SPINNING FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The ‘Peace Talks’ failed …..

Oslo was a joke ….

But, a new toy just might be the solution we were waiting for …

As of this weekend, just about every kid in Israel has one of these

“It started as a way of promoting peace.”

Lets hope it works!

Fidget spinner was invented to stop Palestinian kids from throwing rocks at Israelis

ONCE AGAIN ISRAEL IS OUTRAGED BY THE TRUTH

THE TRUTH WILL ONE DAY SET PALESTINE FREE!

A political cartoon riffing on the Mideast conflict appeared last week on a global-studies Regents exam — sparking cries of ­“anti-Israel propaganda” from some lawmakers, teachers and students.

The cartoon depicts three fat, armed Israeli soldiers using an overturned table as a shield, with one saying, “I knew this peace table would come in handy someday.”

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Anti-Israel’ political cartoon in Regents exam sparks outrage

A political cartoon riffing on the Mideast conflict appeared last week on a global-studies Regents exam — sparking cries of ­“anti-Israel propaganda” from some lawmakers, teachers and students.

The cartoon depicts three fat, armed Israeli soldiers using an overturned table as a shield, with one saying, “I knew this peace table would come in handy someday.”

It was used in the test administered on Jan. 24, and asked students, “What is the main idea of this cartoon?”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind says the cartoon’s inclusion by the Board of Regents is a jab at Israel, because it portrays the soldiers — one with a Star of David on his back — as aggressive and oafish.

“I consider this anti-Israel propaganda. It is so demeaning,” the Brooklyn pol told The Post.

“There’s nothing to learn from this. It’s only to undermine Israel, and I can tell you that the people who came to me — a teacher who saw this and was so furious, so upset that this was on the Regents. Why would you use this? What is the purpose of this? It makes me very angry that people responsible made this decision.”

Some students pushed back on test day, including a Forest Hills HS 10th-grader who told a teacher he felt targeted, according to a classmate.

“The entire class said it was offensive, but the teachers told us it was a random question [the exam creators] found online and put it in the test,” said the student who declined to give his name. “A Jewish kid then told the teacher he felt insulted. He said he felt like they were putting the blame on his religion.”

State Education Department spokesman Jonathan Burman defended the question, saying it “measures the students’ ability to analyze a political cartoon, understand the cartoonist’s point of view and apply that information to the questions being asked.”

“Political cartoons contained on Regents exams are sometimes very pointed, but they are never intended to represent the point of view of the Board of Regents or the Education Department on a given issue,” Burman said.

Regents questions are created by teachers and tested on a sample of students before they are used, a state education source said.

The cartoonist, Chris Britt, who originally produced the drawing for an Illinois newspaper, did not think the Mideast cartoon was biased or inappropriate for a test.

“To me it was just showing how frustrating the peace process was,” he said. “It’s not trying to indoctrinate someone. It’s, ‘Can you look at this and tell us what’s going on in the creator’s mind?’ ”

In 2006, educators called the global-studies Regents test “racist” because it had students read a passage by a 20th-century British colonial administrator and asked them to “state two ways British imperialism would benefit Africans.”

Cartoon depicting IDF soldiers on NY exam called ‘offensive’

SHORT FILM ~~ ‘IN DEFENSE OF THE ROCKET’

UK filmmaker Martin Ginestie’s short film In Defense of the Rocket can be described in a sentence: the rise and fall of the Middle East peace process in news photos, set to Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

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Completed in 2015, In Defense of the Rocket has been screened at numerous film festivals in recent months, including its premier at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, at Canada’s HotDocs as well as in Sarajevo and Milan.

“Red line”

Ginestie told The Electronic Intifada that the title has been the most controversial aspect of the film.

“At festivals, I’ve definitely got people being offended by the title,” Ginestie said. “But that was the purpose.”

“The moment of inspiration for the film was the bombing of Gaza in 2014, because I was just trying to find something positive from that event,” Ginestie added. “It was very hard to find anything positive.”

“The ambition of the film was to provoke Western liberals – at the time there was a lot of sympathy for Palestinians but very little sympathy for armed resistance,” Ginestie added. “That was kind of a red line. I wanted to provoke people, not to support armed resistance – it’s not for us to decide how Palestinians resist colonization – but to get people to reframe the Western debate about the use of violence.”

“I wanted to make a film that retraced the past 20 years of Palestinian politics and give some kind of historical logic for what the Palestinian resistance was doing,” Ginestie said.

Year zero?

But even having that debate is difficult in European countries that are increasingly cracking down on free expression.

Ginestie said that the French political group Égalité et Réconciliation asked him if it could put the film on its website, but warned it could not do so using the English title, for fear of being prosecuted under French laws that prohibit “apologie du terrorisme,” or justifying terrorism.

So Ginestie agreed to change the French title to Palestine année zéro – Palestine Year Zero – which had been his working title.

“It felt like if this was to be the final nail in the coffin of the peace process, the moment where everyone can see that the process going on for 20 years was nonsense, then this could be a kind of a year zero from which new possibilities would emerge in the rubble of Gaza,” he said.

But was the 2014 Gaza war really a year zero for Palestine, when the “peace process” refuses to die, no matter how many times it is eulogized?

“I think for a lot of younger people, it definitely was,” Ginestie insists. “And for older people who were never that interested, or knew enough to take sides, as it were.”

According to Ginestie, the Gaza war was a moment “when things swung massively in favor of the Palestinians, in the real world – even in the United States – not in the fake world of politics. And in the end, that is how history is going to be written, not by John Kerry or Donald Trump.”

 FROM

KERRY’S LATEST EXERCISE IN FUTILITY

During his meeting with Netanyahu in West Jerusalem, Kerry, probably out of naivety, asked the Israeli premier if there was still any possibility Israel could temporarily freeze the unrelenting settlement expansion in the West Bank.
 
Netanyahu’s reply came soon. “No, there will be no settlement freeze.”!!

Kerry’s half-hearted visit, another exercise in futility

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine

The latest visit to Israel-occupied Palestine by US Secretary of State John Kerry this week is a clear-cut exercise in futility.

It is also inconceivable that Kerry himself had not realized the futility of his visit, even before it began.

I really feel sorry for the American tax-payers who get robbed by an administration whose policy in the Middle East is based on cheating the American people as well as pandering to a criminal racist state, 10,000 kilometers away, a state that teaches its people that non-Jews are virtual animals, created by God for a sole reason, namely in order to serve the Jews.

While in West Jerusalem, Kerry babbled the few usual platitudes which he and other American officials babble in such circumstances.

He called on both Israel and the Palestinians “the criminal and the victim” to exercise self-restraint. He also reiterated his country’s commitment to Israel’s security.

However, during his meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Kerry made no such commitment, as if only Israel, a nuclear power which also is in tight control of US domestic politics, deserved and needed security.

Kerry renewed his support for the two-state solution, giving the impression that such a solution was still possible or feasible, especially in light of the cancerous growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Needless to say, all meaningful observers now agree that this expansion of Jewish colonies has killed any realistic prospects for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

I don’t know why Kerry is still insisting on regurgitating this stale lie every time he comes to the region. Do his advisors not tell him that the two-state solution is dead?

Or Does he invoke the lie deliberately and knowingly in order to boost the morale of  the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and Sa’eb Ereikat in order  to  keep their futile day- dream alive, even if that dream is no better than chasing the mirage of  the desert?

I don’t know why Palestinian and Arab leaders continue to view Kerry and his boss in Washington as capable of recovering Palestinian rights from Israel’s criminal hands. Are these so-called leaders idiots or imbeciles? Haven’t they learnt from more than 60 years of experience with US policy in the region? Haven’t they internalized Walid Khalid’s iconic remark that “America is the ultimate tormentor of the Palestinian people?”

Indeed, if successive and more powerful administrations from Nixon’s to Bush’s couldn’t convince Israel to keep the purported two-state solution alive, is it logical to expect this impotent administration to do it?

After all, Obama has been standing silent, watching Bashar Assad murder nearly half a million of his own people rather passively, pretending that the slow-motion holocaust was occurring on a distant planet.

Similarly, the Obama administration is the same administration that has been watching Israel decapitate whatever chances there may have been for the establishment of a true Palestinian state.

In fact, the Obama administration, far from punishing Israel for its aggressive anti-peace policies, rewarded the criminal entity by providing it with the latest and most advanced aircraft in the American arsenal.

During his meeting with Netanyahu in West Jerusalem, Kerry, probably out of naivety, asked the Israeli premier if there was still any possibility Israel could temporarily freeze the unrelenting settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s reply came soon. “No, there will be no settlement freeze.”!!

I don’t know if Kerry felt he had to apologize for having had the audacity to ask the question in the first place. He must have felt his utter insignificance vis-à-vis Netanyahu whose behaviors vis-à-vis Washington often gives the impression that the US is actually Israel’s vessel state.

But this is an old story which was explained in meticulous details by the late American Jewish author and intellectual Alfred Lilienthal in his book of the century, the Zionist Connection.

In fact, I invoked this story in order to remind a new generation of Palestinian leaders that things pertaining to the US, Israel and the Palestinian issue have effectively remained unchanged.

Israel remains the proverbial organ grinder and the US remains the proverbial monkey. (The adage goes “why speak to the monkey when you can speak to the organ grinder.”)

And, as we all know, the Palestinians remain the proverbial day-dreamer who cry out for justice, thinking that the two devils will eventually come to their senses and internalize the language of justice.

But they will not.

NETANYAYU-OBAMA MEETING WON’T REVIVE PEACE PROCESS

In fact, it was all about how much more money Israel can steal from the US Taxpayer!

