Reflections on violence in Turkey published on Medium

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to publish something I had started writing a month prior, in the wake of the third bombing here in Ankara within six months. Wanting to balance my professional concerns with my urge to speak my mind, I decided to publish it because of my convictions about the piece.

It discusses both the basic context of each of the bombings, as well as the impact medias have on the mediation and discussion of such events in the United States.

The article is called, “What Terrorism Coverage Has To Do With Terrorism- Notes From Ankara A Month On,” and if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, please feel free to click through to my new Medium page and check it out!

Mourning Anthony Shadid

The New York Times has reported that two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid, 43, died on Thursday of an asthma attack while on assignment in Syria.

Shadid’s writing advanced the causes dearest to my heart by deepening the public understanding of the people, languages, politics, cultures, and religions of the Middle East.  His knowledge of Arabic, talent, his humanism, and his passion informed his coverage, and in so doing, informed all those who read his work. Anthony Shadid covered the region with astounding courage, sustaining a bullet wound in 2002 while on assignment in Ramallah in the West Bank, undergoing physical abuse at the hands of the Gaddaffi regime in Libya last April, and facing harassment from the Mubarak regime. His writing was nothing short of poetic, rich with nuance which illuminated the humanity of his subjects.

As executive editor Jill Abramson  wrote, “Anthony died as he lived — determined to bear witness to the transformation sweeping the Middle East and to testify to the suffering of people caught between government oppression and opposition forces.” His death marks an enormous loss for the international journalism community, and for all those who seek truth and honest illumination of history as it unfolds in the Middle East.
Allah yarhamu. Wishing you peace.

Read below the work submitted for Shadid’s Pulitzer Prizes:

In 2010:

In Iraq, the Day After (Jan. 2, 2009)

New Paths to Power Emerge in Iraq (Jan. 13, 2009)

‘No One Values the Victims Anymore’ (March 12, 2009)

A Journey Into the Iraq of Recollection (April 1, 2009)

A Quiet but Undeniable Cultural Legacy (May 31, 2009)

Worries About A Kurdish-Arab Conflict Move To Fore in Iraq (July 27, 2009)

In Anbar, U.S.-Allied Tribal Chiefs Feel Deep Sense of Abandonment (October 3, 2009)

‘People woke up, and they were gone’ (Dec. 4, 2009)

2003 U.S. raid in Iraqi town serves as a cautionary tale (Dec. 24, 2009)

In 2004:

In New Iraq, Sunnis Fear a Grim Future

In Revival Of Najaf, Lessons for A New Iraq

For an Iraqi Family, ‘No Other Choice’

Attackers United By Piety in Plot To Strike Troops

Shiite Clerics Face a Time Of Opportunity and Risks

 

This post was also featured on the Yalla Change website.

Separate Cannot Be Equal

Following publication of “A State of Denial: Candidates, Consequences, and the Road to Peace”, a letter to the editor written by Professor Fred Baumann was published in the Kenyon Observer which rejected my argument regarding the role of Palestinian identity in the conflict. This letter provided has provided an excellent opportunity for me to refine my positions on this issue, and engage friends in debate. In my response to that letter, below, I address the necessity of providing honest narratives to address these challenges,and react to Prof. Baumann’s valuation by sharing what I believe to be an ideal solution to the conflict. In previous posts I began the articulation of my vision for a pluralist, democratic “one-state” in Israel/Palestine, and I continue that discussion below. I am excited to attend the One State Conference at Harvard next month to continue to expand and inform my views on this issue. A special thank you to all those whose advice and editing I have sought in the last few weeks. Your support is invaluable.

An excerpt of this post was published as “Context Matters” in the February 15, 2012 edition of the Kenyon Observer.

