this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

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Friday, 1 May 2009

here's what you can do

2nd May: Note, I'm keeping this at the top of my blog for a while. New entries are below.
I received this from J Street last night, a group that defines itself as the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.
J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole.
They are by no means as powerful as AIPAC (who is?), but they have some influence. They are not as liberal as Mondoweiss, Silverstein, or Jewish Voice for Peace. However, the following is definitely worth reading and acting upon, particularly for those who would like to see a little less war in the Middle East rather than more.
The battle lines are emerging clearly around President Barack Obama's Middle East agenda - and we need your help.

The President intends to achieve a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his first term and to address the challenges Iran poses through diplomacy.

His opponents, meanwhile, are trying to rally Congress to thwart his agenda. With one hand they're opposing the President's proposed approach to working with a possible Palestinian unity government; with the other, they are proposing aggressive new sanctions on Iran just as diplomatic outreach begins.

If you're one of President Obama's supporters on the Middle East, Congress needs to hear from you right now.

Click here to your representatives in Congress that you support President Obama's policy in the Middle East - both on the Arab-Israeli conflict and on Iran.

Some in Congress may consider opposing the President under the false impression that that's what Jewish Americans and other friends of Israel want.

They're wrong.

In fact, over 70% of Jewish Americans support President Obama's handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East. [1]

Here's what's happening with the President's agenda in Congress right now:

On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough - but the chances of success won't be helped by Congress imposing tight timelines or a new round of sanctions at this moment.

Yet, just this week, the Orwellian-named "Iran Diplomacy Enhancement Act" was introduced in the House - a bill that in reality does nothing to "enhance diplomacy" but instead imposes further sanctions on Iran, directly undercutting the President's diplomatic message. [2]

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the President is moving clearly to promote a two-state solution - including support for Palestinian institution-building and for urgent humanitarian needs - all part of the proposal first made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to provide $900 million in aid to the Palestinians.

Not only will this assistance help alleviate human suffering in Gaza, rebuild its infrastructure, and revive its stalled economy, but it is also structured in a way that could enable the U.S. to work with a Palestinian unity government that meets relevant criteria, an important building block for advancing Israeli-Arab peace.

The opposition is going to be intense. Just last week, for instance, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) attacked the President's request as allowing support for Palestinian "Nazis." [3]

Yet, according to recent polls, 69% of Israelis and American Jews would support dealing with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas. [4]

We oppose and condemn Hamas' use of terror and violence to achieve political ends.

Along with the majority of American Jews and Israelis, we also recognize that resolving this conflict may require bringing those who have used violence into a political process, one aim of which is to end their armed resistance.

This strategy has been met with some success in Lebanon, where America works with a government that now includes Hezbollah, in Iraq where we work with the Sunni Awakening, and of course in Northern Ireland.

President Obama intends to reverse years of diplomatic neglect in the Middle East, aiming for nothing less than historic progress to finally resolve historic conflicts.

But President Obama needs our political support to put his agenda into action. That's why - on both issues - we're asking you to step to the plate now to support President Obama's vision for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Our success will depend on our ability to generate thousands of messages to Congress in a matter of hours - so, after you've taken action, make sure to forward this message to your friends and family that might be interested.

Thanks so much for all you do.

- Isaac

Isaac Luria
Campaigns Director
J Street
April 30, 2009

[1] "J Street's Polling on American Jews' Views on US Role in Middle East." Accessed April 30, 2009.
[2] "Kirk, Sherman want more sanctions," by Eric Fingerhut. JTA News Service. April 22, 2009.
[3] "Obama move alarms Israel supporters," by Paul Richter. Los Angeles Times. April 27, 2009.
[4] "Poll: American Jews Strongly Support Obama, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement," by Dan Gilgoff. God and Country. March 23, 2009.
To counter J-Street's letter here is this article in the JTA urging people to:
constructively express their deep concern about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran[.]

Write and call the White House, the State Department and congressional offices, not just once but again and again; publish letters to the editor and op-ed pieces; encourage the convening of forums on Iran in synagogues and communal organizations; ask stock brokers whether they have terror-free investment options and support appropriate divestment initiatives; discuss with and send e-mails to your friends, neighbors and business associates; sign the petition on the Web site of United Against a Nuclear Iran and join its Facebook group; and contact your local community relations committee to learn what other steps can be taken.
Read the whole thing. Do you really want to be dragged into another war? There is also this from American, Stephen Walt on this approach to foreign policy (my emphasis).

I was reminded of Iklé’s insights when I read about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ideas for resuming the peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu clearly wants to avoid an open rift with the Obama administration, which has forcefully reiterated its commitment to negotiating a two-state solution. To do that, he has to pay lip service to the peace process. But because Netanyahu has long opposed the creation of a viable Palestinian state and instead wants to extend Israel's control of the West Bank, he has to lay out a set of demands that will endlessly delay the process and make it hard for Obama to put meaningful pressure on him.

