Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av 5769 - II

This poster, appeared all over Jerusalem earlier today - the eve of Tisha B'Av.

"Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and cry out to her, that her fighting be ended, that her iniquity be pardoned."

Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three things – idolatry, incest and bloodshed. Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because there was unfounded hatred.

And what, heaven forbid, will lead to the destruction of the Third Temple?
The settlements, fanaticism and occupation.

For these I mourn

For the settlements that were built in the heart of Palestinian territory and that keep peace and quiet from our land. For the settlements that were built, with or without permit, and that turn us into the loathsome scum among the nations. For the outposts that were built by deception and by turning blind eyes. For Jerusalem, the joy of the land, that has been turned into a city of strife and quarrel. For the continued investment and construction in the settlements, that will ultimately lead to one state for two people – and thus put an end to the Zionist enterprise.

Seek peace, and pursue it.

Not for Obama. Not the world.

The settlements are our problem.

The posters are in the style used by the ultra-Orthodox to warn the faithful of some outrage - like a new parking lot opening in Shabbat, or a store whose kashrut is suspect, or calling on people to oppose the gay pride march, or warning against the opening of a night club.

The posters where put up by Peace Now.

Source: Ynet

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tisha B'Av 5769

The text below is from yesterday's Haftarah. It is read every year on the Shabbat before Tisha B'av.

Isaiah Chapter 1

1. The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken, I have reared and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not consider.
4. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children who are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they have turned backwards.
5. Where should you still be stricken that you revolt again? Every head is sick, and every heart is faint.
6. From the sole of the foot to the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and sores; they have not been pressed, nor bound up, nor softened with oil.
7. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; as for your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as if overthrown by strangers.
8. And the daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, like a besieged city.
9. If the Lord of hosts had not left us a very small remnant, we should have been like Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah.
10. Hear the word of the Lord, rulers of Sodom; give ear to the Torah of our God, people of Gomorrah.
11. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? said the Lord; I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats.
12. When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to trample my courts?
13. Bring no more vain offerings; incense of abomination they are to me; as for new moons and sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies, I cannot bear iniquity along with solemn meeting.
14. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they are a trouble to me; I am weary of enduring them.
15. And when you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; and, when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.
16. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil;
17. Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the orphan, plead for the widow.
18. Come now, and let us reason together, said the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
20. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
21. How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
22. Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water;
23. Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loves bribes, and follows after rewards; they judge not the orphans neither does the cause of the widow reach them.
24. Therefore said the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and avenge me of my enemies;
25. And I will turn my hand upon you, and smelt away your dross as with lye, and take away all your base alloy;
26. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning; afterward you shall be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
27. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and those who return to her with righteousness.
To here the Haftarah reading. But the actual text of the chapter continues another few verses. It was removed from the Haftarah reading, I believe, because it was "too scary." Even for theses days before Tisha B'av the early rabbis, who esrablished the Haftarah system, wanted to end on a note of hope.

The prophet however, tells it like it is. And indeed, Judah had to be exiled and to suffer greatly before its repentance and the redemption.

28. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
29. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired, and you shall be confounded because of the gardens that you have chosen.
30. For you shall be like an oak whose leave withers, and like a garden that has no water.
31. And the strong shall be as the low, and his work a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

Political commentary about Israel/Palestine? You bet! Is Israel doomed unless it changes it path? Maybe.

Or maybe not. History does not have to repeat itself. And (to borrow wisdom form another great religious tradition) one cannot step into the same river twice.

However, on one point nearly all traditional Jewish sources agree: the last line of the Haftarah.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and those who return to her with righteousness.
And what is this righteousness, but the application of the same law equally to all inhabitants of the land ("seek judgment") and championing the cause of the weak and powerless ("relieve the oppressed, judge the orphan, plead for the widow.")

If our people's return to Zion is based on power alone, it is a betrayal, not a fulfillment, of the dreams of generations. The "hope of two thousand year" (Hatikvah, shnat alpayim) is not to be a free nation in our land - but to be a redeemed, righteous, and just nation in our own land.

Without that, the land is not anything special, and in any case our hold on it will be tenuous.

