April 2009

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Rush Limbaugh and others have been quick to associate the President with the swine flu and all other ills, it seems. Apparently this is a convenient way for Obama to get his choice for Director of Health and Human Services quickly appointed. The reality of this hate radio is shocking.

I have been thinking long and hard for many years about Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics“. This is one of the most important essays in American history by one of the most influential and insightful of America’s historians.

Here are some critical quotes:

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.

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SORROW FOR IRANIANS IN BAGHDAD

by mgopin on April 24, 2009 · 4 comments

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It has become commonplace for innocent religious worshippers to be a focal point of war. This time it is Iranian pilgrims in Baghdad, and we must mourn for them. It is true that the United States is responsible for the destruction of Iraq, but no one familiar with the politics and leaders of the region can fail to note the decades long devastation from proxy Sunni-Shiite wars fought since the Iranian Revolution. Al Qaeda knows how to stir that pot as an extremist Sunni organization, but the current leaders of Iran stir it further by proxy wars and agitations all over the Middle East. It is time for opinion of the majority of the Iranian people to dominate their politics and foreign policy, which is a focus on prosperity, basic human needs and dignity. One senses the trap that leaderships across the region are in as far as Sunni/Shiite violence. …

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MY HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

by mgopin on April 21, 2009 · 8 comments

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April 21 is the traditional commemoration of the Holocaust, which destroyed 90% of European Jews and 30% of world Jewry. Demography suggests that due to the number of children who were killed, over a million, there are over 20 million Jews missing now, and the population has never recovered.

Just a few of the six million murdered in the Holocaust were my kinsmen and cousins. Gopins came a hundred years ago from a small village called Troyanivka, now located in Western Ukraine. I dream of them all the time.

Troyanevka

Troyanevka

In August 1941 the Jewish residents were all rounded up and murdered at an oil dump that became their final resting place. There were approximately 200-300 men, women and children.

Here is an account of what happened:

In August 1941 the Nazis executed 375 Jewish men in Manevychi; in September 1942 the remaining Manevychi Jews, ca. 2,000 people, were killed

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NOT FOR CHILDREN UNDER 18

Find the courage to watch the slow death of an unarmed demonstrator in Palestine. Shamai Leibowitz, veteran Israeli Jewish human rights activist in Pursuing Justice reflects on evidence of an Israel Defense Forces murder of an unarmed and un-threatening demonstrator in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. You be the judge.

Bil\’lin

Did you notice what a sunny, beautiful day it is in the film? Does it remind you of the day on the beach in Camus’ The Stranger?  The simplicity of killing, the natural beauty that can coexist with it and not be somehow implicated in a crime against humanity? Are you haunted by Biblical verses on oppressing strangers and God driving people out of  promised lands? Such warnings are a strange and timeless echo of history that screams back at the banality of murder that Camus depicts on the warm, sunny beach. Camus’ …

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The Children of Afghanistan

The Children of Afghanistan

This important exchange took place at ICAR, my school, in recent days. This debate addresses a topic we must think about which is how and whether to engage extremists who have committed massive war crimes. Inevitably it devolves into questions of what we know and who we know it from, which also gets into issues of trust and distrust of prevailing sources of information in the West and elsewhere. I have come to see in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, especially the Israeli/Hamas conflict and the Hamas/Fatah conflict, that reliable information is very hard to come by. This is where we need to listen to each other, listen to victims, agree on core principles, and move forward with plans that attack the problem from several directions. It begins with Saira Yamin’s letter to NYT, continues with Professor Richard Rubenstein’s response and then Saira’s response:

More Force in

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Syrian Ambassador to the United States gives an important interview to CNN. The story is significant because Moustapha lays out the parameters of a separate Syrian/Israeli peace track, while also stressing the importance of a ‘comprehensive’ peace for Israel, which must include the Palestinian track. He also stresses that Lieberman is a more honest face of Israel than Livni and Olmert, considering the atrocities in Gaza. He would rather engage the real deal in Israel rather than deal with fake rhetoric. The nuances of his position are quite revealing of the different positions of Syria and Fatah. There is also praise for Obama and Mitchell, but caution that Mitchell’s job is harder than Ireland due to the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.…

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Hope springs eternal–and strangely. Kazakhstan, a nation with strong new ambitions, is offering to host a nuclear bank that would make it unnecessary for multiple nations to develop highly enriched unranium on their own. This is a critical alternative to many nations developing dual use technology leading to nuclear weapons grade  material. President Obama, of course, is supporting this proposal–and so is President Ahmadanijad of Iran. If this moves ahead it could form the basis of a non-military solution to the crisis between Iran, its neighbors, Israel and the West. Stay tuned.

There is a trend emerging here. First Turkey, now Kazakhstan, non-Arab Muslim nations who are stepping up to the plate to break the impasses of the Middle East that have dogged the world for hundreds of years. A confluence of new found confidence of emerging Islamic nations and the arrival of President Obama may be providing a way …

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This is the Arabic version of my previous post. Translated by our new contributor Azziz Abu Sarah of Palestine, new Senior Research Associate at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution which I direct.

دكتور مارك جوبن

لقد حان الوقت لحركه واسعة النطاق للنضال الفلسطيني على مبدأ اللاعنف لأن كل الطرق الاخرى فشلت. لدي امال بان حكومة اوباما ستكون الانجح في تقريب الحل بين الاطراف المتنازعة لكن في صميم قلبي شعرت دائما بأن هناك طريق واحد للسلام لم يعتمد حتى الان وهو طريق اللاعنف وعدم التعاون على اساس المحبة. طريق غاندي ومارتن لوثر كينج
لقد اتخذ العديد من الفلسطينيين في اسرائيل وفلسطين هذا الطريق من خلال المظاهرات السلمية الاحتجاجات ومقاطعة المنتوجات ولكن لم تتمتع هذه الحركة بالدعم الكامل لان النجاح لحركة اللاعنف مرتبط باختياره كالطريق الوحيد للنظال.
أنا لا أتحدث عن العدل أو انه من مسؤولية الفلسطينيين أن يمدوا ايديهم لليهود. في عالم عادل كان يتوجب على …

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Palestinian Youth from Beit Ula

Palestinian Youth from Beit Ula

The United Nations released an extremely revealing survey of Palestinian youth that says a great deal about the future of this region, if read properly.

Palestinian youth oppose violence to resolve conflict Jerusalem – Nearly 70 per cent of Palestinian young adults believe the use of violence to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not very helpful, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study released Tuesday.

Only 8 per cent believe violence is an important tool, the study, based on interviews with 1,200 Palestinians over the age of 17 in the West Bank and Gaza.

The study also found out that more than 80 per cent of young Palestinians are depressed, and 47 per cent identify themselves as Muslim rather than Palestinian.

It found that 39 per cent were “extremely” depressed and 42 per cent were depressed by their conditions. Depression was

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An important debate is raging on the future of the Western intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congressman Michael Honda has two important articles, here, and here. CRDC expert and ICAR student Neamat Nojumi, a former mujahaddin,  has an important piece here.

Central to these analyses is that military force alone will never solve the Afghanistan conflicts, nor will an intervention work that does not directly address the role that Pakistan has played in perpetuating this conflict for decades. Another more difficult question is the Taliban, how to compete with them more effectively,  how to defeat them, and whether to engage any of them.

All of the recommendations seem excellent. I also recommend reading The Kite Runner which has profoundly affected my life and my appreciation for what Afghanistan has gone through and who or what is responsible. I never cease to be amazed at how effectively …

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