Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Courage' rally in Jerusalem (24.8) only brought together a few hundred supporters, according to +972 Magazine, an independent web zine from Israel. The low numbers could mean a lethal blow for Beck.
Over the past three weeks, Israel has experienced what may perhaps be the largest, spontaneous / grass roots social protest of the secular middle class that it has witnessed in decades. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns throughout the country have been protesting cuts in government funding to health care and education, and massive, exorbitant rises in taxes and housing costs -- and demanding change. Tent cities have sprung up in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in public gardens and parks throughout the country. And they may not be going anywhere: polls indicate Israeli support is "exceptionally high". [more inside]
Last Monday, the Israeli Knesset (legislature) passed the Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott (Q&A), which, among other things, makes it a civil offense for residents of Israel to advocate economic boycotts against Israel or any geographic region under its administration, including the Occupied Territories. This means that while individual Israelis may themselves refuse to buy products made in the settlements, they run the risk of being sued if they publicly call upon others to do likewise. [more inside]
"In this piece I didn't browse YouTube, I actually wandered around Jerusalem, met with musicians and filmed them." New music/video from Kutiman - Thru Jerusalem.
In 2009, Ctrl.Alt.Shift, the "youth initiative of Christian Aid," held a national competition in the UK for aspiring filmmakers aged 18 to 25. Their mission: create a short film treatment based around three key issues: "War + Peace," "Gender + Power" and "HIV + Stigma." The results were then screened to an audience at the 2009 Raindance Film Festival. The films: 1000 Voices, HIV: The Musical, Man Made, No Way Through and War School. (All YouTube links. Vimeo links and descriptions of each film are inside this post.) These films deal with adult subject matter and may be disturbing for some viewers. Some may also be nsfw. [more inside]
Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "Angels in America," has been denied an honorary degree because of his views on Israel. City University of New York trustee Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld raised objections to the nomination in what may the first honorary degree candidate to be denied by the board. [more inside]
The Sabich is a popular Israeli pita sandwich based on the traditional Babylonian-Jewish Shabbat morning meal. It it is usually seasoned with Amba, the mango pickle condiment of Indian Origin which the Baghdadi Jewish community of India brought to Baghdad (along with Sambusak, a variant of the Simosa). [more inside]
Israeli actor and political activist Juliano Mer-Khamis, born to a Jewish mother and an Arab Christian father, was killed on Monday outside the theater which he founded in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin.
New York State Congressman Anthony Weiner (D) did an IAMA (I Am A Democrat Who Fights) Q and A on reddit last week. While he answered many questions, he responded to the top five most popular questions questions in video form. [more inside]
“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Dissenters. New Yorker profile by editor David Remnick: "Ha'aretz prides itself on being the conscience of Israel. Does it have a future?" (Via)
A large chunk of the Yad Vashem Photo Archive has been made available online. The first batch consists of 130,000 photographs and more will follow. The photos and their keywords are indexed and searchable via Google. Readers can contribute to the archive project by adding stories, comments and further documents linked to the photos. Photos range from the horrific to the charmingly mundane. [more inside]
Al Jazeera has obtained a large volume of official documents concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The confidential files, to be released in the coming days, were shared with The Guardian.
The Dubai Job: One year ago, an elite Mossad hit squad traveled to Dubai to kill a high-ranking member of Hamas. They completed the mission, but their covers were blown, and Israel was humiliated by the twenty-seven-minute video of their movements that was posted online for all the world to see. Ronen Bergman reveals the intricate, chilling details of the mission and investigates how Israel's vaunted spy agency did things so spectacularly wrong (previously)
The Realist is a comic by Asaf Hanuka, originally serialized in the Israeli newspaper Calcalist and available in the original Hebrew as well as English translation by Hanuka's brother, Tomer Hanuka.
In an action "unprecedented in the democratic world" Moshe Katsav, the eighth President of Israel, has been convicted of rape. The former President is expected to appeal the conviction, which carries a minimum penalty of four years in prison. There is little sympathy for Moshe Katsav on a day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as "a sad day for the State of Israel and its residents." The Jerusalem Post is left with one question: Should the plaques come down?
The Digital Version Of The Nativity Story, told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon and more. [more inside]
Avatar Activism, The Harry Potter Alliance, and Pop Culture Fandom as the gateway to Social Activism
Back in February 2010, Palestinian activists dressed up as Na'vi and Avatars to bring more attention to the weekly protests against the West Bank barrier. Video of the costumed protest was edited to blend with Avatar footage, to emphasize the protesters' message. In another pop-culture world, The Harry Potter Alliance have run campaigns that tie themes from the stories to real-world issues, in an effort to translate the energy of fans into energy to get active in civil engagement, including a a fundraiser in January that raise raised $34,000 to support Haiti relief efforts. These efforts have been labeled "Avatar Activism," as discussed in a a recent Le Monde diplomatique article and a related piece on NPR. [more inside]
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 1 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 2 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
More videos by Grant Slater.
