OK. It’s time to take off the gloves and start getting truly radical. My proposal for the Jewish state, Medinat Yisrael, may be hated or loved by the Right and the Left – but it is at least a new direction and gets away from the Two State dogma that threatens to destroy the safety of the Jewish State and the dreams and aspirations of the Palestinians. Here it is:

One Democratic Jewish and Palestinian State:

Where Jews can settle everywhere in the Homeland, in Eretz Yisrael, and Arabs can settle everywhere in what they consider their Homeland.

Note re. Demographic challenges: The most effective way for Israel to increase its Jewish population ratio in the short and long term is by: letting in potentially millions of Africans, Asians and South Americans who self-identify as Jewish, even if they cannot prove their Jewish descent, and work on converting them to normative Judaism, if they wish, when they get to Israel; educating Arab women and men, which has been shown my many studies to be effective in significantly lowering birth rates; enabling the conversions of hundreds of thousands of FSU Israelis who are not currently halachically Jewish, and wish to become halachik Jews.

Five Pillars of the One Democratic Jewish and Palestinian Democratic State from the Jordan to the Mediterranean :

1) All citizens – Jews, Muslims, Christians and others – can live anywhere in the land. Jews will return to live all over Jerusalem – Muslim quarter, Christian quarter, Silwan, City of David – and all over the promised land: in the ancient Israelite cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Shechem, and all over Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Just as in America restrictive covenants are illegal, so, too in the One State: Jews and Palestinians can acquire property anywhere in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Gaza, West Bank, etc. Property rights will be respected, and returning refugees will be accommodated through new housing in or close to their original housing. All Jewish settlements that are legal by current Israeli law will remain, with compensation where necessary.

2) New constitution – needing a super-majority to change – establishing a full democracy, with full separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, with both a Jewish Bill of Rights and a Palestinian Bill of Rights guaranteeing that the state can be both a Jewish state and a Palestinian state

3) Law of Return for Jews; Law of Return for Palestinians

4) The IDF and internal police and security services will stationed everywhere in the One State – there will be no “no go” areas; and these forces will be slowly integrated, at a pace consistent with the security needs of the new state.

5) Demographic issues will be negotiated with at least three possible solutions: increasing Israel’s Jewish population radically by admitting millions of Jewish identifiers from Africa, Asia and South America before the One State is implemented; returning Palestinians based on an equal admission of Jewish identifiers – perhaps limited to a certain time period; allowing for a natural growth of Jewish or Muslim – or other – populations, while the constitution guarantees that the One State remains compatible as a Jewish state as well as a Palestinian state, perhaps guaranteeing a majority representation for a certain number of years.

Crazy? Maybe. But let’s start with some simple first steps:

An immediate, indefinite moratorium on Arab house demolitions in Jerusalem to allow natural Arab growth, in exchange for official U.S. recognition of the right to build for natural Jewish growth in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This is just the first step for Jews accepting Arabs and Arabs accepting Jews.

This is the beginning of the New Era.

Step two is more radical, has downsides, but might be necessary: Immediate return of Gilad Shalit; release of Palestinian prisoners; U.S. commuting Jonathan Pollard and sending him to Israel. This is step two of the New Era.

This is an era celebrating integration, tolerance, life and growth. Rather than the old era of separation, hate, demeaning one another, intolerance.

Step three is a radical, but incremental experiment: The return of several thousand Jews to the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City where they were driven out in 1948 and to Hevron, where they were driven out in 1929, but at the same time, the return of several thousand Arabs to the areas in Old Qatamon and Baqqa which they evacuated in 1948. These populations will return as close as possible to their old houses, but no one will be thrown out of the houses occupied since the previous populations left.

The IDF and the Israeli police forces will be stationed everywhere to guarantee the safety of Jews and Arabs.

Now, let’s talk!

