NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, July 25, 2014

Star-crossed Haters

Well now:

Does love conquer all? That's the question being asked by a group of 20-somethings in the West Bank amid renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas. Using the popular dating apps Tinder and Grindr, they are examining how the conflict is playing out on these online dating services.

The results, which reflect the conflict's deep divisions, and also the mundane reality of dating applications, are documented on the blog Palestinder. Because Israelis use Tinder and Grinder a lot more than Palestinians, the blog provides an unvarnished look at unsavory Israeli opinions of Palestinians more than a view across the divide. Then again, one probably shouldn't expect more from an experiment of this kind.

Spoiler: they all die.


July 25, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Propaganda Can Only Cover Up So Much

Go figure:

For the first time, perhaps, Americans are witnessing the suffering of Palestinian people in the establishment press. Even while the framework of “Blame Hamas” dominates mainstream media coverage, the humanity of Palestinian people is cracking through the decades-long, well established façade of pro-Israeli propaganda.

And how can it not? When the actual experience of journalists contradicts the propaganda narrative, if they have a heart or a brain, they cannot help but see Zionist propaganda for what it is. This is possibly why Israel kept out foreign journalists during the 2008 Cast Lead operation.
Despite the serious intimidation faced by journalists...such pressure seems to be working less and less. While Magnay was called away from Gaza by CNN, a vigilant social media sphere combined with mass protests around the world has created a climate where if media institutions are to retain their credibility they have to at least appear to be balanced.

This is the opening that Palestinian rights activists and supporters need to harness in order to reframe the debate. While they lack lobby groups, media watchdog outfits, paid trolls, disinformation experts and the vast financial resources of the Israeli side, they do have one thing going—the truth.

Let's hope that eventually puts pressure on Israel.  I'm not overly optimistic.


July 24, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, July 18, 2014

Terrorists Of Infinite Space

Israeli journo Noam Sheizaf writes:

I keep running into Israelis who don’t know, for example, that we still control Allenby Bridge (which connects the West Bank to Jordan), and with it each entrance and exit of every Palestinian into the West Bank; or they don’t know that the Israeli Defense Force still operates in Area A, supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority; or that there is no 3G network in the West Bank because Israel doesn’t permit the Palestinian cellular providers to use the necessary frequencies; or that we imprison hundreds of Palestinians without trial for months and years; or any other factual, undeniable aspect of the occupation. If all this is unknown, then perhaps this is all just a big misunderstanding.

Most of the time I try to correct misconceptions and argue over such details, but if I had to explain the whole thing briefly, I would use the following metaphor: We’ve built two giant prisons. Let’s call them “West Bank Prison” and “Gaza Prison.” The West Bank Prison is similar to a minimum-security facility, where prisoners get torun their own affairs as long as they behave. They are entitled to vacations from time to time, and once a year they are even taken to the beach. Some lucky people get below-minimum-wage jobs in nearby factories, and when you consider the low prices in the prison canteen, it’s actually not a bad deal.

Gaza, on the other hand, is a maximum-security facility. It is difficult to visit and impossible to leave. We allow in essential food, water, and electricity so that the prisoners don’t die. Apart from that, we don’t really care about them—that is unless they approach the prison fence, or the “forbidden” perimeter, where anyone who wanders too close is shot, or if they try to throw something over the fence.

There it is in a nutshell. 


July 18, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Beautiful Conflict


What John Forbes Nash Jr. said in his landmark work—“Equilibrium Points in N-Person Games”—is that even in such complex noncooperative games there exists an “equlibrium” where no side would benefit by changing its course. At this equilibrium, each sides knows its adversary very well and sticks to its strategy. For instance, during the Cold War, the U.S. and USSR were locked into an equilibrium—mutual assured destruction—where each side knew exactly where the other's positions are but still didn't start a war.
There can be multiple equilibria in a game. Each equilibrium point is like a lock out of which no player will be able to escape easily. For instance, India and Pakistan can fight each other like cats and dogs to infinity or an equilibrium where they can collaborate in a virtuous loop. When the players are locked into a bad position (such as an arms race), it is called the Pareto inferior equilibrium.

Wonder if knowing this we can find a way to break the non-virtuous loop in the I/P conflict.


July 16, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alleged Intent Is All That Matters To Lord Saletan

Yeah, he's been in my tabs for a while, too:

[T]his is another illustration of why focus on motives in politics is generally misplaced. I also find Saletan’s readings of the relevant Israeli officials implausible, but it doesn’t actually matter whether they sincerely think they’re minimizing civilian deaths or not. They’re using tactics that guarantee many civilian deaths; what the motives are is fundamentally beside the point.

This also isn’t a defense of Hamas’s rocket strikes. They’re both objectionable in themselves and as with most heighten-the-contradictions strategies the chances that they will make things better by making things worse as opposed to just making things worse are roughly 0%. But this doesn’t change the fact that the Israeli response has been grossly disproportionate.

Hamas is stupid and immoral for lobbing generally-ineffective bottle rockets, but there's no question that Israel's response is disproportionate collective punishment, and the costs are asymmetrical, as always.  You'd think somebody on both sides would figure out what they're doing ain't working.

