Obama

I continue to be haunted, almost fixated on President Obama’s simple words about the joke around the White House.  It is in my opinion, a stunning formula for presidentially-led social change. After four decades of watching American presidents, supposedly the most powerful agents of change in the Arab/Israeli conflict, fail to make any change. Now Obama is coming along at a good time for change, in that so much of the world knows that Israel must change, including most American Jews, finally, finally. But he could be still failing miserably at this. No, it really is his genius. The fact is the most passionate president on peace and justice for Palestinians is Jimmy Carter, but he is not believed at all by most Jews or trusted. Why? Because he has a nasty habit of saying in public things that are so overly optimistic about seasoned enemies and militant groups with …

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Peace is Not Magic

by mgopin on June 26, 2009 · 5 comments

By Kobi Skolnick
In the last few weeks, there have been many developments in the Middle East conflict. People around the world have been following the speeches of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as Hosni Mubarak’s essay in the Wall Street Journal. This high-level discussion signals a shift in policy and progress toward peace. However, some skeptics wonder if this is just another phase in a cycle of false hope. After all, it is not difficult to imagine another suicide bombing in one of Israel’s cities, or an ill-timed Israeli Defense Force operation in the Palestinian Territories, both of which would immediately make peace look like a mere fantasy.

This danger has always existed in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Even when top leaders sign treaties, on the ground there remains a deep enmity between Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world. With this in mind, …

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This piece is worth reading and debating. I don’t agree with many of its assumptions about blame and the causal chain of connections, but I do think that jumping to final status on land swaps may be a way out of the current impasses. The problem I have is where they will get the rest of the land inside Israel for the swap, and will it play into Lieberman’s anti-democratic plans to give away the Arabs in Israel’s triangle area in order to disempower an Arab voice in Israel. It is very important that every affected community have a stake in these negotiations, and Israel’s domestic relations with the Arab community of Israel is going in the opposite direction right now of disenfranchisement of Israel’s Arab citizens. I think David’s focus on land is a good idea because it could do an end run around all ideological opponents of a …

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We stand at a crossroads of Jewish and Israeli attitudes to the United States and especially to its President, and it could lead to an important moral reckoning. Read here this excellent article by Gershom Gorenberg, one of the most insightful voices in Israel. It is one of the best arguments yet that the blind support for settlement expansion is the greatest danger to the Jewish people and to Israel itself. I have always found it ironic that so-called patriots from the United States to China to Russia to Israel to Serbia have always thought that by abusing others they are protecting their country, standing up for their country. But the opposite is true, as Sun Tzu in The Art of War understood over two thousand years ago. The settlements are and always have been an act of theft and abuse. How can they be pro-Jewish? To build a settlement …

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There has been extensive analysis in the last decade of the genetic origins of Jews and their relationship to other groups, especially in the Middle East. I am still in a state of shock from these many studies.  This research has been overshadowed by the wars of Jews and Palestinians, but the genetic research provides an opportunity for profound reflection on what actually is happening when Jews and Palestinians fight, who they really are, and where these two peoples have been for the past 10,000 years.

In this video I react to that evidence. I explore the relationship between genetics, science, the Book of Genesis, and some basic truths of the Palestinian/Jewish relationship. Below the video please find a genetic map of the Jewish people’s y chromosomes, and where Palestinians and Syrians, and other Middle Eastern groups, fall.

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The Jerusalem Hug

by mgopin on June 12, 2009 · 0 comments

On June 21, 2009 will be the third annual Jerusalem Hug. The Jerusalem Hug is will occur from 4-11 pm, in the Old City. The hug begins with two facilitated listening circles, one in an open air plaza south of the Jaffa Gate and another at Palm Trees' Garden (Suk Al Falahin) west of the Damascus Gate.

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The Jewish Mind in the Age of Obama

by mgopin on June 10, 2009 · 10 comments

jew

“Our best protection is to communicate with the people we are most afraid of.”

By Kobi Skolnick

Before becoming a peace activist, I spent years as a settler in the hills of the West Bank, planting trees and cultivating the soil. Some of my family and friends still live there, and I remain deeply connected to them. For this reason, as the Obama administration’s new policies unfold, I am of two minds. I understand the settler perspective, but I have a second view that comes from years of experience working for peace.

My two perspectives are reflected by millions of people in the world. After Obama’s speech on June fourth , one group rejoiced, but for others his words were a dark cloud. For the first group, their hearts were filled with excitement, but others felt the tight grip of fear and distress. Some looked at his words and saw …

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Read thoughtful commentary by Marc and others on President Obama’s speech in Cairo.…

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An Acceptable Unilateral Action

by mgopin on June 4, 2009 · 7 comments

President Obama speaks in Cairo

“So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.”

This is an excerpt from President Obama’s speech in Cairo. It is a fairly straightforward statement that most reasonable people would agree on. Obama also understands that it is not enough to simply want an end to conflict and to develop trust. We must also work towards these goals. However, prior to the delivery of this speech many American politicians and pundits criticized President Obama about the first steps towards a more peaceful, just and trusting world. These first steps are acknowledgment of dignity and an authentic apology.

“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims …

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Full article here. Excerpts below from Shadi Hamid’s,

How Can the U.S. President Speak to Two Audiences at Once?

“The anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding.”

So declared President Barack Obama during his celebrated speech on race in March 2008. He was speaking, of course, about America’s history of slavery and segregation. But he might as well have been speaking about the anger felt by millions of Arabs and Muslims – and the tragic legacy of American involvement in the Middle East.

President Barack Obama will give his highly anticipated address to the Muslim world on June 4th. His choice of Egypt as the venue presents risks but also offers the opportunity for a potentially groundbreaking address – one that attempts not only to explain American policy but to

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