WARNING : This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of other and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. 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. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not good for Israel - Obama, Netanyahu and Clinton

URL - http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/not-good-for-israel-obama-netanyahu-and.html

They and Netanyahu are not good for Israel's long term security. They are messing with Israel's long term security, faking to secure it. The sane and wise but silent majority of Jews will not agree with them and I wish they speak up. I wish I can make the time to write about it. 

This was written on 11/22/12 - Unintended consequences and source for anti-Semitism.
If the United Nations were to place “Cease fire” for vote today, more than likely, 178 nations will vote yes, and five will go against it including the United States, Israel and a few dependent nations. Do you think the people of the 178 nations feel resentment and bitterness toward the powerful? This is not good for Jews or Israel and the world in the long haul.

The retaliatory actions taken by Netanyahu, and endorsed by Obama are detrimental to Israel’s security in the long run. Their actions do not mitigate conflicts, but flare up and prolong the eternal dream of Jews to live in peace and security. Not only that, they massively contribute to the growing  Antisemitism which has been the very reason for the suffering of Jews for over 3000 years. 

Injustice against the weak will not go un-reacted to, the only thing the people around the world will feel is build resentment towards the United States and certainly events like this will contribute to  Antisemitism.

Mike Ghouse

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How to achieve Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians

How to achieve Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians
Link: http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-achieve-security-for-israel-and.html

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The long term security of Israelis hinge on justice to the Palestinians, and peace to the Palestinians depends on the safety of Israelis. One will not happen without the other. In view of accomplishing the twin goal, both parties have failed the respective populations. The following essay may not be comfortable to a segment of Jews and Muslims, but the recommendations must be factored in to finding a sustainable solution.  

Security may be broadly defined as living without fear and apprehension, the state of security exists when the Israelis can go about shopping in the malls without caution, drop their guard when their children and family members ride a bus, and when they visit the pyramids, they can do so without second thoughts.

Justice to the Palestinians exists when they can live without worries of getting kicked out of their own homes, when have their own identity in the world as people of Palestine, have their own passport without the apartheidic restrictions, rights to the land they can call their own, and move about freely without check posts or the walls.

The Palestinians and Israelis are indeed endowed by “their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Now let’s acknowledge the actions of the parties in the light of accomplishing that twin goal and put them back on the track. 

When a child or a spouse is pushed around, placed on a curfew,  threatened, and his or her liberties stripped, he or she is left with few options than cursing, hurling dishes, and  quietly or blatantly destroying the belongings of the oppressive man of the house.  In your work place, when you are pushed around, and cannot do much against the tyrant boss, what do you do? Regardless of where this happens, be it in the United States, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia or Mexico, the response would be similar.

It is shameful to justify the behavior of the oppressor, “They did not listen to him, they were disobedient and destructive, and the man of the house did the right thing; beat the crap out of them and teach them a lesson.”

The woman who is raped is blamed for going to the bar, or wearing a mini skirt or getting drunk while shooting the pool with the boys. This stinky attitude is even prevalent among women.    

The Hutus justified the massacre of Tutsis, as the oppressors always do.  When President Habyarimana of Rwanda was assassinated in 1994, the Hutu majority went on a killing spree and we witnessed the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India was assassinated in 1984, the Hindu mobs went on a killing spree of the Sikhs. The Muslim mobs have gone on torturing the minorities in Pakistan, Indonesia and elsewhere. The words used and justifications made were similar.  The oppressors, rapists, murderers and tyrants always justify their behavior.

Hamas Terror

We unequivocally condemn Hamas for their random shelling of the rockets into Israel; and the shameful acts of terrorizing the civilian population in Israel.  As a Muslim I protest their acts, and request the Organization of Islamic Countries to join the Muslims worldwide in condemning these acts, and demand Hamas to give up terrorizing the innocent and seek solutions through civil process.

Paul Goldstein, my Jewish American friend living in Norway writes, “These (acts) have instilled fear into the daily lives of innocent Israeli civilians throughout the country, and have hit major cities, causing injuries, damage, and fatalities. Many hundreds of rockets are hitting Israel daily.” And he adds, “No country in the world can or should tolerate being subjected to continuous rocket attacks against its major population centers. With sadness, I concede that Israeli military action is necessary in this emergency situation to protect its citizens in safety, Jews and Arabs alike.” 

President Obama also defended Israel, “Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory, “and, "If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable...”

The actions of Hamas are unforgivable, and I appeal to the thoughtful among you, did we give them choices to act differently?  

 “When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” -  Former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir.

Israeli Reaction

In every ugly massacre or genocide, whether it was the Hutsies, Hitler, Saddam, Assad, Gaddaffi or others; they rulers wanted to teach a lesson to the entire population for the acts of the few.   