According to Ha'aretz, Netanyahu will insist that the Palestinians go beyond their prior recognition of Israel's right to exist (as expressed in the 1993 Oslo Accord) and explicitly recognize Israel as a "Jewish state." Furthermore, he wants the United States to agree that a future Palestinian state be barred from possessing its own army and forbidden from making alliances with other countries, while Israel is permitted to monitor its borders, its airspace, and its use of the electromagnetic spectrum, presumably in perpetuity. In the meantime, the expansion of Israeli settlements will surely continue, and in ways that will soon preclude any possibility of a territorially contiguous state on the West Bank. Lastly, Netanyahu wants to link progress toward a two-state solution with an end to Iran's nuclear program. As I've noted before, this condition would allow Tehran -- purposely or inadvertently -- to derail a two-state solution by stonewalling on the nuclear issue. Ironically, this outcome might suit Iran and Netanyahu alike: Israel could keep expanding settlements and the Islamic Republic could continue to play the Palestine card against its Arab rivals.

My question is this: What is Netanyahu thinking? Doesn't he realize that time has nearly run out for the two-state solution, and that failure to achieve it is by far the most serious threat facing Israel? The prime minister and his allies keep harping about an "existential" threat from Iran, but this bogeyman is mostly nonsense. Iran has zero -- repeat, zero -- nuclear weapons today, and even if it were to acquire a few at some point in the future, it could not use them against nuclear-armed Israel without committing national suicide. Let me say that again: national suicide.

And could someone please explain to Netanyahu that a group of devout Muslim clerics aren't likely to fire warheads at a land that contains the third holiest site in Islam? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said some remarkably foolish things about the Holocaust and repeatedly questioned Israel's legitimacy (as in his oft-mistranslated statement about Israel "vanishing from the page of time"), but he's never threatened to murder millions of Israelis (and Palestinians) with nuclear weapons. Just last weekend, he even told ABC's George Stephanopolous that if the Palestinians reached an agreement with Israel, then Iran would support it. Moreover, as Roger Cohen has noted, there is no evidence that Ahmadinejad has any particular animus toward Iran's own Jewish community. Despite his many offensive statements, in short, Ahmadinejad is not Adolf Hitler and we are not living in the 1930s.

The real threat to Israel's future is the occupation, and the conflict with the Palestinians that it perpetuates. To see that, all you have to do is look at current demographic trends and poll results and then ponder the consequences for Israel. There are presently about 5.6 million Jews in "Greater Israel," (i.e., the 1967 borders plus the West Bank) and about 5.2 million Arabs (of whom nearly 1.5 million are citizens of Israel). Palestinian birth rates are substantially higher, however, which means they will be a majority of the population in "Greater Israel" in the not-too-distant future. To put it bluntly, it is Palestinian wombs and not Iranian bombs that pose the real threat
read more.

An update on this picture from a previous post:

Remember this? I posted it on the 15th of April. A group in New Mexico, including some Jewish members, paid to put up posters urging Americans to stop supporting human rights abuses in the occupied territories with their tax dollars.

Maybe three weeks was enough time for the message to etched into people's minds, or for parties who don't mind their tax dollars going towards this, protesting and having them pulled down:

Each little step forward is a thousand steps back. From Muzzlewatch who got the information from Mondoweiss (my computer doesn't like Mondoweiss when I use IE, so excuse me for not linking there directly) (my emphasis):
Mondoweiss reports:

A few week ago we posted about ten billboards going up around Albuquerque, NM calling for congress to cut off aid to Israel. They were put up by The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious coalition working to “end to the ten year commitment of $30 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid pledged to Israel in 2007 by the Bush administration.” Today, the coalition sent out a press release saying that although Lamar Outdoor Advertising had signed a contract to run the billboards for eight weeks, they care coming down after three. From the press release:

On April 8th, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel erected the billboards throughout the Albuquerque area in order to inform the public about the misuse of their tax dollars, denominated in human lives. The group was motivated by concern for the Palestinian people who had recently been subjected to a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military. Over 1,400 Palestinians – mostly civilian, including three hundred children – were killed and over 5,000 were injured. In 2007 the Bush administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel over a ten year period beginning in 2008. The majority of these dollars will be used to purchase American-made weapons.

The design of the billboard had been approved by Lamar and the billboards’ wording and final image were suggested by Lamar’s graphics designer.

According to information from Lamar, it appears groups claiming to be pro-Israel have conducted a campaign to pressure Lamar to remove the billboards. The Coalition believes this is a deliberate attempt to silence its right to free speech because the humanitarian message of the billboards supports equal rights for the Palestinian people, thereby necessitating criticism of Israel.


TheOldSchool said...

This is such a great blog. Once again I am dazzled by the reports that you're providing and the commentary that you're making. I've now bookmarked Mondweiss and Stephan Walt, as well. Keep it up! Thank you.

lizardrinking said...

Thanks, TOS. I still feel others are doing a lot more (well, it is their actual living). Thanks for the comments on the commentary, considering I cut and paste a whole lot of other articles (often that is the whole post, but always credited). There is too much out there to really do a proper job. But cheers, again. Walt and Mearsheimer wrote The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, but being in books and a political creature I'm sure you know that (haven't read it yet, but intend to).

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr