- Issues of the Day
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- About Me
- Climate Change and Israel’s Week of Fire (Wednesday, November 30, 2016)
- Environmental Milestones in Global Warming Efforts, Carbon-Free Energy Production (Wednesday, October 19, 2016)
- Israel and Tunisia: Shared Environmental Fates (Monday, September 26, 2016)
- Civilians as Cannon Fodder: The Continuing Fiasco in Syria (Sunday, August 21, 2016)
- Murder in the West Bank Further Distances the Prospects for Peace (Sunday, July 03, 2016)
- Britexit, A Step in the Wrong Direction (Friday, June 24, 2016)
- A Week Among the Basque (Monday, May 16, 2016)
- Honored to Serve Yedid, Israel’s Association for Community Empowerment (Tuesday, March 15, 2016)
- Edvard Munch: Archetypes (Tuesday, February 02, 2016)
- Anxiety and the Weather (Thursday, December 03, 2015)
- Nordic Countries Show that Alternative Sources Can Replace Fossil-Fuels While Sustaining Strong Economies (Monday, October 19, 2015)
- We Can't Afford Despair, A Comment on Terror in Jerusalem (Tuesday, October 13, 2015)
- An Unprecedented Dust Storm, Extreme Weather and Unrest in the Mideast (Sunday, September 13, 2015)
- Inseparable Threats: Climate Change and Strife in the Middle East (Thursday, August 20, 2015)
- Giving Birth to A Private Passage (Monday, August 17, 2015)
- Anish Kapoor: Lessons from Versailles (Tuesday, July 07, 2015)
- I Remember Nepal (Tuesday, May 05, 2015)
- Of Prague, Kafka and Havel (Friday, April 03, 2015)
- Israel's 2015 Elections: A Birdseye View (Friday, March 20, 2015)
- With You, Armenia (Thursday, March 05, 2015)
- Hamas: By Its Words and Its Deeds (Wednesday, August 20, 2014)
- A Weekend During the Gaza-Israel War (Friday, August 08, 2014)
- I Thought I Killed a Bee Today (Wednesday, June 25, 2014)
- The Emerging Science of Inequality (Thursday, February 06, 2014)
- Support for Hadassah (Friday, May 09, 2014)
- Draft Three, Dance of the Uroboros, Completed (Monday, February 24, 2014)
- Understanding Frida Kahlo (Sunday, December 22, 2013)
- A Writer's Worry: On Completing Draft Two of Dance of the Uroboros (Saturday, November 30, 2013)
- Israel to Shift to a Quality-of-Life Policy Focus? (Tuesday, October 29, 2013)
- Jerusalem Spared Further Sorrow (Wednesday, October 23, 2013)
- Talking About Dance of the Uroboros (Monday, October 14, 2013)
- Weapons of Mass Destruction Are Not the Only Global Threat (Monday, October 14, 2013)
- Dialog in the Middle East Today: What if it Worked? (Wednesday, September 18, 2013)
- Why Egypt Rebelled (Friday, August 23, 2013)
- Civil Society: The New Authority (Sunday, July 28, 2013)
- Lessons from Greece (Friday, July 05, 2013)
- Big Data Blues (Friday, June 14, 2013)
- 400 ppm: Our Carbon Addiction Takes Us to a New High (Thursday, May 23, 2013)
- The Resumption of Israel's Social Protests (Sunday, May 12, 2013)
- Salutogenesis: Wellness Amid Strife (Thursday, April 25, 2013)
- From Memorial Day to Independence Day, A Passage (Tuesday, April 16, 2013)
- Countering the Violence Within: A Must for Israel (Saturday, May 04, 2013)
- Israel's New Government: A Different Future? (Monday, March 18, 2013)
- Heed the Gatekeepers: The Directors of Israel’s Secret Service Speak Out (Monday, January 21, 2013)
- Of Israelis and Palestinians and the Life of Pi (Tuesday, January 08, 2013)
- Vote Against Rejection (Wednesday, December 26, 2012)
- An Over-Crowdedness of the Senses (Thursday, December 20, 2012)
- Turritopsis dohrnii, Forever Young: A Poem Inspired by a Jellyfish (Tuesday, December 11, 2012)
- Israel and Palestine: Beyond the Proclamations (Wednesday, November 28, 2012)
- An Ideology to Die For and Changing the Future (Wednesday, November 21, 2012)
- What Matters When the Lights Go Out (Monday, November 05, 2012)
- An Earthly Neighbor in Alpha Centauri (Friday, October 19, 2012)
- Ending Our Political Servitude (Friday, October 12, 2012)
- Visiting the Past: Megiddo and Beit Sha’rim (Saturday, October 06, 2012)
- The Meaning of Yom Kippur: The Power of Our Humanity (Thursday, September 27, 2012)
- Something Like Peace (Tuesday, September 18, 2012)