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I am quite sure that a few decades from now, many Jews will look back to this period with utter regret and remorse because they didn’t seize the opportunity to reach peace with their neighbors.

Netanyahu-Obama meeting won’t revive moribund “peace process”

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
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It should be amply clear that the latest meeting in Washington between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won’t have any tangible effect on the already moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hence, the claims that the meeting will revive and expedite the process, wrongly called peace process, are void of any credibility.

After all, we have been living with the same sort of talks for over two decades, and the net result remains as it was when the Oslo process began more than two decades ago, namely a very fat zero.

Netanyahu, a sly and dishonest  politician who lies as often as he breathes the oxygen of life knows too well that he has killed any remaining chances for a genuine peace with the Palestinians.

He also knows that there are no other real chances left for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, given the ubiquitous expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.

It is also highly likely that Obama knows these facts too well as well.

However, it is clear that neither Netanyahu nor Obama is willing to free himself from the clutches of dishonesty simply because dishonesty represents the main content of their policies.

On the one hand, Netanyahu is so arrogant and insolent and would never tell the truth. That is why he behaves like a slut who gives lectures on morality and chastity.

On the other hand, Obama is already behaving like a lame duck does.
In fact, the Obama administration has now an ignominious record of failure and impotence, almost everywhere in the world.

In Syria, Obama has been acting very much like a passive spectator, watching a bigger thug and a smaller thug (Putin and Assad) carry out a real holocaust against helpless Syrian civilians.

And in the Ukraine, he contented himself with watching rather blithely the Russian bear devour, swallow and digest large parts of the former Soviet of Republic

And, of course, in Palestine, Obama has been watching Netanyahu and cohorts, who tightly control the American government, especially Congress, decapitate whatever chances there may have been for the establishment of a truly viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

I do believe that Netanyahu and his entire government look on Obama with utter contempt.
A few years ago, one Israeli politician, whom I had a debate with, remarked that “the US is very much our whore, it gives us all we demand and request, not because it should but rather because it must. It is America that grovels at our feet, not the other way around.”

Frankly, the man was telling the truth and there was no way I could prove him wrong.

Netanyahu is returning to Israel-Palestine, not only with an American undertaking to supply Israel with several squadrons of the most advanced aircraft in the American stockpile, but also with a renewed and reasserted assurance that no matter what Israel does, including killing the two state solution, Israel will continue to receive whatever Israel requests and demands from its guardian-ally (and whore according to the above mentioned Israeli politician).

Now, given Obama’s pathetic helplessness in the face of Netanyahu, it is very likely that Netanyahu will have his way, as Putin has had his way in Syria.

After all, it is the Netanyahu who tells the Obama what to do, not the other way around.

Hence, it is probably safe to assume that Israel will be further intoxicated by its arrogance of power.

But intoxication by arrogance of power spells neither smartness nor wisdom.

It rather spells impetuousness and lack of wisdom. It may eventually spell disaster.

I am quite sure that a few decades from now, many Jews will look back to this period with utter regret and remorse because they didn’t seize the opportunity to reach peace with their neighbors.

But by then it will be too late for Israel and for peace..

ISRAEL THREATENED BY A POSSIBLE PEACE WITH IRAN

PEACE NOW ~~~ OR ~~~ PEACE NO!

In addition to the five year UN weapons embargo, missile sanctions will stay in place for eight years.

Netanyahu, not happy with the Iran deal. (Photo: Alex Kolomisky)

Netanyahu, not happy with the Iran deal. (Photo: Alex Kolomisky)

Negotiators reach historic Iran deal amid anger in Israel

Agreement to maintain missile embargo for eight years; Israeli politicians predict nuclear Iran; PM: Mistake of historic proportions.

Iran’s support for international terrorist groups remained undiminished last year and even expanded in some respects, the Obama administration said Friday, less than two weeks before the deadline for completing a nuclear deal that could provide Tehran with billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions.

The assessment offered a worrying sign of even worse terror-related violence to come after a year in which extremists in the Middle East, Africa and Asia committed 35 percent more terrorist acts, killed nearly twice as many people and almost tripled the number of kidnappings worldwide. Statistics released by the State Department on Friday also pointed to a tenfold surge in the most lethal kinds of attacks.

Yet even as the Islamic State group and the Taliban were blamed for most of the death and destruction in 2014, the department’s annual terrorism report underscored the ongoing threat posed by Iran and its proxies across the Islamic world and beyond.

Tehran increased its assistance to Shiite militias fighting in Iraq and continued its long-standing military, intelligence and financial aid to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s embattled government and Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. While the study said Iran has lived up to interim nuclear deals with world powers thus far, it gave no prediction about how an Iran flush with cash from a final agreement would behave.

World powers and Iran are trying to conclude an accord by the end of the month, setting 15 years of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for significant relief from the international sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

The negotiations don’t involve Iran’s support for militant groups beyond its border. But Israel and the Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Iran’s regional rivals, fear a fresh wave of terrorism as a result of any pact. President Barack Obama, hoping to ease their fears, has said most of the money would go to Iran’s economic development.

America’s “grave concern about Iran’s support for terrorism remains unabated,” White House spokesman Eric Shultz said. “That is all the more reason that we need to make sure they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.”

In total last year, nearly 33,000 people were killed in almost 13,500 terrorist attacks around the world, according to the State Department report. That’s up from just over 18,000 deaths in nearly 10,000 attacks in 2013.

Twenty-four Americans were killed by extremists in 2014, the report said. And abductions soared to 9,428 in the calendar year from 3,137 in 2013.

The report attributes the rise in attacks to increased terror activity in Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria and the sharp spike in deaths to a growth in exceptionally lethal attacks in those countries and elsewhere.

There were 20 attacks that killed more than 100 people each in 2014, compared to just two a year earlier, the report said. Among those were December’s attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a school in Peshawar that killed at least 150 people and the June attack by Islamic State militants on a prison in Mosul, Iraq, in which 670 Shiite prisoners died.

At the end of 2014, the prison attack was the deadliest terrorist operation in the world since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the report.

Despite all indications pointing toward increased violence, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator said the numbers didn’t reflect improvements by the US and its partners in stamping out terrorism financing, improving information sharing, impeding foreign fighters and forming a coalition to fight the Islamic State group. “We have made progress,” Ambassador Tina Kaidanow said.

Attacks occurred in 95 countries last year but were concentrated in the Mideast, South Asia and West Africa. Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria accounted for more than 60 percent of the attacks. Adding Syria, they comprised roughly 80 percent of the fatalities, the report found.

The rise in kidnappings is mainly attributable to the mass abductions by terrorist groups in Syria, notably Islamic State militants and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram was responsible for most, if not all, of the nearly 1,300 abductions, including several hundred girls from a school in Chibok. By contrast, the report cited fewer than 100 terror-related kidnappings reported in Nigeria in 2013.

Friday’s report noted the “unprecedented seizure” of territory in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State group, its ability to recruit foreign fighters to join its cause and the emergence of self-proclaimed affiliates, notably in Libya, Egypt and Nigeria. It cited a rise in so-called lone wolf attacks in the West and terrorists employing more extreme methods of violence to repress and frighten communities under their control.

Source

BREAKING THE FAST FOR PEACE

“When God created us He didn’t say ‘You’re a Muslim, you’re a Christian, you’re a Jew’.”  “We are all humans and I wanted to share the good precious holy moments of Ramadan with other people. Everyone has a different view and perspective we need to share it together to remove the anger and the sadness in the area.”

Jews and Muslims sit together for an iftar meal in Jerusalem (Photo: Linda Gradstein/The Media Line)

Jews and Muslims sit together for an iftar meal in Jerusalem (Photo: Linda Gradstein/The Media Line)

Muslims, Jews hold joint iftar meals for Ramadan fast

Jewish families hosted by Palestinian families for post-fast meal; ‘I wanted to share the good precious holy moments of Ramadan with other people,’ says Arab woman hosting Jews for iftar.

As the call to prayer marking the end of the day-long Ramadan fast echoed from a nearby mosque, the two dozen people sat down and began eating. There were many traditional Arab foods, and conversation flowed easily. It looked like any post-fasting dinner table in the Arab world.

What was unique here is that most of the guests had never met the hosts, Bronka and Aref Tahboub, before this night. The Tahboubs had opened their home to a group of Israeli Jews who wanted to experience the iftar meal.

“There are so many things here that we don’t control,” Aref told The Media Line in fluent Hebrew. “But Arabs and Jews have to live together. I’ve worked with Jews all my life and I want my children to get to know Jews.”

The meeting was organized by Kids4Peace, a grassroots organization that brings Muslim, Christian and Jewish children in Jerusalem together. About 25 Jewish families signed up to be hosted by Palestinian families, along with their children.

The Tahboubs have three children, two boys, age 14 and 11, and a daughter who is 9, and all three children are fasting. While it is only compulsory to fast from puberty, many children choose to start earlier.

“They see all of their neighbors fasting, and they want to do it too,” Bronka, an English teacher told The Media Line. “Ramadan is a special time for us. We believe that the gates of hell are closed, and the sky opens the doors to our prayers.”

Ramadan also marks the time that Muslims believe Allah revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet Mohammed, who was illiterate. As it based on the solar calendar, rather than the lunar calendar, it rotates through the seasons. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Mohammed used to break his fast with a date, and Muslims today do the same.

At the Tahboubs in the upscale East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, the Jewish guests quickly feel at home.

“It starts with me being a citizen of Jerusalem,” Duel Peli, a lawyer whose daughter attends Kids4Peace told The Media Line. “Jerusalem is a mixed city with people from different ethnic origins and different nationalities. I live in this city I want to be friendly with as many of the different populations as I can.”

