December 2011 Archives

We can make peace in the Holy Land, you Peers and I.

By circulating one video at a time.

For attitudes influenced in Cyberspace create facts on the ground.

The N.E.M.





      One must never misunderestimate the efficacy of intermittent repetition.  It’s a lesson I learned from the Jewish Community in the late 1960’s, while I was a Student in New York City.  NYC has a large population of Jews.  Christians can learn a lot about community from Jews.  (Amen.)


      Please re-view this video of Chas Freeman again:  Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture (38:23).  It’s important that you do.  A postscript has been added to prove my point.  


      Peers, I respectfully submit to you that Chas Freeman is a man who knows whereof he speaks.  His vision is clear and his words are true.  He’s a man we can trust.  He’s got a perspective on the political situation in the Holy Land that needs to be heard by Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well.  Don’t take my word for it.  Watch the video yourself.  Pay special attention to the last five minutes of his speech.






P.S.  Other worthy videos deserving intermittent repetition during the Advent Season include:  YouTube – Israel’s WALL around Bethlehem (02:45) and Mark Braverman (06:57).   (Mark says that his people … Jews … “need to look in a mirror”.) 

Note:   Let’s try to make sense of recent developments in the Holy Land Peace Process.  The article pasted below was published in The Australian Jewish News today.  I’ve done a modicum of highlighting.  Let’s figure out what’s causing all the furor.   Also, let us not be surprised when we come across inconsistencies, spin and/or discrepancies in today’s news.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:  Israeli Government, Jewish Orgs. Agree With Amb. Gutman That Conflict Exacerbates anti-Semitsm.   Peace, Roy 

Remarks on Israel by three US officials spark furor | The Australian Jewish News


Remarks on Israel by three US officials spark furor

THE Obama administration is reaping a whirlwind of criticism in the wake of pointed remarks about Israel by several US officials over three days.

The US ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, caused an uproar when he suggested on Dec. 1 that hostility among European Arabs and Muslims toward Jews was rooted in anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and should be distinguished from traditional forms of anti-Semitism. Jewish groups condemned his remarks, which drew calls for his dismissal from Republican presidential front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

The following day,

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stirred controversy when he told an audience at the Saban Forum, an annual Washington conclave for American and Israeli policymakers, that Israel needs to “get to the damn table” to negotiate with the Palestinians and “mend fences” with its neighbors. The Anti-Defamation League expressed “surprise and dismay” at a speech that it said “disproportionately put the onus on Israel to overcome its isolation.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made waves a day later at the Saban Forum when she reportedly expressed some concerns about the state of Israeli democracy.

The confluence of controversies has added up to a headache for the Obama administration’s Jewish supporters and given fodder to its critics.

“This is the worst weekend we’ve had in a while,” said a Jewish Democratic activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, referring to the outcry over the remarks.

Each set of remarks share a common theme,

said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman.

They’re “putting all of the onus on Israel, and that’s with Panetta, with Hillary and with the ambassador,” he said. “It’s something that we’ve had a problem with this administration.”

In his wide-ranging speech on U.S.-Israel relations, Panetta said that Israel needed to take steps to alleviate its isolation.

“For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability — countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan,” Panetta said. “This is an important time to be able to develop and restore those key relationships in this crucial area. This is not impossible. If gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. That is exactly why Israel should pursue them.”

After the speech, the Saban Center’s Kenneth Pollack asked Panetta what steps Israel should take to advance peace. Panetta replied, “Just get to the damn table. Just get to the table. The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences — you know, we all know what the pieces are here for a potential agreement.”

Gingrich issued a statement condemning Panetta’s remarks.

“Barack Obama must tell the American people today whether he condemns or condones the deeply wrong statements by his Secretary of Defense and Ambassador to Belgium,” Gingrich said.

The Zionist Organization of America and the Emergency Committee for Israel — both consistent critics of the Obama administration — also blasted Panetta’s remarks. The ADL, however, was the main centrist Jewish group to take public umbrage.

“The Defense Secretary emphasized the shared U.S. and Israeli interest in deepened strategic cooperation and in countering the Iranian threat,” the ADL said in its statement. “But he undermined the sense of assurance that this could have projected by using a prestigious public platform to focus disproportionate responsibility on Israel for the campaign of hostility against her.”

The American Jewish Committee seemed less concerned. In a commentary on the group’s website, Ed Rettig, the director of its Jerusalem office, wrote that the headlines suggesting Panetta had scolded Israel were not reflective of the content of his speech.

