What the Middle East Needs is the “Audacity of Hope”, by Hind Kabawat

For the last five years or so, I have been actively working with Jewish colleagues in the US and elsewhere to help broker a lasting reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbors. But in the wake of the carnage in Gaza, it is impossibly difficult to be optimistic about the future of the peace process in the region. Though Israel has apparently had its way by force of arms, it has won this so-called “victory,” at a terrible cost to itself and its neighbors.

The real legacy of the Gaza War is likely to be the further hardening and entrenching of the intense distrust of the Arab and Muslim world of the presence of the Jewish state in the heart of the Middle East in addition to a growing conviction that Israel is an inherently violent state that can not be reformed or positively influenced by any party. Is this the outcome the Israeli government and public really desire? Do they honestly think their ongoing security will be guaranteed year after year by forever brutalizing the Palestinian people? Do they think they will acquire the respect and political legitimacy in the region, they crave, by keeping the Arab people of the former Palestine “penned” like animals into their Gaza gulag without any hope of creating a viable economy, a functional political system and a future for their children. The Israelis may think so. But they are wrong.

Has Israel a right to exist? Only the most extreme and intractable elements in the Arab world now say, “No.” As almost all informed Israelis know, most of the Arab world has long ago accepted the reality of a Jewish state in the Middle East. Certainly until now. So why does the Israeli leadership compromise this pragmatic goodwill among the wider Arab community by engaging in acts of such carnage and barbarism as the world has witnessed in Gaza over the last twenty days. It is hard to fathom. It truly beggars the imagination.

Israelis, of course, justify such over-the-top military brutality because of the Hamas rockets targeted on southern Israel. Nobody in the Arab world, with any sense, would have approved Hamas’ ineffective provocations if Israel did not close Gaza’s crossings forcing Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to live in hunger and. And before the Gaza campaign, Hamas was generally a marginalized political force outside of Gaza which been encouraged in the beginning by Israel to weakness the Palestinian Authority. But, in reality, what did all these Hamas missile attacks actually accomplish. Very little. A few—very few—unfortunate Israeli fatalities and a modicum of material damage. For this, Israel proceeded to flatten Gaza to the ground, leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless and destitute and over a thousand souls—half of them children—dead. There is an old phrase, “cracking a peanut with a sledgehammer.” Is there a metaphor that better describes the Israeli government’s action in Gaza? The adjective “disproportionate” has been used over and over again during the last few weeks to describe the Israeli campaign in Gaza. But disproportionate is a sadly “clinical’ world to describe the death, destruction and suffering of the Palestinian people.

So where do we go from here? Again, another ceasefire has been called between Israel and Hamas. But how long will it last? The hatred between many elements on the Arab Street against Israel is now more intense, more visceral than ever. During the course of the Gaza campaign, commentators around the world made allusions to the Holocaust, another instance of a brutal enemy, armed to the teeth, inflicting horrendous suffering on an essentially defenseless people. Obviously, the scale of the devastation is different. But spiritually how different is Gaza from Auschwitz? The lesson the Holocaust taught the Jews was seemingly this: Slaughter your enemy before they slaughter you. Is this the lesson the Israeli government wants Arabs and Palestinians to learn from Gaza? No mercy. Just kill, kill, kill.

Such a strategy is, literally, a complete dead-end for both sides—a course of action whose inevitable conclusion is an unthinkable Armageddon in the Middle East where the casualties on both sides will be in the millions, not the thousands. It is only a matter of time before “both” sides truly possess weapons of mass destruction. So how do we—Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jew—pull ourselves back from the brink? COMPROMISE is surely the only solution. But though both sides have been talking compromise (paying lip service to it) since the Oslo Accord, no one, on either side, has really been practicing it. For years, Israel has embraced the “two-state solution,’ at the same time as they systematically permitted hundreds of thousands of Jews to settle in the occupied Arab lands of the West Bank. So much for compromise. So much for the two-state solution. And unfortunately many Arabs today are certain that Israel doesn’t want a two states solution.

