 
Posted: 09 May 2010 07:50 AM PDT

I once did a post showing how John Mearsheimer used to be published in the New York Times all the time before he made the mistake of opposing the Iraq war. Of course better things were yet to come, the Israel lobby, and Mearsheimer became a nonperson. But look, the Chicago Tribune has picked up last week’s Palestine Center lecture, and published a piece in which John Mearsheimer makes a logical argument we rarely hear in the mainstream, Israel has killed the two-state solution and is thereby delegitimizing the Jewish state.
Mearsheimer demonstrates here that he is a two-state guy, which is why I’ve always wondered why J Street doesn’t try and make common cause with him. That would be a powerful coalition. The problem is that the Jewish leadership simply does not wish to empower non-Jewish critics of Israel. Mearsheimer:

The two-state solution is the best of these alternatives, but most Israelis are opposed to making the sacrifices that would be necessary to create a viable Palestinian state. There are about 480,000 settlers in the occupied territories and an extensive infrastructure of connector and bypass roads, not to mention the settlements themselves….Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to expanding the settlements throughout the occupied territories.
Of course, there are prominent Israelis like former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who do favor a two-state solution. But that does not mean that they would be willing or able to make the concessions necessary to create a legitimate Palestinian state. Olmert did not do so when he was prime minister, and it is unlikely that he or Livni could get enough of their fellow citizens to back a genuine two-state solution.
The political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right over the past decade, and there is no sizable pro-peace political party or movement they could turn to for help.
Some advocates of a two-state solution believe the Obama administration can compel Israel to accept a two-state outcome. The United States, after all, is the most powerful country in the world and should have great leverage over Israel, because it gives the Jewish state so much diplomatic and material support.
But no American president can pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. The main reason is the Israel lobby, a powerful coalition of American Jews and Christian evangelicals that has a profound influence on U.S. Middle East policy. Alan Dershowitz was spot on when he said, “My generation of Jews … became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fundraising effort in the history of democracy.”
Consider that every American president since 1967 has opposed settlement building, yet none has been able to get Israel to stop building them. There is little evidence that Obama is different from his predecessors. Shortly after taking office, he demanded that Israel stop all settlement building in the occupied territories. Netanyahu refused and Obama caved in to him…
Olmert said that if the two-state solution collapses, Israel will face a “South African-style struggle.” He went so far as to argue, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”
Olmert is correct. A Jewish apartheid state is not sustainable over the long term. The discrimination and repression that underpin apartheid are antithetical to core Western values. How could anyone make a moral case for it in the United States, where democracy is venerated and segregation and racism are routinely condemned?
It is equally hard to imagine the United States having a “special relationship” with an apartheid state. It is much easier to imagine Americans strongly opposing that racist state’s political system and working hard to change it. An apartheid Israel would also be a strategic liability for the United States.
This is why, in the end, Greater Israel will become a democratic binational state, whose politics will be dominated by its Palestinian citizens. This will mean the end of the Zionist dream.
What is truly remarkable about this situation is that the lobby is effectively helping Israel destroy its own future as a Jewish state. On top of that, there is an alternative outcome that would be relatively easy to achieve and is clearly in Israel’s best interests: the two-state solution. It is hard to understand why Israel and its American supporters are not working overtime to create a viable Palestinian state and why instead they are moving full-speed ahead to build an apartheid state. It makes no sense from either a moral or a strategic perspective.

Harold Bloom says at least half the countries do worse things than Israel 
Posted: 09 May 2010 07:23 AM PDT

These times demand the Times! The NYT Book Review devotes many many pages to anti-semitism today, including this penny dreadful by Harold Bloom reviewing Trials of the Diaspora, a History of Anti-Semitism in England, by Anthony Julius:

[Julius] is a truth-teller, and authentic enough to stand against the English literary and academic establishment, which essentially opposes the right of the state of Israel to exist, while indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
Endless boycotts of Israel are urged by this establishment, and might yet have produced a counter­boycott of British universities by many American academics, whether Jewish or not. However, under British law the projected boycotts may be illegal. The fierce relevance of Julius’s book is provoked by this currently prevalent anti-Semitism…
To protest the policies of the Israeli government actually can be regarded as true philo-Semitism, but to disallow the existence of the Jewish state is another matter. Of the nearly 200 recognized nation-states in the world today, something like at least half are more reprehensible than even the worst aspects of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. A curious blindness informs the shifting standards of current English anti-Zionism.
I admire Julius for the level tone with which he discusses this sanctimonious intelligentsia, who really will not rest until Israel is destroyed.
I end by wondering at the extraordinary moral strength of Anthony Julius. He concludes by observing: “Anti-Semitism is a sewer.” As he has shown, the genteel and self-righteous “new anti-Semitism” of so many English academic and literary contemporaries emanates from that immemorial stench.

Oh anti-Semitism is so important that the Times devotes four pieces to it, including this review by Francine Prose of the works and life of a fourth-rate author, Irene Nemirovsky, who did not come to terms with her own anti-Semitism (that we know of, anyway; a little grace) before she died in Auschwitz. If she’s so bad, why is the Times giving her space?

