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Thursday, January 08, 2015


This little girl from Bil'in has grown up quite a bit since I met her in 2009.


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Thursday, December 04, 2014


In the Old City of Jerusalem, IDF harass a Palestinian youth.  I saw this a few times in mere hours.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I am rather sad about the dastardly, deadly attack by some zealous Palestinians in a Jerusalem synagogue.  For some reason, the situation reminds me of the Sicarii in the middle of the first century CE.  Ruthless purists whose actions stab everybody, inclulding Peace, in the back.

At least this time nobody's going to destroy Jerusalem.  Probably just Gaza...


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

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Thursday, October 30, 2014


Can't believe it's been over 5 years since I sipped Arabic coffee in Old Jerusalem.  At least a little progress in some areas of Palestine has been made in that time.


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Monday, September 08, 2014

David And Goliath's Perspective

Art Spiegelman Breaks His Silence on Israel:

Art Spiegelman — celebrated comics book artist, illustrator and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” — has broken his silence on the subject of Israel. At least that’s how he put it to his Facebook followers last week when he shared a collage he designed for a recent issue of the magazine The Nation.

Prefacing the social media post by saying that he has spent a “lifetime trying to NOT think about Israel,” Spiegelman went on to say that “Israel is like some badly battered child with PTSD who has grown up to batter others.”

Captioned “Perspective in Gaza (The David and Goliath Illusion),” the Biblical-style art image consists of two panels. On the left is a traditional rendering of David facing Goliath. The right-hand panel presents a shrunken Goliath brought closer to the foreground. Using the tricks of size and perspective to make what is surely not an original political point, it’s a clever play on Spiegelman’s life’s work as an illustrator.
In other words, will the real Goliath please stand up?

Perhaps what is most profound in Spiegelman’s collage is not the binary view of flipping the David and Goliath metaphor on its head, but rather his use of the word “perspective.” Maybe where you stand is indeed derived from where you sit. But that’s not quite right either, since one Diaspora Jew would depict Israel as a monstrous Goliath while another would cling to the view that Israel remains small and moral David, and one Holocaust survivor sees genocide being committed by their own people while another sees the killing as self-defense against a Philistine-like enemy.

Ultimately, just as an artist must render line and shading according to observation, memory and imagination, so must political observers be ready to enter into the respective worlds of each actor in the unfolding story. It’s not an easy task for either.

Thank you.


PS--Speaking of which...

September 8, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Water Challenges

Apropos of the ALS thing and Gaza:

We will have done well
If we’re able to say
As the sun settles down
On that final day
That we never gave in
That we did all we could
So the kids could go fishing
In crystal clear brooks.

Roger Waters.


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Israelis For Peace

I've seen elsewhere estimates of 10k, which is not a bad turnout:

Thousands of demonstrators gathered Saturday evening for a pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv under the slogan, “Changing direction: toward peace, away from war.”

The rally at Rabin Square comes two days after another demonstration expressing solidarity with residents of communities along the Gaza border.

Right-wing activists planned a counter-demonstration, which will be held nearby at the same time. The Israel Police is planning to keep the two camps apart.

At the main rally, which began at 8 P.M., speeches were slated to be made by author David Grossman, journalist Zuheir Bahloul, Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On, Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh, a resident of Sderot, a representative of bereaved families and other left-wing activists.

Rivals the bigs ones like in 2006, looks about the same as the one I marched in 5 years ago.  Alas, not much progress to show for all the demos and other peace work.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014


Ferguson or the West Bank?


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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Being Biased

Reading about developments in Gaza and the I/P conflict brings to mind Ralph Bunche, who was born on this date in 1903.  Said he:

I have a deep-seated bias against hate and intolerance. I have a bias against racial and religious bigotry. I have a bias against war; a bias for peace. I have a bias that leads me to believe in the essential goodness of my fellow man; which leads me to believe that no problem of human relations is ever insoluble. I have a bias in favor of both Arabs and Jews in the sense that l believe that both are good, honorable and essentially peace-loving peoples, and are therefore as capable of making peace as of waging war. 

Yes, even these several decades later, I share the same biases...


August 7, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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This is Iyad Burnat, whom I met in 2009.  He lives in the village of Bil'in with his beautiful family.  His son was shot in the leg during solidarity demos in support of Gaza last week.


August 7, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

There Are Plenty Of Gandhian Options In All Conflicts

I'm sorry, but I take issue with the thesis that there wasn't/isn't a Gandhian option for Gaza.  There are Palestinian (and Israeli) Gandhis.  And yes, many are in jail (as Gandhi was) or dead (as many Gandhians have been before them).  Real Gandhian principles, tactics and strategies are apparently still not wholly understood, which isn't surprising.  Alas.

Wish I had more energy to dive into this further...


August 3, 2014 in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Bus Tours Foster Peace

I wonder what it would look like if more young Jewish Americans were exposed to Palestinian life?


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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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:



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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

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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

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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