Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Safe Passage": How to get from Gaza to the West Bank

The Israeli human rights organization Gisha, which fights for the rights of movement of Gazans, has launched a new computer game designed to illustrate the nearly insurmountable obstacles that Israel places in the path of Gazan students who want to study in the West Bank, merchants who want to do business there, and so on. The animated game (which interestingly is supported in part by funds from the European Union) can be accessed here, and is loaded with actual Israeli documents used to prevent the movement of Palestinians between one part and the other of what eventually should be their unified state.

I've linked many times before to Gisha and the important work it is doing. Please check it out and also consider supporting them.

Wikileaks and the truth. I hope that readers of this blog are following recent events concerning Wikileaks, Pfc. Brian Manning, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and the planned release later this week of yet another video showing U.S. forces mistakenly killing civilians (this time in Afghanistan, the village of Garani.) A good summary can be found in this Washington Post article. (Glenn Greenwald also recently penned a column on this topic for We've really gotten to the point where nearly all so-called "classified" information is kept secret not primarily because it would help the "enemy" but because it would help opponents of U.S. foreign policy make their case. Indeed, perhaps that has almost been true.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Emily Henochowicz lost an eye...

... to an Israeli tear gas canister while protesting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. An American Jewish artist, she saw injustice clearly and tried to do something about it. But she hasn't lost her artistic and political vision (nor her sense of humor), and she keeps on blogging and exhibiting her art at Why not bookmark it and show your support for this heroic and courageous young woman?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lorrie Moore

I'm in a Lorrie Moore phase. I've been in it for a long time, going back and forth chronologically in her bibliography. Reading her first novel, "Anagrams," at the moment. Is there a greater writer on the planet? I would say more but I wouldn't say it as well as Lorrie Moore, so what's the point? Just kidding. Someday I will try to write like Lorrie Moore, be a fraction as good, and be happy about it.

Photo by Linda Nylind

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I want to call the attention of readers to what I think is one of the best, if not the best, blogs on the Middle East and Israel-Palestine in particular: Mondoweiss, a project of The Nation Institute. Mondoweiss is essential for those who want to remain informed about what is going on in that region. It not only provides a roundup of news and sources that are easy to miss, but its sharp-eyed and perceptive contributors routinely hit the mark in exposing Israeli hypocrisy and that of those who would defend the "Jewish state's" indefensible oppression of the Palestinians.

Just one small example: A post yesterday, by James North, pointing out that the New York Times seems to have an aversion to mentioning the name of Emily Henochowicz, the young artist at Cooper Union in New York City who lost an eye to an Israeli tear gas canister. Be sure to subscribe to Mondoweiss, for information and comment you really need to have.

Update: Mondoweiss reports on a Jewish flotilla being organized against the Gaza blockade.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tempest in a Tea Party?

Today's Washington Post has a post-mortem on the primary elections which makes clear that the Tea Party is not quite the powerful movement it was made out to be by obsessed journalists and many liberals. A typical graf from the story:

But Tuesday's primary results provided fresh evidence of the amorphous network's struggle to convert activist anger and energy into winning results. Frustrated and lacking agreement on what to do next, self-identified tea party leaders say the movement may be in danger of breaking apart before it ever really comes together.

I've been meaning for some time to comment that to a certain extent, the danger posed by the Tea Party is based more in the imaginations of easily-scared liberals than in reality. I say to a certain extent, because there is no question that a minority of Americans lust for fascism of some sort, and demagogic movements and politicians are the conduit that would get us there, if we ever do get there. But too many liberals spend much more time scaring themselves to death about the right-wing than they do organizing for the kinds of positive changes that would make the Tea Party even more marginalized than it already is. It is easier to cluck one's tongue at the stupidity of some Americans than it is to fight for things we need, like better health care or immigration reform or an end to offshore drilling. Trotting out and voting in elections is only the first step in political involvement, and hardly sufficient.

I will be spending the fall in New York City, teaching at NYU, and plan to use this blog to report on just such political activism in that city, such as it might be. Stay posted.

Pope begs forgiveness for sexual abuses, shifts blame to Devil, and announces no new measures

So says the New York Times today.

The Devil Made Me Do It. A great way to avoid personal responsibility. And asking forgiveness before announcing specific measures to stop it?

The pope said the Devil was behind the scandal, saying it had emerged now, in the middle of the Vatican’s Year of the Priest, because “the enemy,” or the Devil, wants to see “God driven out of the world.”

A somewhat different view from lay Catholics, the Times reports:

In a statement, the lay Catholic group, which is based in the United States, called the pope’s remarks “a great disappointment and a squandered opportunity.”

It called on the pope to “endorse and facilitate certain external measures that would increase transparency and advance justice,” including posting all abuse cases handled by the Vatican on the Vatican Web site and ordering “his bishops to cooperate fully with secular investigations, not oppose them."

When the Catholic Church finally accepts that sex is normal and that abstaining from it does not make one holier or closer to God, perhaps it will be able to recruit priests with normal sexual desires.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Brief History of the Gaza Folly

... by Gershom Gorenberg, pictured at right, appears in The American Prospect. Gorenberg has a long history of trying to talk sense to Israelis, notably on the important blog South Jerusalem. In this latest piece, he traces the tragic disaster of Israel's assault on the Gaza flotilla back to its roots, Israeli intransigence and reluctance to accept Palestinian rights and aspirations. Towards the end, he tells the story of Lova Eliav, a former Labor politician who died the day before the assault and who saw early on the folly of Israeli policy.

Were Israel's current leaders able to read the past as Eliav did, to see oneself in one's adversary, they would have seen the implications of the voyage of the Mavi Marmaraand the folly of interdicting it. They might even understand that their consistent effort to avoid a two-state solution is a mistake. Eliav embodied a heroic, humanistic Zionism. The omen of his passing was ignored. It remains for Israelis who believe in his path to demand that the government finally break the chain of folly.

Read the entire piece.