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WARNING : This site is not for you, unless you are open to seeing the whole picture. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen.............. This website can be accessed as www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.org

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Israel - the ballot is stronger than the bullets

A healthy democracy is the safest thing and right thing to have. If men like Netanyahu fear that Jewish nature of Israeli will not continue with Christians and Muslims, and force an artificial demographics, then they don't know what democracy is and have not studied enduring American democracy or even South African Democracy.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Alon Ben-Meir - February 19, 2015
http://www.alonben-meir.com/article/ballot-stronger-bullet/?
The Israeli general election, scheduled for March 17, can be fateful for the Israeli Arabs as their voting en masse could change the political map and potentially prevent Netanyahu from forming the next government. They can, and indeed must, defy all parties from the right-of-center who do not wish them to have a voice, ostensibly because the Israeli Arabs cannot be trusted on matters related to peace and national security. But if the Israeli Arabs want equal distribution of resources to improve their socio-economic conditions, fully integrate into Israeli society, and contribute constructively to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, they must now fully exercise their right to vote and not squander this historic opportunity.

The number of Arab voters has dwindled in past elections, from 90% in 1955 to 18% in 2001, and up to just over 50% in the last election. This swing in voting was due to several important factors, including their frustration with the Israeli political system that does not allow much to change, growing complacency due to their general distrust of Israeli governments, and the inability to influence events.

In addition, Israeli Arabs have always been torn between their duty as Israeli citizens and their sense of affinity to their brethren in the West Bank and Gaza as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grinds on. This is coupled with disappointment with their own leaders, which has further discouraged them from being politically active.

The convergence of several developments in this election has created an unprecedented opportunity for Israeli Arabs to vote en masse and potentially change the political landscape in Israel. To achieve that, the burden of the “get out the vote” campaign falls on the shoulders of their leaders, Israeli Arab mayors, and local Arab political activists.
As it is, the Israeli Arabs are more motivated to vote in this election, especially because of the growing acuteness of their socioeconomic problems, overt discrimination in job opportunities and education, and limits on building permits and neglect of infrastructure. Their strong desire to prevent Netanyahu from advancing the “Nationality bill,” which they consider to be racist, provides further impetus.
Although the formation of a joint list of all the Arab parties—Balad, United Arab List-Ta’al, Hadash and Raam—came about from self-preservation, it has nevertheless engendered new momentum.
Israeli political organizations from the left and left-of-center, who vehemently want to deny Netanyahu another term, are also supporting the Arab list because the larger the number of Arab members in the Knesset, the wider the political base they will muster.

It is true that the Arabs are unlikely to vote in great numbers for Labor/Hatnua, partly because of the characterization of the party as the “Zionist Union” and partly because they are not a part of the political apparatus.

Nevertheless, the prospect of improving their condition and having a say in the political affairs of the country will depend to a great extent on the advent of Labor to power, which explains their tacit cooperation.

To be sure, the Israeli Arabs could be a deciding factor if parties on the right (led by Likud) lose some and the left (led by Labor) win some. Should they vote en masse for their own list, they have the potential of winning as many as 18 seats, emerging as the fourth or even third-largest party and becoming the “blocking bloc” that will prevent Netanyahu from forming a new government.
Even if Likud wins by a small margin over Labor, it is important to note that Israel’s President is not required to assign the leader of the party who wins the most seats to form the new government if he concludes that the left and left-of-center bloc could have a majority vote. For this particular reason, how many seats Arab Knesset members win will matter greatly.

To achieve their objective, the Arab list must first and foremost put forth a political agenda and an effective action plan that appeals especially to the eligible Arab youth, who have been disenchanted and are desperate for meaningful change. Time is short and they must utilize every moment to promote their political agenda.

They must focus on how to improve the conditions of Israeli Arabs in all spheres, rather than merely criticizing other political parties. They should constructively engage their Jewish counterparts in a dialogue about the future of the country and demonstrate loyalty to the state as their fate is intertwined with the fate of the country.

They must not be intimidated by the leaders of center and right-of-center parties, who refer to the Israeli Arabs as a fifth column whose main agenda is to destroy Israel. It should be noted that even though they are systematically discriminated against, 99 percent of Israeli Arabs prefer to live in a democratic Israel, where they at least enjoy equal rights before the law.

