July 2009

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rabbi

This is an interesting discussion between two thoughtful Jews, Erica Brown and Jeffrey Goldberg, who cannot fathom why Jews, religious Jews, have given birth to so many ethical scandals of late. I sympathize with much of their analysis, except one elephant in the room that is always left out: a modern Jewish education focused on defense of a country, Israel, rather than a set of values that are non-negotiable. That has turned away millions of Jewish kids who look to liberalism or Buddhism instead for peace, quiet and nonviolence, and it has made a mockery of Jewish ethics. You can’t teach hate of billions of people, Muslim or Arab or Palestinian, and expect people not to sell kidneys, torture animals, and destroy foreign workers’ lives. The human psyche does not work that way. And this is an overwhelming reason for the sorry state of Jewish religious life.…

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This is something to watch. Ashkenazi believes Hezbollah may be instigating tensions with Israel. But we don’t know who else is operating in Southern Lebanon, including Israel and Al Qaeda. Would it not be terribly convenient if Katyushas fly over and hostilities break out with Lebanon just as Israel is against the wall about a settlement freeze? Lebanon is and always has been the plaything of international forces. Now that it appears that a Syrian/Saudi/American rapprochement is at hand regarding Lebanon this does not mean that others want the situation stable. Even Ashkenazi could be undermined by other forces inside. Mitchell is right and must keep pressing comprehensive peace settlements, and they must nip every attempt to destabilize right in the bud, calling it for what it is, and holding the parties implicated responsible. The intelligence services know, and it is time for the political peacemakers to hold everyone publicly …

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Armed Shopkeeper Takes Pity on Robber

by mgopin on July 29, 2009 · 3 comments

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Here is a touching encounter between a Muslim shopkeeper and a robber, suggesting a different approach to religion, violence and justice.

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This is just ridiculous. One more humiliation for Palestinians, one more embarrassment for Jewish identity, which, by the way, justifies Jewish attachment to the land of Israel through a religion that completely outlaws withholding food or wages from workers. It is even forbidden to withhold food from working animals. It is time for Israel to live up to the past of Jewish ethics. I invite anyone reading this to join Mahsom Watch for just two weeks to find out that this is not about security or saving lives. Israel and its supporters must change, and it is hearing that now from the whole world, including the American Congress. This is slow but inevitable, so why prolong the humiliation of all of this?

palestinian-workers1

Privately run checkpoint stops Palestinians with ‘too much food’
By Amira Hass

A West Bank checkpoint managed by a private security company is not allowing Palestinians to

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Palestinians of a Jewish Origin??

by mgopin on July 21, 2009 · 1 comment

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This video just blew me away. I know the secular progressives among  you will be horrified. How can this man try to convince everyone that Palestinians are actually Jewish and THAT is why Jews should care for them and treat them as brothers. This does not conform to the classic enlightenment and democratic approach to social justice. On the other hand, I never cease to be amazed by how many conflicts around the world seem to be solved in some people’s world view by an appeal to kinship and family. Kin means everything to billions of people. I frankly don’t care at this point how people come to a nonviolent politics, just that they do. Tell me what you think?

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Analysis continues on the reality of Hamas’ powerful role in Palestinian politics, whether or not their popularity at this moment is going up or down, in itself a contest topic.

Here is an excerpt from a recent USIP report, no less interesting because it is USIP that has published it. Tell me what you think:

Discussion in the United States regarding Hamas is usually framed by two somewhat contradictory assumptions: (1) that Hamas is ideologically incapable of evolving to accept the existence of Israel and (2) that isolation and strong pressure are the only tools that may force it to recognize Israel. This controversial report challenges both assumptions. On the one hand, the authors, make a case for recognizing that Hamas has already, in certain respects, changed and has sent signals regarding its possible coexistence with Israel. On the other hand, they conclude that Hamas might never “recognize” Israel in

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Hello from Switzerland and Caux. I am curious what my readers think of this video.

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In a December 31, 2008 conference call with Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, an American grassroots Jewish organization dedicated to promoting a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Marc shared his “on-the-ground perspective of the…violence in Gaza and southern Israel and the need for U.S. Leadership.”

Listen to the call here or read a transcript of the interview here.

Marc reflects  now:

I stand by much of what I concluded in that interview. I remember vividly the circumstances of that interview. I was on the floor of a very cold apartment at night, unsure if i would be heard because my only connection was skype (as usual no budget for my work), and my computer only worked with skype on the floor.

I was impressed with the questions I received, and it was rather a relief to reflect on the issues instead of living it. In the first days …

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Frank Luntz has done it again, putting his prodigious talents to work for reactionary causes, finding amazingly simple–though not simplistic–communications strategies to obstruct basic truths and delay a little longer the march of history. All the major issues that the world now sees as obvious and plain as day–climate change, tobacco as a killer, for example–were at one time subject to the brilliant obfuscations of communications manipulation. Now Frank has turned that to the purposes of the so-called pro-Israel community, which is not and does not represent a pro-Israel position but rather a pro-settlement and pro-war position.

Newsweek has exposed Frank’s playbook, over a hundred pages of it. The pro-peace community, the community that considers itself pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian should study this method and turn it on its head. Exposing it and reversing its use is the best way to neutralize its fundamental dishonesty.

In the report, Luntz describes

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Marc Gopin – To Make the Earth Whole

heather-duboisThe Psalmist said three thousand years ago, “Seek peace and pursue it.” The rabbis of the Talmud added two thousand years ago, “Seek it in your own place, and pursue it to other places,” which I guess I understood to mean, “pursue it to other places that are the most risky that you can imagine.”

This passage from Rabbi Marc Gopin’s new book, To Make the Earth Whole, summarizes Gopin’s mind-frame during his January 2005 journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, a journey that would initiate a citizen diplomacy effort between partners in Syria and the United States over the course of several years. After a chance meeting with Syrian-Canadian attorney and peace-activist Hind Kabawat at the World Economic Forum in May 2004, Gopin, the celebrated educator and author, and

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