- Beautiful Israel: Doers of Good Works Honored by Pres. Peres (Thursday, September 06, 2012)
- The Changing of Seasons and the Renewal of Hope (Friday, August 31, 2012)
- Bigotry Has No Place In Israel -- Or Across the Border (Wednesday, August 22, 2012)
- The Government’s Iran Stance and the Prevailing Doubt (Friday, August 17, 2012)
- Mr. Romney’s Kibbutz (Wednesday, August 08, 2012)
- Lamentations: Reflections on the Ninth of Av (Sunday, July 29, 2012)
- Desperation and Defiance: One Man’s Protest (Monday, July 16, 2012)
- Landscapes of Beauty in the Judean Desert (Monday, July 09, 2012)
- The Commitment to Social Justice is the Israeli Norm (Wednesday, June 27, 2012)
- The Iranian Bomb and Global Zero (Saturday, June 23, 2012)
- At the Jewish Book Council’s Meet the Author Event (Thursday, June 14, 2012)
- Responding to Anti-Foreigner Violence (Tuesday, June 05, 2012)
- Writers Demand End to Exploitative Practices (Friday, May 25, 2012)
- Striving for Transcendence in Two Poems (Friday, May 18, 2012)
- Israel’s Greentech and Cleantech: Marks of Distinction (Thursday, May 10, 2012)
- African Refugees in Israel: Dealing with the Challenge (Thursday, April 19, 2012)
- Adapting to a Changing Environment (Wednesday, April 11, 2012)
- IFLAC Radio Comes Peaceably into the World (Wednesday, April 04, 2012)
- Chapter Ten of Rise now available for viewing (Sunday, April 01, 2012)
- Healthcare is a Human Right - All the Way to the World Bank (Wednesday, March 28, 2012)
- Workshop on Publishing for Independent Authors (Wednesday, March 28, 2012)
- Points of Darkness, Points of Light (Tuesday, March 20, 2012)
- Ode to Michal, Death Be Not Proud (Wednesday, March 14, 2012)
- “A Separation”: Iranians are People, Too (Wednesday, March 07, 2012)
- Peacemakers Turn Their Sights on Nigeria (Monday, February 20, 2012)
- Why “Jewish Avant-Garde Artists from Romania” is of Interest (Sunday, February 05, 2012)
- Not Giving Up on Two States (Monday, January 23, 2012)
- A Poem about Vienna (Monday, January 16, 2012)
- Polluting Ourselves: Discarded Meds and Water Contamination (Sunday, January 08, 2012)
- The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace and Rise (Wednesday, December 28, 2011)
- Radio Hosts: Is the Israeli Social Protest Movement Similar to those Elsewhere? (Saturday, December 24, 2011)
- The “Price Tag” Campaign of Extremist Violence is on the March (Sunday, December 11, 2011)
- Brain Storming for Change Throughout Israel: Round Tables 2021 (Sunday, June 12, 2011)
- Taking Aim At Our Feet: Withholding Tax Revenue to the PA (Wednesday, November 16, 2011)
- Striking Against Contract Labor Abuse (Monday, July 11, 2011)
- Cemetery Desecration and Other Racist Attacks Fraying Israel's Social Fabric (Monday, July 11, 2011)
- Declining Cooperation (Friday, October 28, 2011)
- Slight Movement: Israel and Turkey (Wednesday, October 26, 2011)
- Injustices of the Week: The Final Indignities Foisted on Gilad Shalit; Qadaffi and Jungle Justice (Wednesday, October 19, 2011)
- Gilad Shalit: May he have a long life, free to just be (Tuesday, October 18, 2011)
- Extremist Attacks on Israeli Arabs is an Attack on Israel (Tuesday, May 10, 2011)
- With a New Israeli Nobel Prize Winner, Celebration and Concern (Monday, July 09, 2012)
- Developments, Both Bleak And Promising, at the Start Of The New Year (Monday, October 03, 2011)
- 100 Thousand Poets for Change, in Haifa (Sunday, September 11, 2011)
- Days Five Through Eight in Spain: Discovering a Jewish Place (Monday, September 19, 2011)
- An International Community Fights Breathlessness (Sunday, September 18, 2011)
- Israeli Specialists Convene to Discuss Land Degradation, a Global Problem (Tuesday, September 06, 2011)
- Nearly Half a Million Rally to Repudiate the Government's Program (Sunday, September 04, 2011)
- When the Government Fails to Lead, the People Must (Tuesday, August 30, 2011)
- Thursday's Terror Attacks: Suffering on All Fronts (Sunday, August 21, 2011)
- Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, What's in a Name? (Wednesday, August 17, 2011)
