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Archive for the ‘War & Peace’ Category



The Four-Letter Word

Jun23

by: Uri Avnery on June 23rd, 2017 | 2 Comments »

When a Briton or American speaks about a “four-letter word”, he means a vulgar sexual term, a word not to be mentioned in polite society.

In Israel we also have such a word, a word of four letters. A word not to mention.

This word is “Shalom”, peace.

(In Hebrew, “sh” is one letter, and the “a” is not written.)

For years now this word has disappeared from intercourse (except as a greeting). Every politician knows that it is deadly. Every citizen knows that it is unmentionable.

There are many words to replace it. “Political agreement”. “Separation”. “We are here and they are there”. “Regional arrangement”. To name a few.

And here comes Donald Trump and brings the word up again. Trump, a complete ignoramus, does not know that in this country it is taboo.

He wants to make peace here. SH-A-L-O-M. So he says. True, there is not the slightest chance that he really will make peace. But he has brought the word back into the language. Now people speak again about peace. Shalom.

PEACE? WHAT is peace?

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Seeing Double: A Middle Eastern Comedy of Errors

May22

by: Henri Picciotto on May 22nd, 2017 | 1 Comment »

In the 1980′s, few Americans knew much about life in the territories Israel had occupied in 1967. Fewer still understood the PLO’s historic offer to settle for a state in less than half what had been Palestine. Yet in 1989, the San Francisco Mime Troupe produced Seeing Double, a mistaken-identity farce that argued for a two-state solution. The seeming unfitness of the genre for the topic proved the secret of the show’s success: laughter allows room for hope.

Twenty-eight years later, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is better understood, but no closer to resolution. Indeed, decades of US military and diplomatic support for Israel’s actions and its “facts on the ground”, have made a solution increasingly unlikely. Last summer, the writers of Seeing Double decided we would update the play, to fit today’s harsher realities and to address the U.S. role.


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Martin Luther King + 50: Toward a Year of Truth and Transformation

Mar30

by: Rabbi Arthur Waskow on March 30th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke his most profound and most prophetic sermon. At Riverside Church in New York City, with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel at his side, he addressed a group called Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam with a speech he entitled, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”

The public face of his speech was a strong denunciation of the U. S. government’s war in Vietnam. More than half the speech took up, case by case, aspects of the war that King argued were immoral U.S. actions – lethal to the Vietnamese and to American soldiers, destructive to the War on Poverty that had been President Johnson’s domestic program, and a violation of the best American values.


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Armenian Genocide—time for acknowledgement and healing

Mar22

by: Alev Dudek on March 22nd, 2017 | 8 Comments »

As April 24, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is nearing, many countries are going to take the opportunity, again, and prove their moral superiority by judging Turkey. The morally superior even include countries such as Germany that was involved in more than one genocide in the beginning of the last century. As perpetrators of the first genocide of the 20th century against the Herero in Namibia, Germany may have also had a role, the extent of which is still unclear, in the deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Often praised for her dealings with the Holocaust, it took Germany over 100 years to finally acknowledge the genocide against the Herero in 2015. Countries such as France, Switzerland, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Greece have so far shown their moral superiority by suppressing speech and making it a crime not to acknowledge the [Armenian] genocide while very comfortably judging Turkey for her shortcomings on freedom and democracy.

 

A case for calling it genocide

While inconsistently and selectively admitting that (mass) killings and “relocations” did occur, Turkish officials to-date claim that the events don’t meet the definition of genocide, Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide from 1948. They argue that there was no intent to destroy Armenians as an entire group. They refer to the fact that many Armenians survived and there was no history of singling out and targeting of Armenians as an ethnic group prior to the events, as it was the case with the Jews in Germany. They claim that the actions taken by the Ottomans were in response to threats and subsequently were of defensive nature.


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Justice for Girls Trial to Commence

Mar16

by: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish on March 16th, 2017 | Comments Off

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish will be in Jerusalem March 12 – April 3 to testify at the Israeli court concerning the loss of his beloved daughters and niece. The hearing will start March 15;  he is expected to testify March 15, 19, 29 and April 2.

All who can come and witness the civil trial at the court in Beersheba are encouraged to attend.

Information below comes from several press releases about this issue. The releases seek to increase awareness and promote the cause among politicians, human rights advocates, and people who care about justice and women and women’s education.


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The American Struggle for Peace

Feb27

by: Paul Buhle on February 27th, 2017 | Comments Off

War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918. By Michael Kazin. New York: Knopf, 2017.

