Archive for February, 2007

Can a Jewish state be democratic?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Adalah, a legal advocacy organization for Israeli Arabs has drafted a “democratic constitution” for the State of Israel (or whatever it will be called). You can read the complete document here and read about it in Ha’aretz here.

Adalah claims that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic.


Is the Palestinian issue the key to the Middle East?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

One of the oft-repeated misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it’s the root of all problems in the Middle East. For example:

“America’s best hope of containing the escalating tensions in the region would be to address the festering wound that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has represented for decades.” – Joshua Holland

Or, for example:

The root cause of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict is the failure to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue, an international church delegation visiting Jerusalem has said. — Ecumenical News International

Although one finds these or similar statements everywhere, it’s hard to find any actual arguments for them — they are supposed to be self-evident.


Aid to Palestinians increases despite ‘cutoff’

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

You probably thought that the Palestinian people were suffering mightily from the cutoff of funds to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the Hamas government’s accession to power.

Well, think again. They may well be suffering, but the international community is pumping more aid into the territories than before.

The Western bloc has simply funneled its increased aid through the office of President Mahmoud Abbas instead of the official PA treasury, controlled by Hamas. Of course, Hamas is also receiving funds from its benefactors in the Arab world, so the total is even greater.

You can read the details in this report from CAMERA.

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Rosenfeld replies to his critics

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Prof. Alvin H. Rosenfeld created a great furor with his essay “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism” published by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) (PDF downloadable from the AJC here). It seemed to me that his thesis — that there’s a lot of antisemitism out there and some of it is starting to come from left-wing Jews — was unexceptionable; but it triggered a remarkably violent response.


Why “West Bank Story” is dangerous

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Yesterday NPR interviewed Ari Sandel, director and co-writer of the film “West Bank Story”, the Oscar-winning film about Jewish and Palestinian falafel stands:

A musical comedy set in the fast-paced, fast-food world of competing falafel stands in the West Bank… David, an Israeli soldier, falls in love with the beautiful Palestinian cashier, Fatima, despite the animosity between their families’ dueling restaurants. —

OK, I will go see this when I get the liquid Helium concession in Hell, but that’s not the point. In the interview, Sandel said “[I wanted to show that] both sides are more similar than they care to admit”.

Sandel was criticized by Arabs and others because “the film didn’t show the suffering of the Palestinian people” or Israeli brutality. In other words, it was not the propaganda film they expected. Debbie Schlussel devoted a column to the horror of what happened when a suicide bomber walked into a real falafel shop. It’s true but a cheap shot.

But here’s what’s really wrong with the film: the message is that the conflict is basically a misunderstanding. That both sides actually want the same thing, peace and prosperity, and that coexistence is possible if only the details can be worked out and the extremists on both sides suppressed.

The truth is that both sides do not want the same thing. The Israeli side, by and large, does want peace and coexistence. The Palestinian side wants to reverse the historic ‘injustice’ of 1948 and take possession of what they believe is their property, from the river to the sea. And this has very important implications for what we ought to demand of Israel and of the Palestinians.

Sandel seems to be a decent guy who really would like the conflict to be soluble. Unfortunately, at least today, it isn’t.

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