* * * * *

In his response to my article, “A State of Denial: Candidates, Consequences, and the Road to Peace,”(TKO January 2012) Professor Baumann, “[goes] back into history” to define the central issue of the occupation by Israel of Palestine. This issue is inherently complex and any brief discussion requires selective presentation of information; however, the result is a misleading picture of the aims of Palestinian nationalism. By insisting that “the issue has never been the right of Arabs to be what they want and call themselves what they want. The issue has always been the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own,” he ignores any rights of the Palestinian people to live on the land they inhabited prior to 1948 and he does not acknowledge the unjust process that led to the state’s formation. Denying Palestinians and Israelis equivalent rights to the land creates an ethnic, religious and cultural hierarchy which plagues the region to this day.

 According to Professor Baumann, “…the issue isn’t and never has been, about a Palestinian state or a Palestinian national identity. It is, whether the attempt…to delegitimize any Jewish presence in the land of Israel and call it all for the Arab, should and will succeed.” Though I find it reprehensible, I cannot deny that anti-Jewish sentiment exists within the conflict. I fully agree it is important, “on a subject as historically fraught as the Arab-Israeli issue, to be able to go back into history and see how the present circumstances came about.” Professor Baumann quoted Zahir Muhsein, a former representative of the PLO. Zahir Muhsein was simultaneously a National Command member of the Syrian Baa’thist party, which espouses a pan-Arab ideology. Muhsein’s argument that Palestinian cultural and political identity is a means of political expediency should be understood within this historical and socio-political context. For many Pan-Arabist groups, liberation of Palestine conveniently advanced their desire to create a Greater Syria. Muhsein, and others Professor Baumann quoted, are single voices, rather than the definitive voices, for Palestine. When actors within political movements speak, they do so as individuals and as representatives of the causes to which they have aligned themselves. Any one person cannot fairly represent this issue, which is heavily debated within Palestinian society and in the global Palestinian diaspora.

I wonder how it would be perceived were I to construct a narrative describing Israel to counter the one presented by Professor Baumann. Whose vision should I choose as my representation of what Israel should be? Theodor Hertzl? Yitzak Rabin? Golda Meir? Ehud Barack? And what if I seek to represent the consensus on how Israel should progress towards peace? Do I consult AIPAC? JStreet? The ADL? APN? Jewish Voices for Peace? Each organization cited above is pro-Israel, Jewish, and offers a different vision for Israel.

Consider this 1983 excerpt from a speech by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and [the Palestinians]defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.” Is it reasonable to hold all Jewish people to this? Of course not.

And what about former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, in a 1998 address to members of the Tzomet Party said, “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization [sic], or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Of course, it is unfair to categorize all Jewish presence in Israel based on these remarks by Sharon and Ben Gurion. But while Sharon calls these facts “forgotten,” if we wish to engage in an honest discourse about this conflict, they should be presented. When they are explained, Arab opposition to the Israeli state is contextualized.

Professor Baumann’s dismissal of the relevancy of Palestinian cultural identity within the conflict conveniently aids the Zionist idea of “transference” whereby, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it in 1942, “I actually would put a barbed wire around Palestine, and I would begin to move the Arabs out of Palestine…. I would provide land for the Arabs in some other part of the Middle East…. Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family…” Though what Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948 was at times much more violent than this, this is essentially what occurred. Currently, there is no solution to Palestinian displacement. It continues to occur through legal battles over residency, birth certificates, and identification cards which permit and restrict travel. It is compounded by international regulation of refugee communities, settlement construction, and other zoning regulations. Too often, Arabs are presented as a monolithic entity. In addition to the argument I made in “A State of Denial,” Palestinian cultural identity is relevant because it perpetuates the notion that ‘we can pick them up and stick them somewhere else, and it’ll be fine because they’ll be with people like them.’ Though an admittedly imperfect metaphor, if Pomona students were to occupy our campus and relocate us to Bowdoin, would you feel this is just? Aren’t all liberal arts schools the same?

The historical legacy of anti-Semitism and Jewish oppression is as undeniable as it is painful. I do not deny the right of Jews to reside safely on the contested land. This does not, however, eliminate or supersede the right of other historical populations to reside there as well, nor does it excuse occupation and oppression. My opposition has always been not to a particular ethnic or religious group, but to those unjust policies and practices which fuel resentment and impede peace on both sides of the Green Line. And yet, even if I were to accept Professor Baumann’s argument that “the issue has always been the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own” I cannot help but ask, at what cost?