This is the lesson of Tisha B'Av.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Racism Gets More Mainstream

There is a shocking story in Haaretz today. Headlined, "Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews, says pamphlet for IDF troops" it goes on to tell of a pamphlet purporting to expose a racist conspiracy theory worthy of the a title like "The Protocols of the Elders of Islamo-Catholicism".

You can read details in the Haaretz story here.

Briefly, it tells of how the Vatican has taken Hezbollah operatives on tours of Auschwitz in order to teach them how to "deal with" the Jews; of how Hezbollah operatives have assured the Vatican that all Arabs are secret admirers of Hitler; and of how Hezbollah uses its vast wealth to influence and control the European politicians and media in order to undermine Israel and the IDF.

The pamphlet was being distributed, for several months, to IDF soldiers with the endorsement of officers of at least the rank of colonel (brigade commanders.)

When confronted with the facts of the pamphlet and its content, the IDF issued a statement saying it had stopped the distribution of the pamphlet and that:
"The book was received as a donation and distributed in good faith to the soldiers. After we were alerted to the sensitivity of its content, distribution was immediately halted."

What is the most shocking about this story is not the pamphlet and its content. We have long known there are crazy Jewish racists.

What is shocking is how far this rot has gone.

The pamphlet was written with the help of Chief Rabbi of Safad - an official of the Israeli government and a respected leader in his community, son of a former Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Worse than that, the pamphlet was published by the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America: the "OU". This are the same organization whose OU label is used to signify kashrut on most kosher food produced in the U.S. This is the organization which represents the "Modern Orthodox" trend - not the "ghettoed Hassidim". It has hundreds of affiliated synagogues (15 in Toronto) and tens of thousands of members in North America. Its representatives sit in the boards of all the Jewish communal organizations, boards of Rabbis, and Jewish appeals. It has a youth movement (NCSY) and runs summer camps. It has a respectable looking web site!

Worse than that, the pamphlet was being promoted by mid-level Israeli army officers, and with at least the knowledge of some senior officers.

Worse than that, both the official army educational bureaucracy and thousands of soldiers who read the pamphlet thought that its claims where at least plausible enough not to warrant a question. It took four months for someone to complain, and for the army to investigate, and to decide to stop distributing this pamphlet. And even then the army can only issue a mealy mouthed statement that acknowledges that the content of the pamphlet was "sensitive" - as if the problem was that it might insult powerful Catholics, whose support Israel needs; not that it contains paranoid racism.

And, the aid to the Chief Rabbi of Safad, when confronted by Haaretz about the content of the pamphlet, insisted that its all true.

But worse than all this, I do believe that most of the people involved in the promotion of this pamphlet don't see what was wrong with what they where (and some still are) doing. The forger, or forgers, are one or two or three individuals. The rest where duped. But that is precisely the issue: that so many, and many of them influential, Jews are so deeply into a world view where all goyim are blood-thirsty anti-Semites, that this pamphlet seems plausible to them; that news of a Catholic-Shiite "concordance" to murder Jews doesn't scream "Fraud!". And it is a serious problem when it seems obvious to us: that our people is so obviously just and pure that politicians and media critical of us can only be so because of bribes from our enemies; that our enemies control the media with their vast amounts of cash, and this is the only explanation for why we can't convince people of our enemies' evil and our own justice; and that the fact that no one but us reports on how deep is the plot against us, is just further proof of how thorough and successful that plot has become.

It is understandable that a people at war will demonize its enemies. It is understandable that a people under stress will fear and hate the "Other". It is understandable that a people suffering, now or in the recent past, might believe, literally, that the whole world is plotting against them. It is understandable that a people with a "bad press" might blame that on the wealth and nefariousness of others. This is what allowed antisemitic conspiracy theories to thrive among the masses in czarist Russia and interwar Germany. It is what allowed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be believed by so many. It is all understandable. But it is racism nevertheless. And it is shocking that this disease has made it so deep into the body of the Jewish people today.

I had thought, living in my left liberal Jewish bubble, that we where better inoculated. Apparently not. The question now is: how do we stop the disease before it permanently disfigures, or kills, the patient.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What's all the fuss? Life is good.