Their role now is to translate their constitutional rights into day-to day equality between them and their Jewish counterparts by voting instead of complaining. As Abraham Lincoln is attributed as saying, “Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

In fact, Israelis from all circles of life lament the discrimination against the Arabs and feel strongly that for Israel to remain a vibrant progressive democracy with security, it must have true equality between all citizens. Equality, though, is a process, and however long it might take, it rests on the ballot and not the bullet, to quote Lincoln again.

Working closely with Labor now and after the election, the Israeli Arabs’ struggle will continue. In the final analysis, regardless of who forms the next government, they must pursue a constructive path and not be drawn into a cycle of recriminations.

It is up to the Israeli Arabs to vote in this election and grasp the political power that reflects their numbers. They now have a momentous opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the state as responsible citizens who are ready to do their share and defy those Israelis who wish to see them disappear for 24 hours during election day.

A Message To Netanyahu: Enough Is Enough

Alon Ben-Meir - February 25, 2015
The killing of a security guard at a synagogue in Copenhagen over two weeks ago has renewed Netanyahu’s call for mass immigration of European Jews to Israel. Although he has made such impetuous appeals before, he now makes a new brazen claim that as Prime Minister of Israel, he represents and can speak on behalf of world Jewry.

This delusionary claim is an insult to European governments and the nearly 1.5 million Jews who live, work, and flourish in Europe. The irony is that Netanyahu represents neither the Jews around the world nor even the majority of Israeli Jews, other than the fraction who voted for Likud in the previous election.

Nevertheless, he seized the opportunity to usurp the political debate in Israel leading up to the election, irrespective of how harmful it may be to the very people he presumably wants to shield, merely because he believes it serves his interests.

Although Israel represents a sanctuary where any Jew is welcome, not a single non-Israeli Jew living outside Israel has appointed Netanyahu to be their spokesperson or protector.

No honest observer can deny that the upsurge of violent attacks against Jews is connected to the rise of anti-Semitism, which has not occurred in a vacuum. It is a direct result of growing anti-Israeli sentiment due to Netanyahu’s misguided policies toward the Palestinians and the continuing occupation.

Netanyahu’s call for European Jews to immigrate to Israel, live in “safety,” and not be subjected to terrorism was met with indignation by many Jewish leaders, including the Chief Rabbi of ‪‎Denmark‬, who said “If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.” ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Western European leaders have also taken great offense. Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt remarked that “[Jews] belong in Denmark. They’re part of the Danish community and we wouldn’t be the same without the Jewish community,” which echoed what the French Prime Minister said following January’s terror attacks in ‪‎Paris on a Jewish supermarket.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Notwithstanding the Jewish Diaspora’s affinity for Israel, they are loyal citizens of their respective countries, and Netanyahu’s illusion that bringing Jews to Israel will guarantee their security is only surpassed by his craven arrogance.

His call for mass immigration alienates Diaspora Jews and may put them at even greater risk. Eighty times more Israelis were killed in Israel by violence with the Palestinians in the past 25 years than all the Jews killed in Europe by terrorists during the same period.

There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s call for Jews to immigrate to Israel is also driven by his strong desire to increase the Jewish population in Israel and sustain the Jewish national identity of the state. This also explains his demand that as a prerequisite to reaching a peace agreement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.‬‬‬‬

Here is where Netanyahu’s hypocrisy is on full display. Indeed, if he wishes to shield the Jews from acts of terrorism and encourage them to immigrate to sustain a Jewish majority in Israel, he should first focus on addressing the causes behind the rise of violent attacks by vigorously attempting to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I maintain that once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached, many Jews would immigrate to Israel without any prompting.

They would be willing to build a new life in Israel not because they will necessarily feel safer there, but because peace would rekindle the pioneering spirit which was behind the mass immigration to Israel in years past, regardless of the uncertainty and the prospect of violence.

Sadly, Israel is no longer arousing that spirit, especially in young European and American Jews, because of the continuing conflict which has sapped it, leaving a void that cannot be filled with empty political slogans.