He says that being part of Kids4Peace, which divides the children into groups of one-third Jewish, one-third Christian and one-third Muslim, has been an eye-opening experience for him. The parents have parallel workshops to the children, who go to summer camp together in the US.

“I find myself in the minority which is an important feeling for me to have,” he said. “It makes me understand what it is like to be a minority in Jerusalem and in Israel.”

The population in Jerusalem is two-thirds Jewish and one-third Arab, divided between Muslims and Christians. The meetings have continued despite more than a year of tensions in Jerusalem, which began last June when Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Jewish extremists then kidnapped a Palestinian boy, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, from Shuafat, a neighborhood less than a mile from Beit Hanina. Bronka Tahboub says she knows Mohammed’s father well, and visited him after his son was killed.

His death, and the fighting between Israel and Hamas last summer in Gaza, during which several rockets were fired toward Jerusalem, has negatively affected her nine-year-old daughter Leen, who for the past year has refused to sleep in her own bed.

Yet Bronka says the tensions have only strengthened her resolve to reach out to her Jewish neighbors.

“When God created us He didn’t say ‘You’re a Muslim, you’re a Christian, you’re a Jew’,” she said. “We are all humans and I wanted to share the good precious holy moments of Ramadan with other people. Everyone has a different view and perspective we need to share it together to remove the anger and the sadness in the area.”

After dinner, as the kids played soccer outside, Bronka took out a water pipe and began puffing on melon and mint scented tobacco. As the water pipe made its rounds, the tensions in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews seemed far away.

 

 

FROM

SPOOF ON BLAIR’S ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’

Image 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Related post FROM

Tony Blair Steps Down as Mideast Mediator

Reuters

Former British prime minister Tony Blair will step down as representative of the Quartet of Middle East powerbrokers at the end of June, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.

Blair wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday that he would step down from the role he has held since 2007. “(His) decision …will come into effect at the end of next month,” a source close to the Quartet said.

No comment was immediately available from Blair’s office in London.

NAKED FACTS OF NETANYAHU’S ‘PEACE PROCESS’

The killing by Israel of the peace process and whatever hopes for peace that process may have entailed is a damning proof that Israel doesn’t want peace.
Peace or pieces?

Peace or pieces?

The futility of counting on Netanyahu for peace

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
It is really hard to give renewed European efforts to revive the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians the benefit of the doubt.

But, even if we did, these efforts would hardly be proven more than just a mere regurgitation of past failed efforts.

The naked facts on the ground in Occupied Palestine underscore a completely grim outlook. Israel has more or less killed any remaining chances for a viable Palestinian state, the centerpiece of the proposed two-state solution.

Israel is relentlessly continuing to make facts on the ground, ensuring the irreversibility of present realities. But the irreversibility of present realities also means that Israel, whether we like it or not, is becoming a bi-national state de fact, at least, with as many as 50% of the population between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean (an area ruled or controlled by Israel) being non-Jews.

This non-Jewish population is expected to grow even further in proportion to the number of Jews in years and decades to come. This is a matter of science, not rhetoric or propaganda.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to make little “victories” on the international arena. But we all know these symbolic achievements won’t make any difference in the final analysis.

This is because the two-state strategy has effectively expired thanks to the ubiquitous Jewish settlement expansion.

Which means it is now too late for the establishment of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel, with a combination of pressure and inducements,  is likely to try to bully or cajole the weak PA to content itself with a diminutive “state” encompassing truncated Bantustans, cut off from each other by Jewish settlements, and isolated from the rest of the world.

However, such an imposed “solution” wouldn’t be utterly rejected by the bulk of Palestinians, and its advocates would probably be shot like stray dogs in the streets of the West Bank for their perceived treason and perfidy.

Moreover, the exclusion of the paramount right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their ancestral homeland in 1948, along with the religiously sensitive subject Jerusalem, from such a settlement would likely make it doomed from day one.

Furthermore, the phenomenon of Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to repeat itself on the Palestinian arena for many years to come.

Fascist government

Israel today has probably the most extremist right-wing government ever since the creation of the Jewish state in Palestine in 1948.

This government is made up of the gurus of Jewish fascism, who reject the principle of peace with utter contempt. Indeed, for these fanatics, peace is a sign of weakness and tantamount to the destruction the Jewish people.

Just listen to the shockingly recalcitrant remarks made by Israeli cabinet ministers these days and compare these remarks with the Nazi discourse prior and during the Second World War.

This is more than nationalist extremism. This is odious fascism, pure and simple.

This should sound alarm bells everywhere. The collective mindset permeating in Israel today more or less resembles the collective mindset which prevailed in Nazi Germany in the few years preceding the Second World War.

Don’t tell me Jews are not capable of doing the unthinkable. You bet they are.

In the final analysis, when Jews, or anyone else, think, behave and act like the Nazi thought, behaved and acted, they become Nazi, pure and simple.

Similarly, we have to remind ourselves and others that the holocaust actually started long before Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen and Dachau.

It started much earlier with Mein Kamph, the anti-Jewish laws, and then Kristalnacht, the sort of stuff we hear morning and evening these days from the mouths of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the holocaust.

No peace strategy

The truth of the matter is that Israel has no peace strategy.  Israel only has a strategy for aborting peace not making it.

The killing by Israel of the peace process and whatever hopes for peace that process may have entailed is a damning proof that Israel doesn’t want peace.

I know and the world knows that the international community knows this fact too well, but this international community is either too cowardly or too dishonest to call the spade a spade, especially when the matter concerns Israel, the world’s most spoilt child.

Yes, Israeli officials and spokesmen, along with the shipyard dogs of Israeli hasbara, would fill the ether with all sorts of arguments justifying Israeli policies, including the Lebensraum policy in the West Bank.

But any person with a modicum or honesty and rectitude knows deep in the bottom of his or heart that these arguments are dishonest, malicious and mendacious.

More to the point, Israel has been given a thousand chances and a thousand opportunities to walk in the path of peace but to no avail.

In fact, the PA reduced  itself into a Palestinian judenrat in the service of Israeli whims as Palestinian security agencies did everything imaginable to persecute, suppress, repress and torment Palestinian voices raised against the enduring Israeli occupation, all in order to receive a certificate of good conduct from Israel.

But Israel wouldn’t reciprocate and instead continued to relate to the PA with utter disregard and utter contempt.

When the number-2 figure in the new Israeli government, Naftali Bennett was asked a few weeks ago what he would tell PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas if he met him, Bennett, with characteristic Jewish arrogance, said: “I would ask him to make me a cup of coffee.”

Bennett’s remark is by no means an unrepresentative anecdote. It actually encapsulates mainstream thinking within the Israeli political-military establishment, which makes the realization of peace virtually impossible.

IN ISRAEL ~~ A REAL PEACE PROCESS ON THE SOCCER FIELD

Two soccer academies — one from the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa and the other from the Jewish neighborhood of Katamon — partnered last month to create Team of Equals, a joint team bringing together soccer enthusiasts across the national divide.

The children running slaloms through Hapoel Katamon’s soccer field in south Jerusalem would be indistinguishable from one another, were it not for the blue and white T-shirts setting apart Arab from Jew. Read more: In Jerusalem, kids get a kick out of coexistence |  There IS HOPE for the future

The children running slaloms through Hapoel Katamon’s soccer field in south Jerusalem would be indistinguishable from one another, were it not for the blue and white T-shirts setting apart Arab from Jew.
There IS HOPE for the future

In Jerusalem, kids get a kick out of coexistence

Soccer can bring Arabs, Jews together rather than drive them apart, the initiators of a new binational children’s team believe

Two soccer academies — one from the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa and the other from the Jewish neighborhood of Katamon — partnered last month to create Team of Equals, a joint team bringing together soccer enthusiasts across the national divide.

Incorporating roughly 100 children aged 9-12, the new team is supported by The New Israel Fund through its program “Kicking Out Racism and Violence.” According to a press statement released by NIF, the initiative’s goal is to “introduce Jewish children from West Jerusalem to Arab children from East Jerusalem in order to combat the division and hostility between them and advance a shared life in the city.”

Whether in Hebrew or Arabic, the children almost invariably said they rooted for Spanish club FC Barcelona and idolized its Argentinian forward Lionel Messi.

Children playing on Team of Equals practice soccer in Jerusalem, March 19, 2015 (photo credit: courtesy/Yossi Zamir)

Children playing on Team of Equals practice soccer in Jerusalem, March 19, 2015 (photo credit: courtesy/Yossi Zamir)

“I’ve been going to Hapoel Katamon soccer matches since I was three months old,” said third-grader Omri Tal-Gershkowitz, adding he liked the noise and excitement of the game. “I hope more children join so we can integrate Jews and Arabs.”

Ahmad Moussa Subhi, a sixth-grader from Beit Safafa, said he joined the team to meet new friends. He said language was no problem in communicating with his Jewish teammates, since he picked up Hebrew watching soccer and Israeli films on TV.

“I like running and the sporting spirit,” he explained.

Sixth-grader Ahmad Moussa Subhi of Beit Safafa, March 19, 2015 (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel) Read more: In Jerusalem, kids get a kick out of coexistence | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-jerusalem-kids-get-a-kick-out-of-coexistence/#ixzz3X5reQNXo  Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Sixth-grader Ahmad Moussa Subhi of Beit Safafa, March 19, 2015 (photo credit: Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

Creating a binational team is far from simplein Israel’s capital. Beitar Jerusalem, the city’s largest team, is notorious for its fans’ anti-Arab chants. The Israeli Football Association fined the team NIS 40,000 ($10,000) in February after fans shouted racist slurs and spat in the direction of Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shemona forward Ahmad Abed during a home game in Teddy Stadium.

