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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Israel Palestine Mutual Democracy video

Dear Friends at JIDS and JAMAAT, 

I am pleased to share a lengthy but meaningful video by Josef Avatar, President of the non-profit organization "Israel Palestine Confederation" of which I am one of the Board Members. 

The peace process is not an easy one - in the last 25 some years that I have been actively involved in the community building, I have found extremists on both sides of the issue and the moderates among us, not in Israel or Palestine, but right here in America. 

I recall watching a movie made by the Palestinians shown in Dallas by the Jewish community- in the Q&A, I was a singular person who knew anything about the issue and facing finger pointing.  Some of them were screaming at me claiming there is no such thing as Palestine. On the other extreme, I had heard insults from some of the Muslims when I started the annual event Holocaust and Genocides. They said shame on me for not holding the event for the Palestinian massacres.  

If you are a dead person, as most of the living persons seem to be,  who do not take a stand on conflicts and act as deceased persons, no one will point the finger at you. What a wasted life!  
Justice requires seeing the point of view of all the parties to the conflict and finding solutions for all to exist. No one is more privileged than others. If you favor one over the other, then you lack the morality to be just. 

JIDS held a Dialogue on the Israel Palestine Conflict a few months ago, I did not get to write the report on it, but it was an eye-opener. I give full credit to Dan Spiro for setting up an environment for people to express their opinions freely, and being a fair person, he made sure all points of view were given a voice. I hope we have a videotape of that. 

Here is a 1:25 Minutes video by Josef Avasar, he addressed the myths people hold about each other in Israel and Palestine. It is an eye-opener.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeMGUP1kzfg 

Reuven Rivlin, the President of Israel, likes the ides of the Israel Palestine Confederation, and he has talked about it in several of his speeches. 

Watched the video with optimism and hope. You’ve said all the right things fairly and squarely. I will be sharing this with my Jewish & Muslim Group’s as well as JIDS group ( Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society) and JAMAAT Jews, Muslims and Allies Acting together here in DC. 

Josef responds;

Hello Mike, thank you so much for the kind words. I am now in the airport traveling to New York City to meet With Senator George Mitchell to get him to endorse an Israeli Palestinian Confederation. In November I will be in Israel Palestine to meet with many people who are interested in mutual democracy. The movie Surviving Peace is being translated into Arabic and Hebrew. It will be available soon on the web. If you know any Arabic speaking people who could check the translation that would be good.Love.Josef.
Israel Palestine Confederation - http://www.ipconfederation.org/

Dr. Mike Ghouse is the Executive Director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  More about him and his profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/
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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Folk rock album on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