“Contrary to the impression created by some reports, Secretary Panetta did not single out Israel for lack of progress in the peace process,” Rettig wrote, also noting that Panetta said that both Israel and Turkey need to repair relations.

Clinton’s remarks the next day at the Saban Forum were considered off the record and her session was closed to the media. According to news reports based on sources who attended, her speech went over familiar ground, such as the need to restart peace negotiations and the Iranian threat.

But in a question-and-answer session afterward, Clinton reportedly expressed concerns about some aspects of domestic Israeli politics. She was said to have criticized proposed Knesset legislation aimed at curbing foreign funding of Israeli NGOs and gender-segregated bus lines serving haredi Orthodox areas, among other domestic developments.

Israel’s finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, was quoted in the Israeli media calling Clinton’s remarks “totally exaggerated.”

“Israel is a living, breathing liberal democracy,” Steinitz said.

If reported accurately, Foxman said, Clinton’s comments were “out of line.”

“This is a secretary of state who certainly doesn’t go out to the Arab Muslim world and criticize them for inequalities,” the ADL leader said. “Sure, Israel is not perfect, human rights could use improvement, but my God, in comparison, I think it’s inappropriate, it’s excessive.”

Clinton has spoken about abuses of women’s rights in the Islamic world. In an April address at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Washington, she cited progress on addressing abuses of women’s rights in some Muslim countries and condemned those “who are actually working to undermine this progress and export a virulently anti-woman ideology to other Muslim communities.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council defended Panetta and Clinton.

“What Hillary Clinton is saying is what American Jewish leaders of all stripes have said,” said David A. Harris, the NJDC’s president and CEO. “It’s a pressing concern in our community.”

Harris also said that Panetta gave “a powerhouse speech,” one that encouraged “Israel to take bold steps” and that mainly focused on “how America is helping to secure Israel.”

Foxman, however, described the administration’s attitude toward Israel as “bifurcated.” He said that while the Obama administration has brought the U.S.-Israeli military alliance to newfound heights, it also has “done more politically to distance itself” from Israel.

“They’re trying to balance” between support for Israel and criticism of it, Foxman said, “and it’s not working.”

Jewish groups were more united in their disapproval of Gutman’s remarks, which he delivered at an event hosted by the European Jewish Union in Brussels.

Gutman noted “the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews.” He argued that the problem is “largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem.”

Advancing peace between Israel and its neighbors was the key to addressing this issue, he said.

Gutman’s framing of the issue rubbed many in the Jewish community the wrong way.

“Unfortunately, this administration’s policies of ‘daylight’ and pressure toward our ally Israel encourage the dangerously misguided tendency to make excuses for anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry,” Matthew Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s executive director, said in a statement.

His comments also prompted a rebuke from the NJDC’s Harris, though he declined to say whether Gutman should resign.

“Ambassador Gutman’s comments were wrong and unfortunate, and the White House was right to issue their immediate, tough statement on Saturday,” said Harris, referring to a statement sent over the weekend to Jewish leaders and others.

In the statement, the White House said that “we condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms, and that there is never any justification for prejudice against the Jewish people or Israel.”

However, at a briefing Monday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that Gutman, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, will not be asked to leave his post. Toner said that Gutman had the administration’s “full confidence.” He also said that the views expressed by Gutman were the envoy’s and not the administration’s.

Gutman has said that his remarks were “misinterpreted” and that he condemns all forms of anti-Semitism.

Barbara Goldberg Goldman, who was co-chair of the Obama campaign’s Jewish Community Leadership team in 2008 alongside Gutman and others, said she has “the utmost confidence that his intention was never to disparage Israel or her policies towards the peace process.”

“Knowing Ambassador Gutman and knowing his stanch pro-Israel stance,” Goldman added, “I would hope he’d be given an opportunity to address the criticism.”


We’re all adults here.

The N.E.M.




      Michelle is surprised at the abrupt language Dante is using in today’s post, but she understands the urgency of the situation.   Michelle:  Hon, Dante says he found a one-liner you can use the next time you meet with Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors and the negotiations aren’t going well.   President:  Oh yeah?  What’s the one-liner?   Michelle:  He said he found it in a poem written by E. E. Cummings (1894–1962).   President:  I didn’t know young Dante was into poetry.  What’s the one-liner?

      Michelle:  Dante says you’ll have to use it with a smile on your face that inches in the direction of a smirk.  Don’t get too smirky, but you’ll need to project an attitude of total confidence to persuade Bibi that you’re serious.   President:  What’s the one-liner?