Can we justify these acts to keep the urchins, spouses or irritants in their place? I am severely disappointed at the short-sightedness of President Obama and his administration.  We should have paid attention to the missiles long time ago and found solutions then, instead of waking up one day and justifying brutal retaliation. 

What was Prime Minister Netanyahu doing all these months, instead of initiating a dialogue he chose to pound Gaza, did the think that the missiles will stop reigning on their own? 

The illegal settlements and lawlessness has to stop; it brings despair to the Palestinians who want peace. The brutal retaliation needs to stop, it is a burden that the Prime Minister may escape but the Israelis will have to carry it on their psyche for generations to come. Is that the kind of Nation Israelis want?  Does violence solve the problems, has it ever? 

Unintended consequences 

If the United Nations were to place “Cease fire” for vote today, more than likely, 178 nations will vote yes, and five will go against it including the United States, Israel and a few dependent nations. Do you think the people of the 178 nations feel resentment and bitterness toward the powerful? This is not good for Jews or Israel and the world in the long haul.

The retaliatory actions taken by Netanyahu, and endorsed by Obama are detrimental to Israel’s security in the long run.  Their actions do not mitigate conflicts, but flare up and prolong the eternal dream of Jews to live in peace and security. Not only that, they massively contribute to the growing anti-Semitism which has been the very reason for the suffering of Jews for over 3000 years. 

 Injustice against the weak will not go un-reacted to, the only thing the people around the world will feel is build resentment towards the United States and certainly events like this will contribute to Anti-Semitism. Take a look at the Anti-Israel rage across globe as violence in Gaza goes on http://rt.com/news/protest-israel-gaza-war-984/
Call for action.

The United Nations need to call for an immediate cease-fire; both parties need to hold the fire. Goldstein, “Israel cannot cease hostile action on its own side while Hamas continues to terrorize with impunity the citizens of major cities with long-range rocket attacks.”

In the interest of Security for Israelis and Justice for the Palestinians, President Obama has to play an honest broker of peace, which will be tough on our ally Israel.  Demand the Israeli Parliament to invite Hamas leadership to join the talk immediately on our grounds at the Rose Garden. If Saudi Arabia and Egypt are convinced about our sincerity, they will bring Hamas aboard.

Our support to Israel or Palestine should be based on results. We have caused the conflict to prolong, and we bear the responsibility to find solutions. We need to be just and honest.

The Jewish people want sincerity as much as the Palestinians, they don't want duplicity from our leadership, and they had plenty of that in since 1948. They need sincerity and security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians.

The two state solutions is the way to go forward and one of the most fundamental items to be included in the transaction is to develop a school curriculum without malice towards each other.  A new generation must be raised with hope and goodwill, so they can live in peace and prosperity. This should be an uncompromising goal. 

This is a life time opportunity for President Obama to forge peace between these two people, who have endured a lot of pain and both deserve relief. It’s time for him to earn that Nobel Prize that was dished out to him.

It is in the interest of the world to build cohesive societies, where no one has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.  The people of Israel have more options and power to change things, than the Palestinians. May God give sanity to the aggrieved parties to find peace. Amen!

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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace making, foreign policy, Islam, Israel, India, Pakistan, interfaith, and cohesion at work place or social settings. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a strong presence on national local TV, Radio and Print Media, and is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mike Ghouse and Katy Pavolich on Hannity Show

The Left's War on Israel Debated by Katie Pavlich & Mike Ghouse - Sean Hannity - 11-19-12 YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZGO6UIIxDg

I have received a barrage of hate mails for saying Hamas' right to exist - hell, these guys live in caves, the Israelis are asking for it, here is Uri Avenery - http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/uri-avnery-says-israel-must-recognize.html - He, a thousand other sane Israeli and I have been talking about it since 2006 - from the Annapolis conference. 

It appears that a few people really don't know the alternatives, if they think about it, they are talking about Genocides of Palestinians or annihilation of another people. 

I do not expect the majority to be prejudiced, but give the room for a few to jump to conclusions without seeing the whole picture.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace making, foreign policy, Islam, Israel, India, Pakistan, interfaith, and cohesion at work place or social settings. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a strong presence on national local TV, Radio and Print Media, and is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Uri Avnery says: Israel must recognize Hamas’ government in Gaza

Courtesy: Tikkun Magazine

Who started the deadly tit for tat? To the Israelis it is clear − it started with the abominable fire on the school bus. To the Palestinians it is clear − it started with killing a senior Hamas official. And before that it was … and before that it was … and before that it was…

In his old age a man returns to second childishness, Shakespeare said. Something similar is happening to the State of Israel.

