To follow my blog click the “follow” widget above or the small red squares on the right side below.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Security Council, Jewish Settlements and Kerry's Speech

I support wholeheartedly Jewish self-determination in the ancient homeland of the Jewish People, with equal rights to all citizens.

I am not more nor less of a nationalist than any other member of a group who seeks the right of statehood. And because I recognize the right of others to self-determination, I have supported the creation of a viable Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel in a relationship of mutual respect and recognition.

But with the continuous expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, like many others, I am concerned about the possible transformation of the State of Israel into a bi-national state with a Jewish minority.

40% of the West Bank, most of which had been designated as the future Palestinian state (along with the Gaza Strip), is already under the control of Jewish settlers.  With their settlements dotting the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, it is virtually impossible to create a contiguous state for the Palestinians who live there and for Palestinian refugees who would be absorbed there as citizens in lieu of their demand of the right of return to Israel. That is why in his December 29 speech Secretary of State John Kerry criticized the Netanyahu government and called for the distinction between pre and post 1967 Israel.

For many Jews in Israel and abroad, Kerry’s sharp condemnation of the Israeli settlements in the territories that Israel had won in the Six Day war is nothing short of a betrayal, even though he did not spare the Palestinian Authority from criticism for its incitement and glorification of terrorism.

Those who welcomed Kerry’s speech thought it was delivered too late in the life of the administration. They recall that President Obama has been one of the most pro-Israeli presidents from security and political aspects.

That Kerry delivered his speech a week after the Obama Administration deviated from its previous policy by not blocking Security Council Resolution 2334, angered those who condemn President Obama as Israel’s worst enemy in the White House. The resolution states that Israel′s settlement activity in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, and constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law.

Most analysts agree that the settlements are indeed a violation of international law. If so, Israel has managed to evade it by defining the lands it controls since 1967 as disputed rather than occupied territories.   

Obama is not the first American president to oppose the settlements. In fact, since 1968 every American administration has done the same and either abstained from or voted for Security Council resolutions concerning the settlements or the changed status of Jerusalem without negotiations. The plan Kerry outlined for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement was not new either. President Clinton had set its parameters in 2000, and those principles have since served other negotiators.

Still, why has the Obama Administration chosen to single out Israel when, as Prime Minster Netanyahu complained, other areas in the Middle East are on fire?

The first answer must be Israel’s domestic politics. Kerry did not exaggerate when he stated that Israel’s cabinet is the most right–wing the state has ever had. What alarmed him and the White House - along with those who voted for the SC resolution - was the Legalization Bill, which was introduced by The Jewish Home Party. Should it become a law, the bill would retroactively legalize 55 unlawful outposts and 4,000 housing units in existing Jewish settlements. On December 8 the Knesset passed the bill’s first reading.

Equally distressing is the fact that Naftali Bennett, head of The Jewish Home, and two other top ministers of his party have been calling for the annexation of area C (the Oslo accord divided the West Bank into three areas: Area A was to be controlled by the Palestinian Authority; B was to be jointly controlled by Israel and the PA; C by Israel only).

To preserve both his Likud Party leadership and his coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is far from being a dove, has become hostage of the more radical faction of his own party, The Jewish Home and other nationalist parties, and Yesha, the Jewish Settlements Council.

The second answer must rest in the Obama Administration’s desire to leave office with a blue print it can call its own, especially in view of president elect Donald Trump’s likely support of settlements and possibly annexation, as it appears from his tweets and his nominee for US ambassador to Israel.  Whether reality allows the incoming administration to reverse five decades of US policy on the Israelis-Palestinian conflict remains to be seen.



1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box below (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open).
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  
4. You may sign into your account if you have one.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

On Sexual Entitlement










Yesterday I visited the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA. I had been there many times before. Each time, I saw Jean-Léon Gérome’s 1866 magnificent painting “Slave Market.” Each time, it touched me deeply. But in lieu of the subjectivization of women by Donald Trump in the now infamous 2005 Access Hollywood video, and the way the Republican presidential candidate - innocent till proven guilty -has responded to the accusations of sexual misconduct by several women, I found the painting extremely relevant.

Mesmerized, as if I was seeing it for the first time, I could not move away from the painting. The way the stripped young woman, a girl really, is presented by a slave trader to her potential male buyers; the way they examine her; her graceful tilted head; her powerlessness, all broke my heart.

I feel as if I know that girl. You might have heard of her too. She’s one of the Korean “comfort women,” forced into prostitution by Japanese soldiers in World War II. She’s an Asian teen sex slave, forced into sex tourism or into the porno industry. She’s a young Eastern European woman, trafficked and forced into a life of prostitution in the Middle East or elsewhere. She’s one of the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls captured and enslaved by Boko Haram in 2014, 21 of whom have been released last week. Fifty-seven of them were able to escape sometime after being captured.  She’s one of the Yazidi sex slaves taken by ISIS.  The list is long.