courtesy JTA 

This Seattle singer wrote an entire folk rock album on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Ben Fisher
Ben Fisher’s album “Does the Land Remember Me?” explores the history of Israel from Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints. (Kendall Rock)
(JTA) — In 2014, early on in a three-year stint spent living in Israel, songwriter Ben Fisher took a vacation to Japan. Sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo, he spontaneously wrote a song about the founding of Tel Aviv — in about 15 minutes.
The story goes that the first Tel Aviv homesteaders chose their plots of land at random by picking seashells from the Mediterranean shoreline with numbers written in them. Fisher named the song “The Shell Lottery.”
Earlier that year, the Seattle-based songwriter had quietly released an album of country-tinged folk rock called “Charleston.” But Fisher, a self-described “huge musical nerd,” had long wanted to write a more ambitious concept album in the vein of Sufjan Stevens’ cult classic “Illinois” and “Michigan” records. “The Shell Lottery” was the moment he had been waiting for.
“I realized that it could serve as the start of something bigger, something more cohesive,” he said.
Over the course of the next year, while living in an apartment across from the Old City in Jerusalem, he went on to write most of the songs that wound up on his folky, heartfelt 17-track opus “Does the Land Remember Me?”
On the album, which comes out Sept. 7, Fisher inhabits a range of characters, from early Israelis nervous about their new country to Palestinians forced to leave their homes to a settler imagining his eventual expulsion from the West Bank. There are history lessons on Masada, terrorist attacks and Israeli figures such as singer Meir Ariel and astronaut Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli to make it into space (he was killed in the fatal Columbia mission in 2003).
Some songs also capture the 26-year-old Fisher’s contemporary perspective on the city and country he grew to love, from his apartment on what he calls “the seam” between Jewish western Jerusalem and Arab eastern Jerusalem. Each song has an explanatory liner note giving the listener context and, in some cases, a mini history lesson.
“You hear gunshots from terrorist attacks, you see dead terrorists in the public park adjacent to the walls of the Old City,” reads the liner note for “Horses and Helpers,” one of the tracks sung from Fisher’s contemporary perspective. “You are late to work because a car has plowed into your light rail station, aiming to run down people going about their daily business. You’re not allowed to leave the Damascus Gate of the Old City after getting coffee with friends because there has been a stabbing attack and they’re still searching for the perpetrator.”
The goal of the project, Fisher says, is to challenge those with deeply held ideologies on Israel from all sides of the spectrum. He wants listeners to realize that there is always “another perspective” and “another story” to hear about Israel, no matter what preconceptions one might have.
“My intent from the beginning was to write songs that a certain group of Israeli or Jewish-American society would agree with, and then have the next song be something totally out of left field, from a perspective that they had never considered from somebody they considered to be the enemy,” he said. “And all within the course of three minutes.”
Fisher’s fascination with Israel started after college when he realized he had a “black hole” in his knowledge about the Jewish state. His parents, whom he describes as “bacon-eating” Reform Jews, actually talked more about Egypt, where they lived for a time in the 1980s, than they talked about Israel. He majored in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic at the University of Washington.
But after graduating, Fisher set out to educate himself on Israel and its history. He read books on the country by Martin Gilbert, Daniel Gordis and Yossi Klein Halevi, and Israeli newspapers like Haaretz. He listened to Israeli music. He says he became a little “obsessed,” telling his parents he wanted to move to Israel with the idea of writing songs inspired by the country.
Ben Fisher
Fisher lived for three years across from Jerusalem’s Old City, or what he calls the “seam” between Arab eastern Jerusalem and Jewish western Jerusalem. (Kendall Rock)
Staying with the history theme, Fisher chose to live in Jerusalem over Tel Aviv for its rich past. He worked as a bartender, then as an editor and writer for The Jerusalem Post.
“There are parts of Tel Aviv where you walk around and you could be anywhere on the Mediterranean, or even anywhere in Southern California or Florida,” Fisher said. “I like a lot of things about Tel Aviv, but Jerusalem has a history that fascinates me.”
Some time after he finished writing the album’s songs, the well-known indie songwriter Damien Jurado flew in to play a show in Tel Aviv. Jurado, one of Fisher’s idols — they had crossed paths in Seattle’s folk scene — reached out to Fisher when he arrived, saying that the airline had broken his guitar. Fisher lent Jurado his guitar.
Months later, he figured he could call on Jurado for a favor in return. To Fisher’s surprise, Jurado agreed to produce his Israel album, and the whole thing came together over six days at the beginning of this year in Seattle’s Studio Litho (it’s owned by Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard).
Fisher worries how people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian debate might respond to the record, but he’s also excited about its potential. He cited Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wildly popular musical “Hamilton” in talking about how art can dramatically increase people’s interest in a historical topic.
“Last time I was in New York, I saw a bunch of middle school girls at the grave of Alexander Hamilton in Trinity Church, and that was something that you know a high school teacher or a middle school teacher would never achieve in an American history class,” he said.
“It takes a work of art for people to get really interested in things. People are never going to read a book about Israel. They might watch a movie, but I think an easily digested three-minute folk song is a way to get them involved.”

