Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Ground is Shaking!

Dear Friend,

The Ground is Shaking! The battle is being joined. Now it's the Chuck Hegel appointment as the (projected) new head of the Defense Department. All the Israeli heavy-weights (there and here in the US) are lining up against former the former Senator (from Nebraska) mostly because he is not lock-step in favor of any and everything coming out of Jerusalem and AIPAC. Watch this one carefully. Our colleague James Wall is going to tackle this again. Go to his blog, "Wallwritings" for an introductory commentary on this issue.

Hopefully this preferred appointment by our President will go through, indicating a shift in the official stance of our US government toward a more balanced approach.

In addition to this, you have this amazing story. The State Department accused Israel on Tuesday of engaging in a "pattern of provocative action" that runs counter to statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "We are deeply "disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk" [Haaretz, Tuesday, Dec. 18).

At least the US must be consistent. Israel thinks it can be "for" the Two State and proceed with settlements. The US knows better. Enlarging the settlements (especially in E-1) destroys the Two State "solution". Up until this recent State department salvo, we have paid lip service to the Two State idea and tacitly supported Israeli settlement expansion.

You can't have it both ways.

I'm sending you once again, a three-column "VISIONS" sheet that gives the three main visions competing in Isr/Pal right now. Many of us have moved away from the Two-State issue (it's deader than a dinosaur), and are embracing the vision of One State, Pluralistic, and Democratic. We are practicing boycotts, (of Israeli products from Palestinian land), divestment (in companies profiting from the Occupation) and sanctions [BDS] (by our government against Israelis OR Palestinians who by their actions are not leading their people to an equitable solution. The goals must be compensating for confiscated land, allow reasonable "right of return", granting full citizenship rights to Palestinians who live there, and a greater role in governance from the bottom up.

As I am soon to write to a Muslim friend in Kalamazoo, the world has moved on from the UN idea of "two states living side by side in peace and security" of 1947. The One State "solution" will be no easier than the Two State. It will require building trust after decades of betrayal and bloodshed. Moderates must weigh in against extremism on both sides to marginalize them, instead of giving them control of the agenda. More and more people will have to build bridges to each other instead of walls. Nonviolent advocacy against the Occupation will have to increase. More and more people will have to practice BDS (as above) to bring about changes to the current apartheid-like rule of Israeli governments since 1948.

Let me add one other thing. I am not an adversary of those who sincerely wish to work for the "Two-State" solution. The key issue for me is: liberty and justice for all, not just Jews in the State of Israel. Peace . . . justice. . . love, At the High Holy Days. John Kleinheksel

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Can We Talk About "Zionism? In Public?

It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism

by Philip Weiss on December 4, 2012 147

Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as "the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East." That's my reputation; I can't take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist--or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel's army before coming back here and recommending Israel's militant policy toward Arabs to America.

Sullivan's double standard is indefensible, but it is typical of a standard of censorship in our journalism. American media are not talking to their readers about Zionism. They are not even attempting to describe the ideology that is at the heart of the problem in Israel and Palestine. The media are honest with their audiences about other movements of a religious character, from evangelism to opposition to stem-cell research to radical Islam. So they should be honest with them about Zionism.

Zionism is a 115-year-old movement inside Jewish life that says there is a need for a Jewish state in Palestine because Jews are unsafe in the west and Jews have a biblical connection to Palestine. Some people say that this is too complicated a concept to explain to Americans. (Norman Finkelstein joked that Zionism might as well be a hairspray and it’s irrelevant to the discussion at the New School in October). I don’t think so. Beliefs are very important; and Americans have a right to know why so many American Jews believe in the need for Israel at a time when this concept is warping our foreign policy.

It's not enough for a reporter to say that someone is pro-Israel. Zionism draws on a person's worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life. It is often a core understanding that drives that person's positions in other areas (see Neoconservatism). And it is deeply enmeshed in the official Jewish community.

I believe the media have refused to explore the Zionist issue because it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews. Imagine Ted Koppel having a panel where Wolf Blitzer, Robert Siegel, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Richard Engel and Ed Rendell would have to explain what Zionism means to them. The acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable, so the conversation is verboten.

But so long as these beliefs are not examined, and Israel and its supporters continue to play such a large role in our policymaking, the silence is bad for Jews. It allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel, or suspect that we disguise our dual loyalty with misleading prescriptions about American security. It allows Zionists to seek cover for our country's blind support for Israel by stating that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism-- when there is absolutely a difference. See Jewish Voice for Peace. See Hannah Arendt. See Judith Butler.

And it allows Jews to avoid very important historical/existential questions that we really ought to be asking publicly, and urgently answering: Do I feel unsafe in America or Europe? If I feel unsafe in America what am I doing here? (A theme of Shlomo Sand's new book.) If I feel safe do I need Israel? Do I believe in the need for a Jewish state? At what price? Who is Israel making unsafe in my name?

I think all Jews should be openly debating these matters; but they won't till the belief question is raised by the mainstream media. There are signs that the ice is melting. Last week Andrew Sullivan, an influence leader if anyone is, published a mini-essay (attacking the liberal Zionist Spencer Ackerman's dream of a laser war) in which he stated that Zionism is another hurtful 20th century "ism" that has run its course, and modern political reality is inconsistent with the goal of a Jewish-majority state. Ethan Bronner (a reputed liberal Zionist who seems to understand that Zionism has lost its way) boldly gave Rami Khouri space on the front page of the New York Times during the Gaza assault to attack Zionism. On NPR Jim Fallows said bravely that there has always been a tension between Israel’s creation as a Jewish state and a democracy; you really can’t be both, he was suggesting.

As Fallows and Sullivan seem to know (and Matt Yglesias and David Remnick will surely come to profess some day, and Jonathan Cook knew years ago, and the late Ibrahim Abu-Lughod knew when he was a teenager in Jaffa) the contradiction between democracy and Jewish nationalism has been inherent in the Zionist project from the start, but has always been described as a tension rather than a contradiction so as to make Zionists and their friends feel better about their undertaking. The Nakba of 1948 continues today with the ethnic cleansing of Area C on the West Bank and the pulverizing of Gaza. But liberal Zionists have given themselves permission to dither about the destruction of Palestinian rights by calling this longstanding contradiction a tension that will be resolved when there is a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish-majority state. As if tomorrow Palestinians will gain their rights in the context of an expansionist Jewish state. As if Oslo is a more meaningful political paradigm than the Likud Party, which draws deeply on Zionist ideology and grows more rightwing by the minute.

Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.

But I was born in America, in the 20th century. In my lifetime Zionism has been a dangerous ideology for Palestinians and for the wider Middle East. Zionism has endorsed the Iron Wall strategy of militancy on Israel’s ever-moving borders. Zionism has created a Sparta, just as Hannah Arendt predicted that it would in 1948 when she saw that Israel was born in war, and saw the purging of Palestinian refugees from the Jewish state to be.

I consider myself a liberal anti-Zionist, or a non-Zionist (because the label is less confrontational to the Zionists I am trying to wean from their mistaken belief). I like liberal traditions of personal freedom in the United States, including the tradition of tolerance of religious and ideological claims I find preposterous. These liberal principles have guaranteed my freedom as a minority in the U.S. and granted me a darn good life, including jobs in the First Amendment business and marriage to someone who is not Jewish—a marriage that could not take place in Israel where there is no civil marriage.

I am an anti-Zionist because I reject the entire religious nationalist program: I don’t see a need for a Jewish state, I don’t see Jerusalem as my home any more than Kenya, where my people came from before the temple period. I don’t subscribe to the racial theory of the Jewish people. I take America at its word. I don’t like political separation of people on an ethnic basis and first class citizenship granted to one over the other; and I see the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society as flowing from a belief system, Zionism, the way that Soviet oppressions grew out of the Politburo's interpretation of Communism.

