Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Important pieces: YK Halevi on 'Israelis Bracing for Next Missile Attack' & Feferman on 'Myth that Fuels Middle East Conflict'

Israel's enemies claim that the Jewish state was created at the expense of the Arabs of Palestine in order to ease the conscience of the world over the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust. The main spokesman for this myth is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believes that if you deny the Holocaust, you can deny Israel its legitimate right to exist. It is this myth - that Israel was born in sin - which continues to fuel the fires of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to bring about peace, we must retell the story of Zionism to reaffirm Israel's legitimate right to exist.

Israelis Brace for the Next Missile Attack - Yossi Klein Halevi
The postcard from the IDF Home Front Command that recently arrived in my mailbox had a map of Israel divided by color into six regions. In each region, residents have a different amount of time to seek shelter from an impending missile attack. If you live along the Gaza border, you have 15 seconds after the siren sounds. Jerusalemites get a full three minutes. But as the regions move farther north, the time drops again, until finally, along the Lebanese and Syrian borders, the color red designates "immediate entry into a shelter." In other words, if you're not already inside a shelter don't bother looking for one.

American attempts to reassure the Israeli public of its commitment to Israel's security in the face of a possible Iranian nuclear attack on Tel Aviv have largely backfired. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent threat to "obliterate" Iran if it launched a nuclear attack against Israel only reinforced Israeli fears that the U.S. would prefer to contain a nuclear Iran rather than pre-empt it militarily.
The Iranian threat has seeped into daily life as a constant, if barely conscious anxiety. It emerges at unexpected moments, as black humor or an incongruous aside in casual conversation.
A recent cartoon in the newspaper Ma'ariv showed a drawing of a sukkah, the booth covered with palm branches that Jews build for the autumn festival of Tabernacles. A voice from inside the booth asked, "Will these palm branches protect us from Iranian missiles?"
Israelis still believe in their ability to protect themselves—and many believe too in the divine protection that is said to hover over the fragile booths. Both are expressions of faith from a people that fear they may once again face the unthinkable alone.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)

The Myth that Fuels the Mideast Conflict - Bob Feferman
Israel's enemies claim that the Jewish state was created at the expense of the Arabs of Palestine in order to ease the conscience of the world over the tragedy of the Nazi Holocaust. The main spokesman for this myth is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believes that if you deny the Holocaust, you can deny Israel its legitimate right to exist. It is this myth - that Israel was born in sin - which continues to fuel the fires of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to bring about peace, we must retell the story of Zionism to reaffirm Israel's legitimate right to exist.
In 1947, the UN Special Committee on Palestine, with representatives from 11 countries, found during their visit a well-organized Jewish community that had already created the institutions necessary for an independent state. As Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University wrote, "The United Nations decided to partition Palestine into an Arab and Jewish state because of the realities on the ground, not because of collective emotions of guilt." During the 50 years of intense Zionist nation-building activity prior to 1947, the Jewish community of Palestine had created Hebrew-speaking schools, Hebrew newspapers, Hebrew theatre, agriculture, industry, a health care system and a Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The Zionist organization was created in 1897 with the goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Land was legally purchased from Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, and the Nazi Holocaust, the Jewish population of Palestine had already numbered 450,000. When the members of UNSCOP made their decision in 1947 to recommend the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, they were simply validating a reality that already existed.
In November 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to accept the partition of Palestine. On Dec. 1, the London Times published an editorial that supported the decision: "It is hard to see how the Arab world, still less the Arabs of Palestine, will suffer from what is mere recognition of an accomplished fact - the presence in Palestine of a compact, well-organized, and virtually autonomous Jewish community." The Jewish people earned the right to statehood through the hard labor and sweat of Jewish pioneers. Recognition of this fundamental truth will open the door to peace through the two-state solution.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert at the Kline Galland: this Sunday, Oct 25th; 2-4pm

Morris Malakoff • JTNews Correspondent

It’s been nearly eight years since Wall Street journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan.In that time, his family and friends, along with many others, have built a powerful and effective organization dedicated to his memory, The Daniel Pearl Foundation.While it goes about its educational and journalistic work, the foundation has also successfully put together a month of worldwide music events that occur throughout October on an annual basis.

“Daniel Pearl World Music Days” may seem an incongruous way to celebrate the life of a man known best for his writing and reporting. But, in fact, music was a large part of his life. According to the foundation’s Web site, “Music turned out to be an essential form of expression for Danny and led him to become a fixture in several bands throughout the world, where he improvised on the electric violin, fiddle, or mandolin. Today, friends and colleagues still recall how quickly he would pick up an instrument when he sensed an occasion, such as writing a song for a pregnant friend past her due date, or the Christmas night when he entertained downhearted co-workers at his office.”

Started in October 2002 in celebration of what would have been Pearl’s 39th birthday, Daniel Pearl World Music Days has grown to a festival with more than 3,100 events in 85 countries.This year, the Seattle segment of the World Music Days event, a part of the International Harmony for Humanity Concert Network, is scheduled for Sun., Oct. 25 at the Kline Galland Home in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood from 2 to 4 p.m.

Admission is free.The eclectic line-up includes Rabbi Jim Mirel; the Seattle All Star Klezmer Band; Jacquelina’s Dances of Spain; Marianna, which features with cantor/keyboardist Marina Belenky, guitarist Anna Vasilevskaya, and bass player Oleg Ruvinov; vocalist Gabby Bonner; musical theater diva Joanne Klein; jazz musician Marc Smason; guitarist Ari Zucker and Nick Heiting & Bonnie Burch.