Asher Lopatin

Advertisements

When it comes to Palestine, peace is the whore of anybody with a hidden agenda. The Israelis have used the struggle for peace for over 60 years now as a cover for settling on lands that belong to others, the Americans have used it to cover their complete bias towards Israel, the Europeans have used it to deal with their Holocaust guilt, other Arab governments have used it to deal with their own restless populations. Even the PA and Hamas have used it to get and stay in power. Within the peace movement itself peace is mocked by peace activists that care more about the Zionist dream than about a just peace for both. Nothing is more common than a Zionist talking about peace while maintaining that the right of return is an ‘unfair’ demand. Nothing is more common than hearing those interested in peace talk about how the Palestinians need to ‘compromise’ too. As if they have still anything left to compromise.

The Palestinians are the ones that forever are paying the price of this peace game. Besides still not having any peace, they also have no land, no nationality, no decent living circumstances, no medical care, no security and no dignity. The old peace adagio ‘land for peace’ is a joke because the Israelis over the years have gotten themselves (a lot) more land and more security, while the Palestinians have less land and less security than ever. Palestinians are killed, robbed and harassed by the IDF and the settlers on a daily basis. In a complete asymmetrical conflict situation, the Palestinians have nothing left to bargain with.

With so many parties interested (though not really interested) in peace, it is difficult to navigate possible solutions and possible means to achieve those solutions. The so-called international consensus since Oslo has been a two-state solution. Carter, Clinton, Blair, Barak and Olmert, they all professed a deep belief in two states for two people. The means to achieve such a solution would be a political negotiated process. However, besides the fact that in reality a 15 year long struggle for a two state solution has only led to more land and more security for the Israelis to the extent that whatever land was set out for the Palestinians is now populated with Jews (300000 Jews in West bank and a 150000 in East Jerusalem and counting as they continue to settle both regions!!), it is unclear how even in theory a two state solution could possible produce anything even remotely fair for the Palestinians. In a conflict in which one side is completely intertwined with the world’s superpower, has most of the land already, has the nukes and other hi tech weapons, controls the propaganda war and is economically so much more prosperous than its opponent (who to be frank has nothing), it is hard to understand how a fair deal could ever be negotiated. The underlying idea of a two state solution seems to be that the Palestinians should be happy with whatever they can get and not complain any further. The fact that such a profound unfairness doesn’t seem to bother any of the abovementioned peace activists is the clearest indication that it is not peace they are concerned with but their own agenda.

Besides the two state solution there are peace activists who are promoting a one state solution or some type of binational state. The merits and fairness of such a solution are obvious, but the voices for it are scattered and unorganized. Israel itself remains pathological attached to its ethnicity as the most important criteria for citizenship. It is not clear to what degree the Palestinians would tolerate such a solution, and the peace movement itself with its jargon of peace but lack of intentions for it has not decided upon such a goal. In fact the peace movement as a collective still seems to think a two state solution is within reach.

Besides the lack of common goal of the peace movement, there is also no unity as to what should constitute the means to achieve any kind of goal. Dialogue, interfaith exchanges, political summits, backroom diplomacy, terror, civil disobedience and BDS actions, are all common practices in the peace game. The other day Faris Giacaman wrote an interesting article about the peace industry. You can find the article here: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10722.shtml. The author made the interesting point that a lot of effort is being wasted, a lot of money being spent on efforts that have not made a fig of difference. Giacaman argues for a focus on boycotts, sanctions and divestments as non-violent means to pressure Israel into a deal. There is a lot to be said for such a focus. Besides the fact that it originates in Palestinian Civil Society, is non-violent in nature, does not depend upon the whims of politicians but upon global grassroots efforts and solidarity, such a strategy has proven itself to be successful once before. Israel is similar to south-Africa in the sense that it wants to be part of the global community, wants to be taken serious as a democracy and is vulnerable for economic and cultural pressure. The only reason why such a campaign is not widely promoted is because the Palestinian peace movement is infiltrated by people that have their own agenda in mind rather than a just peace. There is not one solid reason why a peace activist would oppose such a strategy. And yet many do and label it anti-Semitism.

I fear for the Palestinians.  The lack of a common and clear goal, the undermining of the peace movement from within by people with their own agenda, the complete asymmetry and overwhelming bias in favor of the Israeli makes it hard to believe that anything fair will ever be achieved for them. If even a peace movement can become a peace industry and is sabotaged and fractured from within then where is the hope? What means do we as people possess to make this world a little bit more human for us all?