I oppose Zionism, too, because the Israel lobby plays such a hurtful role in our foreign policy, and the Israel lobby is inherent in Zionism as it has evolved. From the beginning Zionism depended on the support of imperial powers. Herzl turned to the Kaiser and the Sultan, Weizmann turned to the British Prime Minister, Ben Gurion turned to the American president. "We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy," Alan Dershowitz said. Yes, and that lobby helped generate the conditions of 9/11, the Iraq War, the murders of Robert Kennedy and Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan, and the hysteria about Iran.

The sooner we have this conversation, the greater diversity we will see in the Jewish community and American foreign policy. We can transform the special relationship and isolate Israel for human rights violations and pressure it to transform itself.

When we have this conversation, liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism. Leading writers like Matthew Yglesias, Eric Alterman, Richard Wolffe, Peter Beinart and Spencer Ackerman, who have kept their liberal and Jewish nationalist dishes spinning forever in the air alongside one another without having to deal with the fait accompli of that ideology—the cruel joke that Oslo has been for the Palestinians, the prison that is Gaza-- will have to come down on the democracy side or the Jewish state side. And I am sure many will come down on the democracy side. I am sure that many will answer as I have, and say that they prefer a society where minorities have equal rights to one in which one group is privileged over another.

But we should not give them cover. We must have a real and open conversation in the American Jewish community for all to see. Are you a Zionist, and why? Do you feel unsafe in America? And what sort of unsafety have your beliefs created in a foreign land?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Support Palestinian Statehood

Dear Friend,

The NY Times op-ed by Yossi Beilin, (below), makes sense. He was one of the architects of the original Oslo agreement in 1993.

For Israel NOT to support this bid shows the Likud government's disdain for the Two State outcome between the two peoples.

When it continues to oppose even an observer status for Palestinians in the UN, it means Israel will eventually be seen as One State, obligated to give full rights to All Residents. Is this what the Likud government wants? I don't think so.

To give no support to the Fatah-led Palestinians is to further embolden HAMAS in Gaza as the only true change agents for Palestinians. I don't think Israel wants to do that either. The US at least, needs to support the nonviolent Mahmud Abbas and his bid for non-observer status in the UN.

This might even show the US is willing to open up a little "day light" between Israel and the US.

And we should WANT reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, not their continued division. We urge their reconcilation. Hopefully, Hamas (in Gaza) will have learned a thing or two from the new Egyptian government about pragmatism. Hamas needs to give up its intransigence in "not recognizing" Israel. Hamas and Fatah (Gaza authority and West Bank authority) need to agree to deal with Israel as One Entity, not two. As long as Hamas and Fatah are divided, Israel has a good excuse in not dealing with Palestinian claims as one people. JRK

November 25, 2012

Support Palestinian Statehood



THE cease-fire that ended the latest round of violence between Israel and the Palestinians has enhanced the popularity of the militant group Hamas. This extremist organization has become the only interlocutor for the Arab world, for the West and, indirectly, for Israel. But Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s existence or to negotiate with Israelis. Meanwhile, the pragmatic Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, is rapidly losing legitimacy and Israel’s recent strikes on Gaza will only weaken it further. Negotiating with Hamas may secure a lull, but Hamas cannot be a partner for peace.

If the world wants to express support for the Palestinian party that recognizes Israel, seeks to avoid violence, and genuinely wishes to reach a peace agreement in which a Palestinian state exists alongside — not instead of — Israel, it will have its chance later this week when Mr. Abbas makes his bid for recognition of Palestinian statehood before the United Nations. If American and Israeli opposition to a Palestinian bid continues, it could serve as a mortal blow to Mr. Abbas, and end up being a prize that enhances the power and legitimacy of Hamas.

It is paradoxical that Israel’s current government is so vehemently opposed to Mr. Abbas’s bid for recognition. After all, it was 65 years ago this week, on Nov. 29, 1947, that the Palestinians and their friends in the Arab world expressly rejected United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which recognized the need to establish a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the former British Mandate territory of Palestine.

Now, the Palestinians are admitting their mistake and asking the same assembly to recognize a state of Palestine alongside Israel, and requesting that the boundaries of their state be determined as a result of negotiations with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel’s right-wing parties — which in 1993 rejected the Oslo Accords that envisaged Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the establishment of Palestinian autonomy in those areas — are now using, and abusing, that same agreement to prevent Palestinian statehood.

This week’s request wouldn’t be taking place if both sides had abided by the Oslo Accords’ original time frame, if Israel’s peacemaking prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, hadn’t been assassinated in 1995, and if we’d reached a permanent agreement by May 1999, as initially envisioned.

Since Rabin’s assassination, there has been little progress toward ending the conflict. No proper negotiations have taken place for four years. And because Mr. Abbas has committed to the principles of nonviolence, diplomatic means, like the statehood bid, are his only way of putting Palestinians back on the global agenda. In retaliation, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is now threatening to nullify the Oslo Accords, if the world recognizes a Palestinian state. This is preposterous.

The Oslo Accords have allowed Israel’s right-wing government to hide behind an interim agreement that, for almost 20 years, has permitted Israel to continue the expansion of settlements in the West Bank; to rid itself of the responsibility of day-to-day management in the Occupied Territories; to save itself the costs of occupation (as donor countries are financing the Palestinian budget); and to benefit from cooperation with Palestinian security forces. There is no chance that Israel will nullify the accords.

The claim that Palestinians are violating the Oslo agreement by presenting their proposal to the General Assembly is completely unfounded. The topic of Palestinian statehood was never one of the five issues (Jerusalem’s status, the fate of refugees, security arrangements, borders and settlements) that were considered “final status” issues in the 1993 Oslo accord. The Palestinians chose not to mention the issue of a state, as they saw self-determination as a basic right for their people; and it was convenient back then for Israel not to address the topic.

Moreover, Mr. Abbas has clarified that if the General Assembly decides to recognize a Palestinian state, he would agree to negotiations with Israel’s government without preconditions, a move that is in both America’s and Israel’s interests. The only difference is that these negotiations would take place between two internationally recognized states.

President Obama and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, should think twice before rejecting Mr. Abbas’s request. Blocking his bid for statehood will only empower extremists further.

There is no reason for the United States to oppose Mr. Abbas’s move, pressure the Palestinians not to raise this issue, or threaten to freeze their budget.

And Israel has no reason to wage a diplomatic war against the Palestinian appeal. Rather, Mr. Netanyahu should be the first to recognize a Palestinian state and Mr. Obama the last to prevent it.

Yossi Beilin, an architect of the Oslo Accords, has served as Israel’s deputy foreign minister and minister of justice.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crossing to The Other Side

Dear Friend,

The HASP class (on Isr/Pal) is going well. We're uncovering the existing realities and those seeking to create new realities.

Just today I received (and am passing on to you here), an encouraging word from Michael Fox, an intern with Salim Munayer of MUSALAHA. MUSALAHA is about bringing understanding and reconciliation between israelis and Palestinians, often not a very high priority in Isr/Pal these days (how much better to insist on the Status Quo, which is going nowhere).

Read on. Respectfully yours, JRK for FPI

This past month has been a blessing with travels and activities here at Musalaha. Just a few weeks ago, some of our Israeli and Palestinian young adults headed to north for camping on the Sea of Galilee.