I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than the Israeli ambassador to the UN 
Posted: 09 May 2010 07:10 AM PDT

My headline is a steal of the old W.C. Fields line, I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than the mayor of Philadelphia. Oh I wish I had written this piece; here is a satire of the fact that the Israel braintrust wanted to hire Dershowitz to represent them at the UN, written by Meir Shalev, and picked up by Coteret:

As a criminal attorney Dershowitz is remembered as the defense lawyer for boxer Mike Tyson and former football player O. J. Simpson. It is hard to avoid the thought that not merely his views, but also his two trials and defendants indicate his ability to represent Israel as well…

Alan Dershowitz is not the first talented Jew summoned from the diaspora to save Israel. Already back in Biblical times, the Jewish-Persian Jew Nehemiah immigrated to Israel to run the matter of building the wall of Jerusalem, something that the poor Jews in the Land of Israel were unable to do on their own.
In the modern era too, there are examples, beginning with lobbyists and envoys like Elie Wiesel and Ron Lauder, to military men like Col. David Marcus who was recruited in the US during the War of Independence. …
Like Einstein at the time, Dershowitz also refused the offer. I understand him completely but hope that his refusal will not stop Netanyahu and Lieberman from continuing the trend of asking capable Jews of stature to move to Israel to fill positions — a welcome trend… My suggestion is that Lieberman ask Dershowitz to be Israel’s foreign minister and that Netanyahu ask him to be prime minister in his place.
But on second thought — for these two positions you don’t need stars of the magnitude of Dershowitz. There are enough Jewish grocery store owners, teachers, doctors, engineers and cab drivers in the diaspora, and many of them would be a better prime minister and foreign minister than the two currently serving in the Israeli government.

Sheldon tries to monopolize the conversation 
Posted: 08 May 2010 03:22 PM PDT

My Gaza talk Thursday night was in the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, with 30-40 people. Some in the audience had been to Gaza in the late 90’s and also to the West Bank. They were better informed about issue than other venues. Questions began even before  the talk did; they continued to flow through out my presentation.
Once again “Why is Israel doing this?”– asked when I was talking about students not getting out to pursue scholarships.

When talking about Israel’s blockade of imports, a gentleman in the back says, “Israel is providing them a balanced diet.”
I responded that many items essentials for Gazan cooking–chick peas, rice, etc– were on the list of non-essential goods. Until recently, shoes, clothes, paper, pens, pencils, school supplies were deemed non-essential. Israel decides what may or may not be     imported. No input from Gazans, list changes without notice.
“Gentleman” in back brings up “fact” that food approved by Israel provides a balanced diet for Gazans.
I responded: “There are extremely high numbers children, pregnant women and others suffering from malnutrition and numbers continue to rise. The only explanation is the diet, which Israel controls. Israel knowingly or unknowingly is creating malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. 
The audience was very upset about white phosphorus, Farah Abu Halima’s case, and the deaths in her family. The audience was also concerned about pictures from the Qattan Center for the Child’s art therapy program. “What is being done to help these poor children?”
I answered with information about the children’s centers and mental health organizations. I then went into bombing of facilities, hospitals, schools, etc, the deliberate destruction of infastructure. 
My next slide was the American International School in Gaza. I talked about our taxes paying for the school and it how surprising it was to me that Israel would destroy it because we are their best friends in the middle east.
Here comes the best part.
The “gentleman” in the back says what a nice presentation I’d made but there were facts I had not included. Out comes a paper, which he began to read from. It started with 1948: how poor Israel has suffered to protect themselves ever since their country was founded. He didn’t say the Holocaust but talked about tragedy and suffering, Then he started in on the Palestinians, who have been hostile since the beginning and dangerous, trying to destroy Israel and kill Israelis.
We then moved on to the horrible, horrible rockets, thousands of them. I asked “are you aware these rockets are crude?… These are rockets…not missiles, they go up and come down, they can’t be directed at a specific target.”
Gentleman: “Well they’ve have shot thousands and thousands of them, the people are terrified.”
Me: “The people in Gaza are also terrified by Israel’s actions…Just last week I heard an Israeli offical comment that  Israeli children should not have to run to bomb shelters and are afraid.. Gazan children are terricfrd by Israel’s soldiers, tanks, drones, helicopters which appear almost on a daily basis. I agree with you that children should not be under these conditions, in fact no one should. You mentioned bomb shelters…the children in Gaza have no bomb shelters to run to for protection..” 
Shortly after this encounter, someone in the audience turned to the “gentleman” and said, “Sheldon, your time is up, you’re manopolizing the conversation.”
They began a rather heated exchange.
I interrupted saying, “Sir I believe in respecting people and their opinions. I am having a difficult time respecting yours. Ten years ago I  would have sounded much like you, though certainly not as strongly.”
The audience laughed.
“I was supportive of Israel and believed everything they said. Then I heard about the wall and little red flags jumped up. I visited the West Bank and saw how Israel suppresses and abuses the Palestinians. My opinion of Israel changed. After seeing Gaza I’m doing all I can to telll others what I ‘ve seen, heard and experienced.”
No response from the gentleman Sheldon.


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