Monday, July 9, 2018

Zionism and Freedom

Dear Paul,

I have always valued your opinions, am pleased to read your piece on Zionism and while agreeing with most of the aspirations, I have seen a different version of history from the Israeli Jews. A few different perspectives are presented on the left panel of this site, www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com

 The United Nations through the United Kingdom had the arrogance to believe that they can impose their decisions on an unwilling people. The conflict and Naqba butchery that followed was wrong. Had the UN or Brittain called in all parties to sit down and figure the way forward, we would have had a different history. I think it is wrong to blame Jews or the Arabs, a decision was forced on them and they reacted. Both sides have made regrettable statements. 

Religion has everything to do with the creation of Israel, the Holocaust survivors could have been absorbed everywhere and resettled in their own homes. Agreed,  there were many non-religious Jews among the founders, so was Pakistan, which was created on the basis of religion by leaders who were least religious. Most of the conflicts emanate from the acts of leaders of these two good nations. 

Anti-Semitism is different than Anti-Israel sentiments. Anti-semitism is evil and need to be extricated from our hearts, minds, and souls. Whereas Anti-Israel is caused by the leadership of Israel, violating the UN resolutions, it is like slapping 96% of the world's consensus, it breeds resentment for the flagrant violation of the leadership, not because of Anti-Semitism.

The Arabs living in Israel live as 2nd class citizens, denying them the very things they owned. Until both sides truly acknowledge the mistakes made in the past and compounded by the likes of Mashal and Netanyahu, security for Israelis and justice for the Palestinians is merely a hope and a wish. One will not happen without the other.

Do we need the next generation to blame us and our generation for dumping our problem on them?  I hope the next generation does not call us, Abu Mashal and Netanyahu criminals for messing up their lives.

