Archive for the ‘Israel’ category

Wanted: Palestinian MLK

January 20, 2009

Today marked the ceremonial celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. King lead the non-violent civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

I have read many of King’s writings, and I can’t stop thinking how much of his message for racial equality in the United States would have applied to what is going on right now between Israelis and Palestinians. His message of hope is something that is still relevant today to people he may never have even thought about.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing…” (I Have a Dream, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Dr. King is not just inspirational to blacks. He can be important to non-Americans. His message is transferable and translatable. Everyone has something to learn from his empowering message.

The Palestinian people need to find a leader like MLK. They need someone who will speak of tolerance and equality. They need someone who will denounce violence, and promote love and togetherness.

Too many leaders in the Arab world are calling for violence and the destruction of Israel. Some of the things that have happened in the last few weeks have been catastrophic. I don’t blame Palestinians or other Arabs for being angry. I’m deeply troubled by the deaths hundreds of innocent civilians.

But what we can’t do is lose sight of the big picture. For years there have been vocal liberal leaders in Israel that are demanding a swift and peaceful resolution to this impasse. I want to hear a Palestinian leader who is calling for a two-state solution. I want to hear Palestinian leaders calling for the equality of human rights that both Palestinians and Israelis equally share. I want to hear from Imam King.

I have a hope that Barack Obama will do a lot from Washington to finally bring peace to Israel and Palestine, but we need someone on the inside. Today is the inauguration of a new US President, and today is the day for all Jews, all Arabs, and all citizens of the world to stand up and call for a more peaceful tomorrow.

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Take a Break from Israel

January 15, 2009

I have been writing a lot about Israel, and I think I need to take a break for my sake, and for yours. The last thing I’m going to mention about Israel for now is a link to the IDF YouTube Channel which has some very interesting videos about what is going on right now in Gaza.

But it’s time to write about something else already!

This Monday marks the Obama Inauguration. Many of us have worked very hard over the last year to make this a possibility, and it is finally happening!

Barack Obama has a lot of work ahead of him. I have supported him for a long time, but that does not mean I will give him a free ride. I have a high expectations for the man, and he’s going to have to put in a lot of hours and make some tough decisions if he wants to keep my respect.

I can’t imagine a scenario where I would regret voting for Barack Obama (see Sarah Palin), but I want to continue to be proud of my choice. I want to keep my Obama pin on my bag, and my calendar on the wall. (for the record, the calendar was a gift – and sorry, there are no swimsuit shots!)

So that’s what I have to look forward to: Goodbye George Bush, stay away Sarah Palin, and a new amazing President.

The Need for a Sovereign Palestine

January 14, 2009

What I have feared would come in the next couple of years seems to be here already. I have been warning my right wing Zionist friends that if there is not a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians soon, then the new demand that is going to be made is for a single country with two peoples. This is my nightmare.

For too long, Palestinians have been living without the basic Human Rights that many of us take for granted. Forget about their living conditions that could be easily improved with a little help from their oil-rich Arabian “friends.” I’m talking about the basic right of citizenship. Children have been born into refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and are refused the right to self-determination. They are refused the right to be citizens of a country. Israel will not have them, and there is currently not autonomous Palestinian State.

This war has prompted people to think twice about the possibility for a Palestinian State to exist side-by-side with Israel. People are saying that Arab countries who would have otherwise agreed to a two-state solution are now losing credibility with their populations. Experts are saying that Israel will never be able to trust the elements of Hamas in Gaza to stop attacking Israeli civilians, and that creating a police presence in Gaza is the only way to create peace.

The reason for Israel’s existence was to create a safe-haven for the Jewish people. If Jews  no longer constitute a majority of Israeli citizens (which they would not be if all residents of Gaza and West Bank were given citizenship), the State of Israel as we know it will be over.

The Israeli government must do everything in its power to arrive at a two-state solution. The Israeli public must cry out in demands for an immediate end to this impasse. Jews around the Diaspora must rally behind this cause.