But Hapoel Katamon, a fan-owned club created in 2007, is meant to symbolize something completely different, said Shai Aharon, formerly the team’s star forward, who retired in 2014 to become its professional manager.

“From day one Hapoel Katamon stands for anti-racism and anti-violence,” Aharon told The Times of Israel. “All of our programs are based on mutual respect, values and community; things that are more important to us than achievements on the field.”

Team of Equals was Aharon’s brainchild, born following an arson attack against a bilingual school in Jerusalem last November.

“The attack stressed the sense that something must be done, some sort of corrective experience,” Aharon said. For him, nothing could be more natural than getting the Katamon children to play with “the children across the street.”

“Everyone will tell you that violence in sports is ugly and bad; the question is what can be done to solve the problem. The trick is to be part of the solution,” he said. “All we want to do, on our turf, is to make soccer like any other kind of leisure activity, like cinema or the theater, one you can take your wife and children to and feel comfortable.”

Itzik Shanan, director of communications at the New Israel Fund, said his organization has been working to combat racism in soccer for over a decade, both by monitoring matches and writing reports on racist incidents, and by initiating educational activities such as Kicking Out Racism and Violence. NIF’s partnership with Hapoel Katamon has been ongoing for over three years, he noted, boosted by the club’s outlook on equality and partnership as values.

“This sight is moving not only for someone working on these matters at the Fund, but also as a Jerusalemite, who lives here and wants his children to remain here,” Shanan told The Times of Israel as he watched the children practice passing. “Observe the level of cooperation, understanding and fairness taking place here.”

Children at this young age are less infused with racial and political biases than adults, allowing true teamsmanship to blossom, he added. “They come from a very genuine, innocent place. I believe that adds a lot to the potential of this collaboration,” he said.

For Salman Ammar, head of Beit Safafa’s soccer academy and a former player with Hapoel Jerusalem, endorsing the initiative was only natural. He had played in a Jewish-majority team his entire career and now sends his children to the bilingual school in Jerusalem.

“There’s nothing like sports and competitiveness to bring people together,” he said. “The idea is that Arab children and Jewish children get to know each other and realize they can live together. It’s as simple as that.”

TODAY’S TOON ~~ NETANYAHU’S MESSAGE TO OBAMA

‘You wanna reopen the ‘Peace Process’? Just send 30 BILLION DOLLAR$ in unmarked bills in a brown paper bag …

My address remains the same.’

chutzpah of the day

“Peace will cost you”

VOICES OF SANITY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL ~~ SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Here’s the main one …

NETANYAHU - BLEEDING HEARTS

What other’s have to say …

“If we end the occupation, all will be resolved,” Oz says. “This is the only way to resolve all the problems. There’s no tranquil occupation and there’s never been a tranquil occupation. There’s no such thing; it’s like a flood without water. The discrimination felt by the Arab Israelis is also linked to the occupation. We cannot call on the Arab public to calm down until we end the occupation.”

Amos Oz: We need to end the occupation (Photo: Haim Zach)

Amos Oz: We need to end the occupation (Photo: Haim Zach)

*

Mazen Ghanaim is a man of many titles – the mayor of Sakhnin, chairman of the committee of Arab local council leaders, and deputy chairman of the Arab Monitoring Committee. He isn’t very optimistic at all.

Mazen Ghanaim: No one wants war (Photo: Effi Shrir)

Mazen Ghanaim: No one wants war (Photo: Effi Shrir)

*

FROM

The Jews and Arabs who want to step

back from the brink

Members of society from both sides urge reflection and mutual respect and call on Israel’s leadership to take decisive action to help calm the rapidly spiraling tensions.

After years of fruitless effort to communicate in various languages, Israeli society appears torn into two unequal halves – Jews on the one side, Arabs on the other, and an abyss between them. Instead of bridging the gap, however, we’re focusing on the past rather than the future, on guilt rather than responsibility. There’s no longer a dialogue taking place here, only two violent monologues that just happen to be underway in the same volatile expanse.

Now that the words have become rocks and the bullets have sparked fires, Jewish and Arab public figures are seeking to douse the flames and speak about our common future, Jews and Arabs, and how to repair neighborly relations before it’s too late. All of the people with whom we spoke have different viewpoints and solutions. One talks about the occupation, another about the escalating violence, a third about discrimination; but all agree that now is the time to sit down together and change things, so that we don’t slip into another 100 years of war.

“Now’s the time to stop the escalation, hostility and hatred, and to think of ways in which we can coexist here, Jews and Arabs, side by side,” says Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, who will soon be staging an inter-faith convention for the country’s religious leaders.

“The religious leaders and representatives of the two peoples must be proactive in order to find ways to live here together, as good neighbors at least. The cycle of hatred and bloodshed must be stopped, and we need to concern ourselves with our common interests as opposed to the things that divide us. We bear a heavy responsibility to calm things down.”

President Rivlin at Kafr Qasim (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
President Rivlin at Kafr Qasim (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)

Poet Salman Masalha believes we need to look inward, at the Arab society, but outward too, at the fragile relationship between the State of Israel and its Arab citizens.

“Leaders of the Arab public frequently approach the Israel Police with demands to enforce the law in the Arab communities, to confiscate weapons, to enforce traffic laws, and to apprehend and bring to justice murderers of Arab women,” Masalha says.

“These demands are most justified. At the same time, the positions expressed by the country’s Arab leadership often sound full of contradictions with respect to a sense of belonging to the state and its institutions – and it’s high time these were resolved. State President Reuven Rivlin recently visited Kfar Qasimand declared there that the Arab citizens are ‘not a fringe group… but part and parcel of the State of Israel.’

“In order to calm the ill winds that are blowing in Israel, the government is duty bound to publicly declare that it is adopting the president’s heartfelt words. And if this comes to pass, then the Arab leadership, too, is responsibility bound to demonstrate civic courage and respond with a similar declaration about upholding the democratic game rules.

“Demonstrate as much as you like; but don’t vandalize public property. Arab Israelis must be full partners in every regime in the country. Such a partnership requires that Arabs ministers fulfill executive roles in any and every government established here. Such a partnership requires an Arab policeman in every patrol car and Arabic writing on every patrol car, so as to do away with the sense of alienation that exists between the Arab citizen and the police. Such a partnership allows all of the country’s citizens to bear responsibility for what goes on.”

In the footsteps of Jabotinsky and Hussein

Novelist Haim Be’er would first like to hear the prime minister assume command over the deterioration.

“Instead of learning a lesson from Rubi Rivlin, a distinct disciple of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he does nothing in practice,” Be’er says. “History and geography have condemned us to live here together. Within Zionism, there’s a deep affinity to the Arabs, and those who ignore this could bring about an end to Zionism. Gestures speak volumes everywhere in the world, and even more so in the Middle East. We’ve witnessed King Hussein and Anwar Sadat. The distance between Amman and Beit She’an is greater than the distance between Jerusalem and Kfar Kanna.

“Netanyahu needs to take responsibility, to announce key measures, so that the Arab citizen feels that he’s being taken seriously this time. On the civilian level, Israel’s Arabs are discriminated against and humiliated, and the building can be started with small things. The moment the Arab Israelis are treated with dignity, the situation will become saner.”

Actor and director Norman Issa agrees that the violence must stop, and is convinced that only the establishment can stop it.

“We were playing the same scene in October, and long before then too, when we asked and called repeatedly for calm and an end to the violence, and nothing happened,” Issa says. “We need to treat the Arabs fairly and equally, just like we treat the Jews. There are two peoples living here, not just one. When things calm down, we will have to teach Jews and Arabs to live in mutual respect, but it will take years, and it’s a matter for the culture and education institutions. I believe it is possible, because we are all human.”

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav sees the delicate fabric threatening to unravel in his mixed city too.

“I don’t want to talk about the geostrategic conflict in the Middle East,” Yahav says. “I don’t want to talk about land, religion, culture or borders. I don’t want to talk about what will be here in the year 3000. All I ask is that we, Arabs and Jews, just for one day, stop writing talkbacks, stop antagonizing, stop declaring days of rage, stop dying for the sake of Al-Aqsa or submitting land registration claims for the construction of the Third Temple – and focus just for one day on self-reflection. If we wish to continue fighting thereafter, we are well-versed in how to do so.”

Dr. Suhail Diab, an ER physician at Rambam Hospital, was elected mayor of Tamra in the Lower Galilee last year.

“I hope that everything passes quietly,” Diab says. “If we, the sane ones on the two sides, think differently and act differently, the situation will calm down. After all, we are destined to live here together. As a doctor who studied in Spain, I don’t differentiate between blood and blood. Arab blood is the same as Jewish blood. Christian blood is the same as Muslim blood. We are all human beings. I’m assuming responsibility and calling on all the youth to avoid confrontations with the police. Most of the Arab population in Israel believes in coexistence – but we demand mutual respect.”

Author Amos Oz agrees with Dr. Diab, and he, too, points a finger inward first and foremost.

“If we end the occupation, all will be resolved,” Oz says. “This is the only way to resolve all the problems. There’s no tranquil occupation and there’s never been a tranquil occupation. There’s no such thing; it’s like a flood without water. The discrimination felt by the Arab Israelis is also linked to the occupation. We cannot call on the Arab public to calm down until we end the occupation.”

Back to the source

Writer Oudeh Basharat explains that the rage, just like on previous occasions, stems from the sense of discrimination.

