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David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon's work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and elsewhere, and his memoir, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (September, 2013).

White House Publicly Breaking with Israel on … Palestine


by: on November 12th, 2013 | 9 Comments »

Much has been written in the past week on Israel’s fiery condemnation of nuclear talks in Geneva between Iran and several world powers, including the United States. Notably, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vociferous opposition to talks championed by John Kerry.

Many have focused upon the moment when Netanyahu claimed that Iran was getting “the deal of the century” from America, to which Kerry publicly and testily countered that “the time to oppose [a deal with Iran] is when you see what it is, not to oppose the effort to find out what is possible.

However, while this rift over Iran between Israel and the Obama administration caught headlines, a significant, and possibly historic, break between Israel and the U.S. over Middle East peace was occurring as well.

On Thursday, in a rare joint interview on both Israeli and Palestinian television, Kerry made clear in ways this administration has never done just how frustrated Washington is with Israel’s settlement expansion and overall investment in peace:

How, if you say you’re working for peace and you want peace, and a Palestine that is a whole Palestine that belongs to the people who live there, how can you say we’re planning to build in a place that will eventually be Palestine? So it sends a message that perhaps you’re not really serious.


Israel to Raze Palestinian Village (within Israel) & Displace its Citizens to Build ‘Jewish’ Towns


by: on November 10th, 2013 | 16 Comments »

On Sunday, the Israeli government decided that it would raze the Bedouin-Palestinian village of Umm al-Hiran – and displace those Israeli citizens living within the village – to make room for Jewish, national-religious developments.

As Noam Sheizaf at +972 reported, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet met not in Jerusalem at the Knesset to make this decision, as per normal. Rather, they met Sde Boker, the kibbutz where Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is buried.

Why did they meet in this symbolic location? Simple: the Negev desert, where those Bedouin villages to be razed are situated, was considered by Ben-Gurion as “Zionism’s final frontier.”

Israel’s justification for razing the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran is that, in its 57-year existence, the village never received ‘official’ zoning approval. However, as Sheizaf writes, this is due to Israel’s unwillingness to grant official approval to the village, despite ordering the villagers to live in Umm al-Hiran in 1956:

[Umm al-Hiran] residents are originally from the western part of the Negev (Palestinians call the same desert Naqab); they were expelled eastward by the IDF following the 1948 war, and a kibbutz called Shoval was built on their land. After several years of moving from site to site, the army finally told those members of the Al-Qia’an tribe to build their homes in Umm al-Hiran and Atir, and so they did in 1956. Here is the army’s order (via Adala). It is marked “confidential.”

Despite the fact that it was the state who told the Al-Qia’an tribe where to move, the new villages were never made part of a zoning plan, and their residents still lack basic infrastructure like water and electricity. The government is finally deciding to build a proper settlement there – but not for the Palestinian Bedouin (who are citizens of Israel, some of whom even served in the IDF).


For the First Time, Prosecutor Being Jailed for Withholding Evidence in Conviction of Innocent Man


by: on November 9th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Allow me to begin with a personal anecdote: I’m not a religious man. However, I do teach Jewish texts to middle school students, and this week we happened to critically analyze the 10 Commandments. These students, who understand that significant portions of America’s legal code are influenced by Judeo-Christian ethical principles, were particularly enamored by one of the commandments:

Don’t bear false witness (in a court of law) against your neighbor.
לֹא תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר

Why, they asked, is this so important? How does this have the stature of, say, don’t murder or don’t steal?

The collective answer to which we arrived: because falsely bringing evidence, or withholding evidence, against someone in a trial that leads to his or her conviction is akin to stealing and murder. In essence, their life is being taken from them, the years stolen, their potential killed.

Given the severity of such an action, it has always been unconscionable that in this country, those judges and prosecutors who have willingly participated in the wrongful conviction of innocent Americans have rarely been punished, and have never been jailed, for their actions.

Yesterday, for the first time, that changed:

Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.

In today’s deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench.


Israel Furious with White House for Leaking Syria Strike, Calling it “Scandalous” Behavior for an Ally


by: on November 2nd, 2013 | 20 Comments »

Israeli officials are apoplectic after the Obama administration confirmed that the IDF struck a Syrian military base this week.

Israel, which had refused to comment on the strike, is fuming behind the scenes and accusing the U.S. – which gives Israel $3 billion in funding annually – of not behaving like a proper ally:

Israel’s Channel 10 TV on Friday night quoted Israeli officials branding the American leak as “scandalous.” For Israel’s ally to be acting in this way was “unthinkable,” the officials were quoted as saying.

This ‘leaked’ anger from officials within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is quite rich. After all, the Netanyahu government – which receives more U.S. aid than any other government in the world – routinely embarrasses the United States, despite all the financial and military support it receives from their American allies.


How I Inspired the NY Post to Embrace Israel’s Destruction


by: on October 24th, 2013 | 36 Comments »

Ahead of my book event tonight at Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim, the New York Post named my book – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried To Kill Your Wife? – as a “Must-Read.”

The book in question chronicles my reconciliation with the Palestinian family of the bomber who perpetrated the 2002 Hebrew University attack – an attack which injured my wife and killed the two friends with whom she was sitting.

