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Archive for the ‘Healing Israel/Palestine’ Category

The Mideast is America’s New Wild West


by: on December 5th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Why the enduring “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel? Cultural historians, who look at symbols and stories more than politics and policies, say a big part of it goes back to the late 1950s, when Leon Uris’ novel Exodus reached the top of the bestseller list and was then turned into a blockbuster film, with an all-star cast headed by Paul Newman.

Scholar Rachel Weissbrod called it a “Zionist melodrama.” M.M. Silver devoted a whole book to the phenomenon: Our Exodus, with the subtitle, The Americanization of Israel’s Founding Story.

A preeminent historian of American Judaism, Jonathan Sarna, came closest to the truth in his blurb for Silver’s book: Exodus “consciously linked brawny Zionist pioneers with the heroes of traditional American westerns.” The protagonist, Ari ben Canaan (“lion, son of Canaan”), is the Jewish Shane, the cowboy of impeccable virtue who kills only because he must to save decent people — especially the gentile woman he loves — and civilize a savage land.


Tom Friedman On Opposition To Iran Deal: It’s The Lobby, Stupid


by: on November 21st, 2013 | 11 Comments »

It’s been clear to me for about ten years that the primary problem the United States faces in crafting Middle East policy is not so much the Arabs or the Israelis. It is the Israel lobby (led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC but consisting also of all the major Jewish organizations that include Israel in their portfolio.

Writing about the lobby’s influence (from the perspective of someone who had spent 20 years dealing with AIPAC as an aide to a senator and several House members), I initially felt like a voice in the wilderness. Yes, there were always people pointing to the power of the lobby but many of those had no use for Israel to start out with. For them, attacking the lobby is a subset of attacking Israel in general.

Don’t get me wrong. Although I support a secure Jewish State of Israel, I despise the policies of the Netanyahu government and any and all Israeli policies that are designed to either preserve the occupation or (and this is most relevant now) prevent a diplomatic resolution of the stalemate over Iranian nuclear development. Even if the lobby didn’t exist, I’d be vehemently condemning those policies.

Of course, if the lobby didn’t exist, the United States government would not have to spend much effort getting a country that is the largest recipient of U.S. aid in line, just as the bank who holds the mortgage has considerably more say than a property’s nominal owner. Not only do all other foreign recipients of U.S. aid have to comply with conditions set by Washington, so do all states and municipalities here in the United States. Only Israel gets what it wants, no strings attached.


My Response to Tom Rogan’s “How President Obama Can Achieve a Nuclear Deal with Iran”


by: on November 13th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

The Guardian’s recent article, “How President Obama can achieve a nuclear deal with Iran,” speaks about why a nuclear deal with Iran is urgently needed, and what Iran must give up. This Guardian piece is a little weak on what the United States and the Western powers must offer as part of the deal. When read by itself, it repeats the “tough-minded” and largely blind to emotional nuance approach that has made the West’s dealings with Iran so fruitless. Here’s what author Tom Rogan writes:

In the cause of peace, the clock is ticking.

Western Intelligence services have delayed a nuclear Iran. Still, the evidence on the ground is unmistakable. Iranian nuclear activities increasingly point to a weaponization agenda. Of most concern: Iran’s soon-to-be plutonium production facility at Arak. As David Albright and Christina Walrond of the Institute for Science and International Security note (pdf), claims of an inherently peaceful nuclear program cannot easily co-exist with a heavy water reactor. Correspondingly, in last weekend’s P5+1 negotiations, the French Foreign Minister suggested that allowing Arak to remain in operation would represent a “sucker’s deal”.

He’s right.


Q & A with Tom Pickering


by: on November 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Credit: Creative Commons

Tom Pickering is a living legend of American diplomacy. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Persian Gulf War. He has also served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Israel, India, Jordan, Nigeria and El Salvador. Pickering’s last State Department post was as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during President Clinton’s second term.

Now 82-years-old and active as ever in U.S. foreign policy discourse, Pickering brings to bear his decades of experience to answer some questions about the seemingly endless array of Mideast policy challenges facing the United States, including the effort to secure a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.


Ambassador Pickering, thank you for granting this interview.

Before getting to the specific questions about some of the major challenges facing the United States, I found something very intriguing in your bio that I’d like to ask you about. Your bio states that when you first started out in college at Bowdoin, you wanted to pursue a career in ministry.

Can you share with Tikkun Daily readers a bit more about your early interest in ministry? What did you have in mind back then as a young man? Relatedly, would you characterize your ultimate decision to pursue a career in American diplomacy as a kind of alternate manifestation of your interest in ministry, perhaps by endeavoring to make the world a safer place for all God’s children?

My interests then did not seem to be a real “calling” and so I shifted my goals and aspirations. It is certainly true that neither profession makes much money and I was not interested in that kind of return.

Perhaps my early interest in church things somehow conditioned me to think in terms of rewards through public service. I believe that public service can be very rewarding in the cause of improved safety and security for the public and in the search for peaceful solutions.

According to your bio, you turned 82-years-old last week. Are you more or less worried about the outbreak of a nuclear war somewhere in the world today than you were when you began your career in the diplomatic corps back in the 1960s?