Mike Ghouse

Zionism and Freedom
Last month (in June 2018) I had an extensive letter published in the "Hallingdølen" (the main newspaper of the Hallingdal valley of south-central Norway) - in response to a series of seven nasty anti-Israel letters sent to the paper in recent months by the region's resident bigot, who I've also locked horns with in the past.
[The Hallingdal region is where Liv has her family roots, and where we have our vacation cabin.]
I wrote the article "Zionism and Freedom" in English, and Liv translated it into nynorsk (a dialectal written form of the Norwegian language) for publication.
This appears in print in the issue of Saturday, June 23, on page 36, and also appears online at the paper's website. (Unfortunately, free access to the online edition is only available to subscribers.)
Below is my original English-language version, written just three days before publication. To see the published nynorsk translation by Liv, scroll down beyond that.
Paul Goldstein June 20, 2018
Bjarte Rundereim has recently written seven articles in «Hallingdølen» in opposition to Zionism, opposing national rights and freedoms for the Jewish people.
He tries strenuously to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism, but that is an exercise in absurdity. Zionism is the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is the return to self-governance of a people in a land of their indigenous ancestry, rooted in over 3500 years of history. It is the deep heritage of the connection of a people to their national homeland – a heritage that is not only spiritual, but also political, cultural, societal, and linguistic. Zionism expresses the principle that the Jewish people are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as other peoples of the world in their indigenous national homelands.
One cannot oppose this equality of rights and freedoms for the Jewish people, and at the same time claim to have no prejudice against the Jewish people. This is a position contrary to both logic and humanity.
Jewish people have maintained a continuous presence in their homeland for thousands of years (though a succession of conquering foreign powers drove many into exile from the first two Jewish nations). No other people have ever built a sovereign independent nation in the land that is now Israel.
Rundereim's version of events surrounding the 1948 re-establishment of Israel is highly distorted. Religion had little to do with Israel's founding. Indeed many of the founders were non-religious Jews. As Great Britain ended its 31-year control over the region, the revived nation of Israel declared independence without any reference to a Divine power, and invited the surrounding Arab nations to accept them in peace. Instead, the surrounding Arab nations launched a co-ordinated attack the next day in an unsuccessful attempt to annihilate the new nation.
Rundereim falsely alleges that millions of Arabs were expelled when Israel was created. In actuality, during the years around 1948, a period of war and upheaval, there was a massive two-sided population shift. About 700,000 Palestinian Arabs left for neighboring lands, while a roughly equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands of the Middle East and North Africa, escaping increasing persecution, poured into the new nation. Many of the Arab refugees of 1948 fled, fearing the unknown, or were encouraged to do so by their community leaders. As often occurs in wartime, there was wrongdoing on both sides. Arab forces expelled all Jewish residents from the Old Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Some Israeli commanders wrongfully expelled Arabs from certain villages. But there was no systematic national attempt by Israel to expel its Arab population – this has been confirmed by the respected historian Benny Morris, who has written a comprehensive detailed history of the period, based on Israeli archival records kept secret until the 1980's.
The 150,000 Arabs who remained in the new nation of Israel became Israeli citizens, with equal civil rights including full voting rights. Today the number of Arab citizens of Israel has grown to 1,800,000 (12 times as large as in 1948), comprising 20% of the nation's population. They have completely equal rights as the Jewish population, and the strict laws against discrimination are enforced by Israeli courts. Arabs in Israel have achieved considerably higher levels of literacy, education, socioeconomic and professional advancement, health care, and longevity than other Arabs in the region; and have reached high positions of leadership in all sectors of society. All public areas and public accommodations in Israel are fully open to Jews and Arabs on an equal basis. That's the law, and that's the reality. There is no «apartheid» in Israel, as Rundereim alleges.
It is most important to work in behalf of a full peace between Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs of the region. In my view, this can be best accomplished by a two-pronged approach, something that has not yet been tried. On the one hand there need to be negotiations among leaders and diplomats on both sides to reach a viable two-state solution. On the other hand, there also needs to be grassroots peace activism among the peoples, at all age levels, to nurture mutual understanding, co-operation, trust, and friendship. I remain hopeful that with more peace-oriented leadership on both sides, this can be achieved.
But relentlessly attacking the people on one side of the conflict, and seeking to deny their national rights and freedoms - as is the case with Rundereim – accomplishes nothing except fueling the flames of the conflict.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bernie Sanders’ Criticism Of Israel Is Radical

I am sorely disappointed in Obama on this particular issue, "On Gaza, the Obama administration never publicly urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, even as former Israeli security chiefs did. And Obama effectively endorsed Israel’s position that Palestinians should not be allowed to hold elections because Hamas might win."  

President Bush also fucked up the peace process by not including duly elected Hamas into the conference, what an arrogance!  If we had included Hamas in that dialogue, we probably would have peace today.  Here is the piece I wrote, in 2007 and it is no different than reaching out to N. Korea.   http://peaceforisrael.blogspot.com/2007/11/annapolis-peace-conference.html 

Mike Ghouse
Israel Palestine Dialogue

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Bernie Sanders’ Criticism Of Israel Is Radical. And He’s Taking It Mainstream

Not many in the media are noticing, which is understandable given the burden of keeping up with Donald Trump, but in the shadow of Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, Bernie Sanders is dramatically challenging Beltway discourse on Israel.

In 2020, when Sanders likely runs for president, and journalists begin paying attention, they’re going to be shocked. The Israeli government and the American Jewish establishment will be scared out of their minds.

Last month, Sanders crossed one of the red lines demarcating politically acceptable Washington discourse about Israel. He organized the first letter written by multiple senators criticizing Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Then, last week, he raced past that line again with a video that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from an American senator.

To understand how radical Sanders’ video is, it’s worth remembering how liberal Democrats like Barack Obama, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton talked about Israel and the Palestinians as recently as two years ago. While Obama, Kerry and Clinton did sometimes criticize Israeli policy, they generally did so in the language of Israeli self-interest, not of Palestinian human rights. Israeli settlement policy was bad for Israel, they argued because it threatened Israel’s future as a democratic Jewish state.