      Michelle:  And, for maximum effect, you’ll have to wait for an opportune time to use it, or it’ll be interpreted by the media as inappropriate.  President:  What’s the one-liner?   Michelle:  Speak with a cavalier tone in your voice, and you’ll dazzle Bibi speechless.  He’ll be blithering after the meeting when the two of you meet with reporters.  He may not even repeat what you said.   President:  What’s the one-liner?   Michelle:  “There is some sh*t which I am not required to eat.”  President:  Wha… ????   Michelle:  Before you get excited, Hon, read the postscript.   President:  (pause)  I don’t understand.  Why is Dante suggesting that I lose my dignity?  Is he hinting that I should abandon the LOD altogether (the Language of Diplomacy) because Bibi is such a slippery fellow when he gets defensive and shifts into a theatrical mode?   Michelle:  Hmmmm…  Well, let me answer your question this way.  Dante says that he and his Allies regard you as the Leader of the Free World, and they are expecting substantial progress to be made in the Holy Land Peace Process … at the next meeting of the Quartet … which is just a few days from today … in Jerusalem …. on December 13 (Tuesday) and December 14 (Wednesday).   President:  They’ve got a reasonable expectation.  I’ll grant them that.  But I’m not certain that I want to use the one-liner.   Michelle:  You decide about that, Hon.  Just remember that Dante and his Allies have those dates marked on their calendars, and so do I.  Please don’t forget to read the postscript.





P.S.   From Wikipedia:  “Born into a Unitarian family, Cummings exhibited transcendental leanings his entire life.  As he grew in maturity and age, Cummings moved toward an “I, Thou” relationship with God.  His journals are replete with references to “le bon Dieu” as well as prayers for inspiration in his poetry and artwork.” 
We can make peace in the Holy Land you and I.

By circulating one video at a time.

For attitudes influenced in Cyberspace create facts on the ground.

The N.E.M.




      Our mutual friend Samia Khoury wrote to inform me that she has shared this video with the Ladies at the YWCA in Jerusalem:  I Ain’t Down Yet (01:20).  So it’s reasonable to assume that the song is now circulating throughout the female population in the Holy Land.  We all know the positive influence that a good woman can have on a man’s attitude, on a man’s morale, and on his basic moral character.  I’ve heard Samia speak of the Ladies at the Y as having a Yes We Can Attitude.  There’s a postscript.





P.S.  In the same song (in another place), Molly (Brown) sang:  “To show that you know, you’ve got to show you know you know.”  Let that be a lesson to us all.

Note:  Let’s read what the folks in the UK are learning about the crisis in the Holy Land.  There’s nothing more disconcerting than a well-publicized sex scandal:  BBC News – Israel ex-President Katsav begins jail term for rape.  Let’s learn how Bibi’s government treats a democratically-elected member of an opposition party: BBC News – Israel expels Hamas MP from Jerusalem.  These two articles will help explain why Bibi is so nervous about the Arab Spring: BBC News – US ambassador Robert Ford to return to Syria and BBC News – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood claims wins in run-off votes.  There’s one more article pasted down below.  I’ve done some highlighting in it.  Some folks don’t realize that Israel’s air attacks on Gaza are ongoing.  A “militant” was killed today because he was “a member” of “a group” that was “preparing” to fire rockets into Israel.  What does that mean?  Let’s remember that Gaza is still in a state of siege.  Please read on.   Peace, Roy 


BBC News – Islamic Jihad militant killed in Gaza Strip air strike


Last updated at 02:36 ET


Islamic Jihad militant killed in Gaza Strip air strike



One Palestinian militant has been killed and at least two others injured in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say.

Islamic Jihad confirmed the dead man had been a member of its military wing.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had targeted two groups of militants east of Gaza City, which had been preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

Witnesses said they had earlier clashed with Israeli troops who crossed the Gaza border and entered a buffer zone.

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said it had dispatched forces to the area and that they had exchanged fire with the Israeli soldiers.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not comment on the reported ground operation, but said it would “continue to take action against those [who] use terror against the State of Israel”.

Islamic Jihad has been involved in a number of clashes with Israeli forces.

Last month, nine members of the group, as well as an Israeli civilian, were killed during several days of fighting.

The chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt Gen Benny Gantz, has warned that it is prepared to launch an operation to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians living in southern Israel from further rocket attacks.

“If we don’t have a choice, we’ll know how to operate in Gaza, and when it happens, we will initiate an orderly and painful [operation],” he warned.