Ironically, the Gaza Holocaust occurred just days before the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, an epochal event that is occurring just forty-one years after Martin Luther King made his famous speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “dreaming” about a time when the racial divide in America would finally be bridged. Forty-one years ago, Arabs and Israelis were killing each other. They still are.

As we despair the wreckage in Gaza, let us pause to reflect on these extraordinary days in America. Barack Obama is the new 44th President of the United States and Black and White America has been reconciled. Who could have imagined just a few short years ago that the descendents of the slaves who built the White House would be living there as the “lord and master”? Why can such miracles occur in America and not in the Middle East? Well, the reason is because, one by one, Americans began to realize the absurdity of treating one’s neighbor (whether they be black or white, brown or yellow, Jew, or Christian, or Arab, gay or straight) as your enemy as opposed to your friend and colleague.

Barack Obama has often talked, and indeed written a book, about the “Audacity of Hope.” That is exactly what is missing in the Middle East. Audacity. Courage. Hope. It is time to harness HOPE in this beautiful historic part of the world, which we all share together. It is time to preach the gospel that we will all be stronger if we work together to create ONE COMMUNITY in the Middle East—Arabs, Jews and Christians, Sunni or Shia, Palestinians or Israelis. Maybe I am an idealist. But so too was the Reverend Martin Luther King who dared to say, I HAVE A DREAM. Rev. King’s dream has become a reality in the United States. Our dream can become a reality here too. All of us in the region have a choice: more Gazas. More wars. More hatred. Or work tirelessly, day by day, year by year, to make the dream of peace and compromise a reality.

But for now let us all, including our leaders, Arabs and Israelis give the Palestinian People, who are our brothers and sisters, the Audacity of Hope.

Hind Aboud Kabawat/ Damascus, Syria
Recipient of the 2007 Women’s Peace Initiative Award awarded by the Tanenbaum Centre for Interreligious Understanding of New York.

Comments (130)


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101. Akbar Palace said:

I never said that Louis Michel was a Mossad agent- I responded to your initial bravado statement…

Alia,

Everyone here knows what you said/wrote:

Further on the relationship between Louis Michel, Israel, Mossad and The democratic Republic of Congo in light of Michel’s recent statement on Gaza.

You still have not shown what the “relationship between Louis Michel” and the Mossad is. I would like to know.

If you watch the pictures of dead children in Gaza and read the article on the Diamond cartel in The Congo, Zaire and Zimbabwe with open eyes you would understand something about Zionism that is beyond your naive understanding of : “They threw rockets at us and disturbed our lifestyle”.

Alia,

I’m all ears (and eyes). Tell us what the “dead children in Gaza” have to do with the “Diamond cartel”. I promise to be open-minded.

What would I “understand [something] about Zionism”? Please don’t hold back.

Shukran.

AP

BTW – Here’s some more info about the diamond industry in China, India, etc.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2003-11/19/content_282793.htm

http://www.ieo.org/diamond.html

http://www.diamondfacts.com/index-2.html

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January 27th, 2009, 2:42 pm

 

102. trustquest said:

Jad, do not diapair,
25 years ago, before I left to the US, while the French company was expanding the Fejeh Basin, the three cities near the Fejeh, was discovered that their swage system was emptying in the spring basin. It took two months to realize that. Shaha w hans.

You don’t have to mention all those small things, you should mention that since 1965, these is not single project made in according to any Standads, even their own standard. Actully my friend in 78 tralated Ashtoo to Syrian Army, but no one use it. And just consider this, the regime, govenment or whateve, they are not going to use any Standards not traslated, so they have long time to wait for traslation first, like the internet.

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January 27th, 2009, 4:02 pm

 

103. jad said:

Trustquest, Norman,
Planning can make a big difference and Standards can make people’s life easier and our projects succeed but no one of the government directing personnel believes in that. They only care about how much money they can get out of it…pure corruption…

Shai,
Sorry to disappoint you with my twisted interpretation regarding the endless ‘issue’ of this conflict. From what I see, force is the only way Semitic tribe’s members (you and us) understand, it will take us another 740 years of wars and massacres to get to the Irish stage.
Don’t you think that our region including Israel still lives in the Middle Ages, where the voice of revenge and hate is way louder than the voice of peace?
Even our countries, Israel included, are still run with tribes’ mentality, mafia-like and Shoguns. None of us have become into the real ‘STATE’ era yet, in our brains we still live in tents the only difference is our cloth and the thin crust of civilization we fake.