On Gaza, the Obama administration never publicly urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, even as former Israeli security chiefs did. And Obama effectively endorsed Israel’s position that Palestinians should not be allowed to hold elections because Hamas might win. (This despite the fact that Israeli parties that oppose the two-state solution — among them, Likud — run in Israeli elections all the time).

Peter BeinartApril 26, 2018

When Gaza came up in a 2016 Democratic primary debate, Clinton placed the blame for its people’s suffering exclusively on Hamas. “Remember,” she declared, “Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.” Her comments, which are demonstrably false, could easily have come from Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.

Contrast that with the video Sanders released last week. (It’s the third he’s released on Gaza since April). For starters, it consists entirely of interviews with Palestinians in Gaza. That alone is extraordinary. Palestinians in Gaza are almost never included in the debates on American TV. Palestinians are rarely invited to hold public briefings on Capitol Hill, and when they are, it’s hugely controversial.

In his video, Sanders lets Palestinians from Gaza speak for themselves. And they say things American politicians simply don’t say. Again and again, the speakers, who are not politicians but rather academics, students and journalists, call Gaza a “prison.” They talk about having only four hours of electricity per day. In one comic-tragic moment, the lights go on behind a young woman while she is speaking. She notes that the power has just returned after being off for 16 hours. Then it flickers off again.

A professor of political science notes that his family hasn’t left Gaza in more than twenty years. A young man says his “biggest dream is to travel from Gaza for one time in my life. To see how life is from outside the walls of the prison.” He later comments that many of his friends have contemplated suicide: “They cannot continue to live without any types of hope.” A young woman says, “I want the situation to change to where I feel like an equal human being to Israelis.”

By allowing ordinary Palestinians to describe their plight, Sanders’ video allows Americans to see the Great Return March as the product not of blind hatred of Israel but of a quintessentially human desire for a better life. “This protest,” says the professor, “was designed and orchestrated by young, independent and frustrated Palestinians who were sick, tired and exhausted of their living conditions.”

And by allowing ordinary Palestinians to speak for themselves, the video shows how dehumanizing it is to describe the people protesting Israel’s blockade as mere pawns of, or “human shields” for, Hamas. Brilliantly, Sanders’ video shows clips of American pundits blaming Hamas for the protests, and then lets Palestinians in Gaza do something they can rarely do on American television: respond.

“I’m talking with you. I’m not Hamas,” exclaims one man.

“It’s a big lie to say that Hamas is pushing Palestinian children and Palestinian women in the front line,” says the Palestinian professor.

“The majority of the people are not following Hamas,” insists the young man. “They are just participating peacefully because they just want to be free.”

Criticizing Hamas is both legitimate and necessary. But Sanders’ video shows how the media’s obsession with Hamas obscures the human causes of Palestinian protest, and the human consequences of Israel’s brutal response.

“The right question to ask is not whether there is someone asking them to go to the fence,” argues a young woman. “The right question is what is driving these people to walk up to the fence. What kinds of conditions would drive someone to risk their lives knowing that there are snipers who are willing to shoot them?”

And when you look at her, you imagine being that desperate yourself.

For decades, the conventional wisdom has held that a video like Sanders’, which focuses without equivocation or apology on Palestinian human rights, is political suicide. But that conventional wisdom has rarely been tested. Democratic politicians and foreign policy experts are so accustomed to self-censorship that AIPAC and its allies rarely have to make an example of them. They make an example of themselves.

Sanders is betting that the political ground has shifted. In a sense, he’s doing in the Democratic Party what Trump has done inside the GOP. For years, polls showed that ordinary Republicans were moving away from their party’s elite on trade and immigration. But until Trump, no Republican presidential frontrunner had been sufficiently unconventional and sufficiently unafraid to put that proposition to the test.

