Monday, December 12, 2011

From Joe McCarthy to Ophir Okunis

Yes, I remember Senator Joe McCarthy…….very vaguely. I have some kind of distant memory from our two-room home in back of my folks' small grocery store in Brooklyn, listening to radio reports of his investigations in the early 1950's. I was really oblivious to its meaning, but I remember my folks and their friends being solemn and seemingly unhappy with what they heard. It was much later that I learned about Senator McCarthy's witch-hunt of all those supposed anti-American communists and "pinkos"……a witch-hunt that destroyed the lives of so many individual Americans and their families while also accusing the Democratic party of "twenty years of treason", describing the American Civil Liberties Union as "a front for, and doing the work of the Communist Party", and declaring the Voice of America as un-American. When he died at the age of 48 in 1957, with some connection to alcoholism, it was a few days before my 16th birthday and I was aware enough to know why McCarthy was already considered by many Americans a pariah to the concept of democracy. I was also aware why my parents and their friends were especially in a celebrative mood. McCarthy had destroyed the lives of many, many Jews….way beyond our proportion in the American population.

Ophir Okunis, member of our Israeli Knesset (parliament), Deputy-Speaker of our Knesset, mainstream Likud Party member and very close associate of our Prime Minister, managed to enlighten us during a TV interview as to his thoughts about Joe Mccarthy:

"McCarthy was correct in every word he uttered." End quote.

O.K. ……so later on he tried telling the media that he was misunderstood. But no….I'm sure he wasn't. Knesset member Ophir Okunis is a prominent actor in today's battle about Israeli democracy, and an initiator of Knesset legislations to restrict the activities of Israeli human rights groups and "leftist" organizations who monitor injustices within our own country. Of course he isn't alone. In 2011 he is one of many within a Knesset majority and a coalition government who support both his words and his intents. It is the same majority that is working to have more governmental control of our Supreme Court, more governmental control of our news media; a majority that is supporting the evolution of religious-Halachic interpretations of Jewish law as superior to laws evolved through the struggle for democracy and civil liberties for all. Our justice system, our human rights groups, women, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, journalists …….. are all under greater political and ideological and social attack than ever before in our short history as a modern nation.

In 1954 Edward R. Murrow, America's prominent journalist of WWII (and later), stood up to MacCarthy , re-energized the voices of democracy and reawakened the American majority to their call. In 2011 no such transformation is visible in our smaller world of Israel.

Hillary Clinton voiced a few troubled words about some anti –democratic legislation being studied by our Government and Knesset. The response of many coalition politicians and supporters was instant: Don't meddle in our internal business; look to your own faults in your own country. Likewise, so many of our liberal Jews around the world (especially in the U.S.) claim they won't meddle in Israeli policies because they don't live in Israel. Both responses have always been an enigma for me.

We Israelis of diverse political leanings, are always willing to voice our opinion (pro or con) about democracy in other countries (…….examples? there are plenty …….e.g. the Niqab (face-veil), whether in France or in Saudi Arabia. Another more recent example ?? the elections in Russia.) But heaven forbid "goyeshe" criticism of our own actions, even by friends. Likewise, many of our Jewish friends around the world had no problem actively joining criticism of undemocratic actions around the world (remember South Africa ? and how about China or Burma ?? Oh yes, how about women's rights – and plights – in non-westernized countries ??). But so few in our Jewish Diaspora dare take a public and active stand about what is happening in our own backyard, here in Israel.

Five or ten or fifteen years from now, as we look around us here in Israel, probably from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, with our Jewish minority governing an Arab majority in a Greater Israel legislated by local law as our Jewish State, ours and ours alone, we will then remember MK Ophir Okunis. In 2011 Okunis fairly represents our Israeli Knesset and Government. Remember what he said in 2011:

" McCarthy was correct in every word he uttered." End quote.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"times, they are a-changing"

Last month I was part of a group of active Israeli volunteers being hosted by the governor of the greater Jenin area in northern Palestine. At the Jelemy border barrier it took us one and a half hours of waiting before we could continue to the Palestinian city of Jenin. One of our group, a well known and distinguished reporter from "Haaretz" was having difficulties with a permit to pass. We encountered just a slight "smidgen" of the feeling many Palestinians still have on their way to work morning after morning, waiting to pass through one or another military barrier. (understandably, we waited comfortably in our cars.) Life goes on.

Some things take time. Some revolutions take years rather than days. But years are simply a wink and a blink in the long run.

I expect my children or perhaps my grandchildren may be living in a different Israel than the one known and acknowledged by most of our Western world as a democratic and Jewish State in the turmoil of Middle Eastern strife. Regardless of disputes over political necessities, most of our Western world accepted us (willingly or begrudgingly) as a bastion of democracy in a region growing with fundamentalist belligerence and totalitarian hostility.

But "times, they are a-changing", unless some unknown hand of fate changes direction.

The attack is on !! …. with government supervision and parliamentary initiatives …. all done legally….new laws …. and laws make things legal. The selection of Supreme Court judges is being further politicized at the direction of settler-oriented Ministers and parliament. Human rights organizations, those who consider Arabs also as humans with rights, are being hounded with new legislation to prevent their funding. Leftist thinking and expression is being officially branded as detrimental to the State. Arabic, as one of our official State languages is being downgraded with legislation. Street signs with Arabic translation are being minimized to Hebrew-only. Legislation is in the works to subordinate Democratic principles to Jewish Law. Citizenship status would be subordinate to tribal belonging. Ultra-fundamentalist Judaism is creeping into the army with the intent of shamefully downgrading the status of women. Jerusalem, our capital, is adding more and more segregated buses and erasing women's faces from public advertisements. We have legitimized State employed Rabbis to prohibit the rental of homes to Arabs. Our State Broadcasting Authority has taken steps to replace journalists critical to rightist government politics within radio and TV. And the list is expanding…….