Netanyahu should wake up to the gloomy reality that nearly one million Israelis emigrated from Israel in the past 25 years. Many of them have left not only because they have become weary of endless violent conflict, but also because they feel betrayed by self-indulgent political leaders.

With only a few exceptions, Israel has been plagued with leaders who are no longer true to the vision behind the creation of Israel. As a result, many Jews have little hope that the political environment will change any time soon, unless new leaders emerge who are committed to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Not surprisingly, many Israelis who emigrated see no reason why they should return, only to see their children be inducted to a military that has become the oppressor rather than the proud guardian of a free, independent, and prosperous country at peace with itself and with the people that co-inhabit the land. ‬

This, of course, doesn’t trouble Netanyahu. For him, this is a do-or-die political campaign. He will do and say anything to remain the focus of public discourse, even by exploiting the sensitive issues of anti-Semitism, violent extremism against the Jews, and Iran’s nuclear threat.

He already crossed a major red line by accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress to the dismay of many Congressmen and Jewish leaders in and outside Israel, as well as a majority of the American public, while showing complete disrespect to President Obama, and more importantly to the Executive Office of the President.

He is determined to project an image of a courageous leader and the champion of Jewish causes, when in fact he has no courage but raw boldness befitting a politician who would sell his soul to the highest bidder.

Consequently, he brought Israel’s indispensable relations with the US to a state of crisis, infuriated European leaders, embarrassed Jews everywhere, and further isolated Israel.

The Israeli electorate, who will soon cast their vote, will do well to remember that they must now seek a new horizon and send a loud and clear message to Netanyahu: enough is enough.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Open Letter to the World - Howard Klineberg

Beautifully written, but falls short of becoming the greatest letter by a persecuted community. It would have been great by adding that we want to live and share the land with Palestinians who have lived on this land, and we will not do injustice to them, as was done to us.

Mike Ghouse
www.IsraelPalestineDialouge.com
# # #

An Open Letter to the world by Howard Klineberg
Published in Times of Israel.

When we were led into the gas chamber, YOU said nothing
When we were forcibly converted, YOU said nothing

When we were thrown out of a country just for being Jews, YOU said nothing

When we now defend ourselves all of a sudden, YOU have something to say

How did we take our revenge on the Germans for their Final Solution?

 How did we take revenge on the Spanish for their Inquisition?

How did we take revenge on Islam for being Dhimmi?

How did we take revenge on the lies of the Protocols of Zion?

We studied our Torah

We innovated in medicine

We innovated in defense systems

We innovated in technology

 We innovated in agriculture

We made music

We wrote poetry

We made the desert bloom

We won Noble prizes

We founded the movie industry

We financed democracy

 We fulfilled the word of Hashem by becoming a light unto the Nations of the Earth

So World when you criticise us for defending our heritage and our ancestral homeland we the Jew’s of the World do exactly what you did, we ignore you.

You have proven to us for the last 2,000 years that when the chips are down you don’t care.

Now leave us alone and go sort out you own back yard whilst we continue our 5775-year old mission, enhancing the World we share.

Read more: An Open Letter to the World | Howard Klineberg | The Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/an-open-letter-to-the-world/#ixzz3QWZvvfqD 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Netanyahu Betrays What’s Best For Israel - Prof Alon Ben-Meir

Prof Alon Ben-Meier reflects my views very precisely - Mike Ghouse

Netanyahu has ignored every appeal from the media, leaders of Jewish organizations, Israel’s European friends, and many others to cancel his trip, if for no other reason but for Israel’s sake. 


To be sure, Netanyahu has disgraced Israel and undermined its crucial relations with the most important ally that stood by it, rain or shine, and remains its ultimate defender.

Being that the US has and continues to be the ultimate guarantor of Israel’s national security, it defies logic that the US would allow any loopholes in a new long-term agreement that would in any way endanger Israel at a later date.


Netanyahu Betrays What’s Best For Israel - Prof Alon Ben-Meir

Jan 29, 2015

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been more vocal than any of his predecessors about the ‘looming Iranian danger,’ insisting that any agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons will amount to nothing more than a technical pause. He has been rallying members of Congress to impose additional crippling sanctions on Iran, hoping that the mounting economic pressure will precipitate a regime change, or at a minimum, force the current regime to abandon its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. 

