14 thoughts on “125 Attend “Crisis in Gaza” Public Meeting – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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    1. Mary,

      It is unsurprising that the news outlet of the Islamic Council of Britain (which is the link you provide) gives Morsi most of the credit. Morsi certainly played a role, and Egypt was the official host of negotiations.

      But to explain the stopping of this operation far earlier than Israel had intended, and especially the quickness with which ceasefire was achieved – you need a much greater power, one that has substantial leverage on Israel. We have just witnessed a rare event: the last time an Israeli military adventure has been diplomatically stopped before Israel felt comfortable with stopping it, was 1957 when Eisenhower demanded Israeli troops leave Sinai and Gaza.

      Moreover, Bibi’s government has been derisive and even hostile to the Arab Spring in general, and to the Egyptian version with its Muslim Brotherhood electoral victories in particular. Getting some heated rhetoric and even threats from Egypt, fitted perfectly into Bibi’s plan to milk this operation for political gain. When you add the fact the Morsi is a political rookie who obviously still has no grasp the meaning of his role even in Egypt’s domestic realm, as we are witnessing right now, and the fact that all other major players – the leaderships of the US, Israel and Hamas – are savvy political foxes, explaining the ceasefire as a predominantly Egyptian feat becomes nothing short than fantastical.

      Meanwhile, Obama even as he embraced much of Israel’s rhetoric on the operation, was clear from the start that he is against a ground invasion and is helping work on a ceasefire. He also sent Secretary Clinton (whose rhetoric was even worse, btw), apparently asking her to keep hopping from Jerusalem to Cairo until a deal is reached. Like in the domestic realm, it is Obama’s signature move to grant his adversaries rhetorical points (and Bibi is no friend of his, to put it mildly), then use the leverage to score policy victories.

      As Richard later pointed out during the discussion, Obama has American interests in view, rather than those of the anti-war community, and certainly not those of Palestinians. It would be naive to expect that Obama will now become the driving force for, say, ending the Occupation. However, I will take a rare early ceasefire that has saved hundreds, possibly thousands of lives, and will be grateful for it. It is also an indication that the US-Israel-Palestine dynamics during Obama’s second term might be far more favorable than the first-term dynamics, a realistic assumption to begin with.

      As a bonus, we now have war criminal Ehud Barak out of political life – at least until further notice.

      1. Thank you, Assaf, for taking the time to write such a clear and well explained response. I think that those of us living in the region (I live in Cairo) are hoping that there will be a stronger Arab voice in ending the occupation, and we were very encouraged by Morsi’s efforts, not to mention his many gestures of solidarity with Palestine. I have no doubt that Morsi told Obama that if no ceasefire was reached, the US would “lose Egypt forever.” And this would certainly have been true, but not only would the US lose Egypt, but Morsi would lose the Egyptian people.

        Now, believing he had the people fully supporting him, he has caused another political crisis in Egypt, provoking worldwide criticism which could cost Egypt billions of dollars in loans and business. Here in Egypt, it’s one step forward, two steps back. But Morsi also has brought a focus on Palestine that wasn’t there before; he called in his cronies in Tunisia, Turkey and Qatar and helped pull Hamas out of the political shadows.

  1. I would like to think that Obama (and Clinton and Rice. yes, all those whose job-description is to do the President’s bidding) had a hand in restraining Israel. But I cannot know, nor can the rest of us. Yet. Obama is still dodging AIPAC’s bullets, and AIPAC and its mind-set still controls Congress.

    Therefore, Richard, before you distribute the money you raised to Gaza charities, take due note of the Muslim folks who gave to Gazan charities and are now in USA’s jails for aiding terrorists. The USA (and its seemingly AIPAC-controlled prosecution service within DoJ) is a force to be reckoned with. I recommend giving the money to a USA charity such as ANERA which seems to know how to dodge the AIPAC-determined bullets.

    And let’s all work to get Hamas taken off the USA’s various lists of terrorist organizations (like the Iran-regime-opposing MEK which was or is being taken off those lists).

  2. Richard,

    Thank you for putting together so quickly, such a well-attended meeting. And thank you for inviting me. Being cast into the role of “a spokesman for Zionism” was a bit disorienting (for the record: I did not try to be one), but also amusing.

    I also thank the moderator Jafar ”Jeff” Siddiqui, who led the discussion with a calm and able hand, and helped clarify that the three speakers on the podium agree about all the core principles and issues with respect to Israel-Palestine. At some moments one might have gotten a different impression, and that is a bit worrisome.

    For a while I have been worried about purism and purity purges in the anti-war, anti-Occupation Israel-Palestine community. Our community has experienced very few victories over the years. But whenever a modest victory is scored, the purists – who, at any given point in time, are a minority even within this small community – raise their heads and demand 100% adherence from everyone else.