“Those who harm Arabs must be handled without any pretense, in the same way that those who harm Jews are dealt with,” Basharat says. “Arabs feel that the police are trigger happy when it comes to incidents in which they are involved. It undermines trust in the police. I understand the anger of the Arab street – nevertheless, I call for demonstrations and protest within the framework of the law. I want the Jewish side to contribute to the fight against discrimination.”

Actress Liora Rivlin felt the current dark wave approaching. “It’s impossible to calm things down or resolve what is happening by force, and ignore the history, the chain of foolish steps that resulted from the occupation,” Rivlin says.

“Just like us, the Arabs want to live, thrive, raise and educate their children as proud citizens. Until that occurs, we won’t have peace and well-being. I’m concerned that our leadership is blind, stumbling, stupid, corrupt, and isn’t really interested in a solution. A country like this one, with its potential of talent, spirit and extraordinary people, is being dragged into destruction.”

Mazen Ghanaim is a man of many titles – the mayor of Sakhnin, chairman of the committee of Arab local council leaders, and deputy chairman of the Arab Monitoring Committee. He isn’t very optimistic at all.

“No one wants war, but we cannot stand idly by,” Ghanaim says. “Unfortunately, the situation is only getting worse. Since the events of October 2000 and through to today, 49 Arab Israelis have been murdered by the police. You ask about calming things down and taking responsibility. It’s up to the prime minister and the minister of public security. We’re trying to calm things down and see where we go from here. Yesterday, I requested a meeting with the prime minister and the minister of public security to lay out all of the sector’s problems to them. I’ve yet to receive a response. None of us want to heat up the sector; instead, we want to lower the flames.”

Poet Erez Biton links the current tension with the socioeconomic situation. “It doesn’t matter who is right,” Biton says. “We are two nations on one patch of land. Without a foundation of mutual respect, trust and justification for the very existence of the other, we won’t resolve the conflict. We need to avoid provocation, to promote dialogue and understanding, to accept the presence of the other, within Israeli society too. We need to be more familiar with each other’s culture and language and avoid religious provocations.”

Sports broadcaster Zouheir Bahloul, an Israeli cultural icon, fears that if we fail to wake up, the situation will only deteriorate.

“There’s no moderating element in the Israeli leadership,” Bahloul says. “We’ve become estranged. There’s been a huge build-up of mistrust due to racist behavior on the part of some captains of the state. Racist laws are enacted against us, like the law that is undermining Arabic’s official-language status.

“The prime minister doesn’t embrace the civilian Arab public that condemns some of our boys who have joined Islamic State. Instead, he emphasizes only those few and talks about ‘those who call for Israel’s destruction’ as if we are all that way inclined. I stretch out a hand of reconciliation to the Jewish public. We need to try to repair the damages, to take responsibility, to calm things down, to demilitarize the Israel Police rather than turn it into a security entity. I expect someone with lofty ideals and clear reasoning to step up and try to restore sanity to this system.”

#OperationCeasefire ~~ THE ‘VICTORY’ ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL

The actual victory is that the madness seems finally over!

Be sure to read THIS post from yesterday.

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Haniyeh hails Palestinian resistance ‘victory’ in massive Gaza rally

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Palestinians flash the sign of victory atop a vehicle, as people celebrate
a deal reached between Hamas and Israel for a long-term end to fighting
in the Gaza Strip, Aug. 26, 2014, in Gaza City (AFP Mahmud Hams)
*
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greeted thousands of Palestinians in a central Gaza square on Wednesday in a massive victory rally following the signing of a long-term ceasefire that concluded 50 days of intense conflict with Israel.

The speech followed the release of polls earlier in the day showing widespread belief in Gaza that the Palestinian military resistance had increased its deterrence capacity and overwhelming support for the firing of rockets into Israel.

In his speech, Haniyeh hailed the people of Gaza and the resistance forces for their steadfastness in the fight against Israel, which claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians — the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians — and left 64 Israeli soldiers dead, in addition to six civilians in Israel.

“Those whose blood was spilled and the martyrs were the fuel of this victory,” Haniyeh said during the rally, emphasizing to the crowd of thousands that the resistance had been preparing for the battle for years.

“It is not possible to express this victory with words and speeches,” he added.

“The victory is beyond the limits of time and place. This battle is a war that lacks a precedent in the history of conflict with the enemy,” he said, stressing that the group was preparing for the “ultimate battle” for the liberation of Palestine.

“The war began with fire on Haifa and ended with fire on Haifa,” he told the crowd, highlighting the fact that Hamas had managed to fight throughout the seven-week Israeli assault and emerged with its military strength intact.

“The Palestinians who couldn’t celebrate Eid al-Fitr because of the fighting and because they were on the battlefield, today celebrate the celebration of victory.”

Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida also gave a speech in Gaza on Wednesday night, arguing that the conflict had shown the need to “completely revise the methods of national struggle.”

“Negotiations are not enough with these occupiers,” he told a large crowd gathered in Gaza City’s eastern Shujaiyya neighborhood, which was devastated during the Israeli ground assault.

“Resistance unified the people, and that is our big achievement,” he added. “We will not return to divisions or disputes.”

“The resistance forced the ceasefire out of its enemy and did not allow them any strategic or tactical achievements,” he continued. “It crushed its pride that has been fabricated for decades through media outlets, and laboratories of psychological warfare.”

He also stressed that his was not a “victory speech,” adding: “Our appointment with the victory speech will be in the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem). This is merely an inevitable step along the way.”

Hamas has hailed the conflict with Israel as a victory for the group and the Palestinian resistance more broadly, stressing that Gaza is coming out of the battle having gained concessions from Israel while Israel has not managed to dent its military power.

Israeli authorities said at the beginning of the assault that their goals were to end rocket fire and later added the destruction of tunnels underneath Gaza that it said would be used to launch attacks into Israel.

Although the Israeli government says it destroyed all the tunnels, Palestinian militant groups dispute this. Rocket fire, meanwhile, continued into Israel until the final moments of the conflict.

The long-term ceasefire agreement, meanwhile, promises a gradual easing of the Israeli-imposed economic blockade of Gaza, which Israel has maintained with Egyptian support since 2007.

Although the Palestinian delegation team stressed the need for the re-opening of the airport and seaport in Gaza, these demands will be discussed further in a new round of talks next month.

Israel’s primary demand — for a disarmament of Gaza militant groups — has not been realized.

(AFP/Diane Desobeau)

*
Strong belief in increased deterrence

The speeches come hours after an opinions poll released by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion showed a widespread belief in Gaza the deterrence capacity of the Palestinian resistance groups following the conflict.

More than 75 percent of Palestinians surveyed in the poll, which was conducted from August 14-19 among 1,000 adult respondents across Gaza, thought that as a result of the conflict Palestinian militant groups had an increased deterrence capability.

This belief was reinforced by a tremendous rise in support for the firing of rockets into Israel, which the poll showed was supported by an overwhelming 88.9 percent of respondents, a nearly 100 percent increase over a Jan. 2013 poll which showed only 49 percent support.

Israel’s military strategy toward Gaza has relied on the use of massive military force to cow the population at large and diminish support for Hamas, but the poll results suggest that the Palestinian population has instead rallied around the armed resistance groups.

Despite the heavy civilian casualties suffered in Gaza — the UN estimates that 70 percent of the more than 2,100 dead have been civilians — many Palestinians were surprised by the effectiveness of Hamas fighting capabilities during the seven-week long conflict.

The Israeli military suffered its highest casualty rate since it attempted to invade Lebanon in 2006, while Hamas launched cross-border raids targeting military sites in addition to firing rockets into distant cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa on a regular basis.

The poll also showed mild support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s performance during the operation, with 54 percent saying they approved while more than 38 percent expressing disapproval.

Although Abbas was criticized for failing to act in the early weeks of the bombardment, the PA’s involvement in indirect long-term negotiations with Israel in Cairo provides a possible explanation for the general approval.

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency, which offered refuge to around 485,000 Palestinians displaced by the fighting, also enjoyed widespread approval, with more than 71 percent saying the agency had done a “good” job.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, however, came out of the conflict with extremely low levels of approval, with nearly 65 percent rating his performance negative, 17 percent positive, and 13.5 percent “balanced.”

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall …
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Netanyahu: Hamas won none of its demands in Gaza truce

*
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on August 24, 2014 at the
Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv (AFP/File Gali Tibbon)
 *
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Hamas had achieved none of its demands in a truce ending 50 days of deadly conflict in Gaza.

“Hamas was hit hard and got none of its demands,” Netanyahu said at a news conference in Jerusalem, his first comments since the ceasefire went into effect on Tuesday evening.

“Hamas wanted a port and airport in Gaza, the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, the mediation of Qatar and Turkey and the payment of salaries for its employees.

“But it got nothing.”

The seven-week conflict claimed the lives of at least 2,140 Palestinians, more than 70 percent of them civilians according to the United Nations, and 64 soldiers and six civilians on the Israeli side.

“Hamas has not suffered such a defeat since its creation. We destroyed attack tunnels, killed nearly 1,000 enemy combatants, including senior officials in the movement, destroyed thousands of rockets and hundreds of command posts,” Netanyahu said.

Both sides’ guns fell silent on Tuesday, with Israel agreeing to ease restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, and allow fishing boats up to six nautical miles offshore.

The sides have yet to agree on other issues, such as the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in exchange for militants handing over the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in the fighting.

Negotiations are also yet to take place on Hamas’ key demand for a Gaza seaport and airport.

“We have agreed to help reconstruct the territory for humanitarian reasons, but only under our control,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s still too early to know if the calm has returned in the long term,” he warned.