“For the evening devotional, Ronit, our young adult’s coordinator shared from Mark 4:35-41.In the passage, Jesus was looking out at the Sea of Galilee near Tiberius, the exact same place where we were gathered together.Jesus gathered his close disciples on a boat, and told them “Let’s go to the other side.” (Mark 4:35, NIV) She pointed out that although the lake is small (with this “other side” easily visible from the shore), at the time of Jesus it created and represented a cultural boundary.Jesus and his followers were on the Jewish side, but in crossing over, they would have come to Gadara, a Greek city. Thus, in calling the disciplines on a journey across the lake, Jesus in his Jewishness was moving into a territory outside his ethnic comfort zone. In the next chapter, we see why he was going – to bring an act of healing to a man possessed by demons.The disciples would have been deeply reluctant to leave what was familiar to them, and come to a cultural context they did not relate to, to a group of people they knew only as foreigners and enemies.

As their boat journeyed across this boundary, Jesus and his disciples encountered a storm.This was related to ways in which boundary crossing often creates storms. It is often uncomfortable and frightening.When we try to reach out to the “other,” we will frequently encounter obstacles, potential for misunderstanding, as the process of reconciling with someone gets out of our control. We began this lesson with a discussion of prejudicial thoughts the Israelis and Palestinians direct against each other, making us think concretely about all the “storms” that can arise when we try to engage in the simple act of forming a relationship with someone we have been conditioned to think of as an “enemy.”

As the storm raged, his fearful disciples waked Jesus up. He responded, first with frustration, and then by speaking “peace” over the waves. In the same way, all the tensions and “storms” that arise from boundary crossing can be overcome as we are empowered by a sense of inner peace, a “rest and confidence” that comes from him, and has the ability to conquer fear.

Although I have only been in this region a brief time, I have observed firsthand many experiences in which reconciliation is badly needed, ways in which both the government and the societies work create a system of segregation that maintains a status quo of mutual hatred and mistrust, and makes it difficult for people from different sides to interact with each other. Thus, I found deep encouragement in this reminder to have hope as I am seeking to follow Christ. The fruits of work for reconciliation may not be easy, but because I have Yeshua (Jesus) with me in the storms that arise, I can have the freedom from fear needed to work for God’s heart for reconciliation.

By Michael Fox

Musalaha Intern

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kairos USA Applauds Letter Initiative!

Dear Friend of Palestinians and Israelis,

I'm ramping up for take-off this Wednesday at HASP. Sixty-three (63) persons (college and university professionals from the Holland, MI area) are enrolled in the class on Kairos USA (an American Christian response to Palestinian Christians' call for help)

It is not hard to see why Kairos USA, and the Isr/Pal Mission Network (I/PMN - PCUSA) are excited by the actions of the 15 heads of (mainline) denominations to call US military assistance to Israel to account. I applaud their efforts as well, and desire many to join them in writing our congress men and women, to change the culture in Washington, D.C. I'd like to think that US lock-step support of any and everything Israel wishes to do in the occupied territories will end. Criticism of Israel will have to be permitted. The automatic accusation that it is "Anti-Semitic" will not hold up any longer.

KUSA seeks to mobilize ecumenical and evangelical Christians to take decisive actions to End the Occupation of Palestinian land, and the abuses attendant to that Occupation.

Below, is an assessment by Rami Kouri, held in high regard by long-time observers and activists in Isr/Pal, an editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon.

Ethical Activism Amid Politics as Usual

by Rami G. Khouri

BOSTON -- Two very different ways for the United States to deal with Arabs and Israelis were on show last week in the United States. The contrast was stunning between the televised debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in which “I Love Israel more than You Love Israel” was the background theme song that permeated most discussions of issues, and a letter to Congress by 15 American religious leaders asking for aid to Israel to be assessed according to law-based human rights standards that Washington applies around the world.

The tilt towards Israeli views at the top of American politics is nothing new, and therefore is not surprising or even meaningful; it is the way politics works in Washington, where Israel usually can expect 90 percent or more of Congress to blindly support it, regardless of the morality, legality or consequences of Israel’s actions. The letter by the 15 church leaders is new, however, and therefore significant, because it reflects a growing recent trend to demand that the American government, churches and others treat Israel like they treat other nations, rather than allow Israel to live by a separate set of rules.

The 15 religious leaders represent many major faith groups in the U.S., including Presbyterians, Evangelical Lutherans, United Methodists, the National Council of Churches, the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, American Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ, and others.

They stress their evenhanded commitment “to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being,” and state that,

“[I]t is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories. We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies…” particularly in the realm of human rights issues and the use of American-supplied weapons.

Holding Israelis and Palestinians alike responsible for the prolonged violence in the region, the church leaders state that “unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace. Furthermore, such aid sustains the conflict and undermines the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

They ask for an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”

They urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance. They base this call in part on the 2011 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons (including separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians).

The letter and the position of the churches it reflects are significant for several reasons. The most important is that this approach brings together American values, laws and foreign policy positions in a manner that the U.S. government itself often fails to do. Its call for a review of foreign aid policies on the basis of American legal requirements is a position that most Americans would support. It also clearly affirms that Israelis and Palestinians alike should have the same rights to peace, security and well-being, pre-empting the usual Israeli outcry that such demands for legal compliance by Israel are acts of reflexive anti-Semitism or some other twisted view.

These three elements demand that American foreign policy reflect American legal and ethical principles. They are also driven by concerns at the grassroots by ordinary American men and women who dislike how the pro-Israeli tilt in Washington has disfigured the integrity of faith-based values and legal dictates in the United States. This combination of ethics, law and activism, which are anchored in mainstream America, causes real problems for the pro-Israel lobbies and associated political thugs in Washington whose intimidating impact centers on politicians in the capital who often value incumbency over legality or morality. That is how politicians behave. But now, in response to the excesses of that process, we have a refreshing example of how faith leaders behave to redress the ethical imbalances that define American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Rami G. Khouri is Editor-at-large of The Daily Star , and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon. You can follow him @ramikhouri.

Copyright © 2012 Rami G. Khouri -- distributed by Agence Global

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Content with the Status Quo

Dear Friend,

Many have sent me the results of the poll showing Israeli distaste for living alongside of Palestinians. Americans are not exempt from prejudice.

It reminds the US of the prejudice many of us have against living alongside of African Americans or folks who are not "like us". It's a civil rights struggle in Isr/Pal, much like we've gone through in the US (and are still going through).

Well, here is a first hand account of what it feels like and how MITT ROMNEY AND BARACK OBAMA are ignoring it (They may not be able to "solve" it, but at least they need to confront it, it seems to me),

BTW, I was notified that 63 persons are enrolled in my upcoming class on Kairos USA in the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals, (HASP) starting next Wednesday. Be in prayer for all of us, for open minds and willing spirits. JRK

Obama and Romney need to confront, solve Israeli-Palestinian divisions

Ibrahim Abu Ta'a
The Hill (Blog)
October 22, 2012 - 12:00am

I was born and raised in Jerusalem. Most of my work colleagues are Jewish, and despite the growing tension between Jews and Palestinians in Israel, years of working together have made us quite close. I speak Hebrew fluently, as well as my native Arabic, and I have always engaged my Jewish acquaintances with the same openness and respect I would give to anyone else.

At the annual employee appreciation party for the upscale Jerusalem hotel where I work as an accounts representative, one of my Jewish colleagues, a good friend, had too much to drink. She asked another co-worker and me to give her a ride home. When we arrived at the apartment she shares with her family, she assured us that she would be able to continue on her own. But when she exited the car, she promptly lost her balance. As we got out to help her, a group of nine Israeli-Jewish teenagers approached us and asked what was going on. We responded in Hebrew that everything was fine so they began to walk away. With a look of concern, my friend turned to speak to me. “Ibrahim,” she said, less quietly than intended, “leave them be.”

