Friday, February 27, 2009

The Dalai Lama: Non-Violence Cannot Tackle Terrorism

Dalai Lama: Non-Violence Cannot Tackle Terrorism (Press Trust of India)

The Dalai Lama, a lifelong champion of non-violence, on Saturday stated that terrorism cannot be tackled by applying the principle of ahimsa (the avoidance of violence) because the minds of terrorists are closed. "It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence," the Tibetan spiritual leader said in Delhi. He termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried out by a few mad people but by those who are educated. He said the only way to tackle terrorism is through prevention. The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile left the audience stunned when he said "I love President George W. Bush." "I told him 'I love you but some of your policies I oppose'," said the spiritual leader.

and this back in 2005:
Dalai Lama says 'too early' to tell impact of Afghan, Iraqi wars
From the Middle East Times. Great things sometimes emerge from great suffering . - The India Diaires -

EDINBURGH -- The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Saturday said that it was "too early" to determine the impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while saying that sometimes armed conflicts bring about positive results. World War II and the Korean war, although causing massive destruction, "eventually they brought some positive effects", said the exiled Buddhist leader during a public discussion on ethics in the Scottish capital. The 70-year-old said that "the Second World War protected western values and civilization".

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

On the Eve of Israel "Apartheid Week," a Clarion Call to Courage by Judea Pearl: "UCLA at a Crossroad"

As Israel "Apartheid Week" approaches (see below), Judea Pearl's courageous words should be a wake-up call not just to university faculty, but to students and concerned citizens the world over.
more on this in coming days...
david brumer

The Fifth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week March 1 - 8, 2009
--the 5th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week will take place across the globe from March 1-8, 2009

Dust Over Campus Life: UCLA at a Crossroad
Remember Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”? Written in the late 1950s, the play describes the transformation of a quiet, peaceful town into anarchy when one after another of its residents is transformed into a lumbering, thick-skinned brute. Only Berenger, a stand-in for the playwright, tries to hold out against the collective rush into rhinocerism.
First, the townspeople notice a stray rhinoceros rumbling down the street. No one takes a great deal of notice — “It made a lot of dust.’’ ‘’Stupid quadruped not worth talking about’’ — although it does trample one woman’s cat.
Before long, an ethical debate develops over the rhino way of life vs. the human way of life. ‘’Why not just leave them alone,’’ a friend advises Berenger. ‘’You get used to it.’’ The debate is quickly muted into blind acceptance of the rhino ethic, the entire town is joining the marching herd, and Berenger finds himself alone, partly resisting, partly enjoying the uncontrolled sounds coming out his own throat: “Honk, Honk, Honk”.
These sounds from Ionesco’s play echoed in my ears on Jan. 22, when an e-mail from a colleague at Indiana University asked: “Being at UCLA, you must know about this symposium ... pretty bad.” Attached to it was Roberta Seid’s report on the now famous “Human Rights and Gaza” symposium held a day earlier at UCLA (see “UCLA Symposium on Gaza Ignites Strong Criticism,” Jewish Journal, Feb. 11, 2009).
To refresh readers’ memory, this symposium, organized by UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies (CNES), was billed as a discussion of human rights in Gaza. Instead, the director of the center, Susan Slyomovics, invited four longtime demonizers of Israel for a panel that Seid describes as a reenactment of a “1920 Munich beer hall.” Not only did the panelists portray Hamas as a guiltless, peace-seeking, unjustly provoked organization, they also bashed Israel, her motives, her character, her birth and conception and led the excited audience into chanting “Zionism is Nazism,” “F—-, f—- Israel,” in the best tradition of rhino liturgy.
But the primary impact of the event became evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, partially informed students woke up to read an article in the campus newspaper titled, “Scholars Say Attack on Gaza an Abuse of Human Rights,” to which the good name of the University of California was attached, and from which the word “terror” and the genocidal agenda of Hamas were conspicuously absent. This mock verdict, presented as an outcome of supposedly dispassionate scholarship, is where Hamas culture scored its main triumph — another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.
Naturally, when students came complaining to me about how abused and frightened they felt during the symposium and how concerned they are about the direction the Center for Near East Studies is taking, I felt terribly guilty. “We should have anticipated such travesties,” I told myself, “we, the Jewish faculty at UCLA, should have preempted it with a true symposium on human rights, one that honestly tackles the tough moral and legal dilemmas that the Gaza situation presents to civilized society: How does society protect the human rights of a civilian population in which rocket-launching terrorists are hiding? How does one reconcile the right of a country to defend itself with the wrong of killing women and children when the former entails the latter? What is a legitimate military target?”