This video is an ad for Cellcom, Israel's largest cell phone company.

Frankly, it leaves me speechless.

Well, not quite, as I am about to show. But it did evoke a "What where they thinking?" moment.

For those of you who don't speak Hebrew, here is a very rough translation:

(Object hits jeep. Shouting:) - "Watch out! Watch Out! Watch Out!"

(Voice 1:) "Oh its just a ... Return the ball to them."

(Voice 2:)"Common guys, lets go"

(Ball hits jeep again. Soldier 1 says:) - "Ya-allah! Guys!! Party!!!"

(Music starts. Soldier 2 dials on cell phone.) "Unit 3. Spread the word. There's a game."

(Song starts lyrics end with chorus) - "Oh its wonderful funderful (yoffi toffi) together"

(Voice Over) - "What do we all want after all: That there be a bit of fun (keif). New! Cellcomedia, an entire world of games, music, video, and internet. Enter: it will be wild! Cellcom.

So what where they thinking? That young people are the target market? Sure? That most Israeli youngsters are, or have been, in the army? Sure? That soccer, fun and pretty girls sell products? Sure?

But the really insidious thing is how normal the security wall has become. And how the assumption is that the Palestinians on the other side are having a fun soccer game too - and presumably dialing their friends on their cell phones. The wall has made life better for everyone! We are all happy now.

This is worse than "out of site out of mind." It indicates a complete blindness to the reality of the harsh life on the other side of the wall - partly caused by the wall itself.

No wonder Israelis have so little understanding of why Palestinians might violently attack them; of why Palestinian militants might be more than just hateful bloodthirsty anti-Semitic caricatures. Why, after all would anyone reasonably want to attack fun loving Israelis who not only return the ball, but play soccer with happy Palestinian kids. And the wall? Rather than separate, it has brought us all together for a wild fun party.

Twenty years ago, Ehud Barak could say, that if he had been born a Palestinian he would have probably joined a militant organization and attacked Israel. Israelis growing up today will have no such understanding, nor even Barak's minimal level of sympathy.

But what the heck. Israel does make a better cell phone!!

* * *

After writing the above, I came across a discussion of the same ad on the blog, "Promised Land". Its worth a read to see how a thoughtful Israeli "peacenik" sees the significance of this ad.

The Religious Right

Last month, Moment Magazine published a shocking opinion. (Well, perhaps only shocking for those who do not follow Israel/Palestine issues closely.) It asked ten Rabbis: "How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors." (The question itself belies a semi-racist attitude in my opinion, as it assumes that all Jews are living in Israel and it lumps together Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Saudis, etc with the Palestinians in Israel proper and the West Bank and Gaza. What they wanted to ask was "How Should Israeli Jews Treat the Palestinians ." or more specifically "How Should Israeli Jews Treat Palestinians in the Occupied Territories")

The "shocking" opinion was from the representative of Chabad:

I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war.

Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
Rabbi Manis Friedman
Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies
St. Paul, MN

We should all thank Moment for shining light on what is common currency in many Jewish schools, yeshivot and synagogues both in Israel and the Diaspora.

This month, Moment has published an intelligent response from Gershom Gorenberg, author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, and himself an Orthodox Jew. It reads, in part:
Friedman’s comments fit a context. Chabad has taken a conspicuous role on the religious right in Israel, and Chabad rabbis Shalom Dov Wolpo and Yitzhak Ginsburg are among the right’s most extreme spokesmen. Last year Wolpo suggested that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should be hung for his peace contacts with the Palestinians. Ginsburg wrote an infamous defense of Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarchs on Purim, 1994. That said, the dynamics of fundamentalism, including denigrating the value of Arabs’ lives, extends far beyond Chabad on the religious right in Israel and among its supporters elsewhere in the Jewish world.

Fundamentalism, ... is a modern creation. Historically, debate over the truth is basic to Judaism. Religious texts are ambiguous and contradictory; they evade a single authoritative reading. Rabbinic tradition rejects reading the Biblical text without the chorus of arguing interpreters who came afterward. Interpretations necessarily stress one part of the text and read others in its light.