Today I know that if my name had been Avraham, and not Ibrahim, I would not have been attacked that night several weeks ago. Ibrahim is the Arabic version for the Bible’s Avraham. Nowadays, however, instead of hearing the slight variation in pronunciation, people hear Palestinian, or Jewish. And, within seconds after my friend uttered my name, I felt the pressure of a hand grab my shoulder, as eight other men joined in pummeling my body. One of my attackers struck my left leg with a heavy iron rod, shattering the bone and sending me to the ground. I remember trying to protect my face, while I faded in and out of consciousness.

I had nine pins and one metal plate surgically embedded into my leg to help it become whole again. During the period I was hospitalized, my mother visited me as often as she could. I needed and wanted her to be with me, yet a deep sense of fear engulfed me every time I knew she would come to the hospital. Would my mother be attacked? Would others hurt her simply because she is Palestinian?

This fear is new to me. One month ago I would have told my younger sisters to make as many Jewish friends as possible, to understand and experience the lives of others and to share their own lives. But I love them and I care about their safety, and I can no longer encourage them to be anything but cautious.

Israel’s political leadership speaks about Palestinians as an unfortunate demographic reality, at best, and a military threat at worst. Several recent, highly visible attacks against Palestinians, including my own, have resulted in criminal investigations and indictments, though many do not. The situation is worse in the West Bank, where almost 90 percent of cases involving Jewish settler violence against Palestinians are dropped without prosecution. Settlers move between the West Bank, Israel, and West Jerusalem with ease; we shall soon see whether West Bank impunity does too.

Those who attacked me are victims of this environment. I cannot hate them. They need rehabilitation, not punishment, and the same is true of our shared society.

I am now physically recovering. I will eventually return to my job and work side-by-side with my Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish colleagues. I realize now, however, that we are facing a much greater threat than fear of what happened to me weeks ago, and what could happen again. The threat emanates from the power of hatred, incitement, and the intolerance that is permeating Israeli society at a rapid pace.

Public statements issued by Israeli officials affirming that attacks on Palestinians qualify as terrorism are not enough. As long as Palestinians, the indigenous people of the land, continue to be cast as intruders, often by politicians and religious leaders, the number and severity of attacks will increase. The leaders of Jewish-Israeli society, and those outside of Israel who influence them, must recognize, appreciate, and affirm that we Palestinians are here to stay and not going anywhere. This land is big enough for all of us provided equal rights are extended to all.

The American presidential candidates, however, appear oblivious to the discrimination Palestinians face and the dual system of law -- what some are now calling Israeli apartheid -- that exists here. President Obama and Gov. Romney are willing to talk about Iran and Israel, but are content to put Palestinians, our rights, and our freedom, on the back burner. They talk about Egypt, Libya, and Syria and how to liberate them, but overlook that our oppression by Israel is one of the central problems gripping the Middle East today. The candidates should discuss the Israeli occupation and colonization of our land at this week's foreign policy debate in Boca Raton.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Binational Reality (Two Peoples living on the same land!)

Hello Dear Friend,

The following editorial by the leading progressive newspaper in Israel spells out the folly of ignoring the demographic realities in the land:

There is now a slight P majority, making Israel all the more a minority nation, occupying others' territory. The editorial puts its finger exactly on the problem. (See Highlight)

The movement for "Equal Rights" for all residents in Isr/Pal is picking up steam all over the world. There is momentum building that will sweep the Status Quo away. Forces are building to "End the Occupation".

Yes, there is controversy about it. Many groups in Isr and here in the US are upset about the request by a group from CMEP (Christians for Middle East Peace), to "investigate" if Israel is misusing US military aid, not abiding by US law.

Binational reality

Haaretz (Editorial)
October 17, 2012 - 12:00am

With the start of the election campaign, the major parties are displaying a worrying tendency to put social, economic and security issues at the top of the agenda while evading the diplomatic issue at the root of Israel's democratic identity.

As Akiva Eldar reported yesterday, according to official figures, around 5.9 million Jews and 6.1 million non-Jews live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Thus, from the international community's point of view, there is a non-Jewish majority under Israel's control and responsibility. The unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip did not sever the enclave from its Israeli umbilical cord; in the absence of another sovereignty, international law sees Israel as the sovereign in Gaza. The Oslo Accords define the West Bank and Gaza Strip as one political entity.

In June last year, the Jewish People Policy Institute presented the forecast by demographer Sergio DellaPergola that a Palestinian majority can be expected within a few years between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had no interest in the demographic balance between the river and sea. "I am interested in there being a solid Jewish majority in the State of Israel, within its borders as they will be defined," he said.

But Netanyahu's refusal to resume talks with the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders and land swaps, and his support for the settlement enterprise have thwarted the attempt to define Israel's borders. The loss of faith in Israel's willingness to realize a two-state solution amplifies the Palestinian voices in the territories that want the struggle against the occupation turned into a struggle for equal political rights between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

Under the current prime minister, who vehemently demands that the Palestinian leaders recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a binational reality has developed in the territories under Israel's control. We should expect this grave failure to stand at the center of the election campaign.

With great folly, the Labor Party under Shelly Yacimovich has relegated this existential issue to the sidelines of the political debate. She shares responsibility for the Israeli public's loss of faith in peace and the perpetuation of the discriminatory and disastrous binational reality.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Business as Usual

Dear Friend,

What a stimulating time I had with the Isr/Pal Mission Network in Chicago this last weekend! Representatives from many groups in attendance, with a majority of Presbyterians.

If you are passionate, you will want to buy Miko Peled's latest book, The General's Son, especially the radical conclusions he is arriving at (more later).

For now, more evidence of Israeli leadership to tolerate more indignities to the indigenous population. The present Likud leadership is doing all it can to perpetuate the Occupation.

The cutting edge at IPMN is to take steps to END THE OCCUPATION. (The "Occupation" is a dirty word. Be careful where you say it. It will not make you popular in many circles, especially those circles dedicated to perpetuating the "status quo". JRK

UN envoy alarmed by attacks on Palestinian trees

Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.N. Middle East envoy says he's alarmed by attacks blamed on Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers and their olive trees.

Robert Serry says Israel must do more to protect Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, in a statement sent to reporters Sunday. Israel's military had no immediate comment. The West Bank, claimed by the Palestinians for a state, is under Israeli military rule.

An Israeli rights organization, B'Tselem, counts 450 Palestinian-owned trees either damaged or uprooted since the harvest season began on October 10.

Every year a small number of extremist Jewish settlers carry out attacks during harvest season. Most attacks occur close to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Olive groves provide crucial income for Palestinian farmers.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Christian Leaders Address US Congress

The full text of the letter, dated Oct. 5, 2012:

Dear Member of Congress,

We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Our organizations have been deeply involved in this pursuit for decades, inspired by the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

In response to our Christian call to be peacemakers, we have worked for decades to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being. We have worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society by supporting hospitals, schools, clinics, and social service agencies. These ministries include cooperative efforts with Israelis and Palestinians as well as with Jews, Muslims, and other neighbors here in the United States. Through our presence in the region, and regular visits to our partners there, we see first-hand the impacts of the conflict on both Palestinians and Israelis and hear from them directly about the reality of their lives.

Through this direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.

We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.

It is this experience and these commitments that lead us to write to you today to express our grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.

Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.

(Weapons in this instance include “crowd control” items such as tear gas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74) which is included in the US Foreign Military Financing regulations stipulates that “not later than 90 days after enactment of this act and 6 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing any crowd control items, including tear gas, made available with appropriated funds or through export licenses to foreign security forces that the Secretary of State has credible information have repeatedly used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent.” )

Accordingly, we urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”

(While this letter focuses on US-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestine conflict, these are laws that we believe should be enforced in all instances regardless of location. All allegations regarding the misuse of US supplied arms should be investigated.)

