January 2009

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Veteran journalist Orly Halpern writing an excellent piece in the Globe and Mail, deepens the story on the Gazan peacemaker/doctor whose three daughters were killed. The shocking reactions of some Israelis to his agony is an important clue to understanding the deterioration of the political/psychological atmosphere in Israel, and why the country, and its dwindling supporters, may be headed for a clash with the rest of the world.

“I prefer to believe the Israeli army, that a sniper shot from his house, and not [to believe] the doctor,” one Israeli posted on an Israeli news website.

“Is there such a thing as an Arab who is not Hamas?” asked another.

“How can anyone not believe this man?” a third wondered.

Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish grieves at a Tel Aviv hospital this month. The doctor, whose Gaza home was shelled, worked in Israeli hospitals for more than 20 years.

Ezzeldeen Abu

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THE FOLLOWING IS A LETTER BY MUTSUKO SUGITA, WHO RECENTLY SPENT A MONTH DOING PEACE WORK WITH ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS. HERE IS HER RESPONSE TO MY PREVIOUS POST ABOUT THE GAZAN PEACE DOCTOR. What is important about the letter is that it comes from a place of admiration and solidarity but at the same time a willingness to honestly share the world’s disappointment with Israel, as well as possible lessons from Japan’s experience. Here it is:

I also felt strong shock when I watched Doctor’s story on the CNN last week. It is a living hell.
“I wanted every Palestinian treated in Israel to go back and say how well the Israelis treated them,” he said. “That is the message I wanted to spread all the time. And this is what I get in return?” “Why did they do this?” I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer …

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Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, before the successful Gaza War with Hamas

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, before the successful Gaza War with Hamas

At first I was shocked when I read the story of the Gazan peace doctor who has been working with Israelis for years, whose daughters were decapitated and cut to pieces in front of him, from an Israeli shell aimed without care or caution at Hamas.

But then I went through a second stage of reaction when I was warmed by how amazing a reception he received in Israel. His surviving wounded daughter was operated on to save her eye as he was surrounded by sobbing Israeli Jewish colleagues. Here are excerpts from the story:

“I dedicated my life really for peace, for medicine,” said Dr. Abuelaish, who does joint research projects with Israeli physicians and for years has worked as something of a one-man force to bring injured and ailing Gazans for treatment in Israel.

“The Israeli Defense Forces

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Rabbi Frohman

Rabbi Frohman

Rabbi Froman, who we have written about before, is determined to convince the Israeli leadership to speak to Hamas. The pressure to do so is mounting, even now in the capital of Israel’s only real ally, the United States. It is especially mounting due to the slaughter of civilians in Gaza, and the war crimes that are likely to be exposed in detail by the Western media’s entry now into Gaza. But Rabbi Froman always has one idee fixe, namely, that religious people need to lead the way into the conversation with Hamas, an odious idea for government people in general. Rabbi Froman is one of the most courageous and controversial peacemakers in Israel. Notice how he empathically engages his Jewish listeners. What one cannot see here is how he does exactly the same thing as he engages his Arab audiences. This combination is a rare gift …

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TECHNICAL CHALLENGE WARNING: WINDOWS INTERNET EXPLORER WEB BROWSER HAS A FLAW AND IS  UNABLE TO DISPLAY MY WEBLOG PROPERLY. TRY FIREFOX AND OTHER BROWSERS, AND ASK MICROSOFT TO BE MORE COMPATIBLE. THANKS!

Blessed Are the Peacemakers is a new series in marcgopin.com that will feature writing by or about significant peacemakers who are confronting the conflicts facing humanity with courage, creativity, and passion.

The essay below is written by Hind Kabawat, the foremost peacemaker of Syria and my partner of five years in Middle Eastern peacemaking:

WHAT THE MIDDLE EAST NEEDS IS THE “AUDACITY OF HOPE”

For the last five years or so, I have been actively working with Jewish colleagues in the US and elsewhere to help broker a lasting reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbours. But in the wake of the carnage in Gaza, it is impossibly difficult to be optimistic about the future of the …

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A surprise development in the million dollar question of who President Obama will appoint to oversee  Israeli/Palestinian conflict intervention. I had lobbied hard in these pages earlier in the year for George Mitchell to be sent in. More recently there had been much speculation and controversy over the appointment of Dennis Ross. Serious media reports now indicate that former Senator Mitchell may be a strong possibility, and that this will meet with a much better reception in the world beyond the United States. I want to reiterate my arguments earlier for why Mitchell is crucial.

Here is an excerpt from Change in U.S. Middle East Policy:

The president must be a person who sees the need for constant engagement on the ground in Israel, so that both sides have a third party they can rely on to push for compliance to agreements. Both sides of the conflict need …

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President Obama at the Lincoln Memorial

President Obama at the Lincoln Memorial

This is a conversation on the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly of PBS that I wanted to share with you. Here is the link to the video, and below is the transcript of part I.

BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: Now, a conversation about the spirit of the country on the eve of the Obama inauguration. Alice McDermott is a writer, a National Book Award winner, whose latest novel is “After This.” Rabbi Marc Gopin is director of the Center on Religion, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Virginia. And Dr. Robert Franklin is president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.

Welcome to all of you. Bob Franklin, the mood of a country is an ambitious and sometimes elusive thing to try to get at. But what do you sense, especially among African Americans?

Dr. ROBERT FRANKLIN (President, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA): I think

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Akiva Eldar writes brilliantly as usual. Here is an excerpt:

What shared values did the black American liberal observe over the last few days as he watched the broadcasts of sites bombed by Israel in the heart of the world’s most densely populated region? Is it possible to expect that the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust will influence Obama’s relationship with Israel? Last week, a Jewish member of Britain’s parliament said his grandmother was not murdered by the Nazis in order to provide a pretext for Israeli soldiers to murder Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.

The spokesman for the Israeli consulate in New York boasted of the masses who attended a solidarity demonstration with the children of Sderot. He did not mention the masses of Jews who do not know where to hide their shame at the sight of pictures of Palestinian men weeping bitterly over the families who

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JOURNALS OF ECSTATIC HATE

by mgopin on January 16, 2009 · 13 comments

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Sometimes in the construction of a better world, it is necessary to go into the heart of darkness, to quote Conrad. Sometimes it is only in exploring our heart of darkness that we can figure out where we are, so that we know how to get beyond our current fallen state. I am drunk with blood these days, thoughts of blood, fear of blood, the rage of boiling blood, and so is anyone for whom  Palestine and Israel are a fixation.

This report of carnage in a Gaza hospital in all its horrifying details is typical of the innocents who are being cut to pieces. What stands out is the report of the impatient, smiling Islamic Jihad fighter who is just thrilled with the blood of his own people. New recruits to his cause. He sees around him a man with his

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Police Line at American Embassy in London

Police Line at American Embassy in London

Radwan is one of the most passionate voices for Islam and democracy in the world today. He is an important force for change in Washington. He wrote this letter to me:

Dear Marc:

I just participated in a conference call, organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, with Shibley Telhami on the situation in Gaza. I took a lot of notes, and wanted to ask several questions, but unfortunately did not have an opportunity to ask them. So, I wanted to share my comments and questions with you in the hope that they may help us to find the right solution to this very dangerous situation in Gaza and in the Middle East.

First some important comments:

1. It is very dangerous and counter-productive for the US to be always siding “unconditionally” with Israel. Yes, of course, Israel has “the right to respond”. …

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