Our New Right sees our courts, our government, our Knesset as tools for ensuring Jewish tribal supremacy. This is not the Old Right of Jabotinsky and Begin and their remnants (such as Rivlin, Meridor, Arens and a few others who still share with us some semblance of basic democratic principles). Our New Right has become drunk with the power of Jewish sovereignty.

Everything is legal…….legislated by a majority……after all, majority rules and decides…….democratically, right? The minority is subordinate, second-class, perhaps third. Isn't that what democracy is all about ?? …………..or….. is….. it ? …………….

None of the above is felt by most of us liberal thinking Jews. Perhaps we hear things ….. perhaps we sometimes read about …… but it hasn't really touched our lives directly. ….. so we remain awfully passive. After all, we know our country is democratic. Therefore, we remain at best, armchair liberals. It's easier and less complicated ….. certainly less frustrating, and perhaps this is the only way to survive in our turbulent Middle East. …………..or….. is….. it ? …………….

The ruin of democracy can be a slow process via passive acceptance of one small change after another, democratically. The return to democracy is much more difficult.

Will my children or grandchildren see us becoming more and more like our fundamentalist enemies ? Will they too be hoodwinked into believing that this is the only way to survive in the Middle East ? Will they too learn the art of passivity ?

As stated above, "times, they are a-changing", unless some unknown hand of fate changes direction….. or, perhaps, unless more liberal armchair "passives" lose their armchairs…………….

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Watching the Parade Go By

I just reread what I wrote. Pretty discouraging…..should I make it more hopeful? ……should I explain a bit more? …… I really so gloomy? …… On second thought, perhaps I'm only slightly exposing the festering distress in the pit of my stomach……oyyyy……

I need to babble a bit……it helps anesthetize some of my national frustrations…….temporarily.

We're in deep trouble. My government is leading us closer and closer to disaster. Netanyahu and his most right-wing coalition are pulling us down into……down into…..down into…….

The world has moved a few paces, while we stand stubbornly still, especially during these last two years. An Arab League peace initiative has been laying on our doorstep for almost a decade. We refuse to even look at it. The first and probably the last Palestinian leadership insistent on negotiating through peaceful means has had our backs consistently turned on it. Should we put a freeze on our further expansion into the West Bank in order to promote negotiations ? Not a chance ! Regardless of the talk about two States, the West Bank real-estate is ours. Our ploy is to drag on talking one thing while promoting another.

We said "no talk till terror is put down by the PA". OK, after a number of years of less terror by West Bank Palestinians than by West Bank Jewish settlers, our expansion drive continues. We used to say talks can begin once they recognize and accept the legitimacy of the State of Israel. So they did, therefore our language changed…no longer accept us as the "State of Israel", now first acclaim us as the "Jewish State", (e.g. not really meant for the 20% Arab citizens of our country)….and our expansion drive continues. We said large Jewish settlement areas in the West Bank must remain with us, in exchange for alternate land. They accepted. We backed out …..and our expansion drive continues. We claim they can't unilaterally ask of the U.N. to declare their Statehood. It can only be done through mutual negotiation with us. Yet we have settled and taken land from them for 44 years without any mutual negotiation..…and we continue doing so to this very day… our expansion drive continues. Yes, there are other difficult issues. East Jerusalem and environs are at the top of the list. But, not to worry! Our expansion there is at full speed so that soon it won't be a relevant issue…..And our expansion drive marches on.

Positive things did happen over the years: Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, both based also on the premise that we resolve our Palestinian issues through negotiations bringing to an independent Palestinian State. Our ties with Turkey greatly strengthened in the wake of the Oslo agreements. Even Saudi Arabia spearheaded a comprehensive Arab League peace initiative. All was predicated on the assumption that we are really looking for a way to resolve the creation of a separate and independent Palestinian entity. But our expansion drive keeps marching on…and on…and on………..until none of the above believe us any longer and are once more convinced that our real intentions are not what we sometimes say, but in what we often say and actually do. And this revelation is today tearing asunder and destroying every one of those positive accomplishments listed above……and our expansion drive keeps marching on.

Our political (and social) standing within the Western world has all but disintegrated. Germany still officially backs us (evidently their guilt goes a long way). The U.S. is still in our palms…..sort of, but with tremendous misgivings at having to lose points around the world because of the internal political necessity to back us, right or wrong. Almost all the rest in the West ? …….forget it…..we've become the bad guys.

(O.K., so the cards didn't deal us a Nelson Mandela as a negotiating partner… but neither have we made any efforts to nurture our very own Mandela…..)

The last couple of decades have seen incredible changes in our world. The Cold War is hardly remembered. China joined in. South Africa turned 180 degrees. American world leadership has dimmed. The Arab and Muslim crescent from North Africa to Afghanistan has totally captured the attention of our Western world. And more….and more.

But we stay firm. We don't budge. We stay in one place and watch the parade go by. We don't join or enjoin. We stay by our principles. We know justice is totally on our side, and will certainly always triumph…… always… long as we stick to our guns…….and live by them…..for as long as we can…..

Oh yes, our fellow Jews around the world ? ……. They back us no matter what we do……even if we're bringing a disaster onto ourselves (and them?). Perhaps it's our Jewish guilt trip for staying in the Diaspora. Therefore the U.S. needs to accept a slap in the face from us time and again for suggesting we change our intentions, otherwise the Jewish voter will be unhappy….. And our expansion drive continues.