Cuba has always been one of those countries that were on the wrong side of the political equator. In a way there is nothing worse than being ruled by a leftist dictator. Good old fashioned market oriented dictators (see Pinochet) are at least occasionally opposed by the left. Communist dictators are more often than not excused by an apologetic left with a disproportioned nostalgia for a utopian society that has never existed. You would think the right would naturally oppose the communist dictators, in some sort of cosmic check and balance. But we all know that the right doesn’t care for opposing anybody unless there is oil, military contracts, or casino’s involved. And even then they not really care for victims, only for profits, and they gladly replace a non-money making fascist dictator with a money making fascist dictator (see Saddam, see Pinochet).

So that leaves communist dictatorships with nothing but the deafening silence of its victims.

Cuba, 50 years after communist hell broke loose, is in ruins. Literally. Most houses have not been painted since fascist dictator Batista left the building. Most people (except the communist top) do not have enough food to eat on a daily basis, most people cannot freely chose where they want to live, what they want to study, what they want to do for a living, and what they want to say. Most people do not even have decent healthcare. Not because there are no doctors, they are plenty of doctors, in fact there are too many doctors. One day Castro decided that Cubans were going to be doctors, and forced everybody to become one. There is one doctor for every 10 people. Cuba has so many doctors that they export them to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil. But in Cuba, the doctors are useless because they have no supplies, no medicines, no syringes, no chemo, no nothing. This lack of medical care is extremely infuriating, as Cuba presents itself as a medical Mecca to the rest of the world.

Embargos certainly don’t help. But anybody that spends a little bit of time in Cuba, and travels around with an open mind, can see that the heart of the matter is an economic system that doesn’t work, with or without embargos.

Anyway. Even if it was the embargo that was the problem, one still should be able to speak one’s mind about the fact that there is nothing to eat. But not even this basic kind of stress relief is granted to Cubans. Complaints about the system and the regime are rewarded with extensive time in jail; which of course explains why it is hard to find a Cuban that speaks his mind in Cuba. The potent combination of terror with the isolation of an island surrounded by oceans is sufficient to keep people in line for years, hungry or not. This basic truth has long been denied by the nostalgic left. The nostalgic left has always denied that Cubans were hungry to begin with and that complaining about it would land you in jail. I wish I could talk to the nostalgic, apologetic left now. Now that Panfilo has arrived on stage.

Panfilo is a man that consumes a good amount of alcohol on a regular basis. Not uncommon in countries where there is no hope for improvement. In Cuba they can make alcohol from feces. I am not kidding. Desperate men can make alcohol out of anything. I mention this because there are always ignorant/cynical idiots who would argue that there is enough food if there is enough alcohol.

Panfilo, not too long ago, came across a small film crew that was filming another man explaining the popularity of a new type of music called Reggaeton. Panfilo the drunk saw the other guy blabbering on and on about the reggaeton, and suddenly felt a surge of rage exploding in his body. He jumped in front of the camera and began to scream ‘lo que hace falta es Yama!’ (translated it means something as ‘we are hungry we need food!’) Over and over he screamed the same thing. This clip found its way to youtube. God bless youtube.

300000 people saw the scene. Another clip emerged, an interview with the same Panfilo, this time explaining that he was still hungry but now also afraid that he would end up in jail. He had been questioned a couple of times by the secret police. He was explaining that he hadn’t wanted any of this to happen. That he had no political affiliations. That he was drunk when it happened. A hundred thousand people saw that clip.

Guess what. He was right. He did end up in jail. The Cuban government sentenced him to two years in jail, apparently for being ‘dangerous’. In Cuba they can put anybody in jail when, on completely subjective basis, if they decide you are a danger for the revolution. They say revolution but they actually mean bad PR for the regime. One can hardly still talk about a revolution when the same government has been in power for 50 years. They put people in jail for decades for singing a song that jokes about Fidel. They put people in jail for suggesting that maybe once; they should have elections with more than one party, more than one option. They put you in jail when your communist party-neighbor doesn’t like you and accuses you of something you never did. Think about these travesties, when you celebrate Castro’s 83rd birthday, apologetic left. And think about how you ignored these people decade after decade because you cared more about your ideology than about people.

