Apology

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As we end this Passover/Easter time, I am struck and impressed by the emphasis Christian friends have placed on their tradition’s understanding of Jesus having said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Frankly, that resonates with me for two reasons. One, it is good science. Everything we know today about groupthink, war crimes, the authoritarian personality, the origins of genocide and state crimes says to me that most people don’t know what the hell they are doing as citizens, and they end up hurting a lot of people without even knowing it. I am astonished at the collective narcissistic personality disorder of most enemy groups I work with, deeply obsessed with the pain of those they love, and clueless about the rest. So those words resonate: we have to forgive ourselves because we are pretty stupid when it comes to the big crimes we have all …

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I remember sitting very peacefully in the synagogue on Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, just five days after my disastrous Yom Kippur fast day, which fortunately I completed despite serious exhaustion. Fasts, as anyone who does them knows, are deeply personal affairs, struggles that pull you right into yourself and away from global concerns. But following the rhythms of life, Sukkot takes you right back from the exalted and highly personal inner reality of Yom Kippur. Sukkot pulls you into reality, into identity, human identity and Jewish identity, and the tension between them.

 

In the ancient world, Jerusalem was apparently a place where people of many nationalities gathered around the holiday of Sukkot, and it seems for that reason that the question of ‘Israel and the nations’, for lack of a better phrase, seems to come up quite a bit in the ancient rabbinic liturgy, the choices especially …

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I was reading this headline in Ha’aretz and by sheer accident, it was in the same column as another headline, “A superb day for the Jewish people’: Kagan sworn in as Supreme Court judge”

And I was just struck by the paradox of pride and shame of being an identified Jew in 2010. On the one hand, another Jewish woman reaches the most honored position of legal wisdom in the United States, an achievement that in my youth I would have called a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of the Divine Name, a testimony to the hard work of centuries of her forebears who kept alive Talmud study and the search for knowledge and wisdom and now, thankfully, yielding the proper results with the honor of women as equals in achievement.

And then, and then….The same page, also an enormously distinguished good woman, my cousin as a Jew, someone of …

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Folks, many of you may have seen this, but we have friends in the world who cannot directly access the Jerusalem Post piece. So here it is. Lauren is an amazing interviewer. She interviewed me for nine hours, longest interview of my life:

The lonely man of peace

lonelymanofpeace

By LAUREN GELFOND FELDINGER

21/01/2010

This week, Orthodox American rabbi Marc Gopin saw his coexistence work in Syria bear fruit. What turns a Soloveitchik disciple into an unofficial diplomat to the Arab…Somewhere between the shtetls of Eastern Europe and sites across the Levant, Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, 52, has found his calling.

Heading the George Mason University Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in Arlington, Virginia, he is not waiting for a peace treaty to cause change. Gopin gets on a plane and heads for trouble spots wherever he can find openings. He meets with sheikhs, heads of state …

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An Acceptable Unilateral Action

by mgopin on June 4, 2009 · 7 comments

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President Obama speaks in Cairo

“So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”

This is an excerpt from President Obama’s speech in Cairo. It is a fairly straightforward statement that most reasonable people would agree on. Obama also understands that it is not enough to simply want an end to conflict and to develop trust. We must also work towards these goals. However, prior to the delivery of this speech many American politicians and pundits criticized President Obama about the first steps towards a more peaceful, just and trusting world. These first steps are acknowledgment of dignity and an authentic apology.

“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims …

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TURKEY’S RETURN TO GLORY

by mgopin on March 18, 2009 · 5 comments

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This article just appeared in Today’s Zaman and in Zaman which is Turkey’s preeminent journal. As you can see this has been part of my ongoing efforts to introduce and encourage far more intermediaries in the Middle Eastern conflict who can be effective, trustworthy and more even handed that Western intervention. This is meant also to encourage the United States, Hilary Clinton, and others to follow the lead of where the most moderate voices of the Islamic world are going. This is also a development of my work in Syria which has encouraged cultural revival that is peace-oriented, practical and visionary at once.

Turkey’s return to glory
by
Marc Gopin
For reasons of history, culture and geography, there is a surprising opportunity for Turkey to assume a position of central global leadership in the 21st century and thereby further all of its legitimate national interests.

This is shocking considering the

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Waltz with Bashir

by mgopin on February 3, 2009 · 7 comments

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A Movie About 1982 and the Soul of Israel

A Movie About 1982 and the Soul of Israel

Here is a must read from an Israeli patriot who was devastated by the movie and his own depression over leadership and the endless cycle of war and revenge. Please read and react.  I have been devastated and cleansed by the movie for a week. While much of Burston’s analysis is powerful and convincing I do not think that ‘we live in post-moral world’. Israelis, and Palestinians, are indeed caught in a web of terrible leadership, with choices between corruption on the one side, and uncorrupted, clear unadulterated violence–and suicide–on the other. But this is not a post-moral world. It seems that way to those inside this insanity, but to those outside morality is alive and well, and the answers are not as complicated as leadership on all sides has made them out to be: Respect your enemy, never surround an …

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THE REFUGEES, PALESTINIANS AND ISRAEL

by mgopin on September 17, 2008 · 2 comments

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Ehud Olmert is beginning to outline his final vision of peace between Israel and Palestine, and it is revealing.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the price of an agreement with the Palestinians would “move us very close” to an exchange of equal amounts of territory, and that this must be stated “honestly and courageously.” The alternative to an agreement is a bi-national state, an idea, he said that “ever-growing segments of the international community are adopting.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Olmert said the agreement now being formulated would give the Palestinians 100 percent of the West Bank, or territory of a similar area. “I’ll still be here,” he told committee members who said they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to wish him good-bye, in light of the Kadima primary Wednesday, which is expected to result in his resignation.

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The remarkable agreement between Italy and Libya for compensation as an apology for colonialism sets a very important precedent for the relationship between the Middle East and the West. Salah Sarrar reports:

Libya and Italy signed an accord on Saturday under which Italy will pay $5 billion in compensation for colonial misdeeds during its decades-long rule of the North African country.

“This accord opens the door to the future cooperation and partnership between Italy and Libya,” Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said at the signing ceremony at a palace which was once the headquarters of the Rome government’s senior official during the 1911-1943 colonial rule.

Italy has had difficult relations with Gaddafi since he took power in 1969 but has backed Tripoli’s recent drive to mend fences with the West. The “friendship pact” removes a major hurdle to an improvement in ties.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the accord ends

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