by: Ruth Broyde Sharone on May 22nd, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Interfaith dialogue between people of widely divergent faiths is challenging enough, but the tougher assignment is encountering a member of your own religion with whom you profoundly disagree. When that happens, knowing you share a common faith and tradition offers little if your vastly divergent beliefs appear irreconcilable. Perhaps you are secretly wondering if both of you are from the same planet. That is the precise moment – if you have experience as an interfaith activist – that you will want to apply the wisdom you have learned from encounters with people of other religions to deal with the real and present differences of someone from your own faith.
In some cases, you might be facing a member of your own family, making the situation more potentially explosive; even when the religious conflict retreats or is temporarily shelved, the personal relationship you have with that person is bound to be affected. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives have sometimes parted company for a lifetime because they could not find a way to reconcile their religious or political differences. Whether religious or political though, it is this clash in belief systems that we need to surmount.
Yesterday, an Israeli man indiscriminately killed four people at a local bank before shooting himself, shocking a nation not used to such lone gunman incidents.
One day later, government officials responded by enacting tighter gun control measures:
One day after a Be’er Sheva man shot dead four people in a local bank before turning his gun on himself, the Public Security Ministry on Sunday announced new rules to limit the number of guns in circulation. School security guards will have to turn in their weapons, which guarding firms will reissue at the start of the new school year. Licensed gun owners will have to store their weapon in a safe at home. Security companies must obtain special exemptions from being required to store a weapon when its bearer is off duty, only one gun license will be issued to any single individual and anyone applying to renew a gun license must show why they need a weapon.
In addition, a panel will be appointed to consider administering mental and physical examinations to license applicants.
I would not have expected to be so pleased by Professor Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott a major conference in Jerusalem in solidarity with the Palestinians. But I was.
I say that because I do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Or to be precise I do not support it as applied to Israel itself in contrast to the occupation. I have strongly backed the efforts (most notably by church groups and specifically by the Presbyterians) to divest from corporations that sell Israel the equipment needed to maintain the occupation. I also support the multidenominational effort to link U.S. aid to Israel to its ending the occupation.
But I personally have drawn the line on boycotting Israel itself. Since I support the existence and security of Israel within the 1967 lines, I am not comfortable with actions that punish the Israeli people at large. I don’t think Israel is South Africa. Like President Jimmy Carter, I limit my use of the label “apartheid” to the occupied areas. I do not view Israel as an “apartheid state.”
by: William K. Barth on May 17th, 2013 | 26 Comments »
If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.
- Ehud Olmert, former prime minister of Israel
While international attention has shifted to the war in Syria, little media focus is given to the recent successful initiative at Blair House in Washington, D.C., between Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani on behalf of Arab League states. Sheikh Hamad agreed with Secretary Kerry to endorse the American backed proposal for a two-state solution that partitions Israel in order to create a new Palestinian state. As Arab state representatives retreated from their prior demands that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, the Arab League initiative represents progress toward a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Graffiti marks the wall dividing the Palestinian city of Bethlehem from Israelis in the West Bank. Credit: Creative Commons/Montecruz Foto.
Currently, Israelis and Palestinians live interspersed together within non-contiguous borders. However, the problem with partition is that it divides the population based upon ethnic, racial, religious, or linguistic characteristics. Partition actions use types of profiling to assign people to states based upon their human characteristics. The use of profiling contradicts human rights because equal treatment requires that people be recognized as individuals irrespective of their ethnic, racial or religious identity. So, Israelis and Palestinians must reject obnoxious forms of human profiling should they agree on a partition plan. This poses a particular challenge for Israel because it is the homeland of the Jewish peoples who are themselves a persecuted religious group.
by: Andrew Lam on May 17th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
(Cross-posted from New America Media)
Self-immolation isn’t what it used to be.
This ultimate form of protest became global news in 1963 when the venerable monk Thich Quang Duc set himself ablaze in the middle of Saigon, Vietnam, protesting religious oppression. Doused in gasoline, the monk sat serenely in lotus position and lit a match. A bird of paradise thus blossomed and bloomed, and quickly charred his body.