More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.

In addition to specific rights violations, we see a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace. Specifically, repeated demands by the U.S. government that Israel halt all settlement activity have been ignored. Since 1967, every U.S. administration has decried Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as obstacles to peace. Despite this stance, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, claiming territory that under international law and U.S. policy should belong to a future Palestinian state. The Oslo peace process, which began in 1993, was publicly promoted as leading Israelis and Palestinians to a just peace based on a two-state solution. Instead, since 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has more than doubled. Rights violations resulting from Israeli settlement activity include separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there has been a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians this year. They report that these attacks are often intended to drive Palestinians from areas the settlers wish to take over, and that Israeli authorities have failed to take significant action to stop the violence or hold the perpetrators accountable. We believe that these actions directly undermine peace efforts and threaten, rather than support, Israel’s long-term security interests.

We want to be clear that we recognize that Israel faces real security threats and that it has both a right and a duty to protect both the state and its citizens. However, the measures that it uses to protect itself and its citizens, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.

As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.

As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II, it is especially critical for Israel to comply with the specific U.S. laws that regulate the use of U.S.-supplied weapons. We also encourage Congress to support inclusive, comprehensive, and robust regional diplomacy to secure a just and lasting peace that will benefit Israelis, Palestinians, and all the peoples of the region, and the world.

With respect and gratitude, we offer you our prayers.

In addition to Parsons, the letter was signed by Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; United Methodist Council of Bishops President Rosemarie Wenner; Peg Birk, transitional general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Shan Cretin, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee; J. Ron Byler, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; and Alexander Patico, North American secretary for the Orthodox Peace Fellowship (Partial list).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pres. Abbas at the UN, 9/27/12

President of the United Nations General Assembly,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Excellencies Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to begin by extending congratulations to the President of the 67tu session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, wishing him all success. I express appreciation as well to H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz A1-Nasser for his leadership of the previous General Assembly session, and also to the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki moon, for his tireless efforts at the helm of this organization. Also, from the outset, I wish to affirm our appreciation to all Member States that, in their statements to this Assembly, have stressed the urgency for progress towards the realization of a just peace in our region that allows for the fulfillment by the Palestinian people of their inalienable national rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn
attention to and warned of: the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country,Palestine.

During the past months, attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year. We are facing relentless waves of attacks against our people, our mosques, churches and monasteries, and our homes and schools; they are unleashing their venom against our trees, fields, crops and properties, and our people have become fixed targets for acts of killing and abuse with the complete collusion of the occupying forces and the Israeli Government.

The escalation of settler attacks should not surprise anyone, for it is the inherent
byproduct of the continuation of occupation and a government policy that deliberately fosters the settlements and settlers and deems their satisfaction to be an absolute priority. And, it is the inherent byproduct of the racist climate fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people, as well as by the security apparatus and courts, which provide excuse after excuse for the settlers' crimes and for their
accelerated release should one of them happen to be arrested, and by official and military commissions of inquiry, which fabricate justifications for soldiers who have committed what are clearly considered to be war crimes and perpetrated acts of murder, torture and abuse of peaceful civilians.

Over the past year, since the convening of the General Assembly's previous session,
Israel, the occupying Power, has persisted with its settlement campaign, focusing on Jerusalem and its environs. It is a campaign clearly and deliberately aimed at altering the City's historic character and the glorious image of the Holy City etched in the minds of humankind. It is a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people via the demolition of their homes and prevention of their construction; the revocation of residency rights; the denial of basic
services, especially with regard to construction of school; the closure of institutions; and theimpoverishment of Jerusalem's community via a siege of walls and checkpoints that are chokingthe City and preventing millions of Palestinians from freely accessing its mosques, churches, schools, hospitals and markets.

The occupying Power has also continued its construction and expansion of settlements in
different areas throughout the West Bank and continued its suffocating blockade as well as raids and attacks against our people in the Gaza Strip, who to this day continue to suffer from thedisastrous impact of the destructive war of aggression committed against them years ago.

Nearly five thousand Palestinians also remain captive as prisoners and detainees in Israel's jails. We call on the international community to compel the Government of Israel to respect the Geneva Conventions, to lift the blockade of Gaza and to investigate the conditions of detention of
Palestinian prisoners and detainees, stressing the need for their release; they are soldiers in their people's struggle for freedom, independence and peace.

At the same time, the occupying Power continues to tighten the siege and impose severe
restrictions on movement, preventing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from
implementing vital infrastructure projects and providing services to its citizens, who are also being prevented from cultivating their land and deprived of water for irrigation. It is also obstructing the establishment of agricultural, industrial, tourism and housing projects by the private sector in vast areas of the Occupied Palestinian Authority, which are classified as areas subject to the absolute control of the occupation, which encompasses approximately 60% of the West Bank. The occupying Power continues to deliberately demolish what the PNA is building, projects funded by donor brethren and friends, and destroying PNA projects involving the building of roads, simple homes for its citizens and agricultural facilities. In fact, over the past 12 months, the Israeli occupying forces demolished 510 Palestinian structures in these areas and displaced 770 Palestinians from their homes. These illegal measures have caused great damage to our economy and impeded our development programs and private sector activity, compounding the socio-economic difficulties being endured by our people under occupation, a fact confirmed by international institutions.
Israel's overall policy is ultimately leading to the weakening of the Palestinian National Authority, undermining its ability to carry out its functions and to implement its obligations, which threatens to undermine ks very existence and threatens its collapse.

All of this is taking place in the context of an Israeli political discourse that does not hesitate to brandish aggressive, extremist positions, which in many aspects and its practical application on the ground is inciting religious conflict. This is something we firmly reject based on our principles and convictions and our understanding what it means to fuel such fires in this very sensitive area full of explosive flashpoints and how it can fuel the action of extremists from various quarters, especially those trying to use tolerant, monotheistic religions as an ideological justification for their terrorism.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, on our part, and as proof our seriousness and our sincere intention to create an
opening in this impasse, conducted exploratory talks with the Israeli Government at the
beginning of this year upon the initiative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We have also encouraged the expressed desires of several countries to contribute to efforts to break the cycle of deadlock and have also ourselves undertaken initiatives to create favorable conditions for the resumption of negotiations. Unfortunately, however, the result of all these initiatives has been very negative.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There can only be one understanding of the Israeli Government's actions in our homeland
and of the positions it has presented to us regarding the substance of a permanent status agreement to end the conflict and achieve peace. That one understanding leads to one conclusion: that the Israeli Government rejects the two-State solution.
The two-State solution, i.e. the State of Palestine coexisting alongside the State of Israel, represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles, the agreement signed 19 years ago between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel under the auspices of the United States of America on the White House Lawn, a compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their State on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace.

The recent years have actually witnessed the systematic acceleration and intensification of Israeli measures aimed at emptying the Oslo Accords of their meaning, while simultaneously building facts on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that are making the implementation of the Accords extremely difficult if not completely impossible.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel aims to continue its occupation of East Jerusalem, to de facto annex large areas of the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to continue occupying a large portion of the Territory under different pretexts. It refuses to engage in any serious discussion of the issue of the Palestine refugees. It wants to continue its occupation of Palestinian water basins and its control over the most fertile agricultural areas in our land as well as over our air, skies and borders.

The final map and borders that can be drawn in accordance with Israel's official positions reveal to us the following: small Palestinian enclaves surrounded by large Israeli settlement blocs and walls, checkpoints and vast security zones and roads devoted to the settlers. Thus, the enclaves would remain subject to the full dominance of military, colonial occupation, only packaged under new names, such as the unilateral plan for a so-called State with provisional borders.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel refuses to end the occupation and refuses to allow the Palestinian people to attain their rights and freedom and rejects the independence of the State of Palestine.
Israel is promising the Palestinian people a new catastrophe, a new Nakba.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen, I speak on behalf of an angry people, a people that feels that, at the same time that they continue with their calls for their right to freedom and their adoption of a culture of peace and adherence to the principles and rules of international law and resolutions of international legitimacy, rewards continue to be illogically bestowed upon Israel, whose Government pursues a policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization. And Israel continues to be permitted to evade accountability and punishment and some continue to obstruct the undertaking of decisive
positions regarding its violations of international law and covenants. This, in fact, represents a license for the occupation to continue its policy of dispossession and ethnic cleansing and encourages it to entrench its system of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite our real feelings of anger, we, in the name of the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO), the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, reaffirm, without hesitation, that we are as committed to peace and international legitimacy and its covenants and its resolutions as we are adherent to our inalienable national rights and aspirations, and we reaffirm that we are committed to non-violence and reject terrorism in all its forms, particularly State terrorism.

Despite our feelings of disappointment and loss of hope, we continue to sincerely extend our hands to the Israeli people to make peace. We realize that ultimately the two peoples must live and coexist, each in their respective State, in the Holy Land. Further, we realize that progress towards making peace is through negotiations between the PLO and Israel.

Despite all the complexities of the prevailing reality and all the frustrations that abound, we say before the international community: there is still a chance - maybe the last - to save the two-State solution and to salvage peace.

However, this urgent task must be pursued via a new approach. Whoever rushes to
advise us to repeat an experience that has proven to be fruitless - negotiations with the Israeli Government without clear terms of reference - must understand that this will result in reproduction of failure and again provide a cover for entrenchment of the occupation and will finish off an already-dying peace process. And, whoever who advises us to wait, must realize that the festering situation in our country and our region has its own timing and can neither withstand further procrastination and delay nor its placement at the bottom of the global agenda.

The approach required for saving the chance for peace must first and foremost be
predicated on the understanding that racial settler colonization must be condemned, punished and boycotted in order for it to be completely halted. This approach also requires reaffirmation of and adherence to the terms of reference and foundations of the solution to the conflict, which have been endorsed by all of you.

The core components of a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict do not require effort to discover, but rather what is needed is the will to implement them. And marathon negotiations are not required to determine them, but rather what is needed is the sincere intention reach peace. And those components are by no means a mysterious puzzle or intractable riddle, but rather are the clearest and most logical in the world. This includes the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and the realization of a just, agreed solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194 (III), as prescribed in the Arab Peace Initiative.

Indeed, the fundamental components of the solution to the conflict exist in the documents and resolutions of the United Nations and in the resolutions of regional organizations, starting from the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) and the African Union (AU), as well as in the statements of the European Union (EU) and the international Quartet.
The international community, embodied in the United Nations, is required now more than
ever to uphold its responsibilities. The Security Council is called upon to urgently adopt a resolution comprising the basis and foundations for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would serve as a binding reference and guide for all if the vision of two-States, Israel and Palestine, is to survive and if peace is to prevail in the land of peace, the birthplace of Jesus (peace be upon him), and ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the final resting place of Abraham (peace be upon him), the land of the three monotheistic religions.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The independence and freedom of the State of Palestine is above all and ultimately a
sacred right of the Palestinian people and an entitlement that must be realized for it has been long overdue for too many decades.

At the same time, the Palestinian National Authority has affirmed, through
implementation of its State institution-building program, the ability to create an advanced model for an effective, modem State through the development of the performance of its institutions, public finance management through the adoption of transparency, accountability and rules of good governance. These achievements have been considered by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to constitute an impressive undertaking and success story, one that was again commended in the latest report just a few days ago, confirming full Palestinian readiness for the transition to an independent State, while at the
same time stressing that the Israeli occupation remains the only obstacle to the realization of the State of Palestine.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When, a year ago during the previous session of the General Assembly, we submitted our
application for consideration by the Security Council to allow the State of Palestine to assume its rightful place among the nations of the world as a full member in the United Nations, a major and hostile uproar was raised by some against this political, diplomatic, peaceful step aimed at saving the peace process by asserting its basis and foundation. However, our endeavor was aborted, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world supported, and continues to support, our application.

Yet, last autumn, when the countries of the world had the opportunity to declare their
stance without any restrictions or "veto", they voted, despite enormous pressures, in strong support of the acceptance of Palestine as a Member State of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A year has passed and Palestine, the homeland of Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said, is playing its role in UNESCO with high responsibility and professionalism, and is committed to international conventions, cooperating with all Member States in order to advance the objectives of the organization, and providing a model of what its positive, constructive contribution in international organizations would be.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In order to enhance the chances for peace, we will continue our efforts to obtain full
membership for Palestine at the United Nations. And, for the same purpose, we have begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and Member States aimed at having the General Assembly adopt a resolution considering the State of Palestine as a non-MemberState of the United Nations during this session. We are confident that the vast majority of the countries of the world support our endeavor aimed at salvaging the chances for a just peace.

In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing State - that is Israel; but rather to assert the State that must be realized - that is Palestine.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

More than 64 years have passed since A1-Nakba and a large portion of those who were its
direct victims and witnessed its horrors have died with their memories preserved in their minds and hearts about their beautiful world that was devastated, their warm homes that were demolished, and their peaceful villages that were erased from existence, and about their renaissance that was undermined, and their loved ones, dear men, women and children, whowere killed in wars, massacres, attacks, raids andincursions, and about their beautiful country that was a beacon of coexistence, tolerance, progress and a crossroads of civilization. They died in the camps of displacement and refuge to which they were expelled following their uprooting
fi'om their homeland as they awaited the moment in which thcy would resume their suspended lives and complete their journey that was interrupted and repair their shattered dreams. They died while they clung to their legitimate human right to justice and freedom and to redress for the historic unprecedented injustice inflicted upon them.

At present, 77% of the Palestinian people are under the age of 35 years. Although they
did not experience the horrors of A1-Nakba, they know very well the details of its horrendous facts from the accounts told to them by their parents and grandparents who endured it. And, they are suffering its ongoing effects until today and every day as a result of the practices of the occupation and the settlers on a land that is diminishing and a horizon before them that is blocked against their simple, ordinary dreams. They see their homeland and, their present and future vulnerable to continued usurpation and they say firmly: we will not allow a new Nakba to happen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I say to you that the brave Palestinian people will not allow themselves to be the victim of a new Nakba. My people will continue their epic steadfastness and eternal survival in their beloved land, every inch of which carries the evidence and landmarks affirming their roots and unique connection throughout ancient history. There is no homeland for us except Palestine, and there is no land for us but Palestine. Our people will continue to build the institutions of their State and will continue to strive to achieve national reconciliation to restore the unity of our nation, people and institutions via resorting to the ballot boxes, which will confirm our people's
pluralistic democratic choice. Our people are also determined to continue peaceful popular resistance, consistent with international humanitarian law, against the occupation and the settlements and for the sake of freedom, independence and peace.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Prevent the occurrence of a new Nakba in the Holy Land.
Support the realization of a free, independent State of Palestine now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Is Dialogue a Good Thing?

Dear Friend,

I'm trying to lighten up on the frequency of my posts.

Richard Forer is a "friend" whose recent post I wanted all of you to read. Thank you Richard for your insight and sensitivity to existing reality. JRK

What Does “Dialogue” Do for Peace among Israelis and Palestinians?

