Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life in DC

So today I wrote the third blog post I've written at APN. I think this one will actually be put on the APN blog. The first one, you know, I couldn't even finish writing because I realized it was not appropriate. The second one (which I posted here, the bit on the conflicting headlines), I was told was fine, but to try to write more objectively. Then I read this: Another intern's blogpost and was confused, because there is a voice, an opinion there. So I felt a little lost at work for a few days, not really sure what I could do. But I talked to my supervisor today and we worked on something together that will be a good springing off point for me. We had some disagreement toward the end, but there wasn't time to get into it because I was late to class at the RAC. Basically, I think that if the percentage of Palestinians who think they can live equally, justly, and peacefully in a single bi-national state increases by 7%, that's a good sign. Apparently, since that bi-national state is not likely, the fact the more Palestinians believe that is detrimental to the true peace process (the two-state solution), so I shouldn't write that in my analysis of the polls. While I agree that the two-state solution is a better, more realistic plan, I think it's beautiful that more Palestinians are "reaching for the moon," as the saying goes. At least they'll land among the stars, and all that.

One more news story response

How's this: Israel cracks down on illegal outposts, and brings in the settlers they didn't sanction. Good right? Well, to compensate, the illegal settlers are getting 50 new residences in existing West Bank Jewish settlements. Refusing settlement freeze because of Natural Growth my butt! Settlement growth seems mostly unnatural, and now is apparently also a safe haven for ILLEGALS. When Palestinians are evicted and their homes demolished or given to Jewish Israelis because they're living there "illegally," do they get ANY compensation? They depend on their neighbors, their families, the international community's outrage and support, or they simply leave. They go to Jordan, they come to the US. whatever. They don't get offered new homes somewhere else provided by their governments. What governments? That's the real question, I suppose.

More News

I thought you all might appreciate this. I know my mother will. Music solves all.

"Musicians from Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Norway, and the United States, joined together to promote Middle East peace.

Itamar Eichner in Yedioth Ahronoth:

In a pastoral farm near Oslo, capital of Norway-far from the eyes of the media-a group of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian musicians gathered this past week, and tried to make music together for the sake of peace.


Three musicians came from the Palestinian Authority, and four arrived from Jordan. They were joined by Norwegian and American musicians.

For 10 days, the musicians wrote songs together. The Israelis learned to sing in Arabic, the Palestinians and Jordanians learned to sing in Hebrew. They are slated to present the result on Saturday night [June 27] in a concert to be held in Oslo with the participation of about 1,000 people.

'Peace in the Middle East is important to us, and we think that musicians in the region have a great responsibility to promote peace. After all, young people listen much more to musicians than to politicians,' he added."

I also think my mother will appreciate this: Jerusalem Holy Basin to Become Sovereignty Free.
I know I've heard you suggest something similar to this before, Mom! Jerusalem should be an international city, Vatican style, except equally by all three Abrahamic faiths, so all may have free and safe access to their holy places. Really, I doubt it will happen, but it sure sounds good, no?

Environmental Peace is as important as Political Peace

This was a subject of more than one masters thesis at Arava Institute: Red-Dead Project.
Basically, Israel and Jordan want to build a conduit connecting the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, in an effort to grow stronger ties with one another, as well as prevent the depletion of the Dead Sea and allow Jordan more access to water they can desalinate. Now it looks like its really happening. That's good for Jordan, because their water supply is not so sufficient, and maybe its good for peace, too. Here's the problem, though. The Red Sea and the Dead Sea are totally different waters. Mixing them is probably not so good for the things that live in them, and all along the way where the conduit will be built. So much hangs on the line. I'm pretty against it. Maybe Israel could just desalinate, bottle, and donate water from the Red Sea to Jordan at production cost. There's your peace cooperative, Jordan gets water, and the environment isn't hurt anymore than what damage has already been done to the Dead Sea. I think sometimes in trying to undo the damage we've already done to the environment, people make things worse. Let's just stop doing any further damage until we figure the world out a little better (that will probably never happen).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is a few days late.

This was in the news on Wednesday: Former Kosovo Prime Minister held in Bulgaria

Now, I appreciate Bulgaria's reticence to recognize Serbia's arrest warrant for this man, because I'm a little defensive about the KLA's terrorist tactics. You know, when your nation's autonomy is stripped, your right to an organized defense military denied, and your oppressors begin ethnically cleansing your people, the world must expect terrorist militias to rise up. But I also understand that in the name of international law, treating the newly independent Kosovo like every other country, and for the sake of appeasing grumpy Old Man Serbia, Agim Ceku should probably be tried for his war crimes, along with whatever other KLA members are wanted. However, why anyone thinks for a moment that extraditing them to Serbia is okay, I have no idea. It looks like Bulgaria is leaning toward a no on the question, but that it would even be considered is outrageous. Don't hand someone over to their genocidaire, no matter what. He should be extradited to the Hague and stand in the ICTY like all the other war criminals of Serbia and Croatia. Just saying. Don't mess with my Eastern European Muslim friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More political anger

This was an article in Al-Jazeera English yesterday: Jerusalem Housing Demolitions

It's about the usual demolitions of Palestinian home, because Israel needs the space on the outskirts of Jerusalem for parks and open spaces, which, on top of the human rights aspect, also promotes urban sprawl (keep your urban areas urban and your rural areas rural, or we'll lose all real open space forever). Also, of course, Israel points out that these Palestinian homes are illegal. Not the Jewish settler homes down the block, just the Palestinian homes. I don't know for sure, but after the family I visited in Jerusalem in December, I'm inclined to believe these Palestinian homes were built without Israeli permits because they predate the state of Israel. Also, this quote disturbed me a bit "[T]he local imam, Sheikh Mousa Mahmoud Odeh...believes there is a systematic plan to remove Palestinians from areas close to the Old City and redevelop the area for Jewish residents and the tourism industry.

