Month: May 2009

  • Poll Question: What Should the Palestinian Authority Do Next?

    Please take a second and vote:

    [poll id=”4″]…

  • New York Bomb Plot Raises Disturbing Questions–and Memories


    The men arrested for trying to bomb two synagogues and other sites in New York apparently acted alone. They indeed were seeking an opportunity for jihad. But it was primarily in response to the deaths in Afghanistan in Pakistan at the hands of American soldiers. Now it appears that they were deeply involved with an informant who, according to the leader of the mosque, was a government agent who came two years ago to the mosque encouraging meetings on jihad.

    So…did the government agent instigate this group of criminal men? Of course, this was a sting operation, but what are the ethics of sting operations? Is it the same infiltrating a mafia group and instigating a crime as infiltrating a house of worship and doing the same? I know the Jewish community would not be thrilled with some government agent who infiltrating Brooklyn and instigated some massive fraud scheme …

  • A Rational Confrontation with Iran: Time for a New Middle Eastern Approach

    A must read by Roger Cohen on Iran, the Arab states and Israel. I think that Roger underestimates the threat from Iran to its neighbors and to Israel, but he is right on that the neoconservative logic of dominance, isolation, and intimidation, and purposeful perpetuation of the inhumane status quos from Egypt to the West Bank have actually fed the rise of a militant Iran. A grand strategy requires a reversal of the last thirty years of mistakes. It also requires a reversal of tendency in the Middle East to engage in the perpetual fallacies of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This has led to never ending rivalries that is the intellectual opposite of notions of collective security that have allowed Europe, for example, to thrive in recent decades. Engagement with Iran done well is going to shift the balance of power in Iran which will ultimately …

  • N.Y Food Establishments Earn New Worker Ethics Seal–from Orthodox Judaism!

    SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — One year after a massive immigration raid at the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the United States, an Orthodox social justice organization announced the first seven recipients of its seal of ethical business practice.

    Uri L’Tzedek recognized six kosher restaurants and a kosher supermarket in Manhattan with a Tav HaYosher, or ethical seal.

    Mike’s Bistro, Mike’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen, Cafe Nana, Hewitt Dining, Your Heights Cafe, Hartley Kosher Deli and Supersol of the Westside are displaying the seal in their windows.

    Uri L’Tzedek, which was founded by rabbinical students at the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York, timed its announcement to May 12, the anniversary of the 2008 raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.

    The ensuing scandal and ongoing court cases generated widespread discussion of the ethical dimensions of kosher food production, and spurred several new social justice initiatives. They include the Tav

  • Popes Promoting Peace: Why Not? And What is the Big Fuss in Israel?

    A curious animosity has arisen on several sides of the Pope’s visit to Israel. Israeli Members of Parliament as well as very prominent rabbis took every opportunity to snipe at every word the Pope did say, should have not said, or should have said. As I watched the media blitz unfold I was amazed at the acrimony. Roi Ben Yehuda, however, has a positive essay on the Pope’s visit and the potential role of peacemaking for religious leaders. Also, various rabbis of the United States and the world were far more generous in welcoming the Pope to Israel.

    I understand policy differences with the Pope. Most of the world has one policy difference or another with this conservative Pope. I also understand that his conservative moves with regard to liturgy have angered Jews who see his reintroduction of a prayer hoping for the conversion of the Jews as detrimental …

  • Marc Gopin @ Big Sur!

    Marc will be teaching a workshop entitled, “Healing the Heart of Conflict”, at the legendary Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA from June 21 – 26. The course is based on the book. See here for book excerpts.

    The Esalen Institute is located on awesome and majestic cliffs over the pacific ocean. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is a great opportunity to study with Marc inone of the most serene and idyllic settings possible. Openings still available.…

  • Bashar, Don’t Take Netanyahu’s Bait

    Josh Landis outlines well the problems with America’s decision to maintain the Syria sanctions, but also outlines nicely what the Syrian and the Americans have done and not done so far in the relationship. Here is an excerpt:

    What has Syria done for Obama?

    * Both Hizbullah and Hamas have reached out to the US, claiming to want engagement and expressing willingness to compromise on key issues. Syria has great influence on these groups and has helped with this outreach.
    * Syria wants intelligence sharing on al-Qaida and Iraq, but it has not handed over Iraqi Baathists resident in Syria to the US.

    What has Syria refused to do for Obama?

    * Syria will not agree to concessions on the Arab peace plan, i.e. stating that Syria will give all resident Palestinians citizenship as part of a Palestinian-Israeli deal. (This is symbolic because Syria is the Arab state that has

  • Apology is a Breath of Fresh Air, Hillary, But Take It One Step Further

    Secretary Clinton’s apology for the Afghan civilian casualties was profuse and heartfelt, which is good. And her commitment to additional measures of addressing the conflict beyond the military one is welcome. But the standard alternatives, as usual, are about economic development and are rather long-term. There are other interventions afoot, however, that could have a more dramatic effect if the United States pursued them. This may have to challenge a tendency in the United States and Israel to always find a bad guy, even as you are engaging in nonviolent alternatives. In this case the ‘bad guys’ are the Taliban, who have a horrible human rights record. But evidence from the ground from our colleagues in the field, which I cannot share at this point, suggests that there are significant numbers of Taliban, young and old, who are trying to pull away from the extremist leadership who have no regrets …


    I continue to be completely immersed in Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country. I must admit that when I met him once, appeared on a panel with him and spent some time with him I was a little bit in awe and did not know quite what to say. Now that I know the depths of his life, his triumphs and losses, his father, I wish I could speak more to him.

    But the one thing that emerges from the reading again and again is the same lesson I have been gathering from all over the globe. I can sum it up in an Aramaic sentence from the ancient Talmud that describes a chaotic world of lawlessness, L’es Din ve’l’es dayyan, which translates roughly as, “There is no law in sight and no judge in sight either”. What amazes me from Palestine under occupation to Rwanda to all the …