The new round of hostilities along the Gaza Strip was terrible. A missile was fired at a school bus, critically injuring a teenage boy. At least 15 Palestinians were killed in the retaliation, including civilians, women and children. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis had to hunker down in bomb shelters in constant fear. And all as a result of a childish policy.

Who started? To the Israelis it is clear – it started with the abominable fire on the school bus. We had to retaliate to that. To the Palestinians it is clear – it started with killing a senior Hamas official. We had to retaliate to that. And before that it was … and before that it was … and before that it was…
And how will it end? Today there seems no end to it. Each side insists on not letting the other side fire the last shot.

The first childish decision was ours – Israel must on no account recognize the Hamas government because Hamas is a terror organization, which does not recognize the Jewish democratic state. Because Hamas is this and that.

This is complete – and fatal – nonsense. Hamas really is this and that, but it is the only government in Gaza. We tried to bring it down and as a result it grew stronger. Moreover, secret WikiLeaks documents recently published reveal that a senior Israeli defense official told an American diplomat Israel is interested in maintaining Hamas’ rule in Gaza in the short term, because any alternative reign would be worse.
If so, what is this bloody game for? Why continue bluffing the Israeli public when the solution is simple? Israel must recognize Hamas’ government in Gaza de facto, as an existing reality. Israel must negotiate with the existing government over practical matters that require an arrangement.

There is no point in achieving another fuzzy tahadia (calm ), with the help of another shadowy third party, with no details and no official agreement. We need an official cease fire, fixed in a written document, setting procedures to sort out complaints. We need an agreed, manifest, reliable third party to supervise this process.

Israel’s entire approach to the Gaza Strip is anachronistic. The blockade, intended to persuade the population to topple the Hamas government, failed and has turned into a stumbling-block. We must cut ourselves off from Gaza once and for all, and this means allowing Gaza to open itself in all the other directions – opening the Gaza port, airport and border with Egypt.

Israel has proved it can prevent bringing in weapons in other more effective ways. This also pertains to the next flotilla barreling our way. Let it sail in peace wheresoever it may.

This is common sense. Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy also hinted as much. Anything else is stupid, childish, one-upmanship games – he started, let him stop first, and the like. To put it simply – fatal stupidity.
Benjamin Netanyahu was also gripped by second childishness when he began his campaign to avert the oncoming “diplomatic tsunami” – world recognition of a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Netanyahu, who believes one word is worth a thousand acts, is planning to turn a few more villages over to Palestinian rule, convene another Madrid-style international conference and persuade one more state to vote against recognition of the state in the UN.

How many times can we repeat these childish tricks, especially when the world’s answer is expected to be a simple cry: “Israelis, we’re fed up with you!”

Uri Avnery is chair of Gush Shalom, the pre-eminent peace activist organization in Israel.

Israel and Gaza: Enough is Enough

Israel and Gaza: Enough is Enough
By Rabbi Michael Lerner

All the usual suspects are cheering on their respective sides in the latest struggle between Israel and Palestine being fought out at the expense of some Israeli and more Palestinian civilian lives. I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness at the tragic loss of lives and harm to the bodies of Israelis and Palestinians, and outraged at all those who continue to justify their side and demean the other, implicitly cheering on the violence even as they officially deplore it! Enough is enough. Stop the violence immediately!

First step: the international community, led by the U.S., should impose an immediate cease-fire on all sides of the struggle, and should introduce an international peace force to restrain and if necessary arrest anyone involved in any side of this struggle who is acting to continue the violence. That force should be equally charged with arresting any military figures on the Israeli side or guerrilla forces on the Palestinian side that are attempting to engage in hostilities.

Second step: hold an international conference to create a politically and economically viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel (details on what that would look like are in my bookEmbracing Israel/Palestine which you can order online at www.tikkun.org/eip, or on Kindle format at Amazon.com).
Third step: begin a truth and reconciliation process to coincide with implementing the creation of a politically and economically viable Palestinian state.

So how do we get there, given the apparent willingness of everyone from Obama to the most liberal Dems in the Congress to want to be seen as giving Israel carte blanche to do what it will to punish Hamas, and even the normally predictable peace voices are keeping a very low profile?

We have to move the focus from who did what to whom and how badly should we feel to the more significant question: how do we use this moment to push beyond the usual cacophony of righteous believers in the goodness of their side’s cause so that we can realize that the issue for all humanity is how to put love, kindness and caring for each other and for the earth on our collective agenda, realizing that the human race simply cannot allow itself to be distracted by outrageous and endless vicious nationalist struggles.

Yes, there are steps that could be taken to guarantee a lasting cease-fire. Israel could offer to end the blockade of Gaza (which in any event has been ineffective in keeping Hamas from gaining long-range missile capabilities) and end all drone over flights in both the West Bank and Gaza and all targeted assassinations in exchange for Hamas agreeing to allow international monitors search all forms of entry to Gaza to prevent that military hardware from being imported and simultaneously agreeing to prevent all future bombardment of S’derot and any other Israeli targets and to punish those engaged in rogue actions of that sort (e.g. Islamic Jihad or whoever else tries to provoke war by shooting at Israel from Gaza). This same force should be policing West Bank settlers some of whom are committed to disrupting any peace process that might lead to a reduction in the West Bank settlements.

But no such moves are likely to work without a fundamental change of attitude: a new approach of compassion for each side by the other, the adoption of a zero tolerance of war as a solution to anyone’s problems, and the replacing of the strategy of “we’ll show them how tough we are” attitude that I call a strategy of domination with a new strategy of generosity (“we’ll show them how much we can care for them beyond all reasonable expectations”). Cancel the endless attempts in the media for each side to try to prove that their side is the righteous victim and the other side the “evil other.” Most important: we need to develop a societal wide therapy to help Israelis overcome their greatest fear: the fear of being seen as a “fryar,” someone who is too optimistic about the decency of other human beings and the potential or turning enemies into friends. Until this Israeli pathology is overcome, no amount of rationality is likely to emerge in Israeli discourse or poltics.

The first steps in this process: it is time the Israelis acknowledge the cost of their Occupation and denial of fundamental democratic and human rights on the Palestinian people. Much of the Israeli media gives little attention to the ongoing violence directed at Palestinians, such as outright stealing of land from Palestinian farmers, IDF suppression of non-violent demonstrations against the Occupation, and holding Palestinians without charges. Targeted assassinations now carried out by drones whose daily presence in the skies over Gaza make that tiny area the world’s largest outdoor prison. Ironically, except for the tiny percentage of Israelis who read Ha’aretz, most Israelis don’t even have a clue about what the daily oppressive reality is like for people in the West Bank, much less for the million plus human beings living in Gaza.

The majority of Israelis go about daily life oblivious to the suffering that the status quo generates until Palestinians launch their (thankfully mostly ineffective) missiles against hapless citizens in S’derot and other southern Israeli towns. And when Israelis flex their overwhelming military muscles, the leaders (sic) of the organized Jewish community in the U.S. jump into line, screaming that Israel’s existence is in danger (a complete fantasy) and that the U.S. must support its “ally” (which meanwhile is scheming how to drag the US into a war with Iran).
While it is true, as Palestinians and their global supporters purport, that Israel can (and does) murder far more Palestinians than Hamas murders Israeli civilians, nonetheless, the murder of civilians on either side only builds resentment and entrenches both sides in their self-righteous indignation. As civilians on both sides hide in terror (one in their bomb shelters, the other hiding wherever they can), their political leaders play a game of chess to promote their position and prolong the fighting. When in actuality, neither Hamas nor the Netanyahu government wants peace.

Hamas wants to subvert the P.A. efforts to get Palestine a higher status at the U.N. because that would make Hamas less viable in the coming Palestinian national elections. Its willingness to continue these symbolic (and more recently less symbolic and more substantive) launchings of missiles against Israeli targets are not aimed at winning anything. Though some may justify them morally as the response of the powerless to the ongoing evil of the Israeli occupation and its murderous day-to-day reality, we must also note that it is a cynical ploy by Hamas to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s past seven years of non-violence and seeking accommodation with Israel. At the same time, Palestinian non-violence is the last thing the Netanyahu government wants, hence its provocative policies and statements as it continues dunam by dunam to undermine the possibility of a two state solution that it deceptively claims to still support, and now escalating the violence against Palestinian civilians as its calling card for the forthcoming Israeli elections. Netanyahu is willing to endanger the lives of Israelis by failing to reward Palestinian non-violence from the P.A. but instead escalating violence against Gaza. It’s his ticket not only to reelection, but also to his legacy as “the Prime Minister who stood firm against outside pressure.”

Nothing Israel can offer short of ending the Occupation now and creating a politically and economically viable Palestinian state (along terms I’ve outlined in chapter 9 of my 2012 book Embracing Israel/Palestine) will change anything. A cease-fire will lead to continuation of an awful status quo. Yet the kind of generous offer I propose in my book is not going to happen until there is a much larger change in the consciousness not only of Israelis and Palestinians but of their champions and cheerleaders around the world.

In short, what is needed is a new global ethos of recognizing that our well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else alive today and the well-being of the planet as well. The path to homeland security for everyone and every country is a path of generosity. And that generosity has to take form both in consciousness and in action. Consciousness that is learned by hearing each other’s stories so that we are able to see the world from the others’ perspective. In Israel and Palestine, that must involve learning about each other’s histories to provide compassionate understanding for the current situation.