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 2 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
More videos by Grant Slater.
Lebanon has one tourist attraction that's making money, the Hezbollah financed "Landmark of the Resistance", a theme park commemorating multiple wars with Israel.
The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg gets an opportunity to sit down with former Cuban President Fidel Castro. [more inside]
"Israel is our only hope as the post-American president is aiding and abetting a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama is enabling Iran’s Islamic bomb" - Pamela Geller
As the "ground zero mosque" story approaches bipartisan consensus, thanks to unexpected statements by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (joining a growing opposition), several journalists trace the origins of how the Park 51 community center became(warning: CNN) a toxic subject. What they found was Pamela Geller, a blogger at Atlas Shrugs, who has some very interesting vlogs. You may previously know her from this cozy 2006 interview with Bush's infamous anti-UN UN ambassador John Bolton.
"I did not humiliate those detainees. I didn't hit them, I didn't act toward them unpleasantly. It's completely different than the American soldier some are trying to compare me to," she told Israel Radio. The IDF has condemned her behavior. Meanwhile, this is not the first time Facebook has caused an issue for the IDF.
"We pray to God that this will not happen to the Jewish people or to any people anymore." -- a group of American imams visits Dauchau and Auschwitz.
The Point of No Return. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.
When the State of Israel was founded in 1949, along with the arable land they inherited a vast, arid desert called the Negev. At that time, David Ben-Gurion envisioned it as Israel's last frontier. Today, as Israel bulldozes unrecognized Bedouin settlements there, this low-key narrative in Zionist history is getting a little more sunlight. [more inside]
Scientists in Israel have developed a system that allows (some, not all) people who are "locked in" to type messages by simply holding and releasing their breath. The system was also adapted to control a wheelchair, notably in a manner that can't be disrupted by jarring or bumpy terrain. [more inside]
Sabbar Kashur has been convicted of "rape by deception" after having consensual sex with an Israeli woman who believed he was a "Jewish bachelor looking for a long-term relationship." Reports from Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera. Haaretz asks if this conviction sets a dangerous precedent for future cases. Al Jazeera's English-language Israel/Palestine blogger Sherine Tadros argues the 18-month conviction is racist.
Dearest Max, my last request: everything that can be found in my posthumous papers (thus in boxes, cupboards, desks, at home and in the office, or wherever else they may be that you come upon them) of diaries, manuscripts, letters, my own and those written to me, sketches and so on, should be burned unread and without remnant, even all the written or drawn things that you or others have, that you might have asked for in my name. If there are letters that people will not turn over to you, at least they should promise to burn them themselves.”
Hour-Long Raw Footage of the Israeli Defense Forces' Boarding of the Mavi Marmara. (SLYT) [more inside]
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World
You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]
Helen Thomas, going rogue. White House corespondent since the Eisenhower administration, Helen Thomas, has "retired" at the age of 89 after saying something unacceptable to a Rabbi at a White House Jewish heritage event on May 27th, 2010. Thomas "told a rabbi at a White House event last week that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany and Poland." She has also been rebuked by the White House, calling her remarks "offensive and reprehensible..." [more inside]
"A court in Cairo has upheld a ruling urging the government to consider stripping Egyptian men who are married to Israeli women of their citizenship."
The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: "We con the world, we con the people. We'll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper."While the Israeli government has apologized for distributing links to the video, Israeli government spokesmen nevertheless maintain that the video is "fantastic" and "what Israelis feel." And not just any Israelis: the video was produced by and stars, among others, the Jerusalem Post's deputy managing editor Caroline Glick.
The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza from the sea. Those who ride on the five ships do so for their own reasons. Others are skeptical. The Flotilla has enjoyed the nominal support of Turkey. In retaliation, Israel has taken a shot at Turkey's wallet. [more inside]
"Immediately after an attack by Israel, and even with no Iranian response, the United States is likely to begin significant defensive deployments to the region. Its attempts over a period of a year to negotiate with the Iranians make the Obama Administration more vulnerable to domestic pressures to be strong in its reaction to an Israeli strike.The Israeli Threat: An Analysis of the Consequences of an Israeli Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities [PDF]. [more inside]
At an early stage after an Israeli attack, the United States would be faced with deciding whether to passively await casualties or to attack Iranian military capabilities on its own. The United States would probably decide to finish the job on Iranian nuclear facilities and destroy as much as possible of Iran’s capability to project combat power."
