August 2008

LEO THE HEALER REVISITED

by mgopin on August 15, 2008 · 0 comments

I had written a piece earlier on Leo Kramer’s pioneering work supporting Palestinian and Israeli doctors who work together. Leo’s follow-up article, Israeli, Palestinian Doctors Affect Change on the Ground, is even more revealing. Leo writes that the medical work is vital because doing is more important than talking, a theme I have been trying to push recently in It Is What You Do That Defines You. Leo writes:

These efforts, however, must also be directed toward achieving results on the ground. That means ameliorating the insecurity of the Israelis, while addressing the deprivation of the Palestinians, their need for medical services, goods, utilities, food and freedom of movement. The overt violence of the conflict is bad enough for both sides, without the medical and humanitarian border crises, which thwart the struggle to maintain a basic standard of living for the Palestinians.

To properly approach security and

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There is a desperation at work in the sad excuse for negotiations underway between Israel and Palestine. This is the latest:

PA rejects Olmert’s offer to withdraw from 93% of West Bank

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, and Reuters

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected an Israeli peace proposal, which included withdrawal from 93 percent of the West Bank, because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’s spokesman, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a “lack of seriousness.”

Under the proposal, Israel would return to the Palestinians 93 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, when the Palestinian Authority regains control over the Gaza Strip, which the militant group Hamas seized from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2006.

Olmert presented Abbas with the

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An article by Dev Raj Dahal on Peace Movements in Nepal is much more than an analysis of conflict issues in Nepal. It addresses the relationship between global civilizations, between secular knowledge and religious knowledge, and the history of Eastern and Western approaches to human social organization. Dehal explores how these relationships impact human coexistence, and the search for peace in a world of division. We are divided by culture, class, and power, he argues.

There is a extensive exploration of Hinduism and Buddhism as they relate to Nepalese values and institutions. Rarely have I seen such a courageous and sympathetic integration of Eastern and Western thinking in solving the fundamental challenges of peaceful human existence. I do not agree with every characterization of or generalization about the many religions addressed in this important essay. In general the author, who has an ingrained sense of intellectual pluralism, tends to be

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The Israeli-Saudi Common Interest

by mgopin on August 7, 2008 · 3 comments

Dr. Moshe Maoz, one of the most senior Israeli authorities on the Islamic world has this to say recently on common Saudi and Israeli interests:

The interfaith conference King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia convened in Madrid on July 17 is the first such conference held by this religiously strict kingdom. Jews were among the participants, including a rabbi from Israel. In 2002, when Abdullah was still crown prince, he made a significant move toward Israel that was adopted by the Arab League’s 22 members: recognizing Israel, including diplomatic relations, if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and a Palestinian state is established with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Indeed, the Saudis’ realistic attitude toward Israel’s existence is not new. Back in May 1975, King Khaled told The Washington Post that his country was prepared to recognize Israel’s right to exist within the 1967 borders on condition that a Palestinian state

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Wahabism is generally a short-hand expression for conservative Saudi Arabian religion. It has become synonymous in the West, but also in the Islamic world, with a very repressive form of Islam that is responsible, at least in part, for the growth of militarism in the name of Islam. I must confess that over the years I generalized about Saudis and their religion, while actually knowing very little about their culture or their religion. I heard many bad stories from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but I did not really take the time to ask Saudis themselves. In truth, Saudi Arabia is an extremely conservative society with many religious laws in place that I do not agree with. But that did not give me the right to malign a culture in its entirety. That was reverse bigotry in the name of tolerance.

Imagine the cognitive dissonance of an entire hall full of

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Read Alex and Qifa’s important analysis of Syria’s next steps, especially if it wants to neutralize its dangerous conflict with Saudi Arabia, and if it wants to continue its positive momentum as a regional player. And note further down Alex’s important responses to Joe M.’s cogent critiques. Alex writes some interesting words of advice:

In politics, the tail may indeed often wag the dog, but grass-roots support never hurt a political cause. Syria’s reputation in journalistic, academic, NGO, policy, and think tank circles is among the worst in the region, this despite the fact that her neighbors are hardly a confederation of Jeffersonian democracies. The extent to which this reputation is justified remains a hot topic, about which people can agree or disagree. However, there is no doubt about the fact that the Syrian government — historically — hasn’t done itself any favors in the publicity department. By accelerating reforms

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Which Israel on Film is Real? You Choose

by mgopin on August 1, 2008 · 3 comments

There is so much chaos in Israel and Palestine right now politically and in terms of peace and violence that it is hard for those of us who know them intimately to keep it all in perspective. For today I just ask you to choose which Israel. I thought I had seen everything. Here is a scene of a senior Israel Defense Forces commander ordering a soldier to shoot at close range a bound and blindfolded Palestinian teenager who earlier can be seen waving a Palestinian flag at a demonstration.

This is filmed by a little girl from her window. Her father is subsequently arrested by the police. They can be heard in the background speaking in the film. Here is another version of the film accompanied by an official news story followed by an Israeli human rights group report. Of course, because this was caught on tape …

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