The action form: the U.S. should take the leadership with the other advanced industrial countries (the G-20) to launch a domestic and global Marshall Plan aimed at giving 1-2% of each country’s Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty to once and for all end global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care and to repair the damage done to the global environment. Such a program, financed from the trillions saved in military spending, and in part by a 1% Tobin tax on all global money transfers of more than a million dollars. This strategy would provide the world with a far more effective path to safety and security. If implemented in a true spirit of generosity, such an action would break the depressive certainty that every country has that no one cares about anyone else but themselves, and thus open the hearts of people in the Middle East who remain stuck in various demonizing visions of who the other “really is.”

To implement such a strategy, it will take average citizens around the world, like you and me, not only to demand an end to this senseless violence, but also to insist that our own countries reject the strategy of domination and adopt the strategy of generosity. As a symbolic statement of our support for this direction, I urge you to use this Thanksgiving to raise this idea of generosity and caring for others as the foundation for our global survival and as the only practical and realistic path to end the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians!!! And lovingly tell the partisans who will insist that what is needed is more support for the violence of one side or the other that their approach is really destructive to the well-being of the very people they claim to be serving, because the endless cycle of violence does damage both to the bodies and spirits of both Israelis and Palestinians. And then, if you can develop this capacity of compassion within yourself, provide empathy for the depth of their pain (try to understand their story – the story of those who will put you down for being too idealistic – because they too are in pain and can only be moved when their pain in listened to and understood). And then engage with them in visualizing a way to bring a lasting peace that doesn’t involve annihilating or expelling the other from the Holy Land! And recognize that the realists who insist that caring for others is unrealistic are actually the reason why we’ve never been able to eliminate war, poverty and oppression. So affirm the centrality of love and generosity, because in fact these provide the foundation for the only strategy that can possibly work.

To assist in this process, please read the following prayer or meditation early in the Thanksgiving meal, and then be prepared to face those who seek to minimize the seriousness of your statements or to tell you how unrealistic it is or how inappropriate since they don’t want to think of anything serious. Tell them that it’s time for them and for the world to be less “realistic,” (to the extent that realists allow “that which is” to shape their vision of “that which could be”) and more visionary, else we are condemned to endlessly repeat the self-destructive behavior being manifested in the current struggle in the Middle East. The path of the so-called “realists” has led to endless wars and destruction. Enough is enough! It’s time to stop being realistic and instead start insisting on the kind of world that we, and all humanity need and want. After Thanksgiving, contact your Congressional reps and tell them that you want the US to change its role from lead cheerleader for Israel to actually being substantively pro-Israel, understanding that the only way to be pro-Israel is to also be pro-Palestine, because the fate of both peoples is eternally interlocked and interdependent.

The Thanksgiving Meditation, Prayer or Guided Visualization

Today we give thanks to this incredible universe for all the beauty, the goodness and the miracles that surround us every day and to which we have given too little conscious attention. And we celebrate the ability to be with friends, neighbors, family or others on this holy day of joyful appreciation of all the good in our lives.
This is the right moment, then, for us to also put forward our prayers or intentions for a world of peace. We who recognize that our ability to live today enjoying all the benefits of North America was achieved in part through a genocidal struggle against the native peoples of this land are not willing to live through another period in which other peoples may be losing their lands to settlers or oppressive colonization.

This year it is hard not to be dismayed at the murdering that goes on between Israel and Palestine, and the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians. This Thanksgiving some of us commit ourselves to doing all we can to stop the conflict and to start the process of non-violent, open-hearted reconciliation and peace. We reject the advice of the “political realists” who tell us that this struggle will go on forever, at untold levels of human suffering. Instead, we urge our own government to work with others to impose a cease-fire, and then to convene an international conference of the most powerful and spiritually responsible countries that can act together to build the new consciousness our planet so badly needs.

Some of us, whether or not we believe in God or Goddess or Spirit, are Spiritual Progressives—that is, people who want the world to be reorganized in ways that promote love, kindness, generosity, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of all that is. We spiritual progressives believe that the real source of strength for any country or people will come from the degree to which its neighbors and the people of the world see that country as a source of generous love, social justice, peace, non-violence and generosity toward all and environmental sanity toward the earth.

So on this Thanksgiving we call upon the world to actively involve itself with bringing peace and prosperity to all places where violence and wars continue to be waged. We call upon the advanced industrial countries to launch a domestic and global Marshall Plan by dedicating 1-2% of the GDP of the economically advanced industrial countries of the world, the G-20, to be used to eliminate poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care, and to repair the global environment—to be paid for by the trillions of dollars that will otherwise be spent on militarism and attempts to dominate and control the world. We know that this approach will require major political changes, and that is why we support the Network of Spiritual Progressives’ “Money out of Politics” campaign that goes way beyond affirming that corporations are not people and money is not speech. The ESRA also bans all private and corporate monies from national and state elections (check it out atwww.spiritualprogressiives.org). And we affirm the Unity of All Being, the oneness of all with all, and the fundamental interdependence of us who are celebrating Thanksgiving with all other people on the planet and commit ourselves to save this planet from environmental destruction.