“We won’t tolerate any firing on Israel, and our response will be even stronger.”

*

So, WHO WON?

#OperationCeasefire … ABBAS WINS, PALESTINE LOSES

THE LATEST …

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Abbas announces Israel-Gaza ceasefire
*
(MaanImages)
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday declared a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.In a short televised address, Abbas said the agreement would go into effect at 7 p.m.For his part, deputy chief of Hamas’ politburo Mousa Abu Marzouq wrote on his Twitter account that “talks have ended. We have reached understandings crowning our people’s steadfastness and our resistance’s triumph. We are awaiting a statement setting the zero point and end to the aggression.”

A well-placed Palestinian source confirmed that Gaza border crossings would be open in tandem with an extended ceasefire.

The source explained that Egypt would issue a statement calling for a comprehensive and mutual ceasefire together with opening Gaza’s crossings for the entry of construction material.

The Gaza fishing zone will also be increased.

In addition, the source said, Israel has pledged to stop targeted assassinations against Palestinian resistance activists and faction leaders.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that a round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would start in Cairo a month later to discuss unresolved issues.

Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have accepted the newly reached ceasefire agreement which Israel also accepted, the source highlighted.

Spokesman of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees Abu Mujahid also told Ma’an that a permanent ceasefire agreement would go into effect this evening.

He said the agreement would be based on the 2012 truce and would include opening Gaza crossing points permanently.

He said opening crossings would mean an end to the Gaza siege, reconstruction of the enclave, removing the “no-go zone” and enlarging the Gaza fishing zone.

Israel’s Channel 10 TV quoted Israeli officials as saying they agreed to a ceasefire.

#OperationCeasefire ~~ YOU SAY YES, I SAY NO

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But, at least say SOMETHING! Is it YES or NO??

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Click on links to see conflicting reports

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Israel coordinated with US on gradual end of Gaza blockade

Sources in Jerusalem claim Israel, America secretly agreed on steps to ease humanitarian hardship in Gaza by opening crossings.

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Israeli Official Denies Agreement to Lift Gaza Blockade

Official involved in ongoing Cairo talks says reports made of significant breakthrough by Palestinian delegation false.
*

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WAITING FOR AN ANSWER!

#OperationCeasefire ~~ THE TRUCE THAT ALMOST WAS LOOKS UNLIKELY NOW

israel-palestine-threat41

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Things were almost looking good until Netanyahu realised that Peace could mean the end of his political reign …

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Netanyahu: No Gaza deal without ‘answer’ to Israel security needs

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet
meeting in Tel Aviv on Aug. 10, 2014 (AFP Baz Ratner)
JERUSALEM (AFP) (VIA) — Israel will not agree to any long-term ceasefire in Gaza at indirect talks in Cairo unless its security needs are clearly met, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.”The Israeli delegation in Cairo is acting with a very clear mandate to stand firmly on Israel’s security needs,” Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

“Only if there is a clear answer to Israel’s security needs, only then will we agree to reach an understanding,” he said, as Israel’s negotiating team made its way back to Cairo for indirect talks with Palestinians over a long-term arrangement to end more than a month of bloodshed in Gaza.

The Egyptian-brokered talks, which were due to resume on Sunday, are taking place during a five-day lull in the fighting between Israeli and Gaza’s Hamas de facto rulers which is due to expire at midnight on Monday.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinians would not back down from their demands, central of which is a lifting of Israel’s eight-year blockade on the enclave, and that the outcome of the talks was in Israel’s hands.

“We are committed to achieving the Palestinian demands and there is no way back from this. All these demands are basic human rights that do not need this battle or these negotiations,” Abu Zuhri told AFP.

“The ball is in the Israeli occupation’s court.”

But Netanyahu warned that Hamas, which he said had suffered a major military blow, would not walk away from the Cairo talks with any political success.

“If Hamas thinks it will make up for its military losses with a political achievement, it is wrong,” he said.

“If Hamas thinks that by continuing the steady trickle of rocket fire it will force us to make concessions, it is wrong. As long as there is no quiet, Hamas will continue to suffer heavy blows.

“Hamas knows we have a lot of power but maybe it thinks we don’t have enough determination and patience, and even there it is wrong, it is making a big mistake,” he said.

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And from the ziopress
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Netanyahu: Israel’s security needs must be met

As Israeli delegation lands in Cairo for ceasefire talks, Cabinet convenes, minister say Israel’s security must top agreement; Minister: ‘It’s better for us if Palestinians are ones who say no to deal’.

*

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed indirect negotiations currently underway in Cairo regarding a long term ceasefire in Gaza, and said that Israel’s security needs must be addressed. Earlier Sunday, before the Israeli delegation to talks arrived in Egypt, Palestinians said chances to reach a deal were low.

“If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken. ,” Netanyahu said.

“If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very harsh blows. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken,” he added.

“We are a strong and determined people. We have seen this in the amazing revelations of strength and resilience in the past weeks on the part of both our soldiers and our civilians. We will continue to be steadfast and united until we achieve the goals of the campaign – the restoration of quiet and security for all Israelis,” the prime minister said.

“We are in the midst of a military and diplomatic campaign,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting, in which ministers were said to be discussing the ceasefire, as well as a military contingency plan should talks fail to yield results.

“From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel,” the prime minister said, adding that “Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings.”

According to the prime minister, “In the past month Hamas has taken a severe military blow. We destroyed its network of tunnels that it took years to dig. We intercepted the rockets that it had massed in order to carry out thousands of deadly strikes against the Israeli home front. And we foiled the terrorist attacks that it tried to perpetrate against Israeli civilians – by land, sea and air.”

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is also a member of the Security-Cabinet, said that “we must demand safety for Israel’s residents. We must make sure that they feel safe and we cannot complete this operation without them feeling secure again.”

Lapid further noted that “we must create an international mechanism to make sure they are safe.”

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said that “the most important thing for Israel is the demand that Gaza be demilitarized.” When asked about the Palestinian demand that Gaza get a seaport, the minister said such a port would be a “duty-free for rockets – and in the future Scuds (missiles).

“We will continue talks in Cairo, but we cannot give up on the issue of demilitarization.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who is leading a group of ministers objecting to negotations, called on Israel to leave talks, and implement the unilateral proposal he has been promoting for the last two weeks.

“The current situation in which we are biting our nails waiting for the response of a murderous terrorists group must end. We must stop the negotiations with Hamas and take our fate into our own hands: Humanitarian (aid) yes, terror no,” Bennett said.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, a rightist from the Yisrael Beitenu party, slammed the government from the right, and said “Hamas is managing us, we are being led,” he claimed,

“Israel is attempting to reach calm at any price. This is only a temporary calm. In all the previous rounds of fighting after calm was reached we got a more aggressive response. We are turning Hamas into an international player.”

Little optimism as talks start again
Talks in Cairo started again Sunday morning, with the Israeli delegation arriving while the Cabinet convened. The Egyptian government persuaded both sides late Wednesday to adhere to a new five-day ceasefire, extending an earlier three-day agreement in order to allow more time to thrash out a longer-term truce.

But to Egyptian dismay, Palestinians also seem to be playing down the chance a long-term agreement, as international efforts backing Egypt’s proposal have been rising, indicating powers like the US and UN could try to pressure the sides to reach an agreement. The US has already offered Israel assurances over its security, a report claimed.

A member of the Palestinian delegation told The Associated Press on Sunday that the gaps between the sides were still significant and that it was far from certain whether a deal could be reached before the cease-fire expires.

“We are less optimistic than we were earlier,” he said, his comments came after Hamas’ political chief Khaled Mashal said Saturday his group would not back down from a single demand.

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister told Ynet that “it is very possible that talks will end without an agreement, and it is possible that this senior is preferable in comparison to the other options currently on the table.”

A senior political source told Ynet that Israel is mulling its next steps, but said that “it is better for us if the Palestinians are the ones who say no, and this now seems to be the situation.”

Another Cabinet minister said that despite ongoing talks, and past Israeli willingness to ease restrictions on Palestinians, “it is possible we are returning to a ‘calm in return for calm’ formula.”

Cabinet minister, first and foremost Economy Minister Naftali Bennet say that any renewed rocket fire will be met with a massive Israeli response, and the Cabinet is also said to be discussing the possibility of a renewed ground offensive in Gaza should aggressions start again.

Bennett told Ynet that even though he supports unilateral moves which would better the situation for Gaza while undermining Hamas control, he believes a ground offensive could topple Hamas within a number of months.

When fighting began Israel position was that any aggression by Hamas or Gaza militants would be met with aggression, while any calm would be met with calm. The logic behind the formula was Israel’s reluctance to negotiate with Hamas, a group it, the US and many Western nations recognize as a terror organization.

Egyptian diplomats told the Turkish news agency Anatolia that Egypt is making efforts to persuade the two sides to resume the ceasefire until a final agreement is reached, rather than extend the ceasefire for a specified period of time.

#OperationCeasefire UPDATES ~~ WILL THE BILLION$ CONTINUE TO POUR IN IF PEACE BREAKS OUT?

latuff-antisemitism-2

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As the Ceasefire stands at the moment …

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Israel, Hamas agree to extend ceasefire by 120 hours

Egypt says that both Israel and Gaza factions have agreed to extend the current ceasefire by another five days. The threat of renewed war in Gaza loomed on Wednesday as the clock ticked towards the end of a three-day ceasefire at midnight.

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Fear of Peace and the possible loss of the BILLION$ it receives is causing panic attacks throughout the zionist world, so, Israel is preparing itself with the continued cries of Anti Semitism aimed at the International Community …. just in case Peace eventually breaks out in the region.

