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WAWA/WeAreWideAwake is my Public Service to America as a muckracker who has journeyed seven times to Israel Palestine since June 2005. WAWA is dedicated to confronting media and governments that shield the whole truth.

We who Are Wide Awake are compelled by the "fierce urgency of Now" [Rev MLK, Jr.] to raise awareness and promote the human dialogue about many of the crucial issues of our day: the state of our Union and in protection of democracy, what life is like under military occupation in Palestine, the Christian EXODUS from the Holy Land, and spirituality-from a Theologically Liberated Christian Anarchist POV.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence


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April 29, 2008
WAWA Blog April 29, 2008: Jimmy Carter's OPED and an excerpt from The Atlantic

April 28, 2008

Op-Ed Contributor
Pariah Diplomacy

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.

In 2006, six months after the oppressive monarch was stripped of his powers, a cease-fire was signed. Maoist combatants laid down their arms and Nepalese troops agreed to remain in their barracks. Our center continued its involvement and nations — though not the United States — and international organizations began working with all parties to reconcile the dispute and organize elections.

The Maoists are succeeding in achieving their major goals: abolishing the monarchy, establishing a democratic republic and ending discrimination against untouchables and others whose citizenship rights were historically abridged. After a surprising victory in the April 10 election, Maoists will play a major role in writing a constitution and governing for about two years. To the United States, they are still terrorists.

On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza.

The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials.

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace:

• Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press.

• When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held.

• Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed.

• Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases.

• Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank.

• Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates.

In addition, Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public.

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. oref=slogin




Jeffrey Goldberg reflects on Israel's formative visions and current dilemmas


In early August of 2006, four weeks after the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which has as its goal the physical elimination of Israel (and the ancillary ambition of murdering, whenever practicable, Jews elsewhere in the world), killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two more in a cross-border raid, Israel found itself in an exceedingly disagreeable position. The Hezbollah attack had prompted an immediate, and intermittently unrestrained, Israeli military response, which included thousands of bombing runs over Lebanon. The prime minister, the untried Ehud Olmert, a former mayor of Jerusalem who had taken office eight months earlier, promised to obliterate Hezbollah. In the past, Israel had destroyed far greater enemies—the Syrian air force, the Egyptian army, the Arab Legion—so it was assumed that Israel would make short work of Hezbollah, a force consisting of, at most, a few thousand fighters in possession of 12,000 short-range rockets. But within days of Israel’s initial attack, it seemed obvious that the Olmert mission was in peril. The Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, which had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Hezbollah members and innocent civilians, could not stop Hezbollah’s rockets from falling on northern Israel. These rocket attacks had killed dozens of Israelis—Arab Israelis included—and had made the Galilee largely uninhabitable. Thousands of Israelis became refugees in their own country, fleeing south in search of shelter.

On August 9, Olmert’s cabinet authorized a full-scale ground invasion. Israeli troops were already operating inside Lebanon, but in relatively modest numbers. The generals believed that an armored sweep across southern Lebanon could at least push Hezbollah’s rocket teams back to the Litani River, well away from the Israeli border. 

...Because the Hezbollah attack was unprovoked, much of the world had initially expressed sympathy for Israel. This took Israelis by surprise; it had been more than 40 years since they generally received such consideration from the international community. Even Sunni Arab leaders, who fear Shiite radicalism more than they dislike the Jewish state, expressed irritation with Hezbollah.

By early August, though, opinion was shifting, and the decision to launch a ground invasion just when credible cease-fire proposals were proliferating was controversial around the world, and even at home. This was at least partly because Olmert, a lawyer and party functionary, and his defense minister, a former union leader named Amir Peretz, seemed to be in over their heads.

Their actions convinced some Israelis—particularly those on the left—that the decision to order a ground invasion revealed a kind of unthinking aggressiveness.

