Obama

THE BOSTON EFFECT AND THE AGE OF OBAMA

by mgopin on April 21, 2013 · 8 comments

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Some observers have claimed that terror won the day in Boston because it managed to shut down an entire modern city of the United States. This is a misreading of the entire episode from beginning to end, and a misreading of the age and legacy of President Barack Obama. Let me digress from Boston to what I am calling the Age of Obama and then return to the Boston terror episode.

Although President Obama has proven to be weak in confronting the worst corruptions of the war on terror, such as Guantanamo, and a slew of illiberal laws in place, the fact is that from the beginning of his aspiration to the presidency he made it clear that war reduction was his priority, and he has followed through on that in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most important shift he has made, however, from the Age of Bush is to replace …

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From the explosion of Osama Bin Laden into our consciousness on that terrible day in 2001, all the way to his death, feels like a frame of existence, a distinct period of our history and fate as an American community. There have been many deadly wars since then that America has participated in or supported. As an American Jew and a veteran peacebuilder in the Middle East, I also feel like this decade has been a whirlwind of violence, from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza, and now to Arab countries in which I had worked, especially Syria where I put my heart and soul.

Every war, every massive act of violence, always makes me reflect anew on the origins and nature of human violence, and on its opposites, empathy, compassion, and love. We humans have made so many efforts through the millennia to create one political arrangement after another in …

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President Obama has signaled in recent days that he will be confronting China much more on its global policies. But China is on the rise as the premier economic global power, even as America is on the decline, and it remains to be seen what kind of confrontation could be effective. Will China’s rise actually be good news for the world? This will depend on how China rises, and it will be wise to challenge China on its humanitarian impact every bit as much as on its economic impact globally. Let’s look at one example.

Burma has one of the worst governments in the world, a place where citizens live in terror. The military junta seized power when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 392 of the 492 seats in Parliament. It does not fully control the Hill Country on the west and east sides of the country, inhabited by …

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this article points out a systemic-perspective suggesting the "proximity talks" as a tactical move through which Israeli, Palestinian and American leadership can work within one strategy to reduce the power of the radical elements in their society. While many question the content-value of the "Proximity talks," many neglect the power structure it creates as an opportunity to put pressure on the radical elements within these societies and open the gate to agreement between Israel and Palestine. The concern should be the drift of the moderate elements in these societies toward radical reaction that will block opportunity for change. The inner conflicts within Israel and Palestine are blocking the progress and need to be contained for the establishment of a Palestinian state in near future.

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obama from below

I certainly hope that the President can move forward a health care agenda in his upcoming speech, despite the insane descent of the debate this summer. But it was a bad summer for President Obama. It was not long ago that those of us who love Obama held our breath as he seemed to stumble  in August on the way to the end of the election period exactly a year ago. In August he seemed paralyzed before he came roaring back in the Fall to coast to victory. Here we are again with August behind us wondering what has happened to Obama’s capacity to fight for what he believes in. This time, of course, it is about health care, but it is about so much more than that. It is about whether the Right can capitalize on Obama’s soft spots, on the corruption of Washington on  both sides of the …

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President Obama and President Abbas

President Obama and President Abbas

Iran threat pushing Arabs closer to normalization with Israel
By Akiva Eldar

…Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa notes that peace is not a light bulb easily switched on, but admits that the Arabs have made public-relations blunders. “An Israeli might be forgiven for thinking that every Muslim voice is raised in hatred,” he writes, “because that is usually the only one he hears. Just as an Arab might be forgiven for thinking every Israeli wants the destruction of every Palestinian.” Khalifa urges the Arabs to communicate directly with the Israelis and tell them their story.

If Olmert’s defense of the settlements was grist for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mill, the Bahraini prince’s call for normalization made Obama’s weekend. The start of normalization between the nations is a key item on the president’s agenda. It’s the undertone intended to ease the creation of a blueprint for

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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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A Young Israeli Reflects on Gaza

by mgopin on July 8, 2009 · 4 comments

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By Kobi Skolnick

food-aid-gaza1

It has been six months since Israel launched an incursion into Gaza, and the anniversary has prompted the Red Cross to release a report on life since the operation.

According to the report, 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair” because of the continuing Israeli blockade, and since April 2007 there has been an 80% decrease in the number of truckloads allowed through the boarder. With the population of Gaza being made up mainly of teenagers and children, this means many children are suffering from malnourishment and poor health. Furthermore, the Red Cross reports the people of Gaza are powerless to restore their lives and are sliding deeper into hopelessness. (See the full report here.)

Nor has the situation in Gaza left Israel’s soldiers unaffected. After the Israeli operation in December, there were alarming cases of immorality among our finest soldiers. According to

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