(Parenthetically: I have never understood why the majority of American liberal Jews have not stood up as a group to demand and pressure our government in Israel to freeze expansionism. Of course, I say this from my "comfortable" position in my Israeli home.)

Once upon a time, our purpose was a homeland for Jews. Today our purpose is establishing God's promise of a Greater Israel. Erdowan, the Turkish leader, has recently called us "the spoiled child of the Middle East", wanting everything. I think he's wrong. We are not spoiled…..we've simply adopted the traits of those in the Middle East poisoned by fundamentalist and extreme ideologies (mostly religious). These traits are driving us into a corner of no return……..a corner inviting disaster.

What will hindsight say once disaster arrives ? ("We did all the right things….its just that everyone hates us.....oyyyy....")

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Social Tent Protests and the Baby Turtles

Its been a hot and busy Israeli summer, pockmarked by so many small protest tents around the country, all demonstrating the need for a radical "change". But wait……I'll get to that……. first something about the turtles.

The little turtles are about two inches long as they hatch on the Betzet beachfront near our home. Their elderly mothers swam perhaps thousands of miles to home-in on many centuries-old remembered spots of Israeli beaches to lay their eggs in the sand. These centuries-old spots are today filled with skyline buildings, factories and industrial garbage, hotels and people garbage. Eggs left in these municipal sands would crumble under the weight of our coastal development. Stubborn nature paramours gather the eggs and bring them to a protected area along our northern beachfront….Betzet beach, where the Betzet wadi\stream ends its journey from the eastern hills to the Mediterranean. Here the baby turtles hatch and clumsily scramble their way through the sand back into the open sea.

Standing on the beach, with my back to the sea, I see trees and local shrubbery….no hotels, no factories….just nature at its pastoral best. No longer does any other such beach exist along the northern Israeli landscape between our border with Lebanon and Haifa………..and perhaps this too will vanish. Our local oligarchs with the help of our government's Land Authority are planning to add many hotel buildings to this last vestige of open nature. Standing with my back to the sea I'll view the encroaching development of our Israeli capitulation to the wealth of our oligarchs. Those two-inch baby turtles won't hatch and grow to over two feet. But aside from turtles…..also people….I and my neighbors from far and wide won't enjoy the one natural sanctuary left along our northern coastline.

We've been fighting the change for over two years now….petitions, meetings, etc…..We thought we made headway, and found we've been outflanked. This summer we set up a large protest tent on the beach and have enlisted the signatures of the many Israelis who come here because it truly is the last real natural sanctuary along our northern beachfront. We have more than 30,000 signatures and a few thousand letters sent to government ministers, but in the context of a country whose economic and social policies are dominated by a right-wing oligarchy and "Tea-Party" ideologues, I fear our pastoral summer on Betzet Beach may be our last.

Meanwhile, a ten minute drive from our Betzet protest tent returns me to the bustling Nahariya intersection where a small tent town has sprung up and has become our local protest station and our identification anchor with the massive protest tent city which rose this summer along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv. I've been a frequent visitor and supporter of this small tent town, so peripheral from the main action. Each evening, surrounded by a few tents and protest signs, gather a strange mixture of people representing the normal Israeli street. No, not a town-hall session of many……..just twenty or so people of various political and social backgrounds (different people from evening to evening)……from a homeless to a well-to-do contractor…….from a Bibi-lover to an old-time communist…….and everything in-between…………and they talk……together……wooowww!.....and not just about the destruction of nature….but about the destruction of humans and values…..The words "Social Justice" have come out of hiding and are hitting the streets in every town and city…….including our backyard in Nahariya.


Evidently the evening gatherers really do agree on something…….they agree that something is seriously amiss with our economic and social policies; that our governments have created a society with a vast gulf between the very rich and everyone else; that allowing the richest percentile to be the guiding force of our economic policies, has turned our social democracy into an economic oligarchy; and it all shows up in our shopping cart….from the price of cottage cheese and milk to electricity and gas, from the cost of housing, rental or bought, to the structure of our taxation, from the cost of "free education" to the strangulation of social services; but mainly, perhaps, by placing a "Tea-Party" social ideology and what has been branded as "Piggish-Capitalism" in the forefront of our policies during the past 35 years, with Bibi Netanyahu being its main leader and proponent during the last 20 years. The people coming to these evening get-togethers at the Nahariya protest tents are evidently asking for a more "human" approach to social and economic planning. Do they have answers?? Not really, it seems. They want the people "up there" to change things. Are they representative of their neighbors?? Perhaps they really are…..maybe. Why do I say this?? Because it seems like the people "up there", including Bibi, are beginning to act and look slightly worried. They are even proposing some interesting changes to their long term economic and social doctrines. Will they actually change something?? Perhaps a little, no more, just enough to brag about at the next elections………. Will the next elections bring on the change??…..I've too often seen how the very people most hurt by our "Tea-Party" ideologues continue voting them into office. Does the mass show of disapproval in the tent towns and demonstrations around the country show a real change?........again, maybe….. so keep plugging away, keep supporting…..don't let go. Keep constantly in mind that the call for social justice reverberating around the country was so much the result of a variety of nameless individuals with tents as their weapons and who wouldn't let go.

There is a straight line from our two-inch baby turtles and our natural beach at Betzet to the motley bunch of protest tents in Nahariya with the cry for social justice. Its all about what kind of human beings, what kind of public, and what kind of nation we'd like to be. Perhaps it’s the same line that will lead us to re-examine the kind of rapport we'd like to build with all of our neighbors in a country which once more (can this really happen?) places social justice in the forefront of public concern. Perhaps there is still a slight chance for "Ki me-Tziyon Teitzei Torah".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I am sooooo proud !