    A classic case in point are the failed or semi-failed attempts for Israel boycotts at various food co-ops in Western Washington. From a purist perspective, a strong case can be made that only a total boycott of Israeli products is perfectly self-consistent. I will not dispute the case here, it is a waste of space. Rather, I will just point out that a *far* broader and more solid public coalition can be forged around boycotts of settlement products only. Moreover, even the official US position opposes the settlements, and it is far harder for the Jewish Establishment to malign such a boycott. The political effect of a settlement-only boycott is almost identical to that of a blanket boycott. Finally, this is taking place in the US, where the current situation is of a general public basically sympathetic to Israel, and a political system that backs anything Israel does.

    And yet, in each of the 3 cases of which I’m aware of, boycott organizers have been fooled by the purity police (or by their own wish for purity), and attempted a blanket boycott of all Israeli products.

    To put this in plain terms: purism, at least in the way it has played out in Israel-Palestine activism, will get us nowhere. And you are hearing that from someone whom mainstream Israelis and the Diaspora-Jewish establishment has long ago branded as a hopelessly purist leftist who “sides with our enemies” etc. etc.

    Richard, thanks again 🙂


  3. I was one of those in attendance and also asked a couple of questions I posetd here before the event. Richard talked about one but not the other. You might find this talk by Henry Herskovitz interesting:
    If the link does not work, please google “The Role of Jews in the Palestine Solidarity Movement” by Henry Herskovitz

    Role of Jews in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement : moralpolitics …

    ►► archive.org/…/scm-24282-roleofjewsinthepalestinianso…
    May 9, 2012
    Henry Herskovitz addressed elusive “Jewish Community Accountability.” He spoke at a Palestine Peace

  4. “So many Israelis feel [fear] about losing so many of the things they hold dear including a Jewish state in which they hold sovereignty. [Assaf Oron] asked Palestinian activists to try to understand and address these fears.”

    I can understand why a Palestinian activist might “bristle” on hearing this plea for “understanding.” So one faction of a population, then, has grown accustomed to possessing a form of “sovereignty” (i.e., domination) that severely limits the lives of another faction, ultimately depriving them of many of the needs of life and subjecting them to an apartheid system. This sovereignty, it seems, includes even the right to identify a multicultural, multi-ethnic group of people as strictly a Jewish state. And when this dominant faction feels fear at the prospect of giving up this blatantly unjust position . . . then the subjected faction must try to understand this fear and to “address” it? The victim, then, must take on the task of placating its overlord?

    Isn’t it rather the duty of the dominant faction to discover the injustice on which this threatened “sovereignty” has long been based and to reject it? Isn’t the present moment rather one in which the Israelis should see their opportunity to correct 60+ years of brutal injustice, to renounce such an evil structure that is morally diminishing Israelis themselves, and to embrace a program of restitution and reconciliation?

    1. Thanks very much, Addison for your question. You are making a big assumption that some have moral clarity based on JUSTICE! See how far Jews go after the still-living Natzis to make them pay back for their crimes versus how SOME of those very people ask the Palestinians to address the FEAR of the criminals who did and still do all of that to them!! If this is not an indication of a sick mentality, I do not know what is.

      1. Actually, Ibrahim, my assumption was only rhetorical. By putting it out there I didn’t mean to imply that the Zionists had any level of moral clarity or have been willing to entertain the question of justice, to consider the rights of the Palestinian people, or to care at all about world opinion. This rhetorical ploy was meant only to bring out the point you have in fact made by answering my question. Thanks for your response.

        And many thanks to Richard for making the video of this truly valuable, informative event available to us.

  5. RE: “Assaf also credited Pres. Obama with almost single-handedly preventing an Israeli invasion by pressuring Israel to accept a ceasefire.” ~ R.S.

    FROM ‘THE GUARDIAN’, 11/21/12:

    [EXCERPT] Barack Obama heaped praise on Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire plan and offered increased US funding to beef up Israel’s air defence batteries.
    The White House, in an unusual twist, highlighted that Netanyahu had followed Obama’s advice, which was to accept the ceasefire deal. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/21/obama-netanyahu-egyptian-ceasefire-plan

        1. US foreign policy is directed by the AIPAC-controlled Congress, Bob. Of course you know that. As for Israel, it’s a loose cannon. It has only one foreign policy, and that is to attack and destroy all enemies, real and imagined.

  6. While I am as deeply disappointed in Obama as you, Richard, and others express to be, I remember Obama’s efforts to compel Israel to freeze West Bank settlements as being undone by his own democrat-majority Congress. My guess is that “the Dems” told him to back off.
    First came the Bayh-Risch letter from the Senate http://blogs.jta.org/politics/article/2009/08/10/1007157/bayh-risch-letter-tops-70-but-more-than-half-of-jewish-senators-dont-sign, followed by a House version. Those letters stated that THE cause of impasse in the conflict was due to the refusal of Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. There was virtually NO mention of the role of settlements and especially the increase in settlement activity underway as a factor (whereas several previous US gov’t comments about settlements even called them THE biggest obstacle to peace …I think that was James Baker who called settlements THE major issue). FYI and in case anyone finds this useful (e.g. to remind their Congressional “representatives” about traditional US view on settlemets), here’s a link to FMEP’s Statements on American Policy toward Settlements by U.S. Government Officials – 1968-2009

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