These are dilemmas that had not surfaced before the days of rockets and missiles, and we, the Jewish faculty, ought to have pioneered their study. Instead, we allowed Hamas’ sympathizers to frame the academic agenda. How can we face our students from the safety of our offices when they deal with anti-Israel abuse on a daily basis — in the cafeteria, the library and the classroom — and as alarming reports of mob violence are arriving from other campuses (San Jose State University, Spartan Daily, Feb. 9, and York University, Globe and Mail, Feb. 13)?
Burdened with guilt, I called some colleagues, but quickly realized that a few have already made the shift to a strange-sounding language, not unlike “Honk, Honk.” Some have entered the debate phase, arguing over the rhino way of life vs. the human way of life, and the majority, while still speaking in a familiar English vocabulary, are frightened beyond anything I have seen at UCLA in the 40 years that I have served on its faculty.
Colleagues told me about lecturers whose appointments were terminated, professors whose promotion committees received “incriminating” letters, and about the impossibility of revealing one’s pro-Israel convictions without losing grants, editorial board membership, or invitation to panels and conferences. And all, literally all, swore me into strict secrecy — we have entered the era of “the new Maranos.”
Exaggeration? Jewish paranoia? Hardly. I invite skeptics to repeat the private experiment that I conducted among Jewish faculty in a reception hosted last year by the Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA. I asked each of them privately: “Tell me, aren’t you a Zionist?” I then counted the number of times my conversant would look to the right, then to the left, before whispering: “Yes, but ...” I am sure that anyone who repeats this experiment will be as alarmed as I was about the level of academic terror on U.S. campuses, especially in the humanities, political and social sciences. Many generations of Jewish students will pay dearly for the failure of our leadership to acknowledge, assess and form a unified front to combat this academic terror.
Are university administrators aware of this suffocating intellectual atmosphere and how it negates any illusion of “academic freedom” — once the hallmark of university life?
UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block, in a letter to the Daily Bruin ( Feb. 9), reasserted the university’s commitment to “academic freedom” and “scholarly balance,” but did not indicate whether the Gaza symposium as choreographed by CSNE was a positive or negative contributor to these noble objectives. What students and faculty find lacking in the chancellor’s statement is some characterization of “civil discourse,” which he identified as “essential to the intellectual climate at UCLA.” They argue that any panel advocating white supremacy or boycott of Muslim scholars would have invited a totally different reaction from the chancellor, one that would have addressed the appropriateness of the content, not merely its style of delivery. Specifically, what Jewish students and faculty all over America expect to hear is a recognition that the demonization of the Jewish state, along with Islamophobic and racial slurs, are offensive to large segments of the university community and should therefore be discouraged, not censored, from academic discourse.
On the local scene, the issue UCLA administration must now face is the future direction of the Center for Near East Studies. The chancellor’s note in the Daily Bruin states that “the university strives overall for scholarly balance,” and cites three lectures by Israeli diplomats sponsored by the Israel Study Program at UCLA. Clearly, presentations by Israeli diplomats are epistemologically and situationally not equivalent to an anti-Israel presentation by supposedly dispassionate scholars. The question follows whether the university plans to achieve its “scholarly balance” through “apartheid” or through respectful dialogue. In other words, should UCLA students conclude that, from now on, the name, reputation and resources of the CNES will be harnessed to support primarily anti-coexistence voices, while pro-coexistence voices will be diverted to the (much smaller) Israel Study Program and other centers or departments?
Programmatically speaking, such a division would be a mistake. First, voices of coexistence need to be heard by all audiences concerned with regional issues, and the Center for Near East Studies (as its name implies) is the academic body chartered to embrace these issues. Second, given that Israel will be a major player in every peace process, to exclude Israel’s society from the scope of CNES’s interest and activity would be a disservice to Near East education and research. Finally, the insulation of CNES from the coexistence camp would betray community expectations. In the 20 years of its existence, this Center has garnered the reputation and tradition of being a meeting place for ideas of all players in the Near East. To whimsically ostracize one of the players and turn the CNES into a politicized propaganda center for anti-coexistence forces is not what students, parents, faculty, alumni and the community at large would expect of UCLA.
The UCLA community deserves to be told where the Center for Near East Studies is heading.
In retrospect, two positive outcomes are emerging from the Gaza symposium of Jan. 21. First, Jewish students have heard, many for the first time, that someone will pay attention to the agony and bewilderment through which they struggle to maintain their identity on campus. Second, Jewish faculty have seen what silence and indifference can lead to under rhino culture, and have realized (I hope) that a coordinated proactive effort to address campus anti-Israelism, cutting across all the political spectrum, is long overdue.
Our students are tomorrow’s leaders — they deserve our efforts to reclaim their dignity and assertiveness.
Judea Pearl is a professor at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son. He is a co-editor of “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl” (Jewish Lights, 2004).
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Michael Oren's lecture at Georgetown University and Yossi Klein Halevi: Report from Acre & Podcast on CNN re: Elections