I am amazed….. and soooooo…..soooooo proud. Something happened that has never happened before. I don't know if it will last. I don't know if it will flourish. But it will have shown that it can happen. It will be the model every politician will need to take into account.

Last week I was returning from a five day stay at a Bedouin village down south. I dropped someone off in the sleepy town of Kfar Yona. I turned a corner at the municipal building and there they were: a bunch of tents sprawled on the green with young protesters and their even younger children. Arriving home I heard of a similar tent camp in our nearby Nahariya. Opening the radio I heard of tent camps protesting from way up north in the Upper Galilee down to Eilat in the south. The biggest encampment, daddy of them all, was up and down Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.

The first tents decried the high cost of rental apartments for students, young families, and the normal middle-class. It came right in the wake of a Facebook protest of gasoline prices (I was not that interested), and then a Facebook boycott of cottage cheese (my defense mechanism chided the protest with "how can you complain about cheese when so many greater injustices were apparent all around us".), followed by a general slap at all milk products, and then came the tents and the rental protests. My cynical skepticism was wrong. The gas and the cottage cheese and the rentals were the harbingers introducing a general protest by a new generation crying singing and chanting "We Want Social Justice". Hear that?? Social Justice….a slogan which hadn't been heard in our country for many years (except by some of us outdated crybaby lefties).

Yesterday 150,000 protesters crowded the streets of our country. With no central leadership, with no central agenda, with no specific political color or flag, they were all telling ourselves and our government that the gap between rich and poor and, even more to the point, between rich and middle class has widened beyond bearable proportions……that the privatization of many social services…..that selling off our country's resources to private tycoons……that lax taxation of the rich at the expense of the rest of us……that slicing social welfare payments of the old and the confined……have made us a country owned by the 20 or so richest families that decide the economic fate of the rest of us……all under a government economic policy compounded by Bibi Netanyahu since his first round as economic leader and Prime Minister. "Bibi Go Home" were placards next to "We Want Social Justice".

150,000 marchers yesterday with hardly a need for police regulation. No stone throwing, no burning smelly tires. Playing guitars, pushing tots in strollers, singing, reading poetry, and speaking their minds loud and clear. Probably the most peaceful mass protest captured by any media in the Western world of today. But a protest with powerful reverberations in the halls of governmental power.

Its summer, its hot….but its not raining…..its vacation season from work……Universities are dormant till October. The tent camps continue to expand and to protest…….not about cottage cheese……but about life in our country. I don't know where this will take us. Perhaps nowhere… But for tomorrow??..... perhaps these tents are the first real sign of a peaceful evolutionary revolution. After yesterday I reclaimed my pride at being an Israeli, in a country with people who are perhaps able to rekindle that "Light Onto The Nations". Make room for Social Justice. Here we come. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Government Is On A Roll…….

OK… took a few months, but glory-be…….we finally got the new law passed by a comfortable majority in our Knesset. Our country is now better protected from the possible ravages of our enemies.

We began with small steps to further hamper the movements and speech of our local Israeli Arabs. The existing burden of inequality was insufficient. We needed to further display our indignation at their continued existence in a country meant by God to be ours and ours alone. So we passed a law further forbidding them to live in a variety of our communities. We passed a law to essentially forbid them to mourn their disaster of 1948. We allowed rabbis who are paid Civil Servants of the Government to declare religious edicts forbidding the rental or sale of apartments and homes to our Arab citizens. We allowed rabbis who are paid Civil Servants of the Government to publicly condone a book allowing for the slaying of Arab babies because they would probably grow up to be our enemies.

We were also successful in leaving the door wide open to the promise of an expanded Greater Israel, by just about scuttling the two-state peace initiative with the Palestinian Authority. If previous governments demanded of the Palestinians to recognize and accept the legitimacy and sovereignty of our State of Israel, we added the demand that they recognize the State as purely Jewish. We were aware that this would be a dead-end street for the peace process. They couldn't openly define us as such while 20% of our population is Arab. They told us to define ourselves without their involvement, but we were stubborn and refused to accept that. What an excellent ploy on our part. (By the way, we did not insist they recognize us as "democratic".)

But we still had a problem. In the past we were able to ward off serious negotiations with the Palestinians while acts of violent terrorism continued. But for a number of years all that has changed. (set Gaza aside, as we have so successfully[?] done by our siege) The PA has succeeded in almost eradicating terrorist acts of Palestinians while adopting and encouraging peaceful means of dissent towards Statehood and independence. As a matter of fact, at last they somewhat learned the meaning and possible effectiveness of nonviolent resistance. Actually the greatest amount of violence came from our own dedicated Jewish pioneers who have sworn to aid us in the promise of a Greater Israel. How could we now continue to cry "Terrorism" as a means to delay negotiations? We found the answer. If the PA calls for a worker boycott of factories in the West Bank we will label that as "Terror" and punish it accordingly. After all, anything which disrupts our true purpose of creating an expanded Greater Israel is in fact "Terror" against our State.

And yet we had another problem….a bit more complicated. Arabs, whether Israeli citizens or Palestinians in the West Bank, can somehow be controlled and contained without causing a public furor. Jewish pests are somewhat different…..they're Jewish. Human Rights and Legal-Aid Associations in Israel are manned by Jewish citizens, and they are giving us a bad name by criticizing us in public and before judicial bodies. They are often aided by individual Jewish citizens who are obviously out to harm us by condemning many of our actions, especially those acts meant to restrict the rights of Arabs. These are dangerous Jews who are giving us a bad name. A prime example is their attempt to hamper our drive towards a Greater Israel in the West Bank by calling for a civilian boycott of goods and services offered by our dedicated pioneers in the West Bank. They call it a passive tool of political dissent. We call it civilian "terrorism" by Jews who are traitors to their country.