According to David Brumer, director of social services at Kline Galland, this is the second year Kline Galland Home will dedicate their concert as part of the annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days network.“Last year, we had Daniel’s father, Judea, here as a guest speaker and he told us about the World Music event,” he said. “It was already October, but we were able to put together an event and be a part of it. This year, we are ready and have been getting ready to enthusiastically have our second annual event.”

Judea Pearl, president of the foundation bearing his son’s name, said the most important part of any of the performances under the World Music Days banner is letting the audience know about the principles for which the younger Pearl stood.“Danny was a talented musician and principled journalist who respected all cultures,” said Judea Pearl. “World Music Days is part of his legacy to raise awareness of our common humanity. All musicians, no matter their genre, are invited to dedicate performances held from October 1-31 each year.”

Marina Belenky, left, and Anna Vasilevskaya are principals in Marianna, a trio that plays traditional Jewish and world music. They are joined by Oleg Ruvinov (not pictured). They will be performing at a concert dedicated to the memory of journalist Daniel Pearl on Oct. 25 at the Kline Galland Home in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood. photo courtesy Marina Belenky

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, October 16, 2009

Living Ahavas Yisroel: Why Identify Matters

Borrowing from Jeffrey Goldberg's post of last Friday. Rabbi Wolpe's observation reminded me of Seattle Professor Martin Jaffee's eloquent take on why particularism must precede universalism. See also my blogpost on Natan Sharansky regarding the importance of identity from August of 2008, when he was here on his book (Defending Identity) tour.
david brumer

How to Be Human

Rabbi David Wolpe:
Rabbi Shlomo Carelbach used to say that if he met a person who said "I'm a Catholic" he knew he was a Catholic. If he met a person who said "I'm a Protestant" he knew he was a Protestant. If he met a person who said "I'm a human being" he knew he was a Jew.
Jews have led some of the great universalist movements of the world. They did so under the illusion that if all people were just alike, the thorny problem of being different would disappear. It never did. It never should. Being a Jew is not a problem but a blessing and a destiny.
There is no such thing as a person in general. Each individual grows up with a certain family, land, heritage, language and culture. To deny it is to cast off a piece of oneself. Jewish is not opposed to being human; rather it is an ancient and beautiful way to be human.
In every age there are those who dream of homogenizing the world. It is an ignoble dream. When we honor difference we honor the One who created this diverse, multicolored pageant of a world.

Living Ahavas Yisroel
Martin Jaffee • JTNews Columnist

The k’lal (the universal) was always known only through the prat (the particular). The road to universal human fellow-feeling first wound its circuitous route through the tangled pathways of intense Jewish communal solidarity.Which may have something to do with my dad’s response when, years ago, I came home from college touting the prophecies of Rosa Luxemburg, about whom I’d learned in a political science course. Jews, I proclaimed (over a plate of borscht with sour cream), should lead humanity out of the darkness of its particularistic atavisms into the clear light of “world citizenship.” This time, Dad knew better than to argue. He just looked up to the Heavens, spread out his hands in the classic Zero Mostel-Tevye pose and mocked: “I love humanity; it’s the people I can’t stand!”It took me years to understand the depth of his insight and satire. How easy it is to love a concept, and how difficult to love reality in all its particular messiness! How easy to forget that, if humanity is a family, it begins with a real mother, a real father, real brothers and real sisters — those who speak your language, know the smells of your kitchen, share your nightmares, and, it must be said, hate your enemies and love your friends, because, after all is said and done, “you are our flesh and blood.”

Just this, I suppose, is what irritates so many “universalists” (Jewish and otherwise) about the centrality of the concept of ahavas Yisroel (“Jewish love for Jews”) in Jewish ethical thought. Why shouldn’t Jews love all humanity equally? Why focus on the insular, bounded “tribe” at the expense of the whole? Isn’t “tribalism” the root of all social evil? The simple answer is: You can’t love “humanity” unless you see in it some familiar faces. It’s through the love called forth by those faces that we learn to see in them something larger — “humanity” as a potential community — something that never really exists, although we strive to reach it. While love of the “tribe” can certainly descend to “tribalism,” it is also true that “humanity” is revealed most richly through the “tribe.” When we lose our “tribe,” we lose the very thing that enables us to find a wider place in the universally “human.”

Why Identity Matters: Natan Sharansky
blogpost from August 2008

On July 16th, former refusenik and living hero, Natan Sharansky spoke before about a hundred people at Seattle Town Hall, making the case that strong identities are the best bulwark against tyranny and fundamentalism. His new book, "Defending Identity" points the way towards reinvigorating the West in its struggle to maintain its freedoms and democracies in an increasingly intolerant world.Sharanksy begins with John Lennon's idealistic song "Imagine," where the future utopia will consist of a borderless world "and the world will live as one.

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people,Living life in peace.

He contrasts this with the declaration by the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda that "we will win because the West loves life and we love death." Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said the same in an interview in 2004, after a prisoner swap (yes, another earlier one) between Israel and his group: "We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death."

It would be a mistake though to assume that these Islamic fundamentalists are crazed martyrs who wish death upon themselves for its own sake. Rather, their identity is a powerful force that gives meaning and purpose to life beyond the physical and material. The jihadists hold beliefs--however horrifying and foreign to us--for which they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. And they see the West as divorced from any distinct sense of identity, unwilling to make sacrifices for any cause larger than the self. In short, they see us as having lost the will to fight, defend or die for our beliefs. And indeed, for many in the West, John Lennon's song has become an anthem of post-modern, post-nationalist universalism.

Click Here to Read More..