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:: Thursday, June 13, 2002 ::

Two quickies from Yoel Marcus in Ha'aretz:
Israel has become a two-thirds state. Public opinion polls show that
two-thirds of the public is for something - and also against it. Two-thirds say
they are very satisfied with Sharon, but the same number of people say he's no
good in economy and defense. Two-thirds are in favor of a regional conference
based on the Saudi proposal, but the same number of people vote thumbs
down for the proposal itself. Two-thirds support the Likud's vote against a
Palestinian state, but the same number of people support Sharon's decision
not to vote against it. Two-thirds are in favor of Operation Defensive Shield, but
the same number say it solved nothing. Two-thirds say Arafat should be
liquidated, but the same number say we should talk to him. Mina Zemach of the
Dahaf polling organization calls it the shotgun approach. If you spray enough
bullets, maybe you'll hit something.

In order to avoid having to decide and make the necessary compromises,
Sharon sets conditions. The stupidest of them is his demand that the
Palestinian Authority institute reforms and replace the Palestinian leadership
with an organized, responsible, democratic, corruption-free government. If
Jordan and Egypt weren't dictatorships, is there any way we could have made
peace with them? If Arafat demanded that Israel carry out reforms before sitting
down to the negotiating table, I wonder what he would ask for. To replace
Sharon with a relevant leader? To stop the incitement against the Palestinians?
To trim the government by getting rid of 15 ministers? To hand over Yatom for
the attempted assassination of Khaled Meshal? To haul Eli Yatzpan in front of a
judge? To end religious coercion? To improve the conditions in Israeli jails? To
give up our nuclear weapons and elect Ahmed Tibi president? When are we
going to stop manufacturing excuses?
:: Judah 10:21 PM [+] ::

Follow Up: If the territories don't provide security and denying the residents' rights (citizenship, voting, free speech, free movement) isn't a moral thing to do, then what's the reason to be in the territories? If Israel stays in - there's no security and they're doing something none of us would justify. If Israel gets out - security is no worse, the country behaves in way we can all be proud of, and, just maybe, it's a step forward to peace.
The way refusnik Guy Grossman explains it: If Israel denies Palestinians their rights, its not a democratic state. If it absorbs them with full rights, its not a Jewish state. The only other option is to get out of the territories. There is no choice and no excuses, the occupation must end.
:: Judah 10:18 PM [+] ::

The idea that Israel can't leave the West Bank and Gaza for security reasons is the result of an old way of thinking. The only way that holding on to extra territory could protect Israel is if there was a land invasion from the East, meaning Jordan. Holding on to the territory will not prevent missile strikes from Iraq, a very real threat, or terror from Palestinians. Missiles can travel over the land, be it Jordan, Israel, or Palestine, and it appears to be obvious that Israel's control is doing nothing to prevent terrorism.
The continued fear, then, is only of a massive invasion not seen since 1973 of a united Arab front against Israel. While one can easily understand the roots of such a fear, especially for the older generations and those who have learned directly from them, there hasn't been an Arab invasion in 29 years. Since then, there have been (very successful) peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan, the Palestinian people have come more to terms with a two state solution, and Jordan has renounced its claim to the West Bank. In fact, the only leader whom the territories would provide security against, the King of Jordan, is Israel's closest ally in the Middle East. Those of us who came of age since the Camp David Accords of 1979, know that there is a possibility for peace and we refuse to let the old thinking of Sharon and the other dinosaurs keep that from us.
:: Judah 10:14 PM [+] ::

Thanks to Tapped, MaxSpeak, and Le Blogeur for the mentions over the past few days. Don't worry, updates are coming soon. In the meanwhile, for great commentary on the Middle East check out Americans for a Third Way, from my list of links.
:: Judah 9:02 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 ::

Tapped wants to know more about the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Israel, who issued the report on civillian casualties in the current Intifada. The ICT is an idealogically right-wing/millitaristic group, their writings opposing Israeli peace initiatives since Yitzhak Rabin. As a sociologist, I wonder how the ICT defined "combatant". I'm pretty sure the numbers could be spun any number of ways.
:: Judah 1:43 PM [+] ::

The Washington Post editorializes on how scary it is when Americans in the judicial system are subject to the whims of the President alone in a breach of separation of powers.
:: Judah 1:25 PM [+] ::