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we affirm our dedication to being unrealistic for peace, social justice, environmental sanity, and a world based on love, caring, kindness and generosity. In so doing, we will make realistic what at first seemed to be unrealistic. And so it is. Amen.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of the Jewish and interfaith quarterly Tikkun magazine (in print by subscription and on line at www.tikkun.org), chair of the interfaith (and atheist-welcoming) Network of Spiritual Progressives www.spiritualprogressives.org, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in Berkeley and San Francisco California www.beyttikkun.org. ,
Author: Embracing Israel/Palestine, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, Spirit Matters, The Politics of Meaning, with Cornel West: Jews and Blacks–Let the Healing Begin, The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left, Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Daily Life and Work and more

5 Lies the Media Keeps Repeating About Gaza

This piece has hit some big readership at Huffington post. My goal at this blog is to present different sensible views. If you do not wish to see a different point of view, please do not read further. Thank you. Mike Ghouse


As Israel continues to pound Gaza, the Palestinian death toll of the latest round of violence has crossed the 100 mark. Thus far, the American media has given Israeli officials and spokespersons a free pass to shape the narrative of this conflict with falsehoods. Here are the top 5 lies the media doesn't challenge about the crisis in Gaza:

1. Israel Was Forced to Respond to Rockets to Defend Its Citizens

CNN, like many other American outlets, chose to begin the story of the latest round of violence in Gaza on November 10th, when 4 Israeli soldiers were wounded by Palestinian fire, and the IDF "retaliated" by killing several Palestinians. But just two days before, a 13 year old Palestinian boy was killed in an Israeli military incursion into Gaza (among other fatalities in preceding days). Is there any reason why those couldn't be the starting point of the "cycle of violence"? The bias was even more blatant in 2008/09, when Israel's massive assault on Gaza (which killed 1400+ Palestinians) was cast as self-defense, even though it was acknowledged in passing that Israel was the party that broke the ceasefire agreement in place at the time. Are the Palestinians not entitled to self-defense? And if indiscriminate Palestinian rocket fire is not an acceptable response to Israeli violence (which it absolutely isn't), how can indiscriminate Israeli bombings of Gaza ever be acceptable? And why is the broader context, the fact that Gaza remains under Israeli blockade and military control, overlooked?

2. Israel Tries to Avoid Civilian Casualties

It must be aggravating for Israel's propagandists when high-ranking political officials slip and get off the sanitized/approved message for public consumption. Yesterday, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the "goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages." Not to be outdone, Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, said "we need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza." If you're thinking this is just rhetoric, consider the fact that, according to Amnesty International, Israel "flattened... busy neighborhoods" into "moonscapes" during its last major assault on Gaza in 2008/09. And it wasn't just human rights organizations that were exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza, but Israeli soldiers whose conscience could not bear to remain silent about the atrocities they had committed were also coming forward.

If, for some odd reason, you cannot decide whether it is official Israeli spokespersons or soldiers of conscience and human rights investigators who are telling the truth, consider this question: If Hamas has only managed to kill 3 people despite being bent on killing civilians with thousands of indiscriminate rockets, how has Israel managed to kill several dozen Palestinian civilians when it is using sophisticated precision weapons to avoid civilian casualties? In just one Israeli attack yesterday, Israel killed more Palestinian civilians in a matter of minutes than the total number of all Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza over the last 3 years. The truth is exposed by the utter disregard for civilian life we see in practice, reaffirmed by testimonies and investigative evidence.

3. This Is About Security

If Israel's main objective were indeed to end the rocket fire from Gaza, all it had to do was accept the truce offered by the Palestinian factions before the Jabari assassination. And if the blockade of Gaza was just about keeping weapons from coming in, why are Palestinian exports from Gaza not allowed out? Why were food items ever restricted? The truth is, this isn't about security; it's about punishing the population of Gaza for domestic Israeli political consumption. When Gilad Sharon recommended the decimation of Gaza, he justified it by saying "the residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas." Sharon may find this posturing to be rewarding in some circles, but it's actually the very same logic used by terrorists to attack civilians in democracies. Are Israeli civilians considered legitimate targets of violence because they elected right wing Israeli leaders who commit atrocities against the Palestinians? Of course not, and only a broken moral compass can keep this principle from consistently applying to Palestinian civilians as well.

