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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Time to Let Go of the Two-State Idea

Sunday, August 12th, 2012


Rabbi Eric Yoffie, formerly the head of the Union for Reform Judaism believes that “Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in America”:

But the point is that we are now seeing, even as the threat from Iran escalates, a broad spectrum of respectable, pro-Israel opinion that is emphatically suggesting the need, right now, for some movement by Israel on the Palestinian issue. And it is not idealistic dreaming; every one of these voices talks about the poisonous nature of Palestinian politics and makes clear that the failure to achieve peace cannot be placed primarily at Israel’s door.

Why are we hearing these voices at this moment? I am not entirely sure.

It has to do, I suspect, with the cumulative impact of a 45 year occupation; with the fundamental illogic of Israel’s government calling for a two-state solution and then building settlements in a way that makes such a solution far less likely; and with the sense that Israel’s moral standing is being gradually eroded and that this is a tragedy. But this too: They know that Israel must be seen at all times as aggressively pursuing peace, and fairly or otherwise, that is not the case now. (my emphasis)

Rabbi Yoffie, I think, greatly weakens his case by using as his “exhibit A” NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, calling him ”a centrist, a moderate, and, by the way, the most important foreign policy columnist in the world.” Friedman is none of the above, unless ‘important’ means that he is better paid than, for example, Barry Rubin, who differs from Friedman by basing his analysis on knowledge rather than prejudice and the ‘line’ pushed by his employer.

But let’s leave the hackish Friedman – who revealed himself when he said that the standing ovation Netanyahu received from a joint session of Congress in 2011 was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – aside, and turn to Yoffie’s argument.

Rabbi Yoffie points to “an important group of public intellectuals” who take this position. There certainly are such people here in the US and among the academic-media-left complex in Israel who continue to call for Israeli concessions.

But — and this is my first point in response to Yoffie — they get absolutely no traction in Israel, which is assuredly where the rubber hits the road. The parties to the left of the Likud have almost no hope in coming elections, and the support they do have is almost entirely based on social or economic — not security — issues.

In other words, most ordinary Israelis don’t agree. One would think that Yoffie, who criticizes Dani Dayan of the Judea-Samaria council for supposedly not being concerned with democracy, would respect the democratically elected and popularly supported government of Israel.

My second point is that the notion that Israeli concessions on settlements in Judea/Samaria or eastern Jerusalem are good policy has been proven wrong in the 19 years since the Oslo agreements. The Camp David/Taba offers and the withdrawal from Gaza were met by violence. The continued anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement from the Palestinian Authority (PA), the insistence on a right of return, the refusal to accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people, the demands for the release of convicted murderers, the honor accorded by the leaders of the PA to terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi and Samir Kuntar, all indicate that the PA has not deviated from the ideology of Yasser Arafat or from the ‘phased plan’ to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel has made one withdrawal and concession after another, has supported the PA financially and protected it from Hamas, and it has never responded except by making more demands. There is no future in making unreciprocated concessions to the PA.

But it is not only the PA that is insatiable. One hears that “if only Israel would…” then the ‘international community’ would see that Israel is committed to peace and the ball would be in the Palestinian court. But this never happens. Israel agrees to a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria, but the Palestinians won’t negotiate because it doesn’t include East Jerusalem; and suddenly Joe Biden is ‘deeply insulted’ because Israel announced plans to build apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Writer Profile: Elke Weiss

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Karen Greenberg: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

Elke Weiss: I grew up in Manhattan Beach, in Brooklyn. I now live in downtown Manhattan by the Hudson River. I really like living by the water.

What do you do for a living?

I am finishing a Masters in Urban Affairs and a law degree at New York Law School. I’m looking for a job in policy, but I do dream of a fiction writing career.

How did you get started in writing?

I was born talking, as my mother would say. I always had something to tell others, and deeply felt everyone was entitled to my opinion. My parents hooked me on books to help me shape my opinions. I would read amazing stories like the Chronicles of Narnia, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Wrinkle in Time and I would make up stories where I had joined those adventures. I soon realized that I could write those stories down and it grew from there. When I was little, I wrote a poem that made it into my school paper, and I decided, this was the place for me. Journalistic writing and essays followed. I think the amazing part of being a writer is being able to reach people I never met.

