Monday, October 31, 2011

To be a free people in our land?

Ilan Ben Zion argues for an Israeli constitution separating religion and state:
An Israeli constitution needs to separate Israel from its Jewish religious trappings, and make the state impartial to the religious identities of its citizens.
If this does not happen, many Israelis my find themselves forced out of this Mediterranean sanctuary, preferring to live a free Jew in another country than shackled by injustice in a Jewish one.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Motzash Blogging: Arik Einstein - You & I

Had been looking for this for a while (h/t Rika).

Gaza heating up

At least two dozen rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, killing one. The latest round began when the Islamic Jihad had fired rockets into Israel and Israel responded killing five of its members. Where the latest round ends is anybody's guess. Meanwhile, about 20,000 turned out in Tel Aviv as protestors calling for social justice returned to the streets.

Update:  Ynet (Hebrew) is reporting a cease fire reached through Egyptian mediation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is crazy

You may remember last spring on Jerusalem Day thousands ran through the streets of the Old City chanting "Death to the Arabs!" Responding to this horrific sight, a university professor wrote on his facebook status: “I call on the world to come and help break these scoundrels’ necks.” So who does Israel's Ministry of Justice investigate for incitement? You got it - the professor!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ha'am are baaaccck!!!

October 29. You know the drill. Ha'am Doresh Tzedek Chevrati! The original 99%. Chevrai, this ben-adam has one drisha (demand). Bring down this insane government. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Must See

Do yourself a favor and find 22 minutes and 23 seconds to watch this video. I know, that's a lot of internet time. So watch 3 minutes, and tell me if you don't end up watching the whole thing. Feel free to skip the first 33 seconds which is a commercial.

P.S. I was very fortunate to have had dinner with Aziz Abu Sarah and Kobi Skonick last year in Evanston and have no shame at gratiuitously dropping their names.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gilad's Coming Home

Just hours away from freedom, after 1,940 days, Gilad will be coming home.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good Question

Gideon Levy asks: Why is it permissible to negotiate with Hamas over the fate of a single soldier yet prohibited to do so over the fate of two bleeding peoples?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

'The Man Who Was There'

A lot has been written the past two days about the deal reached to free Gilad Shalit. Undoubtedly there will be a lot more as we wait for Shalit's release expected early next week. Here's a story that seems not to have garnered much attention in the American press. Fortunately, my friend Professor Shapir has been on top of the situation and has provided the blog with a translation of a Hebrew article reporting on the central role of Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin in arriving at the deal.

The Man Who Was There: The Director Mediator Between Israel and Hamas

Updated 00:03 13/10/2011Raviv Drucker and Shlomi EldarOutwardly, he led the negotiations to free the kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, Netanyahu's envoy, David Meidan. But the last five years running Gershon Baskin, director of  Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, conducted direct contacts with Hamas that last July led to the breakthrough in talks. "I told them that if they want to reach an agreement - this is the time," he recalls.

What exactly led to the breakthrough in Shalit deal is not really clear, but it is clear who made the breakthrough. For five years he conducted direct contacts with Hamas and last July he handed over to the Prime Minister's envoy for negotiations, David Meidan, the position paper of Hamas that brought the breakthrough. Last night (Wednesday), after approved by a large majority, one of the main persons at the origin of the Shalit deal was exposed. 

Three days after Shalit was kidnapped, someone in the Gaza Strip established a relationship with Gershon Baskin, director of IPCRI, and soon afterwards a contact was made between him and Dr. Razi Hamad, then media advisor of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. This communication channel created a direct communication line between Israel and Hamas chief of staff, Ahmed Jabari, who directed the last round of talks. "In the last five years since the abduction we talked several times a week," said Baskin on his relations with Hammad. "In recent weeks we talked about five - ten times a day. I also went to Egypt at some point and I met the Egyptian mediator." 

According Baskin, the change came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to go to the deal despite opposition in principle, and after the appointment of David Meidan, who, according to Baskin, was ready "to try things previous envoys were opposed to." Hamas, too, he explains, was flexible. "Hamas agreed to be flexible when they realized that the prime minister is serious and is flexible as well," he says. "Two weeks before the document on July 14th, I received a document much more extreme. I told them that if they want to reach an agreement, this is the time, that the Prime Minister is willing to reach an agreement, but they must understand that if they pull the rope too tight it would break, and there will be no agreement as long as you insist these requirements."

Friday, October 7, 2011

G'mar Hatima Tovah

As you may have noticed, posting has been a little slow - I've been busy with my day job. Still, much has been happening in Israel. Most of it not good. You can catch up here with "Days of Reflection," from J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.

For those who observe Yom Kippur, G'mar Hatima Tova and an easy fast.