Micah Meets Mark Braverman


by: Robert Cohen on November 6th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

This month the Jewish American writer and Israel/Palestine activist, Mark Braverman, publishes his second book ‘A Wall in Jerusalem’. It follows ‘Fatal Embrace’ in 2010 which quickly established Braverman as an important new voice in the Israel/Palestine debate. Below you can read Braverman’s first interview to mark the new book’s publication given exclusively to Micah’s Paradigm Shift.

Braverman, who has deep family roots in Israel, has developed what he describes as a ‘calling’ to speak to the Church in a spirit of Christian teaching that sees Jesus as a radical Jew rebelling against the Jewish establishment and the Roman occupation of first century Palestine. In his new book he successfully straddles Jewish and Christian theological thinking to create a shared dialogue of justice and compassion. Braverman is determined to articulate a Christian approach to Palestinian solidarity that counters evangelical Christian Zionism while remaining rooted in the teaching of Jesus. He also challenges the phenomenon of Christian post-Holocaust guilt that leads to a reluctance by the Church to confront Israeli injustice against the Palestinian people for fear of disturbing Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue.


J Street’s Fourth Conference: What Are We Fighting For, and Who Will Speak Up?


by: Kelsey Waxman on October 17th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Two weeks have passed since the culmination of the fourth annual J Street National Conference in Washington, D.C. Two weeks have also gone by since our congressional leaders failed to come to a compromise regarding the future of our national budget, resulting in a complete shutdown of governmental affairs. The three days I spent representing Tikkun magazine at the nation’s largest “Pro Israel, Pro Peace” gathering have left me conflicted about the American call for progressive peace in the region, but have reassured me that those who are committed to fighting for it are headed in the right direction.

From my exhibitor’s table in an isolated area of the Washington Conference Center, my perception of the goings-on of J Street was much different than the average delegate. I’d like to share my own individual analysis of the conference – please take note that the statements and opinions I’m offering here are purely my own and do not represent those of Tikkun or any other entity.

To refresh our memory, J Street, founded in 2008, is a Jewish-American political advocacy organization that markets itself as “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” The organization promotes a vision for security and stability in Israel/Palestine through its lobbying in the form of an American-brokered two-state solution.

(Tikkun's J Street Table/ Credit: Kelsey Waxman)

It should be noted that with “exhibitor” status, neither Tikkun nor I were technically invited to participate in the J Street conference, but to stand quietly on the sidelines as “Jewish allies” of J Street and hand out our literature. While several other exhibitors, organizations, and publications submitted materials to be handed out in conference “swag bags,” Tikkun‘s magazines seemed to mysteriously not make the distribution cut. This disappointed me because J Street markets itself as an organization committed to the open facilitation of peace dialogue, but the exclusion of different perspectives on Israel/Palestine issues contradicts that very principle.


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.


Simon Schama and the Error of Jewish Silence


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

(Simon Schama/ Credit: Creative Commons)

In Britain, the BBC has recently finished airing a landmark documentary ‘The Story of the Jews’, written and presented by the British historian Simon Schama. The ratings were good and the praise was high from both the mainstream media critics and from most British Jews. It was a highly passionate and emotional telling of ‘our story’. This time, unlike Schama’s previous television histories, it was personal.

I had certainly enjoyed much of Schama’s presentation until he said this:

“…in some sense if you don’t live in Israel – I don’t live in Israel – you’re morally obliged to be nearly silent, nearly silent.”

It was the final episode. After four Sunday nights of television and three thousand years of Jewish history, here was the telling of the modern State of Israel. Simon Schama had entitled it: ‘Return’.


Awakening to a Disappearing Palestine


by: Ada Glustein on October 3rd, 2013 | 6 Comments »

Exciting days in Vancouver! Six local groups recently formed the Palestine Awareness Coalition, coming together to present the now famous four-map poster showing “Disappearing Palestine.” The posters have appeared in several US cities, including New York and San Francisco. They are now on 15 city buses and at one (soon to be two) SkyTrain stations. The coalition was extremely glad to be working together with other groups for this effort. Each group has its own mandate and approaches the issues of Israel-Palestine in different ways, but all groups had the common desire for the public to be made more aware of the ever-diminishing land for Palestinians since 1946. All groups recognized that awareness is the seed that is needed for the plant to sprout and for any positive action to flourish. A grassroots fundraising campaign took place to pay for an initial four weeks of the mural display, and we were thrilled with the response and appreciative of the transit authority and ad-makers for agreeing to post the maps.


J Street 2013: The Beginning


by: Kelsey Waxman on September 30th, 2013 | Comments Off

(Credit: Creative Commons/ Jstreet.org)

Saturday night, 2800 Jewish Americans and their domestic and international allies congregated in Washington, DC to begin the 4th annual J Street National Conference. J Street, founded in 2008, is a Jewish-American political advocacy organization that markets itself as “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” The organization, which also runs its own PAC (Political Action Committee), presents a vision for security and stability in Israel/Palestine through its lobbying in the form of an American-brokered two-state solution. This year’s conference, entitled “Our Time to Lead,” features three days of panels hosted and moderated by American, Israeli, and Palestinian speakers from diverse professional backgrounds. culminating in an “Advocacy Day” in which conference delegates will disperse throughout Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional representatives to lobby for the passing of political policies that they support. The conference will also include a keynote address from U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.