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January 27th, 2009, 6:12 pm

 

104. Akbar Palace said:

Today’s Question:

“Does the UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief”, John Holmes, have a ‘relationship’ with the Mossad?”

JERUSALEM, Jan 23 (Reuters) – A U.N. official said on Friday Israel was cooperating in efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza but that far more had to be done to help the Palestinian territory recover after Israel’s offensive.

John Holmes, the U.N.’s Humanitarian Affairs chief, said Israel was allowing in more food and medicine into Gaza than it did before Dec. 27, when it launched the offensive against Hamas with the stated goal of stopping cross-border rocket attacks.

“I’ve detected a spirit of good will on the Israeli side to help do that,” Holmes told Reuters, referring to efforts by aid organisations to transfer medical, food and other urgent supplies to Gaza through border crossings controlled by Israel.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUKLN255994._CH_.2420

Don’t you think that our region including Israel still lives in the Middle Ages…

JAD,

What about Israeli society makes you think they “live in the Middle Ages”?

(don’t you love these questions?)

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January 27th, 2009, 6:18 pm

 

105. jad said:

For God sake AP, go out of your tent! We are not in a demonstration or a competition showing how much we (the terrorist) support Palestine and how much you (the Zionist) support Israel. We are old enough to know that nothing is perfect. So please stop using your immature and unanswered questions as a challenge to our intelligence and start looking for a solutions and real dialog, you will be for more use than wasting all your effort searching and linking some useless propaganda as if we are watching a creepy brainwashing meaningless soap opera.
What makes me think that Israel still lives in the middle ages?
Well, it is people like you AP, and everybody else who use the same mentality to rationalize and blindly defends every mistake their tribe does without trying to think or challenge them. And when there is no law preventing me from killing or even beating my neighbor just because he is from a different tribe and when the only law I believe in is the law of the jungle, that is few of the reasons I think that Israel in fact still lives in the middle ages.
I hope that I answered your question and no more ‘tricky’ and ‘challenging’ question for me to work on today!

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January 27th, 2009, 6:57 pm

 

106. Alex said:

AP,

1) revenge
2) revenge
3) revenge

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January 27th, 2009, 6:58 pm

 

107. Akbar Palace said:

More Questions than Answers

Well, it is people like you AP, and everybody else who use the same mentality to rationalize and blindly defends every mistake their tribe does without trying to think or challenge them. And when there is no law preventing me from killing or even beating my neighbor just because he is from a different tribe and when the only law I believe in is the law of the jungle, that is few of the reasons I think that Israel in fact still lives in the middle ages.
I hope that I answered your question and no more ‘tricky’ and ‘challenging’ question for me to work on today!

Hi JAD,

Israel, Hamas, Iran, the US, Japan, France, Great Britain, etc have all made mistakes. Believe it or not, I don’t believe the Zionist Entitiy is perfect. But that isn’t the issue. I was just wondering how you felt “Israel still lives in the Middle Ages”. I would eventually like to compare your answer to, say, a country who DOESN’T still live in the Middle Ages. C’est tout Habibi;)

I think this exercize will be enlightening to everyone here, Hamas and Israel-supporters alike.

Alex,

Why do you (and others on this forum) believe Israel’s retaliation was more “revenge” and less “self defence”?

Is there an example country beset by a similar phenomenon who reacted WITHOUT “revenge”?

Thanks,

AP

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January 27th, 2009, 7:30 pm

 

108. Alex said:

Akbar,

Because there is a pattern … Israel always takes revenge.. and it is: a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye.

In 2006 Hizbollah killed two of your soldiers who went into South Lebanon … Israel responded by killing over a thousand Lebanese people.