Netanyahu has convinced himself that President Obama’s ‘eagerness’ to strike a deal with Iran would leave Israel vulnerable, even though the President has forcefully and repeatedly made it clear that under no circumstances will he strike a deal that can remotely undermine Israel’s national security.

Netanyahu, with wide Republican support in Congress, contends that notwithstanding Iran’s change of tone, its apparent willingness to cooperate, and insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, Iran is a wolf in sheep’s clothing determined to achieve its nuclear goal, however long that might take.

Tehran has already secured two principle demands: enriching uranium on its soil and limiting any new agreement to a number of years. From Netanyahu’s perspective, this is a recipe for disaster, as Iran would subsequently be free to pursue its nuclear weapon program.

Netanyahu maintains that even though Khamenei has repeatedly stated that he is against the building of nuclear weapons, Khamenei distinguishes between the possession of nuclear weapons and having the technology and materials to assemble one in short order, which amounts to the same thing.

The problem here is that Netanyahu does not believe that President Obama will demand an airtight longer-term agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Even though the US has kept Israel informed about the substance of the negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu spared no efforts to rally Congress to legislate a new set of sanctions that could only derail the negotiations. 

Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation by House Speaker Boehner to address a joint session of Congress to rebut President Obama’s Iran strategy is misguided and terribly damaging to US and Israeli strategic interests.

For Netanyahu to ignore protocol and notify the White House only after he accepted the invitation and refused to rescind it, is a slap in the face of the President who has done more than any of his predecessors to safeguard Israel’s security. 

Netanyahu has ignored every appeal from the media, leaders of Jewish organizations, Israel’s European friends, and many others to cancel his trip, if for no other reason but for Israel’s sake. 

To be sure, Netanyahu has disgraced Israel and undermined its crucial relations with the most important ally that stood by it, rain or shine, and remains its ultimate defender.

Being that the US has and continues to be the ultimate guarantor of Israel’s national security, it defies logic that the US would allow any loopholes in a new long-term agreement that would in any way endanger Israel at a later date.

Netanyahu knows too well that should Iran violate the new agreement, and if it were determined that the use of force is necessary to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, only the US can undertake such an extreme measure.

Furthermore, even if Netanyahu loses his mind and decides to attack Iran on his own, the US will still be dragged in because Israel does not have the military capability to embark on such an awesome undertaking without US support, given the likely horrifying regional consequences.

By what logic does Netanyahu have the chutzpah to second-guess the US and act in a reckless and appalling manner, which can only damage Israel’s sacred ties with the US to score some political points at home, especially at election time?

Netanyahu knows better than most people that without the US’ political, military, and economic support, Israel could not have existed, let alone become a regional powerhouse in all walks of life. 

A responsible Israeli prime minister must work closely with the US to produce an airtight deal and rally his allies in Congress to work toward that end, instead of trying to torpedo an agreement that could, at least potentially, eliminate the Iranian threat. 

To begin with, the US must make it clear that it will not hesitate to impose additional crippling sanctions with the full support of Congress if Iran continues to drag its feet. The agreement should include the following provisions:

Iran’s technical ability to construct a nuclear weapon must be curtailed by a significant reduction in the number of centrifuges, and restrictions must be placed on the installation of advanced ones.

Iran’s plutonium-production capability at Arak must permanently be disabled, and strict limits must be imposed on the quality and quantity of the production of enriched uranium. 

The US should insist that Iran end its research and development of its ballistic missile program, which could threaten Israel, and agree on the most unfettered, intrusive, and unannounced inspections regime. 

The Mullahs must be persuaded that the US is prepared to resort to the military option to stop Iran’s drive to become a nuclear state by remaining militarily vigilant throughout the Gulf. Finally, the agreement should be effective for at least 10 years.

Netanyahu must understand that the eventual normalization of relations between the US and Iran is the best way by which to eliminate the Iranian threat. Therefore, if there is any chance, however small, that such an agreement will stand the test of time, it must be explored.

The alternative is leaving Iran free to redouble its effort to reach the nuclear threshold, forcing the US to choose between the lesser of two evils: to contain Iran (which is costly, dangerous, and prone to instability), or attack its nuclear facilities, which will further destabilize the region and undermine rather than enhance Israel’s national security.

