December 2010 Archives

Katie Green's gloves off

This essay, pointed out to me by my dad this time, was in the Jerusalem Post a few weeks ago.  It's addressed to the Jewish community in the UK, but it could as easily apply to the Jewish community in the US and any number of other diaspora locations.  Here's a sample.

I speak for myself and many other Israelis when I say that for us, public criticism by UK Jews is suspect. For one, your call for "openness" has escalated at exactly the same rate as the delegitimization and demonization of Israel by the British establishment. This vindictive ostracizing of Israel has resulted in an extreme lowering of comfort levels for the Jewish community, as we've agreed. But should it result in your shouting to join that vindictiveness? And if you join in, does it increase your status and respectability in British society? My feeling is that it certainly does. So you'll forgive me if I doubt the integrity of your backing the shrill accusations of the British government and media.

I actually think this discomfort is an encouraging sign that the heart and soul of British Jewry is in good working order. If British Jews were not viscerally connected to Israel, the feeling would be one of apathy or contempt, not discomfort. But they are connected.

To so many of them, Israel is precious and important. When they land at Ben-Gurion Airport, their hearts are filled with belonging.

This is something we all share, we who live here and we who come to visit. To sever us from this profound recognition and unity in our psyche, to force us to feel that we have no choice but to expunge it, is to cripple us indeed. So my suggestion to you is don't agree to be crippled. Hold your head high, take it on the chin, fight it like a lion or leave.
But please do read the rest.  And pass it on.  If I was inclined to send blast emails to "everyone I know," this would be one I'd pick.  But I'm not, so I'll settle for posting it here.

For more about Katie Green (don't you want to know?) click here.

Shabbat Shalom and a very Happy New Year to all!

Indomitable spirit

A link to another version of this amazing video was sent to me by my mom a few weeks ago.  I keep forgetting to post it.  Now's as good a time as ever.

Alice Herz-Sommer celebrated her 107th birthday last month.

Shabbat Shalom.

And to all who will be celebrating tomorrow, a very Merry Christmas.

We have closure

Finally.  Of a sort.  The tax bill that's just passed both houses of Congress has something for everyone to hate.  But it's averted a crisis of mammoth proportions for an awful lot of people and there's a reasonable chance that in two years (or, if not, shortly thereafter), the temporary provisions that should be made "permanent" (whatever that means) will be made "permanent."

Meanwhile, we'll deal.  Meanwhile, for the first time in over a year, all Americans (and their advisors) have the ability to plan their finances and their legacies for the coming year with some modicum of certainty as to the outcome.

This is a good thing.

A different POV

Given the veritable torrent of pleas, threats, letters and articles in recent weeks, all pushing for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, you'd think there weren't any significant dissenting voices out there.  There are, of course, and have been all along, but they don't tend to make nearly as much noise.  At least in the public arena.

Last week, one of the naval intelligence attorneys who was actually involved in the prosecution of Pollard's case broke the mold.  M.E. "Spike" Bowman published this story in the Intelligencer Journal, a publication of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.  In it, he responds directly to six of the most commonly repeated arguments for Pollard's clemency/pardon/release.

It's about time that an informed rebuttal to these arguments re-surfaced, and Bowman does a fairly effective job.  But there are problems with his assessment that shouldn't be ignored, not the least of which are aptly noted in this analysis by Marc Tracy at Tablet.

There are certain oddities in Bowman's essay that stand out, most notably references to the "Gaza peace process" and "Gaza antagonists." These seem to betray an ignorance about current Mideast politics, since the "peace process," such as it is, tends to leave Gaza out, and nobody has suggested that releasing Pollard could help the situation in Gaza, which would be unaffected by a freeze; moreover, while "Gaza antagonists" seems to refer to Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinians who are participating in the peace process don't run Gaza right now.

Toward its conclusion, Bowman's brief devolves into an irrelevant ad hominem attack: He calls Pollard "a self-serving, gluttonous character seeking financial reward and personal gratification. ... arrogantly venal, unscrupulous, and self-obsessed." None of which I doubt, but all of which seems beside the point.

