I don’t listen to Peres, and you shouldn’t either

Posted: May 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

As international pressure is mounting, Israel goes back to the old habit of speaking in two languages. The first one is aimed to please the world (This is the traditional role of Shimon Peres), the second one – reserved for internal use only – deals with the things we really plan to do.

Daphna Golan has a great example in today’s Haaretz:

It’s to be hoped that the White House gets a subscription to one of the local Jerusalem newspapers ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington. Simply leafing through the giant advertisements would save American and Israeli taxpayers significant amounts of time, money and grief.

Israel has long promised there would be no new construction in West Bank settlements. President Shimon Peres reiterated this promise recently to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency. Topolanek, in turn, promised to work to improve Israeli-European relations. Netanyahu, during his U.S. visit, is certain to repeat the same lies uttered by Peres.

Yet this week, a Jerusalem daily promised that any Israeli factory willing to move to the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim would benefit in three ways. First is the community’s “Ideal location,” ten minutes from Jerusalem. The map featured in the ad shows only Israeli communities as recommended sites for factory owners to build in – no Palestinian communities, even those next door to the settlements.

read the rest here.

How Israel is Drifting away from the World

Posted: April 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, the US and us, this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

If you get your news about Israel from Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post – or worse, from the NYT or the LA times – it will probably be hard for you to appreciate how disconnected the Israeli public is right now with the rest of the world. While it seems that everyone else is in some sort of diplomatic frenzy – whether as a reaction to the stagnation of the Bush years, as a result of the economical crisis, or for whatever other reason – Israelis live in some kind of a bubble, where only remote echoes of the current moves are heard.

It is true that the most of the public never cares much for international news, and not only in Israel. But I am not talking about events in China or even Darfur. Israelis don’t think about the West Bank anymore, let alone the peace signals from Syria. With the possible exception of national security issues – such as everything that has to do with Iran – we couldn’t care less about the regions’ problems.

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This Government

Posted: March 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The weeks leading to Passover are always the busiest of the year for Israeli newspapers, mine included, so I don’t get to update the blog as often as I would like to.

Naturally, the big political news of the week is Labor joining the Likud government. I discussed more than once the possibility of Kadima joining Netanyahu, but to most people’s surprise, Tzipi Livni stood firm, and left the Likud with an extreme right wing coalition. Netanyahu’s conclusion from his failed first term in the PM’s office was that this sort of government can’t survive, so he did everything in his power to have Labor as his left cushion. And still, he would have never made it unless the man at the head of the Labor party was Ehud Barak.

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Bibi Goes to the Right

Posted: February 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It seems more and more likely that we will have a narrow right-wing government. Tzipi Livni’s recent statements against joining Benjamin Netanyahu’s government were so clear, that they didn’t leave much room for future changes. Even if she decides to join him in the next few weeks, she will need a really good reason, or she will be seen as the worst flip-flopper in ages.

Livni probably estimates her number 2, Shaul Mofaz, who wants badly to join the government, won’t be able to make any move against her for the time being. Mofaz is not in a position to threaten Livni, nor to leave Kadima with some of his supporters and re-join the Likud.

As for Netanyahu, it looks as though he got the massage. Bibi started negotiations with his future right-wing partners, and that means he all but gave up on the “national unity” idea. After he allocates cabinet positions and sign agreements with the radical right, he won’t have much to offer Kadima or Labor.

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Posted: January 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: this is personal | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments »

The famous Black Power salute in the 1968 Olympics is one of my favorite news photos. It is one of these rare moments where a simple, spontaneous act carries so much political meaning. Like the sole protester standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. I probably saw it hundreds of times, and it still deeply inspires me.


Even if you have never seen it before and you have no idea of the political context, this scene remains extremely powerful: the black Mexican night, the black tracksuit of the athletes, the black gloves raised and the bowed heads of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, winners of gold and bronze medals in the 200 meters race. They only had one pair of gloves – that’s why smith raises his right hand and Carlos his left. Carlos has his tracksuit top unzipped. He did it to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S.

This act cost Smith and Carlos a suspension from the US team, their expulsion from the games and later on, decades of vicious criticism. Their lives have changed forever, and not for the better. It was no surprise then, that not one of the 11,028 athletes in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing had the courage (or the will) to protest the hosts’ poor human rights record. People find these kind of acts to be “weird” or “unprofessional”, which really means “scary” and “dangerous”.

The third man in the 1968 picture is Australian Peter Norman. He also wore the badge of The Olympic Project for Human Rights (the black protest organization established before the games). Norman, who also suffered harsh criticism for this act, died of a heart attack in 2006. Here is a photo of Smith and Carlos carrying his coffin.


Yesterday a friend sent me this photo (taken by Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe). Tommie Smith and John Carlos are hugging with their wives as they watch Barack Obama sworn as the President of the United States.