Notwithstanding the accolades Netanyahu may receive from the floor of Congress, he has betrayed what is best for Israel. The Israeli electorate must remember this as they cast their votes come election day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Nakba is mentioned in this article, and it is being debated among Jewish circles. The real issue is if we are willing to discuss it or is there are fear the discussion leads to acknowledgment?

There is a shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own or somehow it amounts to infidelity to our own suffering, and every community and nation has suffered through this.

As Muslim we commemorated Holocaust for the 8th year now,  perhaps the only Muslims in the world.  The purpose of this event was education; we hope to learn and acknowledge our failings and make a personal commitment to do our individual share of saying “Never Again”.

Mike Ghouse
www.HolocaustandGenocides.com 




Birkenau, the iconic main building, photo by Scott Roth

Mike Ghouse


This week marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Most likely it is the last time that many survivors of Auschwitz will be alive to mourn the dead they left behind. Coming as it does within the context of the recent massacre in France, world leaders are also attending in large numbers. Including among these leaders are the president of France and the prime minister of Germany.

Yesterday’s New York Times features an article on this commemoration and the changes that Auschwitz is undergoing as the surviving generation comes to an end.  The change is momentous as described by Andrze Kacorzyk, deputy director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum:

We find this to be a moment of passage. A passing of the baton. It is younger generations publicly accepting the responsibility that they are ready to carry this history on behalf of the survivors, and to secure the physical survival of the place where they suffered.

In practical terms, Auschwitz is to be transformed from a memorial site to an educational museum. The next generation will know no survivors and will be unable to hear from them personally. They will have to be educated in the Holocaust in a different way to become the new torch bearers of the lessons of the Holocaust.

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, is featured throughout theTimes article on the importance of educating the young about the Holocaust:

It is very hard to pass the baton to a new generation, people who are living in different circumstances in a new century. Your parents may want to pass the torch to you, but it is hard to take up the cause of their life. And in many cases now, we are talking about the grandchildren of survivors.


Auschwitz is important because it was ground zero of what the Nazis did. And it is important because anti-Semitism is like a virus. You think it goes away but then it’s coming back. Right now, it is coming back very strongly.



Lauder here is referring to the “outbreaks of anti-Semitism across Europe” which he believes will help galvanize future generations on the lessons of the Holocaust.

Perhaps it will, but the question unasked by Lauder, the Auschwitz museum officials and the Times is in what direction future generation, Jewish and otherwise, will be galvanized.

The Times may have already raised this question in their recent book review of Anita Shapira’s biography of David Ben-Gurion.  Reviewing the biography, Ilene Prusher has this to say about Shapira’s handling of Ben-Gurion’s role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948:

Some readers may find it hard, as I did, to read Shapira’s brief treatment of the moment in 1948 when the commanders Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin came to Ben-Gurion asking whether to carry out “a large-scale population evacuation.” Rabin reported that Ben-Gurion responded with a wave of the hand, saying “Expel them.” Shapira explains here that while he forbade the evacuation of some areas, like Nazareth, “like most of his ministers, he saw the Arabs’ exodus as a great miracle, one of the most important in that year of miracles, since the presence of a hostile population constituting some 40 percent of the new state’s total populace did not augur well for the future.”

Shapira doesn’t subject this incident to any ethical scrutiny or judgment, reporting it almost matter-of-factly. She does, however, note that given the history of the time — which included moving enormous masses of people across Europe and carrying out huge population transfers as part of the partition that divided Pakistan from India — Ben-Gurion’s decision wasn’t beyond the norm. “The decision not to allow the return of the Arab refugees was accepted as self-evident, and gained broad public support.”

I doubt there will be any reference to Ben Gurion’s decision or Rabin’s participation in the Nakba at the Auschwitz commemoration. I doubt, too, that the momentous change ahead in the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum will deal with the Nakba or Jewish culpability in this ongoing event.

The lessons of Auschwitz have gone unheeded. Most would agree. But the issue remains: What are the lessons of Auschwitz for future generations?