On Thursday, August 10, the day after Olmert’s cabinet authorized the invasion, Israel’s three most prominent writers, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, and David Grossman, held a press conference to call for a cease-fire. This was not an entirely marginal exercise. Writers in Israel play a role in the moral and political life of their country that is unfamiliar to writers in the United States. The three men were not reflexively biased against Olmert, who, unlike his main political rival, the former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was something of a born-again leftist. Olmert had once been a prince of the right-wing Likud Party. But, like his mentor and predecessor, Ariel Sharon, Olmert had come to believe that a withdrawal from Palestinian territory was in the urgent best interest of Israel.

Olmert’s main consideration was not moral but demographic: within the next several years, the number of Arabs under Israeli control—there are now more than 1.3 million Arab citizens of Israel (there are 5.4 million Jews), and an additional 3.4 million or more Arabs who live in the West Bank and Gaza—will be greater than the number of Jews...

Political parties of the left and the center see the “demographic threat” to Israel’s Jewish majority as an existential menace nearly on a par with that posed by Iran and its nuclear program.

The demographic trend has raised fears that Israel will become a state like pre-Mandela South Africa, in which the minority ruled the majority. But if the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza were given the vote, then Israel, a country whose fundamental purpose has been to serve as a refuge for persecuted Jews, and to allow those Jews to have the novel experience of being part of a majority, would disappear, to be replaced by an Arab-dominated “binational” state. Yet Israel has not found a way to escape the West Bank.

Unlike Olmert, the three writers had been longtime advocates of territorial compromise with the Palestinians, in part for reasons of morality, and in part because they want to protect their country’s Jewish majority. In the days of near-hallucinatory ecstasy that followed Israel’s lopsided victory in the Six-Day War of 1967—in which Israel took possession of Gaza and the West Bank—Oz was one of the first Israelis to warn about the moral and strategic consequences of military occupation, and in the late 1970s he was a founder of the left-wing group Peace Now, which advocates Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Yehoshua, who has been called the “Israeli Faulkner” by Harold Bloom, has repeatedly urged the United States to pull its ambassador as a “symbolic” way to protest the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

Grossman’s fiction, much of it haunted by the Holocaust, concerns the durability of grief; his most accomplished novel to date, See Under: Love (1986), is a complicated weaving of fantasy and reality that recalls the work of Gabriel García Márquez. Grossman has been preoccupied with the ubiquity of death in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians for many years. Nearly a decade ago, he told an interviewer that Israeli couples “have three children so if one of them dies, there will be two left.” Grossman made his name internationally with a book of nonfiction prophecy, The Yellow Wind, which he wrote (originally for an Israeli newsmagazine) in early 1987. The Yellow Wind was an exposé of the occupation and its demoralizing effects on Palestinians, and on the Israelis who enforced it. The book presaged the first intifada, or uprising, which began in December of that year.

Though all three authors were advocates of compromise and believed that Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank was a catastrophe, none was a pacifist, all were patriots, and all supported the initial retaliation against Hezbollah. “It would have been immoral not to respond,” Yehoshua told me later, but after the Lebanese government promised to rein in Hezbollah, “we had to say ‘Enough.’” Grossman did much of the speaking at the press conference that day. His main contention was that Israel had overreached in the pursuit of self-defense. “The argument that an Israeli presence on the Litani would prevent the firing of missiles on Israel is an illusion,” he said. “Even the argument that we mustn’t give Hezbollah a sense of security has been irrelevant for a long time. Hezbollah wishes to see us sink deeper into the Lebanese swamp.”

Grossman saw in Olmert’s invasion what he called an emblematic, and regrettable, Israeli response to terrorist threats, of a piece with Israel’s typical response to dangers posed by Hamas in Gaza. “Now we must look … not to the familiar, instinctive reaction of the Israeli way of fighting—that is, what doesn’t work with force will work with much more force,” he said. “Force, in this case, will fan the flames of hatred for Israel in the region and the entire world, and may even, heaven forbid, create the situation that will bring upon us the next war and push the Middle East to an all-out, regional war.”

Olmert and Grossman

Grossman closed the press conference without mentioning his personal interest in the war: his 20-year-old son, Uri, was a tank commander then fighting in Lebanon. To do so would have been
unseemly, and un-Israeli, he told me later. “The cause was to stop the war for the sake of the entire country.”