I would add to that Bowman's seeming over-reliance (why? if he has first-hand knowledge) on Seymour Hersh's 1999 New Yorker essay (republished, among other places, at Free Republic) and peculiar citation to (no link intended) for a point available from more reputable sources, including, e.g., the Jerusalem Post.  Finally, Bowman himself is no stranger to controversy, which I'm sure his critics will be quick to point out.

Nevertheless, the article is a valuable contribution to a dialogue that has been virtually non-existent in the press of late, with one side doing all the talking.  As for Pollard, my position is no secret to anyone who knows me (or has been reading this blog for a while).  Here's a slightly different take that bears repeating, again by Marc Tracy.

I don't presume remotely [former deputy defense secretary Lawrence] Korb or Bowman's knowledge of the Pollard affair or expertise in these matters. But, as one of the citizens Pollard was spying on and who is currently imprisoning him, I think that if Pollard's crimes merit a life sentence, then he should stay in jail even if freeing him would help the cause of peace; and I think that if Pollard's crimes merit his release now, he should be freed even if he is an asshole.

Happy Hanukah!

Last night, 8th light. 


The brief return of the ASCII hanukiah.

Another nes (miracle)

What are the odds that Bennie Begin and Alan Dershowitz would see virtually eye to eye on ... anything?  Let alone the logistics of and chances for peace in the Middle East?

Hey, it's Hannukah!

Begin, in an interview with JPost editor David Horovitz:

What can we do about it? We [put aside] Gaza, and the PLO negotiates with Israel about a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria? Now I think that the idea of a viable, independent, PLO-run state in Samaria, Judea and Gaza is an oxymoron. But Gaza is an important part of that oxymoron - it's a ballast, economically and politically, at any rate. You want to see two-thirds of the solution being created? For what? Israeli concessions, and no end to the conflict, and no end to the war, and no end to the launching of rockets? I think it's foolhardy even to think about such a "solution."

So you ask me, what then? And I ask, what do you offer? The other side doesn't favor the two-state solution - two states for two peoples. I have never heard the PLO leadership using the phrase "two states for two peoples." It appeared once, I think, in a Quartet resolution in June last year. It disappeared in their Moscow resolution in March of this year.

The Palestinians don't use [that phrase] because there aren't two peoples in the equation from their point of view. You'll find this in the resolution of the PLO Revolutionary Committee that you reported this week - after their deliberations last weekend, they stated that they oppose a religion having a state. They still view the Jewish people as merely a religion. A religion is not entitled to sovereignty. Only a nation is. But there aren't two nations [in their view]. And they go on and on to deny our historical rights, to say that even the Temple Mount [has no Jewish connection] as is evident in this new socalled study.
And Dershowitz, also in the JPost:

It is no wonder that so many Israeli citizens are skeptical about whether the Palestinian leadership is willing to make ­- or capable of actually making peace - with Israel.  This skepticism has been fueled by a recent article on the official website of the Palestinian Authority claiming that there is no hard evidence of any Jewish connection to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site.  Instead, it claims that "this wall is the place where the Prophet Muhammad tethered his winged steed, Buraq, during his miraculous overnight journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in the seventh century."  The Palestinian Authority article asserts that "the Al Buraq Wall is the western wall of Al Aksa, which the Zionist occupation falsely claims ownership of and calls the Wailing Wall or Kotel."  In other words, the Palestinian leadership expects Israelis to believe Muslim theological claims over Jewish archaeological evidence. Following a request by the US the study was removed from the PA website, only to resurface days later on the PA's news agency Wafa.

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority refuses to accept Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and refuses to end the repeated incitement against Jews that are a staple of the Palestinian Authority controlled media.
An unlikely approximate meeting of two very different minds, sadly necessitated by their refusal to deny the reality staring us all in the face.  Both worth a careful read.

See also, Vic Rosenthal's take (via Solomonia) on the prospects for Jewish/Arab coexistence within Israel, fed by many of the same concerns.

Nes katan

That the fires in the Carmel are under control, if not yet fully extinguished, is welcome news.  Many thanks to Israel's friends and neighbors, without whose help this could not have been accomplished in three days.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families and we wish the injured a speedy recovery. 

The rebuilding and reforestation will, unfortunately, take a lot longer.  You can help.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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