Here is a history book whose subject has remained timely all through the political lifetimes of the writer and this reviewer, a couple of enthusiasts who actually met at the Students for a Democratic Society convention of 1967.Two years later, we sat and suffered together as our organization destroyed itself, by this time no longer peacenik and effective where it counted most (at the local level) but divided and destroyed by howling lunatic sectarians, driven berserk in no small part by the Democratic Party’s inability or unwillingness to oppose the War on Vietnam. Somehow, there’s a lesson here.

The antiwar movement is a great subject for today, of course, partly because liberal hawkishness is on the rise again and partly because a president with a monumental ego (or poorly hidden feeling of insecurity) is at the helm. Kazin has a lot to contribute by way of precedent. The First World War, aka “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars” swept through Europe wiping out the widespread optimism for a democratic socialist future. It came to Americans so unwilling to join the bloodbath that they needed to be brought along by an avowedly liberal president re-elected under the slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War.” A year after that re-election, the winning slogan had been emptied of meaning. Ahead lay massive political repression, racial pogroms – the President himself regarded African Americans as a hopelessly, perhaps dangerously, backward race – and a future that looked grim for socialistic visionaries.


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Movement of the US Embassy to Jerusalem

Feb13

by: Maya Haber and Larry Lerner on February 13th, 2017 | 5 Comments »

MEMO TO PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU

THERE’S A REASON WHY EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE JOHN F. KENNEDY HAS NOT MOVED THE US EMBASSSY TO JERUSALEM AND EIGHTY FOUR COUNTRIES HAVE THEIR EMBASSIES IN TEL AVIV AND NONE ARE IN JERUSALEM

The facts of the matter:

The Fourth Geneva Convention (1948) prohibits countries from annexing territories conquered in war. The UN Security Councils there ruled that the annexation of East Jerusalem ws illegal under international law and are not recognized by the international community. This is in response to WWII where Germany conquered countries and made them part of greater Germany. Russia also wanted to make countries such as the Baltics and Crimea part of Russia.

The international community regards Jerusalem as a city whose final status willl be determined in direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.. Both sides want Jerusalem as their capitol.

Three main reasons to oppose moving the embassy to Jerusalem.


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Amona is the Brazen Face of the Occupation

Feb7

by: Maya Haber on February 7th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

The Israeli police have finally moved to evict the forty families residing in the illegal Amona outpost. Anticipating the police operation, some rabbis called on the public to converge on Amona and resist. As a result, police arrived to face hundreds of mostly teenage settlers. A real battle erupted as the young settlers fortified their positions, poured oil on the main settlement road, burned tires, hurled rocks, shoved and cursed police, and barricaded themselves in houses. The police had to forcibly drag settlers from their homes, kicking and screaming while several Knesset members offered the settlers support. The entire melee was broadcast live on Israeli television. Settler teenagers have wounded over 60 police officers with stones and acid.

The occupation creates a topsy-turvy system where settlers have the power to invert legal hierarchies. Religious zealots commit violence, dispossess innocents and subvert the democratic state since they, not the state, exercise authority.

Palestinians, on the other hand, are not just thrust into a separate legal system administered by the IDF. This system places Palestinians into a juridical labyrinth that reinforces subservience not simply through punishment but also via procedural dysphoria.


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The Holocaust, Israel, and Trump’s Jewish Myopia

Feb6

by: Matt Sienkiewicz on February 6th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Sean Spicer standing behind a White House podium.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

After a weekend of controversy, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was no doubt well-prepared on Monday to explain why the President had removed any mention of anti-Semitism in his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Spicer began by reiterating the counter-intuitive notion that by ignoring the near annihilation of European Jewry, President Trump’s team, likely lead by Steve Bannon, was somehow being inclusive. The logic behind this idea is impenetrable, unless one assumes that Presidential statements have 140 character limits, making it impossible to affirm the centrality of anti-Semitism to the Nazi worldview while also acknowledging the broad range of people targeted by their hate. Just as bad, however, was Spicer’s pivot. American Jews, he suggested, have no right to be offended by the Holocaust statement for a simple, single, and seemingly unrelated reason: Israel.