Grossman is 54, but he is trim and his face is unlined. He is reflective and self-contained, somewhat owlish, but not without humor. We met on a cold day in Jerusalem, at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, an artists’ colony situated across the Valley of Hinnom from Mount Zion.

Grossman told me that after the press conference, he went home to work on his latest novel, which he had begun in May of 2003, when Uri, the second of his three children, was about to be called up for army service. Grossman’s oldest boy, Yonatan, had already completed three years in the army.

“I thought about writing a novel about an Israeli soldier, a tank commander, who goes to a big military operation,” he said. “His mother has a kind of premonition that he’s going to be killed,
and she will do everything she can in order to prevent that from happening. So she escapes. She will not be at home when the army comes to announce the death of her son. She understands that bad news takes two people, one to deliver and one to receive, and she will not be there to receive. She starts a walk across Israel, a 500-kilometer walk, and she tells the story of her son’s life, from the smallest details to the largest things, to someone who is very significant to her. She believes that this will protect her son.”

Grossman himself took a similar journey while writing the book, spending weeks crossing Israel on foot, and he visited with army officers whose duty it is to inform families of the deaths of their children.

At 2:40 a.m. on Sunday, August 13, three days after the press conference, Grossman’s doorbell rang. There were officers at the door. Uri had been killed in action in Lebanon, in the village of Hirbat Kasif, when a Hezbollah missile struck his tank. He was one of 24 soldiers to die on the first day of the ground offensive. Five hours later, David and his wife, Michal, woke up Uri’s sister, Ruti, who was then 13. As she cried, she asked, “But we will still go on living, right?”

Yehoshua, who is close to the family, told me that the Grossmans had taken to turning off their outside light at night, to make it more difficult for a messenger to find the house. But on that particular night, Michal had turned their outside light on. She later worried, she said, that in so doing she had “invited the terrible news.”

Among the mourners to visit the next day were Oz and Yehoshua. “Maybe he was trying to prevent Uri’s death by writing down his most terrible fears,” Yehoshua told me. “It’s a terrible tragedy that it didn’t work.”

Grossman recalled the visit of Oz and Yehoshua the day after Uri’s death.

“When Uri fell, the morning after, they came to the shivah”—the period of visitation and mourning that follows a Jewish burial—“and I told them I won’t be able to save this novel. I think it was Amos who said, ‘The novel will save you.’ The day after the shivah, I went back and started to work again.”

I asked Grossman whether the novel has changed. “The writer changed, not
the story. I knew how the story was going to end. I don’t want to say it.” There is more sadness in the book now, he said, “sadness for the fate of the young man, for the future of Israel, but I must say that the small number of people who have read it say they find it comforting.”

The novel is being published this spring. It could have a seismic effect on Israelis, who have, in their 60th year of independence, grown tired of losing their sons to war. The death of Uri has made his father, a man obviously vulnerable to existential worry, preternaturally aware of the insecurity around him. The 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth—it gained independence on May 15, 1948—is meant to be a celebration, but Grossman sees darkness ahead. “Our army is big, we have this atom bomb, but the inner feeling is of absolute fragility, that all the time we are at the edge of the abyss.”

Israelis have violently contradictory feelings about their future. Their country is, by almost any measure, an astonishing success. It has a large, sophisticated, and growing economy (its gross
domestic product last year was $150 billion); the finest universities and medical centers in the Middle East; and a main city, Tel Aviv, that is a center of art, fashion, cuisine, and high culture
spread along a beautiful Mediterranean beach. Israel has shown itself, with notable exceptions, to be adept at self-defense, and capable (albeit imperfectly) of protecting civil liberties during wartime. It has become a worldwide center of Jewish learning and self-expression; its strength has straightened the spines of Jews around the world; and, most consequentially, it has absorbed and enfranchised millions of previously impoverished and dispossessed Jews. Zionism may actually be the most successful national liberation movement of the 20th century.

Yet 60 years of independence have not provided Israel with legitimacy in its own region. Two of its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, have signed peace treaties with Israel, but it is still a small Jewish island in a great sea of Islam, a religion that seems today more allergic than ever to the idea of Jewish independence. Iran poses the most ruthless threat to Israel’s existence—no other member of the United Nations has so insistently, and in such baroque terms, threatened the destruction of another member state.