We also found our own legal ways of dealing with these treacherous Jewish Human Rights groups and individuals. The answer: Legally enact laws which will prohibit and punish the actions of these Human Rights groups and individuals. And so we did…….our majority in the Knesset carried the day. Those Jewish back-stabbers will now be liable to heavy court action for the slightest encouragement of West Bank boycotting. Anyone in the West Bank can sue them for heavy financial penalties without even the need to show damage. Boycott suggestioons by any non-profit group would lead to the loss of its taxation status for donations. Artists, actors and musicians who will refuse out of conscience to appear before audiences in the West Bank will be sued by our erstwhile pioneers and will also stop receiving any aid from public sources such as the Ministry of Culture.

We now have them all on the run. But we aren't stopping there. We have a few more laws waiting in the wings for prompt action and enactment by our majority in the Knesset. Jewish citizens are mostly either for us or simply apathetic. But if Jewish citizens are actually against us, and can't keep quiet about it, they are most likely traitors to their people and we will continue to find and enact legal ways of silencing their "terrorism". That's what democracy is all about, isn't it?.....We are on a roll…..and nothing can stop us now…….also, God is on our side.
(Remember: tongue in cheek is not the same as foot in mouth.)

P.S. in a previous addition to my blog from Monday, February 14, 2011, I gave you the Israeli internet links to lists of West Bank products and companies which we cannot legally boycott. I wanted to refer you to my article in order to know which companies and products you should "NOT BOYCOTT". Unfortunately I found the following announcement in my Gush Shalom link to the list:

"the Knesset adopted a law making the settlement products boycott campaign illegal, punishable with huge compensation claims from each and every company. We have lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court against this infringement of our democratic rights, but meanwhile we simply can't afford to continue publishing the list of products."
I therefore send you to another link, supported by the "Coalition of Women for Peace" based in Tel-Aviv:

This link tells us which companies are based in the West Bank and cannot be boycotted. Clicking on each name will give you the info regarding where what and how of the company. Personally I am trying to study the list under "Settlements' Products" so as to know which items coming from the West Bank cannot be boycotted for fear of eternal and governmental damnation. I then intend to do the right thing.

I suggest and invite you to study the list as well, and well.
Shalom means peace,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


(I think this is mainly another footnote to our fellow Jews in the Diaspora. Here in Israel….who knows…..)

Prophesy is left to Fools, but future reality needs to be faced by all of us fools. Anyways, in today's reality we may all be fools………so here goes…..
I yearn for an Israeli-Palestinian 2-State modus-vivendi. I also mourn tearfully for that possible reality which seems to be breathing its final breaths and quickly becoming a fantasy of the past.

I yearn for a two state scenario even if many in the neighboring state remain forever hostile and we are forced to continue living by the sword, building an even higher wall, and constantly retaliating against terrorist attempts.

The alternative is a devastating scenario begging the demise of the Third Jewish Democratic Republic.

The demographic statistics coupled with the globalized politics of the 21st Century, alongside the conservative no-need-to-compromise politics of my country, are ushering in both the demise of the two-state scenario and its devastating alternative.

The demography speaks for itself. In the "Greater Israel-Palestine" between the Jordan and the Mediterranean there are today approximately 5.7 million Arabs and almost 6 million Jews. In ten years at most the numbers will equal. After that…..we Jews will become more and more of a minority. Because we passed–up on the 2-State scenario, global (Western) politics will no longer be able to see us as a country fighting at the forefront of Islamic terrorism. We will simply become a minority dominating over a growing majority…..A majority seeking its rightful place in the civil rights of Greater Israel-Palestine.

Why is the 2-state scenario on its deathbed??......because the physician firmly believes that amulets and prayers are more powerful than the gangrene demanding an amputation.

Why is the 2-state scenario on its deathbed??......

1. Our government is against it. The great majority of parties forming the government, the great majority of Jewish Knesset members, the majority of Jewish voters, …..all are somewhere between fervently believing-in or fervently-wanting to remain in Greater Israel. Our government is secure in the polls.

2. "Religious Zionism" has made war on anything less than Greater Israel. Religious Zionism's activism and influence is pervasive within the halls of government and within the Israeli public. Their most honored rabbis state over and over that "the promised land is only Jewish" and "we can't give up land given to us by God." And, perhaps even more telling, they teach us that a rabbi's interpretation of God's will is way and above the law of the land, and certainly above the interpretations of liberal humanism. They do not really debate the demographic issue. They are certain that we are on the threshold of the promises for messianic days, and when we reach the pinnacle of those days all the nations of the world will know and understand that we are justified and flawless. (you probably think I'm exaggerating. If so, you have not read what they write or heard what they lecture to their public.)

3. Our Government's idea of compromise is based on publicly accepting the notion of a 2-state scenario, while placing conditions known beforehand as impossible to accept, and while continuing to make physical and demographic changes in the West Bank which we know will make any Palestinian State completely not viable.