What types of readers do you hope to reach?

I hope to reach young Jewish teenagers. I remember how lonely and confusing being a teenager was, and I want to give them the advice I wish I had known. Besides that, I have a lot of interesting readers, from grandmothers to young professionals to my wonderful cousins in the Israeli army whom are nice enough to pass my articles around.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing? What message do you want to send?

My message is pretty simple. There is so much to learn about oneself and that is the greatest joy in life; to change to become the best person you can be. I’m still finding that out for myself and I am happy to share the journey with others.

What do you usually write about for The Jewish Press?

I just give advice and thoughts from my heart; in my writing I try to speak to people they same way I would in person. I write about what is close to my heart – finding one’s place in college, choosing a major, dealing with internships, etc.

I do write about Israel quite a bit, because it’s an enormous part of me and I think it’s a cause every person should know about, and hopefully embrace. I’m a third generation Zionist. My incredible grandfather, Jack Mikulincer, fought in the War of Indpendance and liberated Afula. My parents marched for Soviet Jews to have the right to make aliya. I’m taking a stand against anti-Israel bigotry.

After I graduated from high school I asked Mrs. Mauer if I could cover a rally. She has been a great mentor since, always encouraging me in my writing. I share her vision of constant self-improvement and a love of Israel and she has been wonderful in letting me develop my voice.

Do you have any plans to write a book?

I do plan on writing fiction books, in both history and fantasy. I am currently working on a series of short stories, as well as a historical epic. If I wasn’t already doing law school, graduate school, Hasbara work, seeing friends and family and volunteering for student organizations, I’d have already finished one.

Have you gotten any reactions/ feedback about your writing? How has it been?

I have gotten a lot of amazing feedback from my writing, which touched me so deeply, expressing how much my articles meant to them. I treasure each e-mail and hope my readers feel comfortable being in touch with me through The Jewish Press with questions, comments or for advice. I adore hearing from readers!

Do you plan to continue to integrate writing into your life in the future?

I will always be a writer, until the undertakers nail the coffin shut. Whether it’s blogging, writing fiction, contributing essays or writing legal briefs or proposals, I’ll always have something to say and will be putting it down on paper. My next big project is a play about Israel, which I hope will be bought or published.

IOC Adds Insult to Injury: Widows ‘Get’ their Minute of Silence 4 Days Too Soon

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge on Monday went ahead and paid tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed in Munich 40 years ago. According to the AP, Rogge lead a “solemn minute of silence in the athletes village.”

Indeed, the AP story eagerly noted that it was “the first time the IOC has honored the slain Israelis in a ceremony inside an Olympic village.”

It’s difficult to articulate just how insulting and callused this empty gesture on the part of the IOC and its president has been.

Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of slain Israeli athletes whose murder and the murders of their teammates have gone unacknowledged for forty years, have been pleading for months now, along with thousands upon thousands who have signed their petition, for the officials at the helm of IOC to act human, to tell the world, just as it is getting together to celebrate the best that humanity has to offer: When athletes are slaughtered in broad day light in the middle of the Olympic games it is a horrible things which we will never forget and never forgive.

Instead, four days before the actual opening ceremony, President Rogge threw these widows a bone.

For months Rogge has rejected calls to hold a moment of silence during Friday’s opening ceremony of the London Games. He kept saying as late as this past Saturday that the opening was not the “appropriate place” to remember the Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen in Munich during the 1972 Olympics.

“We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident,” Rogge said on Saturday.

Perhaps he would have gone for 30 seconds of silence?

I suggest Monday, July 23, 2012, will go down in the annals of Olympic history as Throw the Widow a Bone Day, or simply Bone Day.