'I see a black future," said Sheikh Mousa. "The Jews are trying to displace all the Palestinians – from Silwan and from Jerusalem itself – so they can build a so-called 'holy basin'. They consider all places overlooking Al-Aqsa mosque to be part of that holy basin. I think that we have lost Jerusalem.'"

If the Arabs lost Jerusalem completely, what would happen to the mosques on the Temple Mount? Will Muslims still be able to get in? I don't like the sound of that "black future."

Cancellation vs. Postponement: Meaningful Distinction or Mere Semantics?

-Elizabeth Goldstein
Yesterday’s headline on the Middle East section of BBC News reads: “US-Israel talks in Paris aborted;” while the Haaretz headline reads “Netanyahu delays U.S. talks due to settlement debate.” Even stranger than this discrepancy is the fact that neither Al-Jazeera English nor CNN seem to report the cancellation of this meeting at all, though both reported the anticipation of it earlier. Is the obstacle to peace less newsworthy than the possibility of it? Both BBC and Haaretz articles do go on explain that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet US envoy George Mitchell in Washington “instead”. However, when Haaretz uses words such as “postponed” and “delayed,” it sends out a message that the originally planned meeting between Mitchell and Netanyahu may still take place down the road. Is this just a matter of semantics, or is this an intentional use of wordplay to paint a more hopeful picture of the settlement debate? Perhaps Netanyahu truly is considering President Obama’s stance on settlement freeze. Perhaps he will meet with US officials soon, and is simply sending Barak to smooth out the details, not “instead,” as both news sources report, but in addition to, or in the meantime. Or perhaps Haaretz uses the phrasing they do with the intention to voice these hopes of those more to the left on the settlement issue, without any substantiation. Or perhaps “delayed” just sounded less drastic than “aborted,” and I’m a conspiracy theorist. In any case, it is a detail duly noted in the midst of the heavy debate on settlements.

How The Middle East Was Brought to Pace

A Poem by Maya Nir, Age 9

"In a building in Israel people wanted peace,
They started a non-profit called Shalom Achshav
The name came to America where the idea spread,
Soon enough people got together and made there own thing.
They wanted to help,
The two organizations could do most anything!
The Current Employees with their hearts full of care,
Are: Laura, Mark, Noam and Ori,
Their love for the Middle East is what they share.
But those four people are not able to do it themselves,
There are great interns who are like little helper elves,
Always ready for hardwork and business.
This cause is a good one so come out and help,
We need you right now so we can all live in

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Working in DC

Sorry I haven't updated sooner. They don't leave us with a lot of time for blogging. I tried to update from work today, but my work computer is a little funky. It's okay though; I'll have a real cubicle with a better computer soon enough. But why were you trying to update your personal blog from work instead of working, you ask? Well, I was told I should try to follow the current events in Israel, see what people are twittering about (oh yea, I got a twitter for this job... gross, right?), and blog about it. So I had started to write something I thought would be a good first assignment, but then realized I was being too harsh on the U.S. and that didn't properly express the opinions of Americans for Peace Now. So I stopped. And now I can't completely remember what I said, but my point was the USA should take its money away from where its mouth is. Money is dirty. Stop spending on "aid" to Israel, and then tell Israel to freeze its settlements, which are largely built with (and the Palestinian homes destroyed by) that US aid or with the assistance US companies. But APN supports Obama in his stance to weigh heavily on Israel to remove their outposts without compromising the US/Israeli alliance. I guess I support that too.

Anyway, so that was what I was thinking about at work today, when I wasn't trying to conjure up "Top Five Tips on How to Depolarize a College Campus." This work is a lot healthier for me than Arava was, I think. I feel a lot more optimistic now than I did when I was surrounded by Israelis and Palestinians personally exhausted from the fighting. Now, when I read in Haaretz that Abbas believes there will be an independent Palestinian state peacefully beside the state of Israel in two years, I actually believe it. I'm not so sure I believe Gilad Shalit's release is imminent, but we'll see.

So, basically, I love DC. I love my internship. I love the class that has so far been taught by Rabbi David Saperstein. Hopefully I'll still love it when its not being taught by Rabbi David Saperstein. Life is good.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Anyone still out there? I'm leaving for DC in a week, with the Machon Kaplan porgram at the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, and I'll be interning at Americans for Peace Now. I expect this summer to be a wonderful continuation of my journey toward Judaism, world-saving, and Israeli/Palestinian peace. Once there and learning, I'll be updating this blog again, so GET READY!