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 …
Obama’s Challenge to the Muslim World
(excerpts below come from here)
The historic significance of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo cannot be overstated.
Never before has an American president spoken to the global Muslim community. His speech marked a major shift in American foreign policy. Obama directly enlisted a religion to build global peace and to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, end nuclear proliferation and stop terrorism.
In just a few sentences he demolished the phony theory of the “Clash of Civilizations,” which insists that Islam and the West must always be in conflict. Instead, he declared the United States is not at war with Islam and outlined a plan for how the conflict can be resolved.
Perhaps most important, he put religion at the core of the peacemaking process. For too long, Americans had come to fear Islam as an
“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 …
In another very interesting official American diplomatic gesture in the Age of Obama, a cable has been sent to all U.S. Embassies to invite Iranian officials to participate in July 4 parties that are held at each embassy. What a brilliant move, especially before the elections. It is open-ended, unilateral, quietly dispersed to hundreds of embassies to avoid a centralized response, and it is announced right before the elections.
But the traditional fare of these parties, hamburgers and hot dogs, should be hallal, acceptable for Orthodox Muslims. I am serious. The gesture mutatis mutandis is great, but it should be inclusive so that the President of Iran and others cannot say it is an attempt to corrupt Muslims. It could make some hallal meat contractor very happy.…
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
It has become commonplace for innocent religious worshippers to be a focal point of war. This time it is Iranian pilgrims in Baghdad, and we must mourn for them. It is true that the United States is responsible for the destruction of Iraq, but no one familiar with the politics and leaders of the region can fail to note the decades long devastation from proxy Sunni-Shiite wars fought since the Iranian Revolution. Al Qaeda knows how to stir that pot as an extremist Sunni organization, but the current leaders of Iran stir it further by proxy wars and agitations all over the Middle East. It is time for opinion of the majority of the Iranian people to dominate their politics and foreign policy, which is a focus on prosperity, basic human needs and dignity. One senses the trap that leaderships across the region are in as far as Sunni/Shiite violence. …
I just published this essay in the Common Ground News Service:
Non-cooperation can bring a revolution to the Holy Land
by Marc Gopin
26 March 2009
WASHINGTON, DC – It is time for a mass movement of nonviolent non-cooperation and resistance amongst Palestinians-because everything else has failed. I have hopes that the Obama Administration will be the best yet in moving the parties toward resolution, but in my heart I have always felt that there is one path to peace that has never been adopted, and that is the path of nonviolent non-cooperation – but with love – the way of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
This is something that a number of Palestinians within Israel and Palestine have tried through nonviolent marches, protests, and food boycotts, but it has never received full backing because it only works when it is adopted as the only means of resistance.
This article just appeared in Today’s Zaman and in Zaman which is Turkey’s preeminent journal. As you can see this has been part of my ongoing efforts to introduce and encourage far more intermediaries in the Middle Eastern conflict who can be effective, trustworthy and more even handed that Western intervention. This is meant also to encourage the United States, Hilary Clinton, and others to follow the lead of where the most moderate voices of the Islamic world are going. This is also a development of my work in Syria which has encouraged cultural revival that is peace-oriented, practical and visionary at once.
Turkey’s return to glory
For reasons of history, culture and geography, there is a surprising opportunity for Turkey to assume a position of central global leadership in the 21st century and thereby further all of its legitimate national interests.
This is shocking considering the
Everything has failed in terms of Israeli and Palestinian relations for almost a hundred years. There will be more and more negotiations, and I have hopes that the Obama Administration will be the best yet in really moving the parties toward resolution. But in my heart I have always felt that there is one path to peace that has never been trod and fully adopted, that is the path of nonviolent noncooperation and resistance but with love, the way of Gandhi and King. I will develop this idea more in the coming months, but this is something that a number of Palestinians inside Israel and inside Palestine have tried, but it has never received the backing of the Palestinian National Movement. On the contrary it was suppressed because it only works when it is adopted completely as the only means of resistance.
This is not about fairness or whether Palestinians …
Gershon Baskin’s provocative title is absolutely right, it does not appear to matter anymore which coalition will rule Israel next. The fact is that Olmert had a bigger mandate than Livni or Netanyahu to pursue the peace process, freeze the settlements, and uphold all the commitments Israel made in Annapolis. And he failed at all of them, and instead unleashed a horrifying set of wars in Lebanon and Gaza that have left Palestinians utterly shell shocked. So why not add fuel to the fire with a Lieberman-inclusive government that traumatizes the rest of the Palestinian people who have resided in Israel since 1948, who never left the land, and who have been isolated by everyone ever since, despite their absolutely peaceful resistance to injustice? Despite the fact that by a vast majority of 75% the Arabs of Israel would support a democratic constitution for Israel that also kept it a …