- Forces of Light Radiate in Israel's Periphery (Sunday, August 14, 2011)
- Rise now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and as a Kindle eBook (Sunday, August 14, 2011)
- Three Hundred Thousand Israelis Demand the Return of the State (Sunday, August 07, 2011)
- Israelis Demand Power to the People (Sunday, July 31, 2011)
- A Warning from Nauru (Sunday, July 24, 2011)
- More from Al Gore on Climate Change Denial (Wednesday, July 20, 2011)
- Yedid, Israeli Community Empowerment Organization Struggling to Survive (Sunday, July 17, 2011)
- Kudos to a Noble Adversary, the Speaker of the Knesset's Defense of Democracy (Friday, July 15, 2011)
- "Boycott" Law: Further Erosion of Israeli Democracy (Wednesday, July 13, 2011)
- The continuing bloodletting in Sudan (Tuesday, July 05, 2011)
- Yarid Shira, a testimony of love (Friday, July 01, 2011)
- Bob Dylan, Anti-Social (Monday, June 20, 2011)
- "Pulmonary Hypertension: Profile of the Disease" Conference (Thursday, June 16, 2011)
- The 21st Century Text, David Yellin College (Tuesday, June 14, 2011)
- Joseph Cedar's "Footnote," an Extraordinary Film (Saturday, June 11, 2011)
- Beautiful Souls in the Subway (Saturday, June 04, 2011)
- Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen Exhibition (Thursday, June 02, 2011)
- Encountering the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Monday, May 30, 2011)
- Anti-Israel Graffiti on a Humanitarian Website (Saturday, May 28, 2011)
- Remains of an Environmental Treasure: Everglades National Park, Florida (Sunday, June 26, 2011)
Yesterday, as Jerusalem suffered its second rocket attack from Gaza in five days (Friday’s was the first in forty years), I had just started a lecture when the sirens sounded. I promptly led my class into the bomb shelter down the corridor.
A few minutes later, on seeing that a group of hijab-wearing students had remained in their classroom I left the protective area and called on the young women to enter the shelter as well: The bomb, had it struck, could have killed or injured them as surely as its intended targets, Jewish Israelis. Many enrollees at David Yellin College of Education where I teach are Israeli Arabs or Palestinians. Not all of the later are proficient in Hebrew and I imagined that they might not be familiar with the civil defense procedures widely announced in the Israeli press. Accordingly, I went and conducted them into the secure area. That, in my opinion, is what any educator ought to do, regardless of what the student wears on her head or the language he speaks at home.
Later, while reflecting on the day I recalled not only that incident but also the time I had spent that morning reading the Hamas Charter, which was written in 1988 and guides that movement to this day. I did so in an attempt to understand what lays beneath Hamas’s persistently murderous activities against Israel’s civilian population and which precipitated the current conflict. The Hamas Charter, the movement's guiding program, is a most shocking writ, far more odious than I imagined.
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and its confederates have steadily and concretely advanced their ideologically-based program as set out in the Charter. It is an explicit document that envisions a program of jihadist Islam imposed on all of contested Palestine (Article VI) as part of a region-wide and international movement led by the Moslem Brotherhood: Hamas views itself as the Palestinian Branch of the latter (Article II).
Hamas slogan as stated in the Charter is “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes” (Article VIII). Article VII cites this passage from the Koran
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
The section of the Charter, “Strategies and Methods ( Article XIII), reads
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight.
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.
The ideology is clear and uncompromising. There is no room for coexistence or a dialog and jihad is the only path toward the “liberation” of the Moslem land of Palestine. This is divinely mandated.