Hizbollah was not launching missiles at Israel that year, were they? .. they did not attack school children in Tel Avi … they were defending their own country from your army.

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January 27th, 2009, 7:43 pm

 

109. jad said:

Hi AP
Some major corrections;
First, you are using HAMAS in the context of an independent state form, I totally disagree; Hamas is and will never be an independent state.
Second, most of us here are not HAMAS supporters and will never be; we are for a free Palestine and for a free and proud Palestinians. We all anti evil and anti any aggression against defendless and starved population, not only in the occupied land called Palestine but in every place has any similar condition as Palestine does on the planet (BTW, there isn’t any similar example in the whole world).
May I personally ask you not to call me ‘Habibi’ in any future exchange, it sounds cheesy and I don’t like it.

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January 27th, 2009, 8:07 pm

 

110. Rumyal said:

I don’t think Israel and the Arabs will be fighting for 700 more years because Israel will be defeated much before then. This is the logic that drives the people that object to Hind’s assertions. In other words it is possible that the grandchildren of Hind will solve the problem without having to “compromise” their position and make peace with the Jews. Realizing the existence and potency of that stance is what drives Israelis to self-reliance which eventually leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy of perpetual war. It’s very likely that things will never be completely resolved peacefully. 99% of the populations are very happy with the “explanations” they receive from their leaders and priests regarding current affairs and how they should perceive them. The remaining intelligent 1% can either give in and let the masses duke it out or try to bring about a paradigm shift. I have no question in my mind which is the moral choice and this is why I applaud Hind.

As has been discussed many times before, the key to peaceful change is through a change in US policy towards Israel. The key to that lies through the diffusion of AIPAC power and that goes through the Jewish public opinion in the US. Thus, what Hind is doing, working with International Jewish organizations, is the most logical way to bring peaceful change to the middle-east.

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January 27th, 2009, 8:53 pm

 

111. trustquest said:

I also applaud Hind and add my voice in her favor, and I think that she is on the right track. If she had written her article before Gaza war, it could have been perceived differently. Also, if she postponed her post until the resumption of the peace talk between Syria and Israel, which is coming soon, it also would have received praise for that. Conflict resolution is a must task when it comes to two states want to resolve their difference. Currently the dictator is riding the wave of tough guy; soon we will hear different tone.

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January 27th, 2009, 11:27 pm

 

112. The syrian youth in Montreal said:

Hind.
You are an inspiration to all young people around the world. It makes us proud to see people like you. You are a person that will affect all of our lives with the changes that you will hopefully create. Keep up the good work and remember that you always have a group of people that will be looking up to you. No matter what you do, someone somewhere will try to put you down but remember to stay strong and to always know who you are and to always remember what you stand for.
Peace.

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January 28th, 2009, 12:55 am

 

113. Nousha said:

Proud to share the same blood as you and hope to someday be as astonishing as you.
Much love.

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January 28th, 2009, 12:57 am

 

114. norman said:

rumyal,

Do you think that we should ban lobbying for forign country and interference in the forign policy of the US.

Do you think that the US should play tough love with Israel and give excuses for the next Israeli PM to accommodate a settlement ,As the Israeli public will not understand any consesions that are not forced on them.

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January 28th, 2009, 2:29 am

 

115. Rumyal said:

Norman,

Of course! That’s our only hope! Israelis are prisoners of their democratic rule. Any people that is under fire will turn to quick fixes and in order to be competitive the politicians have to outdo each other in terms of the easy fixes that they offer. How did de Gaulle pull out of Algeria? He basically deceived his voters. That’s basically the only chance that a democratic country with a frenzied populace has in this case. But in order to do that, you need to have the stature of de Gaulle, or Begin, or Rabin and there are none of these left in Israel. Hence, Israel is behaving as a ship without a captain that’s going straight into the rocks. Worst of all the ship is turbo charged (or nuclear powered) with the carte blanche we get from uncle Sam. So, somebody needs a reality check. I of course would like this reality check to be as harmless as possible to the Israelis and I would much rather see a process of BDS that is followed by sobering up, compared with some sort of a military defeat whose results nobody can really foretell. I think this is also optimizing the gain on the Arab side because you, too, cannot foretell the price of a possible military victory or yet another defeat.