Sandra (a non-apologetic leftist)

classic optical illusion: how old is this woman?

classic optical illusion: how old is this woman?

We live in a world where there are as many perspectives as there are people. These perspectives are often only a mouse click away. Now more than even we have the opportunity to learn about the many different ways people interpret events, relationships, politics etc. Yet, despite the overwhelming amount of information, people seem to be just as alienated from different perspectives as they were before the internet hit the masses. Democrats hate republicans, and vice versa, Arabs dislike Jews, and vice versa, Europeans don’t understand the Muslims in their midst, the Muslims don’t understand the Europeans, Americans dislike Hugo Chavez, Hugo Chavez dislikes Americans. The French and the Americans, The Turks and the Kurds, the Shii and the Sunni, the Hutu’s and the Tutsi, This list goes on and on.


One would assume that the enormous increases of information at the tips of our fingers would be instrumental in bridging those differences. Not so. One only has to browse through different blogs, articles, message boards, chartrooms, newspapers etc to find out that the wealth of information is being used to reinforce one’s own perspective instead of trying to understand the perspective of the other. Information is being selected, processed and redistributed in such a way that nothing ever changes, and instead of seeing each other as more human, we end up dehumanizing each other further. In conflicts in which lives are on the line, these differences in perspectives matter. As the ability to see something from the perspective of the other goes hand in hand with the ability to have empathy for the other, both necessary and interdependent prerequisites that allow human beings to see other as human. Perspective, empathy and humanity are the three pillars in creating a more human, more peaceful world. Vice versa, conflict resolution and peace negotiations can’t take place in an environment where people no longer see the perspective and therefore the humanity of the other.

In my previous blogs I have written a little about differences in perspectives. They play a role in the Israel-Palestine conflict where two different perspectives on the conflict clash as hard as the people having the perspectives. The Israelis sees the Arabs as the modern day Hitlers, bent on their destruction, while the Arabs see the Israelis as colonizers and land robbers. Differences in perspectives play a role in the rising islamophobia in Europe’s capital where the western mind for example can’t understand the eastern demand for Sharia laws and the eastern mind for example can’t grasp what it sees as western decadence. (see https://owlminerva.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/a-few-thoughts-on-dunbar-ii-and-the-clash-of-civilizations/)

So what is going on?

Perspectives are stranger than we think. They are mental habits, as comfortable to our brain as an old pair of shoes is to our feet. They are mental layers that protect us from too much difference, without telling us however that the price we pay for this comfort is less of the truth instead of more. Perspectives are self-perpetuating. Once they are there they find ways of reinforcing themselves as if they have an existence of their own. Existing perspectives resist competing perspectives by influencing the individual to perceive the world selectively, to process information erroneously and to remember information selectively or worse, wrongly. We can call these the defense mechanisms of narrative perspectives. We think we are in control over the way we judge things. We believe we have chosen our perspectives freely and we believe that we judge fairly. But we don’t own our perspectives. They own us. And to the extent that we are dominated by our perspective, we are incapable of judging anything fairly. For the comfort, safety and stability that perspectives offer us, most of us accept the prison they impose on our minds.

I like to compare perspectives to optical illusions. For example, look at the picture of the young woman above. If you look long enough, you will see a very old woman appear in the same picture. Once you see the old woman, it is very hard to see the young woman. And vice versa. I believe our perspectives of the world around us are like that. Even though these differences in perspective are narrative and not optical in nature, the same dynamic holds. It is possible to see the same event from different narrative angles. There are many reasons why something in us decides upon a certain angle to begin with. The angle can be taught to us, it can fit in with a pre-existing cognitive scheme, it might complement our religious, political, ethical values, or it might be the most convenient angle or most self-serving one. However, once we have decided upon an angle, it becomes nearly impossible to shift and see a different angle. Most of us are not even aware that we have these perspectives to begin with. Our brain resists such awareness. If we are that lucky to be aware of our angle we try our hardest to justify that angle, making it into a matter of right and wrong, thereby decreasing the chances that we would try to shift our perspective. Perspectives are tyrannical in the sense that once they have a hold over us they have strategies to maintain that hold and bar other perspectives from flooding our consciousness.

