Finance Minister Yair Lapid appears to have transmogrified now that he has joined the political class. His proposed budget and related policies protect the privileged and increase the burden on working families and seems ndistinguishable from those of the previous Netanyahu government. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the social protests that swelled across the country in the summer of 2011 resumed last night when 12,000 citizens took to the streets throughout the country.
The approach to human health and welfare known as salutogenesis was the focus of a conference held this week at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Salutogenesis emphasizes the importance of promoting the individual’s salutary resources and those found in his or her surroundings and that lead to a strong sense of personal and social coherence. This sense has enabled Israeli citizens to have a high degree of contentment despite the stresses of life here.
At dusk, when Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen fades into Independence Day, I put politics and criticism of the society out of mind and focus on the wondrous achievements that have been wrought here: Despite the perils and hardships our return here has entailed, my people undertook the passage from darkness to light, from despair to hope. That surely deserves celebration.
In light of a rash of attacks on the elderly, as well as assaults on teachers, social workers, physicians, judges and elected officials, the subject of violence in Israeli society must be brought to the fore and concerted efforts are required to counteract the trend. Emphasizing dialog over force must become an Israeli cultural norm – in civic society as well as in our regional and international relations.
Israel’s new government may stop the wild veering toward the radical right. There is hope that among the hawks and benighted forces that will be present at the cabinet table, new and forward-looking ministers will block extreme policy and enact more beneficial ones.
The six former Shin Bet directors interviewed in the film The Gatekeepers convey a clear message: There can be no security without a political solution to the Israel-Palestinians conflict.
Regardless of the results of tomorrow’s elections, Israelis interested in leaving our descendants an Israel intact in body and soul must demand that the political leadership engage in negotiations toward a two-state solution – while there is still time.
While it is doubtful that Life of Pi was written as an allegory about Israelis and Palestinians, it offers an apt metaphor of the conflict: A story about two adamant adversaries who end up as neighbors forced by circumstances to survive together on a lifeboat adrift at sea pretty much sums up things here.
They learn to coexist. Perhaps we can too.
To paraphrase the comments made by the prelate, Monsignor Awad, during his Christmas eve sermon in Bethlehem last night, people of goodwill must work with determination for peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine. Israelis who care about the nation’s futures should vote for one of the multiple parties whose positions support a two-state solution.
While researching an article on information overload and other pathologies of the digital world, I had an opportunity to read a work that really got me thinking. I realize that we live in a state of sensory over-crowdedness and grow more alienated -- from ourselves, from nature, and from the elementals of life that are really important – as a result.
Reports of an "immortal jellyfish" offered me welcome relief from the combination tragicomedy, theatre of the absurd, and circus occassioned by Israel's pre-election political season. The species, Turritopsis dohrnii, inspired me to pen a poem in which I consider the nature of things.
The PA initiative to gain UN recognition will not end the conflict. Two states living peaceably alongside each other requires dialogue, bridge-building and meaningful cooperation to create new realities on the ground. These processes are more likely to overcome the political impasse than flag waving and lofty proclamations.
Yesterday, I took the risk of calling Moslem students to safety after a warning was sounded of a prospective missile attack in Jerusalem. I did so despite my reading the Hamas Charter that morning. The document describes a project that is fundamentalist, exclusivist and deadly.
New astronomical discoveries including an earth-sized exoplanet, a triplet of stars, and Planet GJ1214b give hope that in the cosmic vastness we may not be as alone, or so accidental, as is often supposed.
While the discoveries of science are expanding our knowledge of the great beyond, they beg greater contemplation: What meaning do they suggest for us?
My visit to Megiddo and Beit Sha’arim, significant sites in Jewish history, reinforce the notion that no civilization develops in a vacuum and the cross-fertilization of cultures has always been part of peoples and societies. Heritage is best protected not by attempts to sequester it behind hermetic walls, but by keeping roots firm while participating as part of the entire human mosaic.
On Yom Kippur an individual’s merit is not measured by wealth, standing, level of education or accomplishment. We are all equal as we face the fundamental question our humanity poses to us: How have we treated others? The relationships we establish with those around us and the human community a whole, is what can redeem us or damn us.
The sublime message of Yom Kippur is: We have that power.
As an Israeli delegate to the European Pulmonary Hypertension Association annual meeting I took part in a gathering of patient associations leaders from more than twenty countries. This annual expression of common cause resonates, I would say, something like peace.
The President’s Award for Volunteerism ceremony conducted Tuesday in Jerusalem at the official residence of President Shimon Peres provided a vivid portrait of Israel at its best. Pres. Peres believes that government authority is being replaced around the world by civil initiatives and popular will channeled into action. I believe that the President is right on the mark.
With the changing of the seasons one looks forward to changes among us as well. Dialog and education, rather than violence and hatred are the strongest instruments of such change. As the new year approaches, I am glad that my tradition gives pause for introspection.
The attack on four East Jerusalem youths by a mob of teenagers in central Jerusalem is part of a toxic trend that also includes politically-motivated and ideologically informed assaults on both sides of the border. Incitement is rife throughout the Middle East. Moving toward a culture of shalom and sulha, peace and rapprochement is key to the future wellbeing of Israel and its neighbors.