Gideon Levy details this in his HaAretz Report …

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Whoever is afraid for the Jews’ fate, whoever is shocked by the anti-Semitic incidents, should have thought about it before taking Israel to another runaway war. The world isn’t always against Israel. Suffice it to remember Israel’s status during the Oslo period, when the entire world cheered it, including parts of the Arab world. This world will be happy to embrace Israel again, if this country only changes its bullying, domineering behavior.

Gevalt, anti-Semitism? Maybe. But Israel is supplying the fuse.

Gevalt, anti-Semitism!

Since its establishment, more Jews were hurt in wars and terror attacks in Israel than anywhere else. The war in Gaza endangered world Jews as well, as no other war has before it.

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Pro-Palestinian protester holds a placard reading 'Humanists Not Anti-semites'

Pro-Palestinian protester holds a placard reading ‘Humanists Not Anti-semites’ at Place de La Republique, during a banned demonstration in support of Gaza, in Paris, France, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Photo by AP
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Israel is today the most dangerous place in the world for Jews. Since its establishment, more Jews were hurt in wars and terror attacks that took place in Israel than anywhere else. The war in Gaza took this one step backward – it endangered world Jews as well, as no other war has before it. The Jewish home, the national refuge, not only doesn’t provide refuge, but even threatens Jews everywhere else. When you tote up the results of the war, include that too in the loss column.

A wave of animosity is washing over world public opinion. In contrast to the complacent, blind, smug Israeli public opinion, people abroad saw the pictures in Gaza and were aghast. No conscientious person could have remained unaffected. The shock was translated into hatred toward the state that did all that, and in extreme cases the hatred also awakened anti-Semitism from its lair. Yes, there is anti-Semitism in the world, even in the 21st century, and Israel has fueled it. Israel provided it with abundant excuses for hatred.

But not every anti-Israeli sentiment is anti-Semitism. The opposite is true – most of the criticism of Israel is still substantive and moral. Anti-Semitism, racist as any national hatred, popped up on the sidelines of this criticism – and Israel is indirectly responsible for its appearance.

But Israel and the Diaspora Jewish establishment automatically tag any criticism as anti-Semitic. It’s an old trick – the burden of guilt is shifted from those who perpetrated the Gaza horrors to those who are tainted with so-called anti-Semitism. It’s not us, it’s you, anti-Semitic world. No matter what Israel does, the whole world is against it.

This is nonsense, of course. Just as not every policeman who gives a Jewish driver a traffic ticket is an anti-Semite, as the Jewish organizations try to put it, and not every robbery of a rabbi is a hate crime, so not every criticism of Israel is motivated by hatred of Jews.

These organizations have become the lightning rods of the criticism of Israel and they have brought it on themselves. This is the price of their blind support of Israel, their noisy propaganda campaigns in Israel’s name, their turning of every Jewish community center into a PR agency for Israel, and their unanimous support for everything Israel does. We’re all one people, they say. In that case, if every Jew who dares to censure Israel, even when it’s involved in brutal conduct, is a self-hating Jew – then everyone bears responsibility.

Quite a few Jews abroad sent me frightened messages during the war, pleading me to stop writing my articles, cease my criticism, because the anti-Semites use them. I replied to all of them that all my articles together haven’t affected Israel’s status as much as one news report from Gaza. I also know many who still harbor sympathy for Israel precisely because of the remnants here of a free society, one that allows criticism.

In any case, the address for the Jews’ fear should be the State of Israel. Many Jews now feel afraid. Part of the fear may be exaggerated, part of it is justified. It seems to me that being a Muslim in Europe is still harder than being a Jew. But in Paris, Jews don’t dare wear a kippa, in Belgium a woman wasn’t allowed into a store because she was Jewish and a French journalist who visited Algiers last week told me that the hatred for Israel and the Jews in France has reached an all-time high.

The address for all the complaints is Israel, because Israel is the one to blame for Gaza.

Whoever is afraid for the Jews’ fate, whoever is shocked by the anti-Semitic incidents, should have thought about it before taking Israel to another runaway war. The world isn’t always against Israel. Suffice it to remember Israel’s status during the Oslo period, when the entire world cheered it, including parts of the Arab world. This world will be happy to embrace Israel again, if this country only changes its bullying, domineering behavior.

Gevalt, anti-Semitism? Maybe. But Israel is supplying the fuse.

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Needless to say, the ADL was one of the first echo chambers to join in …

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ADL: Dramatic surge in global anti-Semitism during Gaza op

Jewish group reports serious incidents, directly linked to anti-Israel protests, of attacks against Jews and Jewish property in Europe, South America, Canada, Australia and North and South Africa.

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HERE you can see the ADL Report …..

Heaven help them if the funds are cut off 😦

They might actually have to go to work.

 

 

#OperationCeasefire ~~ HOW THINGS STAND AT THE MOMENT

peace-between-israel-and-palestine-thumb17548004_0.dem-trans-slideshow

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As of today ….

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Demanded by Israel:

  • A complete halt to firing and hostile action from Gaza.
  • Israeli control of border crossings to be opened between Gaza and Israel in the framework of the agreement.
  • Payment of money and any other cash transfers to public workers in Gaza will be carried out only via the Palestinian Authority.

    Demanded by Palestinian negotiators:

    • Expansion of the coastal waters permitted by Israel to Gaza fishermen. The new limit to be determined by Israel according to its security needs.
    • Reopening by Egypt of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai. Egypt conditions this on the placement of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority security forces on the Gaza side. Egypt is reportedly demanding 1,000 troops, a number that might be beyond the authority’s capacity.
    • Significant expansion of the range and quantity of goods imported from Israel to Gaza. Ynet reports that the number of trucks entering Gaza daily will be roughly doubled to 600.

The Palestinians have agreed to drop for now their demands for a Gaza seaport and reopening of the Dahaniya airport in Gaza. Israel and Egypt had opposed the opening of a Gaza seaport out of fear that Hamas would use it to import weapons. Israel’s position is that it will not agree to opening a Gaza seaport until agreement has been reached on a verifiable, enforceable disarmament of Hamas and demilitarization of Gaza.

For the present, Israel is said to have dropped its demand for demilitarization of Gaza. There was never any chance that Hamas would agree to it, and as such it would require a complete reconquest of Gaza and defeat of Hamas. That, as the heads of the Israel Defense Forces warned the cabinet last week, would require a massive operation that would devastate Gaza and lead to Israel’s complete isolation internationally.

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Another issue close to agreement is that Israel will double the number of trucks entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing to approximately 600 trucks per day. Similarly, a decision by Israel to increase the monthly quota of permits for entry into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing is also close to being finalized. At the same time, criteria for entry into Israel from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will be broadened. 

In the negotiations held Monday, the parties did not reach an understanding regarding the Gaza ports. Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip said Monday evening that it would be possible to delay in dealing with the airport and seaport if Israel agrees to the rest of their requirements. The sources noted that such a situation would still require an agreement in principle for the establishment of the ports.

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IS KERRY INITIATING A BOYCOTT FOR PEACE?

The following report seems to indicate so …

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Yarrow was told by Kerry on Wednesday that “the timing isn’t right.”

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Peter, Paul and Kerry: Peter Yarrow sings out for the faltering peace process

The singer/songwriter may have postponed planned Israeli-Palestinian peace concerts at the request of his old friend Kerry, but he still believes in the power of music.

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Peter Yarrow and John Kerry.

Folk legend Peter Yarrow and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman, March 2014. Photo by Courtesy
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Peter Yarrow had a dream.

The 75-year-old folk-music legend has spent the past four months planning Israeli-Palestinian “concerts of good will and friendship” in Jerusalem and Ramallah. He hoped they would offer a spiritual and cultural boost to the peace efforts his old friend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was working so tirelessly to promote.

The details of the June concerts were set to be announced on Thursday at a gala press conference. Instead, caught in the complications of the fracturing peace process, they are being postponed. Yarrow was told by Kerry on Wednesday that “the timing isn’t right,” so he’s looking to September as a possible time to revisit the idea.

Yarrow and Kerry go back a long way — they met in 1968 when Kerry was making his name as a young activist in Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Yarrow was at the height of his fame as one-third of Peter, Paul and Mary.

The friendship grew — Yarrow is godfather to Kerry’s oldest child and sang at his wedding. He also put his celebrity and guitar at his service during Kerry’s Senate and presidential campaigns.

“We are more than just being friends because something happened accidentally to connect us. We are people who believe in similar things,” Yarrow says of Kerry. “I worship him both as a friend and because of what he does.”

How perfect it would have been for Yarrow to cheer on Kerry’s peace efforts with a musical celebration, just as Peter, Paul and Mary encouraged the civil rights movement when they performed and created “the kind of feeling that people had at the March on Washington in 1963 when people sang ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ with us,” Yarrow told Haaretz.

That spirit, he believes, would help “amplify John’s valiant attempts to do something concrete to bring these hostilities and this occupation to a close.”

Sadly, things haven’t exactly worked out the way Yarrow planned, with the process Kerry nurtured for months in a shambles. After consulting with Kerry and U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, another friend, he decided that it was “too volatile right now.”

But that wasn’t enough to dim Yarrow’s ‘60s spirit. ”We have all the parties ready to go and enthusiastic. All the work is going to pay off,” he says. “Am I discouraged? Not in the least. I feel encouraged — everybody is on board, everybody is excited.”