One might ask: “what if my perspective is the right one? What do I have to gain then from seeing something from a different perspective?” And to that one might answer, that first of all there is no perspective that is 100% correct, as nobody up to this point in history knows everything there is to know. So everybody can learn something from another perceptive. Narrative Perspective Blindness, as I like to call the inability to switch perspectives, deprives ones brain of the information it needs to formulate more appropriate conclusions. Second of all, how can we know whether or not our perspective is right or wrong if we are locked in the perspective to begin with? We have no point of reference in deciding how right or wrong our point of view is. One needs to be able to be outside perspectives in order to be able to judge them. Since we can’t look at anything without a perspective to begin with such outside reference point is in principle impossible. Thirdly, even in the impossible case that our perspective was 100% correct, not understanding the perspective of the other will still prevent us from understanding the humanity of the other. Perspective and empathy are mutually dependent upon each other. Unless one has no interest in creating a more peaceful and just world, there is nothing more important than understanding the perspective of the other so that once can remain in touch with the humanity of the other. Not only is this ability to see different narratives a moral necessity, (one simply can’t be a good person without the capacity of seeing different perspectives); it is also a matter of intelligent strategy. One can’t be a good statesman, a good lobbyist, a good peace activist, a good lawyer or a good humanitarian without this capacity to see something from another human being’s point of view.

The good news is that it is possible to break the oppression of our perspectives. Just like we can practice and we can get better in optical illusions to the point that it is possible to switch perspectives in the blink of an eye, even up to the point that it is possible to see the young woman and the old woman at the same time, and extend this ease to new optical illusions, it is also possible to train our brain in understanding different narrative angles. The more open, flexible and wider we train our brain to be, the less our ‘orthodox’ perspective controls us. Part of this training is getting used to the uncertainty and the anxiety that accompanies seeing different angles at first. Entering a different narrative perspective is as scary as entering a foreign land of which one doesn’t know the rules, the language and the customs. It is leaving behind certainty and opening oneself up to the possibility that what one believed before could have been wrong. It is learning to live with uncertainty and vulnerability. It requires mental strength and moral courage. Not something a lot of us have; but something that a lot of us can learn to cultivate. We don’t have to be the victim of our own mindsets. We can learn to juggle perspectives, learn to hold them in suspension in the air so that we can examine them, study them and learn to understand them. What seems like a miracle now can become a mental habit as familiar to us as brushing our teeth. Surfing the internet and reading the articles, essays and blogs of a lot of smart, well intentioned bunch of people, I am getting the impression that no matter how smart and well intentioned one is, without this capacity for shifting perspectives and empathy, nothing will ever be gained. No matter how well intentioned one is, without the ability to ultimately see the other as human, one will always do more damage than good.

Israel’s conscience: The weekly column of Uri Avnery

Can Two Walk Together?

I AM not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad.Absolutely not. I don’t want to be sued for libel.

I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him.

Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.

LET’S LOOK at last week’s scandal.

Years ago, a conference against racism was convened by the UN in Durban, South Africa. It was natural that such a forum would denounce, among others, the Israeli government for its policy towards the Palestinians – the occupation, the settlements, the wall.

But the conference was not content with this. It turned into a platform for wild incitement against the State of Israel – and only against it. No other state in the world was denounced for violating human rights – and among the denouncers were some of the most obnoxious tyrants in the world.

When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organizers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech – not being satisfied with criticizing Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

If the “Elders of Zion” had planned the conference, it could not have ended better as far as the Israeli government is concerned.

ALL THIS happened on Holocaust Day, when Jews in Israel and all over the world commemorate the millions of victims of the genocide.

The memory of the Holocaust unites all the Jews in the world. Every Jew knows that if the Nazis had reached him, he, too, would have gone to the death camps. We, who were then living in Palestine, knew that if the German general Erwin Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, our fate would have been that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

All Jews feel that it is their moral duty to keep the memory of the victims alive. To this profound feeling there is added a political consideration: the memory of the Holocaust causes most Jews everywhere to support the State of Israel, which defines itself as the “State of the Shoa Survivors”.