The photographer Malcolm Browne captured Thich Quang Duc’s fiery renouncement of the mortal coil, the image quickly becoming an icon of the Vietnam War era. The term “self-immolation,” in fact, entered into common English usage after his death, which led to a coup d’etat that toppled the pro-Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Alan Stahler on KVMR Radio about why I engaged in nonviolent direct action and was arrested at Beale last October. (You can listen to the Podcast below.) In the interview, Alan said, “Using drones must save American lives. What’s your objection to them?” My initial answer: “It may be that using drones save American lives, but there has to be a different way.”
The U.S. Drone Warfare Program is flouting the rule of law, killing thousands, terrorizing whole communities, and making enemies. There has to be a different way, a way that can lead to mutual concern and lasting security for people in the United States and others. There has to be a way that can lead to peace.
U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children. Yes, our drones go after alleged terrorists. We have kill lists, made up of individuals who have been approved by the president or the CIA for targeted killings. But our drones do not only go after particular individuals. The majority of U.S. drone attacks are “signature strikes” based on looser criteria. In some areas, any man of military age is considered a militant and a legitimate target.
Drone strikes often result in civilian casualties. Hundreds of children have been killed. Friends of mine who have traveled to regions under fire by drones describe an atmosphere of fear and terror, children having nightmares, people afraid to gather in groups, go to funerals, or send their children to school. Whole communities are being terrorized. We are not only causing great harm to people in the communities we target, but making enemies and creating a cycle of violence that may last for generations.
by: Robert Cohen on May 15th, 2013 | 13 Comments »
On March 21, 2013, President Obama delivers a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Centre to the Israeli public. Credit: Creative Commons/Pete Souza.
“Put yourself in their shoes,” said President Obama. “Look at the world through their eyes.”
Good idea. And easily the best lines in his Jerusalem speech delivered on 21st March.
Put yourself in their shoes.
It was a direct challenge to Jewish Israelis (and Diaspora Jews too).
Look at the world through their eyes.
But how hard is it to imagine the world of the Palestinian ‘other’?
Today – May 15 – marks the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba – ‘Catastrophe’. The date follows one day after the anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948. What better moment to take seriously the Obama shoe-swapping challenge.
Sometimes it is instructive to listen to what Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says because his way of seeing the Israel-Palestinian conflict is typical of the thinking of both the Netanyahu government and its lobby here. I say “sometimes” because most of Dershowitz’s opinions can be found in a dozen other places — from AIPAC, the “major Jewish organizations,“neocon websites like Commentary, and in statements and tweets from the Israeli government itself.
But sometimes Dershowitz inadvertently provides solid insight into the mentality that continues to enable a 45-year occupation that, even Dershowitz admits, has proven so destructive to Israel.
Over 10,000 Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv this evening to protest new austerity measures in the country’s budget, echoing (and perhaps renewing) Israel’s historic social justice protests from two years ago.
Over 10,000 Israelis took to the streets on Saturday, May 11 to protest austerity measures. Photo by Haggai Matar.
Many activists who played a central role in those protests were involved in this evening’s renewed call for Israelis to march in the streets against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and their budget, which proposes cuts in social welfare programs and raised taxes on lower- and middle-income workers.
by: Galina L. De Roeck on May 10th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Tucsonans arrive in the International Airport of Tel-Aviv. Credit: Paul Afek.
Last November a group of us from Tucson, Arizona, went on a trip to Israel/Palestine. For the last four years I have been a member of a local Tikkun discussion group. Before that I had not known much about Zionism or the foundation of Israel, or the condition of the Palestinians. I became impressed with people who were assertively Jewish, but equally passionate about questioning the policies of the state of Israel. And so I became invested in learning about the Israel/Palestine situation, and when the occasion presented itself, I decided to undertake this trip, which brought together participants in the Jewish-Muslim Peace Walk of Tucson, members of the International Center for Peace and Justice, and our Tikkun discussion group.
The ancient religious aura of Jerusalem and the rest of “The Holy Land” can be felt everywhere. To enter the Holy Sepulcher which encloses Golgotha, the mountain where Jesus is said to have been crucified, and which was founded by Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, or to gaze at the magnificent Dome of the Rock, or to watch Orthodox Jews praying so fervently at the West Wall is to witness a place where people strive to touch the immaterial, where, perhaps, they long for immortality.