On Monday, Rogge strolled over to the Olympic village in London, and in the midst of a quickly assembled crowd of officials, reporters and photographers, announced:

“I would like to start today’s ceremony by honoring the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village. The 11 victims of the Munich tragedy believed in that vision. “They came to Munich in the spirit of peace and solidarity. We owe it to them to keep the spirit alive and to remember them.”

And then, like a scene from a Fellini film, President Jacques Rogge bowed his head, and a crowd of 100 IOC executive board members, dignitaries and Olympic athletes and officials stood in silence for a minute.

For absolutely no one and nothing.

Four days before the thing began. Four days before the wonderful statement would have made an actual difference to the millions of viewers across the planet, across the Middle east, where those cowardly murderers were raised and where their crime was designed and financed. In short, four days before these words would require an actual man to say them.

“As the events of 40 years ago remind us, sport is not immune from and cannot cure all the ills of the world,” Rogge said.

Oh, wiser words have not been said by a heartless bureaucrat in some time.

Incidentally, Rogge and the IOC will also honor the murdered Israeli athletes at a private reception in London on Aug. 6.

The IOC will also take part in a ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the attack on Sept. 5 at the military airfield of Furstenfeldbruck where most of the Israelis were killed.

Then, in March, in a small café in Rome, Rogge and a group of friends will be waiting in silence for their lunch, which should also count for something. In fact, right now, I’ll bet many IOC are sitting in their offices doing stuff while being absolutely silent.

Just as long as it’s not on Friday night at the opening ceremony, because, let’s face it, it can put a damper on the whole humanity happiness thing.

Parshas Mattos-Mass’ei

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Vol. LX No. 29 5772
New York City
July 20, 2012 – 1 Av 5772
8:02 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 9:14 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Mattos-Mass’ei
Weekly Haftara: Shim’u Devar Hashem (Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 60
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 2:7-8
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 86:1 – 87:2
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Ma’aser Sheni v’Neta Reva’i chap. 11; Hilchos Bikurim chap. 2
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:36 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:22 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 2

Tal Brody: Now’s the Time for Financial Zionism

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Many casual observers of contemporary Israeli affairs face a puzzling dilemma when asked to think about the effects of the so-called BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. On the one hand, they hear reports of ever-increasing accomplishments in the Israeli hi-tech sector with Israeli corporations being purchased by international conglomerates and increases in exports all over the globe. On the other hand, they are being told that BDS is deeply hurting the Israeli economy and is a force that needs to be combated with all the intensity possible. Despite the seeming contradiction between these two realities, the fact is that both are true.

Yes, Israel continues to hold remarkable influence over global markets and Israeli corporations are able to report growing export figures each year. But, when one takes a look beyond the mega-companies and examines the sales reports of smaller Israeli manufacturers and so called “mom and pop” commercial entities, the effects of BDS are deeply troubling.

It is a phenomenon that cannot be trivialized because literally thousands of Israeli jobs could be lost should the tide not be reversed.

Many abroad think that there is little that can be done to silence the BDS movement. They rightfully assume that these campaigns are being instigated by callous hate-mongers who are unwilling to recognize Israel’s contribution to the world out of their ignorance of the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those same people think that it is best just to ignore BDS and it will go away- that it’s a laughable attempt to disrupt Israeli commerce.

Perhaps this was a position which held some credence in the early days of BDS, when it was just a fringe protest movement, with little to no serious following. But one cannot laugh any longer, as we witness factories closing down and hard working Israeli men and women forced out of their jobs.

Appreciating that BDS is a real threat is the first step and I believe that more and more within the pro-Israel community are waking up to that. But the question is what we can each do about it?

Calling out Israel’s critics for the sheer absurdity of their claims is one way to go and certainly should be done wherever possible. Israeli innovation serves at the center of pretty much every technologically-charged industry that drives our modern world. From medicine, to computer engineering to entertainment, thousands of different operations are only made possible because of the brain power invested by Israeli developers. Before the critics power up their computers, play with their entertainment devices or undergo a medical procedure, they should be prepared to forego the experience if they are truly honest about boycotting Israel. My guess is that most of these BDSers wouldn’t be so inclined.