I agree that the decisions of Palestinian leaders have delayed the resolution of this conflict. I recognize that Palestinian leadership has rejected numerous proposed resolutions. Palestinian failures, however, do not excuse Israel’s failure to obey international law, respect established boundaries or provide just compromises which allow for dignity, agency and self-governance amongst all parties. Thus, I must respectfully disagree with Professor Baumann’s implication that Palestinian rejections were solely based on their refusal to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. The causes for each particular rejection are deeply complex and particular to each offer. In general, proposed solutions have left the Palestinian territories economically and physically strangulated, and unable to defend themselves. To me, this does not create a viable state, nor does it create peace.

South African scholar and activist Farid Esack has written, “When peace comes to mean the absence of conflict on the one hand, and when conflict with an unjust and racist political order is a moral imperative on the other, then it is not difficult to understand that the better class of human beings are deeply committed to disturbing the peace and creating conflict.” Though I reject violence in any form, Dr. Esack’s observation reflects my support for the creative, non-violent protest techniques many Palestinians have been employing, including Freedom Riders, weekly marches and demonstrations, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. All express dissatisfaction with an unjust political order and disturb the peace, recognizing the humanity of their oppressor by adhering to the principles of non-violent activism. Palestinians want peace, but not an unjust one. When my grandmother was growing up in Cairo, she was frequently told, “maa feesh hadd ahsan min hadd;” (nobody is better than anybody else.) It is in this spirit that I offer hyopthetical, long-term hopes for a solution to this conflict.

In agreeing with Dr. Esack, (and my grandmother), I reject partition as a peaceful means by which the Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be resolved. An estimated 550,000 Jewish settlers currently reside in the West Bank. Non-Jewish Arabs make up approximately 20.4% of Israel’s population. A viable two-state solution is both logistically impossible, and, in my opinion,  morally and politically unsustainable. In this the month of February, Black History Month, policy makers should be remember the legacy of the Civil Rights movement here in America: separate cannot be equal. Similarly, King Solomon teaches us in 1 Kings 3:16-28 that splitting the baby is not the solution. Instead of creating further division via arbitrary lines that satisfy no one, let us choose the possibility of co-existence and prosperity. Isn’t it time to tear down the mental, emotional, religious, strategic, political, and physical walls that perpetuate this conflict, and start to build one nation dedicated to coexistence?

I recognize that in advocating a what is known as a one-state solution, I deny Israel its exclusively Jewish character. I certainly do not intend a malicious position toward the Jewish diaspora, yet the status quo is untenable. The logistical implementation of such a state is daunting, perhaps chimerical, but I cannot in good conscience justify support for any other solution. With regards to Alexander Pope, admittedly, my hopes for coexistence spring eternal, despite a historical legacy that may (or may not) suggest otherwise. Explusion of Jews from places like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, represent an ugly part of 20th century history. Yet history also provides us with beautiful examples of coexistence and idea-sharing. And yet, has there ever been a successful nation-state that has expressed exclusive homogeneity on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion? In the modern era, (as was so eloquently stated on literature in support of the protest movement in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem) “Democracy cannot co-exist with ethnic privilege.”

And so with all due respect to Professor Baumann, I refuse to accept his myopia regarding this conflict. The issue has always been much larger than simply the rights of Jews. The issue is also about the rights of Palestinians. And the rights of Palestinian Jews. And the rights of Christians. And the rights of Muslims. And the rights of Baha’is. And the rights of Bedouins. And the rights of the Druze. It is about the right of all people to live in a truly democratic state where each person has a vote, an education, access to fair legal representation, and where they and their cultures are protected and cherished.

A State of Denial: Candidates, Consequences and the Road to Peace

This article was originally published in the January 2012 edition of The Kenyon Observer

In an interview with The Jewish Channel last month, Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich described the Palestinian people as “invented.” When questioned during a presidential debate a few days later, Gingrich continued to make misleading remarks, including “The word ‘Palestinian’ did not become a common term until after 1977,” insinuating that Palestinian schools foster terrorism.