Obama is making some noises already about restricting lobbyists by the way

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/22/headlines

Obama Restricts Lobbyists, Freezes White House Salaries
On his first full day in the Oval Office, Obama unveiled new White House ethics rules on the role of lobbyists.

President Obama: “As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history. If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years. When you leave government, you will not be able to lobby my administration for as long as I am president.”

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January 28th, 2009, 3:27 am

 

116. Alex said:

Nousha,

Welcome to Syria Comment : )

Rumyal,

Obama’s restrictions on lobbyists are very very promising.

But how does he define a lobbyist? … will these rules apply to Dennis Ross? … he was not officially acting as full time lobbyist, but I don’t know what else to consider him… a visionary? .. a strategist?

Here is a relevant video clip that I posted in the other post but it relates more to this post .. from an Israeli mother who can teach us Arabs how to really be committed to helping the Palestinians.

Hind … this Israeli gives me hope … but unfortunately ALL the Israeli leaders do not give me any hope.

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January 28th, 2009, 5:20 am

 

117. Rumyal said:

Alex,

Yeah, it’s a good clip. She also recorded it in Hebrew and it has been circulating between Israelis..

The closest thing that Israel has to John Stuart is Eretz Nehederet (“Wonderful Land”) which is, in a form of relatively crude satire, sometimes the only popular media show which is willing to put a mirror in front of the face of people in Israel. It is still very mainstream, so it always stops a little short of taking the Israelis completely out of their comfort zone, but it does nudge them a bit sometimes.

So in the last show, they started “processing” (in the psychological meaning) what they had done in Gaza. The show was under the theme of the Phosphorous Globe Awards, and there were these winners in the following categories:

Best Actor Award – Ashkenazi (IDF chief) – he thanks all the Gaza children whom “we won’t call by name because we may forget someone” (there were too many of them), and he thanked the air-force for the “side effects”. And he finished by saying that he’ll meet everybody at the “Hague Festival” which is where he’ll be after the world figures out what he did.

Best Costume Award – Alon Ben David (war mongering military journalist) – for frenzying the people…

Best Actress Award – Levana Stern (who vacillated against the grieving Dr. Abu Al Eish) – superimposing her hysterics against well-known grieving moments in recent Israeli popular history.

Best Script Award – Avi Bnayahu (IDF spokesperson) – for making up all the cover stories for the war crimes.

Lifelong Enterprise Award – USA/Obama – for supporting Israel always… Obama: “people of Israel, it’s time for you to talk to your enemies”. Bibi to Obama: “you love us so much so we can do whatever we want”… Obama:
“no you can’t…” Bibi: “oh, the new president looks broken, can we go back to the previous one??”. Obama: “… no you can’t”…

This looks quite infantile I’m sure but this show has significant influence over public opinion in Israel.

http://www.mako.co.il/vod/index/entertainment/a64518d63c749110VgnVCM100000290c10acRCRD/erez-nehedert-6/VOD/itemId=ce521d661c5fe110VgnVCM100000290c10acRCRD

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January 28th, 2009, 7:59 am

 

118. Akbar Palace said:

First, you are using HAMAS in the context of an independent state form, I totally disagree; Hamas is and will never be an independent state.
Second, most of us here are not HAMAS supporters and will never be; we are for a free Palestine and for a free and proud Palestinians. We all anti evil and anti any aggression against defendless and starved population, not only in the occupied land called Palestine but in every place has any similar condition as Palestine does on the planet (BTW, there isn’t any similar example in the whole world).
May I personally ask you not to call me ‘Habibi’ in any future exchange, it sounds cheesy and I don’t like it.

JAD,

All good and fine, but it didn’t answer the question I had about your comment “…. I think that Israel in fact still lives in the middle ages”.

If you don’t want to explain that, that’s fine with me too.