Putting the Program into Action
In this context it is no coincidence that leaders of the Islamic governments newly installed in Arab states (Tunisia, Egypt) have rushed to express solidarity with Hamas. The group is regarded as the spearhead in the effort to render the Middle East a monolithic, Moslem Arab domain in partnership with Turkey, now governed by an extroverted Islamic government.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their offshoots have terrorized southern Israel’s 1.2 million civilians with unrelenting rocket attacks over the past nine years. They have done so with the encouragement, armament and training of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Since its ascent to power in 2007 the Gaza regime has installed a vast military infrastructure in the heart of civilian areas aimed at “liberating” Palestine through terrorism. Its repressive government has fostered a culture of martyrdom.
Liberation is sought not through the socioeconomic development of the population it rules, but through a dogged attempt to eradicate of Israel and its citizenry which, in the groups mythology, are demonized as “Zionist invaders.”
The Drizzle of Rocket Fire Became a Flood
The “drizzle” of rocket fire on the South of Israel in recent years became in recent months a torrent of deadly projectiles including the Iranian rocket, Fajr-5 with a range of 75 kilometers and an explosive payload of nearly 100 kilograms of explosives; in recent days the projectile was hurled toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on multiple occasions.
In the last two months, Hamas has ramped up the hostilities, targeting exclusively civilian areas, not only in the adjacent south of Israel but into the center of the population where Israel’s population is most concentrated. Homes, businesses, schools, buses and other vehicles have been hit.
In response to the increased bombardment in the South and other recent provocations, the Israel Defense Forces ( IDF) acted on Nov. 13th by slaying the commander in chief of Hamas’ guerrilla forces and launching an intensive air operation aimed at destroying the terrorist infrastructure of rocket launchers, arsenals and smuggling tunnels.
These forces took extraordinary care to minimize civilian losses though, most regrettably, innocent people have been killed and injured due to the placement by Hamas and its related groups of offensive weapons and ordnances in population centers. There have also been unintentional mistakes committed by the IDF. Still, the Israeli air force has operated prudently, attempting to target with precision Hamas’ murderous capacity while the decision-makers deliberate concerning a possible ground operation, though public opionion seems not to favor this and many public figures counsel against it.
There is overwhelming support among Israeli citizens for the Israeli military response to the ongoing rocket attacks. The relatively low number of fatalities and other casualties Israel, has suffered is due only to the country’s highly effective civil defense and public information systems and the discipline the public has shown in adhering to the protective measures prescribed by the authorities.
The support Hamas now enjoys of the Arab Islamic regimes and Turkey, however reprehensible, is consistent with the recent rise of hegemonic Islam in Middle East politics and culture and are expected. But more galling are those supporters of Hamas outside the region, in Europe North America and elsewhere and who succumb to either propaganda or prejudice in denouncing Israel’s recent actions. Many of these detractors react with a reflexive condemnation of Israel that disregards the circumstances that compelled the Israeli forces to act against the continuing barrage of deadly rockets and missiles from Gaza.
Among the critics of the Israeli operation, too little or no consideration is shown for the population in Israel’s south that have lived under virtual siege, not knowing when the next rocket would be fired, for nearly a decade. These commentators from afar have not endured the constant threat of annihilation, which is fundamental to Hamas’ mission against Israel, nor have they had their collective legitimacy called into question. They have not suffered the trauma of living under the constant pall of lethal intent prosecuted by bellicose regimes on the doorstep of their country.
Among our dead, killed yesterday by a missile, was an Israeli Bedouin; the aggressors operate without discrimination, lashing out with whomever they might strike. Scores of Israelis have been injured and maimed and damage to property has been extensive. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been upended, hundreds of people have been treated for shock following blasts, and the prospect of continuing post-traumatic stress syndrome among those who have lived with the ceaseless bombardment is very real for many of those living in the affected areas, now including the central Dan region as well as the South.
In the past days there have been expressions of support, including violent demonstrations among some Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in support of Hamas and against Israel’s operation. The violence will have to stop, but the dissent must be tolerated. There are legitimate Palestinian grievances which must be addressed. The best framework for this is the enactment of a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem.
People to People
As I look back on the mild risk I took yesterday by venturing out of the protective space to draw the Moslem students into it, I did not consider what their politics might be or how fervently they hold opinions contrary to my own. Those students, like me, are human beings with families, hopes, frustrations and dreams. We are destined to live together in our difficult neighborhood. We are going to have to share our land and its resources. I have a name, it is a Hebrew one and they are going to have to know it. They have their religion and I must tolerate it. And we are going to have to talk, and hopefully find a way to make a better future for our children together.