Grassroots catalyst

For many people the concept “music can change the world” might sound like a naive cliche, but for the man who wrote “Puff the Magic Dragon,” it’s a life’s mission. He believes music did a great deal over the civil-rights journey that brought African-Americans from the back of the bus to the White House. And he believes music has the power to make a difference in the conflict-scarred Middle East.

At the time of an interview with Haaretz in a Tel Aviv hotel lobby a few weeks ago, Kerry’s peace efforts were stumbling, but Yarrow was still forging ahead with his concert plans. He explained why he thought he could act as a grassroots catalyst for the peace negotiations.

“I believe when there is a musical moment when people’s hearts are connected, change is possible — you make a change in people’s hearts if not in their intellects …. What I want to do is create that kind of inspiration through music … where everyone will say, whatever else is happening, there is something very tangible in the air that says there is another possibility,” he says. “This contradicts the naysayers, the people who are too weary, too frightened, too disaffected. This can change the dynamic.”

The idea for the concerts was spawned two years ago when Yarrow held a small private performance in Jerusalem for peace activists sponsored by Christian educator Ross Byars. As the Jerusalem audience sang together, “the enthusiasm and the warmth was so positive, it dispelled the weariness, the disappointment and the kind of disaffection that has plagued these circumstances for so long,” he says.

Yarrow and Byars began dreaming of a Woodstock-style “Jeru-stock’ — a multiday concert festival in both Israel and Palestine. (“I call it Palestine deliberately,” he says.)

Originally, Yarrow thought big, picturing stadium concerts with names like Paul McCartney, Joan Baez and Bruce Springsteen. These giants would jam with Israeli and Palestinian musicians — creating “musical moments” of reconciliation that Israelis and Palestinians in the audience could share.

But after initial contacts with the Palestinians — including Palestinian Authority ministers — it was clear this vision was unrealistic in the current environment. This kind of happy “normalized” cultural cooperation with Israel wouldn’t fly.

“I understand and I empathize with it, but I think is really unfortunate,” Yarrow says about Palestinian resistance to his let’s-hold-hands-and-sing approach. “Is it constructive? No. Is it destructive to the peace process? Yes. Is it terribly unfortunate? Yes. Is it understandable? Alas, it is understandable,” he says.

“For instance, if you have a bunch of people in the U.S. who are learning nonviolent tactics who are going to come up against a bunch of police, what do you tell them to do? You don’t tell them to pick up a rock. You tell them to lie down on the ground and go limp. That is the only tool you have, and metaphorically that is the tool they have. We will not cooperate, we will resist.”

So in accordance with Palestinian sensitivities, Yarrow scaled down his vision and planned concerts in Jerusalem and Ramallah with local artists on each side accompanying the international artists. He still held out hope that some artists — and audience members — might end up crossing borders.

Yarrow stands in increasingly lonely territory on the far left edge of U.S. politics — he has played for Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park and made a controversial apology in his rejection of the idea of boycotting Israel as a tool to pressure Israel toward peace.

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“I feel that I must be here to be a positive force to rally weary spirits to continue. A nation is not a single human being — a nation is many human beings who have different predispositions,” he says.

“If I want to be a force in the U.S., I’m not going to boycott the U.S., and if I want to be a force in Israel, I’m not going to boycott Israel. I want to be a force to try to help Israel, along with multitudes of others — to take the course that is constructive for its own history that will lead to its being a more moral nation.”

Mean-spiritedness and more

Cracks in his shell of positivity are only visible when he’s asked his opinion of the harsh criticism of his friend Kerry that keeps coming from Israeli leaders.

“The attacks on him — that he just wants the Nobel Peace Prize. I read that in the papers. God Almighty. That is shameful and its destructive,” Yarrow says, marvelling at what he calls “the mean-spiritedness and the pessimism and, if not stupidity, then at least ignorance that drives that kind of critique.”

Countering “mean-spiritedness” is something of a mission for Yarrow. His visits to Israel over the past decade are linked to his project Operation Respect, an educational organization he founded in 1999. A fusion of educational curriculum and music, the project is active in 10,000 schools working “to create an environment in which students accept each other, to learn the tools of nonviolent conflict resolution.”

The curriculum for the program, which has received support from the U.S. Embassy, has been fully translated into Hebrew and English, and the program’s theme song “Don’t Laugh At Me” has been recorded in an English/Arabic/Hebrew version by Yarrow, David Broza and Amal Murkus. They helped launch the program in Israel in 2010, and Broza and Murkus had been slated to perform at Yarrow’s now-postponed concerts.

Threatened by Kahane

Yarrow’s interest in Israel came late in life. He was born Jewish and was raised in Manhattan, but grew up with a universalist orientation. In his Greenwich Village folk-music days, he had no connection with Judaism or Israel except for one Peter Paul and Mary concert at Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool in the mid-’60s.

His Jewish identity, he says, emerged through political activity, beginning in 1989. He was asked to perform at a “land for peace” event in Manhattan and received threatening phone calls he was told came from supporters of extreme-rightist Rabbi Meir Kahane. To learn more about the Middle East – because “‘I said to myself, ‘I don’t know what I’m talking about here’” — he took his family on a tour of Israel, Syria and Jordan.

For him, that meant becoming a peace activist in Israel. “If you want Israel to be healthy and be a refuge and a great democracy, a leading nation morally and ethically, you have to resolve this,” he says.

One dark shadow over Yarrow’s past continues to haunt him — a sex offense for which he was convicted back in 1970, taking “indecent liberties” with a 14-year-old girl, a crime for which he served three months in prison. He received apardon from President Jimmy Carter, but the issue continues to provide ammunition for his political detractors.

Meanwhile, controversy raised its head in recent weeks over an event scheduled to honor Yarrow at a gala at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. And a fund-raiser for a Minnesota congressman at which he was slated to perform was canceled.

But in the Middle East, he plays on — he’s scheduled to take the stage at a USAID music festival in Jericho on Thursday night. And he continues to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials about staging his dream concerts sometime in the future — he hopes.

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Written FOR

REMEMBERING AN ‘OSLO CRIMINAL’

Gideon Levy at his best ….

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Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.

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Shalom, ‘Oslo criminal.’ Late diplomat Ron Pundak was a peace hero

Alas, this great diplomat is now a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the peace process is set to give up the ghost.

By Gideon Levy
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Ron Pundak.

Ron Pundak. Photo by Nir Keidar
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He was an “Oslo criminal,” perhaps the “Oslo criminal.” In a country where war criminals are heroes and peace heroes are criminals, Ron Pundak was a different sort of hero.

With the exception of Uri Avnery, who at 90 has just published the first part of his fascinating Hebrew-language autobiography — “Optimistic,” he titled it — Pundak was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. He was an incorrigible optimist where peace was concerned, and no less an optimist about his long, cursed illness. A man full of hope who is no more.

Pundak was the youngest, and nearly the last, of the believers in peace. After him, the abyss. He wanted peace for peace’s sake, without pathos or guilt. Simply peace.

He wasn’t anti-Israel; he was a Zionist and a lover of Israel. He wasn’t an Arab-lover; he was clearheaded, one of the last few who still met with Arabs and saw them as equal human beings. Nor was he a romantic.

His dreams were realistic, even if they fit a reality much saner than the crazy one we’ve created here. Pundak didn’t miss a single initiative. He came to peace from a very patriotic place. The fire that burned in his soul was ignited not by injustice to the Palestinians but by the future of the country he loved and that never repaid him for his labors.

Fire? Pundak was a cool man, as befits someone who grew up in a Nordic home, a Scandinavian-Israeli. His father Herbert (later Nahum) was perhaps the only journalist in history to be the editor of two newspapers in two countries at the same time — Denmark’s Politiken and Israel’s Davar Hashavua. (And he also worked for the Mossad at one point.)

He and his wife Susie have now lost their second son. Their eldest, Uri, the great hope of Tel Aviv’s Ironi Aleph High School graduating class of 1970, died in the Yom Kippur War.

I remember Ron on the beach of the legendary Sinai resort Aqua Sun, another province of dreams that is no more. Only once did he join his sister Michal and the special group that vacationed there regularly. Not once during his stay did he take off his safari jacket or obligatory moccasins.

Ron didn’t like the sun and sand. Maybe it was no coincidence that two of the main Oslo architects, Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld, of Danish and Austrian descent, respectively, weren’t your typical backslapping Israelis.

Something went wrong with their Oslo. To his dying day, Pundak remained convinced that the problem was the execution, not the plan or vision. In his Hebrew-language book “Secret Channel” — like another work he published in 2013 presumably knowing his days were numbered — he describes the incredible, rocky path that he, Hirschfeld, Yossi Beilin, Uri Savir and a handful of others traversed on their way to Oslo. It was from there to the White House Rose Garden for the signing ceremony, to which Pundak was not invited.

Pundak, a noble man, did not call to account in his book those responsible for the failure of the Oslo Accords. He was not one for hate, bitterness or petty accounting, not even when he was forced to leave the Peres Center for Peace because he focused more on peace than on Peres.

Once, at a modest birthday celebration that Beilin held for Shimon Peres in his home, in a corner near the stairs, Ron sat on the floor — pale, bald, weak and clearly in pain. Even then he didn’t complain. I’ll never forget that sight. On April 11, 2013, one year before his death, Ron, with chilling precision, texted me: “Your op-ed should have been the front-page lead.” The op-ed was titled “A letter from a ghost.”

Now Ron is dead, a ghost, just as another desperate attempt to blow life into the moribund peace process is set to give up the ghost. The man who wrote in his book, without even a touch of cynicism or desperation, “Fundamentally, the chance for a peace agreement remains,” would surely find fragments of hope even in these dark days. Now Ron won’t speak either. No one will speak of peace in Israel anymore.

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