4. Hamas Is the Problem

Between their religious right-wing domestic agenda, and their refusal to renounce violence against civilians, I'm most certainly no fan of Hamas. But whenever you hear Israel try to scapegoat Hamas for the crisis in Gaza, there are two things to consider. First, Hamas hasn't only showed preparedness to have a truce with Israel if Israel ended its attacks on Gaza, but has also suggested (though with mixed signals) that it is open to a two-state solution. Second, and more importantly, Hamas didn't come to power until 2006/07. Between 1993 and 2006 (13 years), Israel had the more moderate, peaceful, and pliant Palestinian authority (which recognizes Israel and renounces violence) to deal with as a partner for peace. What did Israel do? Did it make peace? Or did it continue to occupy Palestinian land, violate Palestinian rights, and usurp Palestinian resources? What strengthened Hamas and other extremists in Palestine is precisely the moderates' failure to secure any Palestinian rights through cooperation and negotiations. The truth is entirely inverted here: it is Israel's escalating violations of Palestinian rights which strengthen the extremists. 

5. There is a Military Solution to this Conflict

This is not the first time, and probably not the last, that Israel has engaged in a military campaign to pummel its opponents into submission. But are we any closer to ending this conflict today after decades of violence? The answer is a resounding no. After the 2006 war in Lebanon, Hezbollah emerged stronger. After the 2009 war on Gaza, Hamas remained in power and maintained possession of thousands of rockets. Israel's military superiority, while indeed impressive (thanks to $30 billion in U.S. military aid this decade), is not stronger than the Palestinian will to live in dignity. The way to end the firing of rockets in the short term is to agree to a truce and end the blockade of Gaza. The way to resolve the entire conflict in the long term is to end Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and allow the Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination. We're probably close to a ceasefire agreement to end this round of violence. The real challenge is ending the Israeli occupation for long-term peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.

Is Israel Fighting An External Or Internal War?

URL: http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/11/is-israel-fighting-external-or-internal.html 

 I was so tempted to substitute the word Jew with Muslim in the following article, and it would have passed among Muslim as their own story. Its incredible.
For the last twenty years , I have been doing the work on pluralism, including 2 years and 25 hours of  Radio talk show on Judaism ( one of the 12 faiths of the show) with Rabbi Robert Haas, and 5 days conference on religion with Rabbi Michael Akiba.... and many conversations in between.  I have reasonably understood that Judaism and Islam to be mirrors of each other. Same divide, same orthodoxy, same fanaticism, same finickiness, and the same reform movements and the same drive for and failures in social justice.
Indeed Rabbi Gershom (?) of Tiferet Israel talked about the life of Prophet Moses, the way he narrated the story, was identical to the story of Prophet Muhammad and I was going to record the story by having him tell the same story but use the name Muhammad instead of Moses. 
 By the way, I have taken a quiz on Beliefnet every year for the last five years, and have consistently scored 82 for Reformed Judaism, there is no such formal notation for Islam, if it were, the reformed Jews would score 80 and upwards. .  
Not that it matters, but the similarities are amazing. Now this piece amazes me.

Mike Ghouse 
by ZsoltH / November 17, 2012
Israel's present reality does not look promising. Gaza rockets are reaching further and further, there is impending ground war, Iranian drones are flying in from Hezbollah, new unpredictable governments exist in Egypt and Libya, there is the ongoing Syrian civil war with a very unpredictable ending, the Iranian nuclear ambitions continue, and the present US leadership is gradually distancing itself from the nation. 

Simultaneously, as usual with recent Israeli military campaigns, the Jews in the diaspora are cringing, trying to show their distance from Israel, sometimes wishing the country would not even exist so they could quietly settle and assimilate in their home countries. In Israel, during times of peace, the country is fragmented into small factions, even the religious population is divided, and it is the same in the diaspora, there is very little if any cohesion among Jews.
Is the trap closing? Everybody is pointing at Israel’s enemies and conditions, but is Israel truly fighting a war with enemies outside Israel?

Since the fall of the Second Temple, for more than 2,000 years there has been a debate about whether the Jews are a nation, a religion or a race. The Jews are not a nation in the usual sense of the word (1).

Especially today, the Jews are a collection of people from different countries, backgrounds and mentalities tied together by tradition, and most of the time, by the existential threats coming from their neighbors. The Jews, however, do not have a common, natural origin providing them with instinctive connections (2).

As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag had said:
“[The Jews] are like a pile of nuts, united into a single body from the outside by the sack that envelops and unites them. Their measure of unity does not make them a united body, and each movement applied to the sack produces in them tumult and separation. Thus, they consistently arrive at new unions and partial aggregations. The fault is that they lack the inner unity, and their whole force of unity comes through an outside incident.” (3)

So is there any point in fighting, protecting that tiny land in the most controversial center of the world? How long can the external threat keep the Jews together, maintaining their heritage all over the world?