The internal threats to Israel’s existence are severe as well. Israel’s greatest military victory, in 1967, led to a squalid and seemingly endless occupation, and to the birth of a mystical, antidemocratic, and revanchist strain of Zionism, made manifest in the settlements of the West Bank. These settlements have undermined Israel’s international legitimacy and demoralized moderate Palestinians. The settlers exist far outside the Israeli political consensus, and their presence will likely help incite a third intifada. Yet the country seems unable to confront the settlements.

Israel’s people are among the world’s most patriotic—in a recent survey, 94 percent of Jewish Israelis said they are willing to fight for their country (by contrast, 63 percent of Americans are
willing to fight for theirs), but 44 percent of Israelis said they would be ready to leave their country if they could find a better standard of living abroad. There are already up to 40,000 Israelis in Silicon Valley (and more than a half million across the U.S.), and the emigration of Israel’s most talented citizens is a constant worry of Israeli leaders. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world,” Ehud Barak, the defense minister and former prime minister, told me. “The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place—cutting-edge in science, education, culture, quality of life—that even American Jewish young people want to come here. If we cannot do this, even those who were born here will consciously decide to go to other places. This is a real problem.”


.......There are other, more disturbing issues, ones that many Israelis don’t care to address. Uri Grossman’s death provoked in me all sorts of questions about Israel, its purpose, its mistakes and
enemies: How can Israel survive the next 60 years in a part of the world that gives rise to groups like Hamas? How can Israel flourish if its army cannot defeat small bands of rocketeers? Does the concentration of so many Jews in a claustrophobically small space in the world’s most volatile region actually undermine the Jewish people’s ability to survive, an ability that was called into question little more than 60 years ago, when 33 percent of the world’s Jews were murdered? I do not think it is merely a symptom of Jewish hypochondria to ask such questions.

Some of the questions forming in my mind were too indecent to ask a grieving father like David Grossman. But I asked him whether he believed that Zionism has succeeded in its mission. I framed the question impersonally, though I had been struck by what to me was an inescapable truth: if Uri Grossman had been born to Jews in America, rather than to Jews in Israel, in 2006 he most likely would have been a student at Harvard or Michigan or Stanford, rather than a commander in the Armored Corps of the Israel Defense Forces. The underlying premise of the creation of the state of Israel—its main mission—was to provide a refuge for the Jewish people in their historic homeland. One of the many contradictions Israel faces in its seventh decade of independence is this: it is a country that is safe for Judaism, but not for Jews.

As a young Zionist in the late 1980s, I was drawn to the idea that Israel represented the most sublime and encompassing expression of Jewishness, so I moved there and joined its army. This
decision was unfathomable to many of my new Israeli comrades. One of my commanders asked me, “Why would a person leave America to die in Israel?” Then he asked if we could switch places—he would move to New York and marry a doctor’s daughter, and I would die chasing Palestinians through the casbah of Nablus. I was dreaming Leon Uris dreams, but he was having visions out of Goodbye, Columbus.

I didn’t die, obviously, but his argument bothered me, and still does. The founders of Zionism believed that a state for the Jews would cure—or at least make irrelevant—the ancient European
disease of Jew hatred. Remove the Jew from his insalubrious and constricted life in anti-Semitic Russia and give him a plow in Palestine, and he would become a “normal” person, deserving, among other things, the respect of Christians. The first Zionists had no sense that Muslims would object to the entry of thousands of Jewish socialists—women wearing pants included—into tribal, conservative Palestine. In his utopian novel, Altneuland—Old-New Land”—the founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, imagined an Israel much like Vienna, a society of opera-going, German-speaking Jews who had shed their “pale, weak, timid” natures. Herzl did not imagine a Palestine free of Arabs, though he imagined the Arabs overjoyed by the gifts of science and hygiene brought by the Jews. The principal Arab protagonist, Reschid Bey, says: “The Jews have enriched us. Why should we be angry with them? They dwell among us like brothers. Why should we not love them?”