AP

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January 28th, 2009, 1:10 pm

 

119. Akbar Palace said:

Alex said:

Because there is a pattern … Israel always takes revenge.. and it is: a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye.

In 2006 Hizbollah killed two of your soldiers who went into South Lebanon … Israel responded by killing over a thousand Lebanese people.

Hizbollah was not launching missiles at Israel that year, were they? .. they did not attack school children in Tel Avi … they were defending their own country from your army.

Alex,

“Revenge”? “a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye”?

Please tell us what you would do if you were responsible for Israel’s security along Israel border with Gaza and Lebanon.

Anyway, Hizbollah DID launch missiles as they fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli patrol on the Israeli side of the border.

I’m not surprised you forgot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Israel-Lebanon_conflict

So once Israel retaliated, thousands of missiles came down all over Northern Israel: Haifa, Nahariya, Nazereth, etc. Your “narrative” sort of missed that small point.

Call it “revenge” if you want to, but I call it simply a nation’s duty to protect itself from a dangerous enemy sitting on her border.

Any other nation would do the same, probably worse.

Lastly – Please expand on the following conflicts and let us know if you think there was an element of “revenge” or “a thousand Arab eyes for one XXXX eye”:

1.) The Lebanese Civil War (about 100,000 dead)

2.) The Hama Massacre (about 20,000+ dead)

3.) The Gulf War (10,000+ dead)

4.) The Iran-Iraq War (250,000+ dead)

5.) The Algerian Civil War (150,000+ dead)

It seems to me Alex that the Israeli-Arab conflict is a drop in the bucket in terms of Arabs and Muslims killed, yet YOUR only outlet for your “outrage”, your scorn, and your concern about “a thousand Arab eyes”.

Just a suggestion, but I think you need to scratch the surface a little deeper. I think you need to question why so many more Arabs and Muslims are dying to forces that have nothing to do with Israel or the “Zionist Entity”.

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January 28th, 2009, 1:53 pm

 

120. Hind Kabawat said:

Rumyal:

I don’t work for any Jewish or non Jewish organization; I only work for the people and only the people of the Middle East.

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January 28th, 2009, 7:48 pm

 

121. Shai said:

Hind,

Bless you and all of your efforts. If only our region had more people like you…

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January 28th, 2009, 8:00 pm

 

122. Rumyal said:

Hind,

I said you worked “with” not “for” Jewish organizations, and that was a mistake on my behalf, too. I was referring to what you said in the first paragraph of your piece: “For the last five years or so, I have been actively working with Jewish colleagues in the US and elsewhere to help broker a lasting reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbors”. I now understand you specifically said colleagues and not organizations. Sorry for the misrepresentation … and either way I appreciate your involvement.

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January 28th, 2009, 8:02 pm

 

123. Shai said:

And in Israel… Meretz is running a campaign against Lieberman (about time) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9OutbuGMXs

It’s basically down to this:
Lieberman – “Here’s who you should hate (Arabs, Gays, Leftists, etc.)” – 16 seats.
Netanyahu – “… (silence)” – 30 seats (up from 12).
Livni – “Do you want Bibi+Shas, or ME?…” – 25 seats and dropping.
Barak – “At the moment of truth, Barak…” – 16 seats.
Meretz – “We won’t sit with Lieberman or Bibi…” – 5 seats.

So for now, those who won’t speak at all (and so far refuse any TV debates with other candidates), will win and become Prime Minister. Those who speak of peace, everyone knows are lying, since they carry out Gaza 2009. And those who like the Arabs, no one believes anymore.

Are we headed for a 3rd Intifada, or another 4 years like 1973-1977? Is Bibi the new Begin? I guess time will tell…

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January 28th, 2009, 8:17 pm

 

124. Alex said:

Rumyal,

Writing SC comments at lunch break? : )

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January 28th, 2009, 8:24 pm

 

125. Rumyal said:

Alex,

Ahhh… yes! And I’m also watching Indians Cheer Obama.. which you can view over your 4pm tea break :-)

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January 28th, 2009, 8:33 pm

 

126. Alex said:

And I liked your Israeli version of SNL .. thanks for the report.