Israel has a keen interest in the international effort to stop a nuclear Iran and it should contribute in every way possible to that mobilization. Our leaders may not, however, use the Iranian issue to forestall progress on the other vital matters affecting the future welfare of the country nor do they have a mandate to drag the country into an unnecessary and potentially devastating war.
Scornful comments concerning kibbutzim attributed to Mitt Romney mirror the view maintained by the Revisionist movement, which is today ably represented by Benyamin Netanyahu. Both politician would do well to remember that history and reality eventually succeed in penetrating obfuscation.
In a globalized world such as our own, acts of folly and vanity ripple far and wide with the potential for harm and destruction – nuclear, environmental, economic, ethical –sufficient to consume us all. Politicians around the world would do well to read the jeremiad, Eicha, Lamentations, recited last night on the Jewish fast day, the Ninth of Av.
Moshe Silman was the victim of institutional violence. His desperate act of defiance at a social protest rally showed that he was no longer willing to submit quietly to it. The statement he made will haunt the system until it finds a way to practice the social justice the overwhelming majority of Israelis demand.
There are few things that I love more than enjoying the natural settings and landscapes of Israel. In the course of 48 hours and within a radius of a fifteen minute car drive I visited four different ecosystems and experienced some of the country’s most unique natural treasures in the Judean Desert.
Most Israelis identify with the citizens movement that swept the country last summer and which has resumed in the past two weeks. Disenchantment with our politicians and the aloofness of the government from the aspirations of the citizens feeds the social protest movement.
Given the intractability of Iran and its commitment to the destruction of Israel, stopping Tehran’s nuclear weapons program is imperative. In a world of increasing might and unrest, dismantling the nuclear arsenals of all nations is essential. Adding voice to Global Zero and other anti-nuke initiatives is vital as humanity grows both in technological might and fractiousness.
I was in very distinguished company last week when I participated in the Jewish Book Council's Meet the Author event in Manhattan. I felt privileged to have taken part in the event where I presented my work, Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel. My most fervent hope is that Rise might offer readers insight into what Israel is today while restoring faith in what we could be, and in this way contribute to an Israel that will continue vibrantly and with wellbeing into the future.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman's condemnation of the recent wave of violence against African migrants is most welcomed. Increasing Israel's once-eminent international cooperation program with Africa, Asia and Latin America could help obviate the refugee problem in the long run.
At a poetry workshop held yesterday in Jerusalem, I gave a presentation on “Striving for Transcendence in Two Poems.” The two poems are mine. Transcendent meaning is what I strive for when I write verse. In my poetry of this type, the textual descriptions I present suggest a message relating to matters “out there” and “greater than I.”
Israeli enterprises that combine knowledge-based entrepreneurship with socially responsible sensibilities in the Cleantech and Greentech fields contribute not only to their stakeholders but to society at large. They are to be commended and encouraged.
Recently, during the intermediate days of Passover, the term refugee was on my mind given reports of Syrian troops firing on fleeing civilians and Egyptian soldiers killing Africans seeking shelter from unrest. I witnessed the challenges we in Israel face in contending with African asylum seekers and other migrants. To be true to our tradition and historical experience, we must find a constructive solution.
The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC) has begun broadcasting programming and conducting interviews with poets and writers focusing on the culture of peace. Radio IFLAC, based in Israel and transmitting over the Internet, aims to build bridges among people the world over.
This month's selection from Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel, Chapter Ten, focuses on Eli, the security operative hunting for the extremist group, Sons of Gideon. He has taken a rare evening off to attend a family wedding only to return home and be awakened from deep slumber by news of another attack by the fanatics.
Access Chapter Ten here.
In April, I will be offering a four session workshop for independent authors interested in utilizing new models of publishing that confer greater control over and benefit from their works. The workshop will be given at David Yellin College of Education in Jerusalem.
My friends, Libby and Len Traubman of San Mateo, California who for many years have led the Jewish Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group have applied their experience to healing sectarian strife in Nigeria. In a remarkable video they document efforts at reconciliation in that country.
A debate between veteran Israeli progressives centers on the question of whether ongoing sociopolitical realities preclude the implementation of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio. The alternative, which looms if the situation is not resolved, is a single binational state. The latter seems to be the option preferred by hardliners on both sides. I agree with A.B. Yehoshua that a single state would represent neither of the two peoples and would be a recipe for ongoing turmoil. Progressives Jews and Palestinians must continue to seek a two-state solution.
In the recent newsletter of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC), Dr. Ada Aharoni, who founded the organization in 1999 and has directed it since, comments on Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel. Naturally, I am honored by her enthusaistic support. I am pleased to accept Dr. Aharoni's invitation to serve as the 2012 Chair of IFLAC's new Jerusalem-area section.
While rightist thugs are committing the deeds, the locus of the surging violence is fostered by the government’s no-peace strategy, official attacks on civil rights and the judiciary, the administration’s contempt for the social reforms recommended by the Trajtenberg Commission, and other words, acts and inaction emanating from the seats of power.
Awarding the Nobel Prize to a tenth Israeli, Daniel Schechtman is the 2011 laureate in chemstry, is a cause for celebration. Whether Israel will be able to continue producing Nobel Prize winners is an issue for concern.
Rise now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other vendors. It also can be purchased as a Kindle eBook wih other digital formats soon to follow.