These statements are untenable and reflect long-standing falsehoods propagated since the founding of the state of Israel. In the early twentieth century, approximately 93% of the land that makes up modern day Israel was inhabited by Palestinian Arabs. In fact, when a delegation of Viennese rabbis were sent to Palestine to investigate the possibility of establishing a Jewish state there, they wrote back to Theodore Herzl, saying, “the bride is beautiful but she is married to another man.” Since then, the bride has been involved in a dangerous affair with the United States failing in their self-appointed role as marriage counselor.

The distinction between Palestinians and other Arabs of the Levant region is demonstrable through several cultural mediums including food, dance, music, embroidery, jewelry, and more. The preservation and documentation of Palestinian identity, notably through photography collections, Traditional Palestinian Costume: Origins and Evolution by Hanan Karaman Munayyer, and the work of cultural organizations authenticate Palestinian claims to autonomy and identity. Legal documentation, including pre-Ottoman land deeds, further demonstrates this reality. The Balfour Declaration itself, a 1917 letter which paved the way for the formation of the modern-day state of Israel, acknowledges “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” However, since the late 19th century there has been consistent and indefensible rhetoric suggesting otherwise.

Gingrich is not alone in providing a bevy of antagonistic comments on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The day before the Iowa caucuses, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum echoed Gingrich, telling a young voter that “there is no ‘Palestinian,’” saying that the residents of the Occupied West Bank are in fact Israeli.  Ironically, if this were true, it would reflect what is known as the one-state solution, in which the Occupied Territories are absorbed into the State of Israel and residents are given equal voting rights. Such an act would fundamentally restructure the Israeli “democracy,” almost certainly not in the way Santorum envisions. Texas Governor Rick Perry and House Resolution 1006 have argued that Jerusalem should be the sole capital of Israel. Front-runner Mitt Romney has threatened to end aid to Palestinians if they pursue statehood via the United Nations, similar to House Resolutions 2457, 1501, 2261 and 1475. Before withdrawing from the race, candidates Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, made news for offensive comments about the Islamic faith and right of return (or lack thereof) for Palestinians, respectively.

The alignment of many current GOP candidates with such revisionist history dangerously damages perceptions of America abroad and inhibits its ability to negotiate for Middle East peace. Many in the international community already disregard the United States as an impartial arbiter of the conflict, and the 29 standing ovations Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received during an address to the U.S. Congress last May leave little doubt as to why. In an “Arab Attitudes” poll conducted by the Arab American Institute in 2011, Arabs in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Lebanon ranked “occupation of Palestinian lands” as one of their top two obstacles when asked to identify “the greatest [one] to peace and stability in the Middle East.” The Obama Administration’s cow-towing to Israeli demands likely contributed to overwhelming Arab dissatisfaction with their “handling of the Palestinian issue,” yet it ranked as the most important issue through which Americans could improve their relations with the Arab World. Continuous denial of Palestinian agency, as reflected in recent campaign remarks, damages the United States image and role in the international community, affecting our security and stability as a nation.

The effects of xenophobic, anti-Islamic, and blind pro-Israeli campaign messaging and legislation are felt domestically as well. In a December 16 Boston Globe editorial, former Senator John E. Sununu(R-NH) described Gingrich’s remarks: “His comments were a calculated — but demonstrably false — slander, designed to curry favor with a constituency for which he cares by insulting one for which he does not.” This theme is reflected in public outcry over the Park 51 project in Manhattan, (known in the media as “the Ground Zero mosque”) and more recently was demonstrated through major companies pulling their advertising, en masse, from TLC’s reality show “All American Muslim” in response to pressure from hate groups. To me, the most troubling conclusion one may draw from the flurry of misinformation propagated by politicians is this: the comments are not a reflection of candidates’ individual views, but rather are deliberate attempts to connect with voters. Pandering to constituencies is inevitable, but it is irresponsible when it coordinated bigotry of this ilk contributes to a climate of fear and suspicion of American citizens. Just last month, a University of Illinois law professor of Sri Lankan descent was brutally attacked in a bus station. His attacker mistakenly believed his victim was “Middle Eastern,” reportedly yelling, “this is my country” before jumping the victim and slashing his throat.