4. The Palestinian Authority cannot be a voice proclaiming Israel as a "Jewish" state. They can recognize Israel's legitimacy and sovreignity, something we had always demanded of them…..until the present government added the Jewish issue as a condition for talks. With 20% of Israel being Arab, the PA can only guarantee its acceptance of Israel as a legitimate and sovereign neighbor. How Israel defines itself, is Israel's issue, not that of the PA. As a matter of fact, Israel can ask of the UN to accept a decision for a two state solution based on Israel as a "Jewish Democratic State" and Palestine as an "Arab Democratic State". This would free the PA of having to be part of Israeli identity issues, while once again giving international legitimacy to Israel's Jewish nature. But Israel will not ask for such a decision of the UN., because it is most likely to pass and thereby commit Israel even more to the 2-state scenario.

5. The settlements……again the settlements….and once more the settlements. These are the soldiers in the front line. While the government maneuvers constantly between global pressure for "Two States" and the need to stave off such a scenario, these are the soldiers continuing to build and expand land taken over from the Palestinian future non-state. East Jerusalem and its corridor leading towards the Jordan River are a good example of our attempt (and evidently, success) in cutting the Southern half of the West bank from the northern half as much as possible. We are doing our best to split the West Bank into two parts in order to make the Palestinian State more and more non-viable. We are succeeding.

6. The present government in the PA is probably the last government with which a territorial compromise for a 2-State scenario is possible. We are doing our best not to negotiate, while hammering in the mantra of "its them, not us." We are counting on it that the next PA government will decide to be more militant and allow us once again to say "how can we negotiate with such a militant PA?"

Enough!.........though there are many more reasons……but most of them revolve around our attempts to stave off any possibility of a 2-State scenario. And we are way ahead…. and succeeding. Therefore…….the alternative: A Greater Israel in one form or another…..a defensive need for an apartheid policy…..a religious/cultural desire for an apartheid policy……a minority ruling (not so humanly) over a growing majority…….a global and Western (including American) demand for equal rights…….some type of coercive capitulation to those demands……and an end to the "Third Jewish Republic" which could no longer call itself "Democratic".

This is not a 22nd Century scenario. With the deliberate strangulation and probable demise of the 2-State agenda, this will be part of our current Century…..feasibly within only ten years……but perhaps within 20. Time has moved quicker lately than in the past.

And yes, World Jewry…..
As a Jewish State, we in Israel see ourselves as representing the interests of all Jews around the world. Evidently World Jewry accepts our leadership and defends whatever road we take. All right…..keep supporting whatever we do…..don't criticize us……don't speak out against our policies……don't attempt to divert us from a probable self-destructive course… our addictions….stay mum and defend our government's backs…….

But please…..please…..please…….keep the gates of your Diaspora countries open. When the time comes, when it is evident that the Zionist Dream has drowned, many Jewish Israelis will be streaming to your shores. I know you will take them in kindly. You will at last, with open arms, be part and parcel of the unfolding drama which will have morphed the dream into our next wandering nightmare. A little late, don't you think, but what more could we expect of you.

Some years ago I was more hopeful. The last two years, with a popular government driving down a one-way street, I've become less so. Evidently, the older I get…..the future is not what it used to be.

Recently I turned seventy. My father died at 92. One grandfather died at 96. I may live long enough to be a witness to the above scenario. No, I will not depart from my Jewish homeland for the Diaspora. My roots are glued……….but…but…., oh hell…….what do I tell my grandchildren ??

(please note: I left the 2-State scenario on its deathbed, but not quite and utterly dead. Is there a chance? Electric shock or something? Is there an alternative physician in the house ?? See you in 20 years, or so.....or before.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Six of My Many Worries

It seems events both near and far are moving faster than in the past. At times it seems difficult to keep track of the various things to worry about, while each worry seems to have tentacles connected to every other worry. Here are six of the worries keeping me awake and troubled:

1.   I worry about the "Democratic Awakening" in the Arab world….from Egypt through lands that engulf us all the way to Syria (Nor do I leave out Lybia west of us or Turkey up north). I have a great respect and awe for that part of the younger generation that started with Facebook and Twitter and ended up on the city streets demanding freedom and reform towards a democratic society. These are the rebels that are bringing down the despotism of the old order and creating the vacuum that will invite a different order. I worry about that "different" order. I fear that the rebels of the young generation who dared to stand up to despotism will, in the final analysis, be drowned out by the much better organized and well prepared wave of Muslim Radical Fundamentalism. This wave has been waiting impatiently to replace Arab despots from Egypt to Syria with their own brand of despotism. It would be a despotism much more dangerous to the entire western world, and ever more so to us in Israel. I fail to see strong organized elements steering the rebels towards a "Democratic Awakening".

2.   Deja-vu in Gaza:…..I worry about the up and coming second round of "Cast Lead", a military campaign of great strength and length to demobilize and demoralize (and crush?) the Hamas in Gaza. All in the wake of the latest continuance of rocket attacks from Gaza on our civilian areas in the south. Again we see rockets being launched from populated areas in Gaza. Again the outcome will be death and destruction within civilian Gaza. We didn't need Goldstone's corrections about what happened in the first "Cast Lead". So many men and women and children will die, not intentionally, but because they are in the line of fire, and because so many bombs or bullets don't land according to plan. In January of 2009, after the first days of "Cast Lead" I wrote an answer to a friend who placed the full blame for the campaign on Israel's devious policies. I reread that letter. With a minor change of dates and and situations, I would probably write a very similar letter today . Interested ?..... Read the letter here: "Our Attack of Gaza" (click or Control+click on link) .

3.   I worry about the demise of a two-state modus-vivendi to our Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A Palestinian state created through willingness and mutual agreements would be able to bolster moderate and democratic elements within the Palestinian society. A Palestinian state foisted on us unwillingly via the UN, via a Western world tired of our deliberate foot-dragging, via the loss of mediators within our region, will lose faith in the power of mutual moderation and be so much more open to the power of traditional radical and despotic fundamentalism as professed by the Hamas. I worry because of my government's expertise at foot-dragging and at creating for us the choice between a Palestinian State driven to the radical corner of the Muslim world, or a Jewish State, bi-national in nature, with a majority of belligerent non-Jews enjoying (?!) limited civil and human rights……..while we will still be brazen enough to call ourselves "the only democratic country in the Middle East".