But time passes and memories fade. There is a recurrent need for a present, actual enemy, a “Second Hitler”, who arouses all the latent fears lurking in the Jewish soul. Once it was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the “Egyptian Tyrant”. Then Yasser Arafat played this role. Nowadays there is Hamas, but that is hardly sufficient. No way to convince anyone that Hamas could possibly annihilate Israel.

Ahmadinejad is the ideal candidate. He is a consistent Holocaust denier. He declares that the “Zionist entity” must disappear from the map. He is working on the production of a nuclear bomb. This is serious – a few nuclear bombs on Israeli population centers can indeed wipe out Israel.

So we have a “Second Hitler”, who is planning a ”Second Holocaust”. Against him, all the Jews of the world can unite. What would we do without him?

THE PUTATIVE Iranian nuclear bomb fulfills another very important role. It is serving now as an instrument for the obliteration of the Palestinian problem.

Next month Netanyahu will present himself at the White House. That might turn out to be a fateful meeting. President Barack Obama may demand a clear commitment to start a peace process that will lead towards the creation of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu will make a desperate effort to avoid this, since peace would mean the evacuation of the settlements. If he agreed to this, his coalition would fall apart.

What to do? Thank God for the Iranian bomb! It constitutes an existential threat against Israel. It is self-evident that the Israeli Prime Minister should not be bothered with bagatelles like peace with the Palestinians when the Iranian nuclear sword is dangling above his head!

Netanyahu’s predecessors also used this ploy. Whenever somebody raises the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demands that our government start real negotiations, freeze the settlements, dismantle the outposts, release prisoners, end the blockade on the population of the Gaza Strip, remove the roadblocks – the Iranian bomb appears ex machina. No time to think about anything else. The bomb heads our agenda. The bomb is our agenda.

There is a lot of irony in this. Iran has never been the least bit interested in the plight of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad, too, doesn’t give a damn. Like all other Middle East governments he uses the Palestinian cause to further his own interests. Now he wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. For this purpose, he raises the banner of the Palestinian resistance. But for the time being, he has only succeeded in pushing the Sunni Arab regimes into the arms of Israel.

AHMADINEJAD’S MOST enthusiastic fans sit in the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv. What would they do without him?

Every year, the struggle over the defense budget breaks out anew. This year, with the economic crisis, the debate will be even more acrimonious. Little Israel maintains one of the largest and most expensive military establishments in the world. Relative to the GNP (gross national product), we easily trump the United States, not to mention Europe.

Must one ask why? Israel is surrounded by enemies who are plotting to destroy us! True, Egypt is now the most loyal collaborator of Israel, Iraq has quit the game for the time being, Syria has long since ceased to be a threat. Jordan is humble, the Palestinian Authority dances to our tune. It is hard to justify a giant defense budget for fighting little Hizbullah and tiny Hamas.

But there is Iran, thank God. And there is the fearsome Iranian bomb. Here you have an honest to God existential danger. Our Air Force declares that it is ready to take off any day – no, any minute – and eradicate all the many Iranian nuclear installations.

For that they need money, lots of money. They need the most advanced airplanes in the world, each of which costs many, many millions. They need suitable equipment for reaching the targets and fulfilling the task. That is more important than education, health or welfare. After all, the Iranian bomb will kill all of us – including the children, the sick and the underprivileged. (The tycoons may perhaps succeed in getting out in time.)

The budget will be approved, but the flyers will not fly. It is not clear whether such an attack is at all feasible. Neither is it clear if it would significantly postpone the production of the bomb. But it is clear that such an attack is not possible politically: it cannot be executed without the express confirmation of the US, and there is no chance that this will be forthcoming. The attack would almost automatically cause the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which all the Gulf oil is shipped. That would be catastrophic, especially during a world-wide economic crisis, when a huge rise in the price of oil can cripple the already weakened economies. No, our valiant pilots will have to content themselves with bombing residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

IT COULD be argued: if Ahmadinejad behaves like a Mossad agent, Avigdor Lieberman behaves like an agent of Iranian intelligence.