28 August 20123 Comments

Richard Forer

Richard Forer
United States

“Dialogue groups place Palestinians in a position where, in order to share their experience with Israelis, they are compelled to acquiesce to a distorted reality. If they refuse, they are perceived as . . . disinterested in peace.”


A couple of years ago, a secular Israeli High School refused to allow its students to form an Israel-Palestine dialogue group. Reports indicated that the school’s principal was concerned participation would reduce the rate of students serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. Apparently, from the principal’s perspective, Israel’s need for security was more important than its need for either side to empathize with the other side’s suffering; and those needs were mutually exclusive. Whether aware of the deeper implications of his decision or not, the principal chose to cultivate seeds of conflict rather than of peace.

Dialogue groups have the potential to put a human face on the “other,” to transform him or her from an enemy image in one’s mind to a human being with the same needs and dreams as anyone else. It is, in fact, virtually impossible to commit acts of violence against a fellow human. The human must first be objectified, or dehumanized, before he or she can become a target of physical or emotional violence. Dialogue groups are, therefore, a threat to those who are wedded to the belief that the other is the source of conflict and must be vanquished.

Notwithstanding their ability to bring a greater humanity and compassion into the lives of their members, however, there is another factor that needs to be honored for these groups to achieve their full potential. That factor is reality. The dialogue groups that I have encountered – and there may be some I am unaware of that do not conform to my experience – presume a symmetrical relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli sides. They begin by establishing parameters that favor psychological comfort over historical truth with simplistic presumptions such as, for example, that both sides have been traumatized, that both have committed acts of violence, and that the two sides are, in essence, equally responsible for the failure to arrive at a peaceful resolution to the problem.

Whenever dialogue groups ignore the documented history of Israel-Palestine, they fail to fully disabuse Israelis of the unfair characterization that Palestinians are, by nature, incapable of compromise. They condemn Israelis to a state of denial in which their characterization of Palestinians is undoubtedly true of themselves.

A different way of saying this is that as long as Israelis blindly believe state-sponsored Zionist myths, passed down for generations, of Israel’s birth and its benign attempts to make peace with the Palestinians, it is the Israelis who will be incapable of compromise.

Correspondingly, dialogue groups place Palestinians in a position where, in order to share their experience with Israelis, they are compelled to acquiesce to a distorted reality. If they refuse, they are perceived as disinterested in what the other side has to say and, therefore, disinterested in peace.

Rich and friends in Beit Sahour

Dialogue groups are tricky because, on the one hand, it is important to keep the members involved, yet on the other, involvement that doesn’t acknowledge history only perpetuates delusion. And it is often the case that the groups are led by counselors or therapists who, not having studied the history of Israel-Palestine yet hoping to support some kind of emotional healing, are unaware that by establishing these parameters they are profaning the history.

And although the first two parameters are indeed true, without historical context their inclusion robs Israelis of the opportunity to take responsibility for their participation in the dispossession of the Palestinian people.

For years I have heard comments like “Israel has always offered land for peace but the Palestinians have always rejected the offer.” In 1977 Nahum Goldmann, founder and president of the World Jewish Congress and a president of the World Zionist Organization, said: “Israel has never presented the Arabs with a single peace plan. She has rejected every settlement plan devised by her friends and by her enemies. She has seemingly no other object than to preserve the status quo while adding territory piece by piece.”

In 1948 Syria offered to take in 300,000 Palestinian refugees as part of a comprehensive peace plan. UN Mediator and future Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ralph Bunche pleaded with David Ben-Gurion to respond to the Syrian offer but Ben-Gurion refused, just as he refused to talk with Egypt’s Gamal Nasser, who used British, Maltese, and Quaker emissaries to try to negotiate with the Israeli prime minister. Instead of negotiating, Ben-Gurion labeled Nasser the “Hitler of the Middle East,” a phrase that persuaded Jews around the world that Israel’s neighbors were more interested in igniting another genocide than in peace. Jordanian, Yugoslavian, and American attempts to resolve the conflict were also ignored or rejected by Israel. Israel has never honored the terms of the 1978 Camp David Accords that call for “full autonomy” for the Palestinians; and for years insisted that peace was impossible because of Yasser Arafat. Arafat died in 2004. Israel has never responded to the 2002 Arab peace initiative that would have ended the Arab-Israeli conflict, normalized relations with the entire Arab world, and provided security for “all the states of the region.”

A study of Israel’s history leads to the unavoidable conclusion that it has used peace negotiations as a strategy to mask its true motives. Peace has always been secondary to the acquisition of more land. Former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, laying out Israel’s true motives: “Israel takes more land [so] that the Palestinian state will be impossible . . . the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state.”

The bottom line is that good intentions are not good enough. A just resolution to the Israel-Palestine problem requires all of us to challenge our beliefs through sincere and objective research. Otherwise, we will never intuit our roles in the suffering of others, nor will we intuit how to alleviate that suffering. And for those of us who happen to be strongly identified with one side or the other, our anxiety will remain unresolved, leaving us with the dilemma of victimization: Why does the world not understand my people juxtaposed against evidence that is beyond dispute?

Richard Forer is the author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict. He can be contacted through his website,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Acting Out our Attitudes Toward "OTHERS"

Friends: The fabric of Israeli national unity is being torn, shredded. The ideal of a "Jewish and democratic state" is fraying. It's not holding together. Can people talk about this? Openly? Intergenerationally? Inter-ethnically? Between and among us? What's going on here? What's behind all this violence? Is there a way forward? Who are those with "answers". What about respect for the rights of neighbors instead of demonizing them? God help us all!

August 20, 2012

Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs


JERUSALEM — Seven Israeli teenagers were in custody on Monday, accused of what a police official and several witnesses described as an attempted lynching of several Palestinian youths, laying bare the undercurrent of tension in this ethnically mixed but politically divided city. A 15-year-old suspect standing outside court said, “For my part he can die, he’s an Arab.”

The police said that scores of Jewish youths were involved in the attack late Thursday in West Jerusalem’s Zion Square, leaving one 17-year-old unconscious and hospitalized. Hundreds of bystanders watched the mob beating, the police said — and no one intervened.

Two of the suspects were girls, the youngest 13, adding to the soul-searching and acknowledgment that the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it.

“If it was up to me, I’d have murdered him,” the 15-year-old suspect told reporters outside court on Monday. “He cursed my mother.” The young man who was beaten unconscious, Jamal Julani, remained in the hospital.

The mob beating came on the same day that a Palestinian taxi on the West Bank was firebombed, apparently by Jewish extremists, though there have been no arrests. The two episodes, along with a new report by the United States State Department labeling attacks by Jews on Palestinians as terrorism, have opened a stark national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point.

“There appears to be a worryingly high level of tolerance — whether explicit or implicit — for such despicable acts of violence,” The Jerusalem Post editorialized on Monday. “A clear distinction must be made between legitimate acts of self-defense aimed at protecting Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and pointless, immoral acts of violence.”

In the popular Yediot Aharonot newspaper, a commentator asked of the 13-year-old suspect, “Where on earth does a bar-mitzvah-age child find so much evil in himself?” The article said parents should be held responsible.

But on Channel 1 news Monday night, Nimrod Aloni, the head of the Institute for Educational Thought at a Tel Aviv teachers college, said, “this cannot just be an expression of something he has heard at home.”

“This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K.,” Mr. Aloni said. “This comes from an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like.”

The police said Thursday’s beating of Mr. Julani, who regained consciousness in the hospital on Sunday, resulted from a brawl after a girl in a crowd of Israeli youths complained that she had been harassed by an Arab. Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said the girl had spurred the crowd to seek vengeance, though her lawyer denied that on Israel Radio on Monday. The crowd then arbitrarily focused on Mr. Julani and his friends, Mr. Rosenfeld said, beating Mr. Julani until he lost consciousness.