If there is a common denominator in rabbinic ethics, it’s that God created human beings in the divine image, from one set of parents, and that all human life is therefore sacred. The strongest single statement that the Torah makes about the attitude one should take toward one’s enemy is what Jacob says of his brother and foe (for all enemies are also brothers or sisters): “To see your face is like seeing the face of God.”

... Friedman reminded us that before rushing to condemn the fundamentalist distortions of other religions, we should see that our own is not immune. Unintentionally, he reminds us that we must defend the soul of Judaism.

"Defend the soul of Judaism." Yes indeed! Unfortunately, I see the rot as more extensive than just Jewish nationalist fundamentalists. While they directly represent no more than 10% of the Jewish people, (and even in Israel no more than 15%) their indirect influence has spread much wider, both in the religious and secular Jewish communities. Instead of kowtowing to their faux authenticity ( Rabbi Freidman - see his smiling face above - is one of Chabad's most successful and respected "outreach" workers,) the rest of the Jewish community should be confronting racist, xenophobic, and anti-humanistic tendencies at every opportunity.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Has Michelle Seen This Yet

Barak's gonna have some 'splaining to do.

Niki? Na, he's French, there used to this sort of thing.

And the young lady in the wine coloured dress? She is a delegate to the junior G8 from Brazil - Mayara Tavares, age 16. She has become an instant celebrity in her native country, already interviewed on several T.V. shows.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Israel Lobby Is Nothing If Not Thorough

Newsweek has published a link to a handbook put out by "The Israel Project", part of that amalgam of pro Israel-No-Matter-What groups loosly labelled "The Israel Lobby".

It is a masterpiece!

Its title is "Global Language Dictionary" and its goal is to teach the reader how to frame the discussion around Israel/Palestine so that the reader - presumably an ardent supporter and lobbier on behalf of Israel - is guaranteed to win all arguments.

For example, from page 19 (of 116!):

For the first time in our communication effort, we have provided an A-Z glossary of specific words, phrases, and concepts that should form the core of any
pro-Israeli communication effort.

• “Accountability.” It is surprising that the value Americans want most in their own government has not been used by Israeli spokespeople to describe what’s needed in the current dialogue. Stop using “confidence building measures” and start using “accountability” to describe what’s needed most within the Palestinian government(s).

• “Building”: Never talk about “giving” the Palestinians something. It sounds too paternalistic. Instead, talk about “building” because it suggests a step-by-step, layer-bylayer improvement in conditions. Giving reminds people that you’re in the stronger position and that creates more sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians.

• “Children”: As often as possible, make the stakes of achieving peace about providing a future for both Palestinian and Israeli children in which they can live, learn, and grow up without the constant fear of attack.

• “Come to Jerusalem to work for peace”: The visual symbolism isn’t lost on American ears. It’s an active challenge to turn words into deeds.

• “Cooperation, collaboration, and compromise”: This is how Americans believe the conflict must be solved. When you give a little, you get a lot.

And its chock full of good tips on how to make effective arguments, with lots of examples, like this, from page 22:

Over 78% of Americans support a two-state solution.

So when you’re talking to Americans, you need to know that when you don’t support a two-state solution you risk having a major public relations challenge in America and Europe. The new Israeli government knows this but feel so strongly about security concerns that they arewilling to take this risk for the long-term security of their people. ...

Thus, at least for now, the new Israeli leaders have not articulated support for a two-state solution .... That said, it is important to note that there are effective ways to uphold the ultimate goal of a Palestinian self-government while legitimately questioning how soon the solution can be reached. This is the rhetorical area [SN emphasis added, see my note below] in which you need to operate.

(1) Identify the goal, and be authentic. Given the overwhelming American support for a two-state solution, it will make support much easier and faster if you if set the tone for all discussions by articulating Israel’s shared vision for the ultimate goal of two peoples, living side by side in a lasting and secure peace. In the name of gaining credibility for why you might later say that a two-state solution isn’t achievable overnight, you should start with language like the following to signal how your goals align with the public’s.