I don’t say so, God forbid. I really don’t want to be sued for libel.

But Lieberman’s behavior is indeed – how to put it – slightly bizarre.

True, for a moment he looked like a winner. After he sent Hosny Mubarak to hell, the Israeli media reported that the most important Egyptian minister had met with him, shaken his hand and invited him to Egypt. Perhaps he wanted to show him around the Aswan dam, which Lieberman once wanted to bomb. But the next day a furious Mubarak reacted by denying the story and declaring that Lieberman will not be allowed to set foot on Egyptian soil.

In the meantime, an important newspaper in Russia published an interview with Lieberman, in which he asserted that “the US will accept all our decisions.” Meaning: we rule America, Obama will do as we tell him.

Such talk will not increase Israel’s popularity in the White House, to say the least. Especially just now, after it was disclosed that the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC, has asked a congresswoman to intervene in favor of two American Jews indicted for spying for Israel. In return, AIPAC promised to get the Congresswoman appointed as chairwoman of a very important committee. How? Simple: AIPAC will tell the majority leader of the House that if she does not comply. a Jewish billionaire will stop contributing to her election fund. Not a very savory disclosure.

In brief, the Iranian Ahmadinejad and the Israeli Lieberman are Siamese twins. The one needs the other. Lieberman rides on the Iranian bomb, Ahmadinejad rides on Israeli threats.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). The answer is: Yes, indeed. These two can very well walk hand in hand without agreeing on anything.

http://www.avnery-news.co.il/english/

Can somebody please explain to me how it happened that Ahmadinejad, first class international buffoon, was given the opportunity to give a speech at the UN conference in Geneva this morning? What is the logic behind such foolishness? Is this bureaucratic thinking at its worse? Some strange flux in the rules that allowed Ahmadinejad to make a mockery out this conference?

I don’t know who deserves the most amount of anger, the UN for allowing this speech to happen, Ahmadinejad for making once again such a fool of himself, or the delegations for walking out of it (if they hadn’t already withdrew before the conference even started) instead of attempting to save the show. I do know though who will be the biggest victims of this travesty: the people this conference was ultimately meant to serve, the people that suffer from racism on a daily basis.
If Ahmadinejad had indeed any concerns for the racism Palestinians suffer at the hands of Israel, he didn’t exactly contribute to their cause, as he has now given Israeli and its allies an excellent opportunity to bail out of a necessary dialogue even more than they already did. Ahmadinejad is a fool, not simply because of his inability to contain his (justifiable) anger at Israel and letting it deteriorate into (unjustifiable) anti-Semitism, but because while doing so he is undermining the cause that he is attempting to address. His speech is exactly what hard lining Israeli need to exacerbate the conflict. Ahmadinejad managed to do the one thing that hard lining Israeli need in order to extenuate their governance through fear.

In my opinion, the rest of the world has only contributed to the hijacking of this by making such a fuss over all this nonsense beforehand and by now walking out on it. They should have stayed and fought over it, with calm and dignity. There is a way that adults who disagree with one another can communicate without creating a circus. This is not the way. I am very disappointed. There is a desperate need for forums where people of different opinions can share those opinions. I am disappointed in all those that have been promoting the demise of the conference, I am disappointed in the way the UN has managed (or rather has not managed) the conference, and I am disappointed in the lack of vision coming from the so called world leaders. Most of all I am disappointed in Obama himself. What is the point of shaking Chavez’s hand and then abstaining from this conference?

I belief that the global economic crisis linked with dissapearing resources and radically different pespectives of East and West, North and South, will only contribute to more racism, xenophobia and antisemitism. The stupid statements of a buffoon or the hurt pride of an Israel should not have been a deterrent to the attempts this conference had made to eliminate all of the above vices. Both Israel and its allies and Iran and its allies will only be more encouraged in its racist beliefs. That the world allowed this spectable to happen is a sad victory of pettiness over wisdom. And maliciousness over good will.

