The Islamist Hamas movement has sharply criticized the Palestinian Authority for resuming peace talks with Israel, saying that President Mahmoud Abbas is giving in to American pressure. The criticism comes as Hamas moves toward a rapprochement with Iran, despite differences over Syria.
What is a reviewer to do when a truly gifted writer writes a genuinely awful book? I suspect that I was invited to write this review because the editor suspected that I might be open to the author’s experience, moved by the power of her words, and might not dismiss her critique of Israel, her sympathy with the Palestinians and her participation in the Gaza flotilla out of hand.
Whenever the Middle East peace process is a topic in the news or in discussions, its factual stagnation is almost automatically blamed on the Israeli settlement development. It is one of the most controversial issues in the Middle East conflict.
In a dramatic vote that was emotional for all sides, the ASUC Senate voted 11-9 to divest from companies affiliated with Israel’s military early Thursday morning.
If you think the West Bank settlements have been an albatross around Israel’s neck up until now, brace yourself. With the new governing coalition announced this week, and the settlers enjoying even more power, all bets are off.
A U.S. State Department-funded study on Israeli and Palestinian textbooks released in Jerusalem has set-off a wave of insults, charges and counter-charges. Israel’s Ministry of Education called the detailed report “biased and unprofessional” while the International Society for Political Psychology called the Israeli government’s description “highly distressing.”
A resolution passed by the UC Irvine undergraduate student council calling on the university to divest from companies that “profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine” has been rejected by the UCI administration.
The clock is ticking for 30 Jewish settler families in the West Bank. Israel's Supreme Court has said their homes sit on privately-owned Palestinian land and as an eviction deadline draws near, they say they will not go quietly.
A bill aimed at applying Israeli law on West Bank settlements was rejected by a Knesset committee.
Israel's attempts at making friends.
The rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas agreed Wednesday to reconcile and form an interim government ahead of elections, after a four-year feud, in what both sides hailed as a chance to start a fresh page in their national history.
Although the events that swept through Egypt in recent weeks had little to do with Israel, they still hold profound lessons for Israel. The most important lesson is that Israel must break its addiction to occupation and settlements.
A recent CIA paper cited Jewish acts of terrorism in the West Bank in its analysis of whether the United States is an exporter of terrorism.
But more than the physical barriers that separate them, the residents of this valley stand on either side of an unbridgeable ideological chasm. The Palestinians are bent on seeing the Israelis go, and the Israelis won't leave.
Throughout Jewish history, it has been necessary, time and again, to fight prejudice and false accusations. To mention just one notorious example, there is the blood libel of Pesach, which accuses the Jews of using the blood of Christian children for the baking of matzot -- a blood libel that is again being disseminated, in our days, in Arab countries and even in Russia.
Again and again, private organizations appear on the scene, promoting agendas designed to advance the peace process in the Middle East. In many cases, their intentions may be good; unfortunately, however, they generally lack a minimal understanding of the situation, and their programs and proposals are based on mistaken assumptions. As a result, their contribution to an easing of the prevailing tension between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is of little or no value. An examination of one of these peace efforts, the OneVoice movement.
It is called the Six-Day War because it was over in six days. Yeah, right. The war is not over. The truth is, not even the battlefields are silent.
Israelis made few such films, even in the immediate post-war months, and now a new documentary to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War conveys a sense of somber reflection, rather than patriotic elation. "Six Days," an Israeli-Canadian-French co-production directed by Israeli filmmaker Ilan Ziv, is subtitled, "June 1967: 40 Years, New Revelations."
Was the Six-Day War a blessing or a curse for Israel's place in the Middle East and its long-term survival? Forty years on, the jury is still out.
Great wars in history eventually become great wars about history. Only a few years after the last soldier leaves the battlefield, accepted truths about the nature of a military conflict and the motivations for it invariably come under assault by revisionists and counter-revisionists, whose vehemence can rival that of the original combatants. This again becomes the case with the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War.
As part of UCLA's Palestine Solidarity Week, on Sunday, May 20, the Southern California Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (CEIA) staged a forum titled, "Israel, Zionism and Apartheid: The Case for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions."