Trump, Spicer articulated, is a perfect friend to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the state he represents. That being the (much debatable) case, how could Jews possibly interpret anti-Semitism in anything Trump does? Aren’t Jews and Israelis always of the same mind? The answer, of course, is that not all Jewish people care singularly, or even primarily, about Israel. Furthermore, there’s plenty of room in contemporary white nationalism, with its fundamental commitment to racial separation, to support a nation way over yonder in which Jews wear their funny hats, eat their funny food, and mind their own business. And if this all comes at the expense of a bunch of Muslims, well, even better. It’s an ugly, unfair view of Israel, but it’s one that the alt-right can easily get behind.

Trump’s team, via Spicer, was offering American Jews a deal: Give up that part of your identity that’s so concerned with the Holocaust and accept one in which Israeli strength, just or unjust, defines what it means to be who you are. Some Jews, of course, tend to agree. Perhaps, they argue, Jewish fascination with victimization is past its expiration date. This would be true, were it not for the obvious fact that many Jews in America and beyond understand the Holocaust not merely as a defining trauma, but also as a call to action. Holocaust remembrance motivates Jews to care about the long-term security of the Jewish people, certainly. It also, however, causes Jews throughout the world to identify Jewishness with the ability to look beyond their own tribe and towards mankind. It convinces millions of Jews to donate to Jewish charities that offer their services to all in need, regardless of religion. It makes Senator Chuck Schumer, a man whose great-grandmother was murdered for being Jewish, cry when he thinks about Iraqi refugees being turned away at JFK. It helps Jews understand that a strong identity need not preclude a commitment to mankind.

The people who prepped Spicer’s response are not terribly interested in mankind or, for that matter, Jews. Sure, they can find a way to make use of them. If the Jewish people can be reduced to an ethnic clan locked in a bitter, eternal struggle with Arabs and Islam, then they fit right in. If their commitment to Israel’s Jewishness makes claims of America’s Christian Soul more plausible, that’s great. If their need to understand and accept Israeli security measures makes building a Mexican border wall appear more morally palatable then, by all means, be as Jewish as you want. But if being Jewish means looking back at events such as the Holocaust and using them as inspiration to protest the wall, fight the ban, and #resist, then they’d just as soon see that line deleted.

In a multicultural democracy, minority groups make compromises. It’s simple math. Politicians, seeking their majorities, never take the time to really understand what makes a subculture tick. Filmmakers and TV producers, aiming for a wider audience, boil their representations down, simplifying the complexity of minority life and, at times, drifting into stereotypes. This reality is unfortunate, but if it comes with a sense of progress towards respect and security, the price may be worth paying.

Bannon, Trump, et al., however, are asking for far too much and giving far too little in return. By deleting Auschwitz and offering Israeli settlements, they are asking Jews to give up the messy history and psychology that is so central to contemporary Jewish identity. Particularly in America, Jews often live in a state of constant contradiction, striving to be both tribal and universal, feeling both empowered and in a state of potential victimhood. In exchange for this difficult but very meaningful struggle, the President is asking Jews to embrace a static, one note, identity-based ethno-religious fervor for Israel. It’s a bad, bad deal. I hope we turn them down.

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Matt Sienkiewicz is a Modern Orthodox Jewish American who researches and teaches global media at Boston College. His documentary Live From Bethlehem is available from the Media Education Foundation and he can be followed on Twitter.

From Trump to Umm Al-Hiran

Jan19

by: Shaiya Rothberg on January 19th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-founder of Haqel, holding up a picture of 100 year old Umm Al-Hiran resident Musa Hussein Abu Al Qian.

Photo courtesy of Haqel. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-founder of Haqel, holding up a picture of 100 year old Umm Al-Hiran resident Musa Hussein Abu Al Qian.

As President-elect Trump consummates the victory of his racist and demagogic campaign, Israel’s discriminatory demolition of homes in Umm Al-Hiran yesterday signified another step away from democracy and towards Jewish ethnic domination. Human identity – the sense people have that they are Homo sapiens and morally responsible for other Homo sapiens – recedes before our eyes in both Israel and America. Trump and Netanyahu make clear in speech and policy that too often they do not see human beings as human beings but only as particular identities, such as Jews or Arabs, Americans or Mexicans, Christians or Muslims.

According to some theories, this receding of humanity is a temporary setback in the consistent (and possibly inevitable) ascension of human identity rather than more particularistic ones. Essentially, the logic goes, since human civilization (environment, communications, politics, law, economy) is now global and thus species-wide, the species-based human identity will prevail. But for those whose homes were bulldozed yesterday in Umm al-Hiran, and for the families of the two people killed during the conflict there, anticipating a more human future is little consolation.


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