November 2008

Mumbai

by mgopin on November 28, 2008 · 10 comments

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I have tried to concentrate on putting the finishing touches on my book manuscript to hand into the publisher. I was looking forward to the exquisitely quiet isolation of writing days when I got a phone call from a young person at Al Jazeera English here in DC on Wednesday. “We need you to talk about the violence in India tonight.” I thought that she meant the ongoing issues between Hindu militants and Christians and so I said, “Sure.” I was just on their station about that subject a few weeks ago. I had no idea. Then I got a call two minutes later, voice agitated, “We need you sooner, like in two hours.” I said, “Sure, send me what you have in the latest updates to my email.” Another phone call, “How fast can you get here?!” I started to smell the horror of something terrible.

I stayed at …

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Aaron Miller writes an extremely pessimistic piece of advice for President elect Obama on the impossibility of Israeli/Palestinian peace right now. I think that it is a very well written piece, and that anything Aaron writes should be studied carefully. But there are two responses that should soften his pessimism.

There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are “this close” (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.

The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The

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Jewish and Arab Teenagers in Israel: Do they have a future together?

Jewish and Arab Teenagers in Israel: Do they have a future together?

Foreign Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni is in a fight she is likely to lose to become the next prime minister of Israel. Reports coming in indicate that Likud, and therefore its head Benjamin Netanyahu, will be able to put together the next Israeli government. So it is not surprising that Livni, who has advocated a peace process vociferously, would now be appealing to the right wing in the American Jewish community and in Israel by emphasizing her Jewish allegiances. She said recently:

“The world is willing to defend the right of the state of Israel to exist, this is the part of the requirement that the [Mideast] Quartet demands [of] Hamas. But I would like to add two more words to this demand of the quartet: They need to accept the right of Israel to exist as

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It is not easy to be a nation that advocates and indeed missionizes on democracy and the rule of law. It is the missionizing that causes the conflict with those who may want democracy and the rule of law in their own country but are blind-sided by the glaring American hypocrisies of recent years. Plans are already underway by President elect Obama’s team as to how to end the illegal imprisonment of combatants at Guantanomo, and to return the United States to a nation of laws. Why was this so hard? Was revenge that important? This remains a mystery to me.

An abomination that must end

An abomination that must end

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“You can be anybody you want to be!”

by mgopin on November 10, 2008 · 0 comments

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Election Night

I stood next to this family in the final moments when Obama was elected, right as they were announcing California and the West Coast. My Ruthie was capturing everything on film. We were in a room of over a thousand people all of whom had worked on the Washington regional campaign.

Look at the eyes, look at the faces. I think I have waited forty years to see these eyes, these looks of wonder, pain and joy, all mixed, as if it were a hundred generations of ancestors in their eyes.

I came of age and into political consciousness with the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The tragedy has weighed on me ever since, pretty heavily, for family reasons. It is they who were on my mind at that moment standing next to this lovely family all of us screaming at the top of our lungs!! I …

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Barack Obama, my new president, has ushered in a new era of American history, on many levels. But we are quickly moving to the question of how President Obama’s leadership and governance will operate, what will it look like in practice. Everyone is looking for clues, and Dan Balz has an excellent article on deciphering those hints of the future, based on Tom Mann’s insights at the Brookings Institution.

His voting record and the platform upon which he ran certainly suggest that his beliefs put him left of center. But Obama allies point to his pledge to govern inclusively as a counter to those who say his real purpose is to drive through the liberals’ agenda.

“He is genuinely a progressive, but he’s not an ideologue,” argued Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution. “He’s a broadly pragmatic person who, when confronted with new situations, is prepared to take a new

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The Race Canard Put to Rest

by mgopin on November 5, 2008 · 1 comment

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Many people I know said that America would never elect a black man President. Some were just plain racist, and some east coast liberal intellectual types who are scared of the other America.  They were all very wrong. Yesterday, 62,443,218 people burried that canard and voted for Barack Obama. This is more than a decisive victory, it is the most votes anyone has ever received in any election in American History.…

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I was phoning somewhere in the American South for Obama the other day. What an education for me! There were simple, poor families that have been energized by the campaign, volunteering, excited. There were some angry independents, a completely nuts Nader person who hung up on me after screaming about women getting 93 cents on the dollar.

And then there was “Jim Crow” himself, who I have always longed to meet. When I say “Jim Crow” I mean those people in the United States who have actively supported racial segregation their whole lives. They actively ensured through legislation in the late nineteenth century, referred to as the “Jim Crow Laws”, that blacks would remain segregated and unequal in the United States, in a steady reversal of the gains made by victory in the Civil War over slavery. The great President Woodrow Wilson was actually the first Southern Democrat to …

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