Here is our Arabic counterpart … about Arab armies’ united response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza:

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January 28th, 2009, 8:52 pm

 

127. Shai said:

Meretz is doing an anti-Lieberman campaign (about time): http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=J9OutbuGMXs

The way things look right now, 12 days before elections in Israel:

Lieberman (“You should hate everyone – Arabs, Gays, Leftists…”) – 16 seats.
Netanyahu (“… (complete silence)…”) – 30 seats. Up from 12.
Livni (“If you vote Bibi you’ll get Shas, so please vote for me…”) – 25 seats, and dropping.
Barak (“At the moment of Truth, Barak”, except when we’re talking peace) – 16 seats.
Meretz (“We won’t sit with Bibi or Lieberman”) – 5 seats.

So for now, those who remain silent (and refuse TV debates) will become the next Prime Minister. Those who spew further hatred in Russian, will get a few extra seats. Those who pathetically call out for help, and who could have resigned in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2009, will lose seats. Those who pretend to want peace, but seem to prefer war, will downgrade to 3rd or 4th largest party. And those who truly want peace, will remain insignificant.

Are we headed for a 3rd Intifada, or 4 years that will remind us of 1973-1977? Is the Likud so hungry for power, that it’ll be ready for dramatic steps towards peace, as Begin was after Likud’s historic victory in ’77? Time will tell… But I wouldn’t discount it just yet.

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January 29th, 2009, 5:57 am

 

128. Alex said:

Shai

If I put a poll asking: “which of the following Israeli leaders do you hope will win”?

No Syrian here will vote.

But, President Carter (on Charlie Rose today) said he is quite optimistic that the two-state solution is achievable

So .. who knows.

I think there is a 6-month window of opportunity for president Obama to do something impressive (not necessarily to finalize an agreement) … he needs to show substance, not only granting a Saudi channel (Pro America though) the first interview.

Otherwise, Intifada 3 plus something from Hizbollah at the same time … AND … Mubarak will be gone within few months … he will blame Hamas and Hizbollah again for Netanyahu’s harsh retaliation.

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January 29th, 2009, 8:08 am

 

129. Hind Kabawat said:

Alex:

Thanks for sharing this clip.
Women like this will make me certain that we do actually have the Audacity of Hope.
A Woman, who stands against her government to fight for the fairness, justice and against the starvation of our Palestinian children, deserves our appreciations and respects.
This is a lesson to learn and a role model to follow.
I will definetly support her one day to become the Prime Minister of Israel.
Then, we certainly will have Peace and lots of Hope in our region.

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January 29th, 2009, 11:00 am

 

130. Sami D said:

Dear Alex, the number of Israeli settlers is close to half a million, NOT 280,000, as recently mis-represented by CBS’ “60 Minutes”. The latter # ignores the 200,000 settlers in 1967-occupied “E. Jerusalem”. Actually it is a new E. Jerusalem, after Israel expanded it INTO the West Bank, while “yearning for peace”.

Dear Hind,

Thanks for your contribution. I have several comments and criticisms on what you wrote. I haven’t read everything you added on this page, let alone what most others have contributed, so if my comments have already been made before or addressed, please forgive me.

Hind wrote:

Has Israel a right to exist? Only the most extreme and intractable elements in the Arab world now say, “No.” As almost all informed Israelis know, most of the Arab world has long ago accepted the reality of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

First, Israel exists. Acknowledging that is not the same as saying it has the right to exist. The latter is a much stronger concession. When we say many Arabs accepted Israel’s right to exist, we’re misrepresenting the facts. Indeed the second sentence you wrote above tells me there’s at least some confusion about the issue, because that says, unlike the first, that Arabs have accepted Israel’s existence (the “reality of Israel”) NOT its right to exist. The two are not the same.