In a land built on religious freedom, tolerance, and plurality, GOP presidential candidates seem instead to be adopting a deeply un-American campaign strategy: discrimination and fear-mongering. Such a tactic will not lead to peace and security at home or in the Holy Land. Instead of embracing the status quo and digging heels into a process that continuously falters, GOP candidates and lawmakers alike should consider a wholly new approach: one that favors tolerance, relies on historical fact, and seeks to build trust, rather than sow fear.

Why I Don’t Call It The Arab Spring

This article was originally published in Kenyon College’s MESA Journal, Vol. 3, Ed. 1 (November, 2011).

I can already see the entries in future history books: what began with self-immolation by a frustrated young fruit vendor in Tunisia launched unprecedented revolution across the Arab world. Aided by Facebook, Twitter and other social media, movements spread and autocratic regimes fell. It was the dawn of nonviolence in the Middle East, a time of rapid change: the Arab Spring.
I’m not so sure.

It is not my place to attempt a retelling of the events in the Arab World in the past ten months, nor could I begin to address the scope and complexity of various national movements. Instead, I wish to address the way these events have been presented and interpreted, as well as how the Obama Administration has responded. Finally, I will conclude with how American foreign policy should proceed.

Complexity is at the core of my opposition to the usage of the term “Arab Spring” to describe recent uprisings across the Arab world. The common narrative alludes to a process of rolling ignition, seen in the language of “first Tunisia,“then Egypt” followed by a smattering of other countries in varying chronology. This mode of presentation detracts from the existence of opposition movements that predated the uprisings in various Arab countries, and implies a simple progression from Country A to Country B to C and D and E (with the obvious inclusion of social media as the disseminating agent of protest organization) without acknowledgement of the unique circumstances underlying the protests in each individual country. Tunisia is not Egypt is not Syria is not Libya is not Bahrain, and a euphemistic categorical umbrella does not help our understanding of the unfolding events, nor in accommodating a climate of progressive change across the region.

Many of my objections to usage of this term draw heavily from an editorial in Lebanon’s The Daily Star by Dr. Rami Khouri entitled “Drop the Orientalist Term ‘Arab Spring.’” In the article, Khouri notes that the terminology most popular with Western media, “Arab Spring” does not reflect the language used by those engaged in the movements themselves. The implicit temporality and passivity of the word “spring” should also give its users pause. The phrase does no justice to the millions who have courageously stood up to brutal, malicious regimes, and to the thousands who have lost their lives in those struggles.

The collective movements that allegedly began with vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation did not end with Tunisia’s successful elections last month. While the developments in each country will follow their own respective trajectories, each transition will be most unlike those between seasons (buds to blossoms to barren). The analogy oversimplifies what is certain to be a long, arduous, non-linear process. The reclamation of the political agency of Arab peoples is not a seasonal phase, but a dramatic shift that will take more than passive observation of changing foliage and clime, but tireless activism, strong will, and honest governance. The transition taking place doesn’t involve leaves falling from trees, but people dying at the hands of ruthless autocrats.  Reducing their struggles to an Arab Spring minimizes the importance of their efforts.

The language we use to describe these events is symbolic, to be sure; however, it can serve as a useful mark of the more necessary shift: one in attitudes and actions by Western leaders towards the Arab peoples and the governments that represent them. Khouri argues:
Western powers for the past century and a half or so have assumed that they can shape and control most aspects of power and policy across the Arab world, whether due to imperial self-interest, energy requirements, economic needs, or pro-Israeli biases….Perhaps some in the West also do not want to acknowledge the full reality of Arabs reconfiguring their power structures, because Western powers (including Russia) supported those old, failed authoritarian systems that are now being challenged and changed.