“Norway will not accept that the odd man out hijacks the collective efforts of the many,” Jonas Gahr Store (Norwegian Foreign Minister)

“We all should be mindful that a failure to agree on the way forward would negatively reverberate on the human rights agenda for years to come,” Navanethem Pillay (chairman of the conference)

“After Mr Ahmadinejad’s latest rant against Israel, all the elements are in place for a dangerous escalation”. Richard Beeston

“I fear that today’s economic crisis, if not handled properly, could evolve into a full-scale political crisis marked by social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost faith in their leaders and their own future, … In such circumstances, the consequences for communities already victimised by prejudice or exclusion could be frightening.Ban Ki Moon

'Strings for Peace'
A little story of hope that lightened up the news in the beginning of the week became a story of despair at the end of it. On March 25th, it was reported that a group of Palestinian children from Jenin (a miserable refugee camp in northern Westbank that was the stage of a bloodbath in 2002) gave a touching musical performance for holocaust survivors in the Israeli town Holon. Interestingly, the children had no idea they were singing for holocaust survivors, and the holocaust survivors had no idea the children had come from Jenin. After the performance they talked. And the holocaust survivors talked about the holocaust, of which the Palestinian children hadn’t heard of, and the children were shocked. And Zeid, one of the Palestinian kids told the survivors how his grandparents had fled from Haifa in 1948 and never were able to go back to their home. He also said how “Only people who have been through suffering understand each other”. The children had never seen Israeli civilians up close. They were surprised at how different the elderly Israeli looked compared to their own elderly.
 
It was too good to be true. This this story was followed up with reports that authorities in the Jenin camp had shut down the children’s orchestra, boarded up its rehearsal studio and banned its conductor from the camp after they had found out about the singing to the holocaust survivors.
 
This story sadly parallels another story involving music, peace, the middle east and too good to be true. A few months ago the Israeli public choose Mira Awad (a Christian Arab) and Achinoam Nini (Israeli and Jewish) to represent them in the 2009 Eurovision song festival (for those so lucky to have never heard of the Eurovision song festival, it is an annual orgy of kitchy music that captures the attention of a 100 million Europeans every year). Achinoam Nini has a long history of reaching out to Palestinians through her music (singing with them, refusing to sing in the settlements etc…) activities that the far right in Israel hasn’t exactly been appreciative of. Not a few of her concerts have been canceled due to bomb threats from the extreme right.
Anyway. as soon as this duo was elected to represent Israel in the festival, opposition and controversy rose up out of nowhere. It was however not the far right in Israel that soured the attempt at reconciliation but the (not that far) left. The duo was accused of prettifying the situation in Israel, of presenting a too rosy and harmonious picture of the situation within Israel. A petition went around to demand their withdrawal from the festival, saying that the duo “is giving the false impression of coexistence in Israel and is trying to shield the nation from the criticism it deserved.” Please note that the duo is not exactly singing kumbayas. Their songs are about the difficulties of reconciliation. They might very well end up being the least kitschy artists of the festival. If they make it.
 
Finally another story comes to mind. The one in which British soldiers and German soldiers in the trenches of WWI interrupted their brutal activities to sing Christmas songs together on a strip of land called no-man’s-land. The question I have is the following: if soldiers, caught up in the middle of one of the most brutal and harsh conditions, living in mud and with the only purpose of killing each other, can get themselves to stop hating each other and sing together for one cold and yet human Christmas evening, then why can’t the Israeli and Palestinians? Is the hatred so deep that even the mere talk of peace, the mere suggestion of reconciliation is enough to turn Palestinians and Israeli red-hot with rage? It made me think of the concept of a no-mans-land. Maybe it was the chunck of land that didn’t belong to anybody (why by the way does land always have to belong to somebody?) that made one evening of peace possible in 1917. No-mans-land as a condition of suspension of hatred between enemies. A neutral, hate-free zone so to speak. Can there be a symbolic or even a real no-mans-land between Israeli and Palestinians? A place where hatred is suspended and stories are shared? A place that belongs to everybody and to nobody at the same time?
 
“And when I cry, I cry for both of us, my pain has no name”
Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad sing.
 
 
 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3692571,00.html


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/world/middleeast/25israel.html?_r=2&ref=music

 http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-world/20090329/ML.Palestinians.Orchestra/print/

 
Achinoam Nini and Mira Awad

Israeli-Arab singing duo