“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

August 14, 2011

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 
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Israels & Palestinians on the Crisis in Gaza– Where Do We Go From Here?

January 24, 2008
ShalomSalam

I try to avoid politics in this blog, but this is a land where our very existence is considered a matter of opinion.

As I wrote yesterday, I am ensconced in a discussion about the crisis in Gaza over at Global Voices Online. I wanted to move the discussion over here because I respect your opinions and want to hear what you have to say. (I also respect the opinions of the commenters and my fellow authors at GVO, but I suspect that the opinions expressed here and there will differ.)

Wafa Sultan on Secularism

Lee Cornfield of the Tidbits Nuggets and Brainbabies blog sent me a video of Arab American psychologist Wafa Sultan being interviewed on Al Jazeera television. I was most struck by her ideas regarding secular humanism. I’ve excerpted the conversation below (starting at 3:13 in the video).

WafaSultan

Sultan: “I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others’ rights to believe in it.”

Host: “Are you a heretic?”

Sultan: “You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural.”

Host: “If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran.

Sultan: “These are personal matters that do not concern you. Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don’t throw them at me. You are free to worship who[m]ever you want, but other people’s beliefs are not your concern. Whether they believe that the Messiah is god, son of Mary, or that Satan is god, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs.”

Israel and Palestine: Solving the Conflict Secularly

I find Sultan’s discussion of secular humanism really appealing. Not in the sense that the secular is pitted against the religious, but because I believe that approaching the Israeli Palestinian conflict from the perspective of religion taints it and plunges it deep into an historical quagmire from which we will never escape.

Am I saying that the Israeli Palestinian dilemma can only be solved from a secular perspective? Yes. Must the people engaging in discussion be secular? No, but they must approach the conflict from a modern, practical, and future oriented perspective that takes us to where we want to be– on both sides of the conflict– rather than relying on the dysfunctional relations of the past.

Read the rest of this entry »


Politics Schmolitics: US Presidential Elections, Israel/Jewish Elections Blog, Bush’s Visit to Israel

January 9, 2008
Vote
Image sourced from the City of Everett, Massachusetts

Israel Elections Blog

For some time now, I have been trying to decide whether to start a blog following the Jewish and Israeli issues in the 2008 US presidential elections. It would observe and analyze voters’ and candidates’ priorities, behaviors, and values on key issues of concern.

Therefore, I have two questions for you:

  1. Is this something that you add value to your life? Would you read it? Is it something you feel we need or that you would want to have?
  2. Would you be interested in collaborating on such a project?

Let me know. If I start one, I want to do it fairly soon while we are still just starting the primary season. As far as I am aware– and I have done significant searching– no blog like this exists, only bloggers posting intermittent posts and official news sources.

UPDATE! I have decided not to go in the direction of creating an Israeli/Jewish US elections blog. Since this posting, the JTA has released its Election Central 2008 website and the Jerusalem Post has made their election coverage much more complete, which accomplishes the same purpose, but with significantly more resources. President Bush’s visit to Israel has additionally spurred on more election coverage from the Israeli blogosphere.

The goal of any good blog is to find a yet unfulfilled niche and cover it as completely as possible to give your readers maximum coverage. My blog would no longer fit these criteria, so I am excited to be moving on to other great projects– but take note, I’ll be reading and listening. Thanks for your feedback for those who weighed in on this issue.

(Updated Sunday, January 13th, 2007)

Absentee Voting from Israel

To my American readers: a quick reminder that you most likely still have time to register to vote by absentee ballot in the primaries.

Click here to download a voter registration form (which needs to be faxed with a signature).

You can get more information on the specifics of your last state of residence from the Overseas Vote Foundation.

I try to keep politics out of this blog, but we need to think of Israel’s future relationship with the United States. It’s just a reality.

P.S. Absentee voting means no hanging chads.

President Bush Visits Israel

PeaceMeeting

And lastly, President Bush has just arrived in Jerusalem and the whole city has shut down as a result. Here’s an excerpt of my Global Voices Online post.

“American President George W. Bush is arriving in Israel today and for once, English speaking Israelis have little to say. Views fall primarily into two camps:

  • Complaints about the short-term discomfort that high security will cause Jerusalemites in their daily routines
  • Concern about new rockets launched from Lebanon and ongoing attacks from Gaza hailing Bush’s visit

During his two-day stay, Bush’s primary purpose is to monitor and encourage the peace talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority with the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in 2008. While in Israel, he will meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and later with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

President Bush’s last visit to Israel was in 1998, shortly before his first term as president.

The visit will cost Israel an unbelievable $25,000 an hour in security and force closings of all main streets for the next two days.”

Read more here.

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Writing for Global Voices Online: New Position

December 13, 2007

GlobalVoicesOnline Logo

I just started a new position as an Israel writer for Global Voices Online. As you’ve heard me say before, I think it is a great website. Seeking to be a portal to the global blogosphere, it focuses on issues that have been underrepresented in the national and international news, and gives a voice to citizen reporters.

Writing for Israel

As an Israel writer for Global Voices Online, I get to write about issues that are not directly on topic for this blog (politics, culture, some aspects of religion), but that I think people should know about.

It is also interesting for me to write as a blog reporter instead of a blogger as a blogger’s usual job is to search for interesting news that others aren’t talking about and give it a spin, while on Global Voices Online my job is to find out what everyone’s talking about and report on the opinion of the Israeli virtual street.

Why It’s Important To Me

My position with Global Voices Online is as a volunteer and it is one that I value. I feel honored to have been chosen.

TheNewJew Logo

Also, as an Israeli blogger and a Middle Easterner, I am looking to deepen my personal brand, while as a writer I am looking to expand my portfolio and explore different styles of citizen journalism. Writing for Global Voices Online helps me to do both.

An Excerpt

Here is an excerpt from my first piece, “Rockets Hit Sderot, Flame the Israeli Blogosphere”

MapSderot BBC

“Some might say that the tiny town of Sderot in the Western Negev is Israel’s little secret. This red roofed village an hour’s drive from Be’er Sheva lies only minutes from the Gaza Strip. As such, it has been a prime target for Hamas aggression against Israel. Use katuysha rockets to hit a major center, you are in for a war. Bombard a hamlet in the midst of an international conflict, and display your anger.

If in all your reading about the Middle East conflict you haven’t heard about Sderot, don’t be surprised. You’re not the only one. Despite the fact that Sderot has been under nearly constant attack from qassam rockets for the past 7 years, its tenuous position in the buffer zone of Israel and Gaza is conspicuously ignored in mainstream news channels.”

Read more by clicking through on the link above.

Map by BBC Media

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