Two homelands for two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security is not a fake slogan, but a real necessity for the stability in the entire region. Each homeland should provide a solution to the national aspiration of its people – Israel, as a homeland for the Jewish people, and the creation of a Palestinian homeland, as a fulfillment of their national desire.

Saying “is not a fake slogan, but a real necessity” sets the tone for the entire paragraph. It conveys authenticity and will keep the listener tuned in to what else you have to say. ... particularly now that a “two-state solution” has been bandied about for years, people want to hear that you support Palestinian rights.

(2) Peace first. Political boundaries second. One solution that would clearly be welcomed by the majority of Americans is, after articulating the long-term goal of a two-state solution, giving examples of why a two-state solution can’t happen overnight.

While these [points below] are essentially “anti” two-state arguments, you can and must still frame them positively [SN emphasis added, see my note below] if you want support of the majority of Americans. ...

Is this just good salesmanship or is it sleazy and insidious?

I believe it is both!

And it is not just good salesmanship, it is excellent salesmanship! Everyone interested in presenting winning arguments re Israel/Palestine, no matter if on the right or the left, should read this manual. (If on the left, to know what you are up against.) In fact, anyone interested in presenting winning arguments in any forum on any topic should read at least Chapter 1: 25 Rules For Effective Communications.

Is it sleazy and insidious? It is, if the writers of the manual believe that what they are telling their readers to say is untrue or misleading. (If they believe it the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then they are merely wrong - not sleazy.) While they don't come out and say that what they advise is lying, they occasionally let it slip that they are deliberately misleading, or stretching or shaving the truth. Certainly winning the argument is more important to them than honesty and full disclosure. The highlighted - in bold - sections above are only two examples of this disingenuousness that is scattered throughout the document.

This is fascinating read, whether you are an Israel/Palestine junkie, interested in learning how really good PR organizations work, or interested in honing your own sales and argumentation skills.

You can read the full document at the Newsweek site.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Israeli Minister Openly Advocates for Apartheid

Israel, inside the green-line anyway, is not be an aparthied state, though there is a lot of descrimination against non-Jews. And most (though not all) of this is de-facto descrimination not mandated by law, just manipulated to be that way by biased / racist officials and citizens.

But that would change if Israel's Minister of Housing had his way. Haaretz quotes Minister Ariel Atias of the Shas party as saying - in a speech to the Israel Bar Association no less - that:
"If we go on like we have until now, we will lose the Galilee. Populations that should not mix are spreading there. I don't think that it is appropriate [for them] to live together. Look at what happened in Acre,"

Atias was apparently referring to violent protests that broke out on the Eve of Yom Kippur last year over Jewish-Arab tensions in the mixed town. He continued:
"The mayor of Acre visited me yesterday for three hours and asked me how his town could be saved. He told me 'bring a bunch of Haredis and we'll save the city, even if I lose my political standing. He told me that Arabs are living in Jewish buildings [sic!] and running them out."

The article goes on to say:
Atias argued that lands should be marketed to each sector separately, in
order to create segregation, not just between Jews and Arabs but also
between other sectors, such as ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews.

And though the government will never be so stupid as to make Atias' suggestion into a law, (thats what the JNF is for) I have no doubt that, for the immediate future at least, the defacto policy of the Israel Lands Authority will be implemented as he Minister Atias has oulined - since his people now control the ILA.

This should give the Israel Apartheid Week folks tons of new ammunition.

* * *
By the way, while looking for pictures of Minister Ariel Atias to go with this article (that's him at the top - nice hat!) I came across MANY pictures of Israeli actress Moran Atias (at the right). I wonder if they are related ?

The Biggest Threat Facing The Jewish People

Whats the bigest threat facing the Jewish People?
No its not terrorism, or Arabs armies, or "the demographic time bomb", or assimilation, or the sorry state of Israeli and Jewish political ethics. Its not even the threat of an Iranian Bomb.

It's Climate Change! - aka Global Warming.