In his book The Unspoken Alliance, writer and academic Sasha Polakow-Suransky references documents released by the South African government, indicating that Shimon Peres offered nuclear warheads to PW Botha's apartheid regime. Israel strongly denies the claims.
Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. One reason is that the leading institutions of American Jewry have refused to foster—indeed, have actively opposed—a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and toward its own Arab citizens.The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment
Tzvia Greenfield is the first ultra-Orthodox woman to serve in Knesset, the Israeli legislature, representing the left-wing party Meretz. Her 2001 book Hem Mefahadim ("They are afraid,") an attack on rightism and insularity among the ultra-Orthodox, drew death threats. Despite her sharp criticism of the religious community ("The big issue here is a very delicate one. That is children. Large families thirty years ago was six children; now there's 13 or 14 - from one wife. I believes the glorification of bringing as many children as possible is a definite way of ensuring women can't bring their advantages into effect - subjugation.") she still lives an observant life in the ultra-Orthodox community of Har Nof. "They disagree with my ideas but they know me as religious and halachic person. They cannot see any blemish in my practice except for one thing- we have a dog." At least one haredi denies that Greenfield is Orthodox at all. (The dog comes up.)
An Israeli journalist, Anat Kam (23), has been under secret house arrest since December on charges that she leaked up to 1,000 highly sensitive, classified military documents suggesting the IDF breached a court order against assassinations in the occupied West Bank, to Ha'aretz reporter Uri Blau. A court-imposed gag order first proposed by the Israeli government and now apparently supported by Kam's lawyers is preventing media investigation and coverage of both her arrest and the charges of espionage and treason against her in Israel. Blau is reportedly now self-exiled in London, and negotiating his return with Israeli authorities. [more inside]
Suicide bombers from Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya have two things in common: they are Muslim and they live under occupation. University of Chicago Professor Dr. Robert A. Pape, who has assembled a comprehensive database of every (or nearly every) suicide bombing since 1980, has been the most prominent proponent of the view that it is occupation, not religion, that is the single most important motivating factor for suicide bombers... more than 95% of suicide bombers come from countries under occupation... Pape and his colleagues at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, ask What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? -Via The Washington Note
Gaza's tragically peculiar economy - Last week Palestinians marked the 1,000th day of the "siege" of the Gaza Strip. The continuing economic embargo, with its attendant social and economic effects on the more than 1.5 million Gazans, makes for a depressing story. Equally depressing is the extent to which this situation has somehow become accepted as normal and acceptable by much of the international community. [more inside]
"To go to bed a citizen and wake up as a wanted terrorist is shocking." The British Government has strongly denounced the Israeli government's use of 12 forged British passports linked to the recent assassination in Dubai as a "hazard for the safety of British nationals in the region". The government has announced that they are expelling an Israeli diplomat -- the first such expulsion in twenty years. New biometric passports will be issued, and the government has issued a travel advisory for Israel, warning citizens "We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary." Possibly forged Irish, French, Australian, and a German passport were also used for the assassination, according to investigators.
Dr. John Hall, a tenured Portland State University professor of economics, is now on administrative leave pending an investigation into his incrimination of Zachary Bucharest, a 30 year old veteran of the Israeli army, as a potentially armed and dangerous FBI informant and agent provocateur in front of his Economics 445/545 class. [more inside]
Avatar goes to the West Bank. What better way to express your peoples' long-standing grievances against military occupation than a little James Cameron inspired role playing? [more inside]
A new and previously unknown species of spider, Cerbalus Aravensis, (photo) has been discovered in the dune of the Sands of Samar (map) in Israel's southern Arava region along the Israel-Jordan border by a team of scientists from the University of Haifa-Oranim. Cerbalus is the largest arachnid of its type in the Middle East, with a leg-span that can reach up to 5.5" (14 cm). Unfortunately, its habitat is endangered thanks for rezoning for agriculture and sand quarries. [more inside]
What Israel can teach us about (airport) security. At Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, it’s all about eye contact. Expert: “[T]hey’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you... Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes... and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.” Oh, and get this: “The goal at Ben Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in 25 minutes tops.”
In response to shortfalls in organ donation, policy is undergoing a serious rethink in several countries. In Australia, the government has just lifted a ban on animal-to-human transplants. In the UK, the Chief Medical Officer has called for presumed consent, while in Israel a new law gives donor card carriers a legal right to priority treatment if they should require an organ transplant. Many are looking to Spain, which leads the world, having seen the number of deceased donors per million people - a commonly used benchmark - increase from 14 in 1989 when a new system was put in place to 34.2 last year. Interestingly, people committing suicide have a higher rate of donating organs than average.