Clearly, my book is a work aimed at promoting the destruction of Israel. Clearly, it’s an anti-Semitic manifesto with one goal: the downfall of the Jewish state. After all, what else could a book about peace and reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians be trying to do, other than promote anti-Semitism?

Which is why a writer for the Times of Israel, upon the NY Post naming my book a ‘must-read,’ asked the following question:

Is the New York Post Supporting the End of Israel?


My Life with a Pink Water Bottle


by: on October 19th, 2013 | 7 Comments »

I used to wake up early on Sunday mornings to play pickup basketball with a group of 30-something men in Pittsburgh. This ‘over-thirty’ game comprised a collection of largely successful men still young enough to move without creaking, but old enough to show up to a gym knowing teenage phenoms and college-age athletes were not welcome.

For months, as a 39-year-old, short Jewish guy, nothing about me really stood out. That is, until I brought my wife’s pink water bottle after misplacing my own. Suddenly, I was noticed.

Taking a swig before our first game, one guy sarcastically said, “Nice bottle,” while lacing up his neon-green Nikes. It was the first word he’d ever spoken to me. I wasn’t amused.

“Where’d you get that thing?” asked another man as teams were being chosen, tipped off by the sudden conversation.

“At the store,” I replied, surprised by such clear and overt machismo in response to nothing more than a color from this group of 30-something business men.

When, after several games, a third man during a break in the action said, “You need to get rid of that thing,” I knew that I would not be returning to play with these guys.


American Jews Are Becoming Increasingly Critical of Israel & Its Settlement Enterprise


by: on October 15th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

According to a Pew survey, American Jews are becoming increasingly critical of Israel, with nearly 50 percent no longer believing that its leaders are sincerely interested in making peace with Palestinians.

The Pew survey’s findings are particularly significant when one considers what Peter Beinart calls the “American Jewish cocoon.” Within many segments of the American Jewish community, honest looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are not normative in synagogues or Jewish institutions, and a majority of Jewish leaders tend toward reflexively supporting Israeli policies (such as settlements and the occupation) which are both self-destructive and hurtful to Palestinians.

However, the views of American Jews at large are straying from the institutional norms, particularly, and perhaps most significantly, the 18-29 set.


President Obama: Thank You for Meeting with Malala. Now Please – Please – Heed Her Message.


by: on October 12th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

(Credit: Creative Commons)

Yesterday, President Obama invited Malala Yousafzai to the White House, where he, Michelle and Malia embraced her and thanked Malala for her courageous activism in Pakistan.

The teenager, who miraculously survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban and has since become a fierce advocate on behalf of women’s education in Pakistan, has been spreading her message of nonviolence and peace throughout America – a message that left Jon Stewart speechless.

During that interview, Stewart asked Malala what her thoughts were when she realized that the Taliban wanted her dead due to public critiques of the Taliban’s suppression of women’s rights. This was her remarkable answer:

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, “If he comes, what would you do Malala?” Then I would reply to myself, “Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.” But then I said, “If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.”

Then I said, “I will tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well.” And I will tell him, “That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

She brought that message to the White House yesterday, and my hope is that President Obama did more than just thank Malala for her bravery. My hope is that he truly internalized her message as well.


Obama’s Correct: “The occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish State.”


by: on September 24th, 2013 | 22 Comments »

At President Obama’s United Nations General Assembly address today, much attention was paid to his overtures toward Iran. However, his pointed comments directed toward Israel – which placed resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on equal footing with Iran – were just as significant.

Obama made this equal footing clear from a foreign policy perspective when he said:

In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab- Israeli conflict.

When Obama came to the topic of Israel and Palestine, he first affirmed both peoples’ right to exist in secure, self-determining states. Then, he turned the speech personal:

Earlier this year, in Jerusalem, I was inspired by young Israelis who stood up for the belief that peace was necessary, just and possible. And I believe there’s a growing recognition within Israel that the occupation of the West Bank is tearing at the democratic fabric of the Jewish state.


On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with young Palestinians in Ramallah, whose ambition and incredible potential are matched by the pain they feel and having no firm place in the community of nations.

They are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and they’re frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation. But they, too, recognize that two states is the only real path to peace. Because just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the state of Israel is here to stay.


NYT Profile of Employed & Homeless New Yorkers Is a Warning for America


by: on September 22nd, 2013 | Comments Off

Michael Bloomberg’s legacy was written this week by Mireya Navarro of The New York Times. Her painful profile of New York City residents who are both employed (some with multiple jobs) and living in homeless shelters revealed the narrative, human costs of the nation’s worst income inequality gap.

Navarro begins her piece with a heartbreaking snapshot of this human toll:

On many days, Alpha Manzueta gets off from one job at 7 a.m., only to start her second at noon. In between she goes to a place she’s called home for the last three years – a homeless shelter.

“I feel stuck,” said Ms. Manzueta, 37, who has a 2 ½-year-old daughter and who, on a recent Wednesday, looked crisp in her security guard uniform, waving traffic away from the curb at Kennedy International Airport. “You try, you try and you try and you’re getting nowhere. I’m still in the shelter.”

You try, you try and you try and you’re getting nowhere. This could very easily encapsulate the American economic experience for a majority of U.S. citizens. And not just during the last ten years.