........The latest iteration of the never-ending Middle East peace process, launched in Annapolis late last year by President Bush, is in many ways a farce. Olmert’s ruling coalition is unstable, and he
is deeply unpopular. Bush shows no sustained interest in understanding the dispute. Condoleezza Rice is ignored across the Middle East. And Abbas’s authority doesn’t radiate far beyond Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital. The tragedy of this farce is that this could be the last time a two-state solution is seen as a viable option. It is a cliché for Middle East leaders to warn that time is running out, but today it seems that the possibility of a two-state solution is swiftly fading. Palestinian rejectionists and unbending Jewish settlement leaders are in harmony on this point...

...For Palestinian radicals, the closing of the settlements would be a terrible blow. The smartest Palestinian strategists understand this. “The longer they stay out there, the more Israel will appear to the world to be essentially an apartheid state,” the former Palestinian Authority negotiator Michael Tarazi told me a few years ago. “The settlements mean that the egg is hopelessly scrambled. Basically, it is already one state.”

The hard-core settlers are as intransigent, and as patient, as their Palestinian counterparts. The mayor of Ariel, one of the West Bank’s largest Jewish towns, told me that time is on the side of the settlers. Ariel, which has a population of roughly 20,000, is southwest of Nablus, the largest Arab city in the West Bank. “We have to hold on for a few more years, at most,” Ron Nachman, the mayor, said. “Then the world will realize that the solution lies with Jordan.” Nachman, along with many other West Bank settler leaders, believes that the Palestinians of the West Bank should be made Jordanian citizens. The Palestinians don’t generally seek this. Nor do the Jordanians. But Nachman said that once the world realizes that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is eternal, it will come to view the “Jordanian option” as a plausible solution. “Trust me, no one is throwing us out of Ariel,” he said.

For many of the settlers, and certainly for their spiritual leaders, the state of Israel’s democracy is of minimal concern. A couple of years ago, I visited the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which has graduated many of the settlement movement’s leaders, to speak to its rabbis about the balance between democracy and Judaism.

In early March, the yeshiva was attacked by a Palestinian gunman who killed eight students, mainly teenagers, in a library. When I had visited Mercaz HaRav, Rabbi David Samson, a teacher at the yeshiva and one of the leading proponents of its philosophy, had foretold the attack: “We are of course a target of terror. The enemies of the Jewish people know the importance of this yeshiva. We send forth the pioneers to build the state.” In the course of a lengthy discussion, Samson explained the yeshiva’s position on democracy. “Democracy is not a value for us.

Justice is a value, and fairness, but not democracy. In the Book of Exodus, it says that the Jews shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It does not talk about democracy.” The Arabs who live in biblical Israel, he said, can either choose “to get along with us, to live peacefully, or to leave.” He said the Arabs would have the status of “protected foreigners” in Israel; they would have local autonomy, but have no say in the governance of Israel.

What if the world rejects this? “The world has always rejected the Jews. But God always provides.” God will punish the Jews, he said, if they divide the Holy Land. “A Palestinian state would be an abomination.”

A Palestinian state, of course, might not come to pass. Ziad Abu Zayyad, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority government, is a veteran peace negotiator and one of the few Palestinian leaders who still view a two-state solution as conceivable. “There are only two or three years left,” he said. “If this doesn’t work, then everyone will be arguing for a one-state solution.”

The one-state solution—the dissolution of Israel and the merging of the Jewish and Arab populations—is neither practicable nor, from the Israeli perspective, desirable. (In the 1940s, many
Jewish thinkers endorsed the idea of binationalism, but the idea was rejected by the Arabs.) In any case, the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state would, of course, demand the agreement of Israel’s Jews, who, for manifold reasons, would not want to live in a state dominated by Arabs. “I’ll make a prediction that Israel will not commit suicide,” Yehezkel Dror, the head of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and a political scientist at Hebrew University, told me.