Jews are first and foremost human beings, and climate change is likely to destroy (or at least radically change) all human civilization as we know it. It might take 100 years, but for a People who likes to thinks in millenia, that is not a long time. And climate change will directly affect all Jews in both Israel and in the Diaspora.
Two stories I read today highlight this point. The first, in the Globe and Mail, points out how this year's severe drought on the Canadian prairies may be the new normal. In many counties 100% of the crops are being written off. Farmers are getting by on crop insurance. But can crop insurance hold up if droughts become regular? The second story is from the JTA. It reports that Israel will soon be introducing a drought tax. The punitive tax on water consumption kicks in at about 83% of current per capita average usage. The average Israeli will have to cut his or her water consumption by 1/6th or pay up.
Israel/Palestine, of course, is already in a severe water deficit. Israel gets by, in part, by taking more than its fair share of water from combined Israel/Palestine aquifers. But things are only going to get worse - whether Israel shares the water or not. According to NASA simulations, Israel (and the Mid East in general) only really began to be effected by global warming in the mid 1990s, whereas the Canadian prairies have been slowly feeling the effects since the 1950's at least.
Neither Canada nor Israel are doing much to prevent climate change nor prepare for it (though Israels drought tax indicates it is doing more than Canada!) Both peoples are hiding their heads in the sand. In Canada's case it is because of greed - we benefit in the short term from our oil and gas industries, and no one wants to impact their life style to drive less, or pay more to insulate their homes, or do much else that would cost them in money or comfort. In Israel's case, it is likley because they are distracted by "more important" matters, and Israeli society is noteriously short sited - typically focused on a planning horizon of months, not years - let alone decades.
I will try to write more about climate change in upcoming blog entries. It is easy (for me at least) to get focussed on the outrages of the Israel Palestine conflict and forget that the whole world - Jews and Palestineans included - is headed over a cliff and no one seems to be doing anthing serious about it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Hero

Well not quite!

But still, one must give credit where credit is due. Under the Netanyahu government the Israel army has significantly removed checkpoints within the West Bank, and eased various other travel restrictions. Israelis are now allowed to travel to Palestinian cities and towns on Saturdays.

Some will say this is like loosening the shackles on the prisoners - but the prisoners are still in jail. True. But just like in a prison there is no justification for excessive harshness.

This is a positive move, that has already had a salutary effect on the Palestinian economy. It is little reported in the Western press or the anti-Israel blogosphere. Since I doubt there will be peace and an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories soon, any move that makes life more livable in the mean time needs to be applauded.

Ezra Nawi's Sentencing Postponed

Ezra Nawi's (see my previous two blog entries) sentencing has been postponed until August 16th.

The following account was posted on MuzzelWatch.

Aug 16! this gives us more time to write more letters.

Ezra’s lawyer, the great human rights lawyer Leah Tzemel, told the judge how many letters had been sent (nearly 14,000!) and the judge reacted by saying, “wow! that many!.” Leah thinks it really helps Ezra for the court to know that so many people are following the case. We need to triple that number by august 16th!

ezra says that he is overwhelmed and humbled by all the letters sent in his support.

as an aside, the case that was heard before ezra’s is a settler who is suing his rabbi for slapping him across the face. a friend of Ezra’s from the group New Profile, said to the rabbi, “usually you slap Palestinians around, so of course now you start to slap each other.” the son of the rabbi, a soldier in uniform, said, “no, we shoot Palestinians.”

My comments:

1) You can write letters by going here. There is also a part of that site that lets you ask your friends to send letters on Ezra's behalf.

2) In the article published in The Nation (see previous blog entry) it says 140,000 letters where sent. Above it says 14,000. What a difference a zero makes! I have no idea which number is correct, though the smaller number sounds more realistic. On the other hand, in the age of the internet who knows what is realistic for this sort of thing

3) Remarkably the judge commented, and seemed openly impressed by the number of letters of support Ezra received. Are judges supposed to take this sort of thing into consideration? (That they secretly do, I have no doubt. But are they supposed to admit it. Isn't Justice supposed to be above the whims of "the mob"?) Frankly I thought the letters, if they where to have any effect, where more likely to influence the prosecution - which is under political control - to ask for a lighter sentence, to avoid embarrassing the government.

4) The comment from "Ezra's friend from the group New Profile" [an Israeli pacific group] was rude! The answer from the soldier is shocking!! The fact that he is a rabbis son is tragic.