I am familiar with how it feels to be subjectivized as a woman. Year ago, as a young war widow, I knew what it felt like to be treated as if I were a piece of meat sought by men for sexual pleasure. That experience culminated when my fallen husband’s best friend, whom I had trusted like a brother, raped me (the story of my rape appears in one of the posts in this blog). That is why I am so taken by the painting each time I see it.


Perhaps something positive will come out of the scandalous Trump video: an honest debate of the way men in positions of power feel sexually entitled to women.



1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box below (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open).
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  
4. You may sign into your account if you have one.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Woman President

The cynic in me sneered at the excitement over nominating a woman as a presidential candidate in a country as advanced as America. After all, women have ruled powerful monarchies at least since the 16th century. More recently women had been elected heads of state in Brazil, England, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Latvia and Lithuania, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, and more.

But the woman in me - a naturalized American citizen, the mother of a daughter, and the grandmother of an eleven-year-old granddaughter (and an eight-year-old-grandson), was extremely proud and emotional when Hillary Clinton accepted her party’s nomination on Thursday night; as emotional as I was eight years ago when an African-American won the Democratic Party presidential nomination in a country with a shameful racist history.  

When Chelsea spoke about her mother, few mothers who listened to her, I believe, did not think about their relationship with their own daughters, and few daughters did not think about their relationship with their mothers.  For all who watched or listened the occasion was certainly momentous. Whether Hillary will win the presidential elections or not – and I hope she will – she paved the way for future generations of women to follow her path. Either way, the prospect of a first American female president is an exciting premise.

While the media has been covering the presidential elections incessantly, it has failed to press Donald Trump on various issues, the list of which is too long to include here.  Just read the now classic work of Allison Graham, The Essence of Decision, or Michael Brecher’s numerous studies of decision making, from Decision in Crisis to Crises in World Politics, to understand the complexities of the decision-making process, especially in times of turmoil. Even with the best of advisers a head of state or commander-in-chief must have a keen understand of the intricacies of the world around them, all of it, including the global, regional and domestic environments, past, present and predictable. They must have that knowledge from political, military, economic, social and cultural aspects, all at once. Only with that wisdom, along with the finest advisers, they can choose the best among alternative approaches.  A “gut” decision can never do on vital foreign policy issues.


1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box below (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open).
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  
4. You may sign into your account if you have one.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The New Buzz in Israel


If you want to know the populist sentiment in Israelis about the country’s politics, talk to cab drivers. Since the mid 1990s, when I traveled in Israel with a Fulbright scholarship working on my post doctorate, my conversations with taxi drivers have been a useful tool in determining the prevailing attitude about the “situation,” a key term Israelis use to refer to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

I have just returned from a two-week stay in Israel. I had arrived there only hours before two Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israelis in a popular Tel Aviv café. I learned about the vicious attack while sitting in an outdoor beach restaurant, enjoying a crisp, sweet watermelon when concerned relatives called to ask where I was. Naturally, there was sadness and anger in the city that never sleeps, but not fear. Life went on and cab drivers continued to echo the country’s mood.

So when a day or two later, one of the drivers expressed to me his dissatisfaction with the country’s leadership, I wondered whether he preferred a far-right government, more extreme than the one currently headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is the most right wing government Israel has ever had in its history, reflecting the radicalization the country has been undergoing. But when the driver told me that the recent designating of Avigdor Lieberman as Defense Minister was a too dangerous threshold, and that he did not want his son in the army under the leadership of the new defense minister, I sensed that the political atmosphere of the State may be shifting. Incrementally perhaps, but a change may be possible.

Soon after, when I entered a taxi in which the radio was tuned to a talk show about the danger Israel’s democracy is facing when the freedom of the State’s civil society is curbed and the Supreme Court is unreasonably under attack, I smiled with satisfaction. No because I knew the driver agreed with what he heard, but because he was listening intensely.

Yet again, when another driver told me that the time for a two state solution with the Palestinians is now, I felt a sliver of hope, even though I didn’t get into a discussion with him about what kind of a Palestinian state he had in mind. Was it a state with a meaningful sovereign status, or a mini dependent state that can hardly exist on its own, the one PM Netanyahu has had in mind since his first round in office in 1996.

Then, on June 17, Ehud Barak, former prime minster and defense minster, and Moshe Yaalon, the defense minister who Netanyahu had just replaced with Libernman, attacked the sitting prime minster in a way no other politicians has had. And the buzz began.
“There’s change in the air,” you hear people saying wherever you go. Most sound hopeful.

1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box below (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open).
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  
4. You may sign into your account if you have one.








1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box below (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open).
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  
4. You may sign into your account if you have one.