4.   I worry about the Jewish nature of our country. I embraced my Zionism as a dual-headed purpose with each head being dependant on the other. We returned to Zion in order to "solve" the problem of the wandering Jew, persecuted from generation to generation, from country to country. We returned also in order to fulfill being "a light unto the nations" according to voices of our prophets such as by Micha who encouraged us to place minor value on ceremonial religion while to excel in "justice, benevolence, and humility". On that basis, Micha adds, will "the law come forth from Zion" (Ki me-Tziyon Tetze Tora). Micha pursued a just and democratic cosmopolitan Judaism in Zion. Only on that basis can we be "a light unto the nations". A "Light" unto the nations ?? I worry that today the light is a small pocket flashlight with over depleted batteries.

5.   I worry about our democratic nature. Events pile up on each other. Remember the chief rabbi of Tzfat ?...that rabbinical pillar who wrote an open letter forbidding the rental or sale of lodging to Israeli Arab citizens…… and remember the hundreds of other rabbis in our country who decided to join and countersign his letter ?....wellllll……he announced lately how proud he is that his city, Tzfat, is listening to his message and becoming more totally Jewish and "clean" of Arabs. His salary is still being paid by my taxes. My Government still lives peacefully with his message. O.K., another story: in 1976 my government confiscated great tracts of land from their Arab owners for the open purpose of "Judaizing" the Galil. In an explosion of Arab protest (not too peaceful), six protesters were shot and killed. Since then the Israeli Arab Public commemorates a yearly "Land Day" to mourn and protest the discrimination and injustice towards the Arab citizens of our country. This year, for the first time in the annals of "Land Day", our Department of Education demanded of each school a list of Arab teachers who failed to appear for classes on "Land Day" while joining their community protest. All this of course follows a series of laws that passed and some that almost passed our Knesset this year, all mainly designed to further hamper the civil rights of our Israeli Arab citizens. (So why should the chief rabbi of Tzfat and his 300 cosigners worry about their salaries being paid by our taxes ?)

6.   I worry because I meet fewer and fewer Jewish Israelis who are actively and openly worried about those things which I worry about. Active "worriers" are disorganized and have no outstanding national leadership. Today's active worriers seem to have little effect on the politics and policies of our country. I worry about the kind of democratic society which will lead my grandchildren into their adult years. Will they be part of a pluralistic Jewish society or of a Jewish society cowed by the narrow fundamentalism displayed thru the chief rabbi of Tzfat. And I worry whether my grandchildren, in their adult years, will actually understand why I spend my time worrying.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Travellog....... Humans Without Borders

A few words (and then a request) about a group of devoted volunteers and about a lively jovial mother-angel who gave them all a jump-start:

I first met G'amilla a few years ago during one of my stints to a burnt out olive grove belonging to a family in the village of Kafar Salam near Shchem (Nablus). It was evident that settlers from a nearby Jewish settlement had destroyed these trees. G'amilla had recently upgraded her humanitarian activities among Palestinians in the West Bank with the creation of the Olive Tree Movement, a volunteer organization dedicated to protecting Palestinian farmers from the hostility of Jewish settlers, running summer camps with Israeli volunteers for Palestinian children, and aiding Palestinian parents to bring their sick children to Hospitals in Israel.

Eventually G'amilla evolved her work into an NGO called Humans Without Borders (HWB). "HWB was formed to assist Palestinian children who require advanced medical care that is not available under the health care system of the Palestinian Authority. Each week about 50 children and members of their families are conveyed by volunteer drivers to and from border crossing points to hospitals in Israel. In the hospitals, volunteers assist in communicating between staff and parents and make visits to children during extended periods of hospitalization. HWB also runs summer camps where Palestinian children enjoy a week of fun and creative activities. Day trips to the sea and the zoo are also organized for the families of the children under treatment (including siblings). Such events – which may seem insignificant in the midst of the awful happenings taking place in the Middle East conflict – are terribly relevant for mothers who, to mention just one example, may spend three days each week in a dialysis ward."

(G'amilla's activities remind me, of course, of work done by other volunteer-angels. Example: When I first met Buma Inbar a number of years ago it was also in one of the olive groves near Nablus. That was during the day. At night Buma was driving around to Hotels and restaurants collecting left-over food from the evening's dinner. He would then bring the food to Palestinian parents who were sitting by their very ailing children in our Israeli Hospitals. There are more Israelis like G'amilla and Buma…..but not a multitude……too few.)

Lately, for health reasons, I found myself no longer able to join those volunteers who help protect Palestinian farmers from the hostilities of our Jewish settlers in the West Bank. I was also unable to join the magnificent work of "Machsom-Watch", an NGO of Israeli women who station themselves at Army checkpoints in the West Bank to view and report possible inhumane behavior towards Palestinians crossing at these checkpoints. It's an NGO "manned" by women only. (I was not up to a sex change.). But I was able (health was not a problem) to join those volunteers who regularly drive Palestinian children from border checkpoints to Israeli hospitals. This also brought me to investigate a bit more closely the volunteer needs of G'milla's Humans Without Borders.