It is not the leftists and the peaceniks that should be demanding a two-state solution. Hawks and right wing Zionists must realize that this is the only option for Israel to survive. The status quo has been going on long enough, and it will come to an end one way or another.

It is up to us whether we have an independent Palestine comprising of Gaza and the West Bank, or an Israel that will no longer be Jewish.

Waltz with Bashir wins Golden Globe During another Israeli War

January 12, 2009

Ari Folman’s award-winning film explores the experiences of Israeli soldiers during the first Lebanon War of the early 80’s.

It’s amazing that in an atmosphere like this, and Israeli war film can still be recognized by Hollywood for its greatness. There is a War raging in Gaza, and Israel has been criticized by the world for defending itself. Israeli art, and film in particular, has always been of a very high caliber. I hope this will remind the world that Israel is not a blood-thirsty nation, but rather a country desperate to provide its citizens with decent lives.

Congrats Ari, and enjoy the trailer.

Israel Takes High Road in War with Hamas

January 12, 2009

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Israel. On days 3 of my trip, the current war between the State of Israel and the Hamas organization located in Gaza began.

It was definitely scary to be in Israel during a war (although it was not my first time), and I appreciated getting the inside perspective from my Israeli family members (one of whom is currently serving in the IDF in the West Bank).

I am an ardent supporter of the Israeli government, and I am also an ardent supporter of Human Rights for all people (all people). I do not see a conflict between these two beliefs. I mourn the innocent Palestinians who are killed, and I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. Israel is involved in a defensive war designed to stop missiles from being shot from Gaza towards Israeli civilian targets.

I was reminded of Israel’s moral superiority when my uncle told me about the Israeli army’s approach to bombing buildings used to store weapons:

First, a series of calls and sms messages are sent from the IDF to civilians (and even terrorists!) warning them that the building they occupy is about the bombed. That they have these phone numbers is only less amazing than the fact that warning calls are being made.

In response to the calls, many of the occupants of the building will gather on the roof of the building to prevent the fighter jets from bombing the building.

Anticipating this next step, the Israeli fighter jets are equipped with a special mini-explosion missile. This missile is shot at the corner of the building that is least occupied, and is used to scare the shit out of the people on the roof. Once they have fled the scene, the building is levelled. (Hundreds of lives have been saved with this tactic that the US Army would never have even considered during the current War in Iraq.)

In the highly publicized incident of a family of 16 being killed when their building was bombed, a call was made to those occupants as well. The Hamas leader whose home it was told his 4 wives and 10+ children to stay in the home with him, believing that the Israeli army would not attack the building if they were with him. Even though he was a target himself, the warning was issued because of his family’s presence. The missiles were fired, and the family was killed. He sacrificed his children to protect the weapons cache hidden in their home.

You tell me who’s moral.

Opening Post

January 12, 2009

For a while now I have maintained a blog through my employment that was designed to get the word out about some things I cared about that overlapped with my job. I am lucky enough that I have a lot of common values with my place of employment, and many things I would like to post on my own blog I can simply post there.

I have realized, however, that I do not really have the free-license I would like to have when it comes to maintaining the blog. I think I need to be able to express myself a bit more freely, and explore some issues I might not be allowed to on the work blog.

You will hopefully get a sense of who I am and what I care about through this site, but I will give you a bit of a taste now. I am a Modern Orthodox Jew living in New York City with my wife. I would consider myself a liberal, and believe it is every person’s duty to do his or her best to improve other people’s lives. I have a lot to say about the culture and society we live in, I have a lot to say about my religion and other religions, and I have a lot to say about politics and the way this and other countries are run.

I read a lot of things around the Internet, and I watch lots of television, and I try to stay connected as best as possible. I will be writing about things I care about on this site, and I will put in links that I think are relevant.

There will hopefully be fun and light topics explored throughout this blog, but I hope to make it all relevant to people who share my interests and values.

I am making a commitment not to moderate comments on this blog. I will not give a voice to hateful comments, but will gladly welcome open debate and dialog – so please contribute.

I hope you enjoy this blog – I’m sure I will.