But there is a far more practical side to what can be done by defenders of Israel, and that is to defend our beloved nation through their wallets. The concept of buying blue and white is not a new one but it is becoming increasingly imperative.

The most fragile actors in any major economy are the little guys. These are the small-businesses without the financial resources to overcome the loss of even a small percentage of their annual revenue. When boycotters choose to publically call for the cessation of purchases from Israel, they directly harm Israeli manufacturers at the lower end of the production chain including small companies who produce Israeli-oriented products like Judaica, souvenirs and crafts. These companies are unable to overcome the hurdle imposed by a significant drop in income and are forced to lay off laborers. Perhaps it’s ironic but in many cases the boycotts hurt Palestinian laborers just as much as Israelis because dips in employment in Israel typically hurt Arab workers just as much as their Jewish counterparts.

The response that we can therefore each take upon ourselves is to make the decision to invest in Israel in some small way by going online today and buying blue and white. This need not be a major purchase but the collective financial strength of the pro-Israel community around the world is surely far stronger than that of the BDSers.

This is one way for us to all support Israel in a pro-active and lasting way and show our enemies that we cannot be destroyed and in so doing add “Financial Zionism” to the long list of ways we’ve shown our love for the Jewish State throughout its remarkable history.

No Country for Old Incumbents

Monday, June 4th, 2012


A storm is not a good time to be at the wheel of a ship and a worldwide economic disaster is not a good time to be at the wheel of the ship of state. Hard times are supposed to bring great men to the fore, but instead we have some of the sorriest men in history trying to find the wheel, sleeping off a bender in their cabins or debating whether a wheel even exists.

Obama is bad, but he’s not exactly up against rival statesmen. After parading around with a one-man cult of personality, launching international projects with no purpose, and displaying all the symptoms of a Napoleon complex, without a world famous conqueror in sight, Sarkozy’s only reelection platform was that the alternative to him would be worse. He was right. But you can hardly blame quite a few Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who stayed home, rather than hold their noses and vote for him.

In the UK, Cameron cut the military and launched a war. Labour’s career idiot, Ed Milband, now has a higher approval rating than the Prime Minister. Cameron has the same reelection platform as Sarkozy and he’s also right, but that won’t help him when the public gets the chance to cast their vote. And the vote will be the international refrain, translated many ways in many languages, but that always means, “Throw out the bums.”

Russia has become a virtual armed camp for the sole purpose of keeping Putin in power. The man who successfully set up his own Stalinesque cult of personality, now has to use extraordinary measures to protect himself from his own people, who don’t care so much that he stole the election, but who are sick and tired of the spectacle of Vladimir and his ten-thousand good friends from the Committee for State Security, better known by three ominous letters, gorging themselves on the best things in life while everyone else suffers.

China’s rulers should be paying careful attention to Moscow. If the express train of Western exports ever falters, what they will face will make Tiananmen Square look like a fond memory. The Princes of the PRC won’t be up against a bunch of idealistic students, but the farmers whose land they stole, the workers whose children they killed and that rising middle-class which tasted prosperity only to have it snatched away. If that day comes, they won’t be stopped by tanks, and the army may just take their side.

The American media has become virtually indistinguishable from the Russian and Chinese media in its hysterical support for the regime and vindictive smears of opponents. The only difference between Newsweek, Pravda and Xinhua is their level of sophistication. Pravda and Xinhua have never been anything more than vulgar organs of the regime, but the American media is descending into savagery while leaving behind a legacy of civilization. Like a citizen turned cannibal, it still has some of the cultural trappings of its past, but it’s discarding them as quickly as Newsweek can photoshop new covers. Like the Russian media, the favorite topic of its American counterparts is the inscrutable divinity of its leader, who has not so much failed, as succeeded on a higher level that mere mortals – concerned with paying their bills and having a job – are not privy to. If he has failed, it’s only because of the obstructionism of the running dog Republican capitalists who would rather see the country burn than concede his unearthly genius.