Further, Israel has the “right to exist” as what? An apartheid, ethno-religious –ie, Zionist– state that denies the natives their right to exist, or exist as equals? Nor does denying Israel’s “right” as such means that one denies the right of Israelis as a human beings to exist and live in peace. Finally, many Arabs have accepted the reality of Israel not because they see such as right, fair or just; it is only because Israel has big muscles and can plant terror in the hearts of Arab capitals –which is part of the goal of Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008-9– that they have “accepted” – very reluctantly—a state that discriminates based on religion, one that conquers and destroys and torments the natives in front of all to see. Fundamentally, conquest, discrimination and apartheid should not be accepted, let alone speak of the “right” of perpetrators to carry on.

Hind wrote:

So why does the Israeli leadership compromise this pragmatic goodwill among the wider Arab community by engaging in acts of such carnage and barbarism as the world has witnessed in Gaza over the last twenty days. It is hard to fathom. It truly beggars the imagination.

Does it really “beggar the imagination” that a conqueror is not interested in the “goodwill” of the conquered, but in robbing their resources? Is it because you are trying to speak to Israelis too, that you (pretend to, I hope) express disbelief at a conqueror’s actions, especially ones that are systematic over 60 years? As for Obama and the “audacity of hope”, hasn’t history taught us to wait to see what he does, before drinking the cool aid of campaign slogans?

Hind wrote:

But, in reality, what did all these Hamas missile attacks actually accomplish. Very little. A few—very few—unfortunate Israeli fatalities and a modicum of material damage. For this, Israel proceeded to flatten Gaza to the ground, leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless and destitute and over a thousand souls—half of them children—dead.

Asking what Hamas’ rockets accomplished assumes that there were other options –-beside surrender—- Israel left for Hamas that the latter didn’t take, or that Hamas’ actions –-criminal as they may be– spring from deep calculations of costs and gain, rather a desperate act by a suffocating people locked in a jar. Doesn’t the rest of your sentence above also imply that the false Israeli chronology of events is correct, that “Hamas attacks and Israel defends”? The ceasefire that was largely adhered to by Hamas since June 08 was violated by Israel, with full knowledge that Hamas will respond one can assume. Is it possible that this, like a fundamental component of Israeli history, is just the customary Israeli provocation to provide pretext for a coming Israeli aggression, which would anyway be carried out, only perhaps under a different slower means like tightening the on-going starvation?

Hind wrote:

But though both sides have been talking compromise (paying lip service to it) since the Oslo Accord, no one, on either side, has really been practicing it. For years, Israel has embraced the “two-state solution,’ at the same time as they systematically permitted hundreds of thousands of Jews to settle in the occupied Arab lands of the West Bank

While it might sound appealing to use the language of “both sides”, there’s something inherently unfair, let alone false, to accuse conquered and conqueror, raped and rapist somewhat equally, of not compromising enough. How can the victim compromise further? By allowing the aggressor to take just a little more of what’s left of her livelihood and freedom?

Furthermore, Israel didn’t “permit”, systematically or otherwise, Jews to settle occupied land, as you write; it actively encouraged them to colonize, offered them tax-breaks, lured them with cheaper housing, etc. In other words, the colonization project is one designed and enacted by Israel governments, Likud or Labor/Kadima, not by fanatic settlers, as CBS’s 60 minutes would portray it. (Majority of settlers are not fanatic zealots by the way). The goal of that project is, as Israeli leaders said, to prevent a (viable) Palestinian state from emerging “between Israel and Jordan” and induce “voluntary” migration of the Palestinians by slowly suffocating their existence.

Apologies I didn’t get a chance to read the other contributions you had.

Nafdik wrote:

Given that we already lost all these lands to Israel I see 3 alternatives:
- Fight
- Deal
- Do nothing

Hello Nafdik,

The “Deal” option should be, in my opinion, “negotiate your surrender” or “negotiate the crumbs you’ll be allowed to keep after surrendering, as a reward for bowing”. Unless one thinks that a powerful aggressor — someone who covets another’s land and resources – is really interested in “dealing”.

By the way, I like what you write. The same for you Qunfuz. Keep it up.

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January 30th, 2009, 8:57 pm

 

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