“According to those questioned, there was a fight, there was cursing,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “One thing led to another.”

Mr. Julani, a youth of slender build with fashionably short hair from the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, said in an interview from his hospital bed on Monday that he had no memory of what had happened — or even of being downtown on Thursday. But relatives at his bedside, including a cousin who was with him at the time of the assault, said the attack had been unprovoked.

The cousin, Muhammad Mujahid, 17, said he and four friends were walking in the square and suddenly found themselves being chased by a group of youths. “They were shouting ‘Arabs, death to Arabs,’ ” he said. “I saw about 50 people chasing us. We ran, but about 10 of them caught Jamal.”

Asked whether he would return to West Jerusalem at night, Mr. Mujahid said: “I don’t want to go back there. I’ve learned.”

Mr. Julani’s mother, Nariman, described the attackers as “terrorists, fanatics.”

“We have no ideas about politics,” said Mrs. Julani, 44. “We brought our children up to study, to be good and to love their homeland.”

One floor above Mr. Julani, in the new wing of the Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem in southwest Jerusalem, lay the driver whose taxi was hit by a firebomb on Thursday outside the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin. He and his five passengers, all members of the Abu Jayada family from the West Bank village of Nahalin, suffered burns; one remained in intensive care on Monday.

The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, strongly condemned the firebombing of the taxi and promised the Palestinian leadership that all efforts would be made to arrest the perpetrators.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, said of the beating, “We unequivocally condemn racist violence and urge the police and law enforcement community to act expeditiously to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Some commentators connected the violence against Palestinians with other racial issues pervading Israeli society. The latest attacks came after a summer of simmering resentment and some violent protests against the swelling number of African migrants and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. The outburst of popular rage, fanned by provocative statements by some rightist politicians, led to a government crackdown to stem the influx.

Gavriel Salomon, a professor of educational psychology at Haifa University, told Israel Radio on Monday that the attacks could be attributed to increasing racism in Israeli society, increased levels of violence in general and an atmosphere of “legitimacy.”

“Suddenly it’s not so terrible to burn Arabs inside a taxi,” he said.

One of those who came to the hospital where Mr. Julani was recovering on Monday was Zohar Eitan, 57, a Tel Aviv University lecturer in musicology. He said he had come as “an ordinary citizen” to show solidarity and called the attack “very sad but unfortunately not shocking. It is the result of the indoctrination that these kids get.”

Jerusalem is home to about 500,000 Jews and some 300,000 Palestinians, who mostly coexist peacefully though with a constant undertone of political and religious tension.

Most of the Palestinians, who chose not to be Israeli citizens but carry Jerusalem residency cards, live in the eastern sector of the city that was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move that has not been internationally recognized. The Palestinians demand that East Jerusalem, which contains Jewish holy sites as well as Muslim and Christian shrines, be the capital of a future state.

While the Jewish and Arab residents of the city mingle freely in the parks and shopping malls of West Jerusalem, there is less and less meaningful interaction between the two populations, other than some at workplaces.

The western side bears small monuments to the suicide bombings that killed scores here on buses and in cafes after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. In some of the tenser predominantly Arab neighborhoods, Israeli cars and buses are frequently stoned.

Mr. Julani’s relatives said they were not involved in politics and, when asked about the future of their city, seemed at a loss for answers. His father, Subhi Julani, who works in construction, said he had many Jewish friends, including employers.

“Jamal is lucky; we are lucky that he is still among us,” Mr. Julani, 50, said of his son, who is studying for his matriculation exams and also does home renovations for a Jewish boss. “I do not know why they did this.”

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mark Braverman on Avraham Burg

Dear Friend,

Remember my last post? The op-ed from Avraham Burg called "Israel's Fading Democracy"?

I was impressed with it. Mr. Burg seemed to be attacking what he called "Ethnic Democracy" and calling for reform. Many of you got back to me with appreciation.

Well, Mark Braverman got back to me right away, applauding Burg's critique of Israel, but questioning whether Burg was showing "the way forward". What is the way forward that Mr. Burg is proposing (was his question).

Mr. Braverman, a D. C. Jew who works with Christians on KUSA, claims that Zionism and "Democracy" just don't go together at all, and that Mr. Burg appears to be unwilling to part with Zionism.

Are you with me here? There is more.

So, we went back and forth by email, Mr. Braverman pointing me to his chapter nine (9) of FATAL EMBRACE, his 2010 book, where he discusses Mr. Burg's vision specifically. I sent him my critique of his treatment of Burg in chapter 9 in the light of Burg's NY Times op-ed. Then, he sent me his critique of my critique (ask me for the documents).

Bottom line for Mr. Braverman is this: There is no way to "reform" or "purify" Zionism and still have "Democracy". One or the other has to go. That is the choice. Whether that means a "One State" with equality for all; or a "Two State" side by side in peace and security.

If you are willing to go deeper and further, I urge you to ask me for two documents that detail our email correspondence. Consider for yourself what might be a "way forward" for the US and people of faith. (BDS has to be considered a live option!)

BTW, for Holland, FPI people: THE COURSE I'LL BE LEADING @ HASP, (Oct. 31, Nov. 7 and 14) WILL BE ON KAIROS USA (NOT KAIROS PALESTINE). Kairos USA is an American Christian response to K Palestine. Sorry about any confusion. Please sign up and let's have civil discourse on the important topic of US policy in Isr/Pal. JRK

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Accurate Perspective & Prescription

Dear Friend,
Once in a while an essay captures historical perspective and prescribes a credible way forward. Avraham Burg gives it in this NY Times op-ed, August 5, 2012. Who will act on it? Will the US urge his democratic views to be honored? JRK

Israel’s Fading Democracy


Published: August 4, 2012

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.

Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?

Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.

Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.

In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.

This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.

The modern combination between democracy and Judaism was supposed to give birth to a spectacular, pluralistic kaleidoscope. The state would be a great, robust democracy that would protect Jews against persecution and victimhood. Jewish culture, on the other hand, with its uncompromising moral standards, would guard against our becoming persecutors and victimizers of others.

BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits.

The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.

If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.

This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long.

But there is another option: an iconic conflict could also present an iconic solution. As in Northern Ireland or South Africa, where citizens no longer spill one another’s blood, it will eventually become clear that many Israelis are not willing to live in an ethnic democracy, not willing to give up on the chance to live in peace, not willing to be passive patriots of a country that expels or purifies itself of its minorities, who are the original inhabitants of the land.

Only on that day, after much anguish, boycotts and perhaps even bloodshed, will we understand that the only way for us to agree when we disagree is a true, vigorous democracy. A democracy based on a progressive, civil constitution; a democracy that enforces the distinction between ethnicity and citizenship, between synagogue and state; a democracy that upholds the values of freedom and equality, on the basis of which every single person living under Israel’s legitimate and internationally recognized sovereignty will receive the same rights and protections.

A long-overdue constitution could create a state that belongs to all her citizens and in which the government behaves with fairness and equality toward all persons without prejudice based on religion, race or gender. Those are the principles on which Israel was founded and the values that bound Israel and America together in the past. I believe that creating two neighboring states for two peoples that respect one another would be the best solution. However, if our shortsighted leaders miss this opportunity, the same fair and equal principles should be applied to one state for both peoples.

When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle. Every time the prime minister says “peace” the world will actually believe him, and when he talks about justice and equality people will feel that these are synonyms for Judaism and Israelis.

And for all the cynics who are smiling sarcastically as they read these lines, I can only say to Americans, “Yes, we still can,” and to Israelis, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset, is the author of “The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes” and the chairman of Molad, the Center for Renewal of Democracy.