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International politics from the "decent Left".
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:: Friday, February 15, 2002 ::

This is either really sad or really funny. I'll let you decide.
:: Judah 5:20 PM [+] ::

My blog is doing weird things with the text. Hopefully, it'll get fixed soon. If not, I trust you can read it anyway.
:: Judah 4:57 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 ::

Blatant promotion: My girlfriend, Dena, is a junior at Tufts University in Medford/Somerville, MA. She lives in the Bayit. Here's more about her: Check out Room 301. I love her more than life itself.
:: Judah 11:07 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, February 11, 2002 ::

I'm spending next week on the American Jewish World Service's Alternative Spring Break program in El Salvador. We're going to be living in a small villiage called Ciudad Romero and helping in reconstruction efforts from the 12 year civil war, the hurricanes, and last year's earthquake. Our village is named after Archbishop Oscar Romero who spoke out against the war and the government and got assassinated for it, 20 years ago. El Salvador has a fascinating history of repressive governments, exploitation of its labor force and environmental resources by American companies like the Gap, and incredibally resourceful people who continue to push for democracy.
:: Judah 11:47 PM [+] ::

Sometimes Ha'aretz has articles that make me hopeful. Like this one, especially the section entitled "The 35th Anniversary".
:: Judah 11:42 PM [+] ::

So, the American left has, I would say, at least three groups: the isolationists/anti-imperialists/antiwar folk, the pacifist/moral-strategic/pro-nonviolent intervention left, and the pro-military intervention left. Two groups are against the military attacks that are known as the "War on Terrorism", and two groups believe American power can be a force for good in the world. Given all this, what should the left do now? Give up opposing the war and focus on fighting the economic and social causes of terrorism like poverty? Support nation-building and peacekeepers in Afghanistan? Support nonviolent democratic movements worldwide? Support renewable energy so as to keep oil from dictating Middle East policy? Post your thoughts and comments (use the link above, where it says "discussion board") and I'll post the best responses on here oever the next few days.
:: Judah 11:40 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, February 10, 2002 ::

There was a 10,000 person demonstration against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza last night in Tel Aviv's Museum Square. It got almost no coverage in the U.S. Veteran peace activists like Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom and former minister Shulamit Aloni of Meretz spoke and singer Achinoam Nini (known in the US as Noa) sang John Lennon's "Imagine" in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. The rally also included the poigniant singing of the old Zionist anthem "Ayn Li Eretz Acheret (I Have No Other Land)", in both Hebrew and Arabic, giving it new meaning: " "I have no other country to go to. And even if the land is burning under my feet, this is my home."
:: Judah 7:05 PM [+] ::

I wrote this a few years ago when I lived in Israel. I think it still applies:

Israel got to me. After spending day in and day out working and studying
Hebrew at Kibbutz Galed, after studying the writings of classical
Zionist thinkers such as Ahad Ha'am and A.D. Gordon, after living in a
lower class Moroccan neighborhood on the outskirts of Tel Aviv and
volunteering for environmental causes, Israel finally got to me. I
became a full-fledged Zionist, ready to make aliyah sometime after
college.
It felt right to be here.
I felt fulfilled. I felt that the future of the Jewish people lay in our
own state. Of course, Israel has problems, but only by moving here and
taking responsibility to change them could I really be able to affect
the Jewish people. For too long had the Israelis separated themselves
from the Jews. I wanted to come here, to help make Israel the creative
center of Jewish life in the world, to heal its divides, to return its
moral mission, to build a new Jewish culture based on our values and
traditions. I wanted to help make Israel the place I dreamed of.
Two weeks ago, I began an internship with a group called Seeds of Peace.
A New York-based group, Seeds of Peace brings together Israeli and Arab
teens (and is currently expanding to teens from Cyprus and the Balkans)
at a camp in Maine. It does not take political stands, but encourages
coexistence and allows kids to humanize the other side, to put a face to
their enemy and to make relationships with those whom with they would
have no contact otherwise. Last year, Seeds of Peace opened up its
Regional Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem, to help keep their work
going when the participants return home.
While working at the Center, I've gotten to know some wonderful people,
American, Israeli and Palestinian. Being familiar with American and
Israeli culture, it was the Palestinian culture that fascinated me. I
was shown parts of Jerusalem to which I had never been. I began to learn
very basic Arabic and speak to people about Palestinian life and
culture.
I also got to know people whose Palestinian nationalist dreams directly
contradicted my Zionist ones. I ate lunch with one man, only later
finding out that he had spent years in Israeli prisons for nationalist
activities. I heard people eloquently explain why they feel that there
is no choice but to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. I also heard
age-old stereotypes perpetrated by both the Palestinian and Israeli
education systems, the same old comparisons of suffering, the same old
denial of the others' connection to this land as real.
What was supposed to happen to the campers was happening to me. I had
begun to see Palestinians as individual people with dreams as important
to them as mine are to me. I was starting to get over my fears of the
unknown others. I had started to make friends.
At the same time, I still believed as strongly in my Zionist ideals as
before. However, in the Zionist community I still find overwhelming
numbers of people who say, "I don't trust the Palestinians," or, "I
don't like Arabs". It is not uncommon to find the view that the
Palestinians should be grateful for whatever we give them. Even worse,
that they aren't a nation, can't have nationalist aspirations, and the
Jews know how to rule the Palestinians better than they can rule
themselves. Somehow, in the 20-some years Zionists have spent trying to
convince the world that Zionism is not racism, racism has become an
accepted part of Jewish nationalism; because there are conflicts between
Israelis and Palestinians, it's alright to not treat them as humans.
I find these views totally at odds with any kind of Zionist belief I
have. If the Jewish people have a special mission in the world, how can
the physical representation of that mission be based on an ideology of
hate? If we are to build a positive, creative Jewish culture here, how
can we do that while still denying others basic human rights?
After fifty-two years of existence, Israel faces a number of important
existential questions. How can we relate to our neighbors? How does
religion play a role in our state? What is a truly Jewish culture? But
we need to ask ourselves first, "What is the basic moral make-up of our
still developing nation?" I can't see myself losing my belief in
Zionism, but it is becoming harder and harder to associate myself with
the Jewish nationalist community.
:: Judah 6:54 PM [+] ::

Hmm... We haven't captured Osama Bin Laden or gotten rid of terrorism, but we have killed plenty of innocent Afghans. Is it worth it?
:: Judah 6:38 PM [+] ::

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