The answer has been around for thousands of years, it is in the sayings and writings of the sages who have been speaking about the special mission given to the Jewish nation for centuries. Behind the archaic language and the colorful stories, those writings provide a blueprint for how to resolve the problems and conflicts characteristic to modern times.

The festival of Hanukah, for example, explains that by trying to leave Jewish traditions, by assimilating into other cultures, the Jews jeopardize their very existence. It does not matter how deep the Jews want to settle into their actual countries in the diaspora, trying to show that they are primarily citizens of their settled country and keeping their Jewish origin secondary, for non-Jews, the Jews will always remain primarily Jews, and whether the Jews like it or not, they will continue being blamed for much of the problems that people in all walks of life experience. The many aggressive reactions against innocent Jews or Jewish symbols and objects all over the world, from France to India, from Europe through the US to Australia, provide enough proof of that point.

Israel and the Jews in the diaspora cannot continue fighting their “external wars” endlessly, and simply cannot escape their origin. In order to secure their future existence and find their harmonious place within humanity, the Jews have to form a true nation. What is a “true Jewish nation”? It is one that is not united by external pressures, but by a genuine desire to unite within, according to the condition of mutual guarantee.

“Therefore, it is a must condition for every nation to be strongly united within, so all the individuals within it are attached to one another through instinctive love. Moreover, each individual should feel that one's own happiness in the happiness of the nation, and one's decadence in the nation's decadence. One should be willing to give one's all for the nation in a time of need. Otherwise, their right to exist as a nation in the world is doomed from the start.” (5)

But the story does not end with self protection, or self sustenance. The writings also state that the Jews have a responsibility towards the world at large, i.e. to be “a light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6), that by realizing unity and mutual guarantee among themselves, they would then be able to pass on the method by which these conditions can be realized to humanity at large.
“Abraham dug this well [Beer Sheba]. He established it because he had taught all the people of the world to serve the Creator. And once he had dug it, it emitted living waters that never stop.” (3)

Here the plot thickens. Today, it is not only Israel at war, but all over the planet, people are “fighting” and struggling with a global state of crisis, whether it be financially, culturally, socially, personally or ecologically. Moreover, humanity’s prevalent materialistic, individualistic and competitive values expressed in today’s modern lifestyle, place humanity in total opposition with the natural environment.

In the face of today’s worsening problems, nobody, no wise leader, expert, political or religious figure, provides any lasting solutions. This is precisely the place where the Jews as a united people come into the center of importance. As those who have connection with the 5,000 year old method of Kabbalah, which explains how nature works by fixed, absolute laws of unity and mutual guarantee, the Jews have at their root a method that can provide the solution to the world’s problems and bring about a harmonious and sustainable future.

“Rabbi Elazar, son of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai), clarifies this concept of Arvut (mutual guarantee) even further. It is not enough for him that all of Israel be responsible for one another, but the whole world is included in that Arvut (mutual guarantee). Indeed, there is no dispute here, for everyone admits that to begin with, it is enough to start with one nation for the observance of the Torah for the beginning of the correction of the world.” (6)

Thus, it all starts with the mutual guarantee of the Jewish nation regardless of where they live or where they came from. Using the method that has been passed on through generations for this very purpose, the process toward uniting above all differences can get started with the method that allows for such unity to happen. 

When the Jews start applying this method towards uniting, so too will non-Jews also start supporting them, and the course of the rising anti-Semitism will change. Non-Jews will also understand how important it is that the land of Israel remains the home of the Israeli people in order to spread the message most effectively. The threat against Israel from the neighboring nations, and the rising anti-Semitism, will simply vanish.

Thus, especially during this time of war the Jews should think about the force of unity. Their forefathers always put forth the attitude of unifying the hearts, that “all of Israel are friends.” Moreover, the word “Jew” (“Yechudi” in Hebrew) itself comes from the word “unity” (“Yechud”). It is thus time for the Jewish people to return to their roots, where they are united, where “all of Israel are responsible for one another” (Sanhedrin, 27b, Shavuot 39). It is time for the Jewish people to start taking this condition seriously and realizing it. By doing so, they will become salvaged from their enemies, and moreover, they will bring peace and correction to themselves and to the entire world.

“The genuine movement of the Israeli soul at its grandest is expressed only by its sacred, eternal force, which flows within its spirit. It is that which has made it, is making it, and will make it still a nation that stands as a light unto nations, as redemption and salvation to the entire world for its own specific purpose, and for the global purposes, which are interlinked.” (7)

1 ScienceDaily, "Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry."
2 Ibid.
3 Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Nation” [Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009], 487.
4 Ibid.
5 New Zohar, Toldot
6 Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag [Baal HaSulam], The Writings of Baal HaSulam, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)” [Ashlag Research Institute, Israel, 2009], 392.
7 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Letters of the Raaiah.