I've blogged about this crap so much over the years:



July 13, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Beatings Will Continue Until Security Improves

I agree with Josh et al that Israel must give up the 'mentality of occupation.'  And this is important:

I believe the Palestinians deserve a state. But as a Jew and a Zionist I've long believed that you don't have to care about justice or fairness or anything else for the Palestinians or care anything about the Palestinians at all to support the creation of a Palestinian state. It is obviously in Israel's interest. To be clear, I'm not at all indifferent to the Palestinian people and their aspirations for a state and the dignity of self-determination. Quite the opposite. My point is simply to say that if your thing is the fate of Israel and the Jewish people, self-interest is - or should be - entirely adequate to come to this conclusion.

I note that by way of flagging two pieces J.J. Goldberg has written at The Forward over the last couple days. The first is this one about former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin. The second is this one from today about Diskin and current Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. The upshot is that both - and this pretty is clearly true of the Israeli security establishment in general, not all but most - see the unresolved state of the Palestinian issue as the deepest threat facing Israel. For Pardo, apparently, Iran doesn't even figure in the top list of security challenges.

Israeli policy is pretty damned counterproductive (violent Palestinian actions are, too, but I tend to put the onus on Goliath, not David).  Some Israelis understand this--the key is to get more on board.


July 7, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Humanity In The Middle East

[W]hoever saves one...it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.

 - Surat Al-Ma'idah (5:32)

[W]hoever saves one soul...Scripture accounts it as if she had saved a full world.

 - Mishna, Sanhedrin (4:5)

Times of Israel:

The uncle of the slain Israeli teenager Naftali Fraenkel offered his condolences Sunday in a phone call to Hussein Abu Khdeir, whose 16-year-old son was murdered last week in what police believe was a revenge killing by Jewish extremists.
The call came hours after two Palestinians from the Hebron area paid a visit to the grieving Fraenkel family.

“We expressed our deep empathy with their sorrow, from one bereaved family to another bereaved family,” Yishai Fraenkel said, according to the Ynet news website. “I think it’s very good they seem to have found the culprits. We expressed our absolute disgust with what had happened. He accepted our statements, it was important for him to hear it.”

Fraenkel added that “there is no difference between those who murdered Muhammed, and those who murdered our children. Those are murderers, and these are murderers. And both must be dealt with to the full extent of the law, and we told him that.”

There are your Palestinian and Israeli Gandhis.  We need more.


July 6, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slouching Towards Bethlehem To Be Born

Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

 - Ecclesiastes 9:18

Well, it's a nice gesture by the Pope:

Pope Francis made a surprise stop at the hulking wall Palestinians see as a symbol of Israeli oppression on Sunday, minutes after begging both sides to end a conflict that he said was no longer acceptable.

In an image set to become one of the most emblematic of his trip to the holy land, a somber-looking Francis rested his forehead against the concrete structure that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and prayed silently as a child holding a Palestinian flag looked on.

He stood at a spot where someone had sprayed in red paint "Free Palestine". Above his head was graffiti in broken English reading: "Bethlehem look like Warsaw Ghetto", comparing the Palestinian plight with that of the Jews under the Nazis.

The Wall is "a snake around [Palestinian] necks" that breaks up the West Bank into an archipelago.  How can anybody expect to create a viable state, let alone real peace or security in its shadow?


PS--Cue "Hamas!  Rockets!  Blahblahblah!" in 3...2...1...

May 25, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hummus Rights VIolations

After winning the Super Bowl, Sabra wants to go to Free Market And Regulated Hummus Land.  Not overly dissimilar from their friends in the IDF.


May 22, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pioneers Of Never Having A Tomorrow

Ah yes, way to seize the moral high ground, Hamas:

A recent episode of the Hamas-affiliated television program Pioneers of Tomorrow featured a disturbing combination of talking bee mascot and a discussion of shooting Jews — all of them.

The Palestinian children’s program, which runs on Hamas’ state-run Al Aqsa TV station, has a history of glorifying suicide bombers and demonizing Jews, and this is just the most recent example.

In the clip, a young girl says that she wants to become a policewoman some day, “so that I can shoot Jews.”

The host of the program — a very young woman, asks, “All of them?” The young girl responds, “Yes.” 

I'll never forget the time Medea Benjamin met with Hamas leaders in Gaza and pointed out to them that maybe they should consider possibly not calling for Israel's destruction in their official charter because it is detrimental to their cause.  They finally went, "oh, yeah, we should change that."  Naturally, Hamas is in no real position to destroy Israel, but Israel uses that as justificiation for Palestinian oppression, even while it's the settlements that are killing chances for peace.

When there's plenty of counterproductive stupid to go around, Hamas really takes the fucking cake.


May 11, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Thursday, May 01, 2014


June 12, 2009: A boy in the West Bank village of Bil'in holding a poster of Bassem Abu Rahme, killed by the IDF a few months before.