Ramesh Ponnuru on why partisanship can be a good thing during wartime.
:: Judah 1:23 PM [+] ::

Israelis don't worry about the imminent destruction of the Jewish people as much as American Jews do, due largely to manipulation by the Israeli political right. Via MaxSpeak.
:: Judah 12:28 AM [+] ::

My housemates, who run the Student Global AIDS Campaign at Brandeis, would be dissapointed to hear that the White House convinced GOP Senators to cut 60% from proposed new funding to fight AIDS.
:: Judah 12:06 AM [+] ::

Texas Republicans include a call for an all-Christian judiciary at their convention. Aren't you glad you moved to Boston, Dena?
:: Judah 12:04 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, June 10, 2002 ::

Brandon Keim on the furor over Harvard commencement's "jihad speech". After all the calls for moderate Muslims to reclaim Islam from the fanatics, isn't a Muslim student leader who defines jihad as personal struggle for meaning and justice exactly what we should be supporting?
:: Judah 11:59 PM [+] ::

I have fallen into a trap. At times, what I publish appears to be overwhelmingly anti-Israel. I have been posting to convince people who is wrong, and not what is right. In my community at Brandeis, at home in the Cleveland Jewish community, and in American culture at-large, I get the sense that there's a lack of understanding of the two-sided nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Especially since September 11th, people have placed it into a context they understand: a fight against terror. Similarly during the Cold War, many Americans viewed the conflict as American ally vs. Soviet allies. In the black power movement, and now amongst socialists, it's seen as a conflict of an oppressed group struggling for its freedom. Through my posts, I have often tried to add some nuance to what I see as an inapproriate dominant paradigm.
While these paradigms may make it easier for us to understand the conflict, history has shown that peace is advanced not when the issues are viewed as part of a wider struggle, but on their own terms. That being the case, its worth seeing the conflict in a different light. The conflicts about the Middle East conflict are less about solutions than about paradigms of analysis: who is at fault, whose narrative is correct, etc. From now own, rather than trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong, let's try to figure out how to make our way forward from this mess in the direction of peace.
It has been said that Oslo failed becuse there was agreement on the tunnel, but not on the light at the end of it. Now we know what the light is - the Clinton plan, the Saudi plan, the Taba agreements (they're all varying levels of detail of the same idea) - but are missing the way to get there. So instead of trying to convince people of who is wrong in Jenin or in Netanya, whether "targeted killings" or "martydor actions" are justified, of whose fault the whole thing is, lets convince people of the solution and start bringing people together who believe in it. Together, we can rebuild the most neccesary thing for peace: trust that the other side, irregardless of their actions, wants nothing more than a just and lasting peace for their children.
:: Judah 11:35 PM [+] ::

Yesterday, at Boston's (belated) Israel Independence Day celebration, the scene was perfectly emblematic of the conflict. One one side of a fence were Jews of all stripes - young, old, Israelis, Americans, Russians, Holocause survivors, religious, secular - shouting across the divide, "Terrorists! Animals! The People of Israel Lives!". On the other side stood another group - Palestinians, socialists, anti-Zionist Hasidic Jews - shouting, "Jews yes, Zionists no! Palestine for the Arabs!" separated only by a line of police, shoulder to shoulder. I walked between the two groups, carrying a sign that said "Dialogue Area", inviting people to come sit and talk to each other instead of shouting. None of the Jews would come, saying that they had no one to talk to, nothing to talk about with "those animals". We got a few Palestinian supporters to come sit, along with my friend Matt, visiting for the weekend. Eventually a Russian Jewish couple joined us and slowly more and more people.
The discussion went well for a while, some people dominating it more than I wished. There were plenty of problems with how the dialogue went, but on the whole I think people began to listen to each other. People were so conditioned to distrust the other side that they wouldn't even believe personal tales of suffering, though. The breakthrough in dialogue takes longer - to buy into an individual as an indivudal, to care about them, to care about their story, and then to care about the story of their people. First you have to break down conceptions of the other group as a whole and then you have to rebuild them. Hopefully, one of the quieter people, one of those who wanted more to listen than to argue, heard something new or understood someone's pain as their own for the first time. That's how we build this movement - empathy, one person at a time.
:: Judah 11:20 PM [+] ::

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