Moreover, now that Hamas is recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, Hamas' official stance toward Israel has given Western observers a crisp and reliable thermometer to gauge the Palestinian vision of peace, many times more reliable than the ambiguous polls and speeches we have been reading about in the past.
In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Shiite marchers swore allegiance last week to their Hezbollah co-religionists; some even pledged their lives.
Leaving Gaza also made sense morally, said Daniel Sokatch, executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
"For Israel to remain a democratic and Jewish state, it cannot occupy and control millions of Palestinians indefinitely," he said.
The Israeli consulate has not been a site for demonstrations since the disengagement from Gaza last summer, and last Thursday's demonstration and counterdemonstration was relatively small -- perhaps attesting to general world support for the release of the kidnapped soldier.
For more than 30 years, the settlers' dream has choked the dream of free Israelis. The dream of the whole land of Israel and a messianic kingship drains daily the hope of being a people free to build a just society.
For an Israeli who lives in Jerusalem, it's strange being the only Jew in the room. Yet that's how it was on Jan. 10 as I gave a talk on the current political situation to an international conference of Catholic bishops at the elegant Knights Palace Hotel in the Old City.
In a keynote speech last week at the Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security, Sharon declared that "2005 will be the year of great opportunity," with "a chance for an historic breakthrough in our relations with the Palestinians, a breakthrough we have been waiting for years."
It was not clear what form the new Israeli-Russian cooperation would take.
It was a loss that brought back the darkest days of Israel's war on Palestinian terrorism and the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon -- and the next day it got even worse.
Six elite soldiers of the Givati Brigade, on their way home from a mission to destroy arms factories in Gaza City, died in a huge fireball Tuesday when their ordnance-laden armored personnel carrier went over a land mine.
On Wednesday, at least five more Israeli soldiers were killed in an attempt to retrieve the remains of the previous days' dead when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile.
A recent report in The New York Times captured almost perfectly the thorny questions that stand at the center of relations between the American Jewish community and Israel. Should one be permitted to criticize the government of a foreign country with which one feels a deep affinity, or is it a moral and political imperative to support the policies of that government, right or wrong?
Later that same day in Orange, we popped in to some of the antique shops that radiate from the central plaza. In a world of eBay, even antique stores seem antique. In one store, I thumbed through a stack of old advertising posters, and out fell a red-white-and-blue sheet, the size of a movie theater lobby card, depicting a silhouette of a soldier against an American flag, printed with the words "Operation Desert Storm 1990-1991." It was $7.50.
The fact that relics of the last war are already collecting dust alongside World War II-era Japanese ammo belts ($60) and war bonds calendars ($24) made me wonder how, 10 years hence, we'll regard Gulf War II. Will it resonate with world-shifting portent that World War II mementos do? Or will it seem by comparison to today's war somehow small, eclipsed in our mind by more immediate threats and darker developments?
As soon as we returned to the car and turned on the radio, the answer seemed clear. U.S. soldiers had encountered some fierce resistance -- several had been killed, many others taken prisoner. By Monday, there were reports of more missing, of Iraqi troops using guerilla tactics to inflict casualties. Areas that the Army initially announced in coalition control were now in the midst of firefights -- I know, because I've watched several unfold on TV with surreal intimacy.
Arab spokesmen regularly complain about what they call "the Israeli occupation" of the Judea-Samaria-Gaza territories. But the truth is that there is no such "Israeli occupation." To begin with, nearly all Palestinian Arabs currently live under Yasser Arafat's rule, not Israel's. Following the signing of the Oslo accords, the Israelis withdrew from nearly half of the territories, including the cities where 98.5 percent of Palestinian Arabs reside. The notion that the Palestinian Arabs are living under Israeli occupation is false. The areas from which Israel has not withdrawn are virtually uninhabited, except for the two percent where Israelis reside.
It's virtually "genealogy for dummies."
In a nation of immigrants where more than 35 percent of the population -- or 100 million Americans -- have at least one relative who passed through Ellis Island, officials at that historic entry point to New York have unveiled a new Web site that will enable even the least tech-savvy to mine a mother lode of information on their families' roots.