May 1, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ted Cruz Should Resign

Oh, just fuck you:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Monday that Secretary of State John Kerry should resign for allegedly saying that Israel risked becoming "an apartheid state" if it didn't agree to a peace deal.

“Secretary Kerry has proven himself unsuitable for the position he holds,” Cruz said on the Senate floor. “John Kerry should offer President Obama his resignation.”

Visit the West Bank Archipelago.  Visit Gaza, the largest open air prison in the world.  Visit Israel and see how Palestinians are treated.

Then resign in disgrace, asshole.


PS--Boxer can fuck off, too.

April 28, 2014 in And Fuck..., Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Apartheid Ship Has Sailed, Mr Kerry


If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday.

Senior American officials have rarely, if ever, used the term "apartheid" in reference to Israel, and President Obama has previously rejected the idea that the word should apply to Jewish State. Kerry's use of the loaded term is already rankling Jewish leaders in America—and is almost certain to do the same to Israeli leaders abroad.

I guess I appreciate the breaching of that wall forbidding 'apartheid' in regular diplospeak, but c'mon, man.  Palestinians are already second-class citizens within Israel, and they have no ownership over "their" lands in the Bantustans.


April 27, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, March 03, 2014

Joyful Revolution

This CNN photo gallery of Clowns Without Borders reminded me of that one time I left a pregnant Ericka here in Vermont whilst I clowned around with the IDF.

I learned a lot from Patch Adams and all the clowns about joy and justice.  And what I saw in Israel and Palestine reminded me how lucky we are, and how much work we all have to do with joy in our hearts.


PS--I'm glad Sam decided to behave in utero until I got home.

March 3, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ambassador Scarlett Johansson's Diplofail


There's a lot that Scarlett Johansson doesn't understand about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The actress got caught up in the fight in her role as a paid "brand ambassador" for SodaStream, which makes some of its home-carbonation machines in an Israeli settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, territory Palestinians aspire to make part of a future state.

Johansson calls the plant, in the settlement of Maale Adumim, "a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine." But there is no Palestine yet, in large part because of Maale Adumim and the other 130 Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank. They were established precisely for the purpose of preventing the Palestinians from ever gaining meaningful control over the West Bank.

So far, the plan is working. The peace deal U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to negotiate is widely thought to envision Israel annexing settlements closest to its border and evacuating the rest. But even if conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were disposed to dismantle settlements, agreeing to it would endanger his hold on power because the right-wing members of his governing coalition would bolt.

These are the reasons the U.S. calls settlements "obstacles" to peace.
What it boils down to is this:

One can be a friend of Israel and a friend of a future Palestine, as Oxfam is. Or one can be a friend of Israel and a friend of Israeli settlements, as many right-wing Israelis are.

But one cannot be a friend of Israeli settlements and a friend of a future Palestine, the role Johansson has cast herself in.

Yup.  More on SodaStream at Global Exchange.


PS--Gratuitous SJ pic was in the original article, so I thought it should be included for completeness.  Not entirely clear why they didn't show her in an OxFam thing.

January 31, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Free The Bubbles, Screw The Palestinians

Oh good, Scarlett Johansson's sexy Sodastream ad is back on for the Super Bowl.  All the company had to do was admit that it profits from illegal occupation of Palestinian territory...no, wait, just not mention Pepsi or its homophobic competitor.  I guess we can just pretend the Palestinians don't exist, just like gays in Sochi.


January 28, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Monday, November 19, 2012

Palestinian Gandhis

They do exist and would succeed if we supported them.


November 19, 2012 in Pax Americana, Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Sunday, November 18, 2012

David And Goliath Redux

There is nothing new under the sun:

A scorpion who wanted to get to the other side of the Suez Canal asked a camel to let him sit on his hump while it walked across the Canal. 

"Whoa," said the camel. "Do you think I'm a fool? If you sit on my back, you might bite me before I reach the other side, and then I will drown." The scorpion replied, "Now,that makes no sense, because if you die, then so I will I." 

After thinking about it,the camel agreed to carry the scorpion to the other side of the Canal, and told it to climb onto his hump. When the camel got to the deepest part of the Canal, the scorpion bit and injected its poison into the camel.

"Why did you do that?" said the dying camel, "it's not logical". The scorpion replied, " I couldn't resist it. There no logic in the Middle East.

A couple other posts for perspective:

There's a symmetry in the illogic, a great deal of asymmetry in the violence, and much tragedy until the parties learn a thing or two about being human...


November 18, 2012 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Friday, November 16, 2012

Just A Little Bit More

Now I can't let go.  More from our Gaza mission in 2009:

I earnestly hope my children won't have to go over there for peace work, Insha'Allah.


November 16, 2012 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NToddcast RSS Feed

Gaza Getting What It Deserved Again

When Samuel was still a newborn, I tweeted:

I recall in Tel Aviv last June a guy at the hostel angrily telling me, "#Gaza got what it deserved." How...proportionate.

Sadie's not much older than our son was, and this shit's happening again?  It caused me to revisit a few posts from after my mission to Palestine and Israel:

For some more current perspective, check out Richard Silverstein at Tikun-Olam.


November 16, 2012 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack