Culture

Juliano Mer Khamis Murdered in the West Bank.


As many of you may know, filmmaker, actor and cultural activist Juliano Mer-Khamis has been murdered by a masked gunman in Jenin. Born to an Israeli Jewish mother and a Palestinian Christian father, he dedicated his life to running his “Freedom Theater” for Jenin’s youth and their communities. Reb Mer-Khamis, who served in the IDF and played various roles in the very center of Israeli cinema, was a Jewish Palestinian. Refusing to accept this as an impossibility, Mer Khamis transcended identities and did tremendous amounts of good. A baal-khaloymes and a baal-khesed, Mer-Khamis floored me when I met him briefly some years ago. In his documentary “Arna’s Children” Mer-Khamis films his students during rehearsals from 1989 to 1996. He then goes back years later to see what happened to them. Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera in 2001, Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin, Alla leads a resistance group. Juliano, who today is one of the leading actors in the region, looks back in time in Jenin, trying to understand the choices made by the children he loved and worked with.
warning: This video contains graphic depictions of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
HaMakom yenachem eschem b’soch shar aveyley Tzion vi’Yerusholayim

81 thoughts on “Juliano Mer Khamis Murdered in the West Bank.

  1. @victor Master of Dreams. Zise khaloymes is sweet dreams. The targeting of artists is tragic and unacceptable. He was killed holding his 1 year old son!

  2. Teally? Oohhhhh…
    Where I grew up, it was used like nonsense, as in…
    Did you hear what the mayor said today?
    Ech, who cares, it’s all khaloymus.
    From which I always interpreted it in a negative way, as nonsense. I can see how “dreaming” can be related to that, in a negative way, as in someone with his head in the clouds. Never hear khaloymus used in a positive connotation.
    Thanks.

  3. chalom is dream in Hebrew. The yiddish appearance of the word almost always mean’s dreams, one poetic usage can be seen in Peretz Markish’s work, he is fond of “khaloymes-shvebn” or spinning dreams, or dream-spinning. I think what you mention is more of an interpretation in a post-vernacular Yiddish condition.

  4. Kovac’s writes that Mer-Khamis raised up terrorists. As Dwight Schrute would said: False. Mer-Khamis and his mother provided a place for children growing up in Jenin. As you can see from the film, both Mer-Khamis and his mother identified very strongly with the people’s struggle for freedom from occupation. How this conviction means they raised terrorists isn’t worth a keystroke. What is is Kovac’s point that he’ll be dancing on their graves. That is just sick.

  5. It should also be noted that Baal-Khaloymes is the pen name of Sholom Schvartbard, the Jewish anarchist responsible for the murder of yehmakhshemoynik Szimon Petlura.

  6. After Arna’s Children came out, Juliano moved from being a superstar in the Israeli left and film/theater community to a kind of international superstar in the Palestinian solidarity world.
    I remember Arna from many demonstrations. And her son Spartacus – where are you Spartak!? – from semi-leading an amazing roving gang of anarchists.
    That whole family was/is so very special. Unique. Israel is a poorer country without them.

  7. This is such a tragic loss. The Freedom Theater in Jenin is a devastatingly important institution, despite its small size and scope. I hope that, after recovering from Juliano’s death, it will continue to give children an outlet for expression and creativity.

  8. Amira Hass has an appreciation of Juliano Mer Khamis in today’s haaretz: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1223940.html Don’t have the url for the english version.
    Joseph is called ba’al hachalomot and therefore the adjective “ba’al chaloymos” is somewhat double edged, a visionary who seems to be crazy, though like Joseph his dreams might come true.

  9. that is crazy that Hass refers to him at a baal-khalomot. I wonder if she read my blog post and stole the term from my use here!
    I want to know!

  10. Could I get some perspectives from those of you who have watched “Arna’s Children”? What did you take away from it? How did it make you feel to watch the descriptions of combat?

  11. Arna’s Children does a very good job of capturing the reality in Jenin. It made me feel a lot of empathy for the kids. I saw the sacrifices – the deaths in the military conflict – as both heroic and tragic. It made me want to see more Arna’s in the world, more efforts like those of Juliano Mer, to go and succeed in the world.

  12. @Victor
    I saw the film about five years ago in a screening with Juliano himself as he was preparing to open the Freedom Theatre (or perhaps just after he had opened it).
    I don’t recall any overwhelming depictions of violence. Shaky-cameras, behind, barriers, from a distance, etc…I could be wrong, it was a while ago.
    I will share the one thing that always stuck with me, though. During the Q & A, some kid basically tried to make the implication that the theatre would preach violence and to get Juliano to sort of declare that he would do no such thing.
    He was clearly offended by the question, and refused to sink to the level of the questioner. He simply pointed out, “When you grow up with tanks rolling down your street, no one needs to teach violence to you. It becomes what you know.”

  13. I saw the film about seven year ago at the Jerusalem Cinematec and was deeply moved by his and his mother’s attempt to give kids in Jenin a creative outlet for their lives, particularly since he (and her) were caught between two worlds, being half-Jewish, half-Palestinian as he is. As someone also going between West and East Jerusalem constantly at the time, I found his courage in challenging assumptions on both sides of the conflict personally meaningful.

  14. How do you deal with the clash of narratives?
    Some Jews will respond to a movie like this by negating the Israeli and Jewish narrative – buying a keffiah, joining the local chapter of ISM, finding an Arab girlfriend and traveling to the West Bank to act as one of those monitors that walks Arab children home in areas of conflict.
    Other Jews will be spurred to defend the Israeli narrative by negating the Palestinian one, start talking about terrorism, crocodile tears, pallywood, etc.
    I spent three years in a relationship with a Palestinian woman, and it bothered her to no end that I could watch movies like this, and the many others she made sure I saw, without negating the pain and trauma endured by Palestinian society, yet remaining sympathetic to the justness of Israel’s cause. She wanted desperately for me to break along one line or the other, as she had seen may others Jews do.
    It never appealed to me, to dehumanize people. I feel compassion for Palestinians and a need to address their legitimate grievances without conflict in my general sentiment. I do not derive pleasure or happiness from knowing that a Palestinian rocket launch team, for example, was killed in an airstrike, but I do think their actions made their deaths necessary, even while curiosity and something else… wistfulness, maybe, eggs me on to understand their perspective.

  15. Ah, the clash of narratives. Well good on you to simply affirm that narratives exist, and that they are different. I’ve found folks on both sides who hate that language, because they think it’s about ‘real facts and history’ and anyone who disagrees with their favorite narrative is a scheming evil doer.
    The community of peace builders can be defined by this one attribute: that they can feel a loyalty to one narrative without having to negate the other, or (even) can see both narratives with equal parts compassion and non-attachment.

  16. KFJ, JG, et. al., you might get a kick out of this. This kid needs some Jewschooling, big time. Make sure you read it carefully, in the “every sentence must be its own paragraph” format that we all love best. I have a strong desire to select some choice quotes for publication, but I will restrain myself.
    Jonathan1, are you back yet?

  17. @Victor.
    Yeah, I’m around these days. But, really, there isn’t much else to talk about. I love reading so many of the posts/comments here, but I basically have nothing to add to most of them.
    The debates we’ve been involved in over the years have mostly involved centered on Middle Eastern policy, and Israel and the US, etc.
    It’s basically been a debate between me, you, and a few others.
    Now, when the policy that some of those others have argued for–WITH ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE–have shown to be completely incorrect and tragic, we don’t here one comment from the usual suspects about their longstanding arguments for greater US cooperation with the Mubarak and Assad regimes.
    We here nothing about their opposition to the attack on the Syrian reactor in 2007. We here nothing about their opposiiton to the 2003 Iraq War, without which, whatever we think of that invasion, Ghaddafi would probably have been using chemical and biological capabilities against Libyan civiilans.
    We here nothing about their opposition to sanctions on Iran.
    Victor, we don’t here anything. Nothing. Nada. Shum devar. Zilch. It’s as if those debates never happened. It’s as if the complete arrogance of some people, behind these positions, never existed.
    And, in some sence, the debates here do reflect what goes on in certain parts of the larger Jewish world. So, you might say this is what’s called a bit tragic–but it’s really not such a big deal.
    All that’s left to place you and me in our right-wing-AIPAC-brainwashed echo chambers these days is the debate over Hamas. And what else is there to say about that at this point?

  18. Don’t worry, Jonathan1, there will ALWAYS be room for us in the radical, right wing echo-chamber. Remember those posts about how Israeli Jews were being overly guarded (and probably racist) in their response to the democratic uprising in Egypt?
    What democratic uprising? There are now protests in Tahrir against the army’s transitional dictatorship, with army officers defecting to lead the demonstrations. Two people have been killed by security forces in recent days. There are Egyptian bloggers being sentenced to three years in jail for writing against the new regime.
    And that’s before we get to our ambivalent support for Saudi Arabia putting down Shiite demonstrators in Bahrain, or the complete international silence at the Syrian regime’s violence against protesters. No exuberant Jewschool posts identifying with the rioting Kurds of Syria, for example, who apparently were without citizenship until a week ago.
    The template, whatever it was, is irreparably shattered, and Jewish liberals are drifting without anchor. Frankly, I don’t know what to make of the situation either, except that I’m sure as heck glad that I’ve spent my advocacy time working to strengthen the US-Israeli relationship, which is now ever more important amid regional instability, to both countries.

  19. @Victor.
    KFJ wrote these words five months ago!
    [A] cursory read of the summaries and source documents reveal a Middle East that is very unlike the version peddled by the right-wing. Instead of hostile Arab dictators fomenting hatred of America, we read reports of Arab nations clamoring for American action to halt an Iranian nuke. We read Israeli praise of Palestinian development and hopes of boosting their self-confidence. We remember that Pakistan has the nuke and is possibly the most unstable Muslim country near extremist take-over, not Iran.
    The world is a more complicated place than the talking points provided by AIPAC.

    Where are KFJ, JG, and frankly Justin on some of these things?
    They’ve had no trouble pummeling you and me about such matters over the years–with complete, absolute confidence. Complete confidence about such things.
    I just don’t understand where everybody is now. It’s astounding. Just astounding.

  20. @Victor:
    KFJ wrote, in 2009:
    The magic is reportedly credited to several approaches decried by the right-wing and Bush. The most important is improved U.S. relations with Syria (and Egypt) brought extra pressure to bring Hamas to the negotiating table. A regional approach that deals with all actors together allows gains in one corner to benefit all. To stonewall Syria and punish the Palestinian populace, yet expect results from Hamas failed. It also should be seriously noted that negotiating with Hamas delivered more results than bombing them.
    It’s just absolutely astounding.

  21. @BZ–ok, lol.
    But, most likely many people here probably just got trapped in the AIPAC-funded right-wing echo chamber of mindless war-drumming American Jewish crowds.
    Hopefully everybody will return soon. Sure, their commendable efforts to advance world peace by strengthening the Assad regime hasn’t worked so well. It truly is a shame that Assad has yet to receive billions in Western aid, gain control over the Golan and, in many ways, Lebanon, and receive the Nobel Peace Prize that he so obviously deserves. We could have had an Israeli-Syria treaty if those war-mongering Israeli politicians hadn’t of got in the way–with assistance from W. Bush, who in his utter stupidity distanced the US from the Assad regime.
    And, the pro-peace crowd wasn’t able to stop those same war-mongering Israelis generals from ordering the destruction from Syria’s nuclear program in 2007–what a pity.
    Even worse, the Israel-war machine destroyed Iraq’s reactor in 1981. If only most of us had been around then to try and stop things.
    Let’s not even mention the fact that most of us were too young to work against George H.W. Bush’s idiotic decision to put together the Gulf War. Can we imagine what a better world we would have if Saddam had been left in control of Kuwait and maybe even Saudi Arabia?
    But, there is still work to be done. We still have a chance to ensure that sanctions are lifted against Iran, for their nuclear program is no more dangerous to the world’s than is Israel’s, or Britain’s for that matter.
    And, we can make sure that Hamas is finally accepted on the international scene as a key partner in finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of these Frontpage Magazine types actually believe Hamas’s leadership when they say they’ll never sign a treaty with Israel–that AIPAC war-mongering machine is hard to stop sometimes.

  22. @BZ. I just looked at that post, and there are a bunch of grammatical errors–so you don’t have to call me out.

    1. Dude, I don’t know where you got this idea, but I’m not actually in the business of calling out grammatical errors. (“Beg the question” is a different thing entirely.)

  23. Look, I can’t keep up with all of the ways you have corrected me–and deservedly so.
    The larger point is the absolute hypocrisy of many who champion themselves as Progressives and human rights advocates. Again, I will admit that I thought and still think that the 2003 Iraq War was a mistake, but the bottom line is that Gaddafi would probably be using WMD’s against Libyan civilians were it not for that war.
    It’s astounding that all of the uber-confident Progressives in this forum are completely ducking the reality that their thesis for the Middle East has unraveled in a few months.

  24. And the conservatives are all fearful!
    -insert link to new study about the opinions of Jewish leaders on democracy in Egypt…sorry I don’t have it-
    Isn’t Gaddafi using US weapons on his own people? Who exactly was right about this Jonathan1? Go ahead, find a comment I made that I should be retracting today regarding my “thesis for the Middle East”?

  25. My thesis is: America is an overwhelming force for evil in the Middle East. May all US troops, warships, soldiers, missiles, bombs, security contracting firms, mercenaries, and arms dealers return safely home.

  26. The basic thesis of the “Progressive” world has been that the West should move almost exlusively to dialogue and engagement with the Arab regimes, in order to strengthen the “moderate” regimes (ie, Mubarak’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan) and in order to help the more “radical” regimes (Assad’s Syria and Gaddafi’s Libya, for starters) to “moderate.”
    @ML
    Maybe you specifically haven’t made such comments, but if you’d like I can provide 20 or 50 or 100 such comments in this very forum from the past few years.
    And, btw., those delivering such statements often make sure to throw in a bit of
    that those who don’t know how to ask will repeat their scripted talking points regardless of what’s happening in Israel or in the region. for good touch, to describe those who might not agree.
    Isn’t Gaddafi using US weapons on his own people?
    He is, and this is a symptom of the huge mistake made by successive American governments. But, at least the American Administrations (other than Carter’s and W. Bush’s at one point) are just taking their approach from a realpolitik angle. They aren’t trying to strengthen, say, King Abdullah II (whose father was responsible for the death of 10,000 Palestinians in 1970) out of some kind of belief that they’re bringing peace to the world or working for Human Rights.
    And, I’m still not sure how pointing out that Gadaffi is using US weapons changes the reality that he would be using WMD’s had he not given up his WMD program after the Iraq War.
    Who exactly was right about this Jonathan1?
    Um, nobody is always right, but one school of thought has has been way off the mark, time and again, and again, and again and again–and it’s becoming a bit obvious these past months.
    @ML
    Which one of these events would you not have opposed, btw.?
    1981 Osirak
    1991 Gulf War
    2003 Iraq War
    W. Bush’s decision to distance himself from the Assad regime
    Sanctions campaign against Iran
    2007 strike on Syrian reactor
    If you basically would had opposed all of these moves, then you might want to admit that the Middle East might be a very different place today had they not occured.

  27. @ML
    In other words, you don’t want to address this stuff because it doesn’t fit into the “echo-chamber” paradigm. Fair enough; you aren’t alone.
    Chag sameach to all.

  28. @Victor:
    Here is a 2006 piece by Sidney Blumenthal:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/blumenthal/2006/08/03/mideast/index.html
    Some quotes:
    Rather than negotiations with Syria, they [necons] proposed “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.”
    In the current Middle East crisis, once again, the elder Bush’s wise men have stepped forward to offer unsolicited and unheeded advice. (In private they are scathing.) Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Israel and Syria and now the director of the James Baker Institute at Rice University, urged on July 23, on CNN, negotiations with Syria and Iran. “I come from the school of diplomacy that you negotiate conflict resolution and peace with your enemies and adversaries, not with your friends,” he said. “We’ve done it in the past, we can do it again.”
    Richard Haass, the Middle East advisor on the elder Bush’s National Security Council and President Bush’s first-term State Department policy planning director, and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, openly scoffed at Bush’s Middle East policy in an interview on July 30 in the Washington Post: “The arrows are all pointing in the wrong direction. The biggest danger in the short run is it just increases frustration and alienation from the United States in the Arab world. Not just the Arab world, but in Europe and around the world. People will get a daily drumbeat of suffering in Lebanon and this will just drive up anti-Americanism to new heights.”
    Brent Scowcroft, published an Op-Ed in the Washington Post written more or less as an open letter to his erstwhile and errant protégé Condoleezza Rice. Undoubtedly, Scowcroft reflects the views of the former President Bush. Adopting the tone of an instructor to a stubborn pupil, Scowcroft detailed a plan for an immediate end to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and for restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, “THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM.” His program is a last attempt to turn the president back to the ways of his father. If the elder Bush and his team were in power and following the Scowcroft plan, a cease-fire would have been declared. But Scowcroft’s plan resembles that of the Europeans, already rejected by the Bush administration, and Rice is the one offering a counterproposal that has put diplomacy into a stall.
    @Victor:
    Five years later, we see how off the mark so many of these assessments were. Where is the self-reflection?

  29. I also wonder whether any writers here at Jewschool have the courage to write about the murder of Jewish worshipers at the tomb of our patriach – a site which the Palestinian Authority vowed to protect for Jewish worship – followed by the wanton desecration of the place of pilgrimage by a Palestinian mob, yet again.
    What is the proper response to such hateful murder and regressivist Islamist thuggery?
    Isn’t it all our fault for provoking the Arabs? I mean, let’s get real. Joseph never existed, and if he did, he was a Muslim, and anyway we’re really Khazars, so it doesn’t concern us, and we all need to get back to central asia where we belong. And some believe that we come from apes and pigs, and this matches the opinions of many scientists who say that we are descendant from apes, and maybe one day they will discover that we come from pigs also, which proves that everyone’s opinion is valid. It’s so silly anyway, prayer, that is. Like there is some fat bearded man in the sky answering spiritual email. How barbaric we are, still in the middle ages. You really can’t blame the Arabs for shooting at us. If you saw wild hairy animals that come from apes and pigs roaming through your neighborhood, speaking to a fat man in the sky, you’d shoot them too. I know I would.

  30. @Victor:
    Don’t worry, though. It looks like Fatah and Hamas might come to some type of government. And then we can have the usual arguments here–we’ll make our points as to why it’s unwise for Israel to deal with Hamas.
    And are good friends will make their counterpoints–you and I are AIPAC-issue-reading-zombies, stuck in the American Jewish establishment echo chamber–or we are just trolls working for Frontpage Magazine.
    It should be fun.

  31. @Victor:
    I have to go for a bit of troll training, but this statement sums up our arguments over the year . . . it’s just amazing that this is self-proclaimed “peace” camp and “human rights” camp, regarding the Mubarak and Assad regimes:
    The magic is reportedly credited to several approaches decried by the right-wing and Bush. The most important is improved U.S. relations with Syria (and Egypt) brought extra pressure to bring Hamas to the negotiating table. A regional approach that deals with all actors together allows gains in one corner to benefit all. To stonewall Syria and punish the Palestinian populace, yet expect results from Hamas failed. It also should be seriously noted that negotiating with Hamas delivered more results than bombing them.

  32. @Victor
    Remember kyleb? Here are some comments from a debate in March 2009:
    kyleb wrote:
    Egypt is repressed largely because they have been enraged for decades over what Israel is doing to Palestinians, while billions in US aid goes to prop their tin-pot dictatorship up over them.
    Victor wrote:
    “Kyleb, Egyptians are under martial law because elements within Egypt kept trying to murder their leaders. It has nothing to do with Israel, and attempting to tie these two completely unrelated issues together…”
    kyleb responded:
    The issues are closely related, and one has to have his head buried rather deep in the sand to claim otherwise. Granted, I wouldn’t expect anthing else from a demographic warior like yourself.
    victor wrote, later:
    Kyleb, you didn’t address the issue…”
    klyeb responded:
    Right, that previous post was me giving up trying to engage in reasonable discussion with you
    @Victor–would you put your head back in the sand already!!!!!

  33. @Victor.
    Here are some lines from a DCC post in December 2009 (it’s like there is a never-ending source of comedy on Jewschool):
    Regarding Shmuely Boteach, who was considering running for public office . . .
    [Boteach] is running for office because he doesn’t like that he lives in a free country.
    Now that isn’t completely fair to the good rabbi. Rabbi Boteach is mad that his next door neighbor is the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations.
    . . .
    Please take the time to snicker under your breath. Done? Great. Let us take a look at his platform.
    Outside of fighting international law, Boteach will be fighting for “school-choice” aka taking public money and giving it to religious schools . . .

  34. Don’t worry, though. It looks like Fatah and Hamas might come to some type of government. And then we can have the usual arguments here–we’ll make our points as to why it’s unwise for Israel to deal with Hamas.
    Eeek gawd, you’re right! Soon we’ll have to explain, again, that we’re not punishing the Palestinians for voting in a democratic fashion, but for electing a violent, Islamist regime that hurls explosive ordinance in the general direction of civilians, among other crimes.
    Will JStreet (and its friends here) hasten to label anyone who supports cutting off $500 million in direct US aid to a Fatah-Hamas unity government as standing in the way of peace? I’m having trouble envisioning progressive Jewish visionaries on this blog joining us right wing AIPAC bobbleheads in pressuring the Europeans to turn off their $1 billion+ cash spigot to the PA until the Palestinians (the ones with all the guns and bombs) recognize Israel and renounce violence.
    But maybe we’re being too hasty, Jonathan1. Maybe we’re in for a real treat of progressive Jewish solidarity with the residents of Sderot. Maybe.

  35. Btw, I just want to point out that the March 2009 discussion that Jonathan1 and now BZ have referred to was kick-ass good, and we should all read it… at least to find out more about this comment:
    “Good work, Ima, only three more to go?”
    That needs to go into Jewschool’s timeless hall of fame 🙂

  36. @BZ.
    I realize that the Boteach post wasn’t really about Libya, but there is a sentiment there that it was ludicrous for Boteach to bother with things like Gadaffi staying in his neighborhood or with the Libyan ambassador.
    It’s derives from the same sentiment, IMHO, that argues that
    [A] cursory read of the summaries and source documents reveal a Middle East that is very unlike the version peddled by the right-wing. Instead of hostile Arab dictators fomenting hatred of America, we read reports of Arab nations clamoring for American action to halt an Iranian nuke.
    The bottom line is that the Arab dictators are indeed hostile–mostly to their own citizens. If the West needs to do business with these guys fine, but at least the West can do so soberly, with the realization that nobody is really advancing peace, and we’re making a moral compromise.
    And, it’s still beyond me how some in the “Progressive” world, and in this forum, who champion themselves as peace and human rights advocates, want the West to cooperate with regimes that are brutal dictatorships at best and mass murderers at worse.

    1. Jonathan1 writes:
      I realize that the Boteach post wasn’t really about Libya, but there is a sentiment there that it was ludicrous for Boteach to bother with things like Gadaffi staying in his neighborhood or with the Libyan ambassador.
      True, but the people expressing that sentiment were not claiming that Qaddafi isn’t a bad guy; we were just claiming that trying to deal with foreign policy at the level of New Jersey zoning ordinances was stupid. As I wrote at the time, “the Libyan ambassador’s residence in Englewood is not harming anyone: that is, regardless of what odious actions the Libyan government has done or is doing, assuming that Libya (like every country in the world except Vatican City and countries like Taiwan and Kosovo whose independence is disputed) will remain a member of the United Nations (not generally a question that is referred to the Englewood city council or whatever Boteach intends to run for) and will therefore have a UN ambassador, it makes no difference vis-a-vis Libya’s policies whether Libya’s UN ambassador is living in Englewood or Manhattan or Staten Island or anywhere else in commuting distance of the UN building.” If the US is going to host the UN, we’re also going to end up hosting some people we don’t like; that’s just part of the deal.

  37. And, it’s still beyond me how some in the “Progressive” world, and in this forum, who champion themselves as peace and human rights advocates, want the West to cooperate with regimes that are brutal dictatorships at best and mass murderers at worse.
    I like how you qualify this with “some” when you really mean all, don’t you? So some people are hypocrites, big deal.
    It’s almost like you’re saying, “well it’s perfectly natural for “Conservatives” to want to cooperate with regimes that are brutal dictatorships at best and mass murderers at worse, but for those “Progressives” to do so, well, gosh golly darn.”

  38. @ML.
    Ironically, “some” means “some” and “all” means “all.”
    I wrote “some” because I mean “some.” If you are going to put words into my mouth there is nothing I can do.
    It’s almost like you’re saying, “well it’s perfectly natural for “Conservatives” to want to cooperate with regimes that are brutal dictatorships at best and mass murderers at worse, but for those “Progressives” to do so, well, gosh golly darn.”
    This is a long stream, but if you look above, I very clearly criticize:
    Edward Djerejian,
    Richard Haass
    Brent Scowcroft
    All three men were key policy advisers to George H.W. Bush.
    So, I’m not sure how that’s saying that it’s “perfectly natural” for “Conservatives” to follow XYZ policy.
    But, yes, Jewschool is a great forum, IMHO. However, if you look over the years, we’ve had some very heated discussions about Middle East policy. And, I’m sorry to tell you, many times it has ended up with me on one side saying things like:
    We shouldn’t delude ourselves, the Arab countries are run by brutal regimes, and therefore the West should get off of its oil addiction ASAP, and the West should deal with these regimes very cautiously, and with no delusions. Specifically, Israel shouldn’t make a treaty with the Assad regime, even if Israel could maintain the Golan under such a deal.
    @ML
    I’m sorry to tell you that there are SOME people in this forum who have stood on the other side of these arguments, who champion themselves as peace activists, writing things like:
    [A] cursory read of the summaries [of Wikileaks] and source documents reveal a Middle East that is very unlike the version peddled by the right-wing.
    And, the argument usually degenerates into the SOME in the “pro-peace” crowd here writing that whoever disagrees with them is simply reading from some kind of AIPAC play-book, or is living in some type of right-wing echo chamber, or is simply morally spineless, or is a troll, or is a writer for Front Page Magazine, etc. etc.
    And now suddenly SOME people have disappeared on these issues.
    @ML
    I’m sure you have better things to do with your time, but if you look through the older comments here, that is just the reality.
    So, again, Western policy vis-a-vis the Arab regimes has been a disaster, regardless of administration (maybe with the exception of the Carter Administration and, at times, the W. Bush Administration.)
    But Jewschool is a “Progressive” forum, where SOME “pro-peace” activists have done all that they can to fight the evil American Jewish establishment on these issues.

  39. @ML,
    And, yes, there is a difference between a “realpolitik” approach to the Middle East–for instance one we’ve seen from the Obama Administration . . .
    . . . versus a stream of thought in the “Progressive” world [not everybody] that argues to engage dictatorships in order to advance peace. I’m sorry, that stream of thought isn’t advancing peace, and it isn’t “progressive.” And how the world has been turned upside down on this issue is beyond me.

  40. Jonathan1, and anyone else interested in reaching peace with the Arabs, read this:
    I was wrong about Syria
    The main takeaway is this: Israel (and we, Jews) need to stop trying to make peace with dictators, with leaders, with individuals who are here today and gone tomorrow. This is the lesson of the “Arab Spring”. We must insist on making peace with people. That means negotiating with governments that are representative of their populations and have “buy in” from their constituencies to end the state of war – military, economic, diplomatic, cultural and psychological. If the Arab people – disregarding their diplomatic elite – are not ready for such a peace, then we should earnestly encourage them, meanwhile remaining firm on securing our basic interests.
    To remain credible, progressive Jews must make this transition, from advocating for a political “cold peace” with the Mubaraks, Assads and Qaddafis of the Arab world, to building and broadening the desire for a cultural and psychological rapprochement between the Jews of Israel and their Arab neighbors. Part of doing so means credibly representing Israel’s legitimate rights, interests and historical and cultural narrative. A movement which builds support for peace and mutual respect from the bottom up will endure through political instability in a way that a political “cold peace” will not.
    In this brave new world, where pleading, prodding and manipulating Israel’s leadership and electorate to make territorial concessions as the only precondition for peace treaties with tyrants is no longer sufficient, progressive Jews have an opportunity to articulate a vision of hope.
    Alternatively, progressive Jews can bury their heads in the sand and pretend nothing has changed, that relinquishing the territories, all of them, no matter the regional context or Israel’s legitimate interests, is a moral priority in itself, overriding all other concerns, including attempting to achieve peace with the Arabs. Individuals who take this later approach will naturally weed themselves out of serious policy discussions, at least among those who choose to deal with reality and care about preserving human life and seeking and pursuing peace.

  41. @Victor:
    Plocker writes:
    I am not writing on behalf of Israel’s leftist camp. I was not authorized to do so. I am writing on behalf of myself: I need to engage in some self-reflection. I need to remind myself and not forget, as I did indeed forget, the following principle: A dictator is a dictator is a dictator, and peace with him would always be handicapped, flawed, and unstable. Peace with such tyrant is immoral, undesirable and dangerous for Israel.
    A huge kol hakavod to Plocker. God willing, many in the Progressive Jewish world, including in this forum, will come to the same realization, and then we can all work toward a better future.

  42. “representing Israel’s legitimate rights, interests and historical and cultural narrative. A movement which builds support for peace and mutual respect from the bottom up will endure through political instability in a way that a political “cold peace” will not.”
    Freedom and independence for Palestinians, and a just resolution of the refugee problem, comes first. A corollary is that Israel needs to stop positioning the PA and the West Bank Fatah crowd as a legitimate partner by themselves, and instead allow, foster and encourage Palestinian efforts to work in coalitions with Hamas, to hold Palestinian National Congress elections, to have a leadership that represents all Palestinians, much as the Zionist movement claims to represent all Jews.

  43. JG, wasn’t that very Palestinian reconciliation thing tried in 2006, and led to a violent coup in 2007, people thrown off buildings, rockets, wars, etc.? And let’s say that Hamas and Fatah make peace with Israel on terms that both sides can live with – a notion Hamas rejects outright. Who will stop Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or the next splinter terror faction, or the next one? Hamas controls Gaza right now with an iron fist, and they’re not able to stop attacks on Israeli cities, assuming they even want to. There is no level of “buy-in” from Palestinian society.
    You see a Palestinian state as a moral necessity of intrinsic value, which should be pursued to completion regardless of other factors. I don’t. If the Palestinian want a state, they will need to reach an accommodation with the Jews who control the land. The conditions are very simple and well known. Palestinians will end violent acts against Jews. There will be no return of refugees to Israel. Israel will maintain some military infrastructure in the Jordan valley, across which it has faced several invasions in 63 years. That’s it, and tomorrow they can have their state, with land swaps totaling nearly 100% of ’67 borders, if that’s what they want. And no settlers or right wing radicals will be able to stop them. You know as well as I do that this was the platform Olmert was elected on and attempted to implement.
    Some alignment of forces stopped him, and it wasn’t the Israeli right.

  44. “You see a Palestinian state as a moral necessity of intrinsic value, which should be pursued to completion regardless of other factors.”
    Yep. Just like an Israeli state is a moral necessity of intrinsic value. I actually see Palestinian rights as RIGHTS not privileges to be granted and awarded according to Israeli interests.

  45. No RIGHT is free of the context in which it is expressed. Rights are necessarily paired with responsibilities and failure to live up to those responsibilities has consequences. You’re avoiding the issue, JG, and I don’t blame you. Barak and Olmert were willing to destroy dozens of West Bank settlements and swap land for most of the rest. By your estimation, that should have worked, but it didn’t. Rights… context. Actions… consequences. There’s really nothing anyone can add to that, except beat their head against the wall.
    Good Shabbos.

  46. Freedom and independence for Palestinians, and a just resolution of the refugee problem, comes first.
    This is required to come before political change in the Arab world can happen??????
    @JG.
    It’s not 2009 and you’re not James Jones. The tried-and-true “Palestine is the epicenter of the Middle East’s problems” line won’t work any more.

  47. @Victor:
    Feb. 9, 2011
    I wrote:
    Please provide one reason that you support a treaty with the Assad regime, while we’re at it.
    Justin responded:
    I support a peace between the Israeli and Syrian people. I also believe that countries that are in the UN should uphold their decisions or not be a part of the international body. I also think that as Arab nations normalize relations with Israel, this will normalize relations with the West. And for all the shit that could/would bring, it also brings the possibility of economic prosperity, and it tends to be the case that authoritarian regimes thrive on the poverty of their citizens. So I think peace with Israel would actually strengthen the Syrian people and weaken the Assad regime.
    today’s news: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=218585
    I really think the story in the Jewish world in 2011 will be if people like Justin–who we know is a good person and a future Jewish leader–will simply come to their senses on many long-held views about the Middle East, which are unraveling before our eyes. Maybe 2011 will go down as the year when a real change happened in the Jewish world. I guess we’ll have to see.

  48. I’ve been following this “whose paradigm has been proved incorrect by recent events” debate without contributing, but I want to jump in here. J1, I wish you wouldn’t be quite so dismissive of progressives (like myself) whose first instinct is to look for peace treaties. I say this not to try to exclude you from the ranks of “progressives” (you certainly have views on some subjects that are more traditionally “conservative” than mine, but I don’t want to put you in a box not of your own defining), just as an observation of how it seems you approach the issue. Victor, I also wish you’d stop saying things like “There’s really nothing anyone can add to that, except beat their head against the wall” which make other peoples’ contributions seem in bad faith, as if we know we’re wrong but are still clinging to some sort of completely collapsed analytical framework which only you have been able to transcend. Most of us here (yourself included) are pretty smart!
    All that said, I think there is a certain amount of truth in your critique of the classical Palestine-centric approach to Middle Eastern politics. I certainly think that the continuance of the occupation is, if nothing else, a blot on the US’ claimed reputation as a harbinger of democracy (in case anyone still believes that). I really do believe that the Palestinians deserve self-determination every bit as much as Israelis do, and, Victor, I strongly disagree with you that an entire population can somehow collectively sacrifice its right to a state. Whether an individual Palestinian deserves to be free obviously depends on what they’ve done, as is the case with anyone. We could go into questions of the morality of the penal system anyway, but those aren’t necessarily relevant – you seem to be making the case that Palestinians as a people have abrogated their eligibility for statehood.
    Yet it’s true that the Arab Spring (can I call it that? or is still early enough that I sound pretentious?) has really conclusively put to rest the idea that Palestinians and US capitalism are the only things keeping Arabs subjugated. Yes, Egypt bought their tear gas canisters from us, and yes, it’s disgusting that we have such a predatory economic system that we’re incentivized to support tyrants who oppress their own people, but slavery in the US wasn’t England’s fault, even though this country was founded on English governmental and social structures. In fact, England abolished slavery long before we did. So even though our country has done, and continues to do, terrible things by proxy, and through tacit, if not explicit, support, it’s not as simple as “Arabs=victims, US=oppressor.”
    What I’m interested in is how the nonviolent uprisings (personally, I’m still struggling with the moral implications of what’s going on in Libya) alter the way we look at and hope for change in the Middle East. Would a similar kind of uprising “work” in Palestine? Would it help Palestinians? Would it help create a state? Will the Fatah-Hamas unity deal make such an uprising less likely, less necessary, or both? I don’t have the answers to all these questions – I’m interested to hear your thoughts on them.
    Also, check out this NPR article on a Libyan exile who’s returned and now works in the rebel government. This is one of the most interesting angles to the situation there, and I’m intrigued by the possibility for something like it (without the civil war, hopefully) happening in occupied Palestine if there were to be a statehood declaration not recognized by Israel.
    PS this is officially the longest comment I’ve ever written.

  49. J1, I wish you wouldn’t be quite so dismissive of progressives (like myself) whose first instinct is to look for peace treaties. I say this not to try to exclude you from the ranks of “progressives” (you certainly have views on some subjects that are more traditionally “conservative” than mine, but I don’t want to put you in a box not of your own defining), just as an observation of how it seems you approach the issue.
    @rb.
    But this is what I find so tragic. Believe it or not I actually consider myself “Left” or “Progressive” on most issues. And, I think that my views on Western relations with the Arab world have actually been much more “progressive” and “human-rights-centered” than the views of some others here, who proudly take the title “Progressive” ((and, frankly, some “Progressives” here often resort to trying to shout down others (including me) with some real nastiness.)) That’s what’s been so frustrating for me over the years, and it’s reached a point of insanity watching events unfold these past few months.
    I do hope that many will follow your lead in simply acknowledging that some of the decades-old theories might have been off base, and we have to start talking about new ways forward.
    I really have no clue as to what that best way forward is . . . but ending the West’s addiction to oil seems like an ok place to start.

  50. @rb
    Well, we just took a large step back, with the Ben Laden killing.
    Ben Laden is a symptom of a problems in the Arab world–he wasn’t the actual cause.

  51. I’ve still got mixed feelings about the whole thing. I would have much preferred that we capture him and put him on trial, but Obama doesn’t have anywhere near enough political cover to pull that off. bin Laden would have just ended up in Guantanamo anyway.
    I’m not sure it’s a step back – I certainly agree he’s a symptom, not a cause. That said, the largest upside I see is that it could provide a simple rationale for reducing our presence in Afghanistan. The real mission in Afghanistan hasn’t for a while been one best carried out with combat troops, if it ever was, and now might be a good time for Obama to make that case.

  52. Victor… you seem to be making the case that Palestinians as a people have abrogated their eligibility for statehood.
    Not at all, and in any case, I would never make such a permanent blanket statement, since the international system is anything but unchanging. I do think, from a halachik standpoint, that Palestinian society can be held liable, collectively, for the acts of violence it has spawned (that’s right, the Torah sanctions collective punishment under certain conditions) but this has no bearing on their national rights.
    More to the point, JG made the case that there is nothing the Palestinians have done, or ever could do, to allow anyone else a legitimate right to delay or… what’s the word I’m looking for… to qualify or condition their national sovereign rights. As you yourself said, that’s nonsense.
    Whereas, in the context and expression of Palestinian national rights they have waged a bloody war against a neighboring state, that state has a legitimate right to be wary of and act to delay or condition a Palestinian state.
    On top of which, the Palestinians have signed legal documents committing themselves to achieving statehood with Israeli consent, under mutually agreeable terms. They themselves have conditioned their national rights, within reason, to Israeli interests.

  53. Victor, I also wish you’d stop saying things like “There’s really nothing anyone can add to that, except beat their head against the wall” which make other peoples’ contributions seem in bad faith, as if we know we’re wrong but are still clinging to some sort of completely collapsed analytical framework which only you have been able to transcend
    That’s precisely right. I think there are some here, JG certainly, who adhere (in good faith, with the best of intentions) to a collapsed analytical framework. This is what I’m trying to demonstrate, as is Jonathan1 (see all his posts in the last month). Clinging (what a great word you chose, RB) to a collapsed analytical framework is not about being smart or stupid. Very intelligent people can become emotionally and intellectually invested in a concept way past its expiration date, leading to very obviously terrible reasoning and decision-making.
    When JG is out there saying that Israel should a Palestine to be created under the leadership of Hamas, and a “moderate” leader of Hamas comes out with a statement condemning the killing of Bin Laden… well, reasonable people can reach reasonable conclusions. And others are clinging to a collapsed analytical framework. Well put, RB.

  54. @Victor:
    March 11, Jewschool, directed at me:
    JG wrote:
    A: We should talk to Hamas
    B: Hamas are evil muslim fundies
    A: So? We should talk to Hamas, ‘the evil muslim fundies’
    B: But they want a Caliphate!
    A: no they don’t
    B: aha, so you support the evil muslim fundies!
    A: *face-palm*
    B: look at you avoiding the real issues!
    A: all I said was they don’t want a Caliphate
    B: but you admit they are evil muslim fundies, and still want to appease them? Fool!
    A: *face-palm*. I never said that.
    B: close enough, my naive self-hating Jewish friend…. Off to write for FrontPage.com now. See ya! “Jewschool: We Love Hamas!”

    KFJ wrote:

    JG, for the win.