Humans Without Borders is financially a shoestring outfit. G'amilla and other volunteers who make the contacts between Palestinian families and Israeli assistance all work out of their homes. Volunteers use their own cars to drive parent with child to Israeli hospitals. Many of the same volunteers also contribute out of pocket for administrative costs. It turns out that it isn't enough and HWB is in desparate need of more help. What for? order to:
….Help meet administrative costs such as telephone bills and office supplies;
….Compensate some of the volunteers for direct expenses (such as petrol);
….Support parents who must stay over with their chronically ill children in Israeli hospitals;
….Support and expand summer camp activities for children in West Bank villages.

HWB is attempting a two-pronged adventure within our Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
1. (First and foremost) Humanitarian aid to our neighbors.
2. Showing some Palestinians that we Israelis are human.

O.K. if any of this means something to you, visit the website for Humans Without Borders:

If you got this far, perhaps you'll also check out the DONATE page in the website. (plastic or PayPal will do). Here I don't know what to suggest. You're on your own. (I know…..I know. I've never before promoted donations thru my blog…….call me inconsistent.)

I am evidently the northern most volunteer driving parent and child to Rambam Hospital in Haifa. I start the car before 05:30 in the morn and I have about four hours of driving before landing back home. A friend asked me "How can you do that often?". I didn't understand the question. I answered (as others have before me) "How can I not?".

Monday, February 14, 2011

Boycotts! I will remain law-abiding……

Tomorrow my Israeli Knesset will probably enact a new law declaring some of my actions (both private and public) illegal. The law will forbid me to wage a consumer boycott of products manufactured in our conquered Palestinian territories of the West Bank.

The law is of course unconstitutional in a free democratic society, but in Israel we don't have a constitution. Nevertheless, it infringes on the freedoms guaranteed to me via other laws of our country.

In a previous letter of mine I gave voice to my antagonism towards so much of the BDS movement (boycott-divestment-sanctions) among activists around the world whose struggle for Palestinian freedom is highly tainted with the principle of delegitimizing the very existence of Israel and the legitimacy of Zionism.
(see: , May-2010)

Nevertheless, I supported and applauded boycotts and other sanctions as legitimate civic actions meant to pressure political situations. I therefore concluded my letter with:

"I will 'jump into bed' with any non-Jewish partner who also accepts my Zionism, and who also appreciates the complexity of both sides of the conflict. With such a partner I will B-D-S ……….. But most of all I’ll look for partners within our own people both in Israel and in the Diaspora. Mostly through these will a change of policy come via understanding rather than via coercion or arm-twisting."
In another letter I wrote:        "……. I am not an NGO nor am I a college professor. I have only rarely attended commemorations of the Nakba (What's that? Google it.), and there are no foreign money sources that help pay my bills at the end of the month. What a relief. Were I any one of those abominations, I would be in a mess of troubles. Why, you ask??.........because I'd be waiting for the sound of boots and a knock on my door………….What a relief. I show up at one place or another in the cause of "Advanced Zionism", talk a bit to people, write a few words read by the very few, and never get in the News. So I'm not worried. No one has come to knock on my door………yet."
(see: ,August-2010)

Well, the knock on my door is coming closer.

According to the new law, if I advise you not to buy a certain product manufactured in the West Bank, I can expect a lawsuit from a West Bank settler. I will be fined 30,000 shekels even without the plaintiff's having to prove any link between my advice and any damage. Luckily, I'm a citizen here in Israel and can't be shiped out. Were I an American Jew writing my dissent of our settlement policies and suggesting a consumer boycott of settlement produce, our courts could deny me entry to Israel for at least ten years.

This is a continuation of intensive legislative work successfully accomplished only this past year and promoting discriminatory actions against our local Arab citizens and an old-fashioned witch-hunt after "leftist" organizations and individuals. (e.g.: two parliamentary investigative panels to examine human-rights organizations in Israel, the new loyalty law, the anti-Naqba law, the community-admissions law, and more of the same, and even more in the planning stages.)

So here's what I've decided to do:
I've decided to remain a law-abiding citizen.
I will not tell you to boycott!
I will not tell you which West-Bank "settler-products" should be boycotted !
I will only tell you which West-Bank products I cannot tell you to boycott !

For example:
I cannot tell you to download the full list of companies who produce partially or wholly out of the West Bank. Please do not surf to these sites. You may be called to task:
The English list: . Don't go there!!
The Hebrew list: . Don't go there either !!
("click" or "control+click" each site at your own risk.)
Be carefull. The list is two years old. Perhaps some have moved out of the West Bank. Are we now allowed to boycott them ?!

Another example? O.K.
I cannot tell you to boycott the company Modan, makers of fine handbags and cases, because some bags are manufactured near the settlement of Shaked in the West bank. Please take heed. In order to grab more land in the West Bank for our Jewish settlements, we need to bring industry as well. Boycotting them will make it more difficult for us to bring settlers to land that we grab. Remember: our policy is to delay any talks of a Palestinian State until we have settled as much land as politically possible. Don't spoil our intentions thru boycotts!

All right, one more.....
I will not encourage a boycott of "Soda Club", producers of home soda-water devices, situated in Edumim, West bank. Remember: if you don't heed this advice, and still boycott this firm, you may be hastening an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Shame on you!! This is not the policy of our Israeli government! Whoe-is-me….or you.

O.K.!! that's enough…..I will not help you know the entire list of companies which cannot be boycotted. But be carefull…..Do go to the above sites where you'll find a full list of companies….study it well, so you'll be familiar with the many companies which you should not boycott for fear of the new law against peaceful civil protests.

There….you see….I feel I have stated my case within the full legitimate confines of the new law….wheooh. I feel safe………I think……..

Also: "Tongue in cheek" is vastly different than "foot in mouth"