Thinking of the Nazis and Ben-Gurion, of the Holocaust and the Nakba, for Jews at least, the primary unlearned lesson is that Jews now live after what happened to Jews in the Holocaust.  Jews also live with the reality of an ongoing Nakba perpetrated by Jewish Israelis with the support of many Jews around the world.

The Holocaust is decisive for Jewish identity.  The Nakba is too.

Can this Holocaust/Nakba lesson be incorporated into the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum without minimizing the Holocaust?  Or does the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians simply raise the stakes of Auschwitz, demand a renewed encounter with the suffering caused by unjust power in anyone’s hands, including Jews?

Holocaust and the Nakba.  Holocaust and Israel.  On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, the lessons remain.

http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/anniversary-liberation-auschwitz?utm_campaign=trueanthem&utm_content=dBjuiI&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook#!dBjuiI

 This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Momentous Opportunity To Embrace The Arab Peace Initiative

There are many sane voices that call and show the way, I do hope more and more Israelis and Jews heed this advice.

Mike Ghouse
www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.org  

# # #

Courtesy of Professor Alon Ben-Meir.com

Jan 22, 2015

The Arab Peace Initiative (API) presents an unprecedented and vital opportunity to change the course of events in the Middle East by realizing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. At no time since the API was introduced in 2002 by Saudi Arabia has the development of events in the region converged to create a new environment, making the API more relevant than before; Israel must urgently adopt it as the basis for peace negotiations. 

Israel is approaching a historic crossroads, with a general election that may usher in new leadership and end the six years of deadlock in peace negotiations under Prime Minster Netanyahu, who deepened the conflict with the Palestinians while alienating Israel’s closest friend—the United States.

Unless there is new leadership in Israel and direct participation of the Arab states in the peace process, there is no hope that renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will succeed.

There are many Israelis who contend that given the volatile conditions in the Middle East, Israel must focus on the threats it faces from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS, and other jihadist groups, not engage again in futile peace negotiations. 

Nothing is further from the truth—everything that has transpired in the past few years and the current upheaval sweeping the region point to the precise opposite. 

Unfortunately, successive Israeli prime ministers have been blind to the merits of the API and have brainwashed the public about the “inherent danger” in it, instead of emphasizing its importance and far-reaching implications. Now that the regional dynamics have changed in fundamental ways, Israel must seize the opportunity.

For the first time in decades, the Sunni Arab world, especially the Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan, views Israel as a partner in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. They have been sharing intelligence and coordinating on various levels should Iran reach the nuclear threshold. 

Successful peace negotiations based on the API would dramatically weaken the Iran-Hezbollah axis, which threatens Israel from the north, and would put enormous pressure on Hamas to embrace the API, as it would be contrary to its interests to defy the collective Arab will. The longer the occupation persists, the more Hamas will be receptive to being armed by Hezbollah and Iran. 

It will improve Israel’s international reputation, reduce its isolation, and put the onus on the Palestinians to negotiate peace in earnest.

In addition, reviving the API will allow the Palestinians to make important concessions under the Arab states’ political cover and provide Israel a comprehensive peace with the vast majority of Arab and Muslim states.

Being that Israel is in the midst of general elections, there is probably no better time for the Arab League to restate publicly that the API is still on the table and urge the Israelis to support it. 

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog, who stands a good chance of forming the next Israeli government, should rise to the challenge and embrace the API.

Herzog needs to explain to the Israelis the significance of the API and why the time is right to use the API as the vehicle that will lead to comprehensive peace and security. 

Herzog needs to disabuse the public of the illusion, promoted by Netanyahu, that the settlements provide secure borders; in fact, the settlements enterprise is a security liability rather than an asset. Regardless, the Arab League agreed to modify the API to reflect Israel’s security concerns through land swaps that would allow Israel to keep its three major settlement blocs. 

In connection with the Palestinian right of return, which is another source of concern for the Israelis, the API calls for a “just solution” to the problem. In every set of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, it was understood by every Arab leader that only a token number of refugees can return. 

Furthermore, territorial compromise by both is central to reaching a peace agreement, and those Israelis who refuse to relinquish land for the sake of peace will jeopardize Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. As David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founder, stated: “Better a Jewish state on part of the land than all of the land without a state.” 