    It’s tragic. Not because the Palestinian issue, and the Hamas issue are different then the Arab regime isse, IMHO. It’s tragic because people who really do seem to mean well are so off base, and are so confident that they let nothing get in their way.
    It’s just sad.

  55. @rb.
    Regarding Ben Laden. I don’t know why people are celebrating in Time Square as if the Japanese just surrendered and WWII is over. All of the same problems are still out there.

  56. Jonathan1, you’re just upset that Obama got him, you racist, right-wing, AIPAC-loving, hate-filled nincompoop. If it had happened under Bush, you would have been right there, in Times Square, drunk as a skunk.

  57. Just wait… I predict the Palestinians will name something after Bin Laden: a monument, a square, some public work project. In the entire Arab world no one supported al qaeda like Palestinians.

  58. @Victor.
    Aluf Benn’s take on things: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/bin-laden-killing-gives-obama-new-chance-in-mideast-1.359739
    Maybe President Obama, with his unique biography, can become the moral champion for some positive developments in the world.
    He can talk about the right for hundreds of millions of Arabs to not live under f-cked up political systems, in repressive societies.
    He can talk about the Palestinians’ right to not live under a decades-old military occupation.
    And, he can talk about Israelis’ right to not live with rockets falling on their homes, and bombs blowing up on their buses, and without regimes headed by men who proudly talk about destroying Israel building nuclear weapons, and without having the world assist groups that want to turn Palestinian society back hundreds of years and to destroy Israel.
    (This last point will require President Obama to spend some time in the right-wing echo chamber, where he’ll undergo Clockwork Orange-style AIPAC talking-points inculcation, as have hundreds-of-thousands of uber-successul, intelligent, middle-aged American Jews –the brave souls here haven’t been able to save everybody, you know . . but I guess the ends justify the means sometimes.)

  59. Jonathan1,
    Obama can talk all he wants and propose whatever he wishes. He clearly has no leverage with the Palestinians (in fact, they act as if they have leverage over him) and he has nothing to offer Israel, short of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In the next year, Israel will be dealing with more regional instability than it ever has. The Palestinians will begin jostling ahead of their elections. The Egyptians are trying to reassert themselves in the Arab world. The Syrians are in the midst of a prolonged upheaval. The Iranians are still quietly working to destabilize the region’s Sunnis and buld the bomb. The Gulf Arabs are trying to preserve their autocracies. The Americans are leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, likely to be replaced by a mixture of Saudi bought tribal loyalties and Iranian influence. What could go wrong?
    The American pro-Israel community has only two goals in the next 18 months prior to elections. The first is preventing Obama from pursuing well intentioned and atrociously reasoned “grand peace initiatives”, which are all premised on forcing unilateral Israeli concessions in order to appease and “moderate” the region’s Islamists. The second item on the agenda is cutting the Palestinians off at the knees when it comes to statehood recognition at the UN in September. These are the top agenda items. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons used to be a top agenda item for the pro-Israel community, but Obama has demonstrated he simply will not act decisively on that front. Presidential and congressional elections will help.
    It will a difficult time, requiring strength, resolve, and creative problem solving on the part of Israel’s supporters. Which is the way it always has been.

  60. Victor writes:
    The Iranians are still quietly working to destabilize the region’s Sunnis and buld the bomb.
    @Victor:
    KFJ wrote in 2008, a few months before we saw scenes of Iranian helicopters dropping acid on protesters after the rigged election:
    In these two installments, Erev Shabbat and Yom Shabbat, Cascadian spends the good day with Iranian Jews who, to his own incredulous ears, tell him that Ahmadinejad is “good for the Jews” and walk the streets with their kipot openly. The second correspondence gets into the politics of what Iranians think of themselves, Hezbollah, and nuclear weapons. Tehran is more than meets the eye, and the echo chamber of Jewish villainizing viz a viz Iran has fallen, unsurprisingly, as only half the truth. –KFJ
    Tell the whole truth for once, Victor!

  61. after the rigged election
    We can only hope they were rigged. What is better, if the elections were rigged, and the regime had sufficient power to maintain control, or if they elections were not rigged, and the Iranian people voted for hardline policies as a response to Obama’s “open hand”?
    At least if we say the elections were rigged, we can maintain the optimistic notion that the majority of Iranian people want peace with us, as opposed to the alternative. But what if the alternative really is the case?
    Of course, many on Jewschool have no conceptual framework to deal with either of these realities, except to note that it’s mostly Israel’s fault.

  62. Obama has plenty to offer Israel. Especially now. He can make US Aid to the nascent democracies of the Arab Spring tied to recognition of and peace with Israel. He can authorize covert ops or aid to those engaged in the destabilization of the Assad regime, which effectively disrupts the Iran-Hizballah supply lines and isolates Iran. He can put Turkey in the corner and tell it to behave. He can cut off aid to the Palestinians if Hamas misbehaves and Fatah just smiles. He can order a US naval blockade of Gaza. He can tell Hamas leadership “You’re next.”

  63. @Victor.
    I still am very optimistic about Iran, not just because it seems like those elections were rigged, but because of the nature of Iranian society–the level of eduction, the relatively open press, the role of women, the practice of a more moderate Islam in many places in that society, the tolerance for minorities, and the anger at the regime there THAT IS NOT A “MODERATE” AMERICAN FRIEND–as opposed to our “moderate” friendly regimes in Cairo and Riyadh (in other words, how does the Iranian man on the street feel about the American government versus the Saudi man on the street, who sees one Administration after the other in bed with his “moderate” king?)
    So, yes, I do take a very hopeful approach to Iran, the hope that the government there will change one way or another, a change which would benefit first and foremost the Iranian people, but also the Western world and certainly Israel.
    And, to me the jury is still out on President Obama’s foreign policy. I wouldn’t be shocked if he goes in a different direction, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he sticks to some of the policies he held to for the past few years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.