That’s what Sanders is doing on Israel. He knows that Netanyahu’s opposition to the two state solution, and his support for the Iraq War, and his battles with Barack Obama, and his bromance with Trump, have deeply eroded support for Israel among African Americans, progressives and the young. He knows that his likely 2020 competitors are moving left on issue after issue—from health care to college tuition to the minimum wage—in an effort to keep pace with a Democratic base that has been radicalized by the financial crisis, stagnant wages, failed wars and Donald Trump. But he knows that when it comes to Israel, those competitors are constrained by their fears of the American Jewish establishment.

Bernie Sanders, who now stands a better chance of becoming president than any Jew in American history, is not afraid. And, as a result, over the next two years he just might alter the American debate over Israel in ways we have not witnessed in decades.

Perhaps the courage of the protesters in Gaza is proving contagious after all.

American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza, and the Truth

American Jews have difficult times, in many ways, they are like Muslims, fear what the rogues among them will say to them. You and I both have been in Public, and we know what the rogue Muslims say when we take the right stand. I have endured quite a lot of abuse from a handful of Muslims and Jews alike... who had lost all sense of justice; they will be left behind. 

We need to help our Jewish friends to come through this, and most of them are like Muslims - and want to be a just people.

I had a friend's son stay with me for a week while he was serving as an intern at capitol hill, he was a Jewish kid, he has been to Israel, and served there.. but most people come back conditioned believing their propaganda, this kid did not buy into it. He saw what was wrong was wrong and what was right was right.

I am hopeful, the Jews who follow Judaism will finally win for their stand on Justice

Mike Ghouse
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by Peter Beinart
Courtesy - Forward 

 American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza — And The Truth

Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/399738/american-jews-have-abandoned-gaza-and-the-truth/

What Israelis Hear when you say there was a Massacre in Gaza 


Bernie Sanders Criticism of Israel is Radical. And he is taking it Mainstream.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Nikki Haley is a Nuisance!

As an American, I am pissed off at Nikki, the shameless American Ambassador to the United Nations. If other nations hate us, you can see why? She is the reason for my country to be resented around the world. She is also one of the three reasons why the Israeli government is hated and Isolated by the world; the other two are Netanyahu and Trump.

I boldly stand with Israel, Jews, and Judaism. It’s been my stance since I came into public life some 25 years ago, but not at the cost of Justice to the Palestinians. Justice is justice! If we screw one to support the other, our integrity becomes questionable and it is not justice by any means. Ultimately, injustice to one is an injustice to all as Martin Luther King had said, it will envelop even the ones who consider themselves more privileged than the Palestinians. In the end, everyone suffers and lives in apprehensions.
Look at the world record since the United Nations came into being. All the justice-oriented nations, 95% of them, have supported the resolutions for a just settlement for the Palestinians. Who violates them all the times? It is the leadership of Israel, not the Israelis or Jews, but the crooked leadership. Check out the violations.

On the issue of illegal settlements, forceful occupation, daily oppression, ethnic cleansing (not the Israelis, but the leaders) of the Palestinians. It is doing to Palestinians what was done to them during Holocaust.

192 Nations of the world voted one way, and about five nations went against it, and the US invariably vetoes such resolutions. It amounts to slapping in the face of the 192 countries, why would they not resent Israel or even us?

In this embarrassing video, On top of that, she has the balls to tell other nations that she will know who did not support her, screw her, ten countries voted against, and then she Vetoes it in behalf of us, the Americans?

Did we give her that Permission? Even the moderate Jewish Americans don’t like to see resentment built towards Israel, their eternal home. Average humans want peace, extremists like Nikki wants chaos.

Her actions will increase resentment towards Israel and the United States, and the right wingers conveniently label it as Anti-Semitism, which it is not. It is an utter disregard for the 95% of the nations and is not Anti-Semitism.

Who is she pleasing? I am sure the moderate Israelis are laughing out loud at her stupidity.
Several videos have been removed from Facebook, if you have any in regards to this vote, please share