Herzog must also expose Netanyahu’s unfounded claim that a Palestinian state will end up like Gaza. Under any circumstance, the withdrawal from the West Bank will be done under meticulous security arrangements over a period of 5-10 years in full coordination with the PA that leaves nothing to chance.

Herzog should categorically dispel the notion that the API was proposed on a “take it or leave it basis” and negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on its principles. 

Both sides have been living with illusions about these issues and are imbued with the zero sum approach as if any gain by one side must be at the expense of the other. Unfortunately, the leadership on both sides has done nothing but promulgate these beliefs. 

By illusion, I mean what Sigmund Freud refers to as beliefs which are held in the absence of any good grounds supporting them, because they satisfy deep-seated wishes irrespective of evidence (or the lack thereof). Since illusions answer to inner needs, having to give them up can be an extremely painful, even traumatic experience. As a result, one of the major obstacles to adopting the API has been that many Israelis are still not prepared psychologically to relinquish some of their most cherished illusions.

Israel’s political leadership clung to these illusions and never understood the mindset of the Palestinians and vice versa. To be sure, few efforts have been made to bridge the cultural gap by engaging one another a mutual conciliatory interaction. Instead, they used the public stage to malign the other, further deepening the hatred and distrust rather than building new bridges. 

During the election campaign, the leaders of the Labor party in particular must set their sights high and embrace the API to give Israelis the chance to live in peace, especially now when the entire region is engulfed in terrifying turmoil.

  
Click here to read this article and more on AlonBen-Meir.com. 

8th Annual Holocaust and Genocides commemoration

The purpose of this event is education, information and activism. We hope to learn and acknowledge our failings and make a personal commitment to do our individual share of saying “Never Again”. 


We hope you will walk out of the event with a genuine feeling of being a contributor towards building a cohesive world where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. 

The Holocaust event has been commemorated by the Jewish community since 1953 for the loss of  6 million Jews during the Holocaust, known as
 Yom HaShoah in Synagogues around the world. The general public learns it by visiting the Holocaust Museums and educational institutions.

We at America Together Foundation are committed to spread the knowledge of Holocaust and Genocides through interfaith and public events.


Our format has been simple and consists of four parts: interfaith prayers, the Holocaust, Genocide (one or two each time), a Massacre, action items for individuals and the pledge of peace. Silently we acknowledge all suffering, but physically we are limited to a Genocide and a Massacre at one time.  

I believe, when we acknowledge each other’s grief and participate in each other’s commemoration, we connect with the humanness within ourselves and seed the relationship of understanding and caring for each other. 

There is a shameless cruelty in us, either we shy away or refuse to acknowledge the sufferings of others, worrying that it will devalue our own or somehow it amounts to infidelity to our own suffering, and every community and nation has suffered through this.

The purpose of this event is education; we hope to learn and acknowledge our failings and make a personal commitment to do our individual share of saying “Never Again”.

Our mission is to create awareness of the inhumanity within each one of us and hope to find the solutions.

The goal ought to be respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, anything short of that will leave unattended-sparks ready to flare up at short notice with the whiff of oxygen.

It is a bridge building event and we sincerely hope the attendees will walk out with the following understanding:

  • Other people’s suffering is as legitimate as mine;
  • It is easy to see ourselves as Victims, we must also see the perpetrator in us;
  • When we strip the politics out of a conflict, we see hope;
  • We can value others suffering without lessening our own;
  • The overriding desire to highlight our own blinds us from other’s suffering.
  • A sense of responsibility for creating a better world is awakened.


A initiative of American Muslims, organized by the Foundation for Pluralism, World Muslim Congress and America Together Foundation.

We are looking for participating organizations, sponsors and volunteers. Please text or call me at the number below.

References:

Our first event: Hon. Roslie and William Schiff, the Holocaust survivors delivered the key note, while people from many faiths participated in sharing scriptures from their holy books:.http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_HolocaustDay/HMD2006_ProgramReport.asp 

Holocaust and the Muslim guy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/holocaust-and-the-muslim-_b_4629509.html 


United Nations proclamations:  http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/docs/res607.shtml


Mike Ghouse, Event Chair
(214) 325-1916