Everything you want--and need--to know about the recent war in Gaza. Michael Oren at his best. Citizen/Soldier/Historian/Zionist and all around Mensch. Of particular interest: his answers to tough questions from Gazans and others in the audience at Georgetown.

Below that, Yossi Klein Halevi explores nationalism on both sides of the divide, at the Arab-Jewish junction of Acre, scene of riots and explosive tensions last Yom Kippur.

And Yossi on CNN yesterday with Fareed Zakaria; you can feel the utter frustration as he listens to Dr. Mustafa Bargouhti distort both history and the present.

Michael Oren at Georgetown University: A Personal and Historical Perspective on Gaza
(some people have had difficulty opening the link; if so, I recommend googling for the link--it's well worth the effort to get to this)db

Israel Election Panel on CNN
Yossi Klein Halevi, Mustafa Barghouti (Palestinian Legislative Council), & Yoram Peri--Former advisor to Yitzhak Rabin and professor at American University

Postcards from the Edge
Ground Zero Of Israel's New Ultra-Nationalism

Yossi Klein Halevi , The New Republic
February 13, 2009
Adham Jamal, head of the local branch of the fundamentalist Islamic Movement, and Ze'ev Noiman, head of the local branch of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu ("Israel is Our Home") party, call themselves friends. Both men are deputy mayors of this mixed Arab-Jewish city near Haifa, and their offices are on the same floor of the municipality. "Adham is a great guy," says Noiman, a retired career army officer. "He's condemned terrorism. True, I don't know what he says when he's speaking among Arabs, but to us he says the right things." Jamal: "Ze'ev isn't a racist like Lieberman," referring to Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. "He grew up here in Acre. He lives with us." Both men say they keep disagreements over national issues separate from cooperation on local issues.
Acre has always been an unlikely home for co-existence. Many of its 35,000 Jews are children of immigrants from Arab countries, or recent immigrants from the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. And many of Acre's 17,000 Arabs are poor and traditionalist. But somehow it's worked. The security guard who checks the bags at the municipality is an Arab--a gesture of trust in the Arab minority I've never seen in Israel. The town's Arab restaurants are filled with Jews. In Sa'id, one of the best hummus restaurants in the country, Jews and Arabs share tables; one recent afternoon there, I ate with a young Bedouin man named Ali, who had volunteered for the Israeli army and was voting for Kadima.
But the balance is becoming increasingly hard for Acre to manage. Last Yom Kippur, hundreds of Arabs and Jews fought in the streets. Jewish store windows were smashed, Arab homes firebombed. The riot was set off by an Arab man who drove into a Jewish neighborhood, violating the unwritten law against traffic in Jewish areas on the fast day. The driver, who Jews say was loudly playing Arabic music, publicly apologized, religious leaders from both communities met for a sulha, or peace accord, and Acre tried to return to normal.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Judea Pearl: "Civilized Society, so Numbed by Violence, has Lost its Gift to be Disgusted by Evil"

Important piece by Judea Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl. He bemoans the missed opportunity of his son Danny's murder:
"Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society."

Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil
When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?
This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?
The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.
Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of "the resistance." Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.
No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.
But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.
I believe it all started with well-meaning analysts, who in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy, but a tactic. Thus the basic engine that propels acts of terrorism -- the ideological license to elevate one's grievances above the norms of civilized society -- was wished away in favor of seemingly more manageable "tactical" considerations.
This mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians like the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. In July 2005 he told Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature. "In an unfair balance, that's what people use," explained Mr. Livingstone.
But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter. In his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter appeals to the sponsors of suicide bombing. "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Acts of terror, according to Mr. Carter, are no longer taboo, but effective tools for terrorists to address perceived injustices.

Mr. Carter's logic has become the dominant paradigm in rationalizing terror. When asked what Israel should do to stop Hamas's rockets aimed at innocent civilians, the Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, did not hesitate for a moment in her response: "They should end the occupation." In other words, terror must earn a dividend before it is stopped.
The media have played a major role in handing terrorism this victory of acceptability. Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, for example, is still providing Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi hours of free air time each week to spew his hateful interpretation of the Koran, authorize suicide bombing, and call for jihad against Jews and Americans.
Then came the August 2008 birthday of Samir Kuntar, the unrepentant killer who, in 1979, smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl with his rifle after killing her father before her eyes. Al Jazeera elevated Kuntar to heroic heights with orchestras, fireworks and sword dances, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose Al Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs.
Some American pundits and TV anchors didn't seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza. Bill Moyers was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance" movement, together with honorary membership in PBS's imaginary "cycle of violence." In his Jan. 9 TV show, Mr. Moyers explained to his viewers that "each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression." He then stated -- without blushing -- that for readers of the Hebrew Bible "God-soaked violence became genetically coded." The "cycle of violence" platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror's victims for violence as immutable as DNA.
When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers.
At my own university, UCLA, a symposium last week on human rights turned into a Hamas recruitment rally by a clever academic gimmick. The director of the Center for Near East Studies carefully selected only Israel bashers for the panel, each of whom concluded that the Jewish state is the greatest criminal in human history.
The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, "Scholars say: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza," to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph -- another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.
Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.
Mr. Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, founded in memory of his son to promote cross-cultural understanding.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Israeli Historian Benny Morris on NPR in the Bay Area: Gaza, Israel and the Middle East

Israeli Historian Benny Morris, interviewed on KQED, Public Radio

Benny Morris is a historian and author, most recently of "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War." The book won the 2008 National Jewish Book Award in the category of History. Morris is a professor in the Middle East Studies Department at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Great, informative interview. Morris is a fascinating figure, part of the group that came to be known as "revisionist" historians of Israel, challenging prevailing myths around the founding of the modern Jewish state. Now reviled by much of the Left that once admired him for his groundbreaking work, Morris himself claims greatest allegiance to the pursuit of truth, or as close to the truth as an objective historian can get.
For Morris, the outbreak of the second Intifada in the year 2000 was a turning point, and his assessments of the situation changed dramatically to reflect that watershed moment. Like a good scientist, his conclusions are soberly and inevitably drawn, based on the evidence of history, rather than the wishful thinking of what might have or should have been.
He's also particularly good in his responses to listeners' questions. When asked, for example, what he thought about Avraham Burg's latest work, he minced no words and declared it a "terrible book." Likewise for Tom Segev's book on the 1967 War. Morris does not suffer fools gladly and is refreshingly politically incorrect.

david brumer

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