Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Jews and Israel: Last week on NPR's KUOW

Last week, I joined Rabbi Anson Laytner of the AJC and Wendy Somerson of Jewish Voice for Peace on the Steve Scher show, Weekday. Michael Oren also contributed to the program via tape from his home in Jerusalem, speaking with authority on what it's like to be American born and Israeli by choice, having lived in Israel since 1979 (he also spends time in the States, teaching, lecturing and traveling the country last year as part of his book tour).
Towards the end of the broadcast, Ms. Somerson made the claim that Israel still maintains an active occupation over Gaza, controlling the air space, water, and border crossings. That Gaza is a 'power-cooker' where the Israelis control the fuel, are strangling the Gazans, and have taken away their electricity. For Ms. Somerson, then, it's no surprise that there are rockets regularly launched into Israel proper. The solution is simple: "Start negotiating."
Never mind that Hamas refuses to: renounce violence, recognize Israel's very right to exist, or respect existing agreements.
Apparently, Ms. Somerson is also unaware of the fact that the Hamas leadership is very adept at orchestrating humanitarian crises in order to manipulate world opinion against Israel. Aside from stealing the fuel supplies that are earmarked for Gazan hospitals, schools and what industry still exists (aside from bomb-making), Hamas and its co-conspirators continue to attack vital crossing points and energy supply lines along the Gaza-Israel border.
Just last month, suicide bombers drove 3 explosives-laden vehicles into the Kerem Shalom crossing. Thirteen Israeli soldiers were wounded in the attack. At least a couple of hundred trucks providing essential food and medical supplies pass through this crossing each week.
Two weeks prior to that, terrorists attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, which delivers almost 800,000 gallons of fuel every week to Gazan hospitals and to the Gaza City power station. Two Israeli workers were killed in that "negotiation," civilians who are there to facilitate the delivery of the fuel to Gaza. On May 4th, the IDF had to stop food and fuel shipments because the delivery vehicles came under heavy mortar fire. And early this morning, a Palestinian suicide truck packed with 4.5 tons of explosives blew up just outside the Erez crossing. Islamic Jihad said it and Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade cooperated in the attack.
These are but a sampling of the facts on the ground. But all this escapes the notice of Ms. Somerson, perhaps because, as she sheepishly admitted at the beginning of the broadcast, she has actually never even stepped foot in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza. She'd like to go someday, though.
david brumer
The full podcast is available below.
Thursday on Weekday at 9:00 a.m.
5/15/2008 at 9:00 a.m.
Go to 10:00 a.m.
Photo by tina.gao

American Jews and Israel
RealAudio MP3: high low
Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence this month. President Bush is in Israel along with other world leaders. Many American Jews are celebrating, while some stand in solidarity with Palestinians. Today we speak with leaders in Western Washington's Jewish community across the political spectrum. What does Israel mean to American Jews? What does it mean to be pro–Israel? What should America's relationship with Israel be, and what role do American Jews have in shaping it? What role have American Jews had in shaping Israel itself?

Guests:Rabbi Anson Laytner is executive director of the American Jewish Committee's Seattle chapter. He is an adjunct theology and religious studies professor at Seattle University.

David Brumer is on the Executive Committee of StandWithUs Northwest, a group dedicated to "promoting greater understanding and support for Israel in the Pacific Northwest." He is a member of the Israel Bonds Speakers Bureau, and as such promotes investment in securities issued by the State of Israel. He writes the blog BRUMSPEAK and has a day job as a geriatric social worker and psychotherapist.

Dr. Wendy Somerson helped found the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP "supports the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self–determination" and calls for "an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem." The group is a member of the Al–Nakba coalition, which held an event May 10 to commemorate Palestinian resistance. Dr. Somerson has a PhD in English from the University of Washington and has written curricula on Jews' ethnic diversity for the Jewish Federation in Seattle.

Michael Oren is a Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center, a research center in Jerusalem. He's the author of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. He grew up in New Jersey and moved to Israel in the 1970s. He served in the Israeli army during the first Lebanon war.


Lao Qiao said...

What Dr. Somerson doesn't realize is that the Palestinians and the entire Arab world have been fighting against the creation of a Palestinian state with their lives and the lives of their children. They rejected a state in 1947. They did so again in 1967, with the Three Noes of Khartoum. They did so at Taba, when President Clinton offered them the best deal they could possibly get.

In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and removed Israeli settlers by force. Israel was giving the Palestinians the beginning of a state. Ariel Sharon made a statement about withdrawing from the West Bank. The world responded by condemning Israel for withrawing without negotiations. As the for the Palestinians, they began aiming missiles at civilians.

Uzi Silber said...

for a chinaman Mr lao certainly knows his way around the Arab middle east cesspool of hate and mutual destruction. I just heard on the BBC yesterday how (foreign Jewish) investors in Judea and Samaria are confronting difficulties due to 'Israeli policies in the West bank'. not a word of course about how such policies arose in the first place -- to prevent murderous suicide vermin during the Arafat Intifada from exploding, maiming and mutilating Jews.
Qiao: how do you say 'Yimakh Shmam Vezikhram' in Chinese?

Lao Qiao said...

Lao (old) Nyapikores, nin hao.

I am unaware of an analog of "Yimakh shmam vezikhram." But one can insult someone by saying "Gou niang yangde" (raised by a dog's mother) or "Gui sunzi" (grandson of a turtle).