The problem with propagandists is that they get so taken in by their own illusion of power, that they stop noticing when no one is paying attention to them. Barely a quarter of the country digested and accepted the swill that the media had poured out over it in ’07 and ’08. What the public noticed was that there seemed to be a consensus that the One was the one. They didn’t notice it by reading every screed that the American heirs to Goebbels were scribbling up at Time and the New York Times. Like a television that is on in the room, while you’re vacuuming or doing laundry, they noticed it mainly as background noise in their lives.

The West, Iran, and the ‘Process’ Trap

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Few things ought to be as urgent as keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, yet the West – led from the front by the United States – has fallen into the “peace process” trap that considers talk to be progress and, once a conversation has begun, that there is nothing worse than stopping it.[1]

Iran understands this as a Western peculiarity, and has used it to cause a rift between Israel and the West; receive assurances that that military action is not in the offing; and begin a process that leaves the Islamic Republic in full control of its nuclear program for a negligible price. Talk about your demands.

Talk about what you’ve talked about. Talk about what you won’t talk about. Talk about talking again. Talk again. Repeat.

Several months ago, the media was ablaze with war talk -– a potential Israeli strike against Iran, of course, but also the war between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. While the PM was working to keep the threat of military action on the Western agenda, Dagan was announcing to the world that military action was a choice to which he was opposed. Time magazine put “King Bibi” on its cover and said he was “unlikely to forge a peaceful path.” Everyone seemed to know when Israel was going to “do it.”

In truth however, Dagan was not so much opposed to the military option as to its imminent exercise and its exercise by Israel. He told Lesley Stahl, “An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way to do it.”

Dagan: I heard very carefully what President Obama said. And he said openly that the military option is on the table, and he is not going to let Iran become a nuclear state.

Stahl: What I think you’re now saying (is), “Why should we do it? If we wait and they get the bomb, the Americans will do it.”

Dagan: The issue of Iran armed with a nuclear capability is not an Israeli problem; it’s an international problem.

Stahl: So wait and let us (the U.S.) do it.

Dagan: If I prefer that somebody will do it, I always prefer that Americans will do it.

Since there wasn’t as much distance between Dagan and Netanyahu as they had hoped, American officials – including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – publicly denounced the idea of an Israeli strike and talked up Iranian air defense capabilities, and “containment.”

Reassured that it didn’t face military action in the short term, Iran – without actually stopping uranium enrichment and without actually allowing inspectors into its facilities — moved to block upcoming Western sanctions.

Talk would do the trick.

The P5+1 met with Iran in Istanbul in April, where EU negotiator Catherine Ashton lauded the “atmosphere,” the “body language” of the Iranians, and their willingness to go to Baghdad in May. During the Baghdad talks, the IAEA discovered that not only was Iran continuing to enrich uranium, but also had stockpiles enriched to 27%. The Iranians called these developments a “technical glitch” and said Western complaints were designed only to “damage the existing constructive cooperation between Tehran and the IAEA.”

The Western powers, however, did not complain very much. “The two sides’ commitment to diplomacy in the absence of any clear agreement is a positive sign,” said Ali Vaez, Iran expert at the International Crisis Group. “All parties should be commended for returning to the negotiating table. Obama should be commended for having turned diplomacy into a process rather than the one-off meetings that existed in the past,” wrote Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council.

Eyes are now on Moscow for the next round of talks in June. After that? Stockholm in July is lovely; August is for vacation; then perhaps Vermont to watch the leaves turn in September.

The process is likely to continue as Iran’s nuclear program continues. But the recent – and ongoing – revelations of the so-called Flame malware infecting computer systems in Iran are a reminder that action has its place, albeit not necessarily with airplanes over Fordo.

60 Minutes narrator: Soon after (Dagan became head of Mossad), Iranian cargo planes started falling from the sky, nuclear labs were catching fire, centrifuges were malfunctioning. And then, one by one, Iranian nuclear scientists started disappearing and getting killed, blown up by shadowy men on motorcycles. But no matter how hard we tried, whenever we asked about any of this, he stonewalled.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/the-west-iran-and-the-process-trap/2012/06/03/

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