David Grossman, like most of Israel’s leftists, sees binationalism as simultaneously utopian and dismissive of Jewish feelings. “You know, binationalism doesn’t work in so many places in the
world,” he said. “You see it in Belgium now. And they expect, with this really hateful combination of Jews and Arabs, that it will succeed here? It’s so wrong. Part of the cure for the historical distortions of both peoples is that they need a place of their own with defined borders. We have to heal separately. I’m a little suspicious of these people who would experiment on us with binationalism.”

Reality, he said, has made a Jewish state necessary. “Since the world has failed to defend Jewish existence, there is a need for a place for the Jews to implement their culture and their values and their language and their history, a place in which to recover.”

But what if Israel’s neighbors never give its Jews a chance to recover from history?

Since the collapse of the Oslo peace process, eight years ago, many of Grossman’s allies on the left have abandoned the idea that Arabs will reconcile themselves to a Jewish state in their midst. Benny Morris, a historian who has done much work to uncover evidence of Jewish sin, as well as Arab sin, in the birth of Israel, recently wrote: “The situation [Jewish] Israelis live in, and even more so, most likely face, is antediluvian, revolutionary and possibly apocalyptic.” When I spoke to Morris in Jerusalem, he described Israel as an “amazing success story” and, in virtually the same sentence, called it “the most dangerous place in the world for Jews as Jews, as a collective of 5 million people who are in danger of extinction in the short term from an Iranian nuclear bomb and in the long term by being overwhelmed by Arabs.”

Grossman, despite his existential fears, has not given up on the idea of compromise. In The Yellow Wind, he tells of the time he found himself trapped at Bethlehem University, as a Palestinian demonstration raged around him.

    I write the following in my green notebook: Now, the truth. Are you afraid? Yes. And if something happens to you here, if they hurt you, do you think it will cause you to revise your opinions? To begin to surrender to hate? And if they were to hurt your child?

    I set down the answer for the record and as personal testimony, and it is all written there, in the green notebook.

His private answer is now public; since Uri’s death, he has not cast aside his opposition to occupation and settlement, or his belief in reconciliation.

But this does not necessarily suggest that he would make a sophisticated negotiator, or a sound strategist. Grossman believes that Israel must negotiate with Hamas, an organization that pays obeisance to Iran, that bases its charter in part on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that has shown itself to be more interested in destroying Israel than in building a state of its own.

Of course, any such talks would necessarily grant legitimacy to Hamas and undermine the more moderate Palestinian leadership in the West Bank who remain Israel’s best, and perhaps only, hope for a more tranquil future.

The West Bank leadership cannot be buttressed merely with rhetoric, or with ineffectual negotiations meant to erect only the scaffolding of an agreement. The Camp David negotiations in 2000 collapsed mainly because the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, was unable to strike a final deal with Israel. But during the seven years of the Oslo peace process, which was meant to negotiate a Palestinian state into existence, the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank nearly doubled. It is difficult to blame Palestinians for their cynicism about Israeli intentions regarding the West Bank. Only by closing outposts and dismantling settlements can Israeli leaders help the Palestinian moderates, and themselves. When I asked Olmert why he argues for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory but allows the expansion of existing settlements and the continued existence of illegal outposts, he barked, “I dismantled Amona!” Amona is the outpost that came down in February 2006. “That was the most traumatic event, even more than the disengagement from Gaza. It was very violent.”

Not one outpost has been dismantled since Amona was closed, and none seems slated for impending disappearance. This is the core of Grossman’s criticism of Olmert. The prime minister, in his view, is a skilled rhetorician but a political coward, one who speaks the language of reconciliation but whose actions in Lebanon, and in Gaza, suggest something else.

There is a split on the left; some of Grossman’s allies believe that he is, in fact, too hard on the prime minister. “Olmert is paralyzed because the people are paralyzed,” A. B. Yehoshua said.

“The whole country is paralyzed.”

And tired. Benny Morris noted recently that, just as the West is tired of the hundred-year war in the Middle East, so too are Israelis. Morris’s analysis contained an echo of a statement made by Olmert three years ago, when he was still vice premier under Sharon. “We are tired of fighting,” he told the Israel Policy Forum, a liberal pro-Israel group, in New York. “We are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies. We want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies.”


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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa

“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946

The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright

“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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