Prior to the outbreak of large-scale revolutionary activity, this sentiment was put another way by Iraqi-Canadian rapper The Narcycist in his book, Diatribes of a Dying Tribe: “If the restaurant of life were an Arab establishment, dictators would be the waiters to a Capitalist chef.” As regimes shift or topple and tides of public sentiment grow louder, it is time for Washington to listen to some Bob Dylan : “The times they are a changin.” What is the intended result of the uprisings of the past year? Agency for Arab peoples.

I hope to look back at the last year as a watershed in the history of American foreign policy
towards the Arab world. I hope to watch Arab political power expressed justly through free and fair elections, through leaders who are appointed by the masses to serve the masses. I hope to see genuine structural changes to the power structures in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, and other nations that face unequal and unjust representation. I hope to see the monarchs of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco continue, however gradually, to shift power to elected legislatures and executives.

As desirable as those outcomes may be, it is not the role of American foreign policy to produce them. Instead, the U.S. should craft a foreign policy that respects the agency of Arabs, encourages struggles that align with our nation’s founding principles, and rejects political violence against civilians. The continued hypocrisy of the Obama Administration toward unfolding events in the region violates our nation’s values and ideals and inhibits our ability to act as an impartial arbiter of peace within the international community. While our economic and national security needs may remain, the means through which America meets its strategic interests in the region must change.

The fall of Hosni Mubarak has revealed that the military holds the real power in Egypt.  The seasonal change that seemed so evident in February has not occurred at a rate suitable to anyone save the army and its interests in the business sector. Delayed elections, difficulties in developing and organizing new political structures and military trials of civilians by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces have shown that Egypt’s revolution remains incomplete.  Political stagnation isn’t the only issue facing Egypt: recent incidents of violence by security forces against Coptic Christians, growing popular support for well-organized Islamist political factions, and an attack on the Israeli embassy have left many concerned about Egypt’s prospects for a smooth transition to representative democracy.

These problems are real and complex and will need to be solved through persistence, cooperation, and empathy by the Egyptian people and their leadership. Yet, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”:

The great stumbling block in [the] stride toward freedom is… the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; … who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom….I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.

Dr. King’s description corresponds with what has been labeled the Arab Spring, and it is far from over. Rather than set a paternalistic timetable, or attempt to gloss over the distinctive aspects of each revolution, we must allow change to take its natural course. Majorities in many Arab countries have chosen instability over injustice, and the U.S. should no longer stand in the way of their causes to advance American interests. What is required is not a new season in American foreign policy, but an entirely new paradigm: one that replaces collectivism toward the region with informed analysis, and shuns convenience in favor of integrity and legitimate governance.

Land Swaps?

Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s  speech last Thursday, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

“So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”

and here is the reality:

It’s no wonder that in his meeting with Obama on Friday, Netanyahu said,

“While Israel is prepared to make generous, compromises for peace it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible…They don’t take into account demographic changes that have taken place on the ground.”

Demographic changes.

Fabulous euphemism. What Netanyahu fails to mention, what seems to be omitted from Israeli discussion of the logistics of creating borders, is that their illegal settlement construction which has occurred for decades is the cause of the “demographic changes” that frankly make a two state solution inconceivable.

Just what sort of “land swaps” do you ever see happening that could possibly resolve the “demographic realities” of that map?

Democratization and the Will of the People

“I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. … let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”    MLK JR

Every iteration of strength and hope I can muster I direct towards the people of Libya tonight, and to all my brothers and sister’s under the fist of oppressive regime and brutal dictatorship. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Cornel West speak two nights ago, and he reminded the audience that, “A blues person is always a long distance runner.” I agree, but the omnipresent spark of  hope in me senses the finish line is just around the corner for the people of the Middle East. Your legs may be weary and heavy, but I urge you to keep pushing. The free world is watching, and we recognize our collective histories in your marches. Ya Yemen, Ya Jordan, Ya Bahrain, Ya Libya, we hear your pleas for freedom, and affirm your right for just governance, even if the governments representing us hide behind policies